Lots of Buzz About New C7 Corvette at Michigan International Auto Show Despite Being Absent

Spectacular rides at DeVos Place include 60th anniversary Vette, 302 Boss Mustang, BMW Frozen Black Sedan

By Brian VanOchten
Photographer Tim Motley

GRAND RAPIDS – The star attractions of any auto show are the luxury sports coupes and sedans that prompt car shoppers to fantasize about rolling down the highway in those spectacular rides. Those attending the 15th Annual Michigan International Auto Show will see a pulse-pounding lineup featuring the latest offerings from Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, as well as iconic American street muscle represented in the Chevrolet Corvette and Ford Mustang.

The one supercar that didn’t make the trip, however, is still getting lots of attention.

The seventh-generation Corvette, introduced earlier this month at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, is not part of the parade at DeVos Place this weekend, but the 2014 Stingray has everyone buzzing. It’s the No. 1 question Corvette race car driver Danny Kellermeyer gets wherever he goes.

Kellermeyer, a retired General Motors regional field-service manager, competes in the Sports Car Club of America’s T1 Class in his C6 Corvette, but he, like everyone else, is infatuated with the all-new C7.

“Everyone is asking about the new Corvette,” Kellermeyer said. “It’s too bad there aren’t enough of them to get one here. They only had two in Detroit. The red one revealed in Detroit was taken right from there to New York for ‘The Today Show’ and then sent to the Barrett-Jackson Auction (in Scottsdale, Ariz.) where VIN #0001 sold for $1.1 million to NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick.

“It’s a great car. I was there for the private revealing of it, but, if you wanted to see it on a normal day in Detroit, you couldn’t even get close. They were 15 or 20 people deep. I think everybody really loves it.”





The unique appeal of the Michigan International Auto Show is that car shoppers can get up close and personal with all sorts of supercars, including a 2013 Corvette ZR1 60th anniversary edition white coupe with silver racing stripes that retails for $127,000.

It is one of three eye-catching Corvettes on display at DeVos Place, along with a 1958 C1 regal turquoise convertible from the Gilmore Car Museum, one of only 510 built in that color in that production year, and which Chevy sold for a factory price of $3,811. The third Corvette is a 2013 ZR1 from Berger Chevrolet in a Velocity Yellow paint job, black competition wheels and 638 horsepower underneath the hood.

“Oh, certainly,” Michigan International Auto Show producer Henri Boucher said of requesting the C7 Stingray for this year’s show

The Million Dollar Motorway, featuring a record 17 vehicles priced at $100,000 or more, permits car shoppers to get up close and personal with some of the fanciest luxury rides on the planet. Other sports cars, such as the Ford Mustang Boss 302, is on the showroom floor for fans to reach out and touch.

“You get down here and you can actually open up the car doors and get inside them – unlike a lot of larger shows, like Detroit, where they’re all locked up,” Boucher said of the 300-plus verhicles on display at DeVos Place. “Here, it’s a shopping event. You can get in them and check out the seats, the head and the legroom and all the creature comforts. There’s so many new things in these cars, whether it’s GPS systems or heated seats or heated back seats, lots of different things. There’s so many different options.

“People have learned over the years this is the greatest way to shop.”








The 2013 Michigan International Auto Show runs Thursday through Sunday at DeVos Place. Hours are 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Admission is $10 for adults, $4 for children 6-14 and free for kids 5 and under.

One of the most popular exhibits on the floor at DeVos Place is sure to be D.J. Racing, where Kellermeyer, 66, of Ortonville, is showing off his 2012 C6 Corvette race car that he’ll be competing in May 25-26 on the re-paved infield road course at Michigan International Speedway in the Irish Hills of Brooklyn, July 13-14 at GingerMan Raceway in South Haven and July 27-28 at Grattan Raceway Park near Belding.

He still gets lots of oohs and aahs from people who approach his race car.

He also understands the street buzz surrounding the C7 Stingray means that he’ll be fielding a lot of questions from people interested in his opinion of the latest model of the most famous American sports car.

“The Stingray has been out here and there in different versions over the years. In bringing it back, I think they made the right decision,” Kellermeyer said. “It’s bringing back a nameplate that is something special, and they wanted something special to bring that back and make it work. The whole car is very unique when you get into it. It’s a 6.2-liter engine that has almost no common parts with the previous LS5 engine.

“It has an all-aluminum frame in the base car and a standard seven-speed transmission. And their working on an eight-speed. We asked them all kinds of questions about what’s coming down the road, but they’re not talking. They’re focussed on the 2014 base car right now. It really has a lot. It has a lot of major changes,” he added.

Aside from styling changes, the all-new engine is what’s most impressive to him.


