The Missing Link Tour Review (Pittsburgh, Detroit, Columbus)

May 26, 2015 by  
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Photo by David McClister

Lucky to catch three bands in three different cities is something that I will never do again. Losing my phone in Detroit, losing myself in Pittsburgh, and losing my lunch in Columbus was enough to take all of my energy. Purely for pleasure, I ventured to uncharted territory to Pittsburgh and witnessed Graveyard.

Hailing from the beautiful lands of Gothenburg, Sweden, it initially wasn’t love at first sight for me and Graveyard. Like any functional relationship, it took work. Our first meeting was only okay. The sun shined on the four piece as their beautiful hair blustered in the wind, but while their talent was evident in Pittsburgh, my like of Graveyard grew into a full crush in Detroit. On their 37th performance on this tour, I’m not sure what it was that made my heart a-flutter during their set.  It’s possible that it was the perfect venue that is Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, the crowd that was more than into the band, or maybe it was as simple as closing my eyes and letting them take the lead. I traveled back to a time where love was rampant and Graveyard was the soundtrack. Their 70s era soft psychedelic-blues-rock formula was the right mixture for our one-sided love to grow. Joakim Nilsson’s voice is reminiscent of a classic rock band from the 1970s, but with a relentless intensity and hunger behind it. If attendees at The Missing Link Tour were unaware of who Graveyard was before the show, they definitely knew who the fuck they were after.

Consistency is another word that describes a stable relationship.  My first Clutch show was in Columbus in 2013 and my knowledge of the band was that a guy I was dating was really into them, so that obviously meant that I was into them as well.  During the show, I became intrigued.  Clutch is so much more than “Careful with That Mic”. Neil Fallon’s testosterone-filled voice always reminded me of my father and his friends, breath smelling of Jack Daniels and cheap beer talking about what seemed like nothing but was always something. Before Clutch’s performance in Detroit, I had the opportunity to sit down with Fallon (video interview to be posted soon) and he mentioned that he was ready to go home to resume some normalcy as a husband and father before inevitably leaving for another tour.  With this part of our conversation in mind, I witnessed Clutch perform at the Freedom Hill Amphitheatre to a packed audience.  I didn’t see an empty seat and Fallon delivered, song after song, sipping on what looked like bourbon or whiskey and water, with his well-groomed beard shaking with every syllable, whether it was “The Burning Beard” or “Profits of Doom” or “Spacegrass”, Fallon easily commanded attention with only the boom of his voice. Filling in on bass for Dan Maines, since his wife is about to give birth, Fu Manchu bassist Brad Davis played both Sterling Heights and Columbus dates, from what I could tell flawlessly. Slated for release in September, Clutch’s “Psychic Warfare” will most likely be supported with another tour in 2016.

My motivation to go on my itty bitty min-tour was Mastodon.  The Atlanta-based outfit got ahold of me when I was still a minor.  Sitting in my grandparents’ living room watching MTV, “Colony of Birchmen” appeared on my screen and I was changed forever. Unlike my growing love of Graveyard, I fell for Mastodon instantly. While naysayers criticized the band for their latest release “Once More Round the Sun” for being “not metal enough”, or even “pop”, it is one of their strongest. 
Brent Hinds, the band’s most animated and charismatic guitar player, performed “DC Sound Attack” with Clutch in Sterling Heights and also played guitar with Graveyard in Columbus. I unfortunately missed a performance of “Blood and Thunder” in Red Rocks, Colorado where Neil Fallon took the stage with Mastodon and sounded like a blood thirsty Viking after successfully pillaging a small town.

Hinds’ antics such as kicking amps and rapidly flicking his tongue kept my eyes on him, but in each city I did notice that his vocals were muffled. In Pittsburgh, I couldn’t find the proper words to describe the bass god that is Troy Sanders but in Detroit the haze became slightly clearer. In Columbus, the smoke finally waned; watching Sanders is as if he is possessed and the “normal” man inside is fighting the possessed part of him and losing.  Swaying and hell bent on bending his back as close to 90 degrees as possible, talking and pointing to the audience, and occasionally bulging his eyes, Sanders took Hinds’ spot as my favorite member of the band.  With that said, Bill Kelliher and Hinds effortlessly shred the hardest but make it look so easy. I overheard a man at the show in Columbus mention something about how the men of Mastodon somehow haven’t developed carpel tunnel.

