This is not an official blog of the City. It is the work of Mark Kapel who is solely responsible for content.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Baldwin New Titles March 26th 2013 Include Best Picture nominee Lincoln, Brad Pitt, and Parental Guidance.

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout: Catalyzed by a nephew's thoughtless prank, a pair of brothers confront painful psychological issues surrounding the freak accident that killed their father when they were boys, a loss linked to a heartbreaking deception that shaped their personal and professional lives. 

Let The Dead Sleep by Heather Graham: A centuries-old bust of an evil, demonic man was stolen from a New Orleans grave. Its current owner shows up at Danni Cafferty's antiques shop, but before Danni can buy the statue, it disappears and the owner is found dead. Michael Quinn, a private investigator, believes that the right thing to do is to find and destroy this object weighted with malevolent powers. He and Danni follow it through sultry nights to hidden places in the French Quarter and secret ceremonies on abandoned plantations.Check Availability

Lincoln (DVD): A revealing drama that focuses on the 16th president's  final months in office. In a nation divided by war and the strong winds of change, Lincoln pursues a course of action designed to end the war, unite the country, and abolish slavery. With the moral courage and fierce determination to succeed, his choices during this critical moment will change the fate of generations to come. Check Availability

Killing Them Softly (DVD): Jackie Cogan is an enforcer for the mob. When a high-stakes, mob-protected card game is heisted by some small-time crooks, Cogan is called in to track them down and restore order to the local criminal economy.  Check Availability

Parental Guidance (DVD): Old school grandparents Artie and Diane get more than they bargained for when they get stuck babysitting their type-A daughter's overprotected kids. But things go from hectic to hysterical when Artie realizes the kids are running the house with their newfangled technology. By playing by his own rules, which include sugary snacks, old fashioned games, and tough love, Artie manages to outsmart the kids and achieve the impossible - bringing the family closer together.

Lot Split Question Cuts to Core of City's Character and Charm. Part One. February.

What happened ?
 A  lot split  agenda item took a detour when a resident of the City, spoke against it at the planning commission meeting in February.
At first no one  seemed to be  paying attention to the woman. She spoke from a middle to back row with a slight voice What she said was very compelling and even the Mayor who began the agenda item with  a shuffle of papers and selected documents with all the enthusiasm of one getting an early start on 2013 Christmas Cards was forced to look up. Others found themselves equally compelled.

The speaker was Margret Brophy who is one of the more influential women in the City's recent History. When she talks people listen. In fact it has been said that if you were mailing packages at the post office (when the City had one) and happened to be second in a long line when Margret Brophy joined it, you'd be wise to drop out and get behind her to get her take on the City, .

If it weren't for Margret Brophy you would not be reading this publication, Mayor McClure might not have been elected to City Commission and a half dozen other residents who made a contributions to our City, probably wouldn't have been heard of either.How so ? Margret Brophy is a letter writer who's mass mailings urged citizens to attend  meetings and take an interest in City affairs. My twenty years of civic apathy ended when my wife  took a Margret Brophy  letter, scrawled "go to meetings" on it and tossed it in my chore box. I can tell you the  exact day that happened. Tuesday April 21st 2009. History records that I even had something to say.

At the Planning Commission of  Tuesday  8th 2013, Ms. Brophy had said something to say as well which involved a major and minor concern.
The minor was that despite living more or less across the street from the proposed developmentshe had not received  notification of the meeting in the mail as is required. Amy Burton the City's very efficient City Manager, left meeting to check and reported back that Ms. Brophy and family had indeed been noticed by mail. Thus a most unusual situation  Mrs Brophy has a long history of indicating she knows her way around mailings and envelopes. She also knows what official City Correspondence looks like since her husband was the prior Chairman of the City Planning Commission.  On the other hand it is hard to believe that despite her interest and  dedication to the City Mrs. Brophy would rank high enough to rate placement on an enemies exclusion list. A third possibility and probably most probable  is that the city which notices no more than the absolute required minimum set in motion a miscalculation which occurred at the far end of Cranbrook road, one of the City's longest streets.

