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  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to Ricky Rat’s Tokyo Pop/Glitter People (New Fortune) 7” single highlights all that’s great about the Trash Brats guitarist, but also his limitations. The man can write a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll song to match anyone in the city and most beyond. He’s also a killer guitarist, ripping out one throwaway riff after another with reckless abandon. He’s a machine. On his own though, without Trash Brats frontman Brian McCarty, his voice doesn’t have enough strength to do the songs justice. Not that you need to have the greatest voice in the world to sing this stuff – you don’t need to be able to perform vocal gymnastics – but you do have to be able to wail the tunes out. Both of the songs on this single are great, but you can’t help but wonder how much better they would sound with McCarty or somebody similar talking the mic. Still, as they are the songs are great fun. We’re just being picky. The Paper Sound’s Trajectories is a dense, atypically dark Americana-tinged album, unrelenting and […]

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  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of, a new website launched by the City of Detroit today to auction off city-owned homes to prospective buyers who pledge to fix them up and move in. “We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement today. “There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment.” The website to facilitate the auctions went live this afternoon. The first auction is scheduled to take place Monday, May 5. Officials said in a news release that one home will be auctioned per day, Monday through Friday. Fifteen homes are available for sale on the site, a dozen of which are in the East English Village neighborhood. Any Michigan resident, company, or organization that can do business in the state can bid, according to the website. Properties will be for sale for only one day, with bidding taking place from 8 […]

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  • Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes

    In case you haven’t heard, two of the biggest names in film, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, are collaborating to put on a benefit concert for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this summer. In case you wanted to go- well, you’re too damn late. The DSO says tickets to the June 14 concert were snapped up in a record-breaking 15 minutes after they went on sale at 9 a.m. today. The DSO has since released this statement to fans who didn’t snag seats: Our apologies to everyone who was unable to buy tickets this morning for our historic benefit concert featuring John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Despite increasing our phone and internet system capacity for the day, a surge of hundreds of ticket buyers purchased tickets in a matter of minutes, filling the phone lines and temporarily maxing out our web servers. After a one-hour pre-sale made available to donors and subscribers at 8am, we released additional seats at 9am to the general public, including seats available for as low as $30. All seats sold out immediately. The concert program seems nothing short of top notch: Williams will conduct the orchestra as it performs some of his most iconic tunes, such […]

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  • Blowout 2014 schedule available to view now

    The schedule for Blowout 17, taking place Wednesday April 30 to Saturday May 3 in Hamtramck, Detroit and Ferndale, is available to see now. Visit to see the schedule and plan your festival. Follow @City_Slang

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  • City Slang: Trash Brats get sleazy at Small’s

    The Trash Brats hardly ever play live anymore, so each show feels like an event. Wandering around Small’s in Hamtramck late Saturday night, there’s a near-carnival atmosphere in the air. The Brats were never supposed to be taken seriously, but years on-and-off the radar have given the band the gift of respect born out of longevity. We’re not being dismissive at all. In fact, no amount of kooky faces from guitarist Ricky Rat and bassist Toni Romeo can hide the fact that these boys can play and the band writes killer bubblegum sleaze-rock tunes. The fact that the venue was packed compared to, say, a recent show by internationally known punk icons Sylvain Sylvain and Glen Matlock (which you would think would attract a similar audience) is testament to the fact that, in Detroit, the Trash Brats command a certain reverence. Before the Trash Brats took to the stage, local punks The Dives kicked off the night with a set of sincere, energetic and well-performed, if standard, punk rock. No frills (besides frontman Ron McPherson’s dapper suit), the band features members of the Junk Monkeys, the Black Mollies and the Joint Chiefs, and it drives through a set of catchy, […]

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  • Cycle 7 opens at the Red Bull House of Art

    By: Ayana Bryant-Weekes The Red Bull House of Art, a multidisciplinary and collaborative art project, relieves the stress of financial limitation or lack of tools and space so budding artists can manifest their creative dreams right here in Detroit. Six artists are selected for a three-month residency where they are provided individual studio space and materials, allowing their artistic concepts to flow freely. At the end of each residency is an unveiling and public display at the Red Bull House of Art Gallery. As show curator Matt Eaton told us in a 2013 interview, “The selection process for the current crop of artists was just the same as every round. The goal is not to find the hippest, coolest artists (though I think they are all very cool), but to find the people who may not typically have a voice.” This year, for the first time, Red Bull House of Art will showcase more than just Detroit artists. National artists from across the country in a special artist-in-residency program will have the opportunity to showcase their work to a much broader audience, and bring a national art stage to the Motor City. Since opening, 54 Detroit-based artists have been given the […]

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Politics & Prejudices

A heartbeat away from the mayor’s seat

With Bing in the hospital, an emergency looming, Pugh may be the most worrisome specter of all

Could you imagine a worse time for a mayor to have emergency surgery? Here Detroit is desperately struggling to try to reach a deal on a consent agreement to preserve some role for those in power before the governor has to send in an emergency manager.