Both “Megaladon”and “Oblivion” were crowd favorites in all three cities, but hearing one of my favorite tracks from “Once More Round the Sun”, “High Road”, was enough to seal in my Mastodon fandom. Although The Missing Link tour is over, both Clutch and Graveyard are planning new material to be released in September of this year. This tour made me feel as if I am capable of love. Tour continues for Mastodon at Free Press Summer Fest in Houston, Texas, and then to Europe.

Summer Layers

May 26, 2015 by  
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Every year I get excited for the art festival in East Lansing and every year after going I'm reminded of why I hate it. Of course I love perusing the art, jewelry and watching the fire baton throwing hippies, but the parking challenges and the crowds really anger me. Luckily, Kyle and I were meeting up with my friends Haley and her Kyle for lunch and festival perusing. The two of them are extremely laidback so I feel silly being dramatic about parking and I fixed my hanger with a burger and fries. And I wore this.
[tee and denim shirt from Madewell, shorts c/o Aeropostale, flats c/o Johnston & Murphy, sunglasses c/o Shade Station, bag by Loeffler Randall, ring c/o Katie Dean Jewelry]
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Photos by Kyle Keberlein

Michigan, Dallas and transit

May 26, 2015 by  
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A friend recently attended an urban development workshop in Dallas. Lots of content on retaining and attracting Millennials. She was surprised (me too when I heard about it) when in a session on transit oriented development the architect of the award winning Mockingbird Station started his talk by thanking the State of Michigan pension fund for financing the “home run” project.

You read that right! The State of Michigan pension funds investing in light rail transit oriented development in Dallas, Texas. This happened years ago. (A case study on the Mockingbird Station and the pension fund’s role is part of a 2007 report prepared for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority which you can read here.)

To be clear what is worthy of a post is not that our state pension fund invested in Dallas. If it was a good investment its what the pension fund should be doing. What is worthy of a post is that more than a decade later Michigan policy makers and most metro Detroit policy makers still don’t understand the important of transit in general––and light rail in particular––to economic development. Not only is it a key ingredient in retaining and attracting young talent but it also is a major stimulant of economic development at light rail stations. What is so frustrating is that in 2015 our state pension fund still does not have the opportunity to make an investment in one of those projects here in Michigan, particularly Detroit.

We are told often by political and business leadership that we should look to Texas as a model. But hardly ever is rail transit on their list of lessons we should learn from them. It should be.

Metro Dallas is all in on rail transit. They now have the longest light rail system in the country; 90 miles. Funded by a regional sales tax approved by voters in 1983. (You can check out more about the Dallas light rail system here.) Here’s how DART (the region’s transit agency) describes their impact on economic development:

From the beginning, part of DART’s mission has been to build a transportation system large enough to stimulate economic development. The voter-approved 1 percent sales tax that funds DART makes that possible. Developers generally are looking for good transportation infrastructure when they are deciding where to build that next office tower, residential complex or shopping center.

Ride past any number of DART Rail stations and you’ll notice construction. The visual clues offer anecdotal evidence: The number of privately developed structures being built within walking distance of DART Rail stations appears to be on the rise. The proof came from the Center for Economic Development and Research at the University of North Texas. The center’s latest study found that more than $5.3 billion in private-capital transit-oriented development projects have been built, are under construction, or are planned near light rail stations since the debut of DART Rail in 1996.

“Investing in DART has expanded transportation options and attracted corporate, residential, retail and cultural facilities to our city,” said Richardson City Manager Dan Johnson.

Dallas is not alone in making transit a central component of their economic development strategy. As we explored in a previous post regions across the country are investing in light rail systems. Many in the South, many in red states. And in nearly every case it was the business community that took the lead in making rail transit a priority including in most advocating for a regional tax increase.

Its time that Michigan––metro Detroit in particular––learn that successful 21st Century regions have a comprehensive transportation system that provides convenient alternatives to driving anchored by rail transit.




