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Jan 7 / Natalie Frakes

Detroit Institute of Arts

The D.I.A. – one of Detroit’s gems and certainly a spectacle. I still remember the first time I visited. I had to have been three or four years old. I was taken by my mother for my first art museum experience.

I’ve seen so many different showings there: Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon, Van Gogh’s works, Patti Smith, and so many more.

Even though I’ve been there so many times throughout my life, it still feels like each time is the first time. There are always new works to discover. There are always new works to discover. Some days I feel like seeing modern art, other times I want to explore the African art or “practical” art. The collection the Institute houses is so vast that there really is no way one could thoroughly examine every piece.

On top of a world-class art collection, the museum has so many events happening – chess tournaments, seasonal showings, family activities, live music on Fridays, and so much more.


The Detroit Film Theater is also one of the D.I.A.’s best features. Every season they rotate the films being shown and it is very rare that they would show anything not worth seeing. Documentaries, indie, and foreign films are among the selections and I highly recommend heading over there one weekend for a showing. Here is the film schedule.

Make your way over to the Detroit Institute of Arts one time this winter semester. Tri-county residents get free admission, as do students!


Dec 29 / Natalie Frakes

Food Feature: Le Petit Zinc

It’s been too long since I’ve posted about the amazing community renewal that has been happening in Detroit… with food!

Le Petit Zinc, a small French cafe in Corktown, might be on my list of “most frequented restaurants”. It’s a very authentic French-style cafe and part of its appeal is the environment – it reminds me so much of my times in Paris!


They have awesome crepes made with local and fresh ingredients, strong and delicious coffee (which is actually espresso), and often times I feel like they stole one of my music playlists, as I always seem to hear my favorite tunes played there!


Le Petit Zinc is the perfect place for breakfast and lunch. Every time I’m there I have been satisfied – it is simply fabulous!

Check out their website to explore their menu:

Dec 29 / Natalie Frakes


Spending my days around campus during the winter is some of my favorite times of the year. There are so many things happening around campus and in the city… Especially for the holidays!

Here are a few highlights from my winter at Wayne State and in Detroit:


Ice skating at Campus Martius


Christmas Tree at Campus Martius


A festive lunch at Mudgie’s Deli in Corktown


Art installation on Cass and Canfield from Noel Night

There’s so much to do during the winter months in Detroit! Next year, plan on visiting Midtown on Noel Night and Campus Martius for fun winter festivities.

Hope everyone has a happy New Year!

Nov 23 / Natalie Frakes

Food Feature: Avalon Int’l Breads

So, you probably already know about Avalon. You’ve either heard of it, seen an advertisement, or you have physically been there. It’s a mere four blocks from campus on Willis, between Cass and Second.


Behind the counter

I have to say that I’m a frequent Avalon patron… I die for their focaccia, any pastry they make, and their fair-trade coffee. All their foods are house-made with natural ingredients and they have tons of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, as well! Their menu is ever-changing with the seasons – right now, they have a pumpkin-spice latte and they’ve just started making their delicious Stollen bread!


Cranberry-orange bread

The environment is also a big selling point for me. I always feel as if I’m part of some good thing happening every time I’m there. I feel as if I’m somehow, someway making a difference for someone in Detroit. No wonder their motto is “Eat well. Do good”!

If you haven’t made your way down to Willis, you absolutely have to before the end of the year. Avalon International Breads is just the place to be.

If you want to learn more, visit their website:

Nov 12 / Natalie Frakes

Reflection of DSO with Wayne Shorter Quartet & Esperanza Spalding

On November 2nd, the Detroit Jazz Festival, led by our very own music department’s Chris Collins, commissioned an original piece by Wayne Shorter which featured the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and jazz singer/musician Esperanza Spalding.

I went with my boyfriend, Stephen, who is also pursuing a music degree in the jazz department, and the both of us were completely blown away by the program. Being in the presence of some of the best musicians on this earth was an amazing experience in itself.