“Yeah, I’m pretty impressed with the engine,” Kellermeyer said. “It’s a direct-induction engine with 450 horsepower and 450 foot-pounds of torque. There are only three pieces on it that are common to the old one – the starter bolts, the valve keepers and the valve-spring retainers. That’s it. Other than that, everything else is new. They’ve taken the cylinder head and flip-flopped the intake and the exhaust inside the cylinder head.

“Everything has been redesigned. It’s a higher compression ratio. The gas mileage went up on it again and front end went lower again. It’s a real road-hugger, better handling. I’m excited. I haven’t been in one yet to take it out on the track and play with it,” he said, “but I’m already working on getting a 2014 for a road-race car.”

Inside and outside, the Stingray has all sorts of new styling cues and improvements.

“It has got all the content to it, with the new frame, seating ability and dash that goes from digital to analog. The frame is 25 millimeters wider and 25 millimeters longer, so that extra little bit of wheelbase is going to help weight distribution again. The tail lights are a little questionable (departure from the circular afterburner look to a more sculpted rectangle) to some people, but it’s a solid car. It just has a lot to it.”



Lots of Buzz About New C7 Corvette at Michigan International Auto Show Despite Being Absent



Stellafly’s Brian VanOchten picks five rides to check out while wandering through 15th Annual Michigan International Auto Show that runs Thursday through Sunday at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids:

1. BMW M5 Frozen Black Sedan – It’s an absolute show-stopper that’ll freeze car enthusiasts in their tracks. The luxury sedan gets a special-option $5,000 matte-black paint finish as part of the $105,795 sticker price. If you thought matte paint finishes were nothing but a fad, think again. This paint scheme is a game changer.

2. Dodge Ram 1500 – The 2013 North American Truck/Utility of the Year and 2013 “Motor Trend” Truck of the Year gets an updated interior, a new V-6 engine at the entry level and an available eight-speed transmission. It starts at $23,830, but the Hemi V8 version is going to push up the stick price real fast.

3. Porsche Panamera 4 Platinum Edition – You want a luxury sport sedan? You want a luxury hatchback? You can have both in this stunningly gorgeous four-door hatchback with a 3.6-liter V6 engine producing 300 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque. The sticker price is a cool $96,810.

4. Cadillac CTS-V Wagon – The Cadillac ATS is getting all the hype as the 2013 North American Car of the Year, but don’t miss this wagon. It’s the ultimate ride for soccer moms looking to rule the road. It has a 6.2-liter, supercharged V8 engine that produces a staggering 556 horsepower and 551 foot-pounds of torque and goes from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds.

5. Ford Fusion SE Hybrid – Hybrids in all forms are all the range with gas prices showing no signs of ever falling below $3 a gallon again. The latest impressive offering from Ford features a standout redesign of the Fusion, impressive fuel economy at 47 mpg and a surprisingly affordable sticker price of $33,370.





Dr. Carolyn King is Seeking Peace



As a woman who is always seeking peace, Dr. Carolyn King has fun with her name. She once had a former business called C. King Peace Psychiatry.

(Get it? If not, say it aloud.)

This independent and spirited woman also likes being called Dr. King as it reminds her of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. –– a man she truly admires. When she got married, King didn’t take her husband’s last name because, as she says, “Dr. King sounded too good.”

Dr. Carolyn King

Along with the playful monikers, King currently has two job titles. The first is Child and Adult Psychiatrist –– a title she says comes from her education –– and the second is Behavioral Health Ambassador.

“I had to lobby for this title,” she says.

King believes a lot still needs to be done in terms of education to remove the stigma associated with mental health issues. She hopes we will one day discuss mental health similar to how we now speak about breast and prostate cancers. It used to be that people rarely talked about these “taboo” cancers, but today it’s commonplace.

With that goal in mind, King tirelessly advocates in her role as Behavioral Health Ambassador to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health. In addition to treating patients at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, she appears at events and on local TV and radio stations talking about topics such as stress, holiday blues, self-esteem, postpartum depression, and more. King regularly shares her knowledge about anything having to do with the brain, especially on how to “love the brain.”

Originally from the east side of the state, King moved to Grand Rapids six years ago and began working for Pine Rest shortly afterward. She relocated because she found the perfect home. After five years of looking, King decided the house was worth it and moved her family across the state.

She soon discovered the culture in West Michigan is a bit different from where she grew up and it was an adjustment.

“I am a product of Detroit, and not a mild-mannered, soft-spoken product,” King says.

Now six years later, her life in Grand Rapids is busy with family, work, and exercising –– this former aerobics instructor loves Zumba and yoga.