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Setting the Precedent

May 25, 2015 by  
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In a week my firstborn will be done with Kindergarten and ready to start what he calls, “the number grades.” He had a great year in Kindergarten and never once did I wonder if maybe we should have held him back because he still isn’t even six yet.

Nope. Eddie was ready for absolutely everything–even homework.

As a teacher, I am not the biggest fan of assigning homework, but Eddie’s teacher didn’t give the kids more than was appropriate for their age. Eddie brought home five books from their Just Right Library each week which he read to us nightly. In the beginning of the year, they would bring a writing packet home on Mondays and it wasn’t due back until the following Monday. And occasionally he would need to bring in things like seeds or leaves. He also had one large project that they started at school and had to complete at home by the end of spring break (it was assigned two weeks before spring break, thus giving us plenty of time to prepare).

Everything about this school year felt to me like we were setting precedents: what we expected of our children as far as getting homework done, the quality of their in school and out of school work, their behavior, their effort. This school year we discussed kindness to others and when to walk away from an argument. We talked about being respectful to adults and peers. We discussed when you need to get help from an adult.

And we also set a precedent for parent-involvement in homework.

Obviously we prize reading in our house. Most of the time getting the Just Right Library books read was not a big deal and didn’t cause too many struggles. Writing packets started out rough, though, and in the end I told Eddie if he did one page a night he wouldn’t find himself crying on Sunday afternoon. I also told him I was not going to make him do them. That if he really didn’t want to, he could bring it back undone and tell his teacher about why he chose not to do it.

He never left his homework undone. He didn’t want to disappoint his teacher.

By the middle of the school year, Eddie was more and more excited about things they were doing in school. Just before spring break each student chose an animal they would like to make out of clay in class. Then, at home, they needed to create the animal’s habitat using a box (diorama-style). The habitats with animals would be displayed above each student’s locker.

We decided to do ours over spring break since Alice had just been born, and spend the couple weeks before then brainstorming and planning. Cortney did all the morning drop-offs and most pick-ups and reported that habitats were already starting to come in and be displayed–and you could totally tell the level of parental involvement in each one.

I had to tread lightly.

As a perfectionist, I wanted to tell Eddie exactly how to create a rabbit (his chosen animal) habitat, and then maybe take over when he didn’t do it how I wanted. But as a teacher, I knew I needed him to do all of the thinking and as much of the execution as possible. I just had to help him get there.

So first we talked about it. I asked a lot of questions: where do rabbits live? What do they eat? Where do they sleep? When he wasn’t sure about something, we Googled it and read the information together.

He started telling me what he wanted in his habitat: trees, a burrow, berry bushes, and a sky. So we thought about what we could use to make those things and he started a list of what we would need with check boxes. Then we went to the craft store. He brought a pencil and checked things off as we went.

2015-04-04 13.56.49

I was very proud of him that he was taking such ownership of this project and that he seemed to want to get it just right. Not once did I have to prod and say, “come on, you need to do this.” In fact, he sort of pestered me about it. Once we had the supplies every day he asked, “are we going to put it together today, mom???”

Finally spring break arrived and one day during Charlie’s nap, I actually got Alice to sleep at the same time. We hurried to get some of the painting portions done so they could dry before we attached them. All I did was get the paint out for him. He did the rest. The next day, he worked during nap again to get it all together.

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He asked my advice, and I sat by him holding things for him here and cutting things for him there. I never told him how to do any of it other than once saying, “I don’t think you can glue that rock there and have it hold. But if you want to try, you can.”

2015-04-06 10.52.00

Once he had it all done, it was all he could do to be patient until Cortney came home so he could show daddy his finished product. He had trees (because rabbits live in a forest), a log with fluff and feathers (because that is the burrow the rabbit put her nest in), and berries (because rabbits like to eat berries for dessert). It was his idea to gather real leaves and grass. It was his idea to collect TP rolls for tree trunks.

It was also his idea to cover the diaper box in blue paper because he didn’t want his friends to see he used a baby diaper box. Apparently your baby brother and sister’s diapers are embarrassing in Kindergarten. Whatever.

