Tokyo Takes over Downtown Detroit
Halloween weekend took on an Asian twist on October 30 as the Youmacon festival descended on Downtown Detroit for the 11th year in a row. Anime fans from around the state and country poured into the city and filled it to the River Walk to the Fox with their excitement and uniqueness for big, shiny eyes and oversized weapons.
“I couldn’t stop smiling the entire way down there. I had no idea what I was in for this year, but I knew it would be great,” said senior Tamera Davis.
The Youmacon convention is a three to four day celebration of Japanese entertainment in America. Every aspect of pop culture is represented, from music, food and graphic novels to video games and cinema. It’s the tenth biggest convention in Michigan, right behind the Midwest Media Expo and Motor City Comicon.
“We’ve been planning this trip for months,” said Alex Parker, a sophomore at MSU. “We booked a room in August. This (Youmacon) is my favorite time of year.”
Held at both the Renaissance Center and Cobo Hall, Youmacon parties nonstop for three days. It requires badges tailored to fit individual experiences with discounts for young chibi children and special privileges for those 18 and older. Raves, celebrity panels, table top and video game tournaments, anime viewing and movie rooms, even maid cafés and real life video games- Youmacon literally has it all.
“My favorite parts are the Cosplay and the Video game rooms. They have some really cool vintage arcade systems and the outfits are insane,” said Detroiter Trayele Cotton, who dressed as Tamaki Suo from the anime Ouran HS.
One day tickets start at thirty dollars, and the experiences change year after year. You might run into a fully armed Deadpool chatting it up with Darth Vader at the chimichanga cart, then take a group selfie with Eren Yaeger and buy a real samurai sword at the Dealer’s Hall. Anime fans in Detroit can only hope that Youmacon stays strong in the coming years and continues to get better and better.
Rising Stars and Inspiration through the roof at Free Press Banquet
The Detroit Free Press held their annual Journalism Accomplishment Banquet and award ceremony Wednesday night at the Ford World Headquarters building. The event was packed with inspirational keynote speakers, important figures in the world of Journalism and students being honored for exceptional achievements.
The banquet opened with introductions from student emcees and those who supported the high school Journalism program from the very beginning, including Joy Visconti and journalism professor Jeremy Steele of MSU, who along with Ford motor company is the largest sponsor of the program.
Participants were assured that the program would continue far into the future and continue to improve.
“We’re confident as we move forward with the high school journalism programs,” said Visconti. “The future looks increasingly bright. MSU has been a wonderful sponsor, and we’re always looking for ways to improve.”
After an introduction from Renaissance’s own Desmond Johnson, journalism superstar and sports broadcaster Al Martin rose to the podium and spoke words of encouragement and support for the crowds of wide eyed students and proud advisors in attendance.
“I don’t know what I would have done without my high school journalism program. It opened my eyes to the world of journalism. I wouldn’t be here, successful the way I am, without it.”
The ceremony concluded with the Rising Star awards and the tearful presentation of the Free Press scholarship to Cass Tech senior Kayla Cockrel, worth 24,000 dollars.
“I’m a Detroit native, and I think that the high school program is one of the most important functions of the Free Press,” said Free Press president and Editor Joyce Jenereaux. “It affords opportunities to those bright student that we hope come back to the city, and out into the world to make a difference. I’m proud of them and I wish them the best.”
Motor City Java House serves up Lattes and Local Talent
By Arianna Smith, section editor
As far as Detroit residents and members of the Old Redford community are concerned, Starbucks has nothing on their favorite neighborhood coffee spots, especially the Motor City Java and Tea House. Tucked away in Artists Village in Northwest Detroit and kitty corner to Sweet Potato Sensations, Motor City Java House is a locally owned café where prices are low and reviews are sky high.
“We used to live in Rosedale, and it was right down the street. It was the single coolest restaurant I’ve ever been in,” said sophomore Aisha Jones.
Owned by Alicia George, Maegan Murphy and Tonya Murphy, Motor City Java House offers a varied menu ranging from fresh baked cookies, cakes, fresh smoothies and specialty coffee drinks to omelets, soups and sandwiches. The mochas rival the Mcafe drinks at McDonald’s and everything is served warm and with a friendly smile.. But the food isn’t the only cool thing about Motor City Java House. The shop looks like a cross between an art workshop and a comfy living room complete with couches, dining room tables and free Wi-Fi.
“It’s a place where you can chill and drink some awesome coffee,” said resident Jamie Roland. “I do my schoolwork here. I’m a regular. Miss Alicia is great.”
Small, Black owned businesses are having a revival all across Detroit, but the Motor City Java House is more than just a simple coffee place. The Motor City Blight Busters, an organization dedicated to renovating Detroit and eliminating eyesores in neighborhoods, operates out of the shop. Behind the main area sits gorgeous gardens and painted murals, and the Java House is associated with the Creative Juices program, which hosts poetry slams and exhibitions for local artists.
“This place is just fantastic,” said resident Carrie Williams. “I’m going to come here as long as I can.”
As an experience, Phoenix Rising gives the Motor City Java and Tea House 5 out of 5 stars, and encourages everyone to swing by Old Redford and see what they have in store.
Motor City Comic-Con brings out the Inner Geek in Detroiters
By Arianna Smith, section editor
Comic book fans united on May 15 to celebrate the 26th annual Motor City Comic Convention at the Suburban Collection showplace in Novi. Sponsored by Toyota, DrunkOnComics, and Comic Guardian, the convention was a two day gathering place for nerds, comic heads and pop culture fans of all shapes and sizes.
“I make a point to come to the convention every year when I can get time off from college,” said comic enthusiast Janae Merrick. “This, and the anime Youmacon in the fall. I don’t know which one is better.”
