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    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May

    Margaret Doll Rod will celebrate the release of her new EP, Margaret, with a show at PJ’s Lager House on Saturday, May 10. A statement reads, “The EP contains 3 new original songs and one Chrome Cranks cover with Italian actress Asia Argento singing background vocals. Margaret moved to Italy after the end of the Demolition Doll Rods where she still lives touring and performing festivals in Europe. The Dollrods were a Garage Rock force for over 20 years, opening for Iggy, Jon Spencer, The Scientist, The Monks and The Cramps. Margaret was the front person and principal songwriter for The Dollrods. Her chief musical foil was Danny Kroha, who joined the Demolition Doll Rods after the now legendary Gories called it quits. Margaret’s sister, Christine, on drums, rounded out the legendary trio. Margaret will do a special performance in the round that night with a 360 degree revolving stage and special guest DJ Adam Stanfel.” The bill will also feature the Stomp Rockets and the Volcanos. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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 bcallwood@metrotimes.com. 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 […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of buildingdetroit.org, 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 […]

    The post Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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 […]

    The post Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Higher Ground

Beware of the sharks

Talking with some of the compassionate folks behind the green boom

Medical marijuana authorization clinics are cropping up all over the place. Grow schools and hydroponic equipment stores are getting to be part of the landscape. The state has received some 60,000 applications for medical marijuana cards and the number is growing daily. Although getting the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act passed took years, it seems that the world of medical marijuana is blowing up in a rush.

Maurice Cheetham has been involved with medical marijuana longer than most, and urges folks to be cautious when getting involved with it. "There are a lot of sharks in the water," he says.

Cheetham, a medical marijuana patient and caregiver, is the founder of the Midtown Detroit Compassion Club (MDCC). He has also served on the board of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, and in that capacity he traveled the state to assist compassion clubs in getting started, complying with the law and providing services to local communities. He says he's been "cultivating" the plant for 10 years. He's also involved with patient care at the Green Trees Medical Marihuana Certification Center.

The Midtown Detroit Compassion Club seems pretty low-key as far as compassion clubs go. It doesn't have a storefront, doesn't sell grow equipment, doesn't sell marijuana and doesn't charge a membership fee — although donations are accepted.

"We keep things limited, no advertising," he says." We're a small grass roots organization — a resource and outlet for patients. I try to point them in the right direction. We're careful with collecting information. We want to build real solid relationships as opposed to just signing people up into the club. We cater to the over-30 crowd. We want real adults, real patients."

In an area where caution should be practiced, Cheetham seems more cautious than most, but it's in the patients' interest.

"Learning how to cultivate was educating me," he says. "Learning the cycles of a plant, it's truly about gardening and getting in touch with nature. Calm down and learn about growing. Learn about human nature. Take your time learning how to grow. Don't spend a lot of money. Some of the people are being gouged. They spend $10,000 on a grow room and don't even know how to grow. If you take the time and patience to learn, you can be successful. But you can't rush it."

Cheetham works with cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's disease patients as a counselor or caregiver. He has to figure out which strains of marijuana work best for their needs. He says that indica strains are more physical and relaxing, while sativa strains have a more cerebral and energetic effect. But even within those categories there are variations; there are some 600 strains of marijuana, each with different effects and potencies. Patients report back about how they were affected by certain buds and whether they liked them or not. He recommends leaving indicas alone during the day when you have to function.

Cheetham is one of the most visible African-American activists on the local medical marijuana scene. While there are many blacks involved as patients and caregivers, medical marijuana is not a racial issue and none of the black organizations that tend to address social and political issues have spoken out on it. Like AIDS, it's an uneasy issue to raise in the community. He says that he has called the NAACP and the Urban League but didn't get a response.

"The African-American community is very uneducated about medical marijuana," Cheetham says. "They're the last to grasp on. ... Detroit is at the center of the medical marijuana community. Real estate is being bought up to build grow rooms. We don't want Detroiters to get locked out of this. ... There are no ministers or churches involved that I can account for. I would love to build up a dialogue, just a discussion about the pure facts of the Michigan medical marijuana law, about issues of acquisition, cultivation, transfer and transport of medical marijuana. You can't sell marijuana just to anyone. There are facts to the law that need to be abided by. We do support compliance of the law. This is not the wink-wink, nod-nod situation."

One of the issues among patients is how to medicate themselves. Another Detroit activist, Chocolate Cherri, works patient-to-patient in developing recipes for edible medicating, and tinctures and oils for topical application. Chocolate Cherri is a pseudonym; she tries to keep a low public profile.

"I got into cooking it because I'm not a smoker," says Cherri. "A friend who has since passed away wanted to use but could'nt smoke. I said, 'Let me see if I can hook us up something; let me try this.' It was definitely trial and error. I've thrown away quite a bit of stuff."

I met Cherri at Metro Times' Higher Groundevent at Eastern market a few weeks ago. She was peddling her booklet Chocolate's Infusions, Medical Edibles and More, with recipes for marijuana butter and oil for use in recipes such as macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes and pasta sauce. There are also recipes for drinks and liniments. Most medical marijuana publications such as the Midwest Cultivator and the Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine feature recipes, but Cherri has quite a few in her 46-page booklet.

"Actually people were laughing at me. 'Yeah, how many brownies can you eat?' I don't do the brownies," says Cherri. "Then it was like, 'Can you teach us?' I was offering a girls' night out cooking class. Then I cancelled it. I was having some health issues. ... It was easier to do the book than it was to do the classes."

Cherri won't discuss her illness but says she has had problems since she was a teen. She was among the earliest Detroiters to organize a medical marijuana group, the Spirit of Detroit Compassion Club, and she doesn't have much tolerance for the party atmosphere of some smoke rooms.

"The only reason I can see for having a smoking lounge is for socialization," she says. "I am too old and too sick to give a damn. ... I'm looking for relief when I medicate. I'm more mobile. I can tell the difference. A couple of months ago, I told myself you're no longer having these problems. I went two weeks without taking anything, and all those issues that I had that I'd forgotten about came back. Now that I have developed topical, every day you see me I am covered with lotions or oils, or ointments or something. Parts of me that have more pressing issues tend to get more coverage more times during the day. If I'm smoking, I'm in a really bad state. If you have asthma you use an inhaler for emergencies, that's what smoking is with me. I prefer my topicals and edibles."

If Detroit is indeed a center for medical marijuana, people like Cheetham and Cherri give it a more meaningful, and tasty, filling.

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