Friday, April 26, 2013

The Friday Night That Planned itself

   I'd already known for a couple weeks that tonight at 8:00pm would be the only chance I would get to see On Golden Pond at The Box Theater. It does have one more show, tomorrow night (Saturday, April 27th at 8:00pm)... but I've duties elsewhere in that time slot, so its to be tonight or not at all.
   Then I got to thinking about what I might want to do for dinner before the show.
   Just yesterday, I got my answer when I found out that at 5:00pm there was to be a special sneak-preview screening party for tomorrow's episode of Under The Radar Michigan at The Mitt Restaurant, in Mount Clemens. This particular show includes some interesting places in Traverse City, but (more importantly to me... and maybe to you, too) also some very cool local spots right here in Downtown Mount Clemens... including Weirdsville Records, among others! The show itself is screening at 6:00pm, so I should have plenty of time to get down to the theater.
   So, I get to finally set foot in this local eatery that I have been wanting to try out for some time, whilst getting a chance to see some television time devoted to this downtown area that I find so likable, and I get to top it all off by enjoying some pricelessly charming small theater.
   I just found out, mere minutes ago, that if I get down to Champagne Chocolates before they close at 5:00pm, I can grab a few of their new "Nutty Butter Bites - Peanut Butter with an extra crunch".
   See? That's how it seems to happen. Dinner planned itself, and now dessert has done so, as well!
   Have I mentioned that I love this town?

Friday, April 19, 2013

What I'm Doing (Part II)

   As soon as I am done typing this, I am heading to Downtown Mount Clemens for the Moonlight Madness, which is going on from, well... like now, until 9:00pm. I know I need to grab my selected book for World Book Night (coming up on Tuesday, April 23rd) from Lisa at Used On New Books & More.
   I will likely stop by my usual haunts, Max & Ollie's, Gemini Moon... and especially Champagne Chocolates! They still have a Customer Appreciation sale going on and they've got a whole lot of freshly-made Non-Pareils!
    Tomorrow (Saturday, April 20th), PYRO Art Glass is having an Open House from 11:00am until 6:00pm to celebrate their One Year Anniversary! I'm so glad for them. They work hard and make gorgeous pieces!
   Also tomorrow, Weirdsville Records is celebrating Worldwide Record Store Day from 10:00am until 9:00pm with all kinds of cool discounts an' stuff! Musical guests Rattletrap will be there to play live for us, starting at 1:00pm, so don't miss 'em!
   I will be bouncing back and forth between these two places, all day tomorrow. So, come on ad join me... I'll be lookin' for ya!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

What I'm Doing (Part I)

   That's really all I can write about.
   So, rather than write about what I'm doing around town for the next few days (that will be Part II), I would like to write a little about what I'm doing, right now.
   I'm writing about what I love.
   I love where I live. I love Michigan, and I love my particular current locale. I live in Clinton Township, just outside Mount Clemens and have no plans to leave the immediate area. I've moved several times in the past three decades (or so)... but never very far from where I'd been born and raised. In fact, I live less than twenty miles from that house.
   I've endured the plaintive cries about Michigan weather. So, I like variety... what can I say?
   However, I have had many a conversation with friends and former co-workers who wish they could leave the state, are planning on leaving the state, or have left the state... because of the local economy. "There's no jobs. There's no money." That's what they told me.
   So, about ten years ago, I started thinking about it. Where did the money go? Well, all I could do is take a look at where my money was going. It was really kind of obvious, but it didn't quite hit home until I heard my daughter tell a friend in a local store, "No... don't get those peanuts. Get this kind... this company is in Michigan."
   Amanda was reading the packaging for more than just nutrients and ingredients. Who knew?
   Of course, we had always bought stuff from cool local places and took pride sending gifts to out-of-state friends and family that were unique to Michigan... but, at that point, we started taking a very serious look at what was manufactured where and which businesses were based here.
   A short time later, my dayshift counterpart posted a "Buy Michigan Now" Grocery Guide in my work area. The cover proclaimed, "If every Michigan household spent just $10 more of their weekly food budget on Michigan products we would put nearly $40 million a week into our local economy! The Buy Michigan Now Grocery Guide is designed to make that easier by building awareness of Michigan brands and products."
   I didn't bother to check the math. We realized, as many of our family, friends, and co-workers did, that we could best help our state, our county, our town, community, and neighborhood by keeping as much of our spending as local as possible.
   For instance, I did almost all of my Christmas shopping in Downtown Mount Clemens, as well as a little in the immediate area. The first immediate savings was at the gasoline pump. The downtown shopping district is a mile-and-a-half from my home. That's about six round-trips per gallon in my Jeep.
   Other savings and benefits are more long term... but they are very real.
   The further I send my money out of the local area, the less of a bargain it is, in the long run. This is where I have to be a little unselfish, but for selfish reasons. The more I spend in local shops, which pay local taxes, which are run by local people, who live and spend in the local area, the more money there is to improve the community and the neighborhood.
   These people are not faceless corporations who have boards of directors who are trying to satisfy stockholders... these people are my neighbors. Their children go to schools in the area. They know me. The know what I like. Sure, I knew a couple of them before they owned businesses of their own... but I have become friends with many more of them.
   Now,  I would be a liar if I were to tell you that I shop exclusively at locally owned and operated businesses. I have to get gasoline and some groceries, too. I hit Costco once a month, and you will see me in Kroger, Meijer, Petco, and Staples. I get only what I need at these places, and try to buy products made in Michigan whenever I can.
   All of these things benefit me directly, one way or another, sooner or later.
   Sometimes, money is tight, though... and even when it isn't, I just can't eat at Seeburger's, Thai Orchid or Chantel's Jailhouse Deli, every meal of every day. I would love to buy something from Diane at Max & Ollie's once a week, or get a book and a record every time I visit Davey and Lisa at Weirdsville & Used-on-New, or buy some cool crystal from Gemini Moon, but I can't. I cannot eat chocolate every day, even though I love Champagne Chocolates and nearly every cool thing they produce. I can't buy a ticket to every show at The Box Theater.
   I love these places. I truly enjoy talking to the owners about their businesses, their families, their dreams, and just general day-to-day things. I want them to be there, whenever I can get down to see them and grab a couple of things, here and there... maybe get a bite to eat.
   So what can I do to help?
   All I can do is share their news and events on Twitter and on Facebook. I can tell people where I go and what I buy and what I eat and why I like it.
   That's why I write this blog. I hope other people, like you, will get curious about why I make the effort. Maybe you will check it out for yourself... take a friend with you... recommend it to a family member.
   Michelle Weiss once referred to me as a "cheerleader".
   My friend, Cindy, proclaimed me the "Ambassador to Mount Clemens".
   Another friend, Mike, observed that it sounds like I'm "bucking for City Councilman".
   Others have called me a "promoter".
   I'm none of those things. I don't own pom-poms, I don't have the temperament to be a diplomat, I've absolutely no political aspirations, and I don't think I could be an ad-man.
   I'm just a guy who writes about what he does.
   That's really all I can write about.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Strolling in Early April