Inquiring about her family, King laughs and quickly replies, “I have two sons, two dogs, two former husbands, one mother, and one fish.”

She divorced from her second husband in May, but she doesn’t want condolences. She prefers “congratulations” instead, as she considers both of her marriages to be learning experiences.

“I did two 10-year journeys into marriage and with each husband, I learned something different,” she says.

Dr. Carolyn King

King may be single again, but she is certainly not alone. Living with her now are her mother, her 10-year-old son Jelani, a niece, a medical student, dogs Pepperjack and Winn-Dixie, and a fish.

Her oldest son Gary is 19 and away at college. He’s studying theatre at Columbia College in Chicago and hopes to be an actor one day. Sharing his mother’s good looks and vibrant personality, he stands to succeed.

So, what’s it like to have Dr. King, the psychiatrist, as a mother?

“She is a really amazing woman who is smart and creative,” Gary says. “She knows how to make learning fun, but she lets you know if you mess up.” He adds that King could be a “monster” when he totally messed up, but says he went off to college so “it was effective.”

Younger brother Jelani shares Gary’s love and admiration for his mother.

“She is awesome,” he says. “She doesn’t make you do too little work and she doesn’t make you do too much.”

King’s dream home has five bedrooms and an abundance of space. There is plenty of colorful artwork throughout and a lot of Martin Luther King, Jr. memorabilia inherited from her father, who died when King was only 9. He was an ardent follower of the peace movement.

What’s most interesting about the house is that it has two kitchens and King doesn’t cook. While admitting this, she laughs and says, “Can I say that out loud? Really loud?”

King decided at age 12 that she wasn’t going to cook and, after all these years, she’s stayed true to that decision. When she was only 3, she also decided that she wanted to be a doctor and followed through on that choice as well.

Not all children are as decisive, nor do they all know what their career options are. That’s why King co-founded, along with Don J. Tynes, MD, an organization called Reach Out To Youth (ROTY) nearly 24 years ago. She was in medical school at the time and wondered what could be done for black history month.

King and Tynes decided to take a group of children through the college’s medical lab so they could gain an appreciation for the human body and consider medicine as a possible career.

The tour was a success and now ROTY hosts an annual event at the Wayne State University School of Medicine with help from the Black Medical Association. The program is open to children, ages 7-11, and parents who have an interest in medicine. The idea is to expose them to a profession they may not know much about.

More than 200 Detroit area students and 100 parents participate annually and the event happens on February 2 this year.

Dr. Carolyn King

To become a child and adult psychiatrist, King’s education took 18 years to complete. She first earned her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Psychology from Wayne State University in 1989 and then her medical degree (M.D.) from Wayne State University School of Medicine in 1993. After that, she completed five years of an adult psychiatry residency followed by two years of a child psychiatry residency at the University of Michigan. She graduated in 2000.

As a member of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, she has served on their Consumers Issue Committee for almost 10 years. This national medical association acts as a resource for information and is often used by the media, the Mayo Clinic, and other organizations.

At Pine Rest, King works in both the inpatient and outpatient areas. She treats people who have attempted or are considering suicide and those with major depressive disorders such as Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder. Patients with ADHD/ADD, Autism, Asperger’s, Anxiety, Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Postpartum Depression, and other mental health issues are seen by King as well.

King takes a holistic approach to treating patients. Physical problems such as thyroid issues or Anemia can affect one’s mental health so patients are usually given a physical as part of their treatment.

“It’s all one body and the brain is just another organ of the body,” says King. “Our brain is our behavior organ.”

Dr. Carolyn King

As a psychiatrist, she is able to prescribe medication to patients. King says it’s sometimes necessary to alter a person’s brain chemistry by lowering Dopamine, increasing Serotonin, or with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in order to treat them. She often finds that therapy is 70 percent effective and medication is 70 percent effective, but when the treatments are combined, they are 80 percent effective.

King thinks it’s “very empowering” to help patients see that they do have alternative ways to respond to situations and that they can control their behavior. The “ah-ha” moment they experience is rewarding for her to witness.

She treats around 8-10 patients a day, or around 700 patients a year on average.

Whenever she’s working, King serves as an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry for the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and has medical students with her all of the time. They even go along when she’s on TV or radio shows to talk about mental health issues.

Like her patients, King’s own brain needs rest and relaxation in order to function well so she tries to get plenty of sleep and exercises regularly. And when she has time in the summer, she heads to Detroit to enjoy the 33’ Chris Craft she shares with her Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority sister, Pam. Travel is an activity she enjoys as well.

No matter what she has going on, Dr. Carolyn King will keep sharing her vast knowledge about mental health and she will continue seeking peace.

