Category Archives: Uncategorized

M1 Train Train Gonna Take Me Right Out of This Town

I love Dolly Parton (she inspired the title) I once broke out a rousing version of Jolene at Cafe D’Mongo’s while a cute litte folksy chica played it on her little guitar.

Anyway, I saw a little article on Buzzfeed about how we (as America, I guess) shouldn’t discount Detroit in 2013. Loved it! The first and most concrete reason on the list was the M1 Light Rail. Detroit finally enters the world of public transit with the M1 Light Rail project — 3.3 miles of pure transpo between New Center and Downtown.

SUGGESTION: Let’s call it New Center, not New Center Area. Area is a sloppy city suffix. Someone wasn’t trying that hard.

I’m definitely an advocate for the original Light Rail plan (for it to extend into the northern chic ‘burbs), but am more than elated that The D has an established public transportation plan.

But there’s a missing element. All of America’s Glory Cities have beautiful train stations:

Union Station in Chicago, Grand Central Station in NYC
unionstation_chi

new_york

(flickr: dawhitfield, p_a_h)

You know what Detroit’s train station looks like? The one that all the Amtrak trains and the Megabus passes through?

detroit_amtrak_station

Erm…Do you see an abandoned Taco Bell? I see an abandoned Taco Bell.

Behold your grandiose entrance to Detroit! This station is going stop No. 10 on the new M1 Light Rail line. But is this what you want outsiders to see when they first arrive in Detroit? Or better even worse, is this the depressing sight that you want Detroiters to return to after arriving from Union Station after a weekend in Chicago?

You’re probably thinking, “Back the train up (hehe), what about that other train station in Detroit? That big abandoned one that is a grillion stories high?”

detroit_train_station

That train station, Michigan Central Station, in fact was Detroit’s answer to Grand Central and Union back in the day. It was pretty sexy back in the day, but it’s defunct now and it’s owner, Matty Moron  Moroun, owns it and refuses to do anything with it. Though my friend Marissa does count every time Matty puts a new window in on her Instagram.

But at this point, I think that train station (Michigan Central Station) should be left as it is. It’s gone from being an eyesore to a tourist attraction (No lie, a friend of mine had a Swiss couch surfer who came to Detroit to see MCS). The Detroit train station is kind of like the first modern-day Colosseum. Throw in some food truck and plant some grass around that puppy and boom! Insta-tourist attraction. (I can see the Instagram photos now). Fact is, the train station is s a ruin, but it’s a big, beautiful ruin. And you know I’m all abouts my BBRs, Okrrr?

But back to the New Center Train Station: While I’m sure the light rail will have lots of little but great stations around dotting Woodward, the Amtrak station needs to be something special. Take advantage of the audience you have captive! For some people, coming in on the Amtrak will be the first introduction to our fair city, and we’ve worked so hard for that impression NOT to be:

clint_ew

There might be a part deux to this one, because I’d like to go into the details of what a makes for a good train station. Peace for nao.

The one thing we can give Detroit a pat on a back for

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of my bosses told me that there are only two holidays that he and his girlfriend celebrate, St. Patrick’s Day and Opening Day. Which to me meant that he pretty much stayed drunk for the entire month of March.

I don’t think most Detroiters take holiday celebration to that extreme, but I must give Detroit a pat on the back for having an extreme sports culture  (despite being so passionately disappointed in our teams) and businesses smartly responding to that.

For example, today is Opening Day in The D  #OpeningDayInTheD (if this isn’t a twitter hashtag by now, save me). My fellow marketing analyst here at DRoots is like, “Everyone I know is pumped for today. I don’t think they are even going to the game. They’re tailgating and hitting up bars.”

Detroit sports bars owners have done the best job of making sure that their bars are the one category of stuff in Detroit I can name run off an entire list off the top of my head: Cheli’s, Hockeytown Cafe, Bookies, Nemos, THE BIGGEST BW3 IN THE NATION WHUUUUT [I know I just called in BW3, not BDubs. My Ohio is showing. I’m sorry], the entire row of nameless/faceless sporty-pubby places in Greektown.

I can even imagine the Ole Shillelagh being open now, because we’re a city of shameless day drinkers on our holidays.

And a lot of these bars are newer developments too — Cheli’s, Hockeytown, Bookies, Buffalo Wild Wings, are all either new or have been redone in the past 10 years or so and don’t seem to be riding the strugglebus with attracting customers.

With that said, if you are going to make an investment in Detroit, do not open a sports bar.

I just shocked the hell out of you right? You may be thinking, “If sports events take the fear out of people and make them flock to Detroit, why would you not open a sports bar? You have just listed tons of successes!”

