Dan Gilbert illness hits close to home

gilbertWhen business man Dan Gilbert experienced stroke like symptoms it hit close to home.

I wondered what those symptoms were and how he felt at the time. I experienced similar symptoms nearly three years ago when my blood pressure hit the ceiling and I suffered what was considered a mild stroke. Although I lost my voice for a while and could not step or type I feel close to normal now.

I don’t feel like the old guy that used to dance around and act a fool. That guy died and was replaced by a calmer, less aggressive and not quite as sharp version of the old guy.

I am still Terry Foster. But perhaps it would be more accurate to call me Terry Foster lite.

I am not the same old guy, but at least my family can still hug and love a version of me. I can still love and feel love. And that’s not all bad.

Every time somebody I know of gets a stroke I relive the anguish of my two strokes.  It troubled me to learn of the death of film maker John Sngleton who died in April at age 51 of a stroke. I cried when my childhood friend Lamont died of a stroke about four months after mine.

I feel fortunate that I am still here to kick it with friends, watch my children grow and to bug and hug my wife. I can still do a lot of things, but at a slower pace and in more moderation.

One of my doctors said that I have done a wonderful job in eating correctly and working the body. But he said I needed to exercise the brain more. He recommended that I do similar things that I loved prior to the stroke. So I blogged more and did podcasts and posted videos on face book and twitter.

I did too much. My blood pressure shot up again and I began feeling sluggish and feeble. I had plans to go out with friends for the holidays. But I called everybody up to post pone our dates and hoped they understood.

I must do something to keep the brain sharp or doctors feel that depression could set in. I must still live my life, but not at break neck speed.

When I go out with my pals Melissa,  Trevor, Wojo and my new pals at the gym I do it for more than having a good time. It is part of my new therapy to engage and keep sharp. My first inclination most days is to stay to myself and not interact with society.

That is not good for me.

Dan Gilbert is a very important man with a plate full of projects and ideas. Here is my advice to him. Do not do too much, but you still must remain active and keep moving Detroit forward at a pace you feel comfortable with.

Take your blood pressure daily and monitor your numbers like never before.

A stroke is a deadly disease, but there is life after stroke for some of us. There is a second chance and a second life for some of us.

Let’s take advantage of it.




Why can’t Detroit become the next Music City?

Nashville — They are dressed in colorful shorts, cowboy boots and daisy dukes. They add flavor to the West End and Broadway Street.

They boost the economy in Music City. And they are nice to look at. They are the brides maids and brides that make this the Bridle Party capital of the United States.

They come for the food, but they mostly come for the country music and the endless booze on Broadway Street.

I love the atmosphere here in Music City. My question is why can’t this happen in Motown?

A few years ago I couldn’t find anyone interested in coming to Nashville for vacation. Now folks from all around come here.

Downtown Detroit is enjoying a rebirth. We have new buildings, new hotels, new stadiums and new people. What downtown Detroit lacks is the old school identity that put us on the map.

Would a street or section that pays homage to Motown music and cars work the same way that Beale Street in Memphis and Broadway in Nashville work. In Memphis bars and restaurants are lined up blazing the blues. In Nashville there are dozens of bars with country music dominating the air. There are also hotels, gift shops, coffee shops and ice cream parlors.

Where is Detroit’s Motown Blvd? Motown Museum isn’t even a part of Detroit’s destination highway. It is tucked away on West Grand Blvd in an area that people don’t otherwise travel. I grew up with three miles of the Motown Museum and have never been.

We need a street downtown lined with the Motown Museum, the Motown Cafe, the Old 20 Grand Night Club, Motown Coffee, Motown pastries, Motown auto museum and the Motown hotel. It would be Greek Town with a motor city feel.

If Nashville and Memphis can do it, why not Detroit?




The small things make for a great Father’s Day

dime storeI grew tired of watching my shiny bald head in the mirror when I worked out in the morning at my health club. So I bought a couple of bandanas to wrap around my head.

The other day I drove to a graduation party in Detroit with my wife Abs. My children Brandon and Celine drove separately. Afterwards, Abs said she knew a cool place that sold bandanas of every color and design for my shiny, bald head. She suggested we stop there so she could buy a couple for me for Fathers Day.

We drove into the parking lot and were surprised to see Brandon walking toward us demanding that we get out of there as quickly as possible. Celine shopped for bandanas inside. We took off so we would not spoil the surprise.

I was thrilled that my family thought about me.

But that wasn’t the best part about Fathers Day. Celine wanted to hold my hand as we walked inside the Chrysler House for an hour long wait to enjoy brunch at The Dime Store. When I went for a walk downtown in the heat Brandon insisted on going with me, so we could visit without the ladies and talk.

We went to Avalon Bakery, Under Armor and a couple other shops before making it back to the Dime Store.

The gang bought me a flowered shirt that drew two compliments in one day and some shorts and T shirts. The gifts were not the best part of the day.

I received love and that meant more than anything. Celine wanted to hold hands and Brandon wanted to spend a few minutes alone with dad. Those are special moments that might sound corny to non dads, but I really appreciated it.

