All the things I’ve done since I last updated my blog


I took a job at an ad agency since I last really updated this blog, which is a great gig but I can’t talk about since we have a lot of secret info about our clients. But from that time until now, I’ve neglected this place (again). Someone asked on Reddit recently if all I talk about is race. I do talk about it a lot, but I replied that it’s not the only thing I write about. Then I realized…it’s been a minute since I’ve done a roundup of all my writing and reporting.

When I last updated, I was hustling for any freelance job I could get. Now I’m a little more relaxed with a full-time gig and all, but I still like to keep my reporting sharp with occasional assignments. And I branched out a lot — from literary writing to pop culture to a few national bylines. I got an honor from SPJ’s Detroit chapter, which I’m proud of. I might be in a documentary? And I gave permission to a German textbook to republish one of my essays.

So without further adieu, here’s everything from June 2014-ish, to now.

I jumped head first into advertising and named two of Ford’s newest models – sort of.

I racked up a bunch of bylines for Reuters covering the Ted Wafer trial, the Joe Weekley trial and a few other subjects.

I still continued writing for Jalopnik, touching on things like the annual Sketchbattle, Cadillac leaving the city, classic mopeds, advice for entrepreneurs, calling out the water and police department’s not-so-great social media skills, the “Detroit” episode of The Simpsons, the Dream Cruise, squatting hippies, a mysterious disappearance of an annual enthusiasts’ event, life after municipal bankruptcy, a car that drives on water, “Transformers,” calling out the New York Times (and getting them to respond!), interviewed victims of GM’s faulty ignitions, calling out Gawker Media on their continued shit, riding in a McLaren and trying to find the RoboCop statue.

I contributed to Bridge’s “Brunch with Bridge” until the section folded earlier this year. I wrote about a whitewashed Pure Michigan ad (which was taken down after the column ran), respecting “old” Detroit, my family’s history in Detroit, the overuse of the term “blank canvas,” fought with a boomer, and the stupid fireworks law.

I talked to Eater Detroit about my favorite restaurants in and around the city.

I guested on the Midtown to Metro podcast a bunch of times talking about land use, new/old Detroit, and life after bankruptcy. We also drank great beer every time.

I wrote a few things for Metro Times about the (pending?) sale of Cooley High School and went back and forth with Nolan Finley about black people in downtown.

I wrote about the experiences of Corktown business owners and the legendary Capers restaurant (which touched on plans for revitalizing City Airport) for Crain’s.

I talked to Michigan Radio a few times, including pieces on life in Detroit after bankruptcy, Republicans in Detroit, and fun business ideas.

I talked to the Michigan Daily twice about progress in Detroit. And I didn’t even go to Michigan!

I was an NABJ panelist and gave advice about journalism on the wild, wild Internet.

I wrote an essay for Transmission, a literary journal published by the NYC-based Satellite Collective, about my teenage years in the city.

I wrote another essay about coming to terms with your race in the “new” Detroit for The Periphery here in Detroit.

I landed my first byline in The Atlantic talking about black characters on daytime soap operas, earning me a number of Angie & Jesse fans following me on Twitter.

I wrote about Chaldeans fleeing the Middle East and landing in Metro Detroit, the largest concentration of Arabs outside the continent, for Foreign Policy.

I co-hosted a Twitter chat, #YourDetroit, about what changes we’d like to see here. And gave a few extra thoughts to HuffPo.

I contributed more to The Architect’s Newspaper, talking about a local co-working space and an architectural display in Ann Arbor.

Model D thought I was cool enough to be one of the local bloggers you should be reading.

I read “We Love Detroit, Even If You Don’t,” aloud for the first time in front of MSU students and other readers of “A Detroit Anthology,” and spoke on a panel about the book at Signal-Return.

I wrote about black male mentorship in the city for MetroParent and BLAC.

I wrote a few other things for BLAC, including black residents in Macomb County and a cover story about getting to know the 313.

