Aug / Sept 2017

SOCCRA, the municipal corporation responsible for recycling in Ferndale and 11 surrounding communities, has recently dropped off 100 thousand 65-gallon recycling bins to area homes as replacements for the old 20-gallon standbys we put out on garbage day. You should have already received yours. The big green bins are three times the size of the ones they’re replacing, and since SOCCRA is converting to a mixed recycling facility, all curbside recyclables can now be dumped in them unsorted.

The Recycling Partnership, a national non-profit that is picking up a portion of the cost, wants to improve the relatively low U.S. recycling rates. The thinking behind making these behemoths the new standard is that people will recycle more since they have greater capacity.

The new containers total 250,000 pounds of un-recyclable plastic items inserted into our communities and mean that the old ones, also un-recyclable, will wind up in a landfill where most plastic produced finds its way. In fact, according to a study published in the July 2017 Sciences Advances, 91 per cent of plastic produced since 1950 – 8.3 billion metric tons – is not recycled regardless of the chasing arrows symbols and number system that we find on plastic products.

The new recycle carts are designed to encourage residents to fill the containers to the brim.

However, recycling is less than a zero-sum game. It actually worsens the environmental degradation of the planet. More recycling means an expanded industry with more factories, more machinery, more energy, more waste, its own refuse and garbage, more workers going to more work on more roads in more cars, with
additional suppliers, ad infinitum.

Disposal of household garbage, however, should only be a footnote when talking about waste. Americans generate ten billion tons of it yearly, but the vast majority —98 per cent — is from industrial and mining operations. The remaining two percent comes from municipal sources.

The emphasis on household recycling functions as a diversion from examining the big sources of waste. A close look at the myths about recycling shows they are being perpetrated less by those committed to ecology and more by those doing the most damage to the planet.

Though they don’t use the recycled substance in production, the American Plastics Council, an industry group for virgin resin manufacturers (first-time-use plastics), is a relentless promoter of plastics recycling. They spend millions on public relations as part of a propaganda campaign to change the long-standing perception of their product as harmful to the environment.

From its inception, plastic has been a synonym for the false and insubstantial. The late Frank Zappa sang about “Plastic People,” and the obscenely-whispered advice to “The Graduate,” similarly was, “Plastics.” Unfortunately, the businessman in the 1967 film was correct; the future did lie in that multi-use substance made from the oil for which the U.S. has been willing to kill several hundred thousand Iraqis.

The substitution of plastics for glass, wood and paper products has been so substantial that hardly anyone even notices. Any public event, a baseball game, for instance, produces massive amounts of plastic cups, plates and cutlery that have been used in some cases for only the seconds it takes to spill down ten ounces of beer before being consigned to a trash barrel. The cups arrive at the local landfill (they can’t be recycled), there to remain intact for hundreds of years, although their slow disintegration begins to release toxins.

They began their ignominious journey in an oil field thousands of miles away and are toxic every moment of their existence from drilling to oceanic and pipeline transportation, to manufacture and finally to disposal. Add wars to secure oil to the equation and you have the premier deadly modern energy source and product component.

The “at least we’re doing something” argument doesn’t work well either. The industrial recycling process which reclaims plastic is highly toxic and much of what is collected in our neighborhoods is shipped overseas and processed under uncontrolled conditions in notorious polluting countries like China and Thailand. In addition, most of the products which are manufactured from what is recycled, such as park benches, traffic strips, and polyester jackets, can’t be recycled a second time. What you set out at your curb is only one generation away from a landfill.

Originally, recycling was conceived of as the last resort in the triad of reduce, re-use, and recycle, the latter being used only for what couldn’t be controlled by the two other elements of waste control. To its credit, the City of Oak Park in announcing the arrival of the new bins, urges adherence to the first principles. But, “reduce,” which means limiting consumption or, at a minimum, less packaging, strikes at the heart of an economy which demands relentless expansion and always increased production and consumption.

On the personal level, there is no way what my household generates as waste can fill 45 more gallons of trash. And, shouldn’t!

How about you?

Peter Werbe is a member of Fifth Estate magazine’s editorial collective

photo ©2017 Dawn Henry

EACH YEAR, ONE SPECIAL INDIVIDUAL who personifies the purpose of the Sierra Club’s Green Cruise is awarded the title of “Green Cruiser of the Year.” On July 25th, the Southeast Michigan Group chapter announced Thomas E. Page as the 2017 winner of this honor for his activism and connection to the biking community. The SEMG chooses this person based on the actions they’ve taken in the previous year to promote the cause of bicycling.