The second concern was the the lot split would  change for  the worse the character of the the neighborhood and the City.
Almost  everyone else said it wouldn't, So questions were asked. Even by the Mayor who upon recognizing Mrs. Brophy snappd to.

The gist of prior comments was that everything was zoned  A-3  Single family dwelling of an Acre or more but not two which is more or less how the whole City with a few exceptions is zoned.  So nothing usual there. Instead of a big house on a big lot you would  have a big house on a smaller lot. Instead of three acres  it would be 1.6 and 1.4 acres  which would be comparable to a  large lot in say Rudgate. Jonna Luxury Homes would do well for the City and said we should trust them.

Part of the problem was semantic. Cranbrook is a big word with big impact. A spike Property values is discernible.

Then there is the word "luxury". One of the anomalies of The City of Bloomfield Hills is that it is not pretentious or particularly snooty. You can drive an old Oldsmobile or have a hole in the elbow of your flannel shirt and no one with possible exception of my wife will freak out.
Living in A-3 is OK. Living in a Luxury home is not.Nobody in the City of Bloomfield Hills lives in a luxury home.They just live in homes. Luxury homes are those French Chateaux in the Loire or something.

If anybody understood semantics it would Planning Commissioner Mary Kapur who reads carefully and assumes the placement of words involves a certain amount of intent by the author. It was part of her professional career and one she caries over to concerned city resident  as well. Her reading of the language af the situation was that since  Joanna Luxury Homes met all the legal requirements  we could not refuse their request to split the lot. that was also the the reading of the City Attorney as well. A look of pure triumph overcame Ms. Kapur and if a tennis net were anywhere in vicinity she would have been in midair. Game, Set and Match but just yet.

Newly appointed planning commissioner Mary Juras who had been listening intently wondered what was rush. Planning Commissioner Walter Cuetler had expressed reservations about possible previous splits the property had had and wanted the opportunity to study the matter further. By a vote of 9 to 2 with Mary Kapur and City Manager Jay Cravens voting no, the Commission tabled the matter to the March meeting.

A move that irritated the Jonna Luxury Homes who now saw the matter as done deal now which would require them to wait another 30 days and come back again,

Everyone knew the City would not win. The Attorney said so and as a rule they like to keep the City happy. The City Manager was not happy and glowered.  He may have thought that if that little old lady hadn't showed up the agenda item would have been approved. If that was the case, he was correct. Few if any knew what the Agenda item said or where in the heck 2230 Cranbrook Road was.

The Agenda item was not the real issue. At stake was character of the City which is more than a monotonous stretch of A-3 No one knew that better than Margret Brophy.
 And no one realized what English Language words when strung together meant, than Mary Kapur. 

Both women live on opposite sides of town, Literally southwest and northeast. Both live in distinctive  A-3 neighborhoods which add to the City's charm.

Ms. Kapur lives in what is called colloquially called the Hunt Club. Kingsley trail is the main drag. The Hunt Club neighborhood is Leave it to Beaver Land come to life and the friendly neighbors of the 1950's abound. There  is  more  than one neighborhood  association and once there was even a secession involving a tree regulations that was later patched up, and the details in decades long gone forgotten. In the Spring or summer  front doors are left open. People work in their yard and talk to neighbors walking the dog. If the garage is open and the neighbor is fooling with the car or puttering the garden  it is OK to ask if you can borrow a tool.

In the Cranbrook area where MS. Brophy lives the property values are substantially higher than the Hunt Club as befitting the square footage and proximity of the City's most famous attraction. The neighbors are however more distant. You would not  knock on the door next door to borrow a cup of flour or a monkey wrench, or see if any one was  watching the Tiger game. There would be a certain formality implied but never stated  which for the neighborhood of quarter acre walks to the front door, is quite appropriate.

If you attend in the various Board and Commission meetings the City has you often see building contractors, developers and even the consultants the City employs fail realize the city's unique  neighborhoods. If a house is a house wherever it is located then City of Bloomfield Hills would be Levittowm

A-3 or not Hunt Club and Cranbrok are two unique and different neighborhoods in a charming City like no other. Diminish one and you diminish both and if  nothing else the City had gained a month to think about it.

