Capturing the culture that makes Detroit what it is.

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Around Detroit

Around Detroit features interesting places in the Metro Detroit area I enjoy visiting.

Detroit is Fashion with Diamond Williams

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European designers visiting Eastern Market, personalized and custom bowties, jumpsuits on tour with Eminem, and exclusive clothing from Brazilian designers all keep Detroit’s Fashion Different. Do you know where you can meet designers that are planning Italian fabrics for Detroit fashion? Have you visited the store where you can buy the hoodies and jeans that the U of M football team is wearing that aren’t Jordan branded? Detroit is Fashion and Detroit is Different. Watch this video and find out where you can buy any and every style of clothing in Detroit.

Detroit is Fashion features Tony Stovall of Hot Sam’s Clothing Store, James Grady of DSE, Erin Wetzel of Orleans & Winder, and KoolAde of AYV Clothing.

Around Detroit: Marche Du Nain Rouge Parade

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Thornetta Davis invited me to an event that captured how Detroit is Different for her “Around Detroit” feature. I attended the Marche Du Nain Rouge 2015 Parade with Thornetta Davis and her husband, James Anderson, on Sunday March 22, 2015.

The Marche Du Nain Rouge Parade is an event that launched in 2012 in recognition of a 300 year old myth. Legend has it that in 1701 French Colonist for the Detroit territory Antoine de le Cadillac met a fortune teller who warned him to beware of the Nain Rouge. Nain Rouge is French for red devil, and is thought to be representative of Cadillac’s personal faults and ambitions.

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The Marche Du Nain Rouge is a parade that takes this concept to rid the Detroit of that very same “Devil”.

Thousands of Metro-Detroiters gathered in Detroit’s Midtown district to parade down Second Ave. The parade was full of music; guitar bands, brass bands, and boom boxes played the sounds of a joyous occasion. The parade is reminiscent of the Jazz funerals generally held in New Orleans. The costumes worn by participants were unique, their make-up was colorful, and many people danced along with the parade. I felt like I was in the second-line on Bourbon Street.

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The parade was led by a float with the “Red Devil”. The float had an actor atop a car playing the role of the Nain Rouge. The car, which led the parade, looked like something from Mad Max. The parade was closed by a mix of butterflies which represent the transformation of Detroit (shout out to my friend and excellent dancer/instructor Tene from the House of Bastet who was a butterfly). All negative images, thoughts, and energy from the past year are thought to be released with the butterflies, freeing Detroiters from the devilish past and launching them into the new year, lighter than before.

Around Detroit: Goodwell’s Natural Food Market

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Goodwell’s is an eatery and market in Detroit’s Midtown District. Located blocks away from Wayne State University, Goodwell’s sits at 418 Willis, between Cass Ave and Second Avenue. Goodwell’s has grown to become one of the best options in Detroit for great tasting food that’s great for your health. It also is one of author Yusef Shakur’s favorite places to visit and enjoy in Detroit.

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Goodwell’s Avocado Delight, Shaun Moore-Bey & Yusef Shakur, Goodwell’s Organic Foods


Shakur was first introduced to Goodwell’s five years ago. He immediately supported the business. At that time, Shakur was busy opening the Urban Network Bookstore and Café, partially inspired by the Black-owned business with community ties: “I looked to Goodwell’s as a blueprint of how to stay community driven, and nation build with a business.” The day we met for our interview, Goodwell’s was also visited by hip-hop artist Shaun Moore-Bey, visual artist Mark Brown, and community activist Ron Scott. “I love how the Detroiters I know and admire support Goodwell’s,” said Shakur, “The elders visit often, and give me support in passing.”

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Yusef Shakur’s State of Black Detroit Saturday Feb 21. 2015 @ 5PM Nandi’s Knowledge Cafe 12511 Woodward in Highland Park, MI


Shakur’s favorite dish from Goodwell’s is the Avocado Delight (Pita sandwich with avocado, baby spinach, veggie sauce, carrots, and onions). The eatery is known for it’s vegetarian chili. It also features soups of the day. Goodwell’s uses all organic food and is one of the few restaurants in the city serving vegetarian and vegan dishes. Shakur also strongly recommends the ginger tea and ginger juice.

When available and open I suggest visiting Goodwell’s Natural Food Market to enjoy an organic and tasteful meal. During your visit don’t be surprised to find Yusef Shakur there writing another book, meeting with Detroiters, or enjoying a meal–for Goodwell’s is the place Yusef loves “Around Detroit”.