This year we have watched Eddie grow and learn so much.

When he went in he could read a handful of sight words, now he is reading like crazy. He even reads bedtime stories now instead of me doing it.

When he went in he thought toots and buns were funny, but now he thinks farts and butts are funny. And poop. And he says “Oh my gosh!” and “I’m just thinking out loud here…”

He is sassier and bolder with his talking back to us, but he is also a better playmate and role model for Charlie.

And he is like three inches taller or something crazy like that.

I’m excited for him to start First Grade in the fall. I’m  pleased with the high expectations we have set both for him and his siblings.

As fellow oldest children, Cortney and I know what it’s like to have to “go first” with everything in life. To have to be the ones that are the precedent setters for the younger siblings. To be the “Guinea pigs” for strategies to deal with behavior.

We don’t want to go “easy” on Eddie because we empathize, rather we want him to know we are all a team getting through this whole thing called parenting and school and life together.

Jeneration X by Jen Lancaster

May 23, 2015 by  
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Oh my 518L04RBZJL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_goodness I needed to read some Jen Lancaster. It seems like everything I have been reading has either been a super heavy topic or it’s long or it’s serious nonfiction.

I’ve read everything she’s written up to about 2012, so I went out and bought Jeneration X: One Reluctant Adult’s Attempt to Unarrest her Arrested Development; Or, Why It’s Never Too Late For her Dumb Ass to Learn Why Froot Loops Are Not For Dinner. I need to catch up with my Jen Lancaster.

I’m not usually a chick lit person, and I still stand behind Lancaster books not being chick lit. You know, other than I can’t imagine any guy ever wanting to read it. But she doesn’t write mushy gross romances, and she makes me laugh right out loud. So she is one of my favorites.

Just like all her memoirs, Jeneration X is a fast read. Instead of telling one long story like her previous autobiographical works, this one is more of a collection of essays all with some sort of lesson for “reluctant adults.”  Since I consider myself one of the most reluctant of adults, I figured I would either learn something (HA HA HA) or laugh a lot (YES). I laughed a lot.

Long-time fans have criticized this book as seeming like a bunch of blog posts bound together in a book, and yes, I suppose it could seem like that. But really they are essays, not blog posts. And they all have some sort of (loose) lesson about adulthood. And everyone one of them is told hilariously.

Even the posts that are about more serious lessons like estate planning and how friends are your family don’t take the serious, preachy turn they could. No, no. Lancaster would never do that. Rather she makes you laugh, nod your head and say “for sure” about whatever it is she is talking about.

If you need a quick, funny weekend read, I suggest anything by Jen Lancaster.

Draymond Green, Eminem in ‘Hear What You Want’ Beats by Dre commercial

May 22, 2015 by  
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Draymond Green is phenomenal. I hope the Detroit Pistons realize this and try to steal him away from the restrictions of the Golden State Warriors this summer. MONEY Green in a Bad Boys-like commercial with a Detroit rapper is a great omen!

Mike Babcock says his teary-eyed goodbye to Detroit

May 22, 2015 by  
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Mike Babcock accepted an 8-year, $50 million contract to be the new coach of the Toronto Maples Leafs, another Original 6 team. Babcock had a successful 10-year run behind the bench for the Red Wings, winning a Stanley Cup (2008) and helping to continue the franchise’s impressive 24-year playoff streak. But it was time for both sides to move on.

Jeff Blashill, head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, is the favorite to take over for Babcock.

Thanks for your time, Babs. See ya on the other side in the winter.

Past summer favorite outfits

May 22, 2015 by  
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I always think of Memorial Day as our "unofficial" start of summer. So with the holiday approaching this weekend, I thought it'd be fun to share a few of my favorite past summer outfits and memories. My favorite thing about summer is all of the adventures we take. Blueberry picking, lighthouse exploring, quirky festivals, drive-in movie theaters, ice-cream visits, small town exploring and so much more. I love living in Michigan in the summer. It's the best time to live here (well summer, and autumn, of course) so we usually don't travel much out of state during this time of year. And I can't wait to be here and enjoy every second. And I love that this is just the beginning!