They are all successes, yes. The market has been saturated! I can give a Detroit business a pat on the back for fully embracing the sports-entertainment market, but there are other things that need to be developed optimize the experience. Given, I’ve never been Downtown on Opening Day, but I was down there for the playoffs last year, so yeah, here, just take it:

THINGS DOWNTOWN DETROIT NEEDS ON SPORTING EVENT DAYS:

  • Parking. Not gonna lie, this is an all around Downtown Detroit problem (and I have some secret Detroit parking strategies that I’ve developed over time), but I’m really surprised no one has jumped on this. There are so many dilapidated buildings take up space– this is one of those moments were it’s ok to “pave paradise and put up a parking lot.”
  • Need Moar Shuttles. I know Nemo’s is a classic and I love to see them toting ’round people. But the smells I smelled from being packed in butt-to-face suggests to me that Nemos and the Peoplemover aren’t enough to handle these crowds.

Given, these are the only two things I can think of off the top, but I’m sure more will come to me. Or someone please contribute because you know what I mean here. What kind of business other than a bar would make your experience better? I’m unna make this short because this wasn’t my best blog entry, but GO TIGS! Welcome back and Happy Opening Day!

Zizu Is Detroit

So I’ve decided to turn this puppy into a Detroit development blog — chock full of ideas to make Detroit awesome. I want DG and Mr. Karmanos and The Ilitichs to look at this be like, “WHOOO YEAH, SLICK IDEAS”.

 

boymeetsworld

If you want to see my other posts on Detroit stuff so far, feast your eyes on these gems:

How to Make Detroit’s Layout Really Work
Someone Tell Me Why Detroit Was Passed Up For Social Media Week
Detroit Hustles Harder

How to make Detroit’s really weird layout work

**DISCLAIMER: I’m not a city planner. I’m a 20-something girl who likes to party with itchy feet and a sister with a PhD in Civil Engineering (planning specialization).

On the last episode of Zizu and Stuff, I mapped out some reasons why Detroit should be a contender for Social Media Week. It’s time to break out your cartography hats because I’m going to be mappin’ it up again today.

detroit

Haha, see what I did there? Map?

So, I caught wind that Dan Gilbert of QL hosting a little chaterooni about new Detroit initiatives, which always gets me giddy, so I perused the hashtags and live-tweets about it.

One particular tweet caught my eye, “A City Needs 10 destinations…” 10 Destinations/10 Places/10 things to do (destination defined as a district). 10x10x10. Good formula. So how does this apply to The D? Let’s name the Detroit districts:

10 DETROIT ‘HOODS (Districts/Destinations):

  • Greektown
  • Mexicantown
  • Corktown
  • Midtown
  • Downtown
  • Grand Circus Park

umm

Ok ok, I know there are other named Detroit neighborhoods (Indian VIllage, Boston-Edison, Poletown and EAST Poletown as I discovered a couple of months ago). But these are the most notable neighborhoods Detroit has (not including Hamtramck/Highland Park/anything else that’s technically it’s own city). I could name 5. So we’re halfway there?

My guess is the presenter behind 10x10x10 knows what’s up about the cache about living in a neighborhood in a big city. My Chicago friends always tout the neighborhood they live/hang out in (seemingly 3/4 times its a Park. Chicago’s got dominance on the Parks –Wicker, Lincoln, Rogers, etc.) Anyone can spout Manhattan neighborhoods without ever living there (SoHo, Chelsea, Little Italy, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Greenwich, yada yada, you know them).

Problem is, Detroit wasn’t laid out like New York or Chicago, which rely on wicked public transportation systems and are very walkable. Detroit is Motor City, so the expectation here has always been that you need a car. But now, that’s played out with youngins’ who have seen public transport glamorized on TV and want to drop a quarter in a saxophone man’s case like the big kids in NYC/Chicago. Public transportation also gives clarity as to what neighborhoods where which (i.e. Red Line riders in Chicago know the Thorndale stop is in the Edgewater neighborhood).

Detroit is actually laid out more like Los Angeles, where the expectation is also that you need a car to get around. And while LA proper has its well known neighborhoods (Compton, Van Nuys, etc.), the real “destinations” in LA are different cities: Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Venice, Santa Monica… We’ve got that going on here too: Royal Oak, Ferndale, Birmingham — problem is: Detroit is trying to attract people back into the city — LA doesn’t have to.