Page, a Detroit resident, is the 13th recipient of the title and previous winners include Andrew Staub in 2016 and Jason Hall, co-founder of Slow Roll and Detroit Bike City, in 2015.

Page is a native Detroiter, and attended the University of Detroit. He served as a Detroit police officer for three years, and is currently retired. He has been active in fundraising for bike repair stations and bicycles for students at the University of Detroit Mercy.

The Green Cruiser of the Year award will be presented to Page on September 9th at the Green Cruise.

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Story By: Ingrid Sjostrand
Photo By: Bernie LAFramboise

WHILE IT MAY HAVE STARTED 13 YEARS AGO AS AN EFFORT to denounce the Woodward Dream Cruise and call out the environmental impact caused by the famous auto affair, the Green Cruise has transformed into so much more, and boasted over 250 participants in 2016.

Organized by the Sierra Club’s Southeast Michigan group, the annual bike ride offers an alternative look at transportation in the automotive capital of the world. Scheduled for September 9th, participants can choose to bike a 42-mile loop to Belle Isle or a less intensive 22-mile ride to Birmingham.

“Some have called it the anti-Dream Cruise but it’s really about awareness,” Jerry Hasspacher, event chair for the Green Cruise, says. “It’s an all-around environmental event, and it’s going to benefit more than just one charity and one idea; we’ll support a whole gamut of things such as energy conservation, using less fossil fuels, getting bad chemicals out of the air and native landscaping.”

The event starts and ends in Ferndale, partly because of its location in Metro Detroit, but also due to the city’s environmental efforts. From the recently upgraded bike lanes and greenery sprouting on the roofs of the library and bus stops to bike repair stations throughout the city, it’s undeniable that Ferndale is working toward building a sustainable city.

“Ferndale is very centrally-located and it’s a very environmental city, so we get a lot of cooperation,” Hasspacher says. “It’s nice to have that support from a green city, plus there are a lot of bike lanes in Ferndale so it’s easy to not only get around in the city but to get to other bike lanes outside the city.”

The Green Cruise will start at Ferndale City Hall, located at 300 E 9 Mile Rd, where bikers can gather under the overhang and restrooms will be available before and after the ride. In previous years the event began at the Ferndale Public Library.

Aside from the new location, riders should note that the date has been moved from August to September 9th in hopes of cooler weather and to kick off National Drive Electric Week.

“The National Drive Electric Association has a web site and invites people who have electric and hybrid cars to show up to their events, and then they explain how these vehicles work,” Hasspacher says. “It’s something a lot of people don’t understand, so the more education we can provide the better.”

The 2017 Green Cruise is sponsored by 25 companies including Ferndale businesses Greenspace Cafe, Modern Natural Baby and Western Market. The 42-mile ride will include three official stops and the 22-mile ride one official stop, both with snacks available. Ride leaders from local organizations will be available to help with any issues like flat tires or weather-related concerns.

“We also have great leadership on the ride, we have Metro Detroit Cycling Club again this year and Beat the Train who are all going to help us keep track of everyone on the 42-mile ride,” Hasspacher says. The cost to participate in the ride is a modest $10.

“The Green Cruise is a green way of non-fossil fuel transportation. When you’re riding your bike you’re not using fossil fuel and personally, I hope that all the bicyclists spend the rest of their time being environmental,” Hasspacher says.

“Hopefully we can get more people involved in environmental groups, this work is all grassroots now and effective change comes from the bottom, not the top.”


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Story by Ingrid Sjostrand
Photos by Bernie LaFramboise

ANGELA MARIE LIPPARD IS AN ADVOCATE in every sense of the word. Through her job at the Area Agency on Aging B-1, she helps aid older LGBTQ adults in receiving assistance and promotes learning and acceptance. Lippard also volunteers with Christ the Good Shepherd church as a deacon, where she works to represent the church as a supportive, safe place.

Lippard spoke to me about what she has learned through advocacy, how others can get involved and, of course, her love for Ferndale

IS: What sparked your involvement and advocacy with the LGBTQ community?
AML: I am married to a man, so most people presume I’m straight, but I am a part of the community; I’m an out bisexual. Those in the LGBT community have always been in my circle of friends and part of my family of choice.

IS: Can you tell me more about your job at Area Agency on Aging 1-B and projects that involve LGBTQ outreach?
AML: I have been employed at the Agency for over ten years. The information we offer ranges from housing to funding for long term care to Medicare basics. Last fiscal year, our call center received just under 90,000 calls. Our agency is a non-profit.

I am so very thankful to work for an agency that has long been LGBT affirming. We have staff dedicated to training healthcare and other human service professionals on best practices when providing services to LGBT older adults.