I wrote about Asian businesses, and Jewish and black residents working together for New Michigan Media.

I was on Al-Jazeera America and Al-Jazeera and was sufficiently awkward, so it’s a good thing I can’t find those video clips.

I wrote about a number of things for Forbes, including a major ad agency coming downtown, the Shinola backlash, going inside Deadline Detroit and TrueCar.

I gave lots of press to the things Red Bull is doing in Detroit to the Detroit Free Press.

I wrote about the end(?) of the Freep’s high school apprenticeship program for Columbia Journalism Review.

I hosted a Q&A with Motor City Muckraker for the Detroit Press Club and later joined the Press Club’s board.

And, of course, I started writing a book for Belt Publishing, which published the “Anthology.” I’m also writing a regular column for Belt as we approach the publication date. So far I’ve talked about Northland Mall and the definition of a Detroit hipster.

Phew! I think that just about covers it. As always, more to come.

Don’t watch the Aaliyah biopic; read about her instead

There are clips floating around out there of the made-for-Lifetime (by now, it’s in a different league than made-for-TV) biopic of Aaliyah, the latest in the channel’s assembly-line output of stars fallen too soon. The Anna Nicole biopic was OK. I didn’t see the Brittany Murphy one. Supposedly a Marilyn Monroe one is on the way.

In theory, the Aaliyah biopic should be lightning in a bottle. It’s a great time for black actors and black stories on TV; not since the peak of UPN and WB have there been so much color on the small screen. And it’s a great time to be nostalgic about 1990s and 2000s R&B. The TLC biopic on VH1 was hot like fire. (Double the references in that pun there, can you catch it?)

The thing about the TLC biopic is that no one wanted to give it a chance. Not only did it feel too soon (I mean, neither of the two surviving members are close to the retirement ages of biopic subjects in the past), but the standards were so high for the actors that we were all skeptical. Fortunately the cast and crew (especially Lil’ Mama as Left-Eye, whew!) proved us wrong. Based on these clips from the Aaliyah movie, I’m not getting that same feeling. Just watch this (clicking the link opens the video in a separate link; click here if that doesn’t work for you. WordPress!).

Aaliyah deserves better. If you’re old enough to have lived in Detroit when “Back & Forth” first hit the radio — I mean, when it first started getting airplay, before the album came out — you remember that everybody claimed to know the girl. Everybody’s cousin used to date her, she used to babysit for everybody, she used to be at all these spots. Keep in mind mid-90s Detroit, where we still had big stars living and still putting out music, we hadn’t had a new star emerge from the city that was correctly positioned on the seismic sound shift that R&B was going through at the time. Several tried before and after; y’all don’t remember Perri or Body or — let’s take it way back — Fabu, do you? But there’s a reason why Aaliyah, Monica and Brandy hit like they did.

History has painted Aaliyah as a private, mysterious person, but in truth she really told you everything you needed to know while she was here. Just prior to her death, she gave a wide-ranging interview to VIBE answering things you should not be asking about today: No, she never was with Jay-Z. Yes, the “Sparkle” remake was originally made for her. There’s a reason why she wore her hair with the single bang. Read it all.

The clip above deals with Aaliyah’s marriage to R. Kelly. (The dude playing him looks nothing like him.) Again, why watch, when you can read all those details here — again in VIBE? But if you read this one and the other article, there’s something Aaliyah does in both situations that tells you everything you need to know. See if you can figure it out.

I used to think about immature things

I try not to jinx things, because when I read too much into what I think are good signs of something, I don’t get the expected outcome. I just try to take things as they come, rather than hope for the best.

But there are some signs I can’t ignore, and they’ve been creeping up little by little rather than all at once. Like for example: A few weeks ago, a literary mag reached out to me about submitting some work for an upcoming issue. I decided my topic, wrote a nonfiction essay draft in two days. I told no one; just was able to get out some thoughts on a topic I’d always wanted to write on. But then, someone on Twitter I went to high school with began reminiscing on the topic I had just written about, and I’m like, “did she hack into my laptop and read my essay?” Signs like that are what’s been happening.