When I was young one of my goals was to make life better for my children than it was for me. We are on our way. Celine completed her freshman year at Stanford University,  made the deans list, is an officer in a women’s business group and is president of the sophomore class. Brandon carries a B averaged in high school and has his eye on helping children when he is an adult.

I am proud of both of them.

It is important for men to be good husbands. I believe it is even more important to be a great dad.

Detroit’s Mariners Park has good fishing and is safe

MyfishingMariner’s Park is not the best known of Detroit’s parks, but fisherman Sid swears that it is Detroit’s safest area.

It is tucked in the Northeast corner of the city abutted by Grosse Pointe Park and the mouth of the Detroit River as it meets Lake St. Clair. There are parts of Mariner’s Park which are typical Detroit. It is kind of dirty because people don’t pick up their litter. There are a couple of worn soccer goals that have not been score upon in years.

None of that matters to Sid who says he comes here to fish every day — weekend and week day. He’s got three poles poking in the river in search of silver bass and green bass,  cat fish and walleye.

You can catch anything in here,” said fisherman Sid, a retired Detroit auto worker. “We are not having a lot of luck today but sometimes you get a hit on your first line before you can get the second in the water. And it is like pop, pop, bam, bam all day long.”

My Golden State Warriors T-shirt draws his attention and ire.

“Hey man. I don’t like your shirt,” he said. “I was rooting for LeBron and the Cavs.”

I explain that I have a daughter who lives in the Bay area and she brings me back shirts with Golden State, Stanford and 49ers logos on them. That seems to satisfy Sid and we move on to other things.

We look out over the water. Belle Isle is just across the pale blue river. About a quarter mile to our left the water turns a deeper blue. That is the beginning of Lake St. Clair and its deeper, rougher waters.

“I’d rather sit out here than be in my back yard,” Sid says. “This is the safest place in the city. All the Detroit police come out here on their days off. There are some right over there.”

He points to a picnic table filled with laughing men and women playing cards. Two children sell bags of candy for a dollar a bag. A woman braids a young girls hair and people sit in their cars marveling at the open water and fresh air.

But mostly people fish. A woman pulled a Walleye out of a white bucket. The three foot monster is still flopping as she takes it home to cook.

Sid turns his attention to two other women who struggle bait their hooks. He laughs.

“Those girls got bells on their lines,” Sid says. “I’ve been coming out here for more than seven years and I ain’t ever used a bell in my life.”

One of the women turns our way.

“I know y’all talking bout us and our bells,” she said. “Tell that old man we gonna catch more fish than him.”

We share a laugh and I leave this budding fishing rivalry.

As I leave about a half dozen men debate where LeBron James will end up after free agency. By the way LeBron if you ever read this, the brothers out there don’t want you to end up in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform.

I am nearly in my car when a man stops me to talk.
‘What’s your boy Trump up to,” he asks.

I can tell a joke is coming but he wants to make a political statement at the same time.

“He’s rough on them Muslims and Hispanics,” he said. “We not gonna have none of them in our country after a while. You know we are next. So watch out”

I argue that Donald Trump will not begin randomly shipping black people to Africa.

“OK,” the man said chuckling. “I want you to remember what I told you after he ships your ass to Wakanda.”

I will make sure to keep my papers updated.







The hot wire kid gets caught

Deveron was a fast talking, street smart kid with a ready smile and a mop of curly hair.

He was also one of my best friends while growing up on Detroit’s west side. He was a great kid with one tiny vice. He stole cars.

An older cousin taught him how to hot wire cars and Deveron became an expert at it. One day we sat in a rusted out hoop tee in his back yard talking. This car did not run, but he’d get behind the wheel and we were driving down Lakeshore Drive in Grosse Pointe or taking an impromptu spin down I-94 to Chicago.

I asked Deveron why he stole cars. He basically said because he was good at it and that he believed he could not get caught.

“You should come with me sometimes and see how easy it is,” he said.

I thought about it, but ultimately fear won out. I was not afraid of getting caught by the police. I was afraid of the old ladies who raised me and pounded into me that if ain’t mine I don’t touch it. They’d kill me if I started stealing cars.

I didn’t even tell them of my friendship with Deveron. That would freak them out.

They stressed education to me. That is why I was the nerdy kid reading books on the front porch, pretending I was inside the pages of adventure novels.

One of the main reasons I bring this story up is because I was ripped by some people a few weeks ago when I said on twitter that America needs more schools and fewer prisons.

If education wasn’t stressed to me I might have taken Deveron up on his offer and became a car thief instead of a journalist. Maybe America would need one more prison cell for me after I got caught.

Often people become criminals because there is no hope in their lives. They are more street smart than book smart and that leads you down a dark path.

One day I was walking down the street when I heard a police siren screaming a few blocks away. Soon a car came shooting toward me going at break neck speed. Deveron was behind the wheel. He shot a quick glance my way before making a violent right turn. He was going so fast that two hub caps fell off the car and rolled past me.

