This trip was organized by:

The London and Paris trip was organized by International Tours of Lansing. They did an awesome job making sure we had a wonderful experience.

Link: http://www.intltour-lansing.com/





Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mornin'

I remember my 20's, vaguely... I was confused. I was energetic. I was very ignorant to the ways of the big city having come from the small town of Oscoda. However, I did know a little about the alcohol. Many years later I've calmed my ways a lot. One could say that I'm basically docile living in a quiet domicile dealing with life's daily drudgery. So I was definitely amused as well as slightly disgusted when I stepped out of my house and was confused at what was across the way.


Then upon closer inspection it was confirmed that the birds and the bees keep trying and trying. The tenacity of young pups could line up to be something to be admired. Yet, I wonder as I go back through my fuzzy memories, how in the hell did these two end up passed out on the front lawn. Oh, I giggle at the all familiar dichotomy of man's pants around his ankles and woman fully clothed. Yep, I remember my 20's, vaguely...


1930 | Ford | Model A

As the Communist Party spreads through Vietnam and Panama, in the United States of America Hostess invented the Twinkie. And Mahatma Gandhi informs the British viceroy of India that a change is to come. Henry Ford finally realizes that he has to let others take the reigns to push the Ford Motor Company forward from T to A.


Masking tape is invented. And soon people will begin to know what The Shadow knows as people gather around their radio.


All adult Turkish women are given the right to vote in elections. 1930 saw the beginning of the what is said to be the longest, most widespread, and deepest depression of the 20th century.


General Motors was able to replicate Ford's factory features and begins to build cars that more aesthetically pleasing to consumers.


And sometimes you get hungry, drive to a silvery building that is trimmed in neon. A diner shining brightly under the shimmering sun. In the parking lot by happenstance is another nugget of what was.


A visual spectacle that is able to whet my intellect as I wonder. However, I don't linger long for my appetite reminds me that I am hungry now.



Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chevrolet No More

Lansing, Michigan has a long car history. I'm not a historian. I just travel along in my automobile trying to do my gig. On the West Side on West Oakland just after the split and right before it turns back into the road that is called West Saginaw Street which is also Interstate 69 Business and M 43 - there used to be an Oldsmobile factory. An interesting dichotomy to have an Chevy abandoned where a Olds plant used to be. And that is where I saw this pretty piece of [almost] perfectly preserved Americana.


There is a traffic light at North Rosemary Avenue. It used to be an entrance way to the factory. There are large cement barriers blocking the road to the weeds.


I imagine the train used to frequently stop at this area often.


Look at that history. If a picture normally is worth a thousand words, I would say that this one would be worth about twenty-five hundred. Do you know what model year this car is? Do you remember when the factory used to exist?


I don't know much about cars. I do know that this vehicle has moxy. It has character. This car is something that made it call to you. I'm not saying that I would have wanted to be around when this car rolled off of the assembly line. Not at all. That is too far back in history for my liking. I'd imagine the 'good ol' days' had some details that may leave one wanting. Marinate on that for a moment.



Look at those lines. That's American engineering showcasing beauty. There are times I wish I wasn't concerned about miles per gallon and I wonder what it would be like to mash it with a beast with whatever would be under that hood.


I can't decide if this says to me look at me know, hello or a solid wave goodbye. I've never named one of my cars before. I wonder if this scarlet lady has a name.


I don't just mean a model name attached to the year she was made. I mean a name like Donna, Sandra, Brenda or Angela. Monica. She looks like a Monica to me. Like a tall cold drink of water but ready to ride hot and hard, break a sweat but still shine. Yep, I think she sure does look like a Monica.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Roller Derby | Lansing Derby Vixens

I was meeting with my financial advisor, Sara, going over my measly investments. During these meetings I usually just smile and nod because I am not much for understanding money investing lingo. A decision here, a signature there and within a few minutes we are done. The last meeting I had with her she revealed something about her that caused me to pause. Sara told me that she was a roller derby woman. My mind had visions of women flipping over railings, blood on the track and broken bones from seeing roller derby on television when I was a child. I looked across the desk at my always sweet and bubbly advisor with confused awe. She explained that the reincarnation of roller derby is different because of safety concerns. The women compete on a flat track. There is not a rail. Skaters are not to use elbows, back blocks, or use karate chops to the neck to impede competitor’s progress. It still sounded dangerous.
Sara asked me if I would be interested in being a referee. I considered the idea while holding back that I can barely walk let alone race around an oval on eight wheels. However, the thought of women in colorful costume battling it out intrigued me. I went to several practices for the Lansing Derby Vixens and was enlightened that these women are definitely serious about derby. They work their butts off three practices a week. I realized I could not commit to the time it would take for me to learn how to skate and learn derby rules well enough to be a referee. After few weeks we came up with the idea that I could be a commentator for their scrimmages and bouts. I caught the derby bug. I was all in and willing to do whatever I needed to be color commentator for derby events.
Cut to 10.10.10 – Mayhem at McMorran. I was traveling to Port Huron with excited, nervous anticipation. I was to be second commentator for the inaugural bout for both the Blue Water Derby Girls out of Port Huron and the Lansing Derby Vixens. The Derby Vixens have been working towards this first bout for over a year practicing, recruiting, holding fund raisers, doing community activism, nursing bruises and recovering from broken bones. The pressure that I felt to put on a good performance for the skaters and refs involved was extremely high. I waited impatiently for the experienced commentator to arrive. As it came closer to time for the bout to start I collected details for what I would need to know just in case she did not arrive.
The arena was filled with anxious anticipation. Not only was this an inaugural bout for the derby girls, the arena was filled with people that had never seen live derby before. There were 500 hundred people wondering what was going to happen before them.  A cornicopia of thrill seekers getting into frenzy as time came closer for the beginning of the mayhem. I felt almost sick as I realized I was the only one holding a microphone, a clip board with the team’s lineups, a program with notes scribbled in it, chicken tenders, fries and two bottles of water. It was time to dig in and get this crowd educated, motivated and excited. Far away from home I was determined to show these people what this man can do.
The bout was full of smashing action. The score was constantly close and the lead flipped sides often. The women’s competition was fierce. Ladies were bumping and falling, pushing and whipping. And fortunately the medical team was only called once and it turned out to not be a major incident. In the final seconds the score was tied. The DJ began to play AC/DC’s song Thunderstruck. As I began to scream the words along with the song into the microphone the crowd bubbled over into hysteria. Yeah, yeah, they, they, they blew our minds. The coaches and teammates were on the sidelines screaming support for their fellow skaters. My mind raced. It was the final jam. The score was tied. Thunderstruck. There was a pause in play. Beatin’ in my heart. The whistle blew. Thunderstruck. The jam began and within seconds it was over again. Now we’re shaking at the knees.  Lansing Derby Vixens score a point; called off the jam to win the bout.  You’ve been thunderstruck! ~Melik a.k.a Blacque Mandu / lansingderbyvixens.com

