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.

Barbados – Mango Crème Pie

Caribbean Queen

Well, this site has hit a new low (a near weekly occurrence, though!)… I never thought I’d write an article about pop star Rihanna, but here we find ourselves on the beautiful beaches of Barbados and she just happens to be one of the biggest things to ever come from the island country. Let’s take a look at her story:

Rihanna began singing at the age of seven and her career was launched when she signed with rapper Jay-Z’s Def Jam Records (to a six-record deal, no less). It wasn’t until her third album Good Girl Gone Bad, featuring the track ‘Umbrella’ that things really took off for the artist. Since then, Rihanna has worked with some of music’s biggest names, including Eminem, Kanye West, Coldplay, and, of course, Jay-Z. Her other hits include ‘Take a Bow,’ ‘Disturbia,’ ‘Only Girl (In the World),’ ‘We Found Love,’ ‘Diamonds,’ and ‘Stay.’

Rihanna Umbrella

Ironically, Rihanna had to ban people from bringing umbrellas to her concerts, afraid that fans would try to impersonate her dance moves with the rain deflectors and wind up injuring fellow concert-goers. It is for these same reasons that I banned people from bringing cocktail shakers into my performances. Nobody knows how to make love to a shaker like the Sip Advisor!

In an industry run amuck with nicknames, Rihanna is no different. Her monikers include RiRi, the Barbados Babe, Caribbean Queen, and even Rihanna… that’s because the singer’s real name is Robyn Fenty and her middle name has become her stage name. I wonder if the same goes for Madonna, Bono, Sting, and the list goes on and on. Speaking of Madonna, Rihanna has referenced the ‘Material Girl’ as her idol, going so far as to say that she wants to be the “Black Madonna”. Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, and the late Aaliyah, among others, have also influenced the Barbadian.

Rihanna has taken home seven Grammy Awards, eight American Music Awards, 22 Billboard Music Awards (these must be easier to get), and two BRIT Awards. Her worldwide sales total 30 million albums and 120 million singles. She has enjoyed 13 chart-topping songs and has seen her name on lists like Forbes’ Most Powerful Celebrities and TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

This year, Rihanna will receive a Fashion Icon lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. The girl is only 26 and she’s already being handed lifetime achievements. Damn, the fashion world is so ridiculous. Chew’em up and spit’em out before they’re 30… that’s a lifetime in fashion.

rihanna no hugs

I won’t go into details about the elephant in the room; Rihanna’s assault at the hands of Chris Brown, as that loser doesn’t deserve any attention from this site. All I’ll write, is that this wasn’t the first time her life was tumultuous. Growing up, her father was addicted to cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol and her parents rocky relationship ended in divorce when she was 14. Rihanna was an army cadet growing up, with fellow performer Shontelle as her drill sergeant, but dropped out of school before graduating to pursue her musical career.

Not solely devoted to the music world, Rihanna has appeared in four movies, including Bring it On: All or Nothing; Battleship; This is the End; and Home (an animated film to be released later this year). For her role as Petty Officer Cora Raikes in Battleship, Rihanna was bestowed both a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress and a Teen Choice Award, proving that adolescents today are idiots.

The sex symbol has also appeared on the cover of a number of publications, most notably, Maxim, FHM, Rolling Stone, and GQ has been romantically linked to baseball player Matt Kemp, as well as rapper Drake. Despite the magazine appearances, she has turned down offers to pose for Playboy on several occasions.

Following in the footsteps of other bombshells, Rihanna has unleashed a few fragrances upon the world. Her scents include ‘Reb’l Fleur’ (2011), ‘Rebelle’ (2012), ‘Nude’ (2012), and ‘Rogue’ (2013). MAC Cosmetics also released a Rihanna line of makeup dubbed ‘RiRi hearts MAC’ (begging the question: who comes up with all these shitty names!?).

rihanna-sideshow-bob

And somehow she still became a fashion icon!

 

Rihanna’s Believe Foundation was created to help terminally ill children. The charity also provides medical supplies, school supplies, and toys to kids in need.

For the fans of inked girls out there, Rihanna offers a number of tattoo options. The list actually seems almost endless, but working our way from head to foot: Pisces sign behind right ear; star in left ear; a trail of stars down her neck, as well as a rebelle fleur; the date 4/11/1986 in roman numerals on her left shoulder; “Never a Failure, Always a Lesson” on her right shoulder; a cross on her collar bone; “Freedom in Messiah” and a handgun on her ribs; a Sanskrit prayer on her hip; a goddess Isis on her stomach; a henna-style dragon claw on her hand; “Love” on her left middle finger; “Shhh…” on her right index finger; “Thug Life” on her knuckles; a skull with a pink hair bow on the back of her foot; a gun-shaped Egyptian falcon on her right foot; and music note on her ankle. I think I covered them all, but now I’m out of breath!

Rihanna’s 777 Tour featured the artist performing seven shows, in seven countries, over seven days.

rihanna-xmas-card

After winning Gillette’s Venus Breeze ‘Celebrity Legs of a Goddess’ Award in 2007, Rihanna promptly insured her gams for $1 million. That same year, she was named the official face of Barbados tourism and holds the title of Ambassador for Culture and Youth. The home country accolades continued to roll in for Rihanna in 2008 when a national holiday was created in her honour. She responded with a free concert for her country folk.

