Thursday, August 31, 2006

Good Bye to Genie’s Wienies

Do you have a favorite restaurant?

In all my travels, a couple of my favorite restaurants are still the ones back in my old hometown of Hamtramck, Michigan.

The tale begins in 1950 when John Cieslak purchased the little restaurant in Detroit, on the corner of Conant and Casmere, a block off the Hamtramck border. John’s oldest son, Gene, took over the restaurant in 1970. Gene, who is the very name to Genie’s Wienies, and his wife Donna ran the family business until Gene retired in 1999. Their daughter, Michelle, took over as the third generation owner.

So what is Genie’s Wienies? Genie’s is a rare metro Detroit coney island owned by Polish Americans for the past 56 years. Genie’s is more than a local coney island, it’s a city icon, celebrated by dinners, musicians and pop-culture mavens. It contains only 675 square feet and features a simple menu; hot dogs, loose burgers in a hot dog bun, hamburgers and cheese burgers all smothered with onions, mustard and their famous secret-recipe chili. French fries and Boston Coolers top off their menu. (A Boston Cooler is Vernor’s Ginger Ale with vanilla ice cream and it can’t be just any ginger ale, it HAS to be Vernors. To try a Vernors for yourself, you can order it by mail at

My first experience going to Genie’s was when I was an alter boy at Our Lady Queen of Apostles. One Saturday, after helping the nuns clean the sacristy, my friend Rob Solecki’s dad treated us to Genie’s Wienies. The year was 1970, I was in the sixth grade. I remember the burgers cost a quarter because Rob’s dad said he recalled when they were only fifteen cents. Today you’ll dish out two dollars and five cents for the tasty morsel and if you want a cheese burger, that will cost you and extra thirty-five cents. The price may have gone up but the delicious flavor is the same.

When I was in the seventh and eight grades at Q of A Grade School my mom would occasionally give my younger brother, Joe, and me a dollar each for lunch. During our lunch break we would race over to Genies, a block away from the school, for a burger, fries and Coke; all for under a dollar. It was definitely a treat I looked forward to.

Throughout the years, as out-of-town guests would visit, one of the highlights was a visit to Genie’s. A visit to Hamtramck just wasn’t complete without it. One friend, Jeff Bibik, from Chicago, even missed his flight home because he had to have a Genie’s. What had happened was that Bibik forgot to set his watch ahead. His flight was to leave at 4pm Eastern Standard Time (EST). His watch read 2pm, but it was set to Central Standard Time (CST), which in actuality was 3pm in Detroit. So after our quick meal I ran him to the airport, we said our good-byes and a half an hour later he called to tell me he missed his flight, but not to worry, the Genie’s Wienies were worth it.

Also, throughout the years my wife, Lori, and I have had the pleasure of introducing our nephews and nieces to our local treat.

Whether it was for lunch, dinner or as a late night snack after the bars closed you always knew you’d get a delicious, one of a kind fix at Genie’s along with a smile and a hardy welcome from Gene, Donna, Gene’s brothers John or Bob and most recently Gene and Donna’s daughter, Michelle.

On September 3rd, 2006, at 5pm, after 56 years, the Cieslaks will shut down Genie’s. Sunday is going to be a sad day in Hamtramck. It’s like saying goodbye to an old friend. Genie’s Wienies has been a part of my life for over thirty-five years. A visit to my old home town just won’t be the same without them.

I wish my friends, the Cieslak family, good fate and good fortune. They are planning on reopening out in the suburbs in the near future but there will be a great void left where they once were.


Al The Only

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Magic in Dearborn, Michigan = up-close, close up with Magician Al The Only

  • Looking for a wonderful place to go out for a delicious meal? Need to treat a spouse to a nice evening out? Do you have a client who you would like to wine and dine? Want to spend some time with a good friend during a delightful meal and a couple of cocktails? Isn’t it time to take your wife and kids out for a refined meal? (How about your parents or your in-laws?) If you answered "YES" to any of the above, consider going out on a Wednesday evening to break up the week and to make the dining experience special.

    Now, considering all of the above, you add laughter, excitement, interactive magic and the pleasant company of Amusionist Al The Only and you’ll have a tremendous evening that you’ll remember for a long time.