So the real ? is: HOW DO WE GET PEOPLE TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE DESTINATIONS OF DETROIT? And if that makes you feel like this:

catontable

Never fear. I totally think Detroit can have the best of both worlds:

  • LINK ROYAL OAK AND FERNDALE TO THE D  

    Don’t alienate good ‘hoods that have already been established. RO and Ferndale are already popular with the young crowd in Metro Detroit. Why not make it easier for the coveted Young Pro crowd living there to travel into the city? Maybe they’ll fall even more in love and move Downtown? This is why I’m so thrilled about the M1 Light Rail. I’m thrilled that it’s linking Midtown, Downtown and GCP, but for the Detroit destinations to really take off, the already established sexy neighborhoods need to be included. 

  • SET UP ONE DISTRICT FOR NIGHTLIFE

    DG and other Detroit investors are doing a pretty good job of trying to integrate living space near workplaces, restaurants, other life essentials downtown, which is great. However, if Detroit is trying to attract outsiders, it’ll  be easier if all the fun stuff is in one place. If you ask a Detroiter, “Where do you go out at night?” they are likely to give you names of their favorite night haunts instead of naming an entire district that is straight up fun. And having a district that is straight up fun will only help the reputation of a city. It’s worked for Miami and Las Vegas and Amsterdam…hell, it’s worked for Cleveland.

  • PLAY UP SUBCULTURE

    Austin, Minneapolis, and Portland have all seen an uptick in young post-grads flocking there. And we all know why…they’re known as “hipster” cities. And those cities aren’t even all that huge and glamorous but people want to be there because they feel like those are the cities where they will find people just like them. Detroit can totally do this too and even has an advantage because Detroit has pieces of subculture with global scope already. Everyone knows Detroit is a music city (Eminem, Madonna, White Stripes, Kid Rock, Bob Seger, Motown IF YOU LIKE MUSIC IT CAME FROM DETROIT). Detroit also has lots of gorgeous & historic music venues. I don’t know how we aren’t known as Concert Capital of the World. DG is trying to get a fire started with Techtown. I don’t care what it is–let’s associate Detroit with something that people want to be a part of. These people will develop the Detroit neighborhoods.

That’s what I say!

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Someone Tell Me WHY Detroit Was Passed Up For Social Media Week

ANSWER:

detroit_blight

Ok, I’m kidding. But kind of not.

Social Media Week was this past week with events up and running in Copenhagen, Milan, Miami, Hamburg, Lagos, New York, Paris, Singapore, Tokyo, and DC. It’s also visited Vancouver, San Fran, LA and Chicago.

Due to it’s reputation, Detroit might seem a little…misplaced in that list to some. I, however, think that Detroit is steeped enough in social media and has an interesting enough point of view to host a social media week.

And since we’re all tween girls at heart, I know there are some people that probably think Detroit can’t host because it’s uglier than NYC or Paris or Miami. To that, I present to you this:

detroit_1

and this

detroit_2

and this

detroit_3

Don’t you think there should be an international event taking place in a city with all that pretty?

yes

Great! Glad you agree!

But just in case you’re not convinced Detroit is not worthy of hosting Social Media Week, 5 reasons why Detroit would be a primo city for hosting duties:

1. TWITTER AND GOOGLE HAVE ALREADY DUBBED IT WORTHY

Contrary to what you might think, Detroit has major ties to social media.  In April 2012, Twitter opened an office in Detroit in the M@dison Building (Detroit should also get bonus points for having a building with an ‘@’ sign in the name). And Google has always had a good relationship with the Detroit Metro Area, with a main office in Ann Arbor and a satellite Birmingham. I think it’s a pretty good idea to host a major social media event in the backyard of two social media giants.

2. THE WEBWARD INITIATIVE

Quicken Loans is headquartered Detroit. And if you know a little about Quicken Loans, you know who Dan Gilbert is. And if you know anything about Dan Gilbert, then you know he’s bought several buildings in Detroit in a revitalization crusade of sorts. It’s called the WEBward Initiative, encourages tech startups to develop in or move to Detroit. It would be good for SMW to access the momentum built by Everyone’s Uncle Dan to create an event with tech buzz and positive press. After all, Forbes seems to love Quicken.

3. INTERNATIONAL APPEAL

Non-Michiganders always seem a little gobsmacked when I tell people how many times I’ve been to Canada. I think people either discount or forget that Detroit has an international border with Ontario. On top of that, Detroit has a great relationship with Windsor, ON. Both cities have stunning remodeled casinos, they share a marathon, etc. Imagine all the traffic a SMW in Detroit would drive — extending out to Toronto, including Windsor & London in between. (And yes, Torontonians do come here, it was totally mentioned on an episode of Degrassi).

