Michigan – The Hummer

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Although nicknamed the Wolverine State, there are no longer wolverines in Michigan. However, there’s plenty else to see and do in the land that looks like a mitted palm, so let’s get right to it:

Motto: “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you” – What constitutes a “pleasant” peninsula?

Food: Coney Dogs – hot dogs topped with chili/meat sauce, yellow mustard, white onions and sometimes cheese – are a Michigan fixture. Two neighbouring Detroit restaurants are said to be the best places to try the meal. Opened by feuding brothers, Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island are at the center of a long debate over which offers the better dog.

Drink: Created in 1866, Vernors Ginger Ale was one of the first sodas ever produced in the U.S. and is the oldest surviving. It was accidentally made by pharmacist James Vernor, as he attempted to create a medicinal tonic. The concoction was stored in an oak barrel for four years, while Vernor fought in the Civil War. When he returned, he had stumbled upon the drink.

Coney Dog

Site to See: Mackinac Island is among Michigan’s top tourist destinations, with the entire island being listed as a National Historic Landmark. Points of interest include Fort Mackinac, Mission Church and the Round Island Lighthouse. The adjacent Mackinac Bridge (aka Mighty Mac) is world’s longest suspension bridge, connecting Upper and Lower Michigan.

Street: Woodward Avenue (aka M-1) is known as Detroit’s Main Street. Built along what was the Saginaw Trail, it was the first paved road in the U.S. and also where the first three-colour traffic light was installed. The route is used for the annual Woodward Dream Cruise classic car event and America’s Thanksgiving Parade, as well as for sports championship celebrations, with each pro team’s stadium/arena located on or near the highway.

TV Show: Home Improvement was set in Detroit, running for eight season and 204 episodes. Centered around local DIY TV host Tim Taylor and his family, the series may be best known for launching the careers of star Tim Allen, Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Pamela Anderson. I was also a fan of 8 Simple Rules, which sadly may be best remembered for John Ritter’s death.

Movie: The American Pie franchise of films (the main ones, not the direct-to-DVD spinoffs) were set in Michigan. The series has followed the group from high school graduation all the way to their 13th high school reunion. Along the way, there were lost virginities, breakups, weddings, and the birth of children. Perhaps later installments will take them right up to senior citizenship.

American Pie

Book/Author: While The Virgin Suicides by Michigander, Jeffrey Eugenides, is set in Grosse Point, I’ll go with some lighter fare in The Polar Express. This Christmas tale begins and ends in Grand Rapids (the hometown of writer and illustrator, Chris Van Allsburg). The book was adapted into the 2004 film of the same name, starring Tom Hanks as a whole host of characters.

Fictional Character: For his efforts in cleaning up the mean streets of Detroit, the nod here has to go to RoboCop. The cyborg police officer kicks ass and takes names, since they’re recorded in his computer system. I’ll admit, I’ve never watched any of the RoboCop films, but I’ve seen enough parodies of the character to get the gist of it.

Fictional City: Brookfield Heights was the setting of American Horror Story: Cult, the seventh season of the anthology horror series. The season’s storyline saw the suburb being terrorized by an upstart cult, which was taking advantage of the upheaval sparked by the 2016 presidential election of Donald Trump.

Actor/Actress: Two of the greatest mustaches of all-time belonged to Michigan-born actors, Burt Reynolds and Tom Selleck. Reynolds, born in Lansing, is best-known for starring in films such as Smokey and the Bandit and The Longest Yard. Selleck, born in Detroit, played the iconic character Thomas Magnum, for eight seasons on Magnum P.I. Both share associations with famous vehicles, thanks to their roles.

RoboCop

Song: Detroit Rock City by Kiss is an upbeat hard rock tune, which has become one of the band’s most notable tracks, despite originally performing poorly as a single, aside from in Detroit. The song title was later used for a 1999 teen comedy movie, which sees a group of four friends, who perform in a Kiss tribute band, try to see the band live in concert, during their prime.

Band/Musician: Michigan had the airwaves cornered in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, with Detroit artists such as Eminem and Kid Rock being two of the most popular performers of the era. Prior to that, legends of the industry, such as Motown musicians Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder, as well as rockers Bob Seger, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, and Iggy Pop, each enjoyed success. Lastly, the ‘Queen of Pop,’ Madonna, was born in Bay City.