Minutes of Planning Commission Feb 12th Land Division Discussion

Monday, March 25, 2013

College Basketball As We Know and Love It This Monday Morning.

Two weeks ago,  The University of Michigan,  cheered on by fans in East Lansing, Columbus Ohio, and of course  Ann Arbor, played the University of Indiana in a  Basketball game that would decide the Big Ten (Regular Season) Championship.  

If  Michigan won its last game of the season against Indiana the Big Ten championship  would be shared amongst the four schools with four identical trophies being  awarded.

Michigan, playing at home, and once ranked number one in the nation, blew a lead that looked  certain until snatched away at the very end. Indiana won and kept the regular season title to itself much to the disappointment of fans at Crisler arena and in capitol cities elsewhere. If it is any consolation to the elsewhere crowd, Michigan didn't do it on purpose or even out of spite.

The loss gave Michigan a lousy position  in the  Big Ten Tournament. As a number five seed (or draw) Michigan wasted no time in losing to surprising Wisconsin which then surprised  Indiana, to play Ohio State in the Championship game. Ohio State, a number two seed got there by beating Michigan State. That too was surprising. So much so that a Detroit newspaper rather rudely singled out a Michigan State player for chastisement in a banner headline.

Ohio  State which did not have a basketball team (in the true sense of the word) until three days after Valentine’s Day was crowned the Big Ten (Tournament) Champion.

Almost immediately after the Big Ten Title game  the  NCAA  Men’s Basketball  Tournament Selection show began. 68 teams were selected to play in a whopping 48 basketball games in less than a week. Four would be played on Tuesday and Wednesday. 32 would be played in on Thursday and Friday and 16 more on the weekend in eight locations coast to coast.

The Palace of Auburn Hills was one of the eight locations chosen.

 The NCAA  Basketball Tournament and the Motor City  have had  a nice working relationship  for decades. 
  • In 1988 The Pontiac Silverdome hosted a NCAA Regional Tournament featuring four of the so-called  Sweet Sixteen Teams.   That’s the 16 teams who survived the Basketball Marathon the week prior to play for the four spots in the tournament's prestigious Final Four. Kansas was in the Detroit regional that year  and the Jay Hawks went on to win the National Title. Kansas folk often refer to the 1988 tournament run as "Danny and the Miracles." Not being Rock and Roll  or Biblical savvy  this writer has no idea of what that means. 
  • In 1990 another NCAA regional was played at the Silverdome. This time Duke was the winner and the eventual National Title runner up  to the University of  Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV).
  • In 2008 the City hosted an  regional NCAA regional at Ford Ford Field. Kansas, Davison, Villanova and Wisconsin competed. Kansas fans liked playing in  Detroit. Not only did it remind them of 1988, the location of all their 2008 Tournament games that year was identical the the road taken by Danny and the Miracles of twenty years prior.True to form the Jay Hawks won the regional title in a last second nail biter, and the National championship in a come from behind overtime victory.

The Detroit 2008 regional  arguably was one of most significant regional tournaments in the history of college basketball. The NCAA had long toyed with the idea of a National Championship played in a big arena where  80,000 instead of 20,000 could  attend the game  and enjoy the spirit of the Final Four, which some say is the greatest spectacle in sports. In 1968 in a regular season game,  some called the  Game of the Century, the University of Houston upset UCLA in the Astrodome.  Unfortunately the basketball court in the put in the middle of the arena seemed tiny and the players running around even smaller. In the years that followed College Basketball in the big arena meant cutting seating area in half with a giant curtain. That is how it was at NCAA  games played at the Silverdome and the Georgia Dome in 2007 which is the site of this year’s final four.The Ford Field Regional in 2008, considered a dress rehearsal for the 2009  Final Four National  Championship also played at Ford Field changed that. 