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lansing | Grand River | Fog

Donald Stouffer called me to let me know there was a great photo op with the moon, Grand River, Winky, Blinky and Whatever. I missed the moon but here's what I was able to come up with before my fingers began to hurt from the near zero temperatures. Now is this fog or steam? These were taken on the edge of the bridge by Moores River Drive
Why is the river creating so much fog / steam?

Night shots are getting more fun for me.

I kind of wish I owned a wide angle lens.

Oh, look at the pretty lights. Interesting I can't see the car.


Three car ghosts.

I caught an edge.



I might try this again on another eve that is not so cold.
~Melik

Monday, January 24, 2011

North American International Auto Show | Detroit, Michigan

A great day trip.
Detroit Ren-Cen Skyline 

Honda CR-Z | Very low profile


Hyundai Veloster

Hyundai

Maserati

Maserati

Mercedes Benz SLS AMG E-Cell. I hybrid car that claims to do 0 - 60 m.p.h. in 4.0 seconds.

Porsche Speedster

Scion | Squid | Salty Dog
A Lexus.

Cadillac Race Car

Chevrolet Sonic

Dodge Charger

Corvette

Corvette

Ford Mustang

The Ford - Po Po Car

The car from the movie "The Green Hornet"

The side view of The Green Hornet car.

Does Kato ride the motorcycle?

This is the Oakland University race car. I missed the Michigan State University race car.

I really enjoy being able to day trip to Detroit to see the little gems it has to offer like the North American International Auto Show. It seems that the theme was Electric or Hybrid cars.
Here's the link: www.naias.com

Thanks for your time,
~Melik

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Luncheon

On Monday, 17 January 2011 I had the privilege of observing The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission's 26th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Luncheon at the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing, Michigan. Side note - I very much appreciate living no more than 10 minutes from almost everything that I do.


I was pessimistic. I thought to myself this man was assassinated at 6:01 p.m. on April 4, 1968, what possibly could be said almost 43 years later. I made it a point to remain open to the experience. I observed many types of people and the usual suspects were definitely in the house - politicians and those Lansing are big wigs. This was a sold out event with about 825 people in attendance.


Here are some highlights to an uplifting event.


Singing done by Spoken Praise | Fearless Faith Church Ministries

Piano accompaniment and performance by Mr. Ray Potter III. You should check out his solo work.

The Master of Ceremonies was the President/CEO of MSU Federal Credit Union - Mr. Patrick M. McPharlin

A surprise guest was Lt. Governor, Mr. Brian Calley.

Then came a couple of mayors. From East Lansing, Mr. Victor W. Loomis. From Lansing, Mr. Virg Bernero.

There were several selections done by Minister Sharon Lawrence-Taylor

And then after lunch was served Commissioner Dr. Lee June introduced the key note speaker - United States Congressman, Maryland, 7th District - The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings.

If you ever get a chance to hear this man speak you will be enthralled. Not only was he engaging and entertaining, he was jocular and informative. A man that experienced many forms of racism during his life kept a blind eye to it all to reach his primary goal of becoming an lawyer. Through it all he maintains that there is good in everyone. Without directly saying that he is against any wars that we may be involved in as a nation Mr. Cummings stated that our greatest threat to our national security is the failure to educate every single child. He continued to say that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke on having a sense of urgency for civil rights that Mr. Cummings believes still exists. Mr. Cummings eloquently shared and weaved his history, with this nation's history and brought us to now urging us as individuals to look to the future. He challenged the audience to continue to fight for what is the best for all mankind.

I would have like to have seen a plan of action or suggestions as to how to continue to keep the legacy living through action beyond this enjoyable event.

I am glad I was able to sneak in to this function. I questioned some as to how events like these help people and I was told that it was good to be reminded what was so that we can remember that there is a reason to try to continue to forge ahead for goodness and righteousness. it is also good to be a part of a revival of sorts to energize you so that you can continue to forge ahead.

Maybe next year I can sneak in and get a lunch out of it as well. I'll keep you posted. Until then, my personal challenge is to be more aware of how I can continue the legacy beyond this experience.

And here is more because you know I had to get a video camera in the mix. Check it out on Time Slot [Life In Lansing]


~Melik