Grand Rapids Community College Giant Awards XXXI


January 26, 2013
The Sparkly Stellafly
DeVos Place

Eleven “Giants” were honored by Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) at their 31st annual Giants Awards on Saturday evening, in recognition for their contributions to the community. The awards are given to African-American leaders and organizations that shape the quality of life in Grand Rapids. Appropriately, each award memorializes a local leader who also demonstrated excellence in the community.

This inspiring evening, emceed by WZZM 13’s Take Five Associate Producer Eddie Rucker, raised money for GRCC’s Milo M. Brown Memorial Scholarship Fund—each year two or more of these scholarships are awarded to African-American students.







Anita Hitchcock, Assistant City Attorney, was awarded the Floyd Skinner Justice Award, named for the man who partnered with a fellow attorney to eliminate “Jim Crow” segregated seating in local movie theaters, and helped to overcome barriers that prevented blacks from holding white-collar jobs at City Hall.

The Walter Coe Public Service Award, presented to Lt. Colonel Shawn Harris, of the Grand Valley National Guard Armory, is named for the first African-American police officer who rose in the ranks to become sergeant in two years, lieutenant in ten years, and in 1950 was named Captain and put in command of the Special Investigation Division.

Lennox Forrest, Ph.D., psychologist and founder of Faith Counseling Services was given the Eugene Browning Medical Service Award. Dr. Browning was a pioneer, operating a weekly well-baby clinic in the early 20th century out of First Community A.M.E. Church. He provided his services to anyone, regardless of ability to pay.







Johngerlyn “Jonse” Young, Donor Services Director for the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, received the W.W. Plummer Humanitarian Award. This award is named for Dr. W.W. Plummer, a dentist who has repeatedly donated his services to the Foundation Pedodntique in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.

The Milo Brown Business Award is named for Milo Brown, who opened his first funeral home in Grand Rapids in 1925. He was a charter member and officer in various civic and social activities including the NAACP, Chamber of Commerce, and Better Business Bureau. This award was presented to Ophelia Graves, owner of Graves Deli and O’s Hats & Accessories.

Phyllis Scott was a woman of conviction who had a strong belief in ensuring that children’s educational needs were met, and who voiced her opinion without worrying if it was going to be popular or unpopular. The 2013 Phyllis Scott Activist Award was presented to Mary Harden Johnson, a Grand Rapids Public Schools Social Worker.




Grand Rapids Community College Giant Awards XXXI





Teresa Weatherall Neal, Superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools, was given the William Glenn Trailblazer Award. William Glenn was one of the first African-American employees in a Grand Rapids war production factory, and played a role in getting all of these plants to hire African-Americans.

The Raymond Tardy Community Service Award was given to Sarah Brooks, Volunteer Hospital Representative for the American Legion Auxiliary. Raymond Tardy was active in efforts to obtain suitable housing for low-income families while encouraging others to attain the educational goals needed to elevate their life style.

Lead Pastor of Kentwood Community Church, Rev. Kyle A. Ray, was presented with this year’s H.C. Toliver Religious Life Award. Reverend Toliver moved to Grand Rapids in 1937 and spent his life helping others to obtain employment, lending money to those regardless of their ability to repay him, and being there for his community no matter what.

















Shirley Johnson, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services at Kentwood Public Schools, was awarded the Hattie Beverly Education Award, named in honor of the teacher assigned to Henry School in 1913, where she stayed despite protests of the hiring of an African-American teacher. Her case brought Booker T. Washington to Grand Rapids to create better understanding of the races.

This incredible evening was capped off with the presentation of the Giant Among Giants Award. This award was given to Ingrid Scott-Weekly, a long-time affirmative action advocate in the West Michigan Community. She retired in June from her role as Managing Director of Administrative Services for the City of Grand Rapids, but she will forever be known for her efforts to support diversity not only in Grand Rapids but throughout the region.

Many thanks to the Grand Rapids Community College for involving us in these fantastic events this week. It’s been an honor!

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for over 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several additional locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.

Visit their website: http://www.grcc.edu/

Find the Grand Rapids Community College of Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/grandrapidscc?fref=ts


Forever 21 – A Golden Birthday Party for Dee McGraw



It’s no secret that Stellafly likes parties — especially the private ones. The ones where hostesses invite us into their home and we get to experience true friendship. You know, the kind of friendships that happen outside of the workplace and the busyness of every day life. Parties where girls can be girls. No boys allowed.

Last Friday, we headed into the depths of East Grand Rapids to celebrate a very special lady — actually a whole bunch of really great women.

