Friday, January 30, 2009

Ribs Burn-Off and Blues Festival Success

The 8th Annual Ferndale Blues Festival has been wildly successful so far, with just two days left.
The venues have been mostly full, and people are being generous with donations for the charities.

Go! Comedy held a great Blues event last night, and the venue is very cool.

I've heard amazing music, including last night at Dino's with the Sax Maniacs.

Friday January 30 will be standing room only at Rosie O'Grady's for Bobby Murray and it will be rocking also at Dino's, Bart's, Tony's, and Como's.

More than 1,000 persons are expected to attend the 2nd Annual Ribs Burn-Off beginning at noon January 31 in the Library parking lot tent behind Dino's. $10 admission to charity gets you ribs from up to ten difference cook. Votes and judges will determine the best barbeque ribs.

With apologies to my vegan friends, I do love my barbeque, particularly in the winter time.

Oh, and for the first time in many weeks, we are expecting temperatures ABOVE 32 degrees.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

10,000 Blue Lights Shining in Ferndale

Visitors and residents in Ferndale will notice beginning this week thousands of blue lights shining across the downtown as the city gears up for its 8th Annual "Bud Light" Ferndale Blues Festival.
First held in 2002, the music festival has grown larger each year, and over the past few years a new tradition of lighting up the city in blue has taken hold. The city has blue spot lights on the "Crow's Nest" and on the Ferndale "Wall" at Woodward and Nine. The streetlights have also been strung with blue rope lighting. Dino's, Howe's Bayou, The New Way, Just for Us, and the DDA have all lit up their windows in blue lights and displays. And Como's has outshone everyone this year, with more than 2,000 blue lights around the popular restaurant and bar.

The festival starts Friday January 23 with seven concerts in seven venues downtown. All of the concerts are free, with donations requested at the door of Dino's and Club Bart. We simply ask that patrons throw a dollar or two in the blind blue piggy banks that will be passed around the crowds by volunteers.

The festival then continues for nine days and nights, and I hope to report on some of the stories and experiences that will take place among the twenty three locations holding concerts and other events.

For a complete line-up of the scheduled bands and venues, go to our web site at

As the economy continues to deteriorate, let's remind ourselves that we can still celebrate the solid and timeless values of music, friendship, and community. Put on your warm coats and winter boots, and join us for the festival at your favorite restaurant or club.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

By Any Means Necessary ?

Members of the grass-roots activist group BAMN have decided to target Ferndale and our schools in their effort to force the creation of one massive regional school district that would cross county borders and include students from Detroit and all the surrounding suburbs. Their issues and concerns are very understandable. The Detroit Public School System is almost completely dysfunctional with multiple school closings, a sky-high drop-out rate, and financial irresponsibility. Their school system is broken, and has been such for many years. But instead of demanding reform and insisting on accountability within their own system, BAMN members are targeting a tiny school district known for its progressive ideas in Oakland County, and are using any means necessary, including boycott threats and aggressive rhetoric, to try and guilt this town to support their plans.

BAMN evidently wants Ferndale High School to open its doors to students from Detroit.
We already are a school of choice district, allowing students to attend from Oakland County.
Obviously, opening up our main high school to the tens of thousands of Detroit students is impossible. And even if every high school in Oakland County did so, that would not solve the problems systemic in the Detroit Public Schools.

Ferndale is trying to help. Our University High School is an excellent college-prep high school partnered with Lawrence Tech. that provides a great choice for an education for students planning on further college education or possible careers in the automotive industry. The special school has attracted students from all over, including Detroit. It is a success, is very popular and its effective.

But rather than appreciate that we can help an additional 400 hundred students get a quality education there, without the costs of a private school, BAMN claims the school is segregated and inferior. Such bizarre and convoluted thinking is not only false and inflammatory, but it does nothing to help solve the problem or bring us closer to solutions. Without University High School, these 400 young people would lose this valuable choice.

Ferndale High School is fullly integrated, and has been for decades. Students there represent many cultures and backrounds and ethnic nationalities. Students choosing to attend University High School do so in order to get a good education. That it attracts mostly Black students from Detroit is proof that it is a good school, and students and parents are voting with their feet.

BAMN has suggested closing University High School. Thus we would go backwards by denying several hundred youth the chance for a better education and career.

BAMN also has decided to threaten local Ferndale businesses and shops with a boycott unless the stores post a flyer from BAMN promoting their cause. Apart from the ugliness of that kind of blackmailed threat, this activity will further doom their prospects for change and reform.
Rather than lobbying state officials and their own local school board, using logic and reason and proposing solutions with real possibilities, BAMN will further drive yet another wedge between our cities on either side of 8 Mile Road.

Ferndale is known now as a progressive and open community. BAMN's rhetoric ironically attempts to leverage such feelings into liberal guilt. They have even tried to tie the town's
open and supportive attitudes toward Gay people into their strategy to force our public schools to open enrollment to tens of thousands of Wayne County students. Such cynical and twisted logic leads only to head-scratching disbelief.

We in Ferndale totally support the goal of every young person to get a solid education. It is a right that our country must deliver on for every generation. We sympathize with parents and students in Detroit and in other districts that are failing. And we join the chorus to demand accountability and solutions to achieve quality education for all students. But closing a successful school in Ferndale or threatening Ferndale businesses with boycotts will not help the problem, and will ultimately not be successful.

Craig Covey, Mayor
City of Ferndale