Because I could attend several trainings for serving LGBT older adults and the knowledge I’ve gained from serving the LGBTQ community, I have been utilized to train staff at our agency. This was an honor, because it gave me the opportunity to be out to agency staff, and spend more time talking about the trans population and give staff resources.

IS: Tell me more about the Christ the Good Shepherd Church and your volunteer work as Deacon?
AML: I have a degree in religious studies from the University of Detroit Mercy,
and while I’ve been employed in human services my call to ministry never went away. As a deacon I officiate weddings, which has included some of my dearest friends in the LGBT community. I offer funeral and memorial services. I also preach at Mass, and provide support to our church members.
Our church is new and our community is still growing. However, we have very gifted clergy in our priests and other fellow deacons. We have a community that is very giving, too. Most of my work as a deacon is outside the church. I make sure our church is represented at Ferndale Pride and Transgender Pride in the Park. I also try to attend every event for the transgender community to show support. I will volunteer when possible, but I am careful just to attend because that is a space for me to listen and people in the trans community to be heard.

IS: Why do you think this advocacy is important and what advice do you have for others wanting to get involved?
AML: Outside of caring and acting out of genuine concern for others, we better ourselves by advocating for the marginalized. There are several areas to advocate…Show up, learn and listen. I encourage people to go to events like the Transgender Day of Remembrance (November) and Transgender Day of Visibility (March). Read stories from diverse perspectives within the LGBT community—remember the ‘T’—remember people of color and people with diverse economic backgrounds. If you listen and learn, the community will tell you what they need from you and how and where to advocate.

IS: What made you choose Ferndale?
AML: I have always had a connection to the city. My mom has worked in Ferndale for 38 years. I went to school at the University of Detroit Mercy, so Ferndale was a regular hang-out when I was in college.
In 2005, I moved to a small apartment in Ferndale. My husband, Paul Collom (I kept my last name), moved in not too long after. Paul and I bought a house in Ferndale in 2009. More specifically, my husband and I come from ethnically diverse backgrounds, and we wanted to live in a community that was not only open to, but celebrated, diversity.

IS: What is your favorite thing about Ferndale?
AML: I love that Ferndale has the feeling and energy of a large city, but small enough where I can get to know people in the community—where elected officials know my name and are willing to hear my concerns.

I hope people make a commitment to keep our city diverse and welcoming.

By Mary Meldrum

MANY FERNDALE RESIDENTS KNOW DR. FRANK MISKENA as the veterinarian/owner of the West Woodward Animal Hospital on Nine Mile Road. Many are unaware of his amazing history and experience as soldier and diplomat.

Born in Baghdad in 1949 to a Royal Iraqi Air Force officer, Dr. Miskena graduated from Baghdad University at age 22 with a doctorate in veterinary medicine and surgery. He served as an officer in the Iraqi army, including a two-year tour in the country’s northern section as a company commander, veterinarian and translator. After that, he returned to the university as an instructor of veterinary parasitology.

Fleeing Iraq after Saddam Hussein rose to power, Dr. Miskena immigrated to the United States in 1977 and soon earned a master’s degree in pathology from Michigan State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine. He became an American citizen in 1983. The next year, he joined the U.S. Army as a captain and served on active duty for 12 years.

In 1996, he moved to the Detroit area and bought a small animal hospital. That same year, he transferred to the Army Reserves and served his adopted country as a civil affairs officer for more than a decade. He was the senior cultural advisor on numerous deployments to several nations with many different units, including Kosovo and Iraq. In this position he acted as an ambassador, and provided a friendly outreach to troops of all nations.

In 2003, he became the cultural advisor to the U.S. commanding general in Iraq and served as the political/military foreign advisor for the Multinational Force-Iraq (MNF-I) Command. Dr. Miskena achieved the rank of colonel and is a recipient of the Army Commendation Medal, the Bronze Star for meritorious service, as well as many other awards both from the United States and Iraq. Until his retirement on March 9, 2009, he had the distinction of being the highest ranking Iraqi-American in the U.S. Army.

Besides his veterinary degree, Dr. Miskena likes to point out with a wink that he has earned numerous degrees from the Universities of Experience and Lifelong Learning. Recently, Dr. Miskena wrote a book to share his knowledge and experience in forging friendships among disparate cultures. In the copy-editing process of publication at the time this article was written, it is expected to be available in the next few months. Warrior Diplomat, by Dr. Frank Miskena is a compilation of his mostly military stories throughout his life, and the great lessons he learned from them.