4. WE’VE GOT THE EQUIPMENT

A Social Media Week should definitely be hosted at Cobo Hall. For those not familiar, Cobo Hall is the sparkling home to the North American International Auto Show, right on the waterfront. It’s not a rinky-dink, jerry-rigged operation. NAIAS looks like this (pay less attention to the Audi and more attention to the slick white floor and flashy black ceiling/track lighting: naias_audi

Detroit has the space to make a very modern looking event. Also, it’s got lots of attractions to keep visitors happy (the 3 casinos, gorgeous architectural theatres, awesome bars, Corktown, Mexicantown, Greektown, THE BIGGEST B-DUBS IN THE NATION.) Detroit can easily accommodate lots of visitors as proven when the city hosted the Super Bowl in 2006. And what no one likes to talk about is the crime: Yes, Detroit has crime. However, downtown Detroit is actually 37% safer than your average city. BAM.

5. THE BIG 3 ARE ALL ABOUT SOCIAL

I should know: I work at a Social CRM company and we happen to have the Big 3 companies as our clients. GM, Ford and Chrysler are all very serious about using social media to its full potential, and having their presence at a Social Media Week will make a difference. The Big 3 have developed big name influencers that cross over in the worlds of social media, marketing, and Fortune 500 companies. Having those influencers attend an event with roughly 90K followers a piece, will only produce a positive result.

I can think of a treasure trove more reasons, one pops to mind about memes, but I think that Detroit would be perfect for Social Media Week. They’ve got another round in September (and probably have locations for it already) but how about Detroit 2014? Does anyone else out there agree with me?

Return?

So, it’s a cardinal sin that I’ve been doing everything but blogging lately. Quickest update ever:

  • Ran the marathon. Signed up for 3 races this year.
  • I’m a finalist in a local karaoke competition. This has inflated my ego and I’m walking strutting around like the love child of Mariah Carey and Beyonce. 
  • The above statement is making me want to dye my hair some gold color.
  • I’m eating gluten-free in February to see if that solves some of my stomach issues. But according to my BFF’s suitor on OKCupid, “All girls have poop problems.”

Also, an old magazine scan of Esther Cañadas:

Image

 

That’s it.

 

Footnote about Esther Cañadas: I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world when I was like 9 or 10. Wanted to be juuuust like her. Oh tween girls.

Spirit Indestructible Review!

I wanna say 3 things:

  • Nelly Furtado tweeted my blog entry about her. ❤ I noticed at work, turned around to my Account Manager and he asked me why I was blushing and smiling so big. So many hearts!
  • I’ve been waiting for this album really since April, right around the time I was in Austria and the TSI web series came out, but it feeeels like forever.
  • I LOVE THIS ALBUM SO.

On September 18, I ignored my morning radio shows, and slipped the CD (yes, compact disc, my car is not hi-tech yet) into my car stereo and immediately started belting out the first song, Spirit Indestructible.

ASIDE: I have a habit of dancing and singing while I’m driving and I feel that that will turn into a video blog entry soon.

I am so happy that I love every song. Even on the deluxe edition. Not-a-one song induced an “ewww.”

Instead of talking about every song (I can be a little long winded), I’ll give my opinion of The Spirit Indestructible, track by track, in 3 words. (Like how those fun, clever, shabadoo people do):

  1. Spirit Indestructible — Roaring, Inspiring, Comforting
  2. Big Hoops (Bigger the Better) — Hood fashion show
  3. High Life — My fave track!
  4. Parking Lot — Danceable marijuana nostalgia
  5. Something — Sexy, Eerie, Jinns
    ASIDE: By Jinns, I do mean, jinns. Like Jinni. Like ghosts, spirits, demons, like this guy:

    (Source: Lords & Legends Wiki)
  6. Bucket List — Learned right away.
  7. The Most Beautiful Song — Yoga cool down
  8. Waiting For the Night — Nightclubs in Rome
  9. Miracles — Best surprise yet!
  10. Circles — Gorillaz feat. Furtado
  11. Enemy — Maybe Least Fave?
  12. Believers — Smells like Jasmine
  13. Hold Up — Aaliyah’s rock sensibilities
  14. End of the World — Meatloaf’s little sister
  15. Don’t Leave Me — Wow! Reggae ballad!
  16. Be OK — “Yes, I am.”
  17. Thoughts — Quality quieter moment
  18. Thoughts (Tiesto) — Love Tiesto too
ALBUM STANDOUTS & NOTEABLE NOTES:

High Life might be my favorite because it’s a lot of fun, and I like that there isn’t really much of a chorus– just a bunch of hooky La-Las and a warning phrase! It’s such a clever song. Circles is a close second for me, as It does remind of something that Damon Albarn/Gorillaz would whip up. An atmospheric, slightly dance-y song with a quirky beat.