Dorothy McCants Kaufman McGraw (aka Dee) is not your ordinary Grand Rapidian. You see, Dee is a bona fide Southern Belle. In fact, she very well may be Grand Rapids own version of Miss Scarlett O’Hara herself. Born in Paris, Kentucky, Dee lived at Claiborne Farms – where Secretariat retired and remained under the care of Dee’s father, a veterinarian. Like many of the most proper southern girls, Dee graduated from Vanderbilt University. But instead of leaving with a coveted MRS degree and setting up home in a tabacco plantation, Dee loaded her big hair into a camaro and took off.


After a series of wrong turns, she found her destiny in Grand Rapids. And although the years here may have softened her big hair and Southern drawl, they have not eroded her big Southern personality. That’s why when it came to throwing Dorothy McCants Kaufman McGraw’s golden birthday party, her friends knew that it had to be something truly special.

Forever 21 - A Golden Birthday Party for Dee McGraw

Forever 21 - A Golden Birthday Party for Dee McGraw

Wendy Wassink, Dee McGraw

Forever 21 - A Golden Birthday Party for Dee McGraw

Forever 21 - A Golden Birthday Party for Dee McGraw

It had to be warm, inclusive, pretty, feminine, fabulous and festive. Just like Dee.

So, on Friday, January 18, 22 of Dee’s closest friends gathered at the home of Wendy Wassink to celebrate with a two-tiered pink fluffy lemon cake with raspberry buttercream filling by The Cakabakery (with 21 candles, of course), oodles of pink flowers, lots of champagne, and Dee’s favorite Raspberry Framboise. And although Dee is content to live on sweets, the rest of the group rounded out their plates with mini burgers from Martha’s Vineyard and oodles of sushi from Maru.

It was all very prim, proper and Southern – at least until the 20-seat stretch Hummer from Crystal Limosine arrived to whisk them out, about and around the town into the wee hours of the night.



Judge Glenda Hatchett to deliver keynote speech at MLK celebration “Dare to Take Charge: King’s Expectations for Greatness”



GRAND RAPIDS, MICH — Judge Glenda Hatchett, a nationally recognized expert on juvenile and social issues – widely known for her television show “Judge Hatchett” – was the keynote speaker during the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Peace Program on January 21 at Grand Rapids Community College’s Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse.

Grand Rapids Community College joined Davenport and Grand Valley State universities in hosting “Inherit the Dream,” the 27th annual celebration of the legacy of Dr. King.

“There is a direct correlation between Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s advocacy for education and the awarding of scholarships to area youth, each year at our annual commemoration. It is a fitting way to honor his legacy,” said Chris Arnold, Director of GRCC’s Diversity Learning Center.















Judge Hatchett was catapulted to the forefront of the national justice system when she became the first African American Chief Presiding Judge of Atlanta’s Fulton County Juvenile Court. She currently serves as a spokeswoman for the national Court Appointed Special Advocate program.

The “Inherit the Dream” celebration will be the culmination of three days of activities throughout the Grand Rapids area commemorating Dr. King and his civil rights legacy. Other events include a Community Peace March at noon January 21 at Ford Fieldhouse followed by a Community Peace Program, with performances by GRCC and Kent Intermediate School District students, at 12:30 p.m.











All events were free and the public is encouraged to attend.

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for over 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several additional locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.

Visit their website: http://www.grcc.edu/

Find the Grand Rapids Community College of Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/grandrapidscc?fref=ts



Alexis is glamming it up Gaga-style in return to Founders



GRAND RAPIDS – In the constantly evolving world of pop music, all things are possible – even an unprecedented interpretation of Lady Gaga and all her fabulousness from a male perspective.

Enter local synth-pop act Alexis.

Matt Forbush


The duo of singer Matthew Forbush, a 35-year-old rural-route mail carrier, and keyboard maestro Dan Hurst, 27, a music director at a Catholic church in Big Rapids, has turned the Gaga genre inside-out while making a name for itself playing club dates throughout Michigan during the past year.

Alexis makes a triumphant homecoming Saturday night as the headliner for its “Return to Founders” performance at Founders Brewing Co., 235 Grandville Ave. SW, for an ages 21-and-older concert at 9 p.m.

“We’re thrilled to be going back to Founders,” Forbush said. “There’s been a lot of attention surrounding this show. We’re looking forward to returning home to a place where we first gained a lot of fans.”


Alexis got its start performing on open mic nights at Founders and other local clubs.

The combination of Forbush, who channels his inner Gaga as part of his theatrical stage presence, and Hurst, who plays the infectious electronica beats that propel the band’s unique sound, has gained a loyal following since the duo formed in 2009 to explore a different side of the synth-pop experience.