Although in the course of his travels and international military work he has become a friend and ally of people from many countries, the majority of the experiences he describes are between the people of the United States and the nations of the Middle East. Many of the topics, examples and recommendations are common to all people trying to understand or integrate into another culture. Readers can learn from someone who is completely comfortable in both cultures how U.S. soldiers and Iraqis in particular interact, as well as some of the different ways they see themselves and each other. The book is full of human interest stories from Dr. Miskena’s own experience. Many of the stories are the same used when teaching cultural awareness training to members of the militaries of the United States, Iraq, and other countries.

He has been proud to serve his adopted country as a specialist in Political and Cultural Affairs here in America, in Kosovo, and during two deployments in Iraq. These adventures enabled him to bridge cultures and to promote the understanding and appreciation so sorely needed to bring about peace and security in these regions.

“Our Iraqi brothers are learning how to deal with each other, but there is still much infighting,” explains Miskena. “Some are coming to their senses and are realizing they have to prove to the populace that they are the party to vote for because of constructive policies, not clan affiliations.”

Our Greatest Challenge
Dr. Miskena realizes that remain many questions as to how to bring about full safety and stability in Iraq. He understands that the United States is a super-power with the capability of winning conflicts by force, but he believes that the greatest challenge we face is winning the peace; what we have to get better at is waging peace.

“My hope is that both military and civilians will come to a greater awareness of the benefit and the absolute need for mutual cultural appreciation in every aspect of global society in the 21st Century.”
The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are not over, and there are still many roadblocks to the path of peace, but Miskena believes we are taking the first steps. He believes that his birth country is on the long road to democracy.

Frank’s Philosophy
Power lies with the people, not in oil or agriculture. Miskena believes that we need to help the Iraqi people build their identity again. Iraq civilization has a rich culture and history of art and education. A big believer in literacy and higher education, the state of the Iraqi education system – which was extremely good when he was growing up in Iraq – is presently very disappointing to Miskena, who sees it as the only way Iraq will ever gain stability and distinguish itself again.

“I am sitting between two nations all the time. And here is the beauty of how I think. Twice, I went up to see God and came back. Two heart attacks almost killed me. When you think you’re almost carrying your life in your palm, you see power doesn’t mean a thing.”

He has seen the horrors of war. In reference to Abu Ghraib, where Iraqi prisoners were housed: “It has a smell I can’t forget. It smells like death.”

A gentle man who envisions a peaceful future, he sees that we could help a farmer in Afghanistan to plant wheat and not poppies.

“I am a diplomat and a warrior. Also, I am a healer because I am a doctor. I care about the human part of the globe, but also I am a veterinarian. I care about the human/animal bond. Animals show ultimate love, that is, not to seek anything in return. I want to give more than I take.”

Story by Jill Lorie Hurst
Photos by Bernie LaFramboise

AUTHOR SARA TELLER GENEROUSLY AGREED TO ANSWER SOME QUESTIONS AS SHE PREPARES TO RELEASE HER FOURTH BOOK, tentatively titled “Narcissistic Personality Disorder: No Band-Aid for the Wounded Soul,” it is her first self-help book, and it will be published by the Ferndale-based Mad Hatter Publishing Inc. (MHPI) owned by Gia Cilento. Sara found MHPI while reading Ferndale Friends! She researched the company, thought they’d be a good fit and “the rest is history.”

Sara’s life history began in Armada, Michigan. She graduated from Armada High School, then majored in General Management, graduating from Michigan State University’s Honor College. In college she had three publishing internships and a part-time writing position at The Romeo Observer. She got an MBA from Wayne State in 2012, concentrating in marketing, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, concentrating in substance abuse and addictions. She plans to finish in 2020-21. Along the way she has also become certified in HTML coding, children’s book writing and social media marketing. She is busy marketing the new book right now and has made herself available for speaking engagements as well. I take a moment to catch my breath as I try to imagine actually completing all of these things!

And then we move on to Sara Teller’s top priority: her two children, Emma, seven and Carson, four. “They are wonderful, my whole life”.  Teller, 33, has lived in Berkley since 2016. She loves Berkley, but also spends time in Ferndale. “I love the restaurant scene.”

JLH: Mom, writer, student, speaker. Is there also a “day job?”
ST: For now, yes. I have a family so maintaining stability is crucial while I build my speaking and writing career. I’m the supervisor of a casting department at an entertainment company. We help models and actors get their start in the business. I have acted a bit! And I enjoy hearing from excited talent who’ve been booked, and knowing we’re helping our clients produce awesome projects. I definitely keep busy. I am doing things I love, so that keeps me motivated…I am very connected spiritually and carve out as much time as possible for prayer and meditation. I also make sure to find quality time for those I love…and I try to give back to the community whenever I can. I just try to stay proactive and organized.