The program opened up with the Wayne Shorter Quartet  – Wayne Shorter (saxophone), Danilo Perez (piano), John Patitucci (bass), and Brian Blade (drums). They played original, acoustic works by Shorter on the stage of the DSO. It was the first time I had seen a jazz ensemble on that stage and initially, the intimacy that is normally perceived in smaller settings, especially with a jazz quartet, was not there for me, but it was refreshing to see the audience actually listening to the music and those feelings ensued. It was very inspiring to see an art form that has traditionally been kept for clubs being performed at a venue designated for classical music.


‘Gaia’, the feature of the evening, was dynamic and complex. Often times, the DSO looked like they had no idea what was going on, but I feel that it was almost intentional on Shorter’s part. ‘Gaia’ is the goddess of Earth and the piece might represent our planet, its people, and its happenings.

Shorter, one of the most established musicians in jazz is now eighty years old and ‘Gaia’ might also represent his letting go of the rules and barriers of jazz. It was a phenomenal and otherworldly “controlled” experiment…


This concert is one of the many reasons why I am thankful to be living in Detroit and attending Wayne State. It was an amazing evening full of fun, music, and inspiration. I highly recommend that everyone in the CFPCA attend at least one DSO concert this year – our fellow musicians and artists work too hard, right down the street from Wayne, for us not to be involved or supportive.

Although this concert was not involved with the Soundcard all-access student pass program, there are plenty of other concerts and events happening in the future at the DSO! It is only a one-time fee of $25 for access to concerts all season long! For more information about the Soundcard, visit their website:

Oct 27 / Natalie Frakes

Wayne @ MOT

Last Friday, one of the music department’s very own, Dr. Emery Stephens, Assistant Professor of Voice, offered Music Education majors free tickets to the Detroit Opera House for the dress rehearsal of Richard Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman”! Free tickets to a world renowned opera house? I’m in!

It was also fun to become involved with our professors, Dr. Stephens and Assistant Professor of Music Education, Dr. Wendy Matthews, outside of the classroom. The field trip was an awesome opportunity for music education majors to connect with each other on a more “real-time” and “real-life” basis. Seriously, what better way to become closer with each other, personally and professionally, than at an event and a place where music is the focal point?


Zach, Vince, Marissa, and me (collectively MED 4540) at MOT (picture taken by Dr. Matthews)

Visiting the Detroit Opera House gives you more than music, too. The architecture of this one-of-a-kind facility is amazing! Take a look for yourself:

IMG_0001_2 IMG_0002_2

 Also, the Michigan Opera Theatre is presenting its new “Access” program for students ages 18-40. You don’t have to be in the CFPCA to enjoy opera!

The cost is $25 for admission and includes:

  • 1 ticket to see an opera or dance production (not a dress rehearsal)
  • Voucher for free drink at the bar
  • Free food
  • Meet and greet the cast of the production

For more information about the MOT Access program, visit their website: Access!

Oct 24 / Natalie Frakes

Food Feature: The Grindhouse

My last post was about food trucks that frequent the WSU area and as I was riding my bike today, I noticed that my favorite food truck, The Grindhouse, was by the Biological Sciences building on Second and Warren. Next time you’re searching for food, look for their colorful truck!


I took a picture of my meal – Langos which is Hungarian fried pizza, basically a savory elephant ear. I got their Marguez Langos: lamb sausage, parmesan, olives, roasted garlic, and dill cream! Mmm!


Here’s another foodie picture I took from this summer when they were at a food truck rally on the North End by the Fisher! I ordered an asparagus langos with parmesan and a lemon-basil aioli.


Check them out on Facebook to find out where they’re at when you’re hungry next!

Oct 22 / Natalie Frakes

Roamin’ Hunger

Feel like something different for lunch today? Recently, there’s been an influx of food trucks in the Detroit area and if you’ve been paying attention, there are a few that set up camp right on our campus! I’ve talked to some of the owners of the food trucks and they’re all pretty  much based in the Detroit area, so support your fellow Detroiters and their culinary creativity by eating from a food truck one day!

