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  • Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well

    By LeeAnn Brown Some people say that hip-hop is dead. Local ban Fderal Ground is proving that is not the case. The seven-member band, consisting of three lead vocalists, a DJ, bass, drums and guitar, plays what they call “living hip-hop.” Their music, peppered with multiple styles, covers all aspects of life from growing up in the D to playing with fire despite knowing you will likely get burned. Their undeniable chemistry and raw lyrics compose a music that is living, breathing, and connecting to their listeners. It has been nearly 11 years since Vinny Mendez and Michael Powers conjured up the basement idea that has flowered into the Detroit funk-hop band Feral Ground. Throughout high school the two wrote and rapped consistently, playing shows here and there. In those years they matched their rap stanzas with the animated, dynamic voice of Ginger Nastase and saw an instant connection. The now trio backed their lyrics with DJ Aldo’s beats on and off for years, making him a permanent member within the last year, along with Andy DaFunk (bass), Joseph Waldecker (drums), and newest member, Craig Ericson (guitar). We sat down with Feral Ground and their manager, Miguel Mira, in their […]

    The post Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law

    Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]

    The post Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week

    Walking with Dinosaurs, a magnificent stage show that features life-sized animatronic creatures from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, will be in town next week. But to preview the show’s run at the Palace, a baby T-Rex will be making an appearance at four area malls to the delight and wonderment of shoppers. Baby T-Rex, as the creature is being affectionately referred to, is seven-feet-tall and 14-feet-long. He’ll only be at each mall for about 15 minutes, so while there will be photo opportunities, they’ll be short. The dino will be at Fairlane Town Center Center Court at 18900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit from 2-2:15 p.m. today, July 30; The Mall at Partridge Creek at 17420 Hall Rd. in Clinton Township from 5-5:15 p.m. today, July 30; Twelve Oaks Mall at the Lord & Taylor Court at 27500 Novi Rd., Novi tomorrow, Thursday July 31 from 1:30-1:45 p.m.; and Great Lakes Crossing Food Court at 4000 Baldwin Rd., Auburn Hills from 5-5:15 p.m., tomorrow Thursday, July 31.  

    The post Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations

    Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through BuildingDetroit.com, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.  

    The post Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial

    We don’t know about you, but usually Nancy Whiskey and Long John Silver’s aren’t two concepts we’d place in the same sentence. However, the international fast food fish fry conglomerate made a nod to the Detroit dive in their latest YouTube commercial. LJS is offering free fish fries on Saturday, August 2, which is the promotion the commercial is attempting to deliver. But, we think we’ll just go to Nancy Whiskey instead.

    The post Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women

    We came across an interesting item this week: Apparently, a music festival with the name “Michfest” is quietly oriented as a “Women-Only Festival Exclusively for ‘Women Born Women.’” It seems a strange decision to us. If you wanted to have a women-only music festival, why not simply proclaim loud and clear that it is for all sorts of women? But if you really wanted to become a lightning rod for criticisms about transphobia, organizers have found the perfect way to present their festival. Now, we know that defenders of non-cisgender folks have it tough. The strides made by gays and lesbians (and bisexuals) in the last 20 years have been decisive and dramatic. But the people who put the ‘T’ in LGBT have reason to be especially defensive, facing a hostile culture and even some disdain from people who should be their natural allies. That said, sometimes that defensiveness can cause some activists to go overboard; when we interviewed Dan Savage a couple years ago, he recalled his “glitter bombing” and said it was due to the “the narcissism of small differences,” adding that “if you’re playing the game of who is the most victimized, attacking your real enemies doesn’t prove you’re most victimized, claiming you […]

    The post Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Best of Detroit 2012

Real Deal - Staff Picks

Our staff picks for retail in Metro Detroit

Best Way to Soap 

up Your Skin

DressGreen

dressgreen.net

This local purveyor of bath and body products creates luxury items free of harsh additives and unnatural ingredients. Instead, DressGreen uses high-quality, natural ingredients and essential oils that clean, moisturize and leave your skin as fresh as a newborn's. Along with your basic bar soaps, DressGreen products include body creams, lip balms, perfumes, eye cream, facial masks and shaving soaps. Especially luxurious are the shampoo bars, which cleanse hair without removing essential oils — meaning your hair is as shiny and soft as the chick's in a shampoo commercial, but without the unhealthy and environmentally unfriendly chemicals. Products come in a variety of pleasing scents, including pomegranate juice, coconut milk, mint vanilla and lemon sugar, and arrive at your door in pretty, recyclable packages tied with a bow. DressGreen products are available at City Bird in Midtown, but for the full line of items, see the website.