    Dearborn, MI is the place to be, if you live in the greater Detroit metropolitan area or are just passing through, on the following Wednesdays, August 30th and September 6, 2006 from 7pm - 9pm, because Magician / Comic Al The Only will be appearing at Kiernan’s Steak House, performing up-close, tableside magic and comedy, entertaining the dinner guests with his award winning sleight-of-hand magic and his sleight-of-wit.

    Kiernan’s is located at 21931 Michigan Avenue (corner of Monroe, east of Telegraph Road and west of the Southfield Freeway) in Dearborn, Michigan. Reservations are requested but walk-ins are welcome. Call Kiernan’s at 313-565-8975. Tell the hostess you want to see Al The Only and that you heard about him on his blog.


    Al The Only

    PS I’d like to wish you a safe and happy Labor Day Weekend. Enjoy time with your family and friends.

    PPS With Labor Day here it means that Christmas will soon follow. It’s still not too late to call Al The Only for your entertainment of magic, comedy and good clean fun at your holiday party.

    For more information, dates and availability call today:
    1-800-tricky1 (1-800-874-2591)

    Al The Only on MySpace

    Al The Only blogs

    Friday, August 25, 2006

    Good Fortune by "I Love Lucy" Lucille Ball

    "I don’t know anything about luck or good fortune. I’ve never banked on it, and I’m afraid of people who do. Fortune to me is something else: hard work - and realizing what is opportunity and what isn’t."

    - Lucille Ball

    Are you exhibiting at a trade show and want great results and good fortune?

    Being at a trade show is not enough to bank on.

    What would it be worth to you if you knew specific strategies that allowed you to connect and influence potential customers at a trade show with class, style and professionalism? Stopping a crowd, telling them about your product or service, and then getting a lead or sale is what makes it all worthwhile. Use the opportunity to have a professional spokesperson like me in your booth. With my knowledge and hard work you will have good fortune at your next trade show exhibit.

    I've been doing just that since 1984. A quick phone call to 1-800-874-2591 can help with the success of your next trade show.


    Al The Only

    Tuesday, August 15, 2006

    Protect Your Digital Gear While Traveling

    Many of us travel for business and carry our office with us. There are a few of you who get to break away on a vacation but are still tied to your laptop, PDA and cell phone.

    I use Trend Micro PC-cillin as virus protection on my laptop / notebook computer and am extremely happy with their product and upgrades.

    In the July edition of their new monthly newsletter “Security Brief” the fine folks at Trend Micro offer some sound advice.


    Protect your Digital Gear while on Vacation

    Planning to take your laptop, PDA, cell phone with you on vacation? Remember some basic travel and vacation protection tips.

    Make sure your computer has the latest Internet Security software for protection from viruses, spyware, Trojans, hackers and SPAM. Before you depart on your vacation, back up all critical files and information and leave your backup(s) in a secure location at home or work.

    Remove unnecessary information from your laptop and USB drive, in case the device(s) are compromised or stolen. Also, password protect your computer, PDA and other digital equipment.

    Be wary when accessing wireless hot-spots; free does not mean safe.

    Don't pack your digital computer or other valuables in checked luggage.

    Do not put or leave your laptop computer, PDA, cell phone or camera visible in the car; store it out of sight in the trunk prior to arriving at your final destination.

    Keep a watchful eye on your computer, digital equipment, and other valuables, as they pass through security checkpoints. Retrieve all of your belongings after passing through security.

    If lost or stolen, put a hold or cancel all of your online accounts as soon as possible - including your computer account(s), to minimize the chances of identity and information theft.

    Most of all, remember to enjoy your vacation and your time away from the office.

    Click here to learn more about PC-cillin and Trend Micro.


    I would like to thank Trend Micro for their advice and I’d like to add the following suggestions.

    Have your data backed up on a travel disk and keep it separate from your computer or PDA. I keep my updated data information on a back up disk so that in the event my laptop crashes, or just as bad, gets stolen, I can access my information from another computer.

    Bolt your computer down in your hotel room. I carry a cable wire with lock to secure my laptop in my hotel room. This connects to your computer and wraps around a table leg. I’ve never had any problems with hotel maids or staff but this does add a little extra security when I’m out of the room for the day. Cable locks can be purchased from you favorite computer retailer.

    Personalize your equipment. It’s not a bad idea to engrave your name and phone number onto the bottom of you equipment. This may not help you find it in case of robbery but it certainly will help you identify the item if recovered.