Around Detroit: John K King Used & Rare Books

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John K. King Used & Rare Books is one of my favorite places to visit in Detroit. The book store is the result of John K. King’s passion, developed over 50 years. King’s love for used and rare books blossomed overtime to now house tens of thousands of books for readers to appreciate.

Located in Downtown Detroit, King’s book store is a gem that’s world renown. Countless book enthusiasts list John K. King’s books as one of the best used book stores in the world. Over time, King has filled two four-story buildings (a cool analogy for a book store) with classic and unusual books for all ages.

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John K. King and John K. King Used & Rare Books

I personally enjoy visiting John K. King Books because of the vast array of subject matter. I first visited the book store in 2011. I’ve been in love with the store ever since. I’ve never been to King’s book store and spent less than two hours time selecting books to read. Visiting floor to floor exploring anything I can think of is a humbling experience. It’s as if King’s book store is a real life google search.

As a hip-hop artist, I believe it’s of dire importance that I gather an understanding of all contexts in life to relay into my songs. This process is also shared by Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, and the late Tupac Shakur, who have studied authors from Mark Twain to Dale Carnegie. The value I find in literature and lessons also strengthens my development in business as well. The more I’ve read, the more empowered my communication skills have become to apply to my business.

My favorite titles I’ve purchased from John K King’s book store are: an original print of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” by Alex Haley; “My Life, My Work” by Henry Ford; and “The Franchise:: Building a winner with the World Champion Detroit Pistons, Basketball’s Bad Boys” by Cameron Stauth. I’m sure as I continue my visits to John King’s books, my list of favorite’s will change.

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John King currently has the same passion towards his collection. I asked King what were some of the titles he was most excited to get and he said, “I see all these books like they’re my babies, how can I like one more than the other.” Also King believes the culture of Detroit has helped the book store. “I’ve heard people claim Detroit has a 45% illiteracy rate. I don’t believe it. The more I’ve committed to the book store the more Detroit has led to it expanding,” John King.

John K King Used & Rare Books also holds many collections of autographs, anthologies, and papers. An original print of “The Fedaralists Papers” are held by John K King Used & Rare Books for the cost of $150,000.00 (The Fedaralist Papers are the collection of essays by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay urging the ratification of the United States of America and the Constitution.) Rare finds like that are only part of John King’s expansive collection which is reasonably priced. I’d imagine with $30 to spend you’d walk away with a stack of books you’re eager to open and from cover to cover. There are tens of thousands of books to choose from at John King’s book store, and he’s as much of a reader as his customers. Currently King is delving into Modern American poetry.

I urge of you to visit John K King’s Rare & Used Books when you have an opportunity to spend sometime Downtown Detroit. It’s located at 901 W Lafayette Detroit MI 48226 open Monday – Saturday 9:30am – 5:30pm.

Around Detroit: Techonomy Detroit 2014

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Tuesday September 16, 2014 Detroit was host of it’s third annual Techonomy Conference. Techonomy is a conference that provides the visions of how and why technology can help re-shape society. Since 2012 I’ve been an attendant through working for the Michigan Citizen Newspaper. I’ve always enjoyed the creativity and focus of Techonomy.

As Techonomy 2014 approached I eagerly sought out access to host podcast interviews. Through the support and assistance of Michigan Citizen Newspaper Publisher Catherine Kelly, Techonomy Director of Program Operations Tim Charters, and Edelman Marketing Coordinator Liz Leismer my Techonomy Detroit 2014 experience was amazing.

Partnering with The Michigan Citizen Newspaper I hosted a series of interviews with Techonomy participants. The interviews all explore the impact technology has had, does have, and could have upon Detroit. I enjoyed all the interviews thoroughly. I hope you appreciate these interviews as well.