Best Retail Change Over

Nest

460 W. Canfield, Detroit; 313-831-9776; nestdetroit.com

If you're anything like us, you were saddened when Midtown's Bureau of Urban Living permanently closed up shop. Not only were we going to miss browsing the shop's diverse mix of home accessories, but also because we couldn't imagine walking in to the space and not seeing proprietor Claire Nelson behind the counter offering a friendly smile and the latest neighborhood scuttlebutt. But the melancholy was short-lived thanks to the quick remake of the spot into a new home goods store, Nest. Operated by the Linn siblings, who also own City Bird (Nest's next-door neighbor), the store offers a range of products sure to add comfort or flair to any urban dwelling. Sweet-smelling soy candles, eye-catching terrariums, stationery, art prints, bar accessories, mixing bowls, soaps and a wide range of other items, decorative, functional and, oftentimes, both. Many products are from Michigan manufacturers or independent and family-owned companies, and the beautiful shelves displaying much of the merch were salvaged from Cass Tech.

Best Retro Store with Retro Soundtrack

Regeneration

23700 Woodward Ave., Pleasant Ridge; 248-414-7440

126 E. 14 Mile Rd., Clawson; 248-589-0500; regenerationclothing.org

The staff at Regeneration can be pretty tough, but not on their prices — a win-win, pretty much. Sure, they didn't want my dad's polyester button-up with its gaudily accentuated collar, or his tar-spotted pair of holey Levi's, but that's because they only let the best stuff out on their floor. Beyond fair prices and fairly cozy respite from the disturbing drone of megamalls and fried-food-flinging Target stores, one can be coaxed into loitering here extensively by the charm of the store's homespun soundtrack. Further research is required, but we've heard such pleasing and piquant mixes that included Talking Heads, Blondie, Massive Attack, Elvis Costello, Bo Diddley, Echo & the Bunnymen, the Kinks, the Smiths, Love, Beck, the Shirelles and even Chopin. What's that? Os Mutantes? When most stores along the strips of the suburbs seem content to dial in their satellite radio and zone-out, these folks take time to arrange playlists, thereby supplementing the store's already fetching style.

Best Place to Shop in Color

Scout

508 S. Washington, Royal Oak; 248-548-1065; ifounditatscout.com

This charming Royal Oak shop veritably pops with color, with walls painted a brilliant array of pink, teal and yellow and products grouped in attractive color-coordinated displays. Scout offers a seamless array of new and retro goods — from offbeat kitchen items and funky knickknacks to ceramics and fine art prints — with authentic vintage items sharing shelf-space with the hottest names in contemporary designs. It's often hard to distinguish the old from the new, and it's tempting to purchase a whole handful of goodies rather than disturb the owner's thoughtful, eye-pleasing arrangements. The knack for design and composition is further evidenced by the shop's striking window displays, which change to match the season or the holiday. Along with colorful decor, Scout also sells candles, lotions, perfume, art books, plush animals, T-shirts and jewelry.

Best Place to Put Up Visitors on the Cheap

Hostel Detroit

2700 Vermont St., Detroit; 313-451-0333;

hosteldetroit.com

Upon hearing the words "Hostel Detroit," travelers may be tempted to imagine a dark, drafty warehouse affording little comfort — but they couldn't be more wrong. Located in one of Corktown's historic corner storefronts, Hostel Detroit has a decidedly bed and breakfast feel — fresh flowers and potted plants line the windowsills — and it's quiet enough to curl up with a good book. Topping out at 22 guests, the hostel offers private ($47 per night), semi-private ($30 per night) and dorm ($25 per night) accommodations. As an educational hostel, Hostel Detroit prides itself on its ability to educate patrons about the city through in-depth conversation, tours and even pairing patrons up with like-minded individuals who are excited to show off hidden gems around town. If you're thinking of traveling to Detroit yourself or have friends and family looking to visit the D affordably, our staff agrees, Hostel Detroit is the place to stay.

