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  • Detroit area code 313 may be phased out

    Hey, everybody from the 313, start thinking of new numbers to rally around– the longstanding Detroit area code may be phased out. Our friends over at the Detroit News report that pending a revised estimate next week, the North American Numbering Plan Administration will stop handing out 313 telephone prefixes on new phone numbers. Detroiters with existing cell phone lines would be able to keep their current area codes, while those with land lines would change. via Detroit News: The venerable 313 will ultimately become overtaxed. Even as Detroit’s population has fallen, cellphone usage has accelerated like one of those smoldering SRT Vipers that Dodge has been bolting together at Conner Avenue Assembly — which is, of course, comfortably within the confines of 313. … When the first five dozen area codes were assigned nearly 70 years ago, says NANPA’s Tom Foley, “that was expected basically to last forever.” Instead, somebody invented fax machines, and then somebody else came up with cellphones, and lots of somebody elses decided to give them to 10-year-olds, and meantime the population grew to 300 million. Now every telephone carrier is required to submit twice-yearly forecasts of its needs in each area code, factoring in […]

    The post Detroit area code 313 may be phased out appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council

    Unfortunately, we were unable to attend last night’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, which, in case you were unaware, is a 16-member board established to weigh in on the new Red Wings arena near downtown. About three dozen residents and property owners cast ballots by the 8 p.m. deadline on Wednesday inside the Block at Cass Park, The Detroit News reports. It’s the culmination of a handful of community meetings which began weeks ago. Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez facilitated the meetings, but emphasized at previous meetings that it’s up to the community to conduct business. According to the News, the 12 candidates selected include: Michael Boettcher, Richard Etue, Jason Gapa, Francis Grunow, Steve Guether, Paul Hughes, Ray Litt, Warner Doyle McBryde, Karen McLeod, Delphia Simmons, Melissa Thomas and Anthony Zander. Joel Landy, a land owner in the area, lost his bid. The City Council appointed four candidates last month. As we reported in this week’s issue, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee was negotiated after Olympia Development of Michigan, Detroit Red Wing’s owner Mike Ilitch’s real estate arm, balked on a proposed community benefits agreement.  The committee is charged with the task of offering input on the arena’s design, parking security and more.

    The post Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag

    The Magic Bag in Ferndale will host James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets on Thursday, May 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. A press release reads, “James McMurtry recently signed with the bourgeoning Los Angeles record label Complicated Game. The legendary songwriter will enter the studio later this month to start working on his first album in six years. “I’ve got a new batch of songs, organic and with no added sulfites, aged in oak for several years,” he says. “Francois Moret at Complicated Game seems to like these songs and (producer) C.C. Adcock thinks he can turn them into a record. Good times fixing to roll.” Label head Moret agrees. “In March 2013, when C.C. Adcock told me we were going to see James McMurtry at the Continental Club in Austin, I expected to see a good show,” he says, “but what I saw left me mesmerized! I immediately knew I wanted to sign him. As a European, it is an amazing opportunity to work with one of the most talented American singer-songwriters.” Evidence: McMurtry’s Just Us Kids (2008) and Childish Things (2005). The former earned his highest Billboard 200 chart position in nearly two decades and notched […]

    The post James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit

    The Dead Kennedys, still with local boy Klaus Flouride in the ranks, will play St. Andrew’s Hall on Tuesday, June 24. Alongside Flouride and fellow original members East Bay Ray and DH Peligro, the current lineup includes singer Ron “Skip” Greer, taking the place of Jello Biafra. Downtown Brown will open that show, which starts at 7 p.m., with tickets priced $20-$25. Give Klaus a hero’s hometown welcome. Just over a week before that, strangely enough, Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine will play at the Magic Stick. It’s a weird coincidence, but one that DK fans should be happy to embrace. That show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $17-$19. Local hardcore vets Negative Approach play before Jello, with the Crashdollz opening the show. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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 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.