High school — and increasingly college, too — is where my headspace is lately. So another one of these signs come up, and it’s one of my high school classmates (hey, Lhea!) hitting me up over Facebook about jointing a writers’ group she wants to get going. Without hesitation, I say yes.

I’d always wanted to write fiction again. I’ve verbalized this to people close to me, and just in general conversation. What journalist doesn’t want to write a novel? I used to write short stories all the time from elementary school until college. But that stopped. A lot of things stopped when I walked on campus: I stopped working out, and I stopped writing. And every New Year’s resolution for the past few years, I’ve resolved to get back in shape and start writing again. I haven’t stuck to either one.

I’ve started and re-started fiction writing so many times over the years. Somewhere around here is a journal I started when I was living in Grand Rapids 10 years ago for a newspaper internship. Unfinished. Somewhere on automaker press release flash drives are half-written chapters. Somewhere in another journal I kept from sophomore year (I think) until around 2009 is a list of book titles and their accompanying ideas. And now that I think about it, there’s an idea for a screenplay in there, too.

I told the writers’ group today that I spent so many years in journalism writing non-fiction that it’s hard to swing the pendulum back in the other direction. I deal in fact and truth and fact-based opinion and data-based truth, so to pull fantasy out of my head — did you Renaissance people know that I used to bang out those short stories in like, a day? a half-day? — for an all-out story was something I’ve been struggling with for more than 10 years.

So to write, you have to have freedom, and sometimes you gain freedom through catharsis. After our group session ended, my high school homie and I got to talking about high school, and we both offered our testimony in the years since 2002.

I talked about being laid off from my job and nearly losing my sanity during the year I was unemployed, and how I just never expected to find myself in this place. You have to understand, I’d not only held a job — some kind of job — since I was 15, I was always in the same job, usually. Most people who know me don’t know me outside of being a writer, be it on my high school paper, my college paper, or the real journalism jobs I’ve had after college. And when you’ve been doing it that long, you’re supposed to be continuously successful at it.

But I didn’t hide the fact that I was unemployed, and then all these words started falling out. The lightbulbs were going off. Why do we hide our failures? Because we grew up — or did we instinctively condition ourselves? — to hide secrets. There are certain kinds of kids in Detroit, the ones that come up through the Chryslers, the Bates Academies, the Hallys, the Ludingtons, the Casses, Kings and Renaissances, even the GPAs, U-of-D Jesuits, Country Days and the University Liggetts, and then they go on to the States, the U-of-Ms, the Howards, the Harvards — you spend so much time trying to keep up with your Joneses academically, socially, athletically, financially, that you don’t show your blemishes and scars. You don’t tell people about that abusive relationship, that job loss, that repo, that eviction, that abortion, that always negative bank account, that alcohol problem, that closet you still haven’t come out of, that divorce, and you try to hide it until you just can’t hide it anymore. And then black folks, you know we don’t publicly talk about finances and we don’t talk about that one cousin that just ain’t right, and so on, and so forth.

But now we’re 30, and we realize — we all are going through some very real, very adult shit. It’s OK that so-and-so got a divorce, because someone else got a divorce, too. There’s enough kids born to members of our class — two-parent household or not — to cast a “Saved By the Bell: The New Class” version of what we went through, with extras. And it’s OK to talk about these things now, because transparency can help others going through the same thing be transparent with themselves.

So yeah, this is where I’m at. I see all these visions and have all these creative juices. I’m nostalgic, partly because of my Sirius XM subscription. Pop2K plays every song from 9th grade to 12th, from college to my professional life. And Soul Town and The Groove is my mother’s record collection in radio form, the Earth, Wind & Fire records I would listen to and try not to scratch (though there might be a small skip on “Fantasy,” Mom). It’s putting me back in that space where I could write freely.

