Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Albom's 'Have A Little Faith' films at I Am My Brother's Keeper Ministries in Detroit

Follow along closely, this could get a little confusing.

There was a church with a hole in the roof.

Then a writer wrote a book in part about that hole, and the book raised money to help repair the roof.

Then the book sold so well they decided to make a movie of the story. Last week they filmed it, returning to the actual church for taping. Except the hole had been fixed by then, so to film the movie, they had to pop a new hole in the roof.

And now, filming of Mitch Albom's book-turned-movie 'Have A Little Faith" at the I Am My Brother's Keeper Ministries in Detroit is reportedly done, so the roof will have to be re-repaired. All of this according to a security guy who was guarding the set last week as Laurence Fishburne and the rest of the crew were inside the church filming.

"I don't know if this (hole) is as big as the one that used to be there, but they had to put a new one in for the movie," he said, chuckling. "The magic of Hollywood!"

He added that, in addition to re-repairing the roof, the movie will help pay for other renovations at the church, which is great news. It's a really cool old building on Trumbull near Grand River, and the home base for some folks doing great work. Click here read about some of our previous visits.   

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans adds Dime Building to downtown Detroit collection

The Dime Building lobby
If this were a game of Monopoly, Dan Gilbert just added another color to his set of property cards when he reportedly snatched up the Dime Building earlier this week.

Just to be clear, this is no 'Baltic Avenue' purchase. The Dime has got to be considered one of those orange properties. Maybe even a red.

The Dime Building now joins the Chase Tower, the Madison Theater Building and it appears eventually the First National Building (not to mention a couple of neighboring parking garages) in Gilbert's set of downtown properties.

We at The Times have never claimed to be real estate-savvy. Our color-coded evaluation above should prove that. But Gilbert seems like a sharp guy, and we tend to view his buying spree as a sign that more vibrant days for downtown Detroit are ahead.

What Gilbert's got in mind is anybody's guess, but he's already hinted at an incentive plan to entice Quicken employees to live in the downtown area. And more of those little green houses dotting the Detroit board wouldn't be a bad thing.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Enjoy a sip of Michigan-made rum at the Park Bar in Detroit

In a day when "Buy Michigan" is our best defense against a crappy economy, the good citizen in us all should swing by the Park Bar in downtown Detroit and drink a little rum.

While much has been written about the quality and quantity of Michigan's homegrown beer assortment, our state's spirit-making skills are less publicized.
It turns out though, that the Park Bar - one of our favorite downtown hangouts - serves up a selection of Michigan-made rums from New Holland Brewery, a company that's actually more reputable for its beer-making.

New Holland's line of rums include Freshwater Michigan, Freshwater Huron, and Freshwater Superior, and folks at the Park would love to you sell you a taste. Local bar. Local drink. It's a simple matter of smart economics. If you let them know that you read about Freshwater rum on the Detroit Times, maybe they'll explain why there isn't a Freshwater case you were wondering. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mitch Albom's "Ernie" is a fascinating trip down memory lane for Tigers fans

Turns out there was a lot we didn't know about the man whose voice we all knew.

Ernie Harwell was one of those rare public figures in Detroit that nobody dared to dislike. How could you? No doubt that's at least partly why "Ernie" – the play about the legendary broadcaster written by Mitch Albom – has been so strongly received in its short time at the City Theater in downtown Detroit.

Everybody loved Ernie, and the play serves as a reminder, if we needed one. But in addition to the memorable Ernie moments, Albom also gives us new insights. When he was young, Ernie spoke with a lisp. Ernie is the only broadcaster who was involved in a trade for a player.

Cool stories like those, and the many others that most of us already know, make Albom's two-person performance a memorable trip to the theater. From what we hear, the play's run at the City Theater is being extended through late August, so there's plenty of time to catch it.

The City Theater is located behind the Hockeytown Cafe, across from Comerica Park.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tommy's Detroit Bar & Grill settles in to Mac's old space

In a quiet little corner of downtown Detroit, removed from the foot traffic of people hurrying through Foxtown, Greektown or Campus Martius, a little bar sits behind the towering, ancient Fort Street Presbyterian Church.

For years, you've known that little bar as Mac's On Third, assuming you knew the place at all. But Mac's is gone.

Meet Tommy.

Bringing the best of the old Beaubien Street Saloon across town, Tommy's Detroit Bar & Grill opened in recent days and now faces the challenge of doing what Mac's couldn't in recent years: surviving. To do it, Tommy's will have to get through the first few months without the luxury of Red Wings fans filling the streets a couple times a week. 

The new ownership's changes to the bar have been minimal as yet, although during a recent visit, they had turned down the volume on the flat-screens playing daytime TV above the bar. Instead, soft music from an easy-listening, Sirius XM jazz station played overhead.

The new menu is scaled back from Mac's previous slate of favorites, and is now highlighted by made-to-order burgers and a selection of sandwiches. It's a good spread, definitely worth a visit if you're looking for somewhere old-but-new to check  out some time.

Tommy's is open Monday through Saturday til 2 a.m. Their website at is under construction, but in the meantime you can find them on Facebook by searching "Tommy Detroit Bar and Grill". Old-school drinkers can call them at 313-965-2269.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Urban garden slated to fill space where Lafayette Building once stood

You might recognize the aging red-brick wall in this photo as the side of the old Arcade Bar. Then again, you might not, since for years this wall was hidden by the once-hulking Lafayette Building.

In any event, when the Lafayette was brought down last summer, word on the street was that a park was in the plans. And, if spreading grass seed constitutes building a park, the word on the street was right.

Now, however, dozers are busy grading the lot between Michigan Avenue and Fort Street, and according to a very official-looking guy on the scene, the land will be the future home of a Compuware-sponsored Urban Garden.

I wasn't able to get a lot of detail – such as a projected completion date, what they'll grow, and which charity will benefit from the food to be grown – but I'll keep my eyes peeled. According to the official-looking guy, raised boxes are being installed, along with displays of artwork from children in the area.

It's going to nearly as fun watching this project spring up as it was watching the old Lafayette come down. (And speaking of that, click on this link to see blow-by-blow photos of the Lafayette's demolition.)