“We’ve lovingly described it as male Lady Gaga,” Hurst said during a groundbreaking appearance on WOOD-TV 8 mid-day program “eightWest” in January of 2011 that made everyone take notice of the band.

The “eightWest” performance featured Forbush singing, dancing and glamming it up with playful co-hosts Terri DeBoer and Rachel Ruiz to the rhythms of “Goldstar” from the group’s second CD release.



The response to the local television appearance helped launch a tour that brought Alexis to audiences in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Holland, Kalamazoo, Lansing and other Lake Michigan shoreline communities. It also included club dates in Chicago and an opening slot for post-punk rock outfit The B-52s at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park amphitheater last summer that further exposed the duo.

“We didn’t know how people were going to receive us in Grand Rapids,” Forbush said of Alexis. “We sort of conquered GR in 2011, and then last year we focussed on getting our name out there around the state and making connections. You get what you put into it. We accomplished a lot in 2012.

“We’ve come a long way in a pretty short amount of time.”

Alexis is nearing completion of its forthcoming third album.

Forbush and Hurst, who previously released “The Night” in 2010 and “Goldstar” in 2011, recently signed with Synth Records. They’ll perform a couple of new songs from its upcoming album, due later this year.

The special “Return to Founders” performance, which includes Tunde Olaniran, Phantasmagoria and DJ Adrian Butler, is Alexis’ first appearance at the local brewery since Halloween of 2011.

“We’ve put together a great lineup of all-electronica dance acts, including some of the biggest acts in Detroit,” Forbush said. “DJ Adrian Butler will play between sets, so the party will never really slow down.”

Forbush is pleasantly surprised by Alexis’ spreading popularity.



He and Hurst had no expectations other than performing at Festival of the Arts in downtown Grand Rapids after being inspired to form an electronica project while attending a synth-pop concert in Chicago.

“Dan and I were both in other bands,” Forbush recalled. “Both of our musical projects were fizzling out. I had always wanted to do a project like this, and I’ve dabbled in electronica music on and off for several years. I always wanted to do something more straight-up synth-pop.

Dan and I went to see this concert in Chicago and we got a lot of inspiration from it,” he added. “We just had an amazing time. We thought, ‘We’re two dudes, we’ve got the songs, we could do this!’ We came home and pretty much started working on the first album. Our goal had been to perform at Festival.”

The flirtatious Forbush goes Gaga on stage to the surprise of live audiences.

“I was down on the floor, off the stage, humping the floor, in front of the crowd for a New Year’s show recently in Ann Arbor. I just feel liberated,” he said. “I feel like I can do what I want when I’m on stage. If somebody wants to perceive it as funny, that’s fine. If they want to be aroused, that’s fine.

“Their reaction is their reaction. I can’t help how I feel about it.”

In the meantime, Alexis keeps evolving and attracting a larger audience that has a fascination with seeing Forbush’s interpretation of a female pop icon and dancing to Hurst’s irresistible electronica beats.

“I think when we first did ‘eightWest,’ we were definitely going for a reaction on that,” Forbush said. “Some people had a really hard time differentiating if we were a band or if we were a comedy act. It was a little frustrating. I’m a fairly serious musician. The songs are well written, I’m a good singer, Dan’s a good keyboardist. It shouldn’t undermine that, although we have done some pretty wild stuff on stage.

“We create a party atmosphere, but we’re a serious band.”

The cost is $5 for the “Return to Founders” performance.

Alexis also is scheduled to perform March 2 at The Pyramid Scheme, 68 Commerce St., along with Stepdad and Flint Eastwood.

Check them out on the web: www.musicofalexis.com
and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/musicofalexis?fref=ts

Grand Rapids Community Foundation: Diana Sieger, Lynne Black, and Marcia Rapp Celebrate 25 Years

17 JANUARY 2013


I’ve said it before and I will say it again—

Grand Rapids Community Foundation throws a great party. It was a totally “rad” time at the GRCF late Thursday afternoon as they brought the 80’s back to celebrate with staff, along with several special guests, three incredible leaders who have been with the foundation for 25 years—Diana Sieger, President; Lynne Black, Vice President of Finance and Administration; and Marcia Rapp, Vice President of Programs.

Everyone was dressed as a memorable musician, actor, or TV personality from the 80’s—from Punky Brewster to Magnum PI. Centerpieces were made out of cassette tapes, records, and a sprinkling of 80’s candy. Disco balls hung from the ceiling, and the festivities kicked off with a rousing game of “Retro Pyramid,” their own version of the $25,000 Pyramid.









When I asked “Princess Diana” (her 80’s alter-ego) Sieger what has been her favorite part of leading the foundation, she talked about how she grew up in “a time of social change” and that carrying out the mission of the foundation, helping so many worthwhile organizations in this community, is very special to her.