JLH: How do you find time to write?
ST: I just write whenever possible, really. I make time in my schedule, because I find it to be almost therapeutic, a welcome release from the day to day.  It’s a passion of mine, so it’s easy for me to pick up a pen or my laptop and start a story whenever I’m inspired.

Sara credits her parents with setting a good example, when I comment on her ability to complete what she sets out to do. “I’ve had to do a lot of self-reflection lately, writing on this topic for my degree. We all have aspirations and things in our life we’d like to see changed. Having a plan is a great first step, but seeing it through is another story. As the saying goes, ‘you have to make a choice to take a chance’ or your life will never change, right? You only live once, might as well live life to the fullest.”

JLH: What’s next? Is there another book?
ST: Short answer, yes. I’m an advocate for creating awareness of the impact behavioral disorders can have on families and relationships in general. I foresee there being follow up and ancillary titles in the near future, although I am focused on the original right now. I would like to cover other mental health topics as well: substance abuse and addictions, post-traumatic stress and other behavioral disorders.

JLH: What do you read when you have time?
ST: I LOVE Virginia Woolf! I took an honors course at Michigan State and fell n love with her work. And the COO of the company I work for wrote a self help title “Divine Worth.” I found this to be a very inspiring read.

JLH: Do you think you’ll write fiction again?
ST: “Yes, I do. I have a myriad of interests and enjoy all types of writing.

Right now, I am focused mainly on mental health and legal topics. I also write poetry. I was published three times in poetry collections between 2015 and 2016. I fantasize about retiring in a small cottage in the country, writing fiction novels. But, life may have another plan! Only time will tell.”

For more about Sara Teller’s new book, check out her website To contact Sara for a speaking engagement, you can reach her directly at You can also contact Gia Cilento at


By: Ingrid Sjostrand

WE’RE JUST HUGE FANS OF MUSIC, ART AND DETROIT, and we’re trying to capture and document an exciting time in our local culture scene,” says Kristi Billings, videographer and editor, describing The Milo Show – a collaborative project between her, host Jeff Milo and sound engineer Chad Stocker.

The Milo Show is a monthly talk show exploring Metro-Detroit’s music scene through interviews and performances by local artists at changing venues. Milo is no stranger to the music industry; he has over 13 years of experience as a freelance music reporter, working for the Metro Times, the Detroit Free Press and, of course, Ferndale Friends. So, when friend, and lead singer of rock quintet The High Strung, Josh Malerman suggested Milo star in his own TV show, it seemed right.

“The concept was initially: Let’s have Jeff just do what he’s always been doing – documenting local culture and conducting dialogues with local artists –only now, on camera,” Milo explains. “But it became an opportunity to provide a panoramic view of Detroit’s arts community…”
Malerman originally planned to produce the project, having just completed his own feature film, but was called to a book tour for his debut novel Bird Box. This is when Billings stepped in, despite having little experience with video editing.

“I purchased some editing software, received some helpful tips from friends, and managed to put together a not-too-shabby first episode,” she says. “Everyone was so pleased with the result it was de-cided I would take over the filming/editing reigns full time.”

The first episode, released in September 2015, was filmed at Berkley Music and featured Kriss Gaynes, Junglefowl, Robert St. Mary and Eleanora as guests. By episode four, Stocker joined as their sound engineer and, as of May 2017, they have produced 18 episodes.

Episodes are approximately 30 minutes and re-leased on the first of the month. The trio has mastered filming the whole show in one day, followed by two weeks for Stocker to mix audio and the rest of the month for Billings to create the final product.

“The tapings are relatively quick considering, for example, Episode 17 had two interviews in two lo-cations, and 3 musical performances each on the stage at Ant Hall. We completed all the staging, tap-ing, and tear down, in about six hours,” Stocker says.

One challenging aspect of filming can be the unique locations and trying to highlight so much of the city.
“One time we filmed in a space that was almost the size of a bedroom – and we still fit six or seven people in there, plus a drum kit!” Milo exclaims. “The bigger goal is to start emphasizing that this is a pop-up talk show, that is traveling around the city each month, collaborating with different venues, so by watching a season of episodes – you still get to see a lot of the city.”

When it comes to choosing artists and guests, Milo says there are no limits. They have had artists from every genre except country, which he says will likely be featured in the next few months.
“Just seeking out people I know will provide an enticing and thought-provoking conversation, as well as call out bands that I see have new albums or singles being released in the near future,” he says. “I’ve also spoken with bloggers, archivists, fashion designers.

