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  • The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues

    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Politics & Prejudices

A statesman emerges

After years of Ambassador Bridge antics, Snyder gets it

Joel Thurtell, the man who has done more than anyone to raise our consciousnesses about the troll who owns the Ambassador Bridge, was driving across Pennsylvania last week.

He and his wife were going to visit their son in Connecticut (the boy got a job!), so he wasn't paying attention to the new governor's State of the State speech last Wednesday night.

You can hardly blame him. Throughout eight State of the State speeches, Jennifer Granholm hardly ever uttered a thought that had any more permanence than a soap bubble. What we had every reason to expect from the new governor were cheerful platitudes.

Yet that's not what we got. Rick Snyder stood up, took a decisive stand. "It's time to build the Detroit River International Crossing Bridge," he said flatly. No waffling, no hedging, no silliness.

His reasons were simple. The bridge will be needed for trade and our economy in the future. Building it will produce many jobs. And right now, as the self-styled nerd said, Job One is jobs.

OK, he tripped over his words a bit. His delivery was somewhat wooden, and lacked the tinkling effervescence of his predecessor. He sounded, in other words, like a real person.

But this governor said something worth saying. This governor had the guts to stand up to the social parasite who for years has bought off politicians of both parties with lavish campaign donations, especially his fellow Republicans.

Beyond that, he did something absolutely brilliant. The man who "wasn't a politician" went to Washington and negotiated an astonishingly shrewd deal for the State of Michigan.

Canada, as is well-known, wants and needs the DRIC bridge so much that it has offered to lend Michigan up to $550 million to cover the state's share of the construction costs. No muss, no fuss. Not even any real strings. We don't have to pay it back till the bridge is built, at which time the state will pay it back out of our share of the bridge's toll revenue — amazing.

But the new governor did better. Snyder went to the Obama administration and parlayed that into an arrangement where the money Canada is lending us can count as matching funds for federal highway money. In other words, somebody else puts up $550 million we get to use — and the state gets about $2 billion plus from the feds. How could anybody turn that down?

Perhaps the best indication of how big a coup this was could be seen in the stunned silence coming from the tower of Barad-dûr — oops, I meant the Ambassador Bridge Company.

Normally, a spokesman has been there with spin and outright lies whenever anyone said anything favorable about DRIC. This time, nothing ... until the next day, when spokesman Phil Frame had a simple comment. He was quitting.

Naturally, this had nothing to do with the governor's announcement, he said. That's OK, Phil; I happen to be a virgin too. Actually, whether he was fired or decided to scurry down the mooring rope before the ship sank was neither clear, nor very interesting.

But that someone stood up to Manuel J. "Matty" Moroun was. For years, this billionaire slumlord has bought off members of the Legislature, mostly Republicans, with lavish campaign contributions. Moroun's aim was simple: Kill any attempt to build the DRIC, the proposed internationally owned Detroit River International Crossing bridge two miles south of his aging span.

No matter that his bridge is wearing out, and the government of Canada has made it clear that it will not let him build another. No matter that a new bridge would create at least 10,000 jobs, mostly high-paying ones, when Michigan desperately needs them. No matter that every major corporate leader and most politicians of both parties support the DRIC bridge. No matter that our economy would literally be wiped out if something happened to the Ambassador Bridge.

We've had the best politicians money can buy — and Matty Moroun spent lavishly — more than a half-million dollars in the last election cycle alone. The Republican senators he purchased in the past did his bidding, by any means necessary. Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, a Rochester Hills Republican with a head full of gel, had promised a vote on the bridge. But Matty evidently told him no. So Bishop broke his promise and prevented any vote from happening a month ago. (Fortunately, however, he's now out of government, thanks to term limits.)

Things were looking bleak for our future. The Ambassador Bridge, built in 1929, is wearing out. It wasn't built for today's monster rigs. Moroun said he would build a new one right next to it — but the government of Canada said absolutely not.

Twinning the Ambassador Bridge made no sense, from either a traffic flow or environmental standpoint. What looked likely to eventually happen was freight traffic would end up being diverted to Buffalo, which would hurt our battered economy even more, and make any chance of an economic revival that much more unlikely.

Then things started turning against Moroun. Not due to the unthinking local media. They mainly applauded him, even when, a few years ago, he cooked up a deal with Kwame Kilpatrick, when the felon was still mayor.

Matty was going to sell the ruin of the old train station to Detroit, which would turn it into a new police headquarters. Fortunately, that fell apart when people quickly learned it would cost far less to build a new headquarters from scratch.

Yet nobody paid attention to Moroun — until, in September 2008, Thurtell reported on his blog that Moroun had seized portions of a city park, hung phony Homeland Security signs on a fence, and had a shotgun-toting goon try to evict him.

Thurtell kept chronicling Matty's bad behavior until he finally shamed the city into suing to get their public property back. Finally, the so-called mainstream media started to pay some attention.

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