Lynne “Cat in the Hat” Black told me how the people she works with have been a big part of her longevity with the GRCF. “They are all so passionate,” she said.

Marcia Rapp, or “Annie Wilkes,” the lead character in Stephen King’s Misery, topped off her costume with an axe, mallet, and a 2×4. I talked to her about what she enjoys most about being part of the foundation staff. She said she enjoys the people and that there is “something different every day.” She treasures being able to be part of the team and credited Sieger’s leadership for making the GRCF what it is today.

Gifts were presented to each of the three honorees, and were very thoughtful and personal. Roberta “Cyndi Lauper” King gave a beautiful toast to the ladies she calls the “best brand builders” in Grand Rapids.




Once all of the formalities were out of the way, it was time to enjoy great 80’s themed food and drinks (think Bartles & James) and karaoke began. There was “Margaritaville” sung by Cyndi Lauper and “Love Shack” by Princess Diana and her backup dancers. It was a truly happy and memorable celebration for Sieger, Black, and Rapp—one that I’m sure will not soon be forgotten around the office.

Congratulations, ladies. You are each an excellent example of leadership and commitment to the community.






Second-generation Grand Rapids doctor takes a chance on starting his own practice.



A second-generation primary care physician recently took a bold risk and started his own internal medicine and pediatrics practice in Grand Rapids. The office has only been open for six weeks, but so far, that risk seems to be paying off in a big way.

Dr. Michael J. App opened his new practice, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics of West Michigan, on December 3 and he’s been “shocked” by the positive response from the community. On the first day that his northeast side office was open, almost 200 people stopped by to say hello. He has also received more than 700 cards and letters and nearly 50 plants since then.

“The love and support from the patients is unbelievable,” says App.




Nearly 80 percent of the patients he has seen so far are former patients and the rest heard about the practice through word of mouth. He has yet to advertise. App says he knows these people can go anywhere so he’s grateful they have chosen to come to his new practice.

App is not the only Dr. App in town. His father, Dr. Peter App, has served patients at his own family practice office, the Creston Medical Center, for 47 years. App says his father “provided a great example” of how a doctor should treat patients. He always seemed to like what he did, too, and it was this enthusiasm that inspired App to go to medical school.

After graduating from  Wayne State University in 1996, App went to the William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak for his residencies in internal medicine and pediatrics and is now board certified in both.

He is what’s known as a “Med-Peds Physician” for this reason, meaning that he’s qualified to care for patients of all ages, from newborns to the elderly. Only 300 medical students nationwide complete residencies in both internal medicine and pediatrics each year.

“Because you have to pursue and pass boards in two specialties, that makes it a challenge,” says App.

His motivation for becoming a Med-Ped primary care physician is that he “loves children” and he wanted to be able to care for his patients throughout their entire lives. A few of the families who now see him include three different generations –– the grandparents, parents, and the children.

After completing his residencies, App worked in his father’s practice for a while. He later went to MMPC, which was acquired by the Spectrum Health Medical Group. And while he liked Spectrum, his partners, and the practice they had, after 12 years, he wanted to start his own practice “to provide a small, family oriented, personalized care environment.”

App has retained some ties to the Spectrum Health System by becoming a member of the Spectrum Health Physicians Alliance. Independent physicians pay dues to be a member of this subsidiary organization and get benefits such as having access to their electronic medical record system and more.

Before he left the Spectrum Health Medical Group in August 2012 to pursue his private practice, App says his wife Colleen encouraged him in his decision.

“She is my absolute greatest cheerleader,” he says.




Colleen is a breast cancer surgeon with the Spectrum Health Medical Group and the two met in an anatomy class in college. App says his wife’s cadaver was right next to his and during their first year of school, they spent a lot of time dissecting. They studied together for a year before they went on a date.

“I was a committed, serious student and it took that long for me to come to my senses,” says App.

Now, after 15 years of marriage, the couple has three children –– Michael (7), Maria (5), and Peter (4).

One of App’s goals for the new practice is to make sure he and his staff knows every patient by name. He plans to offer high quality care, in a more personalized environment, and with a limited number of patients. Just like his father, he wants to put the people first and treat each person in a friendly, caring, compassionate way.

While App had the big picture vision for his new practice, he needed some help getting it started so he hired a startup practice company this fall to assist with all of the details. They gave him a comprehensive task list and he admits it was a bit scary at first, as he didn’t know what half of the items on the list meant. And when App posted job openings, a whopping 250 people applied in five days for the six open positions he has now filled.

