October / Nov 2014

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Election Day is Tuesday, November 4. While most of the attention in Michigan is focused on the races for governor and senate, there are also a number of local elections deserving of our attention. One of the more important of these is the Ferndale School Board race.

This is your chance to help shape the policies and practices that will guide the education of the next generation of residents of Ferndale, of Michigan, of the planet Earth. If you‘re a parent of a child in the Ferndale school system, you already know how important this is. If you don’t have children yourself, you’re still an adult and raising children is a community responsibility. Let the benevolent auntie or uncle inside you come out, and make a statement for our students’ futures!

All four of the candidates for School Board were kind enough to provide us with a statement and a photo for this edition. As a service, Ferndale Friends is publishing these statements, without editing or comment, to allow you, the voter, to make the most informed choice possible.

Without further ado, Ferndale Friends is proud to present your 2014 candidates for the Ferndale School Board.

Nan Kerr-Mueller

I am proud to be a part of the Ferndale school district and to be a part of the positive, recent changes that are in line with our newly-adopted strategic plan. When I was first elected to the board, I believed accountability could be done with difficult questions asked at the table. I now see accountability as much more complex. It involves ongoing, two-way communication with our community members and developing multi-layered systems of evaluation. The current school board has done an outstanding job in the last year focusing on school administrator accountability and making sure we have the policies in place to ensure effective oversight. Institutionalizing these changes, as I’ve worked to do, will ensure that our district can keep our forward momentum no matter who is in the front office. Running with Jen and Karen is a pleasure. We each think in unique ways and yet can work together as a team, respectfully listening to opposing opinions. We share a high level of respect for each other.

The most pressing issue for our school board members will be to continue to implement the district’s Strategic Plan with fidelity. With your vote I will continue my efforts to ensure that the plan is implemented with the voices of our community at the table, and I will ensure that scorecard and stepped assessments are done to make certain plans are completed on time and with transparency. These plans confirm our commitment to our children by establishing high expectations for student achievement, guarantee equitable education for all of our students, and secure our district’s future by making connections with parents to promote our district and keep Ferndale district students in the Ferndale Public Schools. Throughout this process, we will ensure that the superintendent’s evaluation is closely aligned to the strategic plan, as will our own evaluation. Our community recognizes this district is on the rise and I will be mindful and work hard to keep it on the right path.

As a former educator, I am focused on how my actions are impacting the classroom. I also have three sons attending different schools within the district, Pre-school, Coolidge and Ferndale Middle School. Having the parent perspective helps me to remember to ask at meetings, “How will this impact our students”? If what we are doing does not have a positive effect we need to stop and reassess our plans.

Spending time volunteering is important to me. I am a co-director of the Coolidge talent show (as well as a backstage volunteer at the JFK show each year). I volunteer at camps and work the Reality Store at the High School every year. I enjoy my volunteer time at June Fair and the Fall Festival. From selling T-shirts at football games to book conferencing at the middle school, I love being a part of this community.

For more information: http://nan4schoolboard.com

Jennifer LaTosch

I have lived in the Ferndale Public School district for 20 years and have two amazing third- graders in our schools. When our children came into our lives, my (now) wife and I wanted to live in a place that ensured two things: 1) that our community would be a place where our kids could proudly say, “I have two moms;” and 2) that our local schools would provide them with the best education possible. Ferndale is clearly that community, and the positive momentum that I and my fellow board members have created this past year will ensure that Ferndale Public Schools provide that education.

My volunteerism in the schools and my involvement on the Strategic Planning Committee and now on the School Board make me well poised to understand our challenges, emphasize our unique strengths, and focus on our shared vision for moving Ferndale Schools forward. As an attorney focusing on family and probate law, I have an understanding of diverging view points and emotionally charged situations yet can effectively advocate for our children, all the while maintaining a clear vision of our new Strategic Plan. This Plan was developed over a one year span and involved the entire community. We will be successful in fulfilling the goals and objectives contained in our Strategic Plan by holding close to three primary priorities.

My first priority is achievement. We must work together to ensure that each student, from those with special needs through advanced skills, achieves not only academically, but in extracurricular activities and on their journeys to becoming thriving global citizens.

Priority two is equity. Our community is among the most diverse in Michigan; we have an exceptional mix of individuals with varying backgrounds and experiences: race, income, sexual orientation and so much more. As a leader in the lesbian and gay community, I take pride in our district’s diversity and take personal responsibility for fostering an inclusive and respectful culture for all. Along with our diversity comes a responsibility: that of treating every student, parent, staff and community member with dignity and respect. As a board member, I will continue to hold myself and all school leadership accountable for effectively and honestly working within our community’s diversity. Expanding and supporting a culture of dignity and equity will not only serve to foster extraordinary student achievement, it will also provide the requisite ground work to focus on other essential matters such as governance, financial sustainability and advocacy.

