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Two Metro Detroit chefs are semifinalists for James Beard Foundation Best Chef award

Looking for that post-Valentine's dinner date? Ring ahead for a table at Birmingham's Forest Grill or Bacco Ristorante in Southfield. Chefs David Gilbert (Forest Grill) and Luciano Del Signore (Bacco) are contenders for a James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef in the Great Lakes region.

More on this story here.

Mike Binder brings a taste of Metro Detroit to Hollywood

He may have gone Hollywood but Birmingham native Mike Binder (The Upside Of Anger, Reign Over Me) missed his favorite hometown hot dog hangouts so much he decided to open his own Coney Island Hot Dog joint... in Los Angeles. No word on whether the dogs will be emblazoned with "Imported From Detroit" logos.


Actor-director Mike Binder, who grew up in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham, plans to open a 65-seat restaurant called Coney Dog in Los Angeles in May or June, the Detroit Free Press reported Wednesday. The 24-hour restaurant will feature hot dogs and spicy chili inspired by downtown Detroit's Lafayette Coney Island.

"As soon as I got out here, I said, 'If anyone ever put a Coney Island on Sunset Boulevard, it would be huge," said Binder, who moved to California 25 years ago. "And as the years went on ... I had so many other Detroit friends say the same thing."

Read the rest of the story here.

Oakland County surfs for new ideas via crowdsourcing site

Lots of politicians pay lip service to listening to their constituents' ideas and even implementing a few here and there. Oakland County is looking to take that a step further with its new online crowdsourcing initiative.


Every city, county and state these days is faced with hard decisions about budget cuts and reorganization — and even harsher feedback from residents after the cuts are made. Oakland County, Mich., has found a way to use technology to spark that citizen-to-government communication during the decision-making process. County officials launched an online public forum so residents can be an integral part of making tough budget decisions.  

The website, http://oakgov.ideascale.com, gives citizens the opportunity to respond to questions, make suggestions and post comments. Citizens can also rank the county's proposals by voting for the ideas they like best on every issue, from technology to parks and recreation.

"Since we are using social media in so many different ways here, we thought … what is the next wave of how we engage our citizens in the process?" said Phil Bertolini, Oakland County's deputy county executive and CIO. "In a focus group, you put 20 people in a room, you ask the idea and you get 20 opinions. If you use crowdsourcing, you put out an idea and you get thousands of opinions. More minds and more ideas make for a better product."

Read the rest of the story here.

Chicago Sun-Times is on board with Michigan's high-speed rail

Metro Detroit recently received $161 million in federal funds to improve high-speed rail service on Amtrak's Wolverine line between Pontiac and Kalamazoo. The Chicago Sun-Times takes a good look at the potential of this investment and how it breaks down.


About $150 million of the money awarded to Michigan will be for the section of track between Kalamazoo and Detroit. This is owned by Norfolk Southern, which wants to sell it, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said.

Michigan may buy it with a portion of the high-speed rail money. Discussions are ongoing about how much of the funds would be for the track and how much for track improvement, Magliari said.

Track improvements would increase speeds from 79 mph to 110 mph, which would bring it in line with the track Amtrak owns from Kalamazoo to the state line.

At greater speeds, Amtrak could double the number of round trips from Chicago to Detroit from three to six, Magliari said. Ridership on this route already has increased 8 percent in the past year.

The rest of the high-speed funding would be used to improve the connection from Pontiac to the state line.

Read the rest of the story here.

Woodward corridor suburbs = inner ring renewal

The inner-ring suburbs along the Woodward corridor got some good national ink last week when The Wall Street Journal explored why older suburbs could be the launchpads for new growth in the U.S.


In Lakewood, Colo., a long-shuttered mall is being rebuilt into a 22-block area with parks, bus lines, stores and 1,300 new households. Tysons Corner, Va., is undergoing a full transformation from an office park to a walkable, livable community. And officials in Ferndale, Mich., are promoting the arts scene and building affordable housing in an attempt to revitalize the small city outside Detroit. Remaking America's sprawling suburbs, with their enormous footprints, shoddy construction, hastily built infrastructure and dying malls, is shaping up to be the biggest urban revitalization challenge of modern times—far larger in scale, scope and cost than the revitalization of our inner cities.

Read the rest of the story here.

Woodward Dream Cruise's beginnings in the New York Times

The Woodward Dream Cruise many things for many people. For car restorers it means a time to shine, for some it's a time for nostalgia, and yet for others, who live near Woodward, it's a time of car congestion and having your own street blocked off for parking. Regardless, what happens during the cruise is what made Detroit, well, Detroit. That's changing now-a-days... but, as the New York Times says, it's still the beating heart of the American automobile biz.


Today, you won’t see much real racing on Woodward, and the Detroit Three are fighting their battles in other arenas. You will see some machinery that is obviously built more for go than show, and quiet negotiations are sometimes conducted at the side of the road. But if races take place, they’re probably held in some obscure and distant place.

