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  • Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain

    The Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck will present a police drama called A Steady Rain May 2 through 24. Planet Ant veterans Ryan Carlson and York Griffith will star in the play, written by House of Cards and Mad Men co-writer Keith Huff. Tickets ($10-$20) are on sale now at PlanetAnt.com. According to the press release, “A Steady Rain by Keith Huff focuses on Joey and Denny, best friends since kindergarten and partners on the police force whose loyalty to each other is tested by domestic affairs, violence and the rough streets of Chicago. Joey helps Denny with his family and Denny helps Joey stay off the bottle. But when a routine disturbance call takes a turn for the worse their loyalty is put to the ultimate test.First produced at Chicago Dramatists, A Steady Rain appeared on Broadway featuring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The Planet Ant production of A Steady Rain is directed by York Griffith featuring Ryan Carlson and Andy Huff. This marks the return of two of Planet Ant’s founding members. Carlson and Griffith. Griffith has served as the theatre’s Artistic Director where he directed the critically-acclaimed productions The Adding Machine and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor

    Detroit home-girl Lily Tomlin will perform at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, June 14. A press release reads, “Get together with Lily Tomlin for an unforgettable night of fun and sidesplitting laughter. “Tomlin is amazing” The NY Times and “as always a revelation.” The New Yorker This unique comic artist takes her audience on what the Washington Post calls a “wise and howlingly funny” trip with more than a dozen of her timeless characters—from Ernestine to Mrs. Beasley to Edith Ann.” “With astounding skill and energy, Tomlin zaps through the channels like a human remote control. Using a fantastic range of voices, gestures and movements, she conjures up the cast of characters with all the apparent ease of a magician pulling a whole menagerie of animals from a single hat.” NY Daily News “Her gentle touch is as comforting as it is edifying.” NY Time Out She has “made the one-person show the daring, irreverent art form it is today.” Newsweek Her long list of awards includes: a Grammy; two Tonys; six Emmys; an Oscar nomination; two Peabodys; and the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Find more info here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor

    The Detroit Metro Times, Detroit’s award-winning alternative weekly media company, is proud to announce the recent hire of Valerie Vande Panne as Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning independent journalist and Michigan native, Vande Panne’s work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Daily Beast, and Salon, among other publications. Previously, Vande Panne attended Harvard University and was a regular contributor to The Boston Phoenix, and a news editor of High Times magazine. She has spent years covering drug policy among other subjects, including the environment, culture, lifestyle, extreme sports, and academia. “Valerie understands our business and what we expect to accomplish in Detroit. She has an excellent sense for stories that will move our readers, as well as experience with balancing print and digital content. I’m excited to have her at the paper and trust her leadership as we move forward,” said Detroit Metro Times publisher Chris Keating.

    The post Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’

    She welcomes you when you enter Detroit, from every direction, with the one word that might just be Detroit’s biggest philosophical question: Injured? Joumana Kayrouz is deeper than the inflated image watching over Detroit, peddling justice to the poor and broken of the city. This Wednesday, Drew Philp takes us behind the billboard and into the heart of the Kayrouz quest. (And all of Brian Rozman’s photos of Kayrouz have not been retouched.) Check out MT‘s cover story, on newsstands Wednesday!

    The post Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt

    There was a fire in an upstairs apartment at PJ’s Lager House on Monday evening. No people were hurt, although three cats belonging to the tenants died after CPR. The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. during a show featuring Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band, Curtin, and Jeffrey Jablonsky. “We just smelled smoke and someone yelled everyone has to get out,” 33-year-old Nick Leu told MLive. On the Lager House Facebook page in the early hours of the morning, a post said, “We at PJ’s lager House would like to thank everyone for their care and concern. Also, a very big THANK YOU to all who stepped up to do what they could this evening. The fire was contained to the upstairs but due to water damage in the bar, we will be closed until it can be assessed. Everyone is safe and we will keep you updated.” A later update read, “Update from the big boss. Since there was no damage to the stage side of the bar, the show will go on tomorrow! You may have to enter through the back door and there may not be a large selection of booze but we are going […]

    The post Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Politics & Prejudices

A map to our future

New governor faces stiff challenges; luckily, there's a handbook

The thought that life could be better is woven indelibly into our hearts and our brains.—Paul Simon

There's a great scene in the movie Enemy at the Gates, about the Battle for Stalingrad. The Nazis are winning, and the Soviet leaders are desperate to find a way to make their troops fight better. What about shooting cowards to make an example of them? Tried that. Hmmm. Threaten their families? Tried that too.