(*All pictures used are for exclusive use of Techonomy Media)

Justin Fox NY Harvard Business Review

David Kirkpatrick Founder of Techonomy

Laura Mather Founder of Unitive

Justin Fox, David Kirkpatrick, and Gabriella Gomez-Mont
Justin Fox, David Kirkpatrick, and Gabriella Gomez-Mont

Charlie Molthrop American Venture Fellow

Gabriella Gomez-Mont Mexico City Chief Creativity Officer

Marlin Page Founder of Sisters Code

Arun Sundararajan, Marlin Page, and Liz Shuler
Arun Sundararajan, Marlin Page, and Liz Shuler

Elizabeth Shuler Secretary Treasurer of the AFL-CIO

Arun Sundararajan NYU Professor of Urban Science

Taste of Ethiopia

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The cultural experience of Taste of Ethiopia in Southfield MI is one of a kind. For years it’s been one of my favorite restaurants in the Metro-Detroit area. It is a family run business that has now expanded into food manufacturing and distribution. Meskerem “Meskie” Gebreyohannes started the business in 2005 upon moving to the Detroit area.

Meskie was born in Ethiopia. Her whole life she’s embraced, enjoyed, and celebrated the culture. “As a child I learned to prepare meals and dishes for many people. In Ethiopia everyone who lived in the same community who were close in age are considered brothers and sisters. So when meals were prepared they were always made for many brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties, and grandparents. The idea of making a meal for less than ten people is American.” This same humble attitude that Meskie learned to make cuisine with is the same spirit that inspires the Taste of Ethiopia restaurant.

Meskie, Tatse of Ethiopia platter, and students
Meskie, Tatse of Ethiopia platter, and students

Taste of Ethiopia was birthed in Toronto ON. Conceptually Meskie wanted her family to share a business that offered guests a glimpse into their culture and cuisine. Today that legacy continues in food manufacturing. Hiyaw Gebreyohannes (Meskie’s son) has lead the way in making, distributing, and marketing Taste of Ethiopia foods to grocery shelves. Since 2012 distribution in Whole Foods and New York City grocers has welcomed their products. Click here to read the review featured in the New York Times newspaper.

Hiyaw & manufacturing staff, Taste of Ethiopia products
Hiyaw & manufacturing staff, Taste of Ethiopia products

Taste of Ethiopia has a number of dishes available for all guests. Specialty meals for vegetarians and vegans are provided as well. My favorite dishes are the curry chicken, plantain, cabbage & carrots, red lentils, and the injera (Ethiopian bread). Taste of Ethiopia also offers more of the Ethiopian and Eritrean experience with music, films, clothing, and artistry. Reasonably priced and comfortably located I believe the restaurant is perfect for families to share Meskie’s vision.

Taste of Ethiopia is located at 29702 Southfield Rd, Southfield MI 48076 (in the shopping plaza on Southfield Rd between 12 & 13 Mile Rd). The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday, 11am – 9pm. I urge of you to visit, and tell Meskie you know Khary!

Around Detroit: Ashore Detroit

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Michigan is the Great Lake State! This uniquely gives Detroit one of the best fresh water supplies of the world! (Interestingly enough the battle over Detroit water is deeply rooted. Today water shut-offs by the ‘Detroit’ Water & Sewage Department is trending across local and international headlines. If you follow the issue over the years, it’s always been Detroit’s most viable asset.) This provides Detroit with one of the best lake shore lines in the world. Belle Isle park’s world renown look, feel, and nature gives a glimpse of Detroit, Windsor ON, and the Detroit River. Brian Mulloy loves it!

Brian is a friend in business that runs the website DetroitAshore . It provides an online glimpse into the water sports available in Detroit and South East Michigan. “I lived in San Francisco for 10 years. The Pacific Ocean only made me miss the Great Lakes and the Detroit River more. When I moved back, I embraced Belle Isle, and my paddleboard” Brian Mulloy.

Brian’s website features sailing, power boating, surfing, paddle boarding, wind water sporting, and fishing. Ashore Detroit posts stories about the people, businesses, groups, and safety of the Detroit water ways has a home at DetroitAshore . This resourceful website is also insightful. The narrative of the people who are the water sports enthusiasts here are amazing. The enjoyment and commitment of the Southeast Michigan residents who year round make their way to the Detroit water ways is humbling. Against the snow, ice, winter temperatures, summer humidity, and summer heat they stay engaged.