Best Place to Shop, Cook & Stay

Honor & Folly

Above Slows Bar B-Q at 2138 Michigan Ave., Detroit; honorfolly@gmail.com; honorandfolly.com

Honor & Folly is the brick and mortar manifestation of Meghan McEwen's passion for design and travel. The freelance writer, blogger and former editor of design magazine CS Interiors has created a space that is part retail design shop, part boutique hotel and part classroom. Located above Slows, the two-bedroom inn comes complete with access to a fully stocked kitchen, and while it may not offer all the amenities of large hotels, it is sure to appeal to adventurous travelers who prefer access to vintage bikes over room service. The space is outfitted with handmade items from local designers, from cutting boards and bed linens to aprons and lighting, most of which are also available for purchase. Honor & Folly can also be rented out for parties and other small events, and it also offers cooking classes with Chef Tenley Lark, whose résumé includes stints at Roast, Slows and Le Petit Zinc. Most classes are $50 or $60, and include topics such as Southern classics and knife skills. To book a bedroom or two for your choosy out-of-town guests ($165 per night for one room), to purchase a handmade apron or for a schedule of classes, see the website.

Best Place for 

Kitchen Supplies 

Advanced Restaurant Services

13201 Prospect Rd., Dearborn; 313-945-5600; advancedrestaurantservices.com

Our big tip here is a concept. Typical consumers assume that restaurant supply shops are not for them, despite signs that say "Open to the Public." And thus most of us miss out on great buys, great advice and a great shopping experience. True, a place like Advanced in Dearborn sells freezers large enough to hold the entire kitchen of many a MT reader; we've seen shops where the smallest deep fryer needed a gallon of oil. But these stores have plenty of restaurant-quality items — from bamboo skewers to ramekins to knives and stock pots and bar stools — that can also work just fine in the home. And last time we checked, we didn't see any of those cool "Please Wait to Be Seated" signs at Williams-Sonoma. Advanced — founded in 1917 — is reputedly the largest of these outfits in the area, sprawling over an area roughly the size of an auto plant. Go in looking for a paring knife, and we guarantee you'll come out with more.

Best Detroit Gift Destination

Tulani Rose in the Spiral Collective

4201 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-832-2477

We found a number of Yelp commenters whose experience matched our own: we'd needed a gift and been saved by Tulani Rose, part of the Spiral Collective at the corner of Cass and Willis (the former sites of the Cass Corridor Food Co-op and Cobb's Corner for Detroit history heads, the bustling strip that includes Avalon Breads these days). Select clothing, accessories and jewelry, soaps, teas, incense are among the offerings. Bellocq's custom-blended teas, Saipua olive oil-based soaps, blank handmade books and reclaimed wood jewelry are some of the top goods currently, proprietor Sharon Pryor tells us. Adding synergy to a visit is that the collective of women entrepreneurs includes Source Booksellers (which focuses on nonfiction, including metaphysical-spiritual concerns, health and well-being, feminism and African-American culture) and Dell Pryor Galleries (whose exhibits have included artists as established as the late Romare Bearden as well as new discoveries). Although all three outfits go back much further (all the way to the 1970s for Dell Pryor), their collective is now celebrating a milestone 10th anniversary. 

Best Place to Get Wedding Photos that Pop

Stereoghost

661 Kensington Ave., Ferndale; 248-962-3339; stereoghost3d.com

It's becoming a widely accepted truth that everything is infinitely more awesome in 3-D — including those wedding or graduation photos you need to have taken. Stereoghost, a new company headed by local photographer and technical artist Chris Dean, offers custom 3-D photographs of anything you like, including people and architecture. Photo shoots start at a base rate of $300 plus variable costs of your particular requests. Two distinct processes are used: anaglyph, a trusted process that requires the viewer to wear those stylish 3-D glasses, and lenticular, which yields a hologram-like photo and does not require the glasses.

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