You have created a Hamtramck-themed T-shirt. Tell us what it is and what inspired you to create it.
Komisarz: Except for a period of about five years, I’ve lived in Hamtramck my entire life. I’ve seen the changes in the city. It’s not too difficult to see that Hamtramck is no longer primarily Polish but, in fact, consists of many different ethnicities.
In 2008, when The Citizen held a new Hamtramck slogan contest, I entered several slogans — one of which turned out to be the winner! (Hamtramck: The World in Two Square Miles). I kind of forgot about it until I found out someone else was trying to take credit for my slogan.
Well, that catapulted me into action. I decided to put the slogan on T-shirts. I created the T-shirt design, found a web-based local company and had a few shirts printed, just to see how things go. I selected the colors green and blue. Green to represent the lush green-ness of Michigan in the spring and summer and blue to represent the Great Lakes.
How are the sales going, how much are they and where can we purchase them? Is this a limited run?
Komisarz: Honestly? Shirt sales are going very slowly. I’ve given away more for Christmas gifts than I’ve sold! They are available for $15 at Café 1923 on Holbrook and Dubois. Members of my family and I are going to Poland. Proceeds from the sales of the T-shirts will help fund my dad’s and my trip. (Looks like I’ll be using my income tax refund!)
If sales don’t improve, this will definitely be a limited run. So, for those of you that have a T-shirt, hang on to them, they could become a collector’s item!
If this goes well will you expand your T-shirt line? Maybe T-shirts for other cities? Or favorite causes of yours?
Komisarz: I hadn’t really thought that far ahead. With the way things are going now, I don’t think I need to either! Although, if this were to take off, sure, I’d love to expand the line. I’d have to feel a connection to whatever I created though.
You obviously love Hamtramck, what are some of the things that you like about the city and what are some of your pet peeves about Hamtramck?
Komisarz: I love the quaintness and friendliness of (most) of the people. It’s really nice to be known at the stores I frequent most; to be on a first-name basis with the proprietor or employees and get special treatment.
Sometimes, I feel like the mayor without all the hassle! (Hi Karen!) I love hearing the church bells. I love the aroma of freshly-baked bread in the morning. I love being able to smell the kielbasa smoking. I love talking to people I pass on the street, usually while walking my dog. I love the history. (Although, I admit, I must learn more.) I love that artists are flocking to Hamtramck.
Oh dear, pet peeves. I have a few.
People who park in my dad’s handicap spot. People who show no respect for their elders when walking down the street. Loud music late at night. A horn blaring early in the morning. Open trash bins. Litterbugs. Unshoveled sidewalks and unmowed lawns.
Basically, rude, inconsiderate, disrespectful, lazy people. I call lazy people F.L.A.P.s. You’ll have to figure out on your own what F.L.A.P. stands for. Anyway, none of my pet peeves is unique to Hamtramck, by any means.
Speaking of pet causes, you are a big animal lover. Tell us about your passion for animals and animal rights.
Komisarz: I don’t know when or even why it started. All I know is that I do love animals. Animals are innocent beings. They are completely reliant on us, much like children. They love you unconditionally. I’m convinced they feel sadness and happiness. I know they feel pain.
Hearing about animal abuse is horribly disturbing and hurts me terribly. But I feel it’s my responsibility, as an animal lover, to shove your face in it, so-to-speak. People need to be aware. They need to believe they can make a difference and need to keep trying. Who knows? Your signature on that petition just might make the difference in an animal’s life. Many of my friends and family “hide” me on Facebook because they can’t stand to read the stories. But, like I said, I feel it’s my duty.
I’ve had a pet for as long as I can remember. No matter how bad a mood I’m in, just looking at my dog, Lucky, brings a smile to my face. Everyone should understand, however, that having a pet is a big responsibility.
They’re not here simply to “exist” or just be. They need to be well-cared for, shown love, affection and attention. They get bored too and need to be kept busy, for at least part of the day. I walk Lucky every morning (unless I’m sick or it’s treacherous out). Not only is it good exercise for the dog, it’s good exercise for me and it also forms a deeper bond between us.
Hamtramckans are known to have pets, but what do you make of so many landlords not allowing pets?
Komisarz: In one sense, I can understand it. The landlord wants his or her place to be kept clean. Dogs use the yard to do their duty. Pets shed. Pets have accidents. On the other hand, I think the landlord must never have felt the love of a pet, otherwise he or she wouldn’t be so cold-hearted. Realistically, though, the landlord could ask for extra security deposit if the tenant has a pet. It all boils down to responsible pet ownership (and not being lazy).
We also know you have a pretty interesting background in music. You once sang back-up for Nikki Corvette “back in the day.” Tell us a tale or two about that experience.
Komisarz: Oh, gosh. Those were the good old days. We used to tour in a van with no seats other than a driver seat and a passenger seat. Our equipment AND the seven of us (six in the band and a roadie) would all pile in that ONE van and tour the country.
Looking back on it, all I remember is the fun. I mean, sure, it was cramped and the road was long, but I was young. I remember stopping at a diner down south. We were so tired and had played so many one-nighters that we didn’t even know what city we were in. We had to ask one of the diners who answered us in his southern drawl, “Why, ya’ll are in the great city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.”
We spent three weeks in North Carolina and experienced southern hospitality first-hand. We had home-cooked meals and were invited to stay at people’s homes as they wouldn’t hear of us staying in a hotel. I was even proposed to! We met Iggy in our hotel lobby in Toronto, I think it was.
After our gig, we went to his gig and went backstage. David Byrne of The Talking Heads came to see us at Bookies. We opened for The Motels, if anyone remembers them, at The Second Chance. But I’d say the highlight of being in Nikki and The Corvettes was opening for The Ramones at The Second Chance in Ann Arbor. And we were a “pick” in People Magazine’s “Picks and Pans” section. I still keep in touch with “the gals” and the bass player.
Any last thoughts before we say goodbye?
Komisarz: People need to care. If you want to live in a great city, heck, even a decent city, you have to care. Start with one thing at a time and, hopefully, a snowball effect will be created. Care about your child(ren), your family, your pet, your home, your property. If we all just cared a little, Hamtramck could once again be a great city. Just care people. Here’s a quote from one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite artists:
I can’t stop the war,
Feed the poor.
I can’t walk on water,
I can’t save your sons and daughters.
I can’t change the world and make things fair.
The least that I can do is care. ~Kid Rock