And why was I so fearless back then? I wasn’t popular, I couldn’t afford to dress the best, I couldn’t even get my hair on point most times, but I never had issues putting my stories out there. I came to this conclusion, too, that I spent so much of my college and 20-something years trying to re-create what I never had in high school — the popularity, the money, the braggadocio — that I might have lost my creative streak. Those stories I wrote were basically mini-screenplays. If they read like soap operas, it’s because they were inspired by the ones I used to watch with my grandmother and great-grandmother. If they borrowed heavily from the pop culture of the time — I specifically remember writing a story with a chapter centering around Jagged Edge’s “Let’s Get Married” — it’s because I was becoming a keen observer of such. I’m trying to find that place again.

I don’t plan to write the Great American Novel. I’m not even sure I want to write a novel right now; I think of the time a few months ago when an agent approached me about writing a non-fiction book about post-bankruptcy Detroit. I pitched, drafted a table of contents and some ideas, and never heard back. But maybe I want to do that. Someone asked me why not put together a book of all the columns I’ve ever written, but then I think — can’t people read that for free? But maybe I’d like to do a Sedaris-type book of essays. I don’t know. I’m just starting to feel excited again, that maybe I can really do this.

Some thoughts on ABC’s ‘Black-ish’

Note: I pitched this to a pub, but it was shot down, so since there’s no kill fee/agreement, I decided to post it here on my own site. Enjoy!

There’s a line toward the end of ABC’s “Black-ish” – officially premiering Sept. 24, but already available for free download on iTunes – where Andre Jr., the teen son of the protagonist, tells his father during a one-on-one basketball game that, “I’m just being me, I’m just not quite sure who that is yet.”

Inadvertently, this could be the tone of “Black-ish” going forward. The sitcom takes its name from dialogue in the pilot episode, in which Anthony Anderson plays an ad executive wondering if his family is “real” enough – and by “real,” we mean “black.”

Rarer these days are the network sitcoms that offer inside views of non-white families, but this season is shaping up to be a banner year – at least with ABC — with “Fresh Off The Boat” and “Cristela” peeking into Asian and Hispanic households, respectively. Neither of those shows, however, will likely be compared to similarly cast predecessors. “Black-ish,” a show about an upper-middle-class suburban black family, will, though.

With black families, we’re either the Evanses or the Huxtables, with the latter always having served as the answer to the former and rarely any middle ground. “Good Times,” as the theme song noted, was about a family barely keeping their heads above water. Save for the short-lived “Julia” and the occasional soap opera, “Good Times” was the ultimate culmination of decades of small-screen black characters – maids, nannies, other servants — in the working class.

But as time has put distance between the Evans family and our current conscience (even the real-life Chicago housing project where the family lived has been demolished) most of today’s creatives have been taking their cues from “The Cosby Show.” Bill Cosby wanted all African-Americans to aspire to be the Huxtables, but showrunners had the loftier goal of their creations having that show’s longevity and impact.

“Black-ish’s” parents have been in this space on other shows, swinging and missing. Anderson paired up with – of course – “Cosby” alum Tempestt Bledsoe for NBC’s “Guys With Kids,” a not out-and-out black sitcom but featuring a portrayal of a black family nonetheless. Tracee Ellis Ross was screen-married to another “Cosby” kid, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, for BET’s “Reed Between the Lines.” All four actors, but especially Warner and Bledsoe, were forced to address the inevitable Huxtable comparisons in press surrounding those shows, both of which were canceled.

Perhaps several shows with predominantly black casts are often upheld to the “Cosby” standard because there are so few outstanding examples to begin with, making their intended audiences their harshest critics. When BET gave us “Being Mary Jane,” an hour-long drama about a single, successful, career-driven woman dating a married man, the similarities to ABC’s “Scandal” couldn’t be overlooked. (“Mary Jane” star Gabrielle Union would exacerbate these comparisons by revealing she had pursued the role of Olivia Pope before being turned down in favor of Kerry Washington.)

