OUR LOCAL AND MULTI-TALENTED GARY BRUNNER LAUNCHES A NEW CAREER IN HORROR ACTING VIA THE RUSSIAN SLEEP EXPERIMENT
Story by David Wesley
Photos by Michael Bugard
Film still photo courtesy of Framed Pictures, LLC
Posters designed by Mark Kosob
Gary Brunner is an actor, musician, artist, chef and lifelong Ferndale dweller. His life and career is storied, starting with witnessing the making of the original Evil Dead film. Gary also runs Atomic Dawgs, in Berkley, for owner Joel Martin, who also owns 54 Sound. Now Gary’s career is taking a new interesting turn. He’s now about to become a presence in the cult horror film world. He is the lead actor in the short film “The Russian Sleep Experiment” which was adapted from of the most popular creepypastas (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creepypasta.) The story has millions of fans and you can see the trailer on YouTube. Gary got his desire to be in film because he used to hang out with the Evil Dead crew when they were editing “The Evil Dead” in Ferndale. More on that seminal meeting in a moment. Needless to say, Gary was blown away when one of his childhood heroes (Evil Dead veteran and film/TV director Josh Becker) had this to say about the Russian Sleep Experiment short: “The Russian Sleep Experiment is certainly one of the best short films I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen alot. It excels in every department…and it all comes together in what I feel is the perfect length and tone, thus achieving an extremely solid impact in its payoff.”
Gary himself sat down with Ferndale Friends, and gave more insight on his colorful life and careers in Metro Detroit:
Ferndale Friends: How did you get involved with film and theatre in Detroit?
Gary Brunner: When I was about ten years old I used to ride my bike up to the magic shop in Ferndale. I wanted to do monster makeup, something my parents were strongly against. I got some fake beard hair glued to my face and couldn’t get it off. So I skipped school and went to the magic shop for answers. There was a sign on the door that said “back in five minutes.” This was most disturbing to me, of course. I mean, if my parents found out I didn’t go to school because I had a fake beard glued to my face, I’d be dead for sure. So I sat in the hallway in front of the door and waited and waited. I noticed on the door directly across the hall from the magic shop, it said “Action Pictures.” That had to mean movies! I pressed my face into the mail slot in the door. The first thing I saw was an Evil Dead poster on the wall in the office. What I didn’t know was that the door wasn’t shut all the way. So when I smashed my face into the mail slot, I fell into the office. Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi came running out to see what was going on. Sam looked real mad, “What are you doing breaking in here kid?” Bruce chimed in, “Yeah kid, and what’s that hair glued to your face?” After I told them what had happened, they laughed hysterically and helped me get the fake beard off with spirit gum remover. Once I was beard-free again they let me watch Evil Dead. It hadn’t even been released yet. They didn’t even have a distribution deal yet. I was hooked!
FF: How has the art scene in Detroit changed since you began making a presence in it?
GB: I think the art scene has grown into an amazing situation. When I was younger, there weren’t the same opportunities that there are now. I used to go and watch music artists like the Romantics, George Clinton and Eminem record their songs (at 54 Sound.) Years later my friend and mentor, Joel Martin, bought an old house in Berkley and wanted me to design and implement a fine dining version of a neighborhood hot dog joint. It’s almost four years later and we are still hanging in there and seem to win, place or show every time there is a contest involving hot dogs. I feel so grateful to ave such a wonderful opportunity to be so creative with my cooking skills.
FF: How did your experience with the Evil Dead crew influence your part in the Russian Sleep Experiment? GB: The Russian Sleep Experiment is like my Evil Dead movie. I used to watch those guys work so hard to get Evil Dead funded and distributed, and now here I am years later trying to raise money for a feature length film. Those guys never gave up and neither will I.
FF: How do you feel about the changes seen in Ferndale as a longtime resident?
GB: I’ve seen a lot go down in Ferndale since my family moved here when I was eight-years-old. A lot of the neighbors on my block have long since retired or moved away. What replaced all those original residents no one could have seen coming. Ferndale has turned into a creative Mecca of sorts. We still have a lot of families in Ferndale, but it seems like every other week I hear about some amazing artist or musician that just moved into Ferndale. There are so many cool shops and mom and pop kind of restaurants. More than a handful of music studios. I love Ferndale, I love my street, I love my house, I love all my neighbors on my street and never want to leave.
FF: What are the projects you ‘re working on now and do you have any future projects you have planned?
GB: Aside from the Russian Sleep Experiment Project, I play drums for an outlaw country band called The Holy Winos. I’m also putting together a power pop style band. I. like a lot of other actors, audition any time and every time I can, hoping for that big break!
Story by David Wesley
Photos by Bernie Lamframboise
It’s 2002, and Alyssa Atkinson and I are freshmen at Ferndale High School in the same first-hour class – German. During the first few nervous weeks of high school we begin making silly small talk together. Sitting together, we quickly dins out our similar backgrounds.
“You know you’re poor then there’s furniture on your porch and in your yard.”