For most Detroiters, Woodward is more about entertainment than competition. And perhaps more about the past and the future than the moment. Today, Woodward is the cruise, the party, the celebration and the affirmation. It’s a place where car folk can go to dream about the way things were and hope for better days. It’s the beating heart of the American automobile business.

Read the entire article here.

Size Matters: Detroit measures up on HBO show about world's oldest profession

There's always another option for Desperate Housewives. A provocative new show about a high school gym teacher reinventing himself as a gigolo, shot and set in the Metro D, has recently premiered on HBO.


The new HBO series Hung premiered last night, and while the premise of the show makes it intriguing enough alone (the main character becomes a male escort to solve his financial woes), as a Detroiter, the real anticipation was in finding out how much the city would be used in the plot.

At least in this respect, it did not disappoint. The pilot was shot entirely in Detroit, Birmingham, Livonia, Clarkston and West Bloomfield Township, as was part of the rest of the season (the rest was filmed in L.A.).

The opening sequence (which you can watch here) is jam-packed with familiar Motor City signposts, from the first shot of a barge gliding over the Detroit River, to Thomas Jane as Ray Drecker walking through Hart Plaza, below the People Mover and in front of the Joe Louis fist, Lafayette Coney Island and the abandoned Packard plant.

Read the full story here.

And read here for a review of the show.

Going green with lofts in Birmingham

Birmingham's newest loft development is pretty slick... and green.


Take 735 Forest, a new 35,000-square-foot, three-story, brick-and-steel-panel "green" building in Birmingham's evolving Triangle District, for instance.

Today, the three-story structure houses the contemporary, street-level Forest Grill manned by chef Brian Polcyn; the offices of developers Mosher, Dolan, Cataldo & Kelly Inc.; Templeton Building Co.; and 10 chic urban lofts, which range in size from 763 to 1,236 square feet, on the third level. But it's taken four years of planning, designing, campaigning, negotiating and redesigning to get the green project off the ground.

Interior designer Ann Heath, a co-owner of the property (near the intersection of Woodward Avenue and Maple Road) and wife of builder Steve Templeton, took Homestyle on a tour of the model lofts, including her own, and explained what makes the building green.

Read the entire article here.

Freep finds the best burgers in town

Whether you like Dearborn's Miller's Bar or Royal Oak's Red Coat Tavern, you favorite burger joint is bound to show up somewhere on the Freep's list of best burgers in town. Not into red meat? Don't worry, check out No. 24. Ferndale's Flytrap has a salmon burger just waiting for consumption.


When we asked readers this fall to point us toward Detroit's best hamburgers, hundreds of you sent recommendations. We read every one, picked the places that sounded best and then hit the streets in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to taste them. Six weeks and innumerable antacids later, here are our favorites.

Read the entire article here.

Suburbs down, Birmingham up?

As the nation's population turns back toward downtowns, the country's suburbs may become the next ghettos, The Atlantic reports. Among the happy few likely to retain property values and viable populations? A little burg we like to call Birmingham.


For 60 years, Americans have pushed steadily into the suburbs, transforming the landscape and (until recently) leaving cities behind. But today the pendulum is swinging back toward urban living, and there are many reasons to believe this swing will continue. As it does, many low-density suburbs and McMansion subdivisions, including some that are lovely and affluent today, may become what inner cities became in the 1960s and ’70s—slums characterized by poverty, crime, and decay.

Read the entire article here.

Metro Times releases annual 'Best of Detroit'

As they wont to do each year, the Metro Times has released its annual "Best of Detroit" awards.

Check them out here.

Metrotimes publishes area-wide food guide

The Metrotimes annual restaurant guide runs the gamut: from coneys to caviar, from haute to simply hot.

Categories include eggs, buffets, steaks and vegetarian-friendly. Check it out here.

Crain's names its annual 40 under 40

Crain's has released its annual "40 in their 40s" list. It includes success stories from all over Southeast Michigan and from numerous industries.

The front page of the feature is here.

Go Solar headed to Oakland County

The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association is bringing its Go Solar program to Oakland County, utilizing bulk purchasing methods to lower to cost of solar products for homeowners.


Program options include a solar domestic hot water system or a one-kilowatt photovoltaic solar electric system or both.

The systems in the Go Solar program are standardized. Therefore, as the contractor continues installing identical systems, they are able
to reduce labor costs. All of this translates into savings for the homeowner.

During 2007, federal tax credits are available to homeowners installing solar electric and solar water heating systems. In addition to savings, program participants get the satisfaction of working with a local business.

Read the entire article here.

High school robotics competition returns to Oakland County

The Oakland County Competitive Robotics Competition pits high schoolers against one another in the design and assembly of robots.


OCCRA generates enthusiasm for technical and academic disciplines such as design, engineering, physics, and electronics. These competitions provide recognition and encouragement for students who devote their energies to these areas of studies. OCCRA participants will also have the opportunity to learn more about the diverse technical career options available in our county and state.

Read the entire article here.
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