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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 2013

Public Square - Staff Picks

Our staff picks for Metro Detroit

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Best Place To Turn if Facing Foreclosure or Eviction

Detroit Eviction Defense

detroitevictiondefense.org

Here’s the thing about Detroit Eviction Defense: They get the fact that neither the court nor the banks (especially the banks) can be counted on when it comes to helping people avoid foreclosure or eviction. Some members of this coalition — self-described as a “network of homeowners, union members, faith-based activists, and community advocates” — have been involved in this struggle for years, and they’ve learned that what does work is public pressure and resistance. Protesting in front of banks and blocking Dumpsters from being parked in front of homes and packing courtrooms — that’s what works. And their ranks continue to grow because those helped become part of the movement. But you don’t have to wait until the sheriff is pounding on your door to get involved. Contact them at DetroitEvictionDefense@gmail.com or call AJ at 313-429-5009.

 

Best Detroit Statue to Visit

Hazen S. Pingree

Grand Circus Park

The statue itself is just some old-timey-looking guy in a double-breasted frock coat leaning forward on a chair trimmed with fringe. He looks kind of mean, actually. The words on the plaque attached to the statue’s base are the really striking thing about this tribute to the man who served as Detroit’s mayor and then Michigan’s governor at the tail end of the 1800s.  A successful businessman and war hero, what made him the “Idol of the People” that the plaque describes him as was this: “He was the first to warn the people of the great danger threatened by powerful corporations, and the first to awake to the great inequalities in taxation and to initiate steps for reform.” He was a courageous visionary who looked out for the best interests of common folk, and Detroit could so much use someone with his heart and mind today.

 

Best Investigative Reporter on TV

Ross Jones

WXYZ, Channel 7

The flash might be over at FOX 2, but the real goods are delivered by the investigators at Channel 7, with Jones’ work at the forefront. He’s the guy who broke the severance-pay scandal that led to a (still ongoing) FBI investigation of Wayne County government, and his scoop about the illegal real estate dealings of Diane Hathaway is the reason she’s a former Michigan Supreme Court Justice who recently pleaded guilty to felony bank fraud. All his good work has been earning Jones (who, to top things off, is a certifiably nice guy) bundles of awards. The Detroit Society of Professional Journalists named him the area’s “Young Journalist of the Year” in 2012, and he’s a big part of the reason WXYZ recently brought home an ultra-prestigious Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award for excellence in broadcast journalism.

 

Best New Addition to the Detroit Media Scene

Deadline Detroit

deadlinedetroit.com

 

This online-only effort features both original reporting and comment along with a daily round-up of all the top stories in the local, state and national media about metro Detroit. With Bill McGraw, who worked for the Detroit Free Press for 32 years, and Allan Lengel, who worked for the Detroit News and the Washington Post, at the helm, the quality is first-rate. The work of the irreverent, sharp-witted Jeff Wattrick is consistently a kick, and the lineup of contributing columnists features, among others, MT alum Sandra Svoboda.

 

Best Nonprofit Anniversary To Celebrate

Motor City Blight Busters

17405 Lahser Rd., Detroit

313-255-4355; blightbustersdetroit.com

Come June, it will be 25 years since John George decided to address the decline of his Old Redford neighborhood on Detroit’s northwest side. He started by going over and boarding up an abandoned home that had been turned into a crack house. That act served as the starting point for what has become Motor City Blight Busters, one of the city’s most lauded — and downright effective — nonprofits. From that one-man crusade, the organization has become an institution that attracts some 10,000 volunteers a year who donate their time to, among other things, tear down or fix up abandoned homes. In this, its silver anniversary, Blight Busters is directing much of its effort into expanding its Farm City Detroit project from a pair of lots to two whole city blocks. They’d like nothing more than for you to come on down and help. Don’t forget to bring along your work gloves, because these folks are definitely focused on making many good things happen.

 

Best Way to Ensure Patients Have Access to Medical Marijuana

Support House

Bill 4271

In 2008, 63 percent of Michigan voters declared that people suffering from certain ailments should be allowed to use marijuana as medication. The referendum they approved, however, failed to address the issue of dispensaries, and after the law was implemented, scores of these distribution joints began operating under a legal haze. In February of this year, the Michigan Supreme Court, in the case State vs. McQueen, essentially ruled that dispensaries were illegal. In terms of patient welfare, that was a horrendous decision. Instead of having safe and secure access to their medicine, patients were left hanging. Sure, they could grow it themselves (if health and living conditions permitted) or they could try and find a caregiver. But crops fail, and other things can go wrong. Which is why dispensaries are vital. Fortunately, state Rep. Michael Callton (R-Nashville) gets it. His solution is HB 4271, otherwise known as the Provisioning Centers Act.  It seeks to give municipalities the authority to permit and regulate dispensaries. It is an important piece of legislation, and the best thing you can do to help a very large number of truly deserving patients is to urge your legislators to support it.

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