Waiting for the Night reminds me of Stereo Love by Edward Maya. The difference being that I haven’t heard Waiting for the Night 400,000 times. Both songs have that after-dark, Italian night club at a beach resort feel.

I love it when singers use their voices like instruments (My other musical heroine Alison Goldfrapp is fantastic at this), and Nelly does it at the end of Hold Up. I kept going back and forth trying to decide if it was her voice or an electric guitar carrying a melody. I decided on voice and was very impressed.

I can understand how Loose fans might be a little disappointed if they were expecting a CD full of ass anthems, but I think everyone who’s a Nelly Furtado fan would like it if they give it a shot (Not that Loose was even an ass-anthem album, but w/e).

Nelly was totally right– this album has all of the elements of her music that she’s shown us so far. It’s all pop music, but it’s GOOD, quality stuff! And it’s just nice to hear someone not singing about how luscious their ass/tits/p**sy/sex is or how they just wanna get drunk and dance. Nobody wants to be a sloptart all the time, do they?

Again, a big THANK YOU to Nelly Furtado! I’ll be waiting in the wings waiting for your new batch of songs, not that I’ll stop listening to these!

The Scary & Ongoing Impact of Nelly Furtado On My Life

I saw this girl’s love letter to Shakira, and I couldn’t help but think, I’VE GOT A STORY LIKE THIS TOO. MAYBE EVEN A LITTLE CREEPIER.

A couple of months ago, my hair was falling out and my body was exhausted and I was horribly scared about my “unidentified autoimmune condition”, I heard Nelly Furtado’s “Spirit Indestructible.” I immediately went to the fridge and wrote down some of the lyrics on the whiteboard on my fridge.

Source: YouTube

(My mom read it and said, “Wow, that’s power.”).

To me, those lyrics were a middle finger to my condition (turns out I tested positive for Sjogren’s antibodies).  I think I’ve mentioned here that I’m running a half-marathon in October, and I for sure wanted that song on my playlist. My body is truly a miracle for letting me run like this now, when it was not having it earlier this year.

I went to download the sucker and it wasn’t available.  Anywhere.

😦

And this kills me because I’m a hardcore Nelly Furtado fan. Hardcore means when she wore her hair slicked back and big hoops, I wore my hair slicked back and big hoops (In the year 2000, 12 years before her song about them). Teachers would ask me if they were heavy and boys would throw erasers through them, but damn it I was going to wear them because I wanted to be like Nelly.

Source: allstarpics.net

I think I’ve even tried to pull off this entire look last year at the age of 23 (complete with the Egyptian-Heavy Metal letters floating by my head), and it just wasn’t coming together.

Needless to say, I’ve been a fan for a long time. A long time. Long enough to remember that I lost my sh*t, screamed and scared my mother when I saw her come sliding out of the Missy-Mouth (at the 2:30 mark):

Source: YouTube

All I wanted was some flavor in my shoes.
Along with my Mama-Chona, I’m pretty sure I tortured everyone in my life with my Whoa, Nelly! CD. Every car trip, regardless of distance, had to have at least one round of Nelly.

I can say that her music made me feel better about my life—my dad was back in London, preparing to move me from Ohio to Michigan upon his return, I was bullied incessantly (the pushed down the stairs, stolen belongings from locker, cornering, actually-life-bruises bullying) and of course, I’d just had salivary gland surgery, like every little girl—her music comforted me so much, probably more than it should have. I just remember singing to myself, “I’ve got me under my own skin/I don’t need nobody else” over and over (From one of the greatest songs of all time. OF ALL TIME. My Love Grows Deeper Pt.1).
Here are girls dancing to the Pt.1 version:

Source: YouTube

When my dad came home from the UK and we were looking for houses, I, of course, popped in my Whoa,Nelly! CD. My dad loved it and declared every song a “jam.” My dad is still a big Nelly fan to this day—one of my favorite sights of him is watching him in his moccasins, nestled in his arm chair, drinking an Appletini and watching the Loose concert DVD.

And of course, I evolved with Nelly over the years, and bought all of her albums:

Folklore? Yup. I still belt out Picture Perfect when I’m in the car on the way to work.

Source: YouTube

Loose? You got it. I actually asked my friend to throw a party a few weeks after our Prom, so I could play Promiscuous (which was not played).

Source: YouTube

Mi Plan? Claro. This album is the reason for my obsession with Mala Rodriguez.

Source: YouTube

And it doesn’t stop at La Mala, Nelly Furtado is kind of responsible to opening up my music taste from at the time I discovered her was just the normal bubblegum pop. Something about her sound tuned my ears to trip hop, and I don’t think I would be fans of some of my favorite artists (Thievery Corporation, Massive Attack, Goldfrapp, Emiliana Torrini) if there was no Nelly Furtado.