“Oh, yeah! I see that all over!”
We pointed out many amusing similarities about our family’s financial status then, and for the first two years of high school we always shared laughable exchanges. But gradually we faded from each other’s lives with the abrasive shuffling that pulls people in their own directions.
Flash-forward ten years after our 2006 graduation, and the opportunity arises for me to interview a girl named Alyssa Atkinson who had become a serious philanthropic presence inside the city of Ferndale today. I make contact and not only discover a distant and memorable acquaintance, but also find how much has changed for us socially, financially and emotionally. Our hearts are still anchored in Ferndale but how we go about showing our affection for the people and the city is mutually exclusive. She’s neck-deep in a handful of fundraising, volunteer and social activities that has helped bring Ferndale to the warm, bustling place it’s at today. As for myself, a journalist and author based in the city, I wear a plastered smirk over a brimming heart when we catch up again after all these years. My work is important to me, but Alyssa’s has affected the citizens, the city’s economy, the culture and much more. I’m riveted to find out her story behind the swirling praise that buzzes around her today.
D.W What sort of volunteer experience do you have in Ferndale? How has it affected you and the city?
A.A. I am currently in my third year as the fundraising chair for Ferndale Pride, the LGBTQA street festival that brings around 15,000 people to the city each year.
I am also in my third year as the board secretary for Ferndale Youth Assistance. On this board I co-chair the Bowl-A-Thon committee and the camps committee. I also was the volunteer coordinator for the BBQ Ribs Burnout Tent twice, when it was a part of the Blues Festival fundraiser. I still am an active volunteer with Bluesfest each year, often “passing the pig” at multiple venues a night. Lastly, I volunteer at multiple different Michigan AIDS Coalition events, a Ferndale based non-profit.
It has affected me in the sense that it has been the greatest way I have ever found to help overcome my severe social anxiety and depression. I often have a hard time being in large groups or speaking with people I don’t know, but when it is for a greater good I find I am able to really come out of my shell and can even be really good at it. Being a part of something so much bigger than myself has helped me to get out of my own head. I would highly recommend it.
It may be hard to quantify how it has helped the city but I will try my best. In 2014-2015 I raised over $7,000 for Ferndale Pride (final numbers are of course not in for this year yet). This money is used to keep the festival free to all, and the money remaining after expenses goes to five charities: The Ferndale Community Foundation, Affirmations, Transgender Michigan, Michigan AIDS Coalition, and Ferncare.
With FYA, I have assisted in raising money that provides camp and skill-building scholarships for students and families in the district. These range from sending students to summer camps, specialty camps, and day camps they may not be able to otherwise afford to attend to hosting workshops for families about things like bullying, healthy communication, and even free legal-aid clinics.
Side story: My mom had a really bad childhood, and I will always remember her telling me about how when he could go away to camp in the summer that was the best time of her childhood life. It was the only time she ever felt like she could be a kid and have fun. I definitely think this is why FYA’s camps program is so important to me. It’s hard to really explain that feeling with facts or figures, but I think that unfortunately there are still some children who that is true for and if we can help them have the experience my mother did, well then I just think that is one of the greatest things you can do.)
D.W. With so much change occurring in the city since you graduated, how do you feel it has happened and how can we continue to make Ferndale grow?
A.A. This one is tough for me to answer because I feel part of my answer will be unpopular, but I want to be honest. When I was a kid I loved this city. Growing up here with only my mother I had this feeling like the city was my family, like it played a huge role in how I grew up, and I will forever be grateful for that. When I got older and went away to college sometimes people would ask if it was hard having two moms (my parents are lesbians) and I would always respond with, “No, I grew up in Ferndale.” However, in a very selfish way, part of what I loved about this city was that it felt like a secret. Like, nobody from outside Ferndale really knew how amazing and “cool” and special it was. Now everyone and their mother knows … And while I am truly happy for its success and thoroughly enjoy most of the new additions, I can’t help but miss the hole-in-the-wall restaurants that were kind of dirty but made the absolute best food. And being able to find a parking spot in two minutes on a Saturday night. I feel it happened because this city is the best city there is and we couldn’t keep that to ourselves forever.
My only idea for future growth is that I would love to see more office-type businesses and retail. And of course, more parking! I look forward to seeing growth continue West down 9 Mile towards Pinecrest and think a lot of those ideas could be realized in that. I think the restaurants could benefit from a lunch crowd and I would love to have a more diverse mix of businesses to spend my money at. I really miss places like Dragonfly and House of Chants.
D.W. Why do you think you won the Good Neighbor Award and how has it affected you inside the city?
A.A. According to my presenter, Councilman Dan Martin, I was nominated by multiple people. I believe it was for my work with Pride, Youth Assistance, and the Michigan AIDS Coalition. He gave a wonderful introduction where he stated that the word “vulnerability” had been used by more than one of my nominators to describe me. At first I winced at this description, but he went on to explain it as a strength and as an indicator of how I am always willing to put myself out there. At the event I spoke very briefly and said that for the sake of my “vulnerable” description I wanted to share that I had struggled with anxiety and depression and had found this to be a really positive outlet for working through those things.