People: Henry Ford was born in Greenfield Township and is synonymous with the auto industry, having revolutionized the production/assembly line for his Model T vehicles, so they could be completely built in 93 minutes. To keep his employees happy, Ford paid them double the minimum wage that was common at the time, resulting in more people being able to buy the vehicles he produced.

Animal: Despite there being no live wolverines in the state, the University of Michigan adopted the animal as the nickname for its sports teams. Therefore, at one point, its football program had live wolverines as mascots. Biff and Bennie first appeared for the dedication of Michigan Stadium, in 1927, and were with the team for at least a season. They were later relocated to the Detroit Zoo.

Henry Ford

Invention: One of Michigan’s greatest inventions is a part of countless folk’s daily morning routine. Flaked cereal was accidentally created by W.K. Kellogg and his brother, Dr. John Kellogg, in 1894. Kellogg’s still remains headquartered in Battle Creek, with their most recognizable brands being Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies, Froot Loops, Corn Flakes and Raisin Bran.

Crime: There is so much intrigue surrounding the disappearance of former teamster union leader, Jimmy Hoffa, the case has remained in the public conscience for decades. Hoffa was last seen on July 30, 1975, in Bloomfield Township. It is generally accepted, Hoffa met his fate at the hands of the mafia, but theories on the whereabouts of his body and who exactly killed him range widely.

Law: It is illegal to buy or sell cars on Sundays. It’s not like people have anything better to do on Sunday, particularly with regards to watching the state’s pro football team (more on that below).

Sports Team: Detroit has one team apiece in each of the Big 4 sports leagues, including the Red Wings (NHL), Tigers (MLB), Pistons (NBA), and Lions (NFL). While the first three teams have won championships in this millennium, the Lions have been one of the most futile franchises in all of sports, having never appeared in a championship game during the 54 years of the NFL’s Super Bowl era, highlighted by a winless 0-16 campaign in 2008.

Jimmy Hoffa

Athlete: Serena Williams was born in Saginaw. She is regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all-time, regardless of gender. Williams has enjoyed a dominant career, winning 23 singles grand slam events and 16 others in doubles competition. Williams also has four Olympic gold medals, three of which were won with her sister Venus as partner.

Famous Home: Hitsville U.S.A. (now the Motown Museum) was purchased by Motown record label founder Berry Gordy Jr., in 1959. He converted the home into the office and studio that would produce so many great songs. The estate was expanded to other neighbouring homes, before Gordy moved his operations to the Motown Mansion, in 1967.

Urban Legend: The Michigan Triangle, located in Lake Michigan, is said to be the site of many supernatural occurrences, beginning with the vanishing of the Le Griffon sailing ship, all the way back in 1679. Since then, other vessels have met mysterious fates, as well as the disappearance of Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 2501. The American Stonehenge can also be found in the area, but it is submerged by water.

Museum: The Henry Ford, in Dearborn, is a massive complex that houses so many pieces of Americana. Among them, are Thomas Edison’s lab, the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop, Abraham Lincoln’s Ford Theatre chair, John F. Kennedy’s presidential limousine, the bus Rosa Parks made her stand on, and others. Founded by Henry Ford, it is the largest indoor-outdoor museum in the country.

Motown

Firsts: Michigan was the first state to abolish the death penalty, except for treason, when they did so in 1846. Two executions swayed the state to go this route, including a Detroit man hanged for killing his wife in a non-premeditated manner and a Windsor, Ontario man executed for the rape and murder of a woman, although the crime had been committed by someone else.

Company: The ‘Big Three’ of U.S. automobile manufactures – Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler – are each headquartered in the Detroit area. At one time, the trio comprised the three largest vehicle builders in the world. While the industry, as a whole, has seen its fair share of ups and downs, each company remains a force within the country.

Events: During World War II, Detroit was called the ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ by President Franklin Roosevelt, thanks to the city’s production efforts, using facilities typically deployed to manufacture vehicles. This caused an influx of 350,000 people to come to Michigan for the available work.

Miscellaneous: Detroit has its own currency, called Detroit Community Scrip or Detroit Cheers. First issued in 2009, the currency is interchangeable with U.S. dollars and are available in $3 denominations. There is $4,500 worth of the currency in circulation, with an image of The Spirit of Detroit statue looking over the Detroit skyline on the bills.