In both cases it was demonstrated that record breaking crowds could enjoy basketball in the big arena. After 2008 the NCAA Final Four moved to venues like the  Lucas Oil  Stadium in Indianapolis (2010) and Reliant Stadium in Houston (2011). Last year the New Orleans Superdome hosted the Final Four where the event  played before but in 2012, for the first time, it played before a full house. 
  • In 2006 and 2013 the Place of Auburn Hills  hosted first rounds of  NCAA Tournament. That is a four game (approximately a noon to midnight extravaganza) followed a day later by a 2 game championship conclusion that sends two teams to the sweet sixteen.
This year as luck would have it, Michigan and Michigan State played the Palace most  impressively and won spots in the sweet sixteen. So  at other locations did Indiana and Ohio State. 

All four play in separate regions  which means they won't play each other until the Final Four. It also means that all four could wind up in the Final  Four which boggles the mind.  Two teams from a single conference is not uncommon. In recent Big Ten history it has happened five times  in four decades.
  • In 1976 Indiana and Michigan met the title game with Indiana winning.
  • In 1989 Illinois lost to Seton Hall who lost in the championship game to Michigan
  • In 1999 Ohio State and Michigan State lost to UConn and  Duke before UConn won the title game.
  • In 2000 Michigan State defeated Wisconsin and then Florida to win the National Championship.
  • In 2005  Illinois lost to North Carolina in the final.  UNC had beaten Michigan State in the semifinals.

But four in the Final Four from  a single 
conference ?  Never. Even Big Ten enthusiast par excel lance, Dick Vitale predicts only three.

What is interesting is that two weeks ago, riding on the outcome of a single game, was the Big Ten regular season title for four schools. This week Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State, control their own destiny. A national title requires for straight wins.  A final four visit, a very worthy consolation prize requires only two. This Sunday before 60 Minutes we will know how many if any, are still dancing at the big dance.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Baldwin New Titles 3/12/2013. Life of Pi and Silent Hill

Breaking Point by C.J. Box: Joe Pickett investigates the disappearance of a local businessman, who recently had his intended retirement property declared wetlands and is suspected in the murder of two EPA employees Check Availability

The Life of Pi (DVD): A young Pi Patel, overcoming a cataclysmic shipwreck, finds himself stranded on a lifeboat with the only survivor, a ferocious Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Check Availability

The Man with the Iron Fists (DVD): On the hunt for a fabled treasure of gold, a band of warriors, assassins, and a rogue British soldier descend upon a village in feudal China, where a humble blacksmith looks to defend himself and his fellow villagers.  Check Availability 

Rise of the Guardians (DVD): When an evil spirit known as Pitch lays down the gauntlet to take over the world, the immortal Guardians must join forces for the first time to protect the hopes, beliefs, and imagination of children all over the world.   Check Availability

Silent Hill Revelation (DVD): Return to a place of insanity and blood-curdling chills in this shocking sequel to one of the most surreal and gruesome horror films ever created. Heather Mason and her father have always tried to stay one step ahead of the malevolent forces intent on their destruction. But on the eve of her 18th birthday, a dangerous revelation leads her deeper into a demonic world that threatens to trap her in a nightmarish landscape forever. Check Availability

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Oz the Great and the Powerful, In Theaters in 3D, This Weekend.

At first I thought movie might be one of  the  "further adventure" 13 sequel books that make up the Wizard of Oz canon. I have always wondered why  Hollywood with it's passion for  "proven" money making,tried and true sequels, hasn't taken a swing at  the Oz books. Maybe  they think titles like Tic Toc  of Oz  or Rinkitink in Oz  are  too corny for the modern era.

Oz the Great and the Powerful is intended to be a prequel  the first Oz Book, The Wizard of Oz. It tells the imagined story of how the  Wizard came to Oz. I have not seen the movie but if it is anything like what connected Oz creator L. Frank Baum with  Oz it should  be  spectacular.  Baum's passion for the flat lands  of the Midwest is interesting as are the many careers the author sampled.

 In an article entitled The Man Behind the Curtain, by Chris Schama, in the Smithsonian Magazine tells us....

"On a trip to visit his brother-in-law in South Dakota, Frank decided that real opportunity lay in the wind-swept, barren landscape of the Midwest. He moved his family to Aberdeen and started upon a new series of careers that would just barely keep the Baum family—there were several sons by this time—out of poverty. Over the next ten years, Frank would run a bazaar, start a baseball club, report for a frontier newspaper and buy dishware for a department store. At age 40, Frank finally threw himself into writing. In the spring of 1898, on scraps of ragged paper, the story of The Wizard of Oz took shape. When he was done with the manuscript, he framed the well-worn pencil stub he had used to write the story, anticipating that it had produced something great."