Plans for the show are endless, says Milo, maybe even crowd-funding campaigns or increasing the number of episodes per month.

“We want to venture into bolder, stranger, more elegant, more unconventional venues. We want Jack White to come on our show for a chat!” he says.

“We want to do experimental things, like interview in moving cars. We want to try anything, really.”
This is with the caveat that all three agree on the direction of the show. As a resounding theme among the trio, they truly enjoyed working together and creating the Milo Show.

“I get to collaborate with two optimistic, intelligent, and creative people in Kristi and Jeff,” Stocker raves.
“Honestly – I love that I get to work with my friends. I love that we interview interesting people doing interesting things to make this city shine,” Billings relishes.

“My favorite things are the magic that Kristi conjures with her editing, Chad’s exceptional mixing, coupled with his piquant humor and dry wit quipped be-tween takes,” Milo closes. “I hate to say something cheesy like: We’d still be making this even if no one was watching. But it’s true…. That said, we hope more people start watching!”

For more information or past episodes, visit their web site,


Story by Sara E Teller
Photos by Bernie LaFramboise

THE RICHARD GAGE DESIGN STUDIO WAS ESTABLISHED TO OFFER a wide variety of art services to the City of Hazel Park and the community at large, including to “fabricate difficult or unique decorative architectural elements and sculpture with hand-craftsmanship using contemporary and historic techniques,” according to owner Richard Gage. “We work with architects, municipalities, developers, planners, designers and homeowners.”

Gage lives in Royal Oak, and has been local to the area for more than 50 years. The Richard Gage Design Studio has been in business since the late ‘90s. “I came to Hazel Park in 2000 because the City was eager to embrace new business and was interested in working with creative small business addressing their needs, wants, and desires,” Richard explained. He felt this was the perfect opportunity to show the City what he was made of. “Although involved in the creative process all my life, it wasn’t until the early ‘90s that I went full-time into the decorative arts.”

“Over the years, I have helped other artists and builders by offering access to my larger equipment, space and expertise,” Richard said, citing several artists who have taken advantage of what the Design Studio has to offer, including Mark Belchenco Studio, Lamia Metal and Alex Drew. Richard also mentioned that the Henry Ford Estate in Dearborn sought out his artistry for historical repair and replacement of the copper roof on their Rose Garden Tea House as well as iron work in the main house.

Gage, who was a technical consultant for Kresge’s community artist program, believes his architectural work has been significantly influenced by “historic standards, classic proportions and timeless craftsmanship…I admire the clean lines of George Nelson as well as the organic simplicity of George Nakashima,” he explained, adding, “My sculpture is heavily influenced by the smallest parts of nature and typically executed on a grand scale, such as Petal Parts in John R’s Art Park and Winter Wheat in David’s Gold Medal Sports.”

The Design Studio is well-versed in creating a wide range of artwork, featuring varying techniques and for all different purposes. Even when presented with a concept that includes more a “loose or random” appearance – basically some-thing not necessarily well-defined – Gage and his team can produce it. “I’ve produced gates and railings in modern Frank Lloyd Wright style as well as in the decorative Victorian Era,” he said. “I’ve recently been exploring homages to experimental art such as The Ant Farm by Paul Clark, and works produced by Piero Manzoni and Andy Warhol.”

Because of their “wide variety of skills, (the team does) simple functional things mostly for homeowners but builders, too,” said Richard. Some examples of more ‘everyday’ tasks his team has taken on include bending a piece of aluminum trim that is no longer available, repairing vintage brass toilet levers, restoring a stainless pot for canning and fixing some garden tools. “We (fixed the tools) for an elderly local, and got flowers for the rest of the summer!”

The design team keeps very busy throughout the year and Richard takes pride in the ability to be presented with new challenges every day. “Every day I have some new challenge to resolve. Today I am working on how to best wire a sign for a Detroit business. Yesterday, it was how to make a jig to accurately cut ceramic tile for a miter corner.”

Gage established The Hazel Park Arts Council along with a few other locals, including Jan Parisi, Ed Klobucher, and Jeff Shelly, and became the Council’s Treasurer. The Arts Council, according to its site, “is committed to furthering artistic and cultural initiatives…through a number of avenues, including advo-cating local artistic initiatives…collaborating with the Hazel Park Arts Fair.” He also worked on The Art Park on John R as well as the first art fair and the Phoenix Mural. “Working on the Arts Council is great because of the people –smart people offer smart discussions. Amy Aubry and Allissa Sullivan, and all our members are invested in Hazel Park’s future and that shows during our meetings,” Gage said.