Then, with the clock ticking — boom. Suddenly the mayor, a legendary athlete who takes excellent care of himself, falls ill. They take him to the hospital, figure out he has a hole in his intestine, and perform a desperately needed operation Saturday.

The mayor emerges from the knife work fine, but is now flat on his back for what, they said at the time, would be at least a week. Meanwhile, the burden of trying to keep the roof from falling in rests with Kirk Lewis, the mayor's chief of staff.

Mayor Bing has designated that Lewis is his deputy, and, according to spokesman Bob Warfield, "will act as mayor until Mayor Bing is able to resume his normal activities." Well, that might be good enough in "normal" times, though it has been a long, long while since anything about Detroit was anything in the realm of normal.

The mayor is alert and aware, and nobody's suggesting otherwise. Presumably he's in constant touch with what's going on in terms of negotiations. Still, this is high-stakes stuff, and nobody in the city ever cast a vote for Kirk Lewis.

So you might think there would be some calls for Mayor Bing to step down and let an elected official deal with what just might be the most important decision the city will ever make.

In fact, if an emergency manager does end up coming in, it will be the last real decision any mayor will make for a fairly long time.

But you aren't hearing anybody suggest that.

Know why? Because the new acting mayor would be none other than the narcissistic Charles Pugh.

Three years ago, Detroiters gave Pugh more votes for council than anyone else, which, under the city charter, makes him council president and put Pugh first in line of succession. They did this, though it was clear even then that he knew no more about how government works than a salamander does about basketball.

What was also clear is that Pugh had no idea how to manage his own financial affairs, something that hasn't changed. Last month, he walked away from his Brush Park condo, which was in foreclosure.

Pugh couldn't pay his own bills, nor could he manage to keep his house on a job that pays him a "mere" $76,500 a year. Well, actually, he couldn't pay his bills when he made a lot more money.

Five years ago, he defaulted on another mortgage on the same condo, almost did so again, and was reportedly served with multiple eviction notices back in the days when he was living in an apartment.

That's when he was a local TV anchor, making six figures a year. But even if he can't pay his bills — regardless of his salary — there was something he felt he could do as council president:

Last fall, he wrote in large capital letters on Facebook that "THE CITY OF DETROIT DOES NOT NEED AN EMERGENCY MANAGER!!!" Instead, "BING JUST NEEDS TO SHOW SOME DAMN LEADERSHIP," he added. Despite the enormous moral authority Charles "Foreclosure Man" Pugh undoubtedly possesses, that evidently didn't solve the city's financial problems.

Not to worry. Last week Good Time Charlie was back with something really special to, if not exactly help his city, make us admire him.

Pugh, you see, has lost weight, toned up his bod, and wants us all to see how great he looks. In a masterfully understated column, The Detroit News' Laura Berman elegantly revealed what a clueless, self-obsessed weenie Detroit's City Council president is.

Remember, the city is about to run out of any cash whatsoever. Thousands of residents are worried that their pitifully inadequate city services are about to become no services. Nobody knows what to do, how to act or react, and a lot of people are scared.

And Charlie Pugh is showing off his abs. "Some say I have a six-pack. Some would say an eight-pack," he told Berman.

Whatever the hell that means.

You can't make this stuff up, you know, which is why most journalists aren't really tempted to write novels. Nobody could invent Kwame Kilpatrick or Monica Conyers or Charles Pugh.

Detroit as we have known it is about to end, as a governmental entity, anyway. My money is on an emergency manager, then the equivalent of a hopefully soft-as-possible bankruptcy.

Then, the chance for a new beginning.

For Detroiters, this won't be easy. They aren't entirely to blame for the city's problems by any means. The power structure used the city up; abandoned it; didn't leave Detroit with enough resources to survive. But Detroiters have been failed by their leaders too.

Now, whether it is consent agreement or emergency manager, all of us should think positive; think Chrysler; think General Motors; think Germany starting anew after World War II.

Think of the fact that you'll be able to watch Charles Pugh's moronic buff video (, meet his personal trainer, and, in his words "learn how to sculpt your body."

Secure, that is, in the knowledge that he is no longer allowed to decide how taxpayer dollars are spent.

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