And she even got me liking other music that I wouldn’t have ever dreamed of. Through reading interviews, I learned that she liked Bloc Party and Death From Above 1979. I like both of those bands too.

That’s why I’m kiiind of bummed that I don’t hear anyone really talking about her newest album [THE SPIRIT INDESTRUCTIBLE; BUY IT NOW BUY IT NOW BUY IT NOW], which I’ve eaten up already. I just want this woman who has this profound impact on my life to have the success she deserves, and more selfishly, to have success so she can continue to put out more music.

I’d be absolutely heartbroken, positively crestfallen if Nelly Furtado disappeared from music. She’s gotta be around forever.

I mean, who else let you play the tabla, the udu, and the dulcimer (I think?) on her website way back in the day. WHO ELSE KNOWS WHAT AN UDU IS?

Source: Wikipedia

To Nelly Furtado,

El color de mi vida cambio desde que tu llegaste. 😛

Thank you to Nelly Furtado. For just being this awesome so far.

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Around the Block Kind of Girl

There is one question that comes up in conversation that irrationally irritates me to no end:
“Do you have a boyfriend?”

The answer has always really been no, and I NEVER have an answer to the almost-as-bad-really-inappropriate follow-up question, “Why not?”

Because I’m NERDY and WEIRD and SKINNY WITH NO BOOBS OR BUM and RIDING THE SOCIAL STRUGGLE BUS, k?

(And I don’t want to date someone my dad’s age, or a stalker, or a jerk…)

A good 95% of my boy-experience has left me blushing (and not in the good way). And there haven’t been many guys that even come through my life – I’ve actually been to more countries outside of the United States than people I’ve slept with. Well, toodley-doo!

So basically, cities around the world have become my boyfriends. And it’s true, I have deep feelings for everywhere I’ve gone, and I’ve felt truly heartbroken to leave some of them. So here it is, PATHETIC AS IT F**KING IS, my lil’ black book…my boyfs…the cities of the world.

(And photos of me with them, sometimes sharing with other girls because well…that’s the way it works sometimes):

Nueva Alianza, Guatemala — The Do-Gooder

How we met:  Not long after I’d given up on a real person, I wanted to volunteer, Nueva Alianza was an eco-cooperative in Western Guatemala. Match made in hippie heaven.
How long did it last: 10 days
Did the breakup hurt?: Damn skippy. For a couple of reasons, one I might touch on later. But mostly, how in the hell are you supposed to leave a rainforesty paradise in the mountains overlooking the Pacific ocean?
Best part: Waterfalls and rosa de jamaica

Guatemala City, Guatemala — The One with the Bad Reputation

How we met:  Crossed paths when we flew in, but reunited when we had to wait for an incoming traveler. Supposedly one of the most dangerous cities in the world, intriguing and surprisingly calm–didn’t encounter any bullet spray.
How long did it last: 6 hours
Did the breakup hurt?: Nope. More like a strange little hookup.
Best part: Fruit vendors set up shop next to hour little waiting spot outside this church.

Antigua, Guatemala — The Dinosaur

This city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and I totally get it—it’s a giant Spanish ruin. This was my favorite picture because we were a bunch of silly fools in it, but it was also taken in the Parque Central, which was my favorite part of the city. When I think of Antigua now, I think of ice-cream, purple flowers, hibiscus tea, and little old ladies singing Happy Birthday while playing the piano.

Volcan Pacaya, Guatemala — The Hotheaded, Just This Side of Abusive, One

How we met:  I had a thirst for a challenge, and thought that Pacaya wouldn’t be that difficult of a climb from the bottom. I mean, it’s got green pastures!
How long did it last: A 3 or 4 hours? I was pretty much done after I got to the top and it kicked my ass.
Did the breakup hurt?: Kinda. It was beautiful and memorable. Still an ass kicking.
Best part: Standing next to liquid hot magma.

Rome, Italy — The Long-Term Relationship

How we met:  I was ready to be swept away to a foreign land, eat tons of tomatoes, and be smacked in the face with awe, Rome did not disappoint
How long did it last: 3 months of glorioso
Did the breakup hurt?: I still have a box of Kleenex next to my bed and hazelnut gelato in my freezer.
Best part: Finally, FINALLY falling in love.

Florence, Italy —The Hipster

How we met:  Took a trip to Tuscany for the weekend, somehow wound up in Florence, charmed
How long did it last: 2 days
Did the breakup hurt?: Not particularly, but I look upon Florence fondly
Best part: You get one word–leather.


