This is a story about the most magical, mystical sport on earth, and the Detroit lifer who improbably became its king. Also, it's about an art heist. ... Featherbowling was born from that medieval family of games that endure in no small part because they can be played with a beverage in the shooter's free hand. It's Belgian shuffleboard. It's horseshoes with a pigeon feather target. It's bocce, except you roll discs that have been slightly weighted to rotate unevenly across the earth, exposing the shooter's secret divine grace. It's pétanque, kubb, mölkky, curling, Cherokee marbles, Irish road bowls -- the variations are endless -- but none has the otherworldly mystery of this thing they play at the Cadieux Cafe on the east side of Detroit. That 60-foot downhill triple breaker Tiger Woods nailed on the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass in 2001, which sucked every last atom of karma out of the air around it -- that's every sixth shot in featherbowling. You shout op de pluim when your ball snakes through the gantlet of other fallen wheels, wobbling like a wounded buffalo nickel, before settling on the feather. ... Which is to say, it's a game in which tiny prayers are repeatedly answered, accumulating over time, until something is answered that nobody had even known to pray for.
Five years ago, after growing Fossil into a $2 billion accessories behemoth, Kartsotis hatched Shinola, a high-end watch brand famous, mostly, for being manufactured in Detroit. ... This is just the latest postmodern layer Kartsotis has baked into Shinola, which is no longer an experiment in manufacturing authenticity, but a fast-growing business. "The coolest brand in America"--as recently ordained by Adweek--can now be found in boutiques from Paris to Singapore. Shinola retail stores have surfaced in more than a dozen cities; plans are to almost triple that by late 2017. The brand isn't slowing down for anyone--not even the Federal Trade Commission. In November, the government agency went after Shinola's "Built in Detroit" tagline, accusing the company of embellishing its made-in-America claims. ... Kartsotis has spent his career finding creative ways to boost the value of ordinary products. Born to a Greek American family, he dropped out of Texas A&M, discovering his entrepreneurial flair as a ticket scalper. In his early 20s, he ventured to Asia with a plan to import cheap toys, until he was tipped off that the market for moderately priced Asian-made watches was growing. With $200,000 that he'd earned scalping, Kartsotis opened Overseas Products International, an importer of watches from Hong Kong. But it wasn't until Kartsotis came across Life and Look magazines from the 1950s that Overseas morphed into the brand called Fossil.