 You may read the complete article at 
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

This writer is still working on  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz  at about page 14. The house has landed on the wicked witch of the of the west and Dorthy has just met the munchkins and a good witch from the North. The latter explains that good witches are North and South. Bad witches east and west. Dorthy says that  in Kansas there are no witches or for that matter wizards.  The good witch considers that for a moment before deciding Kansas must be very civilized because witches and wizards exist only in uncivilized lands like Oz.

The comes the scarecrow. Literally born yesterday. Good eyes, ears, and mouth lacking only a brain to put it all together. Go figure. That is why he too wants to see the Wizard.  A century ago some critics  saw parallels with  stomping on the Yellow Brick Road and the county's abandoning the gold standard. Go figure and  in  Oz  count a very good time at any age.

The Land of Oz as it was meant to be for 95 Cents or less.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900 a 113 years go. It is hard to imagine a book  being available back then for more than 95 cents. 

1900 was the land of the five cent lunch. Probably wasn't much of a lunch either. 20 lunches would have been a buck. Today, 113 years later you see "lunches" advertised for $1. Probably isn't much of a lunch either. 20 lunches would  be a $20. Enough to buy a $19.95  book at Kroger's Supermarket where a deli sandwich lunch costs $5.00.

Trouble is there isn't just one Oz book. There are 14 canonized (like Shakespeare) volumes written by the original  author L. Frank Baum between the years 1900 and his death  in  1920. Read the original 14 and you are an  Oz affenciando par excellance worthy of a ride home in the wizard's balloon or a return trip via footwear from Good Witch  Glinda. How do I know ? My mother told  me so.  Somewhere between her birth in 1919 and her arrivals  at the University of California in  1937 she read the original 14 Oz books. There she met  a young man who could also claim the same distinction. Their initial attraction faded fast but their love of the Oz books prompted  a series of dates and endless conversations about kingdoms and characters of Oz which few if any of their classmates had discovered.

My mother's passing  in 1997  prompted me to regret not having read any of the Oz books. What was there that I was missing ? What might we have  talked about had I but known. 

The last (and only)  time I  saw what seemed to be the Oz books was on a bookshelf  at my Brother In  Law's wake. I didn't examine the books  or count titles. The only one I talked to about the books  was my wife who marveled at my restraint under the circumstances.

"So they are valuable ?" she asked. I said I wasn't sure. There were too many variables but  the interesting thing was the bond that people who read the books had with other readers.

 Aside from our wedding my mother and my brother in law never really met. Had they both realized that they had both read the original 14 Oz books that might have changed. Over the years my wife kept track of the books.They went out west (to Grand Rapids) and came back for reasons never made clear. Some other relative wanted them but it wasn't definite. Uncle Mike said with my Father in law nothing was ever definite.  He went to flea markets  and bought and sold with great abandon.  That is how we got the almost life size Battle of Gravelotte  ( Franco-Prussian War) reproduction which many in the family covet. Ke sera sera. 

One day last week,  apropos of nothing more than the  by coming of a 3D movie,  Oz the Great and the Powerful I pushed a button an electronic devise  and downloaded all 14 original Oz  books  in less five seconds. The books are also available for free from many  sources but  reviewers have stressed the importance of the maintaining the order. For 95 cents  all 14 in order seemed to be worth the additional investment.

. Below is a helpful guide  I found on Wiki describing the plot synopsis. observations and link (in blue) to the myriad of characters the books feature

List of "canonical" books by L. Frank Baum
The Original and Official Oz Books by L. Frank Baum

Dorothy and her little dog, Toto, get swept into the Land of Oz by a cyclone. She meets a living Scarecrow, a man made entirely of tin, and a Cowardly Lion while trying to get to the Emerald City to see the great Wizard. Also reprinted by various publishers under the names The New Wizard of Oz and The Wizard of Oz with occasional minor changes in the text. It was originally written as a one-shot book.