Finally, advocacy: we must advocate for the equitable and successful achievement of our students, teachers, staff and administrators. Public education in Michigan has been subjected to repeated attacks by state and federal regulation and under-funding. I will continue to work towards legislative change while supporting and seeking out creative solutions for securing grants and partnerships to ensure our schools and students receive optimal resources. I have worked hard to create this positive, forward momentum and I now respectfully ask for your vote on November 4, 2014. Thank you.


Karen Twomey

I bring a solid record of success as an educator, mom, neighbor and as an experienced policy maker and advocate on the Ferndale Board of Education. I hold a Masters degree in Educational Leadership and Administration, and work professionally as a world language teacher in Bloomfield Hills. The MASB (Michigan Association of School Boards) honored me with a Distinguished Achievement Award in recognition of my extensive training and advocacy on behalf of our public schools at the local, state and federal level. I chaired Ferndale’s recent Strategic Planning Committee, and as chair of the External Relations Committee, provided the leadership for an advocacy trip to Lansing that helped return over $500,000 to our district. This election I’m running for the same reason I ran six years ago: I have three kids in the district and I can see the positive results of proactive, policy-driven leadership. This amazing community has put together an effective team of board members with deep and diverse talents, and I want to keep this successful team together. We now have in place a dynamic strategic vision and an amazingly talented superintendent. I want to continue using my experience on the board to keep building the positive momentum of the Ferndale Public Schools.

My top three issues are achievement, transparency, and sustainability:

Improving student achievement is the board’s main focus. I will use the newly adopted strategic plan as a framework for advancing the quality and equity of our academic programs. Strong schools depend on community confidence that the district’s programs promote high educational growth and achievement.

Transparency is about the timeliness, relevance, and methods by which we invite the community to connect with district information and decision-making processes. I started my board service by advocating for stricter adherence to the Open Meetings Act and posting board packets online for easier access. We are now working to formalize the changes I’ve championed by creating a committee structure that will enhance access to the planning processes.

Financial sustainability is an ongoing challenge for our district. In order to have excellent programs, we need adequate funding. One thing that has slowed the forward momentum of our new superintendent is all the time being spent catching and tightening prior inefficiencies. As a teacher, I know that offering quality educational opportunities is what keeps and builds the confidence and enrollment of our district families. Given that Michigan’s k-12 education funding has dropped substantially, we must be strategic with district resources. We are a community of generous parents and businesses, but we can’t hold enough bake sales to make up the decreases in state funding. I will continue work to tighten policies and processes, advocate for more state and federal funding, seek new revenue sources, and grow district enrollment.

I would welcome and appreciate the opportunity to discuss our district’s forward momentum with you at an upcoming event, while I’m door knocking, or feel free to contact me through my website at: http://karen4schoolboard.com.

Keith Warnick

“You think you know me; you don’t. But you can, just ask!”

Why do I say this? In today’s society, we live on sound bites; the immediacy of digital ‘media.’ “I heard this”, and “she said that” and so on….. So, thank you, Ferndale Friends, for asking!

Background; Married 39 years to a former Ferndale Public Schools employee, Jan; two daughters, graduated FHS, 2000 and 2002. Got involved in district volunteerism 27 years ago with Mrs. Richardson’s kindergarten classroom at Jackson Elementary School. You can see all of my volunteer experience on my web site, along with all of my extensive school board training. More training than the three challengers combined. www.keithwarnick.com

So why am I running, after being on the board from 2004 thru 2012? Well, I’ve been asked! Parents, citizens and employees that have seen me at district and civic events throughout 2013 and early 2014 stopped me and said, “…wish you were still on the board. We need your leadership skills.” So after talking it over with my wife and others, I put my paperwork in and met with several district employees to find out what is going well and what is not.
You’ll hear about transparency and accountability from the challengers. Transparency: Change to Consent Agenda that includes automatic approval of Bills & Accounts with no discussion of the millions we are paying out. Public admission of Open Meetings Act violation by pre-announcement of 7-0 vote of district staffing recommendations! Transparency? NO!

Accountability: Ex: Reducing Schools of Choice students in 2013 to around 40 from 80. Political pressure forced this choice! (To be more like Berkley and allow our families to stay here. Well, Berkley allowed 145 students!) Cost FPS $260,000 in revenue! Ex: Stating confidence in enrollment assumptions then a few months later stating they had no idea about the numbers being proposed! Ex: Choosing a new member from the same district magnet school to fulfill political promises, not a parent with children in 3 district schools! Accountability? NO!

You’ll hear about empowering teachers, staff and superintendent! That’s what boards do every day! It’s their job! Nothing new!