Several people came up after the event and thanked me for sharing, so those responses were really heart-warming and encouraging — that was definitely the biggest way it affected me. That and, of course, I felt a great sense of pride. I love this city so much, so to be recognized for just doing something I love was really an amazing feeling.
D.W. What are your future plans for yourself and the city of Ferndale?
A.A. I hope at the end of this month to become the board president for Ferndale Youth Assistance. We have an amazing board with really wonderful ideas and recently were given very generous support by Jack and Annette Aronson. I am so excited to help develop new programs and expand old favorites in the years to come.
I also hope to increase our visibility within the community. Once Pride is over, I’m looking forward to relaxing a little and enjoying the summer, although I did just join the Green Cruise planning committee.
I have always dreamed of one day helping Ferndale in the most effective way and possibly being a member of the City Council, but with the recent boom in home values I fear that may not be an option. At first I felt saddened that I could no longer afford to live in my home town, but I feel more optimistic about it lately. There are a lot of wonderful neighborhoods that need a lot of help and perhaps that is where the next leg of my life will take me. I have a deep love for this city, but really, at the end of the day, I just want to help make the world a better place. Maybe that is cheesie, but I really like helping people. I have a big heart and I used to think that was a bad thing, but now I think it is my best quality. I feel content to go wherever I am needed or wherever I can help.
By Cheri Clair
On May 21st, at the Dearborn DoubleTree Hotel, a memorial service was held for local, much-loved entertainment impresario and Pagan leader, Michael Wiggins. Attendees were encouraged to come and “raise a glass to honor the man who thought that nothing was better than a good party.”
Wiggins died of a heart attack on May 4th, at the age of 50, leaving his loving wife Cindy a grief-stricken widow, and numerous others just as devastated. Wiggins was named Detroit’s “Pagan of the Year” in 2013, and was the longest-serving president of the Magickal Education Council. He also helped organize an annual four-day Pagan conference known as ConVocation, and was affiliated with the annual Renaissance Fair.
On May 24th, I spoke to Steven Gamburd, the current co-owner of the Phoenix Cafe in Hazel Park. The cafe was launched as an art studio and entertainment venue by Wiggins and others in September of 2009.
Gamburd was in place as the Art Gallery and Special Events Curator at that time. He became co-owner, along with Hans Barbe, in 2013 when Wiggins schedule would no longer allow him to run the venue himself. Gamburd, was clearly in great distress over the loss of Wiggins. We discussed memorial service and the many affiliations Wiggins had in the Pagan and art communities. Gamburd proudly spoke of Wiggins’ own art and his popular steampunk dance parties.
Co-owner Hans Barbe shared the following: “I met Michael in 2009 when putting together what became the Phoenix Cafe. He was interested in the concept of a community arts space that was all about amplifying people’s unique talents and passions. When one of the leaders of the effort defected from the project, Michael stepped into the void. He was the one who named the venue and was the face of it for its first three and a half years.
“It’s not every day that you encounter a single human being possessing all his attributes: a powerful mind, wise temperament, compassionate heart, creative talent, leadership skills, vision, purpose, wit and good taste. He was truly unique not just for possessing all those qualities, but for excelling in them. Michael was simply good at life and his example of what it means to live to the fullest will influence me for the rest of mine. “
In his poem, ‘Be the Chosen. I Chose,’ he succinctly and beautifully outlines his philosophy of life. But the last line in particular is so him. On one level it’s a witty taunt, but on a deeper level it’s really a challenge to all of us. He wanted to see other people aspire to be great. That, to me, is the best way to honor his memory: to not back down from a challenge, to not shy away from your greatness, to go for whatever it is you know you need to go for, even if you don’t fully know what you’re doing. They say what people most regret at the end of their lives aren’t things that they did, but things they didn’t do. I don’t think Michael died with any such regrets.
“When we first got off the ground in 2009, there was a short-lived attempt at putting out a regular newsletter for the venue, and I wrote a kind of mission statement of what the venue was all about. I reread part of it at Michael’s memorial on May 21st because I felt that it spoke to what he was about. He was committed to what the venue was about, but he ultimately didn’t need the venue to do it. What the Phoenix meant to him was what all his projects meant to him.”
The MC for an upcoming memorial at the Phoenix for Wiggins, Ted Riot, shared: “Michael’s ringtone for me was the song ‘Rockstar’ by Nickelback. He treated everyone like a rockstar. He gave everyone credit. Their views mattered. Their feelings mattered. Equal. I was an equal in the house of Phoenix. I think ‘equal’ conveys the whole message of the Phoenix. The word for Michael is ‘WhereWithAll.’ Wherever he was, with all his mental faculties, he had all the tools he needed. The where-with-all to overcome. To ascend. To achieve.