A few seconds later a police cruiser made the same violent right turn.

Deveron, the hotwire kid, was caught.

It was the last time I ever saw my childhood friend. They threw him into juvenile detention and when he got out his family shipped him down south to try to turn his life around.

I am glad I said no to a life of crime and yes to a life of writing and reporting.


Melvin Monkey

bully bully.jpgMelvin was a childhood friend who was severely mentally handicapped.

Back in the day we called people like this retarded. Melvin made a bunch of noises and we never knew what he was saying. He was loud and our parents never wanted him in the house because of it. But he was our boy and he was part of a group of eight to 10 of us 12-14 year olds who played tag, baseball, football and basketball.

I’m not proud of this today but we called him Melvin Monkey and I even used my creative writing skills to create the Melvin Monkey song. It was a harsh nickname but it came with our friendship and protection from other neighborhood kids that picked on him because of his limitations.

No one else was allowed to pick on him around us.

One day Melvin was playing in the alley between Vancouver and Oregon Streets when two bullies confronted him. They pushed him and called him “retard.” I told the boys to stop and they immediately turned their attacks on me.

“You friends with this animal?”

“You must be retarded too.”

I said I was if that meant being his friend. I told them one more time to leave Melvin alone.

By now Melvin was in a highly agitated state. He was yelling and jumping up and down.

Meanwhile one of my girls stopped by to see what was going on.

“This fool is defending this retard,” one of the boys said. “We should kick his ass.”

The girl was part of my crew.

“Well I guess you got to kick my ass too,” she said.

We both stood between the boys and Melvin until they finally backed down and left.

Melvin screamed “thank you.”

It was one of the few times that I understood what he said.

It was the only time I understood him.

Flames did not destroy Kronk gym

kronk fireThe story of fire destroying the old Kronk Gym is a good one except it is not true. The city of Detroit placed Kronk on its death bed, not an arsonist as news outlets are reporting.

The Free Press ran a heart warming photo of boxing great Tommy Hearns looking over the remains of his beloved gym. It will be recorded that the fire devastated the place. But that let’s the city of Detroit off the hook. Detroit killed Kronk, not the fire.

I don’t know if the Hit Man shed a tear when he saw his old gym, but I want him to know that he would have shed the same tears a month ago when I visited the site. Kronk was down for the count then because the city did not take care of the place. I did a tour of former sporting land marks to see what they looked today. And it was troubling.

Rats and opossums played on the rail road tracks behind the shuttered Southwestern High School gym where Perry Watson won championships as a coach and Jalen Rose played some of the most spectacular basketball this city has ever seen.

Then I drove to Kronk and the place looked so bad that no amount of rehabilitation could restore the place. And finally I went over to Mackenzie High School where I used to see Jerome Bettis put a whipping on unsuspecting high school boys before he became The Bus at Notre Dame and later with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I could not find the high school because was torn down five years ago.

The story of fire destroying Kronk is a good one, but it is not true. Kronk may have been destroyed more than a decade ago when boxing legend Emanuel Steward told me he wanted to revive Kronk in Dearborn, Westland or some place near downtown. Perhaps he knew then that the old relict could not be revived, especially after funding for many of Detroit’s rec centers was cut off, leaving them vacant and unattended to.

The place looked like it had already been set on fire a month ago.  I for the life of me cannot figure out why someone would set the place in flames. That seems like a waste of time and a good can of gasoline.







The little guy is being pushed out in downtown Detroit

downtownThe Cornerstone restaurant on Woodward is a great place to stop before a game or concert at Comerica Park.

A few of us gathered there a few days ago to discuss the future of downtown. Places like the Cornerstone may not be there for long. It could disappear just like Henry the Hatter and other venerable downtown establishments.

The good news is Dan Gilbert and his Bedrock group have spruced up downtown with billions in improvements. The bad news is rent is sky rocketing downtown and some places won’t be able to afford it and will be forced to close.

The little guy will lose out and the big guy with the big name will prosper.

That’s the way gentrification works.

The word in the streets is that places with Hollywood names and national resumes get rent or tax breaks to relocate downtown. Henry from down the street does not.

“I don’t know what downtown is going to look like in five years,” said my friend James. “It might not have that Detroit feel.”

One guy lived in a one bedroom apartment that was going for $1,500 a month. He’s been told that price is going up to $4,000 although he will get a little big more room.

One business woman told me that her building is not owned by Bedrock, but her rent is going to go up anyway.

“The thing I appreciate is that they said they are willing to work with me,” she said. “And they are trying to delay it for as long as possible.”

I am not supportive of a downtown run entirely by outsiders. There has to be room for those who stood by the city when it was a shit hole. They’ve sunk millions into their buildings and should prosper when the city becomes paved with gold.

There needs to room for Henry the Hatter and the Cornerstone just as there should be room for Nike and Under Armor.

I root more for the little guy because he is more likely to make Detroit great again than the big-time outsiders. But the little guy is being pushed out and we need to keep an eye out for that.




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