What you haven’t heard are ideas going forward to fit our Strategic Plan. How are we to configure the HS/MS, Elementary schools, DLC and UHS! I have many researched ideas and ready partners; too numerous to post here but these will be presented on my website and at my Meet-n-Greets in October!

What will I bring back to the board? Well, you should know that one board member only has one vote. But my vote, as all of my votes in the past, will be made based first and foremost “Does this benefit the education experience of our children?” I thoroughly research the issue, ask questions of those that propose the need and make my decision intelligently. Institutional knowledge of the district! I have never been told to vote one way or another! And if someone tried, I’d ignore them! No partisan politics! Knowledge & common sense!

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Ferndale resident Alan Posner loves to play games. His bride-to-be, Michelle, does too. “We have game nights.” he explained to me, over tea at Java Hutt recently. “We both love board games and play a lot of them.”

The band director for Berkley Middle and High Schools, Posner moved to Ferndale in 2011, renting at first, finally purchasing a home with his thengirlfriend Michelle. “We got something close to Downtown, so it was easy to walk to,” he recalls.

Combining his love for games, puzzles, and codes with his love for the cool and funky businesses that inhabit Ferndale’s downtown, he came up with a brilliant plan.

“Michelle was hinting at marriage.” He laughs. “Her birthday was approaching. I wanted to do something exciting, different.”
Since they both enjoyed games, he thought of a scavenger hunt involving local businesses. He recruited business owners, friends, and relatives to help his idea take flight.

“We started at the library, where she was given a mystery book with a cryptogram to solve.” Page 40, line five, word three, and so on, spelling a message. This led her to Imperial, an important place for both, for it was there they’d had their first date. There, over tacos, Michelle solved a puzzle that led her to Public House for drinks and conundrums.

Cracking a riddle there led to 9 Lives Tattoo, where a temporary cupcake tattoo was applied (Posner doesn’t tell us where.) That was a sign to head over to Cupcake Station, where chocolatedipped strawberries awaited. One final brain-bender led her to Geary Park, where Alan was waiting with a ring and a proposal (possibly given in the form of an anagram?) The tale ended happily, and the wedding is scheduled for summer of 2015.

I asked Posner if this event is a normal sort of thing for them. I imagined a household where car keys were hidden and cryptic clues scattered about to lead to them.

“No,” Posner laughs, “nothing like that.” Apparently, game nights are enough.

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Gavin is a happy, seven-year-old boy filled with love and laughter. He loves being outdoors and fishing along with spending time playing with his nine-year-old sister, Mackenzie. His other passion is photography. “He has an Etsy page where he features photos that you can purchase,” his grandmother Donna says.

Gavin also tires quickly and spends almost all of his time outdoors in a wheelchair. He suffers from mitochondrial disease, known as Mito for short. “Gavin has to work twice as hard as healthy children and adults do to accomplish everyday tasks. If he plays or does too much, his body goes into ‘crash’ mode, which makes him lethargic, weak and makes even the smallest of tasks seem impossible.” Donna explains. The “crash” also causes his body to respond with Paroxysmal Kinesigenic Dyskinesia, known as PDK, which is a “rare neurological condition that causes various types of involuntary and uncontrollable movements.”

According to the “Mighty Mito Superhero” Facebook page, Gavin has a whole host of symptoms.” However, Gavin isn’t alone in his fight. Big sister Mackenzie is on a mission to raise awareness. “She has been journal-writing since first grade,” Donna says. More recently, Mackenzie has written something more substantial: a book, featuring her brother as a superhero called “Mighty Mito Superhero.” The book has been a family project, from writing and editing to illustrations and the development of Gavin’s superhero look.

Mackenzie’s mission is to save Gavin’s life by raising $1 million for Mito awareness and to help find a cure. The front page of the book packs a powerful message from Mackenzie: “I love my little brother Gavin because he is so brave. He goes through more tests than most adults do and he doesn’t even cry. He is my hero. My wish is that he could be better and live like normal kids do. Seeing him sick all the time makes me sad.”

The book goes into details of everyday life for Gavin, including his fur-ever companion, a seizure alert dog named Hershey, who is a “black toy poodle with a funny white beard.” The book has been for sale on Amazon.com for only a few months, but the response has been enormous. There has been coverage from Perez Hilton, private blogs, and newspapers from all over the country. The book can also be found in public and university libraries.

Gavin and Mackenzie, along with their parents, Brandi (a Ferndale High graduate) and Jeff were recently interviewed on ABC News. The book is selling from here to Florida, where the family lives. The book has also gained international attention. “A film crew came in from Germany and followed the family for a day. They turned it into a documentary that played in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland,” Donna says.