“We shared this belief: I am king. I am supreme. But not at your expense. You are not lower. I am not great because you’re less. You don’t have to be a peasant for me to be king. I am king. He was helpful, and kind. He would help anyone it seemed. Everyone was like an out of town guest.”
Riot added, “The symbol for Michael Wiggins should be M over W. Period. Like an hour glass. Because you can flip it over and it would still say the same thing.”
Brian Lewandowski, Gallery Coordinator for the Phoenix Cafe, who has been with the cafe since Memorial weekend 2011, which is when he first met Michael and the rest of the gang, had this to say about Wiggins,“
He was welcoming from the start, and introduced me to the whole steampunk movement. I knew about steampunk prior to that, but not on a conscious level. He put a name to it, and showed me what amazing art and ingenuity was involved with the genre.
“One thing that will always remind me of Michael is the Phoenix mosaic that is hanging in the cafe. I wanted to make a sign for the front window, and talked extensively with Michael about what it should be. We agreed it should be a mosaic Phoenix, and it should be lighted. So I worked for several months on the piece, unveiling it at our two-year anniversary show on November 11, 2011. Ever since, it has been a mainstay in the cafe. Due to its weight, we were unable to initially hang it in the front window. We liked how it looked where we hung it, as did everyone else, so it has stayed there.
Michael also got me involved with the monthly steampunk dance parties he held at the Phoenix, until they outgrew the venue. I know it sounds cliche, but it truly was an honor and a privilege to know Michael. It was crushing when I heard the news of his passing, and took me some time to really comprehend.”
A Memorial Steampunk Art Show, emceed by Ted Riot, honoring Wiggins, will be held at The Phoenix Cafe (24918 John R., Hazel Park, MI) on Friday, August 5th at 7pm, and will feature performances by CHAW, Emily Infinity, La Bas, Doc Colony and more.
Story by Derek Lindamood
Photo by Bernie Laframboise
THE MORE SUCCESSFULLY A city mingles everyday diversity of uses and users in its everyday streets, the more successfully, casually (and economically) its people thereby enliven and support well-located parks that can thus give back grace and delight to their neighborhoods instead of vacuity.” – Jane Jacobs, The Life and Death of American Cities.
Hazel Park is changing – and fast. The revitalization and development of a thriving downtown is on the horizon and moving forward each passing week.
An institution called The Congress for New Urbanism – which aims to develop “vibrant and walkable cities, towns, and neighborhoods where people have diverse choices for how they live, work, shop, and get around” – selected Hazel Park and one other Michigan City to assist with the urban development process for local citizens wanting more out of their town. Beth Holland, Charles Gladue, Mike Webb and Jen Jackson – all Hazel Park residents and volunteers – are working for and with the Hazel Park government and CNU to help improve Main Street Hazel Park.
For starters, John R. Road – owned by Hazel Park, not Oakland County -will be refurbished and improved. The current road is two lanes, which will be reduced to one – the other becoming parking spaces – while the speed limit will be reduced to 25 mph, allowing safety for bikers without the need for a bike path. From 8 Mile to 10 Mile, the city will be divided into districts -restaurant/retail, an art area, an art park, a historical museum (the original Hazel Park Library), a farmer’s market, and more.
“I lived in Ferndale from 1960-1970, before Ferndale even had a downtown. It was during this time period when Ferndale first began to debate with Oakland County over the usage of 9 Mile Rd. as a place for a Main St. Here in Hazel Park, we don’t have that issue – the city of Hazel Park itself owns John R.,” said Beth. This fact will contribute to the ease and speed that the downtown can be created now that the wheels are in motion.
A vitamin store, a recording studio, an Italian Bakery, unique eateries and other businesses will be popping up all around the 2.8 square mile city. Philanthropists such as the Truba family, residents of Hazel Park for 40 years, have donated funds for an outdoor fitness center at Greenacres Park. “The equipment that will be installed in the park will be specially made for outdoor fitness,” Councilman and local mechanic Mike Webb said. The folks from Detroit TV Series, Hardcore Pawn, will open a shop in Hazel Park (although not shoot episodes there). Most interestingly, inside of the original Hazel Park Firehouse (next to Checkers on 9 Mile) will be a firehouse-themed restaurant called Fire House Plaza. “I’m not sure our city will house as many bars as Ferndale, but we’ll have plenty of restaurants and retail, plus a farmer’s market open on Sundays starting June 19 of this year,” Beth said.
Heading up the creation of the Farmer’s Market is Jen Jackson, a native of Holland, MI who harnesses a passion for her new city, as well as helping those in need. “All monies generated from leasing Farmer’s Market space will be reinvested back into the market or into Parks & Recreation,” she said.