The Hummer

The Hummer

  • 1.5 oz Rum
  • 1.5 oz Kahlua
  • 2 Scoops of Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

This is the quintessential Michigan cocktail, according to a number of sources. The drink was created by bartender, Jerome Adams, at the Bayview Yacht Club, in Detroit, in 1968. When asked the beverage’s name by a customer who was enjoying them, Adams said it had yet to be named. The customer said it makes you want to hum and the libation had a new moniker. Abroad, it is known as a Detroit Hummer, in the U.K., and as a Sir Jerome, in Germany.

Arizona – Original Tequila Sunrise

Each week, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the United States, discovering the best each state has to offer in a variety of subjects. Arizona is called the ‘Nation’s Valentine’ after joining the union on February 14, 1912. So, let’s give the Grand Canyon State (bet they had to think long and hard before picking that nickname) a little love:

Motto: “God enriches” – I’ll take me some of those enriches over here!

Food: The Chimichanga is an enhanced Burrito, taking an already great food item and deep frying it. As with most invented dishes, there is a dispute over which restaurant served a Chimichanga first, but regardless, it happened in Arizona.

Drink: AriZona Beverages is not from Arizona and is actually based in New York. That said, Eegee’s Frozen Fruit Drinks can actually call Arizona home, growing from a two-man vending truck operation in 1971 to having 24 locations serving up their Slurpee-like concoctions in a variety of different flavours.

Chimichangas

Site to See: Arizona has more national monuments (18) than any other state, so there are plenty of places to visit. Of course, the top attraction of the state is the Grand Canyon National Park, with over six million people making the trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site each year, in recent times.

Street: Had the Sip Advisor existed during Arizona’s pre-statehood days, I would have certainly ended up in Bisbee, where the street known as Brewery Gulch once hosted close to 50 saloons. Today, a half-dozen breweries now reside on Brewery Avenue, which Brewery Gulch turns into.

TV Show: Medium, starring Patricia Arquette, ran for seven seasons and 130 episodes. The series was about a medium (imagine that) who works with the Phoenix district attorney’s office, assisting them with solving crimes. The series is based on real-life medium, Allison DuBois (also the name of the show’s main character), earning Arquette an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Movie: While providing the backdrop for many western movies, my favourite Arizona-set film has to be Bad Santa, starring Billy Bob Thornton. Sure, the sequel didn’t hold up at all, but the original is a holiday classic. Also, it was John Ritter’s last live-action movie, prior to his premature death, so there’s that.

Grand Canyon

Book/Author: Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series of books, was raised in Phoenix/Scottsdale. Meyer even gave her main heroine, Bella Swan, the hometown of Phoenix, so you’d have to imagine the entire plot of Twilight, involving vampires and werewolves and the like, is completely autobiographical.

Fictional Character: After finally watching the first two movies from the franchise a couple years back, my vote goes to Bowie’s own John Rambo. Rambo is a former Army Special Forces fighter, who has shot-up his fair share of baddies, over five films. The iconic character has since also appeared in comic books, video games and an animated TV series.

Fictional City: While Radiator Springs, from the movie Cars, is an amalgamation of places and attractions from America’s famous Route 66, a map seen in a flashback in the film pinpoints the town in Arizona. Radiator Springs has even been recreated within Disneyland’s California Adventure park, allowing visitors to experience the place first hand, from Flo’s V8 Café (home to the Sip Advisor’s favourite beer in the park) to Mater’s Junkyard.

Actor/Actress: Oscar-winner Emma Stone was born in Scottsdale. Stone’s film debut came in the 2007 hit Superbad, leading eventually to starring roles in Easy A, The Help and La La Land. I also have to give a shout out to Danielle Fishel, from Mesa, who was a teenage crush of the Sip Advisor, for her role of Topanga on Boy Meets World.

Rambo

Song: Arizona by Rex Allen Jr. was adopted as the Alternate State Anthem of the Grand Canyon State in 1981. More interestingly, Allen narrated the movie Me, Myself, and Irene, starring Jim Carrey, Jim Carrey and Renee Zellweger.

Band/Musician: Alice Cooper moved to Phoenix in his younger years and lives there to this day. The ‘Godfather of Shock Rock’ owned a popular restaurant in Phoenix called Alice Cooper’stown, which closed after 18 years in operation. Cooper even ran for Governor of Arizona in 1988, using the tagline: “Alice Cooper: A Troubled Man for Troubled Times”.