    You can’t enter without the secret word. I totally agree to have password protection on all your programs especially on your bios booth system. That way, even if anyone turns your computer on, it makes it more difficult for them to easily access your information. It’s better that they trash your machine rather then get your person or business data.

    I’m in Montreal working a conference. Whether you’re on vacation or on the road for business, I wish you safe and happy travels.


    Al The Only

    Monday, August 14, 2006

    Client Testimonial

    I received this wonderful letter from the new Mr. & Mrs. Ernie Lush. If you read my blog yesterday (8/13/06 - “Should we hire Al The Only or order the shrimp?”) I told you about this delightful couple who at the ages of 79 and 61, after twenty years of being together, finally got married. I performed my strolling magic during their reception back in July. Here is what Diane wrote:


    August 6, 2006

    Dear Al,

    Greetings from the new bride and groom.

    Thank you for the thank you letter. You beat me to it. We are the ones who should be thanking you. The entertainment you provided our guests was certainly one of the most enjoyed and talked-about elements of our celebration. Remember our choice was “Al The Only” or shrimp? You said they’d remember you long after the taste of shrimp was forgotten. You were right!!!

    We hope our affair leads to new contacts for you and that we’ll be invited to someone else’s affair so we can once again mystified and entertained by your talents. You’re terriffic!


    Mr. and Mrs. Ernie Lush (I just love seeing that in print.)


    WOW! Isn’t that nice!?!? I’ve been performing magic as a full time living for the last 26 years and I’m still flattered by such kind words. It just goes along with my mission of providing wonderful memories of your party for your guests!


    Al The Only

    Sunday, August 13, 2006

    “Should we hire Al The Only or order the shrimp?”

    Let me tell you about two delightful people, Ernie Lush and Diane Van Hoet.

    Ernie is 79 and Diane is 61 years young. They met at a Parents Without Partners Dance in 1986. They’ve been happily ever after ever since; now, both with grown children and a couple grandchildren. They’ve been living, loving, working and playing together for twenty years. One day they overheard their youngest granddaughter tell her older sister that Grandpa and Grandma had said something. The older girl, seven years old, told her younger sister that they’re really not their grandparents because they’re not married.

    This broke Ernie and Diane’s hearts. They never gave into peer pressure to get married. They didn’t get married because of the kids but that particular day their grandchildren melted their hearts. So after twenty years of dating they decided to tie the knot at the ages of 79 and 61. Diane laughingly says that “We finally got serious about the relationship.” Ernie says he robbed the cradle; Diane says she robbed the wheelchair! You have to love these two. They both have a wonderful sense of humor and even a greater zest for life.

    Ernie retired from the jewelry business in March of 2006. So where do I come in?

    Ernie and Diane first became acquainted with me in 1987 when the couple saw me perform at Les and Lili Gold’s American Jewelry and Loan Company Christmas Party. Diane still has the playing card I had her sign and used it in a card trick that evening. Ernie and Diane have seen me at subsequent parties. When they stared planning their wedding reception they knew they wanted to make it special. When Ernie described the reception he said that he had spent his entire life making money and now he and Diane were going to enjoy spending it. They rented the Ovation, a stunning, tri-level, 138-foot yacht that sails up and down Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River (between the international boarder of Canada and the United States). They knew that the food was going to be delicious. They knew the band, who played on the open air top level, was going to be terrific. They knew that the booze was going to be flowing freely. They knew the staff and crew of the Ovation was going to make sure the evening would float (pun intended) without a hitch (oops another pun). But Ernie and Diane wanted to take their party over the top. They wanted their very important guests to remember and talk about their reception long after the icing on the cake had melted.

    Ernie and Diane had close to 250 guests at their wedding. Friends flew in from all over the world: Japan, Australia, Germany, Russia and England. Friends and family came up to Michigan from all across the United States. It was a fitting tribute to two very charming people. Ernie and Diane knew that I would be the ticket to make their party more memorable.

    When I’m back in the Detroit area and have a free Wednesday evening, I magically pop back into my old stomping grounds, Kiernan’s Steak House, in Dearborn, Michigan, where I use to perform before moving to Maui. Ernie and Diane contacted me, found out what night I was going to be at Kiernan’s, came in for dinner and to talk to me. In between courses I would stop at their table to entertain them with my magic. They told me the story about their granddaughters. They told me about their wedding plans and how they wanted to include me. Every time I stopped by, we had fun, they kept saying how much they loved my work and they wanted me at their party but probably couldn’t afford me. I told them I would call them after I knew if I was available for their date.