The Design Studio’s growth has been made possible over the years by its reputation within the community. “My business growth is solely attributed to word of mouth and some public sculptures, such as Pollen Release in Royal Oak and Bent Brush in Ferndale,” Gage explained. “I also have signs with my contact information.”

He hopes community patrons will appreciate all art that is displayed in and around town and always appreciates feedback related to his team’s work. “Add comments through Facebook about our efforts,” he mentions as way to express appreciation. “Stop by the Farmers’ Market for our kids’ booth and buy a t-shirt, donate money there or at the City.” The studio is private, but anyone is welcome to stop by and take a look around or inquire about a project. Gage can be contacted at 248.541.7730.

Story By: Ingrid Sjostrand
Photos By: Bernie LaFramboise

PICTURE A RESTAURANT WITH A ROTATING MENU of exotic cuisine made mostly in a barbeque smoker, and to top it off it’s based out of a food truck. That’s just one of the twists that give Rogue Estate BBQ an edge over the trend of food trucks in Ferndale.

Another defining quality is that it’s a food truck that doesn’t travel. Owner Bob Perye got tired of moving between locations, the lack of a consistent crowd and the wear on his equipment, so when he parked his truck at the corner of Woodward Heights and Gainsboro St. two years ago he decided to never leave.

“It was right around the time that 9 Mile went under construction, so it was kind of good timing,” he says. “And it’s been great, I love this neighbor-hood. Everyone in this neighborhood has been supportive.”

The block seems to be growing around Rogue Estate too, with UrbanRest Brewing Company and butcher shop Farm Field Table opening in the last two years and bringing additional business to the area.
Perye doesn’t have the typical chef backstory either he didn’t go to culinary school or work in restaurants building his way up to opening Rogue Estate. Surprisingly, he spent the majority of his career as a computer engineer. “I did engineering for 20 years and was always on a call, always had multiple phones and pagers and I was getting burned out,” Perye says.

After trying a change in companies without relief, he knew it was time for a career switch, but it wasn’t as easy as trading in the computer for a smoker. Prior to leaving his job, he started the Rogue Estate cooking club with a few friends.

“We started cooking every week; that went for a while and it was a lot of fun,” he says. “We did a lot of cool stuff, and the gist of it was that you guys can do this too, anybody can tackle this complex stuff.”

Once word got around about Perye’s skills in the kitchen, he began catering events like B. Nektar Meadery’s annual party and various veterans benefits. As his reputation grew, Perye found the confidence to take the leap and open Rogue Estate BBQ.

While he doesn’t miss working in computer engineering, Perye says he is still using those skills every day, whether it’s troubleshooting the sales system in extreme weather or repairing the truck, and he’s happy to share his skills with his neighbors. “I don’t just cook, it’s fun and keeps it interesting,” he says.

After refining and perfecting the classics – like pulled pork, ribs and beef brisket – he set out to explore the fare of the world and seems to have found his creative calling.

“I started dabbling into the Rogue Estate premise that we’re cooking something from another part of the world every week,” Perye says. “It’s fun to do the research, I watch Anthony Bourdain and I’ll see a country I’ve never heard of or a combination of flavors, and I have to try that.”

The standard barbeque options are always on the menu and typically sell out as favorites among regulars, but Perye wanted to keep things interesting, so he began exploring international cuisine as a daily special.
“There’s this entire other group of people, new customers and repeat customers alike that are here for the special and they get that every day because it’s different every day,” he says. “It makes me a better cook and keeps the guests interested.”

The secret to knowing what culture is being featured each day are the flags Peyre has hanging around the fencing of his lot. He started by hanging flags of things he liked or had an affiliation to and it grew with the international menu.

“The flags were just a natural grab of attention. I thought I’m gonna get a flag for whatever the first culture was. Now Amazon gets about five or ten bucks from me buying new flags each week,” Perye says.
Currently Rogue Estate is open Thursday through Saturday from 3:00 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. year-round. Perye hopes to expand hours in the near future, but is working with a staff of only himself and two employees and understands the realities of cooking with a smoker.

“The brisket takes 12 hours minimum, sometimes 14, so when we’re out we are out,” he says. “We can only sell so many in a four-to-five-hour period.”

This isn’t stopping Perye from planning ahead though, and he has no intentions of leaving the space he parked in two years ago.

“I love this neighborhood – the regulars, my guests and my neighbors – The folks that have been here for 40 years and the new neighbors – it’s great to be part of this,” he says.
“The dream is to have our own restaurant and I think that’s when you’ve finally made it.