In 2013, Rihanna joined some prestigious company when she had a UK Singles Chart number one for the seventh consecutive year. The others to achieve the feat were Elvis Presley and The Beatles. She is also tied for third most number one singles (13) on the Billboard Hot 100 with Michael Jackson.

Barbados: Mango Crème Pie

Mango Creme Pie Martini

  • 1.5 oz Mango Rum
  • Top with Pineapple Juice
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Splash of Whip Cream
  • Garnish with Whip Creamed Lime Wedge

This wraps up the TMZ edition of The Sip Advisor. Before this article, I could probably only name a couple songs by Rihanna or featuring Rihanna… and I’m thankful to say that fact remains true! Nothing against the pop princess, but it’s just not my type of music.

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This was a tasty, light martini that provided a rare occasion to appreciate Pineapple Juice. It wasn’t too sweet, which I was worried about going into the drink. The Whip Cream dollop on top of the Lime Wedge was fun and unique. The recipe I read says you should float the Lime Wedge, but when I tried that, it just sank into the cocktail. Perhaps a thin lime wheel would have been more suitable.

February 18 – Candy Rider

Ride Wit Me

In a recent post, I mentioned rock band Van Halen’s odd tour rider request to have all the brown M&M’s removed from candy dishes backstage at their appearances. Today I look at some other celebrity demands; some humourous, some reasonable and some downright bizarre.

Taylor Swift – Kraft Mac N’ Cheese, chocolate milk, ice cream, Twizzlers

I know Taylor is young – only 23 – but her rider makes it seem like she should still be eating at the kiddy table. Granted it looks like an ideal meal for Mrs. Sip as well. If this is a consistent part of Swift’s diet however, I wouldn’t be surprised if she often hits the stage with an upset tummy.

Kid Table

Eminem – peanut butter, strawberry jelly, Lunchables… oh, and a koi pond

Again, Slim Shady’s rider reminds me of something a young child going on a field trip would ask for. PB&Js and Lunchables sounds like a nice simple meal if you’re a picky kid. However, not really what I envisioned for someone rapping about drugs and sex, but then again I do love me a good PB&J. Both are favourites of Mrs. Sip (the PB&J and Lunchables that is, not the drugs and sex unfortunately)… she’s starting to look like a bit of a diva. The koi pond is completely out of left field, but given his other easy-to-achieve asks, we’ll give him a pass on the pond.

Adele – Marlboro lights, fans who get free tickets must make a donation to charity

Ever wonder how Adele gets that smoky voice of hers. The Marlboro lights she requests on her rider may play a role. I’m not sure how she keeps tabs on who gets free tickets to her concerts though… perhaps she has ESP (enhanced suspicions of people).

Kanye West – shampoo, lip balm, soft-bristle toothbrush

Wouldn’t want to hurt those voice-of-a-generation gums, hey Kanye? These are all items any normal person would travel with and supply themselves with, but hey, why not make someone else buy them for you and save $10 from your millions?

John Kerry – no tomato-based products or sandwiches

This is a very ironic request given his wife’s fortune – which likely helped fund Kerry’s bid for the American presidency – comes from her first marriage to the heir of the Heinz ketchup legacy. Perhaps that fact still bothers him. After all, what guy likes being constantly reminded of the other people who have seen his wife’s naughty bits?

Foo Fighters – colouring and activity books

Sounds like Dave Grohl and the guys have found a sure-fire way to kick-start their creativity prior to a performance. I can totally see Grohl lying on the floor and doing his best to keep within the lines. Then again, he is a drummer and maybe the exercise is all about breaking the rules. The group also provides this great drawing as an example of acceptable catering.

Foo Fighters Entree

Michael Buble – local hockey team puck, bottle of scotch, wine, veggies and dip

A good Canadian kid, all Buble wants is a bottle of scotch, some reasonably-priced wine, veggies and dip, and a hockey puck from the local team. It’s a well-known fact that Buble is a massive hockey fan and perhaps he’s just trying to build a one-of-a-kind collection. Fans of Bubbles have even posted in forums, trying to send him pucks from their area teams.

Mariah Carey – 20 white kittens, 100 doves

I only hope the 20 kittens are allowed to feast on the 100 doves and that is the only reason the two are ordered in unison (reminder: The Sip Advisor does not like birds in any form… except tuxedoed and flightless). Man, what a glorious massacre that would be. I know The Sip Advisor’s little sidekick, Furious B, would have an absolute feast if allowed to join this party.

Marilyn Manson – bald-headed, toothless hooker

We hope that this is a joke request, but with Mr. Manson (who sometimes prefers to go by Mrs.), you can never be too sure. Maybe he’s just using the woman as an example of how to do his own make-up!

Drink #49: Candy Rider

Candy Rider Cocktail

  • Rim glass with Cherry Fun Dip
  • 2 oz Gin (I used Beefeater)
  • Top with Cherry Dr. Pepper
  • Garnish with Twizzler Straw

My demands for today’s drink included a cherry Fun Dip rim and a Twizzler straw. If you were a touring celebrity, what would be on your rider? Write me your own requests and I’ll decide whether or not you’re worth booking. The best replies may be posted in a future Sip Advisor blog!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
I would have never thought that Gin and Dr. Pepper went together very well… boy, was I wrong. I’m particularly proud of the Twizzler stir stick/straw I added to go along with the post above.