Finally, a junior commissar musters the courage to speak up: "We could try giving them hope!"

What? Give the men hope for a better future? What an extraordinary thought! However, they've run out of other ideas, and have little left to lose. They try it, and it works.

That wasn't the case in the election campaign that just ended. Nobody really offered us very much hope. Stripped of all the fancy graphics and rococo bullshit, the slogans for both parties really came down to something like, "Vote for me. The other guys are worse." I'll bet that got a lot of people really excited about voting.

Three days before the election, I found myself squatting in an emergency veterinary clinic in Madison Heights, after my Australian shepherd puppy helped their economy by eating a large zinc screw.

While waiting for vomiting and my bill, I talked to the some of the other two-legged clients. They were worried about the future, about educating their kids and getting or keeping a job themselves. None of them mentioned politics, the candidates, the president, anything. They were merely trying to scratch out decent lives.

My sense was that, whether they voted or not, they saw politics and politicians as largely irrelevant to their everyday existence.

Well, we've just voted, a scattering of us anyway, and we've picked a new crowd of leaders. Thanks to the Metro Times' deadlines, I had to write this before knowing who they would be. But what I do know is that when the new governor takes over on Jan. 1, he will be faced with a huge looming deficit in next year's budget — at least $1.6 billion. Worse, he will have made promises that, if he sticks to them, will send that deficit even higher.

Plus, the current year's budget will turn out to be really out of balance — and money will have to be found to close that gap too. There's no more stimulus and no more "fat" to cut. The new governor is going to have to make some hard choices, and do it fast, without any time for a learning curve.

What's even harder is that no governor can do this alone; anything has to be passed by both houses of the Michigan Legislature. Next year, this will be amateur hour. Thanks to our moronic system of term limits, the majority of the lawmakers who take office in two months will be new. Depending on final tallies, as many as 100 of our 148 lawmakers may be new to their jobs.

None of the "experienced" ones will have been there more than four years. They will face a series of hard choices. Ultimately, they can choose to raise taxes on those still working, and/or extend the sales tax to services in what has become a largely service economy. The new lawmakers could raise fees for things like hunting licenses, and boost the beer tax for the first time since they lowered it in 1966.

They could revamp the prison system, saving hundreds of millions by releasing or tethering inmates who are no longer any threat to society. Or they could slash road repair and education, crippling our state's ability to reinvent our economy and compete.

Figuring out both budgets and trying to plan coherently for the future in a complex society isn't easy, even if you aren't blinded by ideology. It's especially hard when times are tough and you've never done this before. Plus, the new lawmakers are certain to encounter all sorts of helpful lobbyists eager to persuade them that the future hinges on protecting some particular special interest.

Fortunately, there's a new road map available to help. Michigan State University Professor Charley Ballard is that rarest of economists — one who is also an excellent writer.

He's just published a short new book which is the best thing there is on our state's economy: Michigan's Economic Future: A New Look (MSU Press, $19.95) ought to be required reading for everybody in state government, as well as for every intelligent citizen.

Ballard knows this state exceptionally well. Born in Midland into a Dow chemical family in the 1950s, he grew up mainly in Texas, after his father was transferred there. He came back in 1983 to teach at MSU, and has been there ever since. He's a personable man, neither an elitist ivory-tower type nor a tax-and-spend liberal.

What he mainly is selling is common sense. He quotes approvingly the report the governor's emergency financial advisory committee issued three years ago: "Solving the state's budget crisis requires a combination of revenue increases, spending cuts, and reform of how public services are delivered.

"No single silver bullet incorporating only tax increases, only spending cuts or only government reform will work."

Those words are truer than ever now. Ballard's book is valuable in part because it shatters lots of myths. We are in fact paying far less in taxes than we once did. Local governments are especially tax-starved. The money in the state's general fund, which pays for higher education, prisons, social services and Medicaid, has declined by an astonishing 40 percent in the last decade. "The tax system is being slowly eaten away, like a house full of termites," Ballard says.

His book lays out the problems in less than 250 pages, and offers possible solutions. Extending the state sales taxes to services would help. Repealing the state constitutional ban on a graduated income tax would be even better.

But regardless, the state needs more revenue to do its job. Ballard notes that he himself would be certain to pay more, as a highly educated economist with a good job.

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