Endless comedies about 20-something friends can stand alone next to, well, “Friends.” The comedy graveyard is filled with “Cosby” clones — “Charlie & Co.,” “Minor Adjustments,”  “Me and the Boys,” “The Royal Family,” “Built to Last” – and those that can’t be mentioned with the Huxtables in its footnotes – “The Bernie Mac Show,” “The Hughleys,” “My Wife and Kids.”

To be sure, “Black-ish” seems funny enough. Laurence Fishburne is a scene stealer; it’s as if we’re catching up with Dap from “School Daze” at the 25-year Mission College alumni picnic. Ross’ character is biracial, as is she. And Anderson finally seems to be growing up, after years of being the kooky sidekick.

But if “Black-ish” can survive a first season – and ABC hasn’t had a successful, long-running sitcom with an all-black cast since the aforementioned “My Wife and Kids” ended nearly a decade ago – it, too, may be asked to take the “Cosby” test. And then again, maybe not.

“Black-ish” confronts identity issues head-on in its pilot, dancing in the middle of the intersection of class and race rarely touched on in “The Cosby Show,” and given, at best, the very-special treatment in later shows like “Sister, Sister” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Turns out, those issues are what fans of the latter show have held in higher regard. Few recall the time an armed robber held up the Banks family during Christmas, but everyone remembers when Carlton’s blackness came into question when he tried to pledge a fraternity.

It’ll be interesting to see how far “Black-ish” can go, what it wants to be, and whether audiences won’t be worn thin too easily. And let’s say “Cosby” never finds its way into conversation. It’ll then face the next issue so many other black sitcoms face: unnecessarily being compared to white ones. It’s Wednesday night lead-in? Another suburban-family farce, “Modern Family.”

My Month Of Freelancing — May 2014

A bit delayed, but here it is. Last month, I had a goal of three publications a month. I hit that target, so we’re still good.

The song of last month was “Cotton Candy” by The Sylvers. It plays regularly on Sirius XM49.

1. I started May with my first of (hopefully many more) columns for Bridge.

Detroit doesn’t have stop-and-frisk, the controversial New York City police policy of randomly stopping individuals to see if they’re up to no good. But if you pay attention to what’s going on with Belle Isle, it seems we’re taking at least baby steps toward it.

2. I ended May with a quick Q&A for the BNP Media-owned National Driller. (See, I can tackle all subjects!)

Hands-on experience is a necessary lesson for all disciplines, and drilling is no exception. Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, Pa., this year welcomes a drilling rig simulator to its campus that shows students of the trade how the industry works.

3. In the middle of May, I strung for the Detroit Free Press for Movement and also told you about the Black History 101 Mobile Museum partnering up with the 5E Gallery. (It was the first time I’ve done something for the Freep since I was an apprentice there in 2001.)

If a hip-hop time capsule were unearthed, its contents would surely resemble what’s on display here. “Yo! MTV Raps” trading cards. Lauryn Hill on a 1998 cover of Time, the first time the news magazine featured hip-hop. Public Enemy-branded bandanas. Movie posters from classics like “Breakin’.” A rare Notorious B.I.G. doll. How El-Hakim and 5E Gallery founder DJ Sicari Ware arrived at this point is a study in Detroit hip-hop history.


To get a full idea of just how much sound was reverberating through Movement on Saturday, you could step inside one of the three dozen or so portable toilets near the edge of Hart Plaza. There you could feel the rhythms coming from every direction. On one stage, a live local band from Detroit. On another, a DJ spinning nu-disco with French lyrics.

4. As usual, I contributed a bunch to Jalopnik, with a few standouts:

How Lowriders Helped Boys Become Men In Southwest Detroit

Every year during Cinco de Mayo, there’s a tradition where men and women gather around Impalas, Regals, Caddys and other rides for “Blessing of the Lowriders,” an only-in-Detroit event where steel, salvation and stereotype-breaking meet.