Here’s a list I’ve compiled of some food trucks who frequent near- or on-campus:

  • El Guapo – Mexican food
  • Mac Shack – good ol’ mac ‘n’ cheese any way you like it!
  • Beignets 2 Go – little bites of heaven originating from New Orleans
  • Green Zebra – gourmet American street food (their watermelon salad is the best!)
  • The Grindhouse – Corridor Sausage’s food truck with awesome hot dogs and langos (Hungarian pizza)!
  • Jacque’s Tacos – gourmet tacos
  • Dago Joe’s – Italian food to-go

There are, of course, many other trucks out there so please leave a comment to add to the list!

Oct 15 / Natalie Frakes

Detroit’s Best Coffeehouses

One of the things that’s obviously germane to succeeding in college is studying. But another important thing is where you’re going to study. And another important thing is my favorite thing on this earth – coffee! If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to get out of the apartment, away from all distractions, and in a place where everyone is doing the same exact type of thing. That pretty much leaves two kinds of places – the library or a coffee shop.

I prefer the latter, but if necessary, I’ll head over to Purdy-Kresge, or the UGL. However, for those who enjoy semi-quiet settings, interesting characters, and of course, coffee, this list is for you!

  • Great Lakes Coffee (on Woodward) – This place has amazing pour-over coffee and their space is study-friendly and aesthetically appealing. Their food selection is awesome, too. I’m at GLC quite often. They’re also open later than other local shops if you need to do some late-night studying. Secret: I’m using their wi-fi to write this post.
  • Avalon International Breads (on Willis) – You might think from the title this place only sells bread, but you’d be wrong! They have way more than that – coffee/tea/smoothies, vegan sandwiches, and tons and tons of yummy pastries. Sometimes they get a little crowded, but since their recent move to down the street, there is so much more space than before. Avalon is unselfish and hospitable, and when the weather’s nice, this is my go-to place because of their cute patio.
  • Bottom Line Coffee House (on Third Street) – TBL is a great coffee shop right off campus! All you have to do is walk towards downtown on Third and you’ll see it! It’s nestled in the basement of the Beethoven Apartments, but don’t think they are too small! They definitely have enough space, and awesome coffee/tea drinks to accompany it.
  • Cafe con Leche (in Southwest Detroit, on Vernor) – This one is a little bit of a drive, but totally worth the trip. It’s a cozy little coffee shop on the corner of Vernor and Scotten, across from the beautiful Clark Park. The concept of this shop is heavily community-based, seeing as they feature local artists on their walls and get their pastries from the down-the-street Mexicantown Bakery. Of course, they have amazing cortado (a latte) and feature Mexican favorites like Mexican hot chocolate and my favorite, champurrado (corn dough and chocolate drink). So good!
  • Astro Coffee (Corktown, on Michigan Avenue) – Astro is an awesome lil’ spot. They have amazing organic and fair-trade coffees, and organic food offerings. Making a trip to this place is a must – it gives you a perfect glimpse of an historical and thriving area in Detroit – Corktown! Seriously, go here to study and then walk around the surrounding neighborhoods – so beautiful and fun!
  • 14 East Cafe (Park Shelton, on Woodward) – I haven’t been to Fourteen as often to study than to just grab a cup of coffee. They are a bit more on the expensive side, but the atmosphere is accommodating to studying and reading – they even have conference rooms for study groups!
  • 1515 Broadway (Downtown, name = address) – 1515 is right across the street from the Opera House downtown. If you’re in that area, I highly suggest stopping by, whether it’s to study, eat, or energize with a cup of joe. Last I was there, I had one of their bagel sandwiches with an iced soy latte. They’re kind of a coffee shop slash performance space and they always have something cool going on.

This list isn’t in any particular order – I enjoy all of these places! If you have any other shops to add to the list, please don’t hesitate to let me know!


Oct 13 / Natalie Frakes

Detroit Pictorial

This is a small collection of photos capturing places and events I probably would never have been able to see had I not chosen Wayne State…



Old Main



Sky above Wayne’s campus in the winter



Spring in Canfield Historic District



One-way street



My apartment building – The Hollenden



Pallister Street in New Center



Old Main



Detroit Public LIbrary Main Branch