The vision for the New Hazel Park is “practical, not crazy” – and the other amenities and spaces included at the Farmer’s Market will offer just that – affordable, fresh produce and goods, a playgroundfor children, bathrooms, a near-by dog park and plenty of parking. Some of the vendors already showing interest in occupying the market space are Jentzens Farms out of Monroe, Apothecary Handmade Cosmetics, Ain’t No Sunshine Farm, and Pink Robin Bakery – which already has three locations in Detroit. The Farmer’s Market will be located on the Ferndale border off Woodward Heights, exactly where the Hazel Park Art Fair is located every year. SNAP and EBT Cards will be accepted at the market.
The energy and excitement exuded by these four Hazel Park citizens was incredibly inspirational. To better serve their community, each of them have dedicated their own time and energy to educating themselves – through MSU Extension programs and an Oakland County crash course called “One-Stop Ready” – in efforts to provide them with the knowledge that will help aid them towards achieving their goals. The knowledge HPGMMarket@gmail.comgleaned from these programs have led to quick and easy processes which facilitate businesses getting permits and approvals much faster. Companies that apply for business permits in Hazel Park typically receive them one-two weeks after the application date. Further, they have assisted in changing zoning laws to allow for businesses to purchase and knock down unoccupied (for a minimum of six months) adjacent houses, to create parking space.
The most amazing detail regarding the sudden development of The New Hazel Park is that it’s coming on the heels of very, very difficult times for the city. “From 2008-2012, the city was in an utter state of emergency. With the financial crisis, and State funding being cut, we asked citizens to step up, and they responded”, said Councilman Webb. “Now, we’ve got triggers in place to continue developing the city under financial stability for the next 25 years. As the road bonds and ice rink are paid off in the near future, this will free up capital to continue to put towards further growth and progress. Not only is Hazel Park an affordable place to retire, but it will very soon also be a viable place for millenials to get started. The schools are improving, their financial health is returning under our new superintendent, and the new downtown will be a place to shop, socialize and enjoy.”
For more information on CNU, go to: https://www.cnu.org/
If you’re interested in leasing space at the Hazel Park Farmer’s Market, email HPGMMarket@gmail.com
Story by Sara E Teller
Photo by Bernie Laframboise
Cindy Truba-Hutchinson of Commerce Township, Michigan, was born and raised in Hazel Park, Michigan, one of three children to long-time residents Richard and Lorraine Truba. “Dad lived on the same street his whole life,” she explains of her father. Truba was a well-known businessman and public figure who raised Cindy, her brother and their sister just a few houses down from where her grandparents lived in the tight-knit, family oriented community. Richard and Lorraine owned Truba Carpet at 9 1/2 Mile and John R for 50 years, which had previously been a furniture store owned and operated by Cindy’s grandfather.
Richard was a Masonic Temple Shriner and active member of numerous community organizations including Hazel Park’s City Council, zoning board, and Lions and Elks Clubs. Following in her father’s shoes, Cindy herself became involved in the City Council before relocating to Commerce Township and was the first female Lion’s Club member in Hazel Park in 1987. “Mom and Dad were both very giving of their time and money,” Cindy says. “They were proud and giving, and wonderful citizens of the city.”
So, when her mother passed away this year at 89 years old, joining her father who passed ten years earlier, she decided to commemorate their long-time charitable presence in the community by raising funds to build what she calls “a park within a park in Hazel Park.” Originally inspired by her son Tyler, who owns a gym in Wixom, Michigan, to provide residents of Hazel Park with a health and wellness experience, Cindy decided to work with the city’s Recreation Department to design a fitness park — a family-centered recreational escape intended to serve as “an asset to the whole community.”
“Sareen Papakhian, Hazel Park’s Assistant Planner, has been extremely helpful” in making Cindy’s vision come to life in the heart of Green Acres Park. These gathering places “are very prevalent where the weather is great all the time,” she says, and she felt Hazel Park residents would be thrilled to have something similar in their backyard.
“We will start with eight or nine pieces of equipment, some ADA-compliant, made for the outdoors,” Cindy explains. She has confirmed the city is working with an equipment builder used previously to construct several playground structures meeting all American Disability Act specifications. These structures and the remainder of the park facilities should be available by the end of the summer. So far, the Truba and Hutchinson families have been able to raise two-thirds of their fundraising goal of $30,000 toward the project, and they hope to raise the remainder by the end of June. Cindy is asking for the public’s help with funding the remaining $7000.
At the time of this interview, Cindy planned to set up in the refreshment tent at the upcoming four-day Hazel Park Memorial Festival located at Green Acres Park. The festival draws a large number of Hazel Park residents and those of neighboring communities with its parade, carnival, craft sale, live entertainment and numerous family friendly activities. Anyone interested in donating to the fitness park can send a check in care of “Richard and Lorraine Truba Recreation Fund” to The City of Hazel Park, 111 E 9 Mile Road, Hazel Park, Michigan 48030. Please make sure to note the project on the memo line.
Story By Doug Mills
Photos by Ed Lane
ELLIOT MOORE IS AT HOME conducting the Detroit Medical Orchestra or in his recently purchased house in Ferndale.