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Stir It Up

A survivor's song

Shahida Nurullah a symbol of beating adversity with grace intact

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2006:03:03 14:37:01

The day after an election, folks mostly want to talk about the results from the polls. That's commendable, although I've heard numerous people say they couldn't wait for the election to be over these past few weeks. Unfortunately, my deadline for this column was well before any results were available. So I thought I'd discuss something that I find pleasant. Consider it a respite from all the tough issues you've been pondering in this election season — which brings me to singer Shahida Nurullah.

I have some affection for her. This emotion is based pretty equally on her infectiously positive attitude toward life and her ability to sing like an angel. Well, the truth is that I have no idea what an angel's voice sounds like, but I'd be willing to bet that Nurullah sings as well as those heavenly creatures. Here's something that is not up for conjecture — by all rights Nurullah could easily be depressed and never sing again. No one would blame her if she had a shitty attitude about life and never sang another note.

In 1988, she was hit by a Cadillac while crossing the street at Van Dyke and Kercheval while heading to a bus stop on her way to work at Gayle's Chocolates in Royal Oak. Nurullah flew into the air from the impact and landed on her head. She broke her left leg, knee, arm and shoulder, and she had a closed-head brain injury. She stopped breathing and, had it not been for CPR administered to her on the street before the ambulance arrived, she could well have died. She was in a coma for two-and-a-half weeks.

I know that about her. What the average person might know about her is that she is the woman who sang the national anthem at the Detroit Tigers baseball game on Labor Day. Or you might have seen her sing "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch in the first playoff game against the Oakland Athletics.

"That is not something you ever think about," says Nurullah, who admits crying when she got the call to do the national anthem. "When I got ready to go out on the field it was like something I've never experienced. I was just trying to remember the words. I was like, ‘God, don't let me forget the words to "God Bless America."' I never sang before that many people before."

You'll have to forgive her for the slight fault. I've heard her sing before at least a couple hundred thousand people at Hart Plaza during the jazz festival. However, she is probably reaching her biggest audience ever right now in radio and television advertisements for the Detroit Medical Center's new Neuroscience Unit in the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan. She sings the Four Tops' "Reach Out, I'll Be There," the DMC's theme song the past few years, and tells some of her own story. 

"They gave me back my voice," Nurullah says in the ads. "They gave me back my life."

Chatom Hill, vice president of creative services at the DMC, thought she was perfect for the campaign. "It's a great concept," he says. "Shahida is this great singer so we thought we'd work with that instead of doing a straight testimonial."

Nurullah was a patient at the Rehabilitation Institute after her accident. It's where she came to realize that her injuries required more than six months of recuperation. Her accident was a life-changing event. 

She had to learn how to walk again, and how to sing.  She walks with a cane and doesn't have full rotation in her left wrist. And, a symptom of her brain injury, she gets tired very easily. 

"I have to deal with the effects of the accident every day," says Nurullah. "I have to deal with different levels of energy, levels of discomfort, I can't memorize things as well as I used to. Some of it is effects of the accident and some of it is just the effects of aging. I'm 55 years old now."

I wrote a big story about Nurullah 12 years after her accident, in 2000. I won an award for the story from the Michigan Press Association — best human interest feature. Most of the time in the journalism business, you write a story about someone and then move on to the next one. It's not often that you maintain a relationship with a subject. But then Nurullah's a singer, and I like the way she sings. 

She has a wonderful stage presence that draws audiences into the performance as she talks about the songs and might ask the audience to guess what movie a song was the theme for. She's a jazz singer. In many cases, that means the vocalist has a license to add unusual ornaments to the song, but has an unwavering allegiance to the melody. She sings in five different languages, although she has her own affection for Brazilian music by the likes of Gilberto Gil and Antonio Carlos Jobim. She learned to sing their songs in Portuguese by listening to records and copying their words phonetically without actually understanding them. 

Now, 12 years since the last article, I find reason to revisit her story. Everybody likes being recognized by the folks back home, and Nurullah has been getting the D-love lately through the Tigers and the DMC. She's been plying her trade all along, having done shows at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, an American Songbook concert with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, and club dates around town. She teaches voice at the University of Windsor a couple of days a week, although she doesn't make enough to cut off her Social Security disability status. She'd love to be able to support herself but there aren't that many club dates to be had in Detroit, and travel for her presents many obstacles.

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