By telling their story, Mackenzie hopes the fight for her brother’s life will bring about a change and help other families affected by Mito. To date, the book sales raised over $50,000, donated to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.

For more information, visit Gavin’s webpage: www.hope4mito.com

You can also check out Gavin’s images: www.etsy.com/shop/momlawrey

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Close your eyes while listening to local trio Voyag3r’s new album; you’ll literally be transported. You’ll feel the fireballs blazing behind you as you make that one last jump off the hanger bay, or you’ll sense sensational jetstreams surrounding you as you accelerate on your motorbike through the laser-stormed tunnel gauntlet, evading the bad guys. That’s the whole idea.

“Remember all those horror movies and sci-fi and action movies that you probably watched as a kid in the late ‘70s and all throughout the ‘80s?” Whenever Voyag3r keyboardist Steve Greene has to describe the sound of the group, he just offers that question and, assuredly, their nostalgia chords are poignantly plucked to the point where they know exactly what to expect.

Their debut album was released on local label Bellyache Records last month. Properly pronounced as “Voyager 3,” the trio (with Aaron Greene on bass and Greg Mastin on drums) deploy fantastic melodies and propulsive rhythms over a stirring and sinister-toned atmospheric soundscape. But these songs, albeit truly cinematic in their vibe and aesthetic, are, above all, an awesome and interstellar-stung summation of each musician’s unique styles and sensibilities.

“Greg definitely has his roots in metal,” assures Steve. “He loves all forms of metal music but he had his very first start, in terms of inspiration to play drums, from KISS. He’s influenced by many things, of course, but if you had to pick an avatar for him, it’d be a metal dude.” Steve chuckles at his assertion with a warm familiarity indicative of their long friendship and a rewarding collaboration that’s spanned decades.

Aaron, meanwhile, is Steve’s cousin; so they’ve been playing music together for as long as each can remember. “Aaron comes from rock and metal, too. He’s really into comic books and films, like me, though. But, he loves to read; he’s reading two books at a time, usually. But, with the comics, like Wolverine, Batman, stuff like that, he has a great sense of that world. He’s a fan of guitar-heavy harmonies and metal riffs, so we sprinkle that into Voyag3r music.”

“It has a base in horror, sci-fi and action film scores, definitely,” admits Steve of the group’s instrumental space-rock compositions. “But, it’s a unique blend. We have acoustic drums and electric guitar, with synthesizers, and it makes it its own thing. So, it’s not just soundtrack stuff.”

So, about that long friendship: Aaron and Steve performed as a metal-tinged electro-rock duo called Forge from the mid-‘90s until 2004, and their first “live” drummer wound up being Greg. The cousins met Greg during one of their assiduous runs putting up flyers throughout the metro Detroit area, (the oldfashioned format for notifying folks about your upcoming concert).

Throughout the late ‘90s, Greg was the drummer for a local thrash/prog outfit called World Of Hurt and he crossed paths with Aaron and Steve down the vinylstuffed aisles of a (since-closed) music store called Repeat The Beat. The two cousins, grasping a stack of Kinko-copied cut-and-pasted Xerox flyers with a tape-gun in their back pocket, told Greg how much they appreciated his work in World Of Hurt and he, in turn, told them of his familiarity with Forge and the conversation lead to Greg declaring: “Well…ya know…I might wanna’ jam with you, here’s my number.”

“We just struck up that conversation,” recalls Steve, “ya’ know, as you would, back in the day, with like-minded people, talking about records and music; it was part of this cool culture of record store hang-outs…” When Steve recalls this, there’s a tenderness to his voice that elucidates the charm of Voyag3r –that being an evocation of a nostalgia for a pre-internet world where a much purer excitement could be elicited from movies, shows, and, yes, even comics and video games.

Their excellent space-rock harkens back to when audiences weren’t as numbed by blue screens storms and Marvel action scene overkills, to when slasher films were actually scary and action films packed some actual punches. Potent punches! “And we’ve been playing with Greg ever since,” says Steve. “Through different bands and different eras.

We’ve become such great friends since then, too. We’ve been through all kinds of adventures together.” He chuckles again, warmly. “Forge lasted for ten years, with three albums and we toured the East Coast and West Coast and everywhere in between. We did a bunch of crazy stuff in our van, which took on many miles. We even had a Sega set up in there with a VCR. We had (touring) down to a science.”

After Forge, the trio started playing together in a bluesy hard-rock-leaning group called Decibilt (think voluminous decibels with the toughness of Peterbilt trucks).
Around 2012, however, Steve, who has always had a penchant for film and film scores, decided it was finally time to embrace a longtime yearning to experiment with a form of rock music that could be the soundtrack of his favorite sci-fi/action films from the past. “I love to hit all these different emotions. We’re not limited to where a standard rock band might typically have to go, as far as verse-chorusverse structures.”