I’m not beholden to this giant box on wheels, I think I would like to get a building and then sell that on to the next guy that wants to get started.”

Photo and story by Kevin Alan Lamb

NO MATTER YOUR TRADE OR PASSION, all roads leading in the direction towards progress are paved with fear, frustration, and doubt. The secret you see – finding something inside of you that no one can take away – something that is yours, God-given, but man-made, and hold onto it. Be driven by faith in your abilities and efforts, and find a way to remind yourself of the vision no matter the breakdowns and pit stops along the way.

Creative careers will never stop testing you; that is why they are the most beautiful and satisfying. The life of an actor isn’t an easy one, but it sure is remarkable for those who navigate the journey. Folks like Bello Pizzimenti.

Pizzimenti was born in Ferndale, and attended the Detroit Waldorf School where he performed his first plays. He later attended Cranbrook upper school, where he lived in residence throughout his high school years. While performing in the annual winter musical, he was discovered by a Canadian director who invited him to join an international production of Les Miserables in Windsor, Ontario. This proved to be the launching pad for his life and long road towards assuming the role of other identities on stage. After attending Western Michigan University, where he received his BFA in musical theatre, Pizzimenti chased his dreams to live in Harlem and pursue a career in the biggest city in the world.

Q: What are some of the more significant memories you hold on to from your time with “Les Mis,” in Windsor?
A: I remember the moment my high school choir teacher told me right after a performance that a director from Canada had been at our show, and that he was specifically interested in me for his production. That was very exciting. I remember the day of my audition for the show, which if I remember correctly was also my first day of rehearsal. We were essentially inside a storage space in a warehouse in Windsor. I thought I was just singing for the music director and the director, because they were the only ones in the room with me. What I didn’t know was that the two young men playing Enjolras and Javert were in the next room listening to me as well. I finished singing, and they came out with huge grins on their faces to greet me and welcome me to the cast. Shortly afterward the rest of the cast arrived, and we started rehearsing.

Most importantly, I remember the friendships. Some of the best times of my life were had that Summer, and in the following years during my regular trips to Windsor. I had a sense of belonging and a sense of self-confidence that I had not had before. It was the summer that made me feel that a professional life in theatre was for me.

Q: What was one of the best and worst moments from your time in Harlem pursuing acting after undergrad?
A: Some of the best: Being cast in a workshop performance of Tectonic Theater Project’s adaptation of Carmen. I got to work with Moises Kaufman and the rest of the team, as well as a powerhouse cast of performers. We presented at the Guggunheim, and when one of the other performers had to go to the hospital the day of the performance, I stepped in on short notice to cover his solos. Moises was impressed by me and I was subsequently called back several times for a full production of the show, though I was ultimately not cast.

And, performing in my only NYC-based full-length professional play, BACK by Mickey Bolmer. As a cast we were encouraged to explore and to have fun, and I found myself feeling very free, loving, and open as a result. It was a professional experience in which I could truly say that I enjoyed the process.

Some of the worst: Botching several of my opportunities with Tectonic, and subsequently being called in for them less and less often. Feeling that I did not live up to the potential that Moses saw in me. Accidentally not learning the entire musical cut required for an audition, leading to a very embarrassing situation for everyone in the room. Dealing with contracts and/or offers that conflict with each other. I’ve probably gotten stomach ulcers panicking about these situations over the years.

Q: What drives your passion for acting?
A: These days, I don’t know. I used to be in it for fun. Then I was in it for success, recognition and money. Now I’m in it because it’s the only skill I have that people are nice enough to pay me for.

Q: Tell us about Chasing the Star…
A: It’s an independent film by Collective Development Inc., a Michigan-based film company I first worked for during my senior year in undergrad. We shot it in the desert of Yuma, AZ, which was awesome because it was my first time getting to go to a very specific environment for a shoot. It made it feel much more authentic for me as an actor, and I think it makes the film much more authentic feeling as well. Plotwise, it’s the story of the Three Magi essentially. There isn’t a ton of source material on their backstory (to my knowledge), so a lot of the circumstances come from the imagination of the writer, which is all to the good as it makes the three men much more human. They are all flawed, and have to reconcile their past over the course of the story. I play the youngest Magi of the three, Gasper.

Q: What’s next for you?
A: Who knows? Best-case scenario is I stay honest with myself and listen to my gut, intuition, whatever you want to call it. Maybe I’ll end up in a rock quarry. Maybe I’ll just read books and hide from the world. Maybe I’ll keep acting. Maybe I’ll find something else. Hopefully, I’ll be there when and if people need me.