“I like the vibe in Ferndale, to be around independent coffee shops, to be part of the community and to see the changes – like the new bike lanes on Hilton Road,” Moore, also the orchestra’s music director, said. “I remember when the DSO was on strike and there was a defeated atmosphere in Detroit.”
The Detroit Medical Orchestra was awarded second place in 2015 by the American Prize in the community orchestra category. Entering its seventh season, the nonprofit is a showcase for classical music and a way for medical professionals, students, and other professionals to contribute to the city – and to each other.
“All concerts are free and open to the public,” Moore said over coffee. “We raise money for free clinics and want to open ten centers in the city for prekindergarten to age 18. They’re easier to walk to and will provide free food, music and dance classes, and reading programs. And we’re working on healing through music programs and finding space in hospitals where we can perform.”
Along with the charitable goodwill fostered by the orchestra, personal benefits also occur. Moore met his wife, Pauline, a medical doctor, through one of the orchestra musicians.
For many, music’s benefits are physical and psychological ones. Examples include improved levels of cortisone, blood pressure, heart rate, and physical and emotional health improvements by listening or participating in music, Dr. Michelle Lynch, a clinical psychologist with Mielke and Weeks Psychological Services and orchestra board president, said. An aspect of Sen. Gabrielle Gifford’s recovery for a wound was vocal intonation therapy – singing before speaking.
“I do better on board exams because of music,” Lynch, a flutist for the orchestra, said after a June 4th concert sponsored by Detroit Public Television and WRCJ radio.
The smaller orchestra — such as the 35 musicians playing the Beethoven chamber symphony, help them talk to one another, she said. Their various backgrounds of age and ethnicity bring different experiences than orchestras of the past.
Lynch also noted that about a third of the musicians come for nonmedical vocations such as software and mathematics and are called friends of the orchestra.
Whether in medical fields or not, positive results can be quick. “
Playing music the previous night helps the next morning when a doctor takes glass out of a patient’s eye,” Moore continued.
Moore’s route into music started when his mother insisted he play the cello. Her dream was of a trio also consisting of her playing the piano and his sister the violin. While it didn’t work out, Moore did take up the cello and received his undergraduate degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music and masters degree in cello performance in Switzerland. While in Switzerland he worked playing cello in a piano trio.
“After about six months I found that the cello wasn’t my way to communicate my love of music. For me conducting was the way to do that.”
After going to a conductors retreat, Medomak, in Maine, Moore was invited by the instructor, conductor Kenneth Kiesler, to be his assistant at Manhattan School of Music in New York City. He then moved to Ann Arbor and received his doctorate in conducting from the University of Michigan in 2013.
The paradox for Moore is that while it looks like he’s with people a lot conducting, 95 per cent of his time is spent alone, studying scores and trying to determine what the composer wanted.
“It’s like I’m building a three-dimensional image of sound,” he said. “During rehearsal, sometimes my image of the music isn’t quite right. And sometimes it clarifies the image, any modern music, from the baroque to anything written today.” Whether a Beethoven cello sonata or a Beethoven string quartet, it’s always the question: How do they bring that out?”
One of the ways to gauge the orchestra’s success is that it started with 30 musicians and now has the 75 people required for a full orchestra.
Moore is also finding a better situation when he moved from Royal Oak to the couple’s first house purchase in August.
“The house prices are great compared to other places,” he said. “Mom thought renting made more sense, until a TV program showed how buying was better depending on where you live, and now Mom thinks I was a genius.”
For Lynch the love of music also began early. “I was first introduced at a free concert in Kalamazoo when I was nine or ten — that’s when I knew I wanted to play an instrument.”
Some support for the Detroit Medical Orchestra is from Wayne State Alumni and from small contributions. The orchestra’s first concert was a Wayne State University in 2010, she said.
The Detroit Medical Orchestra will perform a benefit concert featuring pianist Yuki Mack and cellist Elliot Moore and multi-media artist Timothy Orikri at Cliff Bell’s, 2030 Park Ave., Detroit on June 26, 2016 from 6-8 pm.
By Andrea Grimaldi
Photos by Bernie LaFramboise
DETROIT ARTISANS ISN’T THE DUSTY SMORGASBORD of chipped knick-knacks that some imagine when talking bout antique stores. There is no overwhelming mildew smell or the feeling like one wrong move will break everything around you. Instead, you’ll find items that will bring you nostalgia or items you’ve never seen before. The carefully curated and constantly rotating shop has a little bit of everything collected in organically crafted sections. The artistry of the collection is inspiration for home décor, showing how surprisingly different novelties and tools can cohabitate tastefully.
Brother and sister Joey Sturgill and Jamie Huff are experienced pickers and collectors. Growing up on a farm with a family full of garage salers and collectors led to a fascination of interesting antiques. The siblings used their family’s collections for creating perfectly furnished blanket forts.
The fascination with collecting and refurbishing carried into their adult lives as well. Jamie opened Jamie’s Attic, an estate sale business for the Metro Detroit and Down River communities. Joey is a hospice nurse, but continues refurbishing and collecting items on the side. His background in medicine draws him towards old medicinal equipment.