    My calendar was open for that date and I was going to be in the area. I called to tell them that I was available and what my fee was. Diane exclaimed that that’s exactly what the cost of the jumbo shrimp was going to be. (Later Diane told me that I had said that I would be more appreciated and with all the other delicious food no one would miss the shrimp.) Diane told me to send her a contract.

    Saturday, July 22nd, 2006 was a beautiful, sunny, warm day in the Detroit area. Ernie and Diane exchanged their wedding vows near a gazebo overlooking Lake Saint Clair. The guests boarded the Ovation and as we sailed out of the Jefferson Beach Marina in St. Clair Shores, Michigan the party began. The cruise lasted four hours. My job was to mingle with the guests on all three levels as the ship sailed. Using my up close, strolling magic, sleight-of-hand and interactive comedy I brought people into conversations, included strangers into groups and basically entertained them beyond belief. The two granddaughters, who finally got Ernie and Diane together, followed me around like a pied piper. Everyone had a grand evening.

    The accolades, even after 26 years, still overwhelm me. The new Mr. and Mrs. Lush (Diane LOVES seeing that in print), kept gushing over me and thanking me for being such a big part of their evening. I know I had as much fun as their guests did.

    Come back for tomorrow's blog post to read Ernie and Diane’s letter to me after the reception.


    Al The Only

    PS I'm not just selling entertainment, I provide wonderful memories of your party for your guests!

    Friday, August 11, 2006

    SPECIAL TRAVEL ADVISORY - August 11, 2006

    As you know, I fly over 100,000 miles a year performing around the country at company parties, corporate functions and association events. That’s a lot of time in airports and on airplanes. Like many, I was glued to the news as reports came out of the UK regarding the latest terrorism attempt. You have to compliment and appreciate the fine work the UK government displayed to thwart off a potentially disastrous day.

    In Hawaii, I fly Aloha Airlines Inter-island to perform at conventions with my “Al Loha - The tourist who missed his flight home and stayed by popular demand” magic and comedy show. I belong to several frequent flier clubs. I want to compliment Aloha Airlines. They were the first airline to send a public notice to help us travelers understand the new travel advisory (reprinted, with permission, below).

    When visiting Hawaii check out Aloha Airlines for great rates and wonderful service to fly between the islands.


    Al The Only

    SPECIAL TRAVEL ADVISORY - August 11, 2006


    You may have a trip planned in the near future, and we'd like to inform you about some new security measures that have been implemented effective today.
    Due to the heightened security levels recently enacted at our airports, Aloha Airlines has been advised by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that effective immediately, any liquids or gel-like substances will not be allowed as a carry-on aboard any aircraft. Screening and disposal of such items will take place at the security checkpoints and at the departure gates. Examples of prohibited items include but are not limited to: bottled water, all beverages such as juice and milk, shampoos, toothpaste, perfumes, aerosols, hair gels, oils, lotions and creams.


    Items that fall within this category include:

    All beverages of any type in any size container, including:
  • Bottled water
  • Shampoo
  • Suntan lotion
  • Creams
  • Toothpaste
  • Hair gel
  • Contact lens solution
  • Other items of similar consistency

    Such items may be transported in checked baggage. Exceptions include:
  • Baby formula or breast milk, only if a baby or small child is traveling
  • Prescription medicine with a name that matches the passenger's ticket
  • Insulin and essential other non-prescription medications

    Beverages purchased in the sterile area must be consumed before boarding because they will not be permitted onboard the aircraft.

    Any item that is liquid or gel-like in form, will only be allowed in the passenger's checked baggage.

    Travelers should anticipate longer lines and slower processing by the TSA at the security checkpoints as a result of the additional security measures. Please plan accordingly to assure that you have sufficient time to get to your departure gate to board your flight on time. Passengers are advised to arrive at the airport at least three hours prior to departure for Trans-Pacific flights and two hours prior to departure for Inter-island flights.

    Aloha Airlines would also like to advise our customers on steps you can take to ease your travel experience during this period:

    Pack lightly, without clutter to facilitate easier screening.

    Please arrive three hours prior to scheduled departure time for Trans-Pacific flights and two hours prior for Inter-island flights within Hawaii.