M
ontecatini, Italy — The Chill One

How we met:  Bored with Florence, I cheated on it with Montecatini at night. Relaxed, and quiet.
How long did it last: 2 days
Did the breakup hurt?: Nah, merely a tryst
Best part: Outdoor bars, sexy looking streetlights, natural hot tubs(!)

Pisa, Italy —The One Who Will Let You Down

How we met:  I was intrigued with Pisa’s obvious reputation and tower. Kiiind of a let down. And I HATE this picture of me.
How long did it last: 2 hours. Bleh.
Did the breakup hurt?: Been there, done that, will not miss it.
Best part: Chilling on the lawn nowhere near the tower.

Milan, Italy — The Swaggy (Thank You Justin Bieber)

IHow we met:  When I first got to Italy, I really wanted to go to the most stylish city I could think of (save Paris). Milan is incredibly easy on the eyes and has good history and substance.
How long did it last: A day
Did the breakup hurt?: Kinda, I just didn’t feel stylish enough for Milan. I wish I were.
Best part: The shopping is great but the copious amount of guerrilla advertising is even better.

Cinque Terre, Italy — The Adventurer Athlete

How we met:  I was introduced to Cinque Terre by one of my professors in Italy, who knew immediately that I would fall in love at first sight.
How long did it last: 8 hours, not NEARLY enough.
Did the breakup hurt?: Heart torn to shreds. Want more than anything for Cinque Terre to take me back.
Best part: The impossibly teal (and warm!) water! The beautiful hikes through olive fields and lemon groves! The cliff diving! The seafood! The pesto! The beaches! The peach gelato! The architecture! The mind-numbing craving I have to return!

Mount Vesuvius/Pompeii, Italy — The Whole Foods Granola Guy

How we met:  After my tumultuous experience with Pacaya, I was feeling especially masochistic and wanted to tackle another volcano. Despite having such a scary, angry story behind it (destroying an entire city), Vesuvius was incredibly gentle and probably wears smart wool socks.
How long did it last: 2 hours
Did the breakup hurt?: Not really, but I pretend it does because of Pacaya. Sometimes I like to be tragic.
Best part: The wide array of refreshments at the stand near the summit.

Naples, Italy — The Ganxta

How we met:  Forbidden to see Naples, by the ones who cared. I fiddled around the edges that I saw after Vesuvius. Craving danger.
How long did it last: 2 days
Did the breakup hurt?: Yeah, surprisingly. Didn’t do much but chill on the beach with a Nastro like a drug lord’s wife. It’s nice for life to be that easy.
Best part: The incredible tan (yes, TAN) I got that weekend.

Paestum, Italy — The Wallflower

How we met:  Again, introduced by someone else. Found it interesting because it’s got a unique place in history (the best preserved Greek ruins just happen to be in Italy), but wasn’t what I expected
How long did it last: 1 hour
Did the breakup hurt?: Not really, I think I’ll actually go to Greece
Best part: Snails. Everywhere.

Verona, Italy — The Romeo

How we met:  I’ve never been one for romance (which is probably why I’m equating cities to BOYS right now) but I wanted to see a legit Italian opera while drinking Italian wine and sitting in an ancient stadium. And that whole Romeo & Juliet jazz wasn’t as horridly embarrassing as I thought it would be.
How long did it last: 2 days
Did the breakup hurt?: Yes, surprisingly enough. It was romantic too. We broke up in the rain.
Best part: You’re seeing it. The sitting in Juliet’s tower. Though seeing Aida was absolutely stunning.

Nice, France — The Really, Really Good Looking Guy

How we met:  I was staying in Nice (though I was going to Cannes and Nice was a lot cheaper to stay in), but I was taken aback about how flippin’ gorgeous it was. Everywhere I went I felt like I was in a J.Lo video or something.
How long did it last: 4 days
Did the breakup hurt?: Yes. Leaving anything that beautiful would be tough.
Best part: The best, most amazing Lebanese food I’ve ever had (and I’m an expert) and the half-naked male models in the fountain behind me.

Cannes, France — The Lazy One

How we met:  I aimed to go to Cannes for a certain festival…(advertising, a month after film). The 2 days of festival were amazingly fun, but that’s about it. Beach was amazing though.
How long did it last: 2 days
Did the breakup hurt?: Mmmm, no. The festival was the best, but Cannes didn’t aim to impress in any other way.
Best part: Dancing with Yoko Ono, falling asleep on the beach in Cannes while reading a book about the beach in Cannes, CREPES BRITOGNE.