Steve is the one bringing “the weirder aspects” to the compositional table, allowing his influences of spacey, strange synthrock and experimental jazz crash nicely into the metal and rock influences of his bassist and drummer).

They recorded their debut full length, Doom Fortress at Rustbelt Studios in Ferndale. They specifically recorded with an analog tape machine. “We wanted to approach it as though this was the soundtrack of a movie called Doom Fortress, sounding like it came out in 1981 or something; using these different vintage analog synths put through Rustbelt’s excellent preamps and this 1977 Harrison Console that could color the sound and give it a warm, old school feeling.”

“So, it sounds like if it were an old film or a reissued soundtrack that you found an old copy of, somewhere in a record store. We hope that it captures that feel and spirit.”

The band will continue promoting Doom Fortress this season with a smattering of local shows and are always open to the possibility of scoring music for an actual film or TV project in the future.

For more info: http://voyag3r.com

If life is like a chess match, then Sharon Chess is prepared for it in more than just name. This business-savvy woman has all her pawns lined up, running a successful roofing and siding company alongside her husband, David, while also being active in local charities and events. She’s also a mother, grandmother, and even the author of a children’s book.

A woman running a home improvement business is still a rare sight. How did she get into it? “I dated the owner and married him,” she says with a laugh. Sharon Chess met her husband David in July, 1999 and the couple married in December of 2005. David founded the company Chess Home Improvements in 1974, focusing on home building, improvements and repairs. The company started in Hamtramck, and David moved to Ferndale at the tender age of 23. He renovated his own home and gained the confidence to run the company and experienced great success. He then purchased several other properties and began renovations and improvements on many homes in the Metro Detroit area.

This success came with a price when David witnessed his truck being stolen outside of a home that he was working on. The thieves stole thousands of dollars of tools and equipment, forcing David to rethink his options for the business. Undeterred by this misfortune, David decided to refocus the company on roofing and siding. The name was changed to Chess Roofing and Siding and the niche was born.

Though Sharon came into the company via marriage, she knows the business through and through. “Before I met David, I did secretarial work.” She recalls. “David was busy, so our dates would be going out to do estimates. He taught me how to do them, and I was good at it.” This resulted not only in a new career, but also freed David to take her on actual dates.

Together, this power couple has developed this business into one that gives their larger competitors a run for their money. Chess Roofing and Siding prides itself on its professional work ethic, earning an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and a place on the prestigious Angie’s List, as well as their ability to remain competitive by offering fair pricing.

When she arrived in Ferndale in 1999, “The city was in transition,” Sharon remembers. “About half the businesses on Nine Mile were empty.” Chess Roofing and Siding did their part to help make Ferndale what it is today. Before the economic downturn, Chess worked with the City to choose two residents per year (one in spring and one in fall) who needed a new roof or siding but could not afford it. Chess donated the materials and labor and the chosen homeowners got the work done for free. Chess is still involved in helping the community. “There are over 130 nonprofit organizations in Ferndale,” Sharon points out. In recent years, she’s also mentored middle school students and organized events like the Cookie Challenge.

Some might think that handling the responsibility of running a successful business and volunteering in the community would be enough for anyone. Sharon is proving that her goals and dreams cover a broad spectrum, with success behind every door. There’s also family to consider.

It may be hard to tell just by looking at this lovely lady, but she is a mother of three and grandmother of eight. Sharon found out that she was going to have her first grandchild when her daughter gave her a book about being a grandparent. To her shock and surprise, Sharon discovered that her daughter had had a hard time finding a book on the subject. Sharon has a knack for writing and graduated from the Institute for Children’s Literature in 2009. She decided to use this skill to write her own children’s book, made for grandmothers like herself.

The book, “Grandma’s Ready,” is wonderfully illustrated and tells a story of a grandmother’s excitement over the impending arrival of her grandchild. The story is written in English as well as Spanish and is published by Ferne Press. If you would like to purchase a copy of Grandma’s Ready, you can do so from her website, www.sharonchess.com where you can get special pricing as well as a signed copy from Sharon herself. If you’d like more information about Sharon or Chess Roofing and Siding, you can contact her at 248-398-1050 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sharon.chess.1

If you’ve noticed the wonderful photographs gracing the pages of Ferndale Friends, one of the persons you can thank is Ed Abeska.

He and his wife Joyce were united by a passion for photography, and four years ago decided to turn their hobby into a business by starting Fluid Photography. Ed had always been interested in drawing and art and used photography as a creative outlet while studying Engineering in college.

He was naturally drawn to portraiture and figure studies. Joyce was a lifelong point-and-shoot, memory-capturing kind of person.