Once Again, Gawker Is Absolutely Fucking Clueless About Detroit

The thing about living in Detroit is that when something goes viral locally, you pray that if it reaches a national level it gets translated to the masses properly. And it’s a fucked-up game of Telephone that Gawker writers fail at every goddamn time.

The Difference Between Detroit And Metro Detroit: An Explainer

After the Detroit Silverdome/Pontiac Silverdome dustup between Jalopnik Detroit and Gawkerthis weekend, quite a few readers questioned why Detroiters got so offended if a city in question is technically part of the metro area. There’s a reason for that: Most cities in Metro Detroit are worlds apart.

4. The Metro Detroit explainer got me a spot on The Progrim (second time!) with Mike P. Check me out.

June is under way.

My month of freelancing — April 2014

Starting this month, I’m going to start chronicling where I’ve been and what I’ve written. My goal is this: At least three different publications a month. So far, so good.

I’ll also try to throw in a random, unrelated song for the month. It’s Bjork’s “Bachelorette” for this month. Heard it on XM35 and can’t get it out of my head. Yes.


1. I contributed a bunch to Jalopnik, but here are three standouts:

Here’s How Not To Crowdfund A $3 Million Detroit Mansion Purchase

There’s no doubt that Detroit is bustling with young creatives with the romance but not the finance to make their dreams come true. So we’ve got Kresge grants and Gilbert bankrolls, but crowdfunding is one of those things that we still have a tricky time with. Case in point. Here’s a bro who wants to turn the $2.8 million Col. Frank J. Hecker House in midtown Detroit, a 21,000-square-foot railroad baron’s mansion, into a “coworking heaven.”

The Times Chronicles The Plight Of Young, White Detroit Entrepreneurs

Guys, there are risks and rewards in opening a business in an American city, and the Times is ON IT. Specifically, the New York Times, whose reporters are still allergic to black people in one of the country’s largest black cities.

ABC Wants You To Visit Detroit But Skip Visiting Detroit, Wait What?

I’m a little bit confused by this ABC News (by way of Travelzoo) piece that encourages people to visit Detroit. If I haven’t made it plain by now, I’m all in favor of Detroit tourism — except this piece is telling you to skip all the best parts of Detroit.

2. It’s every black journalist’s dream to be published in Ebony (or Essence or Jet), so I marked that off the bucket list last month with an update on what’s going on with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History.

In the Cultural Center of Detroit, it’s impossible to miss the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, with its enormous black and gold African mask hanging above its main entrance. A quick stroll through the main floor indicates all is well. And the sun is finally pouring through the massive skylights, covered way too long in snow from Michigan’s second-most-brutal winter.

3. I got the lucky Detroit journalist invite to Craig Fahle’s Friday Follies segment on WDET. Listen here.

4. I did a quick write-up on the developments in Palmer Park for The Architect’s Newspaper — in print, too!

The city has attracted new residents in search of lower rents, prompting near-capacity occupancy in the city’s downtown and Midtown districts. Business districts, universities, and other usual trappings of urban life anchored both areas. Palmer Park, on the other hand, is relatively far-flung from the hustle and bustle. Like so many of Detroit’s older neighborhoods, it was conceived for turn-of-the-century auto barons and executives seeking country homes in open settings, but not too far from the central business district. The neighborhood’s centerpieces are a 30-acre park and a golf course, with a winding boulevard of apartment buildings in styles ranging from Moroccan to art deco to English Tudor.

5. I previewed Red Bull House of Art’s latest cycle and told you about each one of the artists exhibiting there. (My favorite part of this coverage was talking to a self-described housewife who now has studio space in Corktown.)

Paula Zammit has one of those Hollywood-ending stories in the making as we speak. Right now, we’re in the beginning of the second act. After years of raising a family and working as a sales executive, Zammit waited patiently for her youngest child to leave for college before deciding to go back to college herself. Initially, the Lathrup Village residents enrolled at Schoolcraft College for culinary arts. But every cooking class was booked. Thank God, she says. To fill up credit hours, Zammit turned to art classes.