Internal Medicine and Pediatrics of West Michigan’s current location at 1787 Grand Ridge Court N.E. is a temporary location while a permanent office is being remodeled. The new location will be at 1959 East Paris Avenue S.E. and App expects to move in around March 1.

With his new practice starting out “better than expected” so far, App says, “The thing I am so appreciative of is that the relationships I had with patients, in many respects, have been validated.”

He feels fortunate that so many of his former patients sought him out and want to become his patients again at the new office, and that they are telling their friends about him as well. App knows he still has a lot to learn about having his own practice, but six weeks in, he’s already really enjoying the experience.

“So far, so good,” he says.

For more information about Internal Medicine and Pediatrics of West Michigan, visit Michaelappmd.com or the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Michael-App-MD/548652135148493)


Heidi Stukkie is a freelance writer, graphic designer, and marketing consultant. She recently finished her B.A. in Professional Writing and Journalism at Grand Valley State University and advises everyone to finish college when young because doing it in your forties is not nearly as glamorous as it sounds. Whenever Heidi has extra cash and can find a sitter for her two spoiled dogs, she visits Santa Fe, New Mexico to recharge. She hopes to write a best-selling novel someday so she can afford to live there permanently. Heidi also has a global news obsession and you can find her on Twitter at @HeidiSocial.



Local Spins Concert Live Series brings familiar faces to St. Cecilia Music Center


Local Spins Concert Series LIVE opened last night in Royce Auditorium at the St. Cecilia Music Center. The performances centered on singer-songwriters – six Michigan artists in a round-robin format – a term which has soared in popularity over the past decade as way to describe a broad range of solo, mostly acoustic, acts. The musicians played in an “uplugged” performance, giving audiences the opportunity to hear some of their favorite local artists among the most fabulous listening settings in Grand Rapids.

Who better to kick it off than some of our very favorite artists? Grand Rapids’ own Ralston Bowles, Michelle Chenard, Michael Crittenden, Lux Land, Karisa Wilson and Lucus Wilson.


 Photographer Raeanna Anglen

Michael Crittenden

IMG_6359 copy
Michael Crittenden

“The idea of this series came about during this past fall’s ArtPrize event where SCMC hosted 58 live performances in 4 days featuring musical ArtPrize entries,” said Cathy Holbrook, Executive Director. “Our jazz and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center series brings in performers from around the world, but we also want to highlight some of Michigan’s great talent and this series will do that.”

John Sinkevics of the Local Spins radio show attended many performances at SCMC during ArtPrize where he and Holbrook started discussing the idea. “The vibe that I pick up during the ArtPrize performances was that musicians were excited to play at St. Cecilia and would love to play in Royce Auditorium which has great acoustics,” Sinkevics commented. “When Cathy Holbrook said they might start a local series I said I would be very interested in helping make it happen.”

Michael Crittenden, owner of Mackinaw Harvest Music Studio, has helped organize the music evolution in ArtPrize at St. Cecilia for the past two years and is also involved in the development of the new series.

John Sinkevics, Local Spins, Cathy Holbrook, Executive Director St. Cecilia Music Center

Upcoming performances at the Local Spins Live 2013 Series 

On February 21, 2013 the series brings two ArtPrize music award winners to the stage. Delilah DeWylde and the Lost Boys bring their own brand of folk rockabilly to the first half of the concert. One of Grand Rapids’ most coveted groups, The Crane Wives takes the stage after intermission to play songs from their first two albums in a semi-acoustic performance.

 Video Michael Cook 

The last concert of the series will take place on March 28, 2013 and will bring the well-known “royal couple” of Michigan’s folk and Americana scene Seth and May to Royce Auditorium. Beginning the evening will be the eclectic and playful band, Fauxgrass Quartet.






What the ticket gets you.

Tickets are $15 per concert. Student tickets are $10 with a student ID.  Advance reservations are encouraged for those who wish to reserve a specific seating location. Tickets are available the night of the show if not sold out. A cash bar prior to the show and during intermission. A post-concert “Meet-the-Artists” reception is included for all ticket holders the night of the concert. The reception includes a cash bar and dessert and will feature a performance by an “emerging artist” from the area. Tickets are available by calling 616-459-2224 or visiting the SCMC box office at 24 Ransom Ave. NE in downtown Grand Rapids. Tickets are available online at www.scmc-online.org.

For 129 years St. Cecilia Music Center has upheld its mission of promoting the appreciation, study and performance of music in order to enrich the lives of the residents of West Michigan. Today, St. Cecilia Music Center is known by audiences and artists alike as one of the finest establishments to hear and see world-renowned musicians.

St. Cecilia Music Center on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StCeciliaMusicCenter?fref=ts