Growing up in Michigan, the entire staff has a soft spot for anything Michigan and Detroit made. While this includes automobile industry frippery, it is not limited to signs, a giant Smith-Matthews leather trunk, and a convenience store cigar slot machine. The store also has a special eye for “mantiques,” which includes (but is not limited to) old tools, machinery, and motorcycle parts.
While this is an incredibly ideal place to find the perfect artwork for your wall, you can also find large usable items like a handmade bar or an antique filing cabinet. You can go home with a mid-century modern armchair or an antique wooden kneeler. Vintage t-shirts hang alongside mink stoles. Find the perfect pair of earrings or replace your furniture, your bicycle, and your motorcycle.
Although the siblings have been collecting for over 15 years, they opened the doors of Detroit Artisans on December 4, 2015. With the help of family and lifelong friends, the new space has already become a well-developed shop with constantly rotating stock. While they add new items and take in consignments weekly, they are very specific about picking the correct items that will simultaneously fit in with their stock and stand out on their own.
Since December, most of their stock has completely changed. To encourage the changing environment, they offer a progressive discount. After 60 days that an item has been on the floor, 25 per cent is taken off the price, with more coming off every 30 days after that. While the Detroit Artisan Facebook documents some of the interesting new pieces that come in, it does not cover the entire stock. You need to spend some time in the store to see everything.
“In the end, it is all just stuff,” Joey Sturgill explains. But stuff has the power to make a house a home. Personalizing your space with nostalgic artifacts or inspiring items can help you feel more comfortable in your surroundings or inspire you to create. Finding new uses for things people no longer want is the mission of Detroit Artisans. The committed staff of Detroit Artisans is on a constant quest to find amazing stuff, and amazing homes for the stuff.
Detroit Artisans is open Thursday through Sunday, 12-6 on Thursday and Sunday, 12-8 Friday and Saturday. They are located at 2141 Hilton Road at Orchard. Look at their website (www.DetroitArtisans.com) for amazing photographs and more information.
Story by Derek Lindamood
Photos by Bernie Laframboise
A legendary local Ferndale dive bar, The New Way was purchased by current owner ç in 2013. D’Angelo was seeking to keep the neighborhood feel but improve the service-level and atmosphere while supporting the live music scene. “I was always interested in the bar business, and I thought I could own one and make it successful. I like knowing people’s names, providing something for the community, while trying to leave my mark. Dive bars are seen as comfortable, homey, welcoming and familiar—yet, can be kind of…grimy and poorly run”, he says. “My vision for The New Way Bar was to keep all of the positive aspects of the dive bar, yet get rid of the negative ones.” And he’s done just that. Well-run, clean, with consistently new entertainment genres and performers, and excellent service from the staff, it’s become a staple on the pub circuit in Ferndale.
The initial improvements made were a new sign, putting a patio out front for spring/summer, painting the inside, new chairs and tables, and adding six taps of draft beer. The bartenders are all incredibly friendly, talkative, responsive and welcoming. The prices are fair, the food menu is simple but satisfactory—chili and homemade soups are available during lunch. The bar area, consistently filled by wisecracking regulars, offers two televisions to watch sports (and debate them) with a big screen in the back room by the stage as well. The atmosphere breeds openness, the customers tend to be outgoing and approachable, and acquaintances are easily made. A wall separates the bar area from the stage area, making the New Way unique in that it can be a sports pub and/or a music venue simultaneously. There’s also ski ball, ping pong, pool and table hockey.
As for live music, the venue does not take money out of the cover charge at the door—bands get 100 per cent. “I like all of the bands that we host, I want to treat them great. Music is such a big part of why I bought this place”, D’Angelo said. Friday and Saturday nights are the most popular for live shows, each night boasting three or four bands. Cover is five bucks. Each band brings its own slew of friends, relatives and co-workers filling the joint with folks looking to turn loose. Each night brings a completely different mixture of people, providing an eclectic and novel crowd each and every weekend. On the first Friday of every month, the New Way showcases seasoned comedians Blain and Diego who utilize new material to host a cast of up to five comedians, and it is well worth the cover price.
Monday nights are Comedy Night, hosted by Amit Jain. There’s no cover, and the format is open mic. Comedians from all over Michigan, and even Toledo and Windsor, make the trip to the New Way to bounce potentially new material off the New Way customers to see their reactions and gauge the laugh meter. Consider yourself warned: No topic is off limits, and most comedians are “edgy.” If you’re easily offended, stay home.
Tuesday Nights are Jazz. There’s no cover, and there’s a rotating list of jazz bands who play from 8pm-9pm. Then, from 9pm-11pm people can come and sit in to play along with the band. “The Jazz community is close-knit, they all bring in their own “chart” of music.” Jamie said. If you want to play along with the other musicians, come prepared.