“I was always the one with the camera out on vacations,” she explained. While she didn’t have any formal training or tutoring, Ed admired her natural ability to capture unique and artistic views without fancy equipment and post-shoot editing.

While vacationing around the state of Michigan they began gathering hundreds of photographs of iconic Michigan views; sunsets on the Great Lakes, lighthouses on piers, gorgeous gardens and forests. After returning home they decided to share the beauty that many Michiganders may overlook. They have been selling a variety of prints at art festivals as well as on their online shop at fluidphoto.zenfolio.com.

In addition to Michigan’s gorgeous landscapes, Ed and Joyce also specialize in wedding photography. As a team they are able to capture a variety of shots to ensure each wedding album is as unique as each wedding day is. Ed captures classic portraits and group shots while keeping a gainful eye on scenery and candid opportunities. Joyce has the eye for little details that will keep every little memory of the special day sharp for years to come.

Fluid Photography has also worked a variety of events other than weddings,including auto shows, car races and fashion shoots.

Portrait opportunities other than weddings are also a big focus for Fluid Photography. Senior photos and family portraits can be done on site at their studio (located at 9 Mile and Hilton) or at a location of the model’s choosing. Break away from the typical yearly family portrait and try a session at a favorite park or in your home. FP offers full print services as well as high-resolution digital files, according to customer preference.

Ed and Joyce are also currently looking for a candidate to take part in an entire pregnancy-capturing portfolio. The project will entail monthly portraits showing pregnancy progress ending with a newborn photo shoot. The candidate will receive a free coffee table book of the images as compensation, a beautiful memento for your child and family. If interested, contact the team at info@fluidfoto.com.

If you’re looking for a unique gift for a significant other or for yourself, or if you’re a model interested in nude shots, Joyce and Ed are also talented boudoir photographers. Models are able to select between the two photographers as well as their own desired location for a more comfortable session. Fluid Nudes has produced many sexy boudoir shots and fine art black and white nudes.

The Abeskas are big fans of the simplicity and artistry of photography. They try to avoid post-shoot editing at all costs, letting the camera do all of the work. Whether you are looking for Michigan scenery to adorn your walls or want to capture your wedding or loved ones, make Fluid Photography your first stop. Visit their website at www.fluidfoto.com. Besides their online store, Ed and Joyce’s photographs can be viewed and purchased at the Gallery of Royal Oak starting in October.

Randy at the Bicycle Doctor in Hazel Park has steeped himself in charity work for many years,using his business and his partners to help special needs children and adults get the support and attention they need.

I interviewed him very recently about how he became involved in charity work, his passion for biking and love for the Hazel Park and Ferndale communities.

Q: How long have you owned and operated your bike shop, and what makes you keep doing it?

A: I bought Continental Bike Shop in February 1996 with a business partner, and have since bought him out and renamed the store, BICYCLE DOCTOR, which I started in 1989 as a mobile bicycle repair service. We are a full-service bicycle shop, selling new bicycles and servicing old ones.

And yes, the Bicycle Doctor still makes house calls!

I have been in the bicycle industry since 1977 and, even though it has changed dramatically, it is still awesome when you sell a brand new bike to someone who gets all excited about it. It can be a kid’s first new bike or someone who has not ridden in years and is getting back into it, that makes your day! It can also be fixing a bicycle that has been down for years and just pulled out of the attic and we refurbish it, they get that kid-like look and excitement all over again.

Q: How long have you been involved with Make-a-Wish and why did you begin doing charity work with them?

A: I’ve been doing support on the WAM300 since 1992. I received a form letter in the mail saying that they were looking for volunteers for their ride. Upon answering it, I wound up at a committee meeting and just got involved. I became part of the committee and started volunteering more of my time. During the years I have not just done mechanical work but at one time I was also the photographer, I designed the route, and was in charge of the route crew that put up the signs along the way and marked the pavement. We also support the MS rides, Tour de Cure, DALMAC, and Tour de Ford.

Q: What connection do you feel to Hazel Park and the surrounding cities where biking is becoming constantly more popular?

A: The Hazel Park area and Ferndale, Royal Oak, and others have some viable roads to convert to bike lanes, and I think the population is starting to really think of bicycling as a mode of transportation, not just a toy. We started a Wednesday evening ride that goes through Hazel Park, Ferndale, Palmer Woods and Palmer Park, that is made for new cyclists and is a slower pace that is made to be more sociable. This ride highlights some of the bike lanes and routes and is just made for a casual bike ride.

