The Best of Times

Letter From the Editor

Like Ferris Bueller, some people just know how to have a good time. But most of us are guilty of the “someday” approach.

My friends Mike and Kathy are in the first group. Greeting cards arrive with pictures of their smiling faces against a backdrop of Machu Picchu. They’ll check in by cell phone on Sunday afternoon from a restaurant where they’ve impulsively stopped to grab a beer. And on their sun porch, facing an Oakland County lake, they keep a basketful of percussion instruments, just in case the urge strikes to make some noise.

Even when your own life is truly happy from the inside out, you can’t help but take note of how other lives appear from the outside in.

My father once commented that composer/lyricist Irving Berlin seemed to live the perfect life. In his mind’s eye, I’m sure he could envision himself in Berlin’s place, at a piano in a Manhattan apartment with a high-rise view and a bevy of witty friends.

A commercial artist by trade, my father had the gift of playing music by ear. And growing up in a house where he supplied the background sound added another high note to the pure bliss of childhood.

It’s a fact of adult life that we’re always trying to recapture a bit of pure childlike joy, which explains the appeal of our annual Best of Detroit feature. Beginning on page 84 are the tallied suggestions from 1,500 readers who submitted opinions on where to go and what to do when they’re in the mood for fun.

We also asked 21 metro Detroiters to share their thoughts on how to make the best of a weekend day (page 102). They were more than happy to chat about how to take advantage of the hours between pancakes and nightcaps on the all-important “S” days of the week. Their visions of the good life were remarkably similar — and simple: a favorite savory sandwich, some leisurely shopping, and a place to just sit and watch the world go by.

In stark contrast to our cheery Best of Detroit pages is freelancer Richard Bak’s story examining the lingering mystery surrounding the murder of the Robison family in their Good Hart cabin 40 years ago (page 118). Even in Michigan’s vacation paradise, a menacing darkness seems to hover at the sunny edges of the beaches and tourist-filled quaint towns. There’s something sinister, it seems, hiding in the towering pines.

That “beast in the jungle” prompts us to string twinkle lights and lanterns on our patios as a sort of modern-day version of campfires designed to keep the wolves at bay. Chores, work, and, yes, bad things happen. And we do our optimistic best to defy all of the above. As the 1920s song — written by Raymond Egan, a lyricist with a Detroit connection, phrased it: “In the meantime, in between time, ain’t we got fun.”