(tawas point lighthouse)

(brucker beach, a country road)

(summer marsh)

(an old silo, dancing in the streets)

(frankfort light)

(dairy queen)

(cherry bowl drive-in theater, mission point lighthouse)

(u-pick blueberries)

(fort gratiot lighthouse)

As always, I have several plans for this summer and a huge bucket list to try and accomplish, just for fun. Since Eric and I are getting married next October, we are trying to save as much money as possible, so we're taking smaller more-local trips and adventures, but I'm excited for that! Here are some plans we have for this summer though... a trip to the Silver Lake Sand Dunes, and a dune buggy ride, Manistee National Forest, Bear Cave and the St. Joseph Lighthouse. Lavender fields, fireworks, and 4th of July on the beach. A trip to the zoo, and an old retro diner. Dog beach for Winny. A trip to Charity Island for a dinner boat cruise, a new lighthouse to explore, and a kayak adventure out to Turnip Rock. Plus more, hopefully! I'm going to scour all of my books and find everything that's close to us to do. Plus, around the 4th, I'm going on a week-long staycation which I haven't done since before college, that's for sure. And I'll line up some guest bloggers! It's going to be a fun summer. So stay tuned!


May 22, 2015 by  
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Tame Impala @ Royal Oak Music Theatre

May 18, 2015

For most bands, the specter of the “sophomore slump” is daunting to say the least. Tame Impala, however, were nonplussed by any expectations created by their first LP “Innervisions”.

In 2012, they released “Lonerism” to world-wide acclaim. Kevin Parker’s one-man to ode to isolation and unrequited love was stuffed full of gorgeous harmonies and hooks a plenty.


The Aussies came to the Royal Oak Music Theatre in support of their latest record “Currents” which is to be released on July 17. The show was a deft mix of all three LP’s. 

Backed by a flux of mind bending visuals, Tame Impala sounded polished. 

New material like “Let It Happen” and “Eventually” sounded glorious, and they slightly reworked older jams like “Elephant” and “Be Above It”. 

What Type of Business is Best for You?

May 22, 2015 by  
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What kind of business is best for you? Are you hearing me? Do you think about this? I think we all get to a point in life and business where we need to evaluate if what we are currently doing is what we need to continue to do, or if it’s time to move on to the next thing. Let’s take a look today at some helpful considerations when beginning to make that big decision, because as entrepreneurs, we are multifaceted, multitalented people; we can do anything! But what’s BEST?

  1. Your interests and passions. Each of us has “a thing.” That thing (or things) that we are just super passionate and lively about. What are you excited about? What do you get worked up about? What brings you joy? What animates you?
  2. Your skills, talents, and experience. Everybody is good at some things and not others. Make a list. What are you good at? What training do you have? What types of jobs have you held in the past? What types of activities do you do in your spare time?
  3. Your geographical preferences. Do you prefer to work from home in your jammies or do you like the commute-to-the-office concept? Is the type of work you’re most interested in confined to a specific community or locale, or can it be done virtually, worldwide? Do you have little kids at home, necessitating a home office, or are you free to travel or be away from home during the day?
  4. Your preferred business model. The sky is the limit here. Passive streams of income, in-person coaching, video trainings, group programs, product based storefronts—virtual or brick and mortar. Consider your personality, goals, and potential offerings. All these affect the type of business model that will ultimately be best for you.
  5. Your availability. How many hours per week do you want to work? How many CAN you work? Be honest about your lifestyle and the needs of your family at this stage in life. There is a time and a season for everything. Maybe you can give 15 hours per week or maybe you can dig deep and give 40. There is no wrong answer except that which doesn’t serve you.
  6. Your income requirements. This is absolutely up to you. What kind of business are you considering and what type of income is it able to generate, given your needs and availability? How much income do you need in order to make ends meet? Consider overhead and possible staffing needs, supplies, and last but not least, time.

These are just a few ways to evaluate what type of business may be best for you right now. Things change—we change—and because of that, sometimes our business needs to change as well. Change can be good. Take the time to discover what’s best for you!

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