People: Joan Ganz Cooney, one of the founders of Sesame Workshop and co-creator of Sesame Street, was born in Phoenix and educated at the University of Arizona. Without her efforts, my brother from another mother, Cookie Monster, may have never existed.

Animal: From Morristown, Grumpy Cat – real name Tardar Sauce – became a viral sensation after a picture of the kitty was posted to Reddit. Always appearing cranky, due to a form of dwarfism, Grumpy Cat’s likeness was plastered on everything from toys to calendars. The popularity of the feline even allowed her owner to quit her job. Sadly, Tardar Sauce died in May 2019, due to complications from a urinary tract infection.

grumpy-cat

Invention: Given Arizona’s hot temperatures, being able to cool off by having fun in the water is a big priority or Arizonans. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Jet Skis and Keystone Kool Deck (for swimming pools) were invented in the state. Tasers were also invented there, but that gets folks a different kind of hot and bothered.

Crime: On January 8, 2011, U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was the victim of an attempted assassination, as Jared Lee Loughner shot her in the head outside a Safeway grocery store, as she hosted a “Congress on Your Corner” public meeting. Giffords survived the attack, but six others were not so lucky. Loughner pled guilty to 19 charges, avoiding the death penalty with his plea bargain.

Law: As a man who loves his water, the Sip Advisor is happy to learn that in Arizona, it is illegal to refuse to give a person a glass of the good stuff. I wonder if an argument could be made that beer and other alcoholic beverages should also fall under this umbrella, given they are all water-based!?

Sports Team: Arizona has one team in each of the Big 4 sports leagues, with the Diamondbacks (MLB), Cardinals (NFL), Coyotes (NHL), and Phoenix Suns (NBA). The state is also host to MLB’s annual Cactus League Spring Training, with games occurring at multiple locations. Lastly, golf course are in abundance in Arizona and PGA events, such as the Waste Management Phoenix Open, is played there yearly.

jet-skis

Athlete: Gymnast Kerri Strug, from Tucson, helped her American team win gold at the 1996 Olympics, memorably landing a vault attempt, despite a severely injured ankle. Becoming a hero for her bravery, Strug appeared on boxes of Wheaties cereal and even in a segment of Saturday Night Live.

Famous Home: Boyce Luther Gully designed Mystery Castle in Phoenix, with his daughter in mind. As an adult, she inherited the property, constructed from all available materials, including rail tracks, automobile parts and telephone poles. The 18-room dwelling has a chapel, dungeon and cantina and can be toured by the public.

Urban Legend: The Superstition Mountains, near Phoenix, are said to be the location of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, one of the most infamous lost treasures in the world. Immigrant Jacob Waltz “discovered” the mine in the 1800’s and went to his grave revealing the site to only one person, while on his deathbed. While a number of mines have been claimed to be the Lost Dutchman’s, we’ll likely never know the real story.

Museum: Located in Phoenix, the Musical Instrument Museum features a collection of over 15,000 music makers from close to 200 countries around the world. The MIM, as the cool kids call it, also contains a concert hall for live performances.

saxophone

Firsts: On January 1, 1960, the first retirement community in the world opened, known as Sun City. The destination proved to be so popular that 100,000 visitors came to the development on its opening weekend. Today, the municipality has eight golf courses, seven rec centers and four lawn bowling courts, among other facilities. There’s also a museum on the site, containing artifacts from the project.

Company: Best Western International is headquartered in Phoenix. The corporation oversees the licensing of its brand to 4,500 hotels worldwide, 2,000 of them within North America. Best Western was founded in 1946, gaining its name from the fact most of the business’s locations existed west of the Mississippi River.

Events: Three decades before Arizona was even an American state, its most infamous happening occurred. The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral took place in Tombstone, between the law and outlaws, making legends out of people like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. The shootout lasted only 30 seconds, but resulted in the death of three outlaws. Today, Tombstone is known as “the town too tough to die”, presenting a recreation of the gunfight three times daily for tourists.

Miscellaneous: Flagstaff could have been movie central, as director Cecil B. DeMille wanted to shoot his movie The Squaw Man there, before settling on Hollywood, California for filming. At least Flagstaff can claim a role in the discovery of the planet (I still think it’s one) Pluto, which was first detected by Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory.