Wednesday Nights are open rock night hosted by Brian Miller. Brian has been hosting the event for three consecutive years and have won Best Open Mic in the Metro Times. “Mostly, we get a lot of singer/song writers, a lot of acoustic”, Jamie adds. How does someone interested in performing get on stage? “Come in or call, tell me you want to sign-up, and you’re in a slot. On average a musician has time for two-three songs, depending on how busy it is”, D’Angelo maintains. The stage is open from 9:30pm – 1am.
The New Way is unique in so many ways. Outside events are organized by regular customers from within—such as Sunday afternoon bike rides from The New Way to the Lions or Tigers game and back, tennis matches and euchre tournaments. Renting Rosie the Racehorse to pet and feed in the parking lot during the Kentucky Derby, offering “mystery shots” in brown bags at a discount, giving the most loyal customers cellphone access to change television channels to the game of choice reached by democratic decision, and bartenders that remember your name as well as your order—hosting up and coming local bands as well as jazz musicians, while providing proving grounds and a forum for offbeat and aspiring comics, some of them first-timers on stage—The New Way Bar is my favorite spot in Ferndale.
If you like to look cool and dress to impress when you’re out on the town—go somewhere trendier. If you want to let your hair down, strike up a conversation with some new people, and see live entertainment—the New Way is the place for you.
New Way Bar, 23130 Woodward, Ferndale MI 48220, 248-541-9870
Story by Andrea Grimaldi
Photos by Bruce Thorns & Bernie Laframboise
If your dreams are in the clouds and you prefer a little dedication to instant gratification, model airplanes are the hobby for you. Ferndale is in the lucky position of being home to one of the oldest model airplane clubs in the country, and currently one of the largest clubs that fly free-flight, control line and remote control models. Whether you’re a seasoned builder or a newcomer, the Cloudbusters are a necessary destination.
The Cloudbusters have been growing in members and knowledge for 77 years. The group started in 1939 as a handful of teenagers who enjoyed building planes and flying together. Originally called the Thermites Club, they met at different hobby shops and churches around Royal Oak and Southfield. Although participation dropped rapidly during World War II due to the draft, the group carried through the war and gained momentum in post war America. In 1944 the group changed their name to the Cloudbusters, which has stuck to this day.
In 1965 the Cloudbusters became incorporated under Michigan law, with their own bylaws and Constitution. In 1983 the club gained charter status with the Academy of Model Aviation (AMA) as Charter number 1911. Throughout their history they have competed in national competitions as well as local. The Cloudbusters also put on their own events and competition annually to showcase what years of practice and dedication can build. Yearly group auctions allow for members and newbies to trade parts and rare models.
Although there are remote control and control line enthusiasts in the group, the majority of the members prefer the original free-flight concept. The planes can weigh less than a penny and are propelled by rubber-band motors. Because the free-flight planes have no steering capabilities, a chase vehicle (normally a golf cart or a motorcycle) must be ready to follow. Despite not being able to steer the planes, they are designed for stabilized flight, rotating in slow and steady circles across the sky. Seeing people lay on the ground under planes is not an uncommon sight, as the hypnotizing flight path draws audiences. Free-flight planes compete mostly on flight time, with members of the Cloudbuster’s boasting over 20 minute flights on some of their planes.
Throughout the summer the Cloudbusters arrange for outdoor flying events. Whether it is casual club meet ups or group contests, any fair weather, low-wind day is fair game for model flights. The club sponsors the annual FAC Outdoor Championship at the National Flying Site in Muncie, Indiana. The Cloudbuster’s annual club picnic in August is open to friends, families, and locals, and includes prizes for the contest winners and lunch for the spectators and contestants.
To protect against unpredictable weather conditions, the group also arranges for indoor flights weekly during the winter months. They sponsor the annual Indoor Fling, one of the largest indoor contests in the USA. The Indoor Fling is held at the Ultimate Soccer Arena for a more controlled environment.
The Cloudbuster’s also hold monthly meetings throughout the winter months. The meetings serve as a place for exchanging tips and product recommendations. Each meeting includes members presenting their prized models as well, from planes made of dowel rods and tissue paper, to larger fiberglass planes. The meetings are the perfect starting spot for people new to the hobby, where the seasoned pilots are happy to share their knowledge and stories. The jovial conversation that carries the meetings is welcoming for even the clueless (author included).
The passion that the club members share for model planes goes beyond inclusive events. Cloudbusters are available to put on educational events and have hosted scout groups as well as Science Olympiads. In the age of drones and pre-built remote control planes, the Cloud-busters are more than happy to accommodate young Busters-to-be. A little dedication takes model planes a long way, and the Cloudbusters want nothing more than the tradition carried on.
Watch the Cloudbuster’s website for upcoming events, at http://cloudbustermac.tripod.com. The website is also a great resource for information on and photos of the different models. The monthly newspaper is also a great place to find plane design plans as well as recaps of past events. There are summer flights and fun flies planned, and monthly meetings resume in September, the third Tuesday of each month at the Drayton Avenue Presbyterian Church.