The enormous convention takes up the entire showplace, with stalls upon stalls of comic vendors, popular merchandise, and one of kind things that can only be bought at a comic convention. Literally anything can happen- you might take a picture with Deadpool by the churro cart before finding a rare collectible for thirty bucks, after joining a furious battle of open Super Smash brothers on the mobile video game console.
“My favorite things are the meet and greets, because they change every year. You never know who you’ll see,” said visitor Aiden Scholl.
The convention offers panels and autograph signings with actors such as the cast of the tv series The Walking Dead, Gotham’s Cameron Bicondova, and superstar William Shatner. Anime theaters and card and video game tournaments keep the fun going all day and all night.
“The admission is a little pricey, but it’s worth it,” said Luffy cosplayer Cameron Jackson.
Admission prices range from 25 to 75$, and unlike its flashier counterparts in San Diego and New York, the Con returns to the Metro City and it’s faithful pop culture fans every year.
Back Alley Beauty (Originally written 1-31-15)
Passing through the alley that runs behind the Z parking garage, a casual observer might think that they had stumbled into an outdoor art gallery. A canopy of twinkling lights hang like stars overhead, glistening off of shiny black tiling and illuminating stretch after stretch of over a dozen beautifully painted murals lining the alley's walls that add culture and style to the cityscape.
Christened "The Belt" by its organizers the Library Street Collectors and Bedrock Real Estate, the alley turns what was once a dark and nondescript area into a bright splash of color, light and life. It's perfectly visible from the side street and offers a unique Downtown experience..
“The Belt creates the ultimate experience for people who come downtown and check out something you can’t get anywhere else,” said Dan Mullen, vice president of leasing and development for Bedrock Real Estate. “It’s one big public art piece.”
The Belt is a collaboration of pieces from local artists, professional workshops, and schools including the students from Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences. The students completed one of the murals with the help of graffiti artist Jordan Nickel, better known as Pose.
“It’s by the public for the public,” said Nickel. "It's going to be a huge hangout, something you can only get in Detroit."
Alley renovation has become a hot project in Downtown Detroit. The "Green" alley that runs next to Canfield street is almost completed, and two more alleys are undergoing construction. Pedestrians enjoy The Belt for its wild array of art and beautiful, fun atmosphere.
"It really shows what a great city Detroit is becoming," said city resident Micheal Davis. "It's pretty. I proposed to my girlfriend here.."
Summer plans for The Belt include food trucks, live music events and an open bar as well as fundraisers to help support similar projects..
Beat The Heat with an MSU Sweet
By Arianna Smith
The MSU Dairy Store takes its name more seriously than any other ice cream shop in the area. Every item that’s on it’s menu or that passes into the hands of ravenous sundae fans has a liberal helping of cream, butter, milk, sugar, or all four.
The Dairy Store is a novelty jewel of the campus, with crowds of eager people lined up to the front door minutes after it opens. Good ice cream transcends all seasons, weather, and hours of the day at MSU, even sports rivalries. The praise for this sweet treat is justly deserved.
The Dairy store offers a wide selection of cheeses, coffee, yogurts and shakes that it makes itself, right on campus. The premiere menu hosts a collection of flavors named and inspired by over 15 Big Ten Universities like Michigan Maize-N-Berry. A favorite of this list, Ohio State Buckeye Blitz tastes and smells like a package of freshly opened Reese's cups. The vanilla is so sweet it leaves you rolling the flavor off the back of your tongue, and the chocolate fudge at the bottom is thick enough to cling to your spoon like brownie pieces. It more than makes up for the possible lack of crunch for this one flavor.
Depending on the heat of the day and the indecisiveness of those in front of you, you might wait for a little over fifteen minutes, but the store is air conditioned to ward against the humidity provide a reprieve from summer temperatures outside. The menus are fun and artistically written, and there are ample tables to sit down in case you don’t want to eat on the run. The prices are easy on college pockets already lightened by tuition and book costs- small cones and cups cost $2.25, mediums $3, and larges just $3.75.
The MSU Dairy Store has plans to expand off campus and throughout the state. If their products maintain the spoon sucking goodness they have now once they're Michigan wide, then that’s something that should be eagerly awaited.
Breaking Free of the Box: Unchecking the Box
By Arianna Smith
With as large and diverse a place as our planet Earth is, there are more than six races. On the official US census however, that’s how many boxes there are in the race category. Just six, not counting the box that asks for Hispanic origins. Unchecking the Box, a student made documentary by MSU students Aaron Snyder, Dakota Johnston Caitlin Parks and others, explores why that is. Additionally, it looks at how it affects those who have to decide which box to choose, and how it could possibly be changed in the future.
The film opens with a mishmash of interview footage from several non-white and biracial students. They talk to each other and the camera about how their perceived “box” has defined their lives.
Though only twenty five minutes, the film is powerful and impacting. Race and racial identity is a touchy and sometimes fragile subject to talk about but Unchecking the Box does it in a tactful, unbiased way. Watching it, the viewer can tell that all of the producer’s energy was focused on not insulting anyone. It doesn’t present the producer’s opinions one way or the other in an open ended kind of format. Despite the distance, the film doesn’t lack any feeling or emotion. It simply presents the facts and let’s the viewers take their own stance without becoming preachy or overpowering.
The interviews were easy to connect and relate to, especially to those who share the same problem as the people in the film. The limitations of the box are brought to light, as well as how the world sees those who may look a certain way but identify as another due to different circumstances.
In terms of race documentaries, Unchecking the Box is in a category all its own with its unbiased, open ended format and truthful interviews. Hopefully those in the future will follow that example.
Ugly Truth about the Little Blue Pill
Panic!At The Disco: I Write Sins Not Tragedies