Fishing, King on the Paddleboard (jessica Care moore's Son and 1 of my favorite little homies), and kids on Belle Isle paddle boarding
Fishing, King on the Paddleboard (jessica Care moore’s Son and 1 of my favorite little homies), and kids on Belle Isle paddle boarding

Brian’s commitment to water sports began with an introduction from his late grandfather who lived on Detroit’s Eastside in the Gratiot and Outer Dr neighborhood. Learning to swim at Chandler Park’s pool, there after Brian’s grandfather taught him fishing on Belle Isle. Fishing on Belle Isle welcomed his father and the Chrysler co-workers his father worked with as well. These experiences eventually expanded to skiing and surfing of Lake Huron with his Uncles and cousins. Brian’s experience and love for the Detroit water ways runs deep. Today you can find Brian on Belle Isle weekly paddle boarding (as long as there is no ice, Brian’s paddle boarding in the warmth of a wet suit).

Brian’s website along with other Detroit water sport enthusiasts are expanding this growing culture. Currently there is a RFP (request for proposal) from the State of Michigan for a surf shop for Belle Isle Park. There are kayak, canoe, boat, and paddle board rental services available on Belle Isle Park currently. There are also a number of boat, yacht, and jet ski rental services available at Detroit’s port/ riverfront authority.

I urge of you to take the time to enjoy the Detroit River and sport by visiting the DetroitAshore website and seeing what’s happening.

Detroit’s Eastern Market

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Every Saturday in the Spring, Summer and Fall I ride my bicycle to Eastern Market.  From my house on Detroit’s Westside to Detroit’s historic Eastern Market the ride is generally 18 to 20 miles there and back. Marciano Walton (who’s one of my best friends, and like an older brother to me) joins me. The bike ride takes us through my neighborhood, Highland Park, the Boston Edison district, the New Center area, Midtown Detroit, and Downtown Detroit. I find it refreshing to get an in depth look of Detroit from the perspective of pedaling through. On a bicycle I notice so much more of the people, businesses, happenings, and changes in the city. Closing the journey in Eastern Market I’m always finding new and creative people, foods, arts, plants, and things that are uniquely Detroit.

Peppers, Flowers, Lettuce & Peaches
Peppers, Flowers, Lettuce & Peaches

Eastern Market is an open farmers market. It welcomes hundreds of vendors selling a variety of primarily fruits and vegetables. I stock up on spinach, carrots, peppers (of all varieties), cabbage, greens, kale, celery, apples, grapefruit, grapes, pineapples, and pears (I follow my Grandma Vel’s rules with juicing, the greener the better). The quality of the fruits and vegetables for the pricing is amazing. You’ll feel like Popeye with fresh Michigan Spinach!

Along with produce Eastern Market’s Gratiot Central Market carries every type of meat you’d ever want to buy. Seafood, poultry, beef, and pork are comparable in price but premium in quality. The options of ground chicken, turkey, types of sausage, and bacons are keep the market bustling every weekend.

Vinetta Lloyd & I, Shop Play Love Store, and Berts Warehouse BBQ (Jai-Lee Dearing)
Vinetta Lloyd & Me, Shop Play Love Store, and Berts Warehouse BBQ (Jai-Lee Dearing)

My friend Vinetta Lloyd has a boutique that sells clothing & home accessories, and t-shirts. ‘Shop, Play, Love,’ is located in Bert’s Warehouse. Her boutique adds the artistic style of Detroit to Eastern Market.

My favorite place in Eastern Market is ‘Rocky’s.’ Rocky’s is a dry foods store that specializes in spices, candies, nuts, dry fruits, and sauces. My friend Mytao insisted I visit Rocky’s 2 years ago. Since my initial visit I haven’t gone a month without stocking up on spices, or trying new ones. Rocky’s carries a mix of no-salt, low-salt, world, and specialized spices. I encourage everybody to visit and help out your kitchen with some spices from Rocky’s.

Ife on the Drums (Every week he plays outside Rocky's a Detroit legend), Rocky's Greeter, Rocky's spices, and Mootown Creamery
Ife on the Drums (Every week he plays outside Rocky’s a Detroit legend), Rocky’s Greeter, Rocky’s spices, and Mootown Creamery

Another place I often enjoy is Mootown Creamery. It’s an Ice Cream shop. The family business also carries baked goods and home accessories. I think they make a perfect ‘Boston Cooler.’ The owner actually shares the story behind the original ice cream shop that was located in Detroit’s Boston & Edison district that brought the drink to fame. A Boston Cooler is a drink that blends a mix of Vanilla ice creams, Vernors soda, and ice. It’s uniquely Detroit, and definitely my favorite milk shake.

Eastern Market mural, Street performer, and flowers / Sax player
Eastern Market mural, Street performer, and flowers & Sax player
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