   I had been trying to think of a way to put down (in one, short sentence) how I feel about strolling around in Downtown Mount Clemens. Then, just last week, someone did it for me.
   I was with my friends, Steve & Kristy, prior to taking in the second-to-last showing of The Fantasticks at the Box Theater. We had just left Seeburger's Cheeseburgers and, as we walked strolled past Used-on-New Books & More, Kristy mentioned that she had been looking for a little bookshop in the area. Then, she burst out with a big smile and remarked, "I feel like I'm on vacation!"
   That's it.
   See, I get that very same feeling in my own figurative back-yard. I just couldn't put my finger on it... that is, until Kristy put it into words in just the way that she did.
   I love small-town business districts. All the shopkeepers and restaurant owners know each other. More than that, they form a community. They are all in it together. When strolling through downtown Paradise, Central Lake, Bellaire, Leland, Copper Harbor... I always get that same feeling. There is an atmosphere of friendliness, an air of comfort.
   I like it.
   Plus, when you are just taking a casual stroll, stopping in here and there, you never know what you may see or hear...

   Yesterday, while I was downtown, I saw a sign in the window of Champagne Chocolates that I had never noticed before. It reads, "Raspberry Delight Day Every Thursday". Of course, I had to wander in and ask what that is all about. I was told that it involves a dark chocolate cup topped with a Fresh raspberry. This sounds delicious... and, since tomorrow is Thursday, I think I will toddle on down and try one. While I was there, I found that all of their Easter treats are on sale at 50% off! They still have a lot left, but I don't think it will last too long... so get it while you can.

   After I left, I strolled over to Max & Ollie's Vintage Boutique to chat with long-time friend, Diane Kubik. She had a sign out front which proclaims "25% off jewelry", a sale which she'd told me is good until the end of the day, on Saturday. 
   While I was there, Catherine Gulette from the neighboring Gemini Moon shop came in to talk to Diane about their concern for injured members of the business community. One of them is Nick, a waiter at Bath City Bistro (if I understood correctly) who was recently in a terrible motorcycle accident. The other (I learned later) is Rick, owner of the Detroit Pub, who suffered a heart attack.
   I am moved by the deep concern these people express for each other and the outpouring of love and support visible to me on Facebook.
   This is community.

   I walked in to Gemini Moon to see what's going on over there, and I find that they are still running their 60%-off-sale on the delicately beautiful Egyptian oil burners, glass bottles, and papyrus. I love the tremendously positive energy of that place. Having a bad day? Ask them about their Stone Circle.
   Tell 'em Lee sentcha.

   Lastly, let me not forget to remind you all that what happens at Weirdsville Records every Thursday night at 8:00pm is Weirdsville Movie Night! Tomorrow night's movie is Head, the 1968 Monkees movie... with Victor Mature, Sonny Liston, Annette Funicello, Carol Doda and a guest cameo by none other than Frank Zappa, himself! You dare not miss this!