Original Tequila Sunrise

Original Tequila Sunrise

  • 1.25 oz Tequila
  • 0.75 oz Crème de Cassis
  • Top with Club Soda
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

This cocktail was invented at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, by bartender Gene Sulit, when challenged to construct a refreshing beverage that could be enjoyed poolside. While the drink is better known for its Californian variation of tequila, orange juice and grenadine, I much prefer the Arizona original. I did sub in Pomegranate Liqueur, in place of the Crème de Cassis, however.

November 8 – The Incredible Hulk

As Themselves

You know you’ve really made it big when you can appear in a major production as yourself. There have been some amazing performances where someone basically accentuates their real-life persona and pokes a little fun at themselves. This list, of course, does not include reality TV and I’ve also decided not to include bands who may show up in a film or TV show for performance purposes. With that said, on with the article!

#5: Bill Murray – Zombieland/Space Jam

Bill Murray has appeared a few movies playing himself, some more notable than others. First, in the Looney Tunes-Michael Jordan crossover Space Jam, Murray and Jordan are golfing buddies, causing the former Ghostbuster to get dragged into the intergalactic basketball battle between the Tune Squad and the Monstars. Years later, Murray made a surprise cameo in the horror-comedy Zombieland. Unfortunately, that appearance didn’t end too well for the comedic legend, as his living dead costume was a little too convincing for his newfound friends.

#4: Wil Wheaton – Big Bang Theory

The former Star Trek child star has appeared in a number of Big Bang Theory episodes, first as a nemesis to Sheldon Cooper and later, a friend. His early battles with Sheldon included a fantasy card game tournament (which Sheldon only entered to extract some revenge against Wheaton for no-showing a personal appearance years earlier), as well as a bowling challenge. Wheaton has also shared screen time with aspiring actress Penny (whose last name has never been divulged) on a low-budget production. For being able to poke fun at himself, Wheaton has found himself embraced by geeks everywhere, whether Star Trek fans or not.

#3: Stan Lee – Mallrats/The Simpsons/Big Bang Theory

The king of the cameo, Lee is known to appear briefly in the movies of all his comic creations, usually as a security guard, hot dog vendor, or other minor character. He has also shown up as himself in a number of TV shows and films. Most notably was his turn in the comedy Mallrats, where he provides main character Brodie with some sage advice about love and romance, prior to a book signing appearance. Similar to his appearance in Mallrats, he has guest-starred on episodes of The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory as appearing at the comic book stores featured on each show. He even officiated Comic Book Guy’s wedding!

#2: Neil Patrick Harris – Harold and Kumar Franchise

When the former Doogie Howser M.D., Neil Patrick Harris, appeared in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle as a drug-addled sex fiend, he virtually re-launched his career, leading to being cast as womanizer Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother. NPH’s random appearances in all three of the Harold and Kumar movies have always been loaded with laughs, as he plays an out-of-control former child star who always seems to meddle with the main journey. Funnily, he’s actually credited as Neil Patrick Harris in each Harold and Kumar film and not with the typical “As Himself” acknowledgment.

#1: Adam West – Family Guy

The former Caped Crusader has proven before that he doesn’t mind poking fun at himself. Hell, how else could he get through the campy 1960’s Batman TV series!? Still, as the Mayor of Quahog, Adam West is lampooned as an out-of-his-mind dignitary who is more likely to erect unnecessary statues, than properly run the town. West has even gone on to marry Peter Griffin’s sister-in-law (he also dated Peter’s daughter, Meg, briefly), thus making him a member of the family. The one-time Bruce Wayne has also parodied himself on other cartoons, including The Simpson and The Fairly OddParents.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Incredible Hulk

Incredible Hulk Shot

  • 0.5 oz Absinthe
  • 0.25 oz Melon Liqueur
  • Top with Mountain Dew
  • Garnish with a Lime Wedge

I also have to give honourable mentions to Dennis Rodman (3rd Rock from the Sun), Bob Barker (Happy Gilmore), Alice Cooper (Wayne’s World), Al Gore (Futurama), and Lou Ferrigno (King of Queens). One day, the Sip Advisor hopes to appear as himself in some form of media… other than Cops, that is!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
I went with this shooter recipe because Stan Lee created the character and Lou Ferrigno, who I included in the honourable mentions, played the big guy. After downing the shot, I blacked out and went into a rage, destroying everything in my path. When I awoke, my clothes were tattered and there was green make-up everywhere. In all seriousness, this recipe is kind of neat, with Absinthe actually coming across nice, thanks to the Melon Liqueur and Mountain Dew.