    Cooperate with TSA personnel at all checkpoints and gates. TSA Security Officers will also be checking carry-on baggage at the gate.

    Be attentive and vigilant to any suspicious activity.

    Do not leave luggage or personal items unattended.

    Due to these heightened security measures, we ask for your patience and understanding as we work closely with the TSA and our airport authorities to assure your flight's safety.

    Further information is available on our website at or from the TSA's own advisory page found here: TSA Travel Advisory.
    • Thursday, August 10, 2006

      TFTD (Thought For The Day) = "LOST IN THE 1950s & 1960s"

      LOST IN THE 1950s & 1960s
      (author unknown)

      A little house with three bedrooms and one car on the street,
      A mower that you had to push to make the grass look neat.

      In the kitchen on the wall we only had one phone,
      And no need for recording things, someone was always home.

      We only had a living room where we would congregate,
      Unless it was at mealtime in the kitchen where we ate.

      We had no need for family rooms or extra rooms to dine,
      When meeting as a family just one room would work out fine

      We only had one TV set, and channels, maybe two,
      But always there was one of them with something worth the view.

      For snacks we had potato chips that tasted like a chip,
      And if you wanted flavor there was Lipton's onion dip.

      Store-bought snacks were rare because my mother liked to cook,
      And nothing can compare to snacks in Betty Crocker's book.

      Weekends were for family trips or staying home to play,
      We all did things together, even go to church to pray.

      Sometimes we would separate to do things on our own,
      But we knew where the others were, without our own cell phone.

      Then there were the movies with your favorite movie star,
      And nothing can compare to watching movies from your car.

      Then there were the picnics at the peak of summer season,
      Pack a lunch and find some trees and never need a reason.

      Get a baseball game together with all the friends you know,
      Have real action playing ball, and no game video.

      Remember when the doctor used to be the family friend,
      And didn't need insurance or a lawyer to defend?

      The way that he took care of you or what he had to do,
      Because he took an oath and strived to do the best for you.

      Remember going to the store when the skies were oh so sunny,
      And when you paid for what you got you used your very own money?

      Nothing you had to swipe or punch, or put in some amount,
      And you had a friendly cashier that actually could count?

      The milkman went from door to door,
      For just a few cents more than a trip to the store.

      The mail was delivered right to your door,
      Without the junk mail that we all deplore.

      There was a time when just one glance was all that it would take,
      And you would know the kind of car, the model and the make.

      They didn't look like turtles trying to squeeze out every mile;
      They were streamlined, white walls, fins, and really had some style.

      One time the music that you played whenever you would jive,
      Was from a vinyl, big-holed disc they called a forty-five.

      The record player had a post to keep them all in line,
      And then the records would drop down and play one at a time.

      Oh sure, we had our problems then, just like we do today,
      As always we were striving, to find a better way.

      But how the simple lives we led, still seems like so much fun,
      When the only way to explain a game, was just kick the can and run?

      And why would boys put baseball cards between bicycle spokes,
      And for a nickel red machines had little bottled Cokes?

      This life seemed so much easier and slower in some ways,
      I love the new technology but I really miss those days.

      So time moves on and so do we, and nothing stays the same,
      But I sure love to reminisce and walk down memory lane.

      # # #

      I received this poem in an e-mail from a friend. It brought back some wonderful memories and I wanted to share them with you. I wish I knew who wrote this so I could give them credit. Thanks for taking the time of walking down memory lane with me.


      Al The Only

      Wednesday, August 09, 2006

      Tableside Magic at Kiernan's in Dearborn, Michigan

      Wednesday, August 9, 2006 from 7pm - 9pm, Magician / Comic Al The Only will be appearing at Kiernan's Steak House, performing up-close, tableside magic and comedy, entertaining the dinner guests with his award winning sleight-of-hand magic and his sleight-of-wit.

      Kiernan's is located at 21931 Michigan Avenue (corner of Monroe) in Dearborn, Michigan. Reservations are requested but walk-ins are welcome. Call Kiernan's at 313-565-8975. Tell the hostess you want to see Al The Only and that you heard about him on his blog.


      Al The Only

      Entertainment for corporate functions, association events, company parties, banquets, luncheons, award / recognition dinners and holiday parties.

      For more information, dates and availability call today:
      1-800-tricky1 (1-800-874-2591)