The Bicycle Doctor 24436 John R, Hazel Park, MI 48030; 248-545-1225

Mon, Thu: 10:00am – 7:00pm; Tue, Wed, Fri: 10:00am – 6:00pm; Sat: 10:00am – 5:00pm; Sun: Closed

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Everyone loves showing off their grandchildren, but not many do it in as big a way as Tom Carroll.

New parents Holly and Brad Carroll were completely shocked when Tom (or Papa Tom as the family calls him) put their six month-old daughter’s picture on a billboard in Ferndale. The child, Mae, had a portrait taken at day care when she was six-months-old earlier this year. The resulting picture was so adorable it was immediately passed around the entire family. Sweet Baby Mae (as she is affectionately called) is propped up in front of a green background with a clip in her hair and a perfect little smile.

Mae’s grandmother thought it was cute enough to be in a magazine. Her father Brad said it was cute enough to be put on a billboard. So Papa Tom did just that. Without Mae’s parents knowing, he purchased billboard space in May and had the picture posted in all of its 20 by 24-foot glory.

Once the billboard was up, Papa Tom took the family out to eat. As they walked to the restaurant, he led them a different direction, swearing he knew a shortcut. This “short cut” brought the family to the Ferndale Foods parking lot, with a direct view of the Baby Mae billboard.

Holly looked up and freaked out. “My husband said my reaction was like I spotted Ryan Gosling,” she laughed. When her husband saw the billboard, he was speechless. Needless to say, Papa Tom was very pleased with the reactions.

The next two weeks were full of phone calls and questions. Family and friends constantly posted their pictures of the billboard to Facebook. While grocery shopping in Western Market, Mae was even recognized by a stranger.

When the billboard was taken down, the family got to keep the printed picture. They have it securely rolled up in their home and plan to bring it out for Mae’s first dates, birthday parties and graduation party. “This won’t be the last time we look at it,” Holly says.

As for future grandchildren, the family thinks Papa Tom may have set the bar a little high. “We are definitely planning on more children, but we have no idea how he can top this.”

Zander Melidis wonders aloud whether it’s just cooler to seem like you don’t care.

Melidis performs as Zander Michigan; he tends bar over at Dino’s Lounge and cut his teeth (and turned local ears) by performing at a handful of its open mic nights. He’s confused as to why more local singer/songwriters, artists, performers, you name it, aren’t as prepared nor as presentable toward the level he aspires to, complete with striped bowtie, straw basher hat, blazer, coat and vintage saddle shoes along with an E.P. of songs that he’d already recorded before anyone knew who he was or had seen him play.

If Melidis doesn’t care about something, actually, it’s whatever sarcastic remark any chucklehead at a sports bar might throw his way when this stylized singer casually saddles up on a Sunday night just to hang out. That’s how he’s going to look, regardless; because ever since he started performing as Zander Michigan, one year ago next month, now he can no longer leave his house in Clawson without dressing to the nines (or at least up to the sevens).
But then, Melidis is pretty much over feeling stressed about anything, least of all music, since he just graduated with a degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Michigan, which boasts one of the highest-ranked programs in the world.

“Stress? You can’t even use that word for that program,” said Melidis. “But now, with (music), this is something I’ve always dreamed of doing, so I know how to handle that.” He can remember the moment he knew he wanted to pursue music: he was six years old, listening to the Beatles for the first time. It wasn’t long before Melidis, barely through the first grade, dreamt up starting a band with his cousins, to be just like the Beatles. “We could do this,” he remembers thinking to himself at that young age.

We ask if he’s ever gotten nervous. Like, when he went in for a live session on Essential Music with Ann Delisi on WDET, or when he performed River Days in Detroit and Ann Arbor’s Summer Festival in one weekend?

“No, I don’t get nervous. I get anxious. It’s a different kind of nervousness, more like: where am I going to go next?”

And that’s Melidis in a nutshell. He’s self-assured without any ego. Happy to perform but humble as hell. He exudes an inviting vibe, even if his singing voice mimics that raspy warble of Bob Dylan – an acquired taste for some, maybe, but his guitar playing can lasso a listener inward with its rivulet of riffs churning along under the occasional gusty fuzz from his harmonica. Yes, that harmonica’s strapped around his neck, just like the Highway 61 Revisited-era Dylan and yes, that’s intentional, if just incorrigible.

“In my junior year of college, someone told me: you gotta’ listen to this guy…”

Bob Dylan?

“Yeah! I mean, I must have heard of him, somewhere, but never listened to him at all. I sat down, listened, and…WOW! This edgy, raspy voice and I’d been wanting to do more solo stuff. So, hey, why couldn’t I maybe be Bob Dylan’s grandson, or something? I picked up the folk patterns, started strumming and wrote some weird, indecipherable lyrics down and got to a twang in my voice and said: Hey, this works. No, wait, this actually really fits!”
He wrote more than ten songs in just two months, eventually recording four of them onto a CD so that he could have something ready for his first show. “Yeah, I think I did it kinda’ backwards, compared to what most musicians might do, they might play live a lot and get people to know their songs first before they record. But I had it ready to go.”