Chateau D’If, Marseilles, France — Jim Caveizel

How we met:  Briefly in high school after I was forced to read The Count of Monte Cristo entirely in French. The Jim Caveizel movie was the reward. And there was no way in hell I was going to the South of France and not going to Marseilles. Sacrilege.
How long did it last: 8 hours, not including the 4 hour train rides
Did the breakup hurt?: Lifetime love I’ve been stalking? Of course.
Best part: The views, the vistas, the smell of sea air!

Chicago, Illinois — The Dude Next Door

How we met:  I’ve always known Chicago. It’s relatively close by, have a few friends that moved there seeking citylife, been there enough to feel comfortable.
How long did it last: Ongoing, I’ll always be close to Chicago
Did the breakup hurt?: Can’t say we’ve ever broken up, just engaging in mild flirtation
Best part: St. Patty’s Day, as pictured. Once in a friggin lifetime experience.

Vienna, Austria — The Skinny European Guy

How we met:  My best friend has been in a long-term relationship with Vienna for 2 years. I wanted to meet the city that had stolen her heart.
How long did it last: 1 week
Did the breakup hurt?: No breakup. I never mess with another monkey’s monkey.
Best part: Honestly? The food. Cafe breakfasts, little pastries, kaisekrainer, apfelstrudel, schnitzel, Zotter chocolate. I started learning German from food names.

Budapest, Hungary — The One with Beautiful Hair

How we met:  I’d heard Budapest was amazing from a friend named Carmen Sandiego. My curiosity got the best of me. This city has some of the most beautiful architecture and bridges I’ve ever seen in my life.
How long did it last: 3 days
Did the breakup hurt?: Yes, I wanted to stay longer. Do more!
Best part: Ruin bars. Then the Gellert baths, but eating goulash in a little cottage restaurant was cute.

Las Vegas, Nevada — The Wild One

How we met: You don’t need a Flo Rida song to tell you why Las Vegas is the wild one, why I went there or how I even heard of it.
How long did it last: 4 days
Did the breakup hurt?: Not really, because I know I can always go back for a hookup.
Best part: This picture. Also carrying walking with drinks outdoors. And how beautifully, strangely inspiring the city is.

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Detroit Hustles Harder

This is the truest statement and should be the unofficial motto of the city:

That being said, I hate Detroit. But I truly love it too. The things I hate about Detroit aren’t really the crime rate (you will not die within a hour of entering the city unless you came there for bad purposes), or the phenomenal unemployment rate (hey, it’s hard to find a job anywhere).

What I hate most about Detroit is that it is so gravely misunderstood by outsiders (and by outsiders, I’m including people in the Detroit-metro area) as a place that is as hostile as Qandahar. The glorious flip side of this is seeing the flicker of fear and admiration in someone’s eyes when you go out of state and tell someone you’re from Detroit. “Really? Is it scary?”

The second thing I hate most (and its a painfully close, skin-of-teeth second) about Detroit is its administration. Since the days of the Kwame Sutra and even before that, Detroit has had some truly ass-backward people in power. In Detroit, if your name is recognized, you will get elected to mayor/city council (really, this is true everywhere but esp. Detroit). Doesn’t matter if everyone on the council is greedy, ghetto or nearly braindead, Detroit rezzies will elect them because he/she has the same last name as ______, was on the news,has pretty hair, is RayRay’s cousin, etc. (i.e. Monica F**king Conyers, [1] [2] [3])

But those are really the only two things that bother me. I love that there are people who embrace The D. We all know the Detroit celebs that love and adore the city they hail from

(Eminem, Kid Rock, every Motown singer ever) and the ones that try to hide it

(Yes, you, Madonna). But even Madonna can’t hide her Detroitness, that ballsy outspokeness and take-no-prisoners relentless drive is Detroit all day long, just delivered in a slightly English accent.

I can already feel the post getting ridiculously long as I’ve got a lot to say about it, so I will make a point about business in Detroit, share a video and wrap it up:

I said all that jazz about embracing Detroit because there was a BRILLIANT plan for Detroit’s severe urban blight problem…you know, this crap…

And actually doing something with it, instead of City Council sitting on their butts talking about what they’re going to do with actualfacts crumbling buildings.

Mark Siwak, a guy from Clawson (which is maybe half an hour out from the city), wanted to erect a zombie theme park in Detroit, turning the blight into the [most perfect] setting for the world’s largest game of Zombies vs. Humans.

City officials reaction? “Absolutely not.” They don’t even go as to say why, as if this is an idea more ridiculous than laying off firefighters or turning out street lights in what is often called THE MOST DANGEROUS CITY IN THE UNITED STATES. Detroit can only have so many urban farms. And there’s a zombie park opening in Atlanta this Halloween…

I support Mark Siwak’s idea and have a completely different ruin idea of my own that I would absolutely love to see into fruition in Detroit. But that’s looking like another post.

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