6. I’ll be honest, I’ve been super critical of Model D in the past. But I’m glad they listened to my rant about how much it irritates me when you guys use the term “the neighborhoods.”

You don’t hear “Belle Isle to 7 Mile” anymore because now, more than ever, Detroit is separating. It’s one thing to rep your neighborhood (or, as so often the case in Detroit is, your cross streets). It’s another to separate your neighborhood from the city completely.

7. Finally, The Detroit Anthology is out in a few weeks. Metro Times spoke to our editor and curator, Anna Clark, and MT gave me a nice little shout-out. Awww.

Anna Clark wears many hats. A freelance writer living in Detroit, her work has appeared in The New RepublicAmerican Prospect and Salon, among others. She’s a writer-in-residence for the InsideOut Literary Arts Project, a gig that sees her teaching creative writing at Detroit high schools, and she’s also a board member of Write a House, a residency program that aims to fill three houses in a neighborhood north of Hamtramck with writers. She also edited A Detroit Anthology — a collection of stories from the likes of Jalopnik’s Aaron Foley, noted sociologist Thomas Sugrue, and MT’s very own Larry Gabriel to name a few — which will be released by Rust Belt Chic on May 12. 

Stay tuned for May!

Open for business

Self-promotion makes me uncomfortable and the term “branding” makes me itch, but I’ve been told I should be doing this more as a freelancer.

I feel I’ve been pretty good at “putting myself out there” since I have been independent. (We’ll talk later about how I feel the term “freelancer” has a negative connotation.) But since I have to think of myself as a business, I should advertise. So here goes.

I’m a writer first. I’ve been in journalism all my life (bylines in the elementary school paper, son!), but working professionally for almost a decade. I’ve written general news. I’ve written entertainment. I’ve written education. I’ve written automotive. None of these are “hard” or “soft” topics; they should all be treated with the same level of respect. Therefore, if you need someone to report on any of those subjects — anything from one-off strings to long-term projects — let me know.

Living in Detroit, the city is one of my main subject areas. But it’s not my only subject area. I could probably give you a story about luxury sales in Germany vs. those in America, or I could recap your favorite crime drama. I’ve interviewed mayors, children, grieving parents, automotive executives, a man who sells raccoon meat, your favorite rappers, aging rock stars, racists and 100-year-olds on their birthdays.

I’ve written a lot. Therefore, I think I know my way around a sentence beyond journalism. I could write you a press release or your marketing copy. Many people in the last year probably found me through some snarky blogging I do over at Jalopnik Detroit, but I’ve been blogging long before that. Need a guest blog? I can do that. Need a ghost blog? I could do that, too.

Among one of my many current freelance projects, I’m doing community management for a soon-to-be-launched automotive enthusiast site, which means I could manage your social media accounts if you need me to. I can tell you what works, what plays to certain audiences, how to get noticed and how to make sense. Why, just the other day I picked out a promotional hashtag!

Oh, speaking of site launches. I was behind the scenes of MLive Detroit before that launched, so I know a thing or two about getting a new project off the ground. I’m very proud of my involvement with that, as it’s now one of the most-read news sites in the region. So if you need someone who’s not afraid to take risks with new developments, let me know.

I’m comfortable on radio and on camera; I’ve done local radio here in Detroit, provincial radio in Canada and lent my voice to a national launch of a new public radio show. I told you where a certain city councilman was hiding on the news and I’ve recently appeared in a soon-to-be-aired Web series about Detroit.

I also don’t mind offering guest commentary. I’ve done that for publications big and small, and if you need someone to offer up a quote or two for your journalism class project, I can do that, too. Ask me anything!

I started my career as a copy editor, so if you need a once-over on that essay you wrote (I live with a microbiologist; do you know how many scientific papers I’ve had to edit over the years?) or if you’ve got a project you need some help on, I can do that.

Finally, if I can’t help you, I probably know someone who can. I’m fortunate to know lots of talent always willing to lend a hand.

