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  • Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark

    Oh, the irony — initially criticized as Marxist propaganda when Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted them for the Detroit Institute of Arts in the early 1930s, Detroit Industry has now been designated as a a national landmark. The announcement was made Wednesday, according to the Detroit News by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis as part of National Park Week. The designation does not change the ownership status of the murals or grant any new protections or rights, leaving its place among the rest of the DIA’s art in possible bankruptcy negotiations in question. The work is considered the best of Rivera’s work in the United States (another mural Rivera had done in New York was destroyed by orders of Nelson Rockefeller). Rivera himself regarded Detroit Industries paintings as his finest work. In the midst of the McCarthy era, the DIA posted this sign outside the court: Rivera’s politics and his publicity seeking are detestable. But let’s get the record straight on what he did here. He came from Mexico to Detroit, thought our mass production industries and our technology wonderful and very exciting, painted them as one of the great achievements of the twentieth century. This came […]

    The post Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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? […]

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Stir It Up

Arms around the city

Neighborhoods Day showcases a vibrant, positive, united Detroit

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Luther “Badman” Keith

"Could a dream rise up through onion fumes ... And yesterday's garbage ripening in the halls?"

—From "Kitchenette Building" by Gwendolyn Brooks


If you feel the city lift into the air sometime Saturday, don't worry. It's not aliens transporting us to some distant planet. If the city begins to hover, it will probably be due to the efforts of ARISE Detroit! and some 170 organizations participating in its fifth annual Neighborhoods Day, a celebration of the groups and unsung heroes who work throughout the year to make Detroit a better place.

The Mighty Motor City Blight Busters, one of those organizations, is anchored in the Grand River Avenue and Lahser Road area. The group has been around for 24 years and been a part of Neighborhoods Day from the beginning. Over the years, the group has leveraged hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours to renovate houses, paint houses, secure abandoned houses and build new houses.

"It's a pretty tough area, but we never give up," says John George, founder of the organization. "It's our goal to save the world and we're starting with Detroit." 

Blight Busters will host a community cleanup followed by arts and music events at the Artist Village and the Java Café, which was founded on an Angels Night long ago.

"We have been at this for 24 years," George says. "We don't need any more planning. We don't need any more maps with circles and arrows. We need action. We need people on the front line to eliminate this negative energy. ... People of good will can always find common ground. Let's work on the things we can agree on. It's really in everyone's best interest to work together. We can put our petty differences aside. There are only so many hours in the day and I think those hours should be focused on solutions, giving people a vested interest in our community. That's what's going to turn around Detroit, create ownership."

The kind of energy that George exudes is endemic among the participants in Neighborhoods Day. Those include such diverse community nonprofits, churches, arts groups and businesses as the Heidelberg Project, 2:1 Gallery, Ravendale Community, Bethel Baptist Church East, Habitat for Humanity, Gratiot McDougal United CDC, Good People Popcorn, Arts League of Michigan, and the list goes on. With all of the people and organizations out there working to make things better, it seems strange that they're not gaining more traction in their efforts.

"That's exactly why ARISE Detroit! came into being," says Luther Keith, founder and executive director of the five-year-old nonprofit. "I looked around at all these community organizations and saw they were all working like crazy. We have a holistic approach to the community. What we do is connect people to the programs. We ask how can we get our arms around Detroit, get people to network, build collaborations and share resources. That is what has made us grow. Our role is to champion the cause and be helpmates for people across the city."

Keith worked at The Detroit News in various capacities for 30 years and he is also the bluesman known as Luther "Badman" Keith.  Both of those personas come in handy as he works to revive this sleeping giant of a city.

There are others working with similar intentions, such as Grace Lee Boggs, whose Boggs Center  (housed in her east side home) is the hub of numerous organizations, artists and intellectuals fighting to create meaningful ways of living in the face of the turmoil of industrial decay. Boggs, along with artist Tyree Guyton, creator of the Heidelberg Project, and Eleanor Josaitis, co-founder of Focus: HOPE, are the honorary chairs of Neighborhoods Day. They will be honored during the day's closeout events at Hart Plaza during the Ribs and R n B Soul Fest.

It's indicative of the high aspirations of Neighborhoods Day that Handyman Ministries, Habitat for Humanity and the EACH outreach network have teamed up to renovate all 20 homes on the 400 block of Tennessee Street near Conner and Jefferson. Aug. 6-14, volunteers will work with those organizations to repair and paint the homes, plant flowers and trees, and remove debris from the block. 

Detroit has had citywide coordinated events such as Angels Night and various cleanups, but the sheer breadth of groups and events involved here may make it the Super Bowl of community-based organizations. While there are plenty of cleanup and bricks-and-mortar activities, some Neighborhoods Day participants will be serving up food for thought.

For instance, the Center for Literacy and Creativity, a west-side charter school, will feature a Knowledge Bowl quiz, with prizes for youngsters in the neighborhood. Community United for Progress has partnered with Rose of Sharon Church and other organizations for a Back to School Rally at the Belmont Shopping Center. It will include health screenings, backpack giveaways, pony rides and a Detroit Fire Department tug of war contest. 

The Arts League of Michigan hosts a Paradise Valley Festival Aug. 5-6 at the Carr Center in Harmonie Park with the Black Story Teller's Association, exhibiting work by muralist Hubert Massey and giving free tours of the area, along with dance music from DJ Frank on Friday and DJ Sabor featuring salsa on Saturday evenings. Paradise Valley was Detroit's black entertainment and business neighborhood from the 1930s to the 1950s. 

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