Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Oh, the places you will go




Today has actually been a rather eventful day for me. For starters, I was interviewed by 3 different television stations, 2 radio stations, 3 newspapers and some guy doing a documentary. I spent so much time talking to reporters on my phone that I actually managed to wear out 2 cell phone batteries in 1 day.

Here is a quick run down of my day. The times were all reconstructed using the calls logs on my cell phone.

8:19 a.m. - I get a phone call Steve Haag. He informs me that there is a crew on site demolishing the Madison-Lenox. He's in Grand Rapids all day so, as communications director of the FoBC, I get to handle this one.

8:20 a.m. to 9:20 a.m. - I finished getting dressed and start making phone calls. First was to our attorney Mike Myckowiak. After that I call Francis Grunow, the folks at National Trust and all of the reporters that I have phone numbers for.

9:45 a.m.
- I arrive at the Madison-Lenox. The building in between the Madison and Lenox buildings in now a pile a rubble. There are a couple of holes in the side of the Madison. I noticed that none of the normal procedures for handling asbestos containing materials are being done. No fire hoses spraying water to keep the dust down. No special dumpsters for the debris.

9:45 a.m. to Noon - Mucho phone calls updating everyone. Interviewed by Fox 2 and WDIV-TV as well as WDET-FM and the newspapers.

12:05 p.m. - Called my Mom to let her know I'd be on TV. (Sappy but true).

12:25 p.m. - I received word from Francis that Judge Cynthia Stephens of the Third Circuit Court had issued a Temporary Restraining Order to block further demolition of the building. I call all of the reporters, updating them on this. The TV folks say they're going to head over to the court to get some more footage and talk to folks there.

12:30 p.m. - David Knapp becomes my new hero. He shows up to have lunch and offers me a sandwich. The first bit of food I've had all day.

12:55 p.m. - Visions of unemployment are starting to dance in my head. While I've been here taking care of this, my regular job has gone unattended. I say good-bye to a couple of folks and start heading off. I'm grabbing my bag when I hear a crash behind me.

The crew from Adamo Demolition is now demolishing the Madison in violation of the TRO. Its arched doorway is now gone.

One of the by-standers runs in front of the demolition equipment, physically blocking them from continuing with his own body. A couple of other people from our group start rushing in as well. I start calling the reporters to let them know. My cell phone logs the first of those calls at 12:58 p.m.

1:00 p.m. - The demolition crew flags down a police officer. Soon a couple more squad cars arrive. The police sergeant in charge (M. Carr #398 according to his badge and name tag) asks to see a copy of the TRO. When we tell him that it hasn't arrived yet, he allows demolition to resume.

The only good news is that at least they're finally starting to spray the site with water to keep any dust down.

1:05 p.m. - Francis and Mike arrive with a copy of the TRO. A few moments of confusion arise as the police attempt to verify the authenticity of the Order. Meanwhile, demolition continues.

There are now two large chunks from the Madison's facade that are missing. Within the next 15 minutes or so, the police are able to confirm that we have a legitimate Order.

Sergeant Carr tells the foreman of the demolition crew that a TRO has been issued and they'll go to jail if anything else is demolished.

I snap a photograph of the Madison. It documents the condition the building was in immediately after Sergent Carr told them to cease demolition.

1:30 p.m. - Lots more interviews and phone calls. Bob Ankeny from Crain's Detroit Business tells me that he has a story on-line about this.

The reporter from WDIV-TV calls to let me know that she was having trouble getting a camera to the site, but a helicopter should be over the scene getting footage. I look up to see the chopper. It was such a surreal feeling to know that, by making the call to a reporter, I was at least partly responsible for it being there.

I also speak briefly with an inspector from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. He confirms that a significant amount of dust was released into the air but wasn't able to tell immediately whether or not there was asbestos in it.

2:00 p.m. - I was about to finally leave the site when a guy from WXYZ-TV approached me. He said that he would have a reporter and camera guy here in a few minutes. He asked if I was available to stay around and I agreed.

2:15 p.m. - Interviewed by WXYZ-TV.

2:30 p.m. - By now, I'm officially ready to leave. I stop off at Hard Rock Cafe for more food and make some more phone calls.

Luckily, the bartender knows me and knows that I'm currently under doctor's orders not to drink any booze. I was actually really glad that she knew this because she kept from drinking. I seriously wanted a drink, but have no desire to spend the evening in a hospital.

3:30 p.m. - Arrive at office for my regular job. By some miracle, I actually managed to get enough done to appease my boss. 3 people called during this time; I ignored them all as I frantically tried to keep my job.

5:19 p.m. - I receive a phone call from a historical preservationist in St. Louis. I'm not exactly sure how he got my phone number, but he wanted to express his group's support for the Friends of the Book-Cadillac Hotel.

5:30 p.m. - I return to the Madison-Lenox site. Everyone was gone, except for a van from WXYZ-TV. Nothing appeared to have happened to the building in my absence.

Relieved, I returned home.

In my email in-box was a note from a woman I went to high school with, but haven't talked to since graduation. She read the bit on Crain's and decided to find me on-line. It's weird how stuff like this happens.

I also got a phone call from my Aunt Rose. "Franky - I saw you on TV," she exclaimed. Too unreal.

Anyway, this has been my day. We have a court hearing tomorrow. I'm sure there will be more to talk about after that.Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Bar Math

Ouch! I can't believe that it's been over a month since I've posted anything. Oh, well - if it's actually some consolation to me that hardly anyone reads these things except me.

Anyway, I had a meeting the other some folks from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation Wayne and a couple of other groups. One of those big ol' strategy meetings.

After it, a few of us headed over to the Motor City Brewing Works for a few drinks.

I walked in with $20. I bought a few drinks for my companions and myself.

A couple of people offered to hand me cash. I inititally resisted, feeling generous for once in my life.

We kept drinking. They eventually insisted on handing me cash. At the end of the evening, one guy even left a few bucks on the table (specifically saying that it was for me and not as a tip for the wait staff) and walked away.

At the end of the night, I had $23 in my pocket.

Notice the bar math? I bought a few drinks and somehow I ended up with $3 more than when I started.

I should go out drinking with these folks more often. I have credit cards and student loans to pay off.