So let’s talk. Want to do some business? Email me at aaronkfoley[at]gmail[dot]com.

I haven’t blogged here in a year

….mainly because I’ve been everywhere else, literally. Check out the “media appearances” tab up above to see where I’ve been!

I have some ideas for what I want to do with this blog but I’ve gotta wait for some dust to settle. Hold tight.

The rise of the white girl power anthem

One thing to check off on my bucket list is to coin a term a la “yuppie” or “manic pixie dream girl” that becomes so popular that it earns its own place in regular conversation or Wikipedia. So maybe that’ll happen with this…(wishful thinking since like three people read this blog, but whatevs.)

I was out working in the backyard garden when Keith cranked up his Kelly Clarkson Pandora station. Most of her songs sound the same to me, but one that stands out is “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).” Then a few Pink songs come on. And then a few Katy Perry songs in between. All these women are singing about the same thing: Self-assurance, self-reliance and independence.

The only thing is, though, is that all these songs are mostly gender-neutral. Unlike, say, Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls),” anybody could relate to the themes in these songs, whether it be a breakup, a move-forward, a goodbye, or whatever. They avoid making too heavy-handed statements, which would nix a “Born this Way” or something similar. They’re all pop songs with faux guitars to give it a rockier edge. Most can cross between adult contemporary audiences and younger ones. There are no hints of R&B or soul, so they’re easier to digest. And they’re all sung by white women.

I’ll call it the white girl power anthem. Examples of these include:

“Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” – Kelly Clarkson
“So What,” Pink
“Raise Your Glass,” Pink
“Fuckin’ Perfect,” Pink
“Wide Awake,” Katy Perry
“Part of Me,” Katy Perry (the definitive white girl power anthem)
“We R Who We R,” Ke$ha
“Already Gone,” Kelly Clarkson
“King of Anything,” Sara Bareilles

Feel free to add some more to the list.

Where have you been?

Phew! It’s been a while, so here’s what’s going on.

1. Left my old job, which was not as scary as I thought it would be when I did. It was hard to leave this job. It was my second post-college job, the one job that everyone secretly judges you on. The first job is your starting point and stepping stone. The second is the one where you’re supposed to be a rock star and have that extra oomph on your resume. Hopefully I did: I helped to launch a brand new digital newsroom, owned every story I did and helped expand the presence of a news org. But it was time to move on. I was 24 when I left my first job. It was easier the second time around at 27.

2. Started a new job two days later. I’ve jumped into the world of automotive reporting, which is fantastic if you live in the home of the Big Three. And I’m covering one of the Big Three. (Sticking to my rule of not diverging too much info on the blog, but I do enough of that on Twitter and Facebook anyway.) Few people know I’m a car nut. It’s not one of those things I wear on my sleeve, so with this job comes a few dispelling of myths. No, pop culture and entertainment isn’t the only thing I’m into. Yes, I can tell you the difference between a V6 and a V8. No, the job’s not easy, but I’m up for any challenge. Yes, I’m ready for the challenge.

I’m happy that thus far I’ve had a short career, but I’ve held jobs — short- or long-term — that some people take years to get to. Features copy editor. Columnist. Entertainment writer. Big-city education reporter. Now, having an “editor” title and your name in a masthead. And covering the Big Three in Motor City! A million girls would kill for this job.

That said, the career isn’t the only thing going. This house is still being restored (I know, I know…), I still haven’t written that book that I’ve always wanted to write, I planted a garden (again, failed last year, let a bunch of plants die due to laziness/busyness) in the backyard, I quit listening to urban radio and I bought the newest car I’ve ever owned in my driving lifetime (2010 Honda Civic with 15K miles). I’ve suddenly become become one of those people who travels for work, which means I’m fast on the path of becoming one of those dads who travels for work. (But hey! No kids on the horizon — yet.) I still tweet too much and I still watch RHOA. And I’m still taking things day by day.


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