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  • 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 editor twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday evening. 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.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    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.



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Higher Ground

Big Daddy's business

The pot boom helps grow-shops grow

Anyone who thinks medical marijuana is just a nudge-and-wink cover for pushing legalization should speak with Rick Ferris, who has all the fervor and sincerity of a man who got a second chance in life.

As Ferris tells it, he worked in construction for 20-plus years, about 13 of those as a foreman pouring concrete floors, pillars and other industrial applications. In 2001, he injured his right foot, which led to deep-vein thrombosis (a blood clot) in his leg. Ferris then developed lymph edema, a painful condition of the lymphatic system that causes localized retention of fluids and tissue swelling, in his leg.

"I have pain in my hip, knee and ankle," Ferris says. "My one leg probably weighs 120 pounds; the other leg probably weighs 40 pounds."

Ferris couldn't work after his accident. He was mostly bedridden and says he was taking 120 Vicodin and 60 Xanax, powerful pain and anxiety medications, each month. He was living in a daze. Already a big man — his nickname is Big Daddy — Ferris' weight doubled to 600 pounds. Because of his size he was prescribed larger doses of the drugs than normal. When the Michigan Marihuana Act took effect Dec. 4, 2008, Ferris' doctor suggested he try pot as medication and wrote a recommendation. Ferris applied for a state card and received it.

"I'm not taking any Vicodin or Xanax now," says Ferris. "I lost 250 pounds. I don't lie around in bed no more. It saved my life. That's why I do what I do now. Every penny I have is used to make sure this law stays for people that need it."

Before the medical marijuana law passed, Ferris had looked around for ways to make a living since his leg kept him from construction. First he became the hot dog man. He bought a truck and traveled the state of Michigan selling dogs and other snacks at festivals. Then he started Big Daddy's Landscaping, handling the office while a couple of employees did the legwork. He did OK for a few years — until the escalating layoffs created a glut of people mowing their own lawns or starting their own services.

Then one day a landscaping client who is a medical marijuana patient showed him an apparatus that helps grow roots on plant cuttings and asked him if he could fix it up.

"I looked it up online and made a simpler one," Ferris says.

From there he moved to designing entire hydroponic growing systems and started selling them. Big Daddy's Hydro started in the Oak Park building that housed his landscaping service. Eventually the hydroponics business outpaced landscaping and Big Daddy's moved into a larger building.

"Making those is pretty much like construction," he says. "Get a blueprint and follow it."

Big Daddy's Hydro has expanded to sell several different growing systems, in addition to high-powered lights for growers and various plant nutrients. Ferris and his wife Susan co-own Big Daddy's Management, an umbrella business that all of their enterprises work under. Those include the hydro business, classes for growers, Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine and the nonprofit Big Daddy's Compassion Club.

Big Daddy's has 17 employees — almost all of them registered medical marijuana patients or caregivers. The company leases two other buildings in Oak Park where the grow systems are constructed. And just last week, a new Big Daddy's location opened in Chesterfield Township, where Ferris expects to soon hire two more employees. He's been unsuccessfully seeking a business that will stamp metal hoods for lighting systems, which keeps him buying from wholesalers.

All in all, if you take the word marijuana out of the mix, it sounds exactly like what the state needs more of: entrepreneurs starting up fast-growing small businesses.

The organization started the slick monthly Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine last fall as a way to get news about medical marijuana politics and issues out to the public and a vehicle for advertising industry products. Each magazine includes articles about legal concerns and activism, recipes and instructions for edible and topical marijuana use, and lots of pictures of various types of marijuana buds. It was a gutsy move in an environment where print publications are downsizing and failing seemingly every day.

"When we started the magazine, we said we'd give it a two-year window; we said we would not give up on the magazine," says Ferris. "Our upcoming December issue will have over 50 pages. The two years is out of the question now. It's already paying for itself. Every month we improve in sales."

MMMM prints 6,000 copies per month and works with two distribution companies in addition to individual subscriptions. It retails for $4.99.

The compassion club was started in May to help patients and caregivers produce and obtain their medicine. To date it has more than 1,400 members who pay a membership fee, and zero problems with the law, Ferris says. He emphasizes compliance with the letter of how the law has been interpreted so far. That means all transactions are with card-carrying patients, and caregivers stay strictly within the allotted 12 plants per patient. Messages left with the Oak Park police and Oakland County Sheriff's Department went unanswered, but it's worth noting that Big Daddy's was not included in the high-profile August busts of marijuana dispensaries in Ferndale and Waterford.

Ferris says that about one-third of patients get their medication for free thanks to excess production from caregivers associated with the club, and most of the money in the operation comes from hydro and light system sales. What it looks like from the outside is a business with a philanthropic side mission. Ferris spends a lot of time at meetings with other activists; he's a founder of the Michigan Association of Compassion Clubs, he's active in political lobbying, and frequently shows up at public meetings where cities are considering how to handle compassion clubs.

More and more, when surveying news articles about medical marijuana, words that apply to the business world come up. That's the approach Ferris takes.

"I do spend a lot of time at meetings," he says. "What we do is important not just to our industry but to our states. Look at California; look at the money it brings to that state, a lot of that could come to Michigan. It is an industry without a question. If you counted up the jobs that this law has given this state, you're getting into the tens of thousands. I don't think I'm exaggerating at all — caregivers, lawyers, doctors, the schools. There are a lot of people involved in this industry and a lot of people who want to be in this industry." (For the record, state officials say they've given out roughly 36,000 patient ID cards and have a three-month backlog.)

There is and always has been a lot of money involved in the drug war, and those who benefit from it want to hang on to their cash flow. But maybe it's time to see entrepreneurs in the drug business in a different light.

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