A little boy, Tip, escapes from his evil guardian, the witch Mombi, with the help of a walking wooden figure with a jack-o'-lantern head named Jack Pumpkinhead (brought to life with the magic Powder of Life Tip stole from Mombi), as well as a living Sawhorse (created from the same powder). Tip ends up on an adventure with the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman. It later transpires that Tip is actually Princess Ozma, the rightful ruler of Oz, who was transformed by the evil Mombi.

John R. Neill
While traveling to Australia with her Uncle Henry, Dorothy is swept overboard with a hen named Billina. They land in Ev, a country across the desert from Oz, and, together with new-found mechanical friend Tik-Tok, they must save Ev's royal family from the evil Nome King. With Princess Ozma's help, they finally return to Oz.

John R. Neill
On her way back from Australia, Dorothy visits her cousin, Zeb, in California. They are soon swallowed up by an earthquake, along with Zeb's horse Jim and Dorothy's cat Eureka. The group soon meets up with the Wizard and all travel underground back to Oz.

John R. Neill
Dorothy meets the Shaggy Man, and while trying to find the road to Butterfield, they get lost on an enchanted road. As they travel they meet the rainbow's daughter, Polychrome, and a little boy, Button-Bright. They have all sorts of strange adventures on the way to Oz.

John R. Neill
Dorothy Gale and her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em come to live in Oz permanently. While they tour through the Quadling Country, the Nome King is tunneling beneath the desert to invade Oz. This was originally intended to be the last book in the series.

John R. Neill
A Munchkin boy named Ojo must find a cure to free his Uncle Nunkie from a magical spell that has turned him into a statue. With the help of Scraps, an anthropomorphic patchwork doll, Ojo journeys through Oz to save his uncle.

John R. Neill
Betsy Bobbin, a girl from Oklahoma, is shipwrecked with her mule, Hank, in the Rose Kingdom of Oz. She meets the Shaggy Man there and the two try to rescue the Shaggy Man's brother from the Nome King. This book is partly based upon Baum's stage musical, The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, which was in turn based on Ozma of Oz.

John R. Neill
Cap'n Bill and Trot journey to Oz and, with the help of the Scarecrow, the former ruler of Oz, overthrow the villainous King Krewl of Jinxland. Cap'n Bill and Trot had previously appeared in two other novels by Baum, The Sea Fairies and Sky Island. Based in part upon the 1914 silent film, His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz. This was allegedly L. Frank Baum's personal favourite Oz book.

John R. Neill
Prince Inga of Pingaree and King Rinkitink and their companions have adventures that lead to the land of the Nomes and, eventually, Oz. Baum originally wrote this book as a non-Oz book entitled King Rinkitink.

John R. Neill
When Princess Ozma mysteriously disappears, four search parties are sent out, one for each of Oz's four countries. Most of the book covers Dorothy and the Wizard's efforts to find her. Meanwhile, Cayke the Cookie Chef discovers that her magic dishpan (on which she bakes her famous cookies) has been stolen. Along with the Frogman, they leave their mountain in Winkie Country to find the pan.

John R. Neill
The Tin Woodman, whose real name is Nick Chopper, is unexpectedly reunited with his the Munchkin Girl he had courted before he became a tin man. Sadly, she has a new love and no longer cares for him. As he attempts to regain her affection, Nick discovers a fellow tin man, Captain Fyter, as well as a Frankenstein monster-like creature, Chopfyt, made from their combined parts by the tinsmith, Ku-Klip.

John R. Neill
Reilly & Lee
Ruggedo, former Nome King, tries to conquer Oz again with the help of a Munchkin boy, Kiki Aru. Meanwhile, it is also Ozma's birthday, and all of Oz's citizens are searching for the most unusual present for the little princess. This was published a month after Baum's death.

John R. Neill
Reilly & Lee
Dorothy, Ozma and Glinda try to stop a war in the Gillikin Country. This was Baum's last Oz book, and was published posthumously. Most critics agree this is Baum's darkest Oz book, most likely due to his failing health. There have been many other Oz books released since, although not written by Baum.