I love going to prison. Once in a while I head west on I-96 from my place in Lansing to Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility in Ionia to see Stephen Grant, the man convicted of strangling and dismembering his wife in 2007. The first time I did it I was writing a true-crime book, A Slaying in the Suburbs: The Tara Grant Murder (Penguin/Berkley, 2009), and Grant was cooperating.
On the surface, the cities of Caseville, in winter-logged Michigan, and Key West, in sun-soaked Florida, don’t have much in common. Look a little closer and similarities start to emerge. They’re both beach communities. They’re both situated at the tips of peninsular states. They both rely strongly on the tourism industry. And for the last 17 years, they’ve both claimed the world’s most prodigious beach bum as their patron saint.
If you’re a summertime loving sort who is clutching at your heart because August features the slow death knell of all that is great (sunshine), not to fret. While the roads will soon be treacherously iced over, there’s still time to venture outside of West Michigan on an eclectic road trip across the state. Fire up the motorcar, it’s time to go!
Four years ago, Rob Bliss questioned his professional mettle. He was in the middle of shooting a now-famous Grand Rapid lip-dub video, taking a chance on his creative dreams but uncertain about his professional future, which he feared was headed nowhere fast.
One evening during the filming, Bliss returned home from a date where he was so poor "I paid for it in quarters" to find his modest apartment destroyed after a water main broke and flooded it, swamping his computers and treasured possessions including his guitars.
The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson once wrote “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times.” If you share a similar take on life, turn up the nostalgia knob and experience bygone eras, from 1930s Berlin to Medieval midways. For those yearning for the golden age of the AM/FM dial, tune into the sweet sounds of vintage radio waves. Here are a few throwback events happening in West Michigan.
So much growth has happened on Grand Rapids’ WestSide in such a short period of time. It’s a mecca of services, specialties and wildly inventive shops. Now is the time to get in on the ground level and experience the boom firsthand. This scene here is all about “history, tradition and pride,” says Mark C. Lewis, President and CEO of Neighborhood Ventures. “People really identify with the WestSide and value the investment and new businesses and are cognizant of what’s happening as things move forward.”
Swoon over summertime with happenings for humans and pets alike. Gaze upon golden treasures, watch your pooch perform in agility challenges, or just sit back with a decadent drink and enjoy the soothing sonic majesty only a spinning vinyl record can yield.
When you’re not busy skipping around a maypole and sucking down a Whitsun Ale, you can frolic off to a bevy of events sure to give gusto to your spring fever. This month, you can witness glassblowers battle it out, watch lowriders bounce into West Michigan and support a good cause led by local lady BAMFS.
In the event Amy Zyck and her husband should ever decide to leave Grand Rapids, she’s already made it very clear wherever they go next will be contingent on the town’s roller derby ranking. “I told him, ‘These are the towns I will move to because they are ranked better than Grand Raggidy,” Zyck said. “I will move up, I will not move down.”
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