“I was ready to hit the ground running.”Flashy business cards, CDs, bow-tie and basher hat, he was ready.

It’s one thing to dream, as Melidis did – be it about The Beatles or Bob Dylan; it’s another thing to experiment and find your voice and find your style – be it with an early screamo/metal band in which he played drums or a brief trip down lanes derivative of Coldplay or The Strokes; it’s another thing to establish a work ethic.
“That’s part of the game. You have to be starving, you have to be hungry, you have to chase it.” And he did. He started working here in Ferndale a year ago; Dino’s catchphrase, actually,also fits Zander Michigan’s live presentation and style of music: “Upscale But Not Uptight.” Or, as Melidis’ friend once praised him: He “keeps it G’edup from the feet-up.” Ever since, his work ethic instilled him in a diligence – to chase open mic nights, set up modest coffee shop gigs, and eventually grab ears at WDET or for River Days or for as far west as Ann Arbor. Slow, but steady.

“And it comes down to a sense of entitlement,” Melidis said.

“That’s a key word in any conversation regarding any field. If you feel you’re God’s gift to the Earth and you’re so talented and sexy? Whatever. Get over yourself.”

We tell him that the popular perception, or stigma, of singers and bands is that they’re inherently flakey, aloof and too cool to care, when it comes to work ethic. “And I think that’s the biggest load of crap,” Melidis says, signature sun glasses shading his eyes from the summer sun as he flashes a characteristically affable and toothy smile. “It’s so important! Like, what if I see Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr or Flint Eastwood or a guy from The Beggars out at the grocery store. Here’s my card! Here! I would love to play with you or maybe you could come out and hear my songs.”

Even if they don’t like his songs – they’re going to remember him, if just by his dynamic wardrobe. “People have stopped me on the street just to ask for a photo of my shoes.”

Zander Michigan (i.e. Melidis) will be getting his newest songs ready to record this month and hopefully return to the studio this Autumn. What’s next? “…just keep playing.”

Listen to songs and follow up on upcoming shows by Zander Michigan:soundcloud.com/zander-michigan – facebook.com/zandermichigan/info

Full length album, titled “Zander The Great,” will be released in late October with a release party to follow in late November/early December. For more information and to hear Zander’s music: www.zandermichigan.com

Ferndale Police Detective Brendan Moore has a voice that’s anything but hard-boiled.

A tenor, he began singing in high school, performing in theater productions and in choir as a hobby. After a stint in the armed forces, he joined the Ferndale Police Department, where he’s helped keep the community safe for the past 27 years. Besides a couple of stints with community theater, he didn’t sing much at all. That began to change a few years ago.

“The kids were grown.” He explains, “I had more time.” He was drawn to a local classical singing group called the Twelfth Night Singers, where he discovered that his old high school choir coach was the director.

His co-workers knew of his singing endeavors, because one day the police chief came up to him and asked, “Do you know the national anthem?”

Detective Moore said yes, and the chief handed him a flyer for something called the “Home of the Brave Contest.”

Sponsored by Comerica Bank, the contest is open to firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians, members of the armed forces, and military veterans. Entrants record themselves singing the national anthem and upload it to YouTube. People vote on their favorite, and the winner gets a $10,000 grant for their station or unit, plus the opportunity to sing the anthem before a Tigers game at Comerica Park — plus 35 game tickets,so all your family, friends, and colleagues can come and see you do it.

“I entered last year and this year.” Detective Moore says,with a laconic shrug. “This year, I won.” His wife shot the video in their living room, a simple set-up with drawn blinds and an American flag hanging behind him.

I congratulate him, and he looks almost apologetic. “It isn’t really a talent contest.” He says. It’s more about who can get the most people to vote for them. “But I hope that if my version was terrible, they wouldn’t vote for me.”

No worries there. Detective Moore went to the Tigers game on September 27 against the Minnesota Twins and, before about 38,000 fans, looking smart in uniform, he sang the anthem.

Was he nervous? “No.” He says. Everything looks bigger than you think when you’re standing out on the field, he admits, but there were no butterflies. “It was just amazing.”

Does he get any ribbing from his co-workers? “Constantly,” he says, dryly.

Will his experience change any aspect of his job? Will he be singing suspects their Miranda Rights from now on? I finally get a chuckle, and an emphatic “No.”

I ask if he plans to branch out, maybe start singing for a rock band? No, he’s happy with classical. Then he stops and thinks about it for a second. “Maybe something like James Taylor.” he says thoughtfully.