Axios Detroit

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🎢 Today is Aretha Franklin's birthday.

  • More on that later, but for now, here's your newsletter soundtrack β€” Franklin's "River's Invitation."

β›… Today's weather: Partly sunny, with a high near 58.

πŸ’™ Celebrating our members: All week we're appreciating our members who support our local journalism with fun prizes! Want to win? Become an Axios Detroit member starting at $50+ per year.

  • Sign up today, and you'll be entered to win an Axios swag bundle.
  • Bonus: All members will be entered into a drawing for prizes this week. Rules apply.

Situational awareness: Look out for a special Axios edition on teen mental health this afternoon, and subscribe to Axios AM for free to get more essential national news.

Today's newsletter is 918 words β€” a 3.5-minute read. Edited by Joe Guillen and copy edited by Cindy Orosco-Wright.

1 big thing: The indelible Golden Grizzlies

Oakland's Jack Gohlke attempts a three-pointer against NC State in the Grizzlies' overtime loss Saturday in Pittsburgh. Photo: Justin Berl/NCAA Photos/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Oakland's brief yet unforgettable NCAA Tournament run is what March basketball is all about.

Why it matters: The Golden Grizzlies captured the nation's adoration as they flirted with the Sweet 16, eventually losing to NC State on Saturday in overtime.

Between the lines: The underdog Grizzlies had the elements of a March Madness Cinderella story: A veteran coach reaching career heights, a star in Trey Townsend whose parents played at Oakland and an unheralded sharpshooter, Jack Gohlke, whose 10 three-pointers helped bury No. 3 Kentucky in the first round.

Context: It was Oakland's best season ever, the Detroit News declared.

  • The Grizzlies won regular-season and tournament championships in the Horizon League before taking down Kentucky for the program's first-ever win in the NCAA tourney's round of 64.

What they're saying: Coach Greg Kampe said this team was special because the players all cared about each other.

  • "It was a joy in this day and age to walk into the office every day and know that I'm lucky I get to go in that gym and be with this group of kids. And that's probably what hurts the most right now, is I know that that's over," he said after the game.

Zoom out: All of the in-state schools playing in the men's and women's NCAA Tournaments have been eliminated.

The bottom line: Our schools didn't last long, but the excitement and joy from Oakland's tournament run left enduring memories.

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2. Inside "The Michigan Plot"

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, pictured last year in Washington, D.C. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A new true-crime podcast examines the 2020 plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, backed with three years of reporting and "hundreds of hours of never-before-heard audio."

The big picture: Hosted by journalists Ken Bensinger and Jessica Garrison, "The Michigan Plot" centers on one big question: Did this group of men devise an organized, credible plot, or were they disorganized stoners who were egged on by informants?

State of play: Through in-depth interviews and FBI informant recordings, the reporters go deep into the lives of far-right Wolverine Watchmen militia members who were involved.

  • The seven-part series' final episode was released this month.

Catch up quick: The convicted leaders of the plot to abduct Whitmer from her vacation home near Elk Rapids got 19 and 16 years in prison in 2022. The prosecution called it "domestic terrorism."

  • A total of 14 people were charged in the scheme.
  • After the plot was thwarted, the governor said former President Trump was partly responsible for not condemning extremist groups and for encouraging protests in Michigan at the time.

πŸ’­ Annalise's thought bubble: I binged "The Michigan Plot" over a weekend road trip. It shows how this case exemplifies β€” and complicates β€” the current political climate. It posits a theory of what happened, but ultimately lets listeners interpret the facts for themselves.

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3. The Grapevine: You heard it here

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

πŸ‘… Megan Thee Stallion will put on her biggest Detroit concert yet at Little Caesars Arena on May 18. Her last show here was at the Masonic Temple in 2019. (Detroit News)

🎨 Oversized football cleats painted by local artists will be placed at DTW, Ford Field and other locations around the city. They'll be auctioned off after the NFL Draft, with proceeds going to charities or organizations of the artists' choice. (Metro Times)

πŸ€ U of M hired former Florida Atlantic coach Dusty May to be its men's basketball coach. (Free Press)

4. πŸŽ‚ Aretha's day

Left photo: Producer Narada Michael Walden, Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston during the recording of "It Isn't, It Wasn't, It Ain't Never Gonna Be" in 1989 in Detroit. Right photo: Franklin performs during a 2011 Labor Day event in Detroit before former President Obama's Labor Day address. Photos: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images and Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

The legendary Queen of Soul was born on this day in 1942.

  • To commemorate, we're bringing some facts you may not know about the "voice of Detroit," who died in 2018.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Franklin sang at three presidents' inaugurations, as well as the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr., according to the Detroit Historical Society.

✈️ She developed an intense fear of flying after a bout of high turbulence in the 1980s and even took a class to try to overcome it, per Biography.com. She took buses instead of planes.

🍬 Franklin hung around with friends in the North End growing up in the 1950s, going to the Echo Theatre and a sweets shop at Oakland and Belmont, according to the Detroit News.

🎀 She gave many an inspiring quote, including when she told Elle magazine: "In terms of helping people understand and know each other a little better, music is universal β€” universal and transporting."

Left Photo: Franklin performs at MotorCity Casino's Sound Board Theater in 2013. Right photo: Franklin recording at Columbia Studios in 1962 in New York.
Left photo: Franklin performs at MotorCity Casino's Sound Board Theater in 2013. Right photo: Franklin recording at Columbia Studios in 1962 in New York. Photos: Scott Legato/Wire Image via Getty and Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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5. The answer is … Cadillac Place

Another view of the ceiling at Cadillac Place. Photo: Annalise Frank/Axios

πŸ‘ Congratulations to James M. and Jennifer B.! These two were randomly selected to win Axios Detroit swag after they answered last week's "Where in Detroit" quiz correctly.

The gorgeously intricate ceiling of Cadillac Place was the backdrop of Annalise's selfie in honor of Albert Kahn's birthday.

  • Kahn designed the New Center landmark, built starting in 1919 for General Motors, according to Historic Detroit.

6. Become a member today!

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Psst … did you know you're our favorite reader? Don't tell anyone.

  • But how about becoming an Axios Detroit member? We have a week's worth of giveaways to sweeten the deal and celebrate our supporters.

Why it matters: Memberships support local journalism and will help us secure more resources to cover the city we love.

Context: You'll score perks like exclusive emails, birthday shoutouts and more.

Today's giveaway … a bundle!

  • That includes some Axios swag including a tote and hat.

All members are automatically entered.

πŸ’— The bottom line: Thank you for your support.

Sweepstakes rules apply.

Our picks:

πŸ€‘ Joe is glad Jack Gohlke and Trey Townsend got some of that NIL money.

πŸ‘‚ Annalise is always looking for more longform podcast recommendations. Her favorite such storytelling was "S-Town," though she acknowledges it's been revealed to be very ethically problematic.