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  • 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project

    By Amanda Mooney There’s a lot that goes into producing a film, and unless you are a filmmaker you really have no idea. Writing, casting, finding a location, shooting, and editing; each step of the process can take days, months, and sometimes years to complete. Can you imagine doing it ALL in just 48 hours? The 48 Hour Film Project is an annual competition that takes place all over the world in various cities. According to Mike Madigan, head of the Detroit 48 Hour chapter, the city is one of the largest participating in terms of the number of teams. The competing teams go in blind as to what kind of film they will be producing, with no creative planning beyond getting a cast and crew together, Madigan explained. “They pick a genre out of a hat, and they get a line, a prop, and a character. And they have to incorporate that within a short film, that’s usually between 4 to 7 minutes long. And they have the timeframe of doing it all within 48 hours,” said Madigan, “So all the creative process of it all has to happen within that 48 hour–writing a script, putting it together, editing–to […]

    The post 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space

    Church: Revival is the new project by local rap duo Passalacqua (aka Bryan Lackner and Brent Smith), but it’s more than just a new Passalacqua release. The rappers teamed up with siblings Jax Anderson (frontwoman of rockers Flint Eastwood) and Seth Anderson, who together form the songwriting team called Syblyng (naturally). The result is a cycle of songs that promises to be darker than Passalacqua’s material so far. The project will make a live debut on Saturday, July 26 at a brand new venue space at the Detroit Bus Co.’s building Eight & Sand, and they will premiere the Right Bros.-directed video for the track “Baptism” as well. Other performances include Tunde Olaniran and Open Mike Eagle, and DJ sets by Nothing Elegant, Dante LaSalle, and Charles Trees. We met up the two duos at Eight & Sand to check out the new space and to talk about the project with all parties involved. Metro Times: How long have you been working together? Jax Anderson: Seth and I are constantly writing songs together. We want to push in the direction of becoming songwriters more frequently. This is our first project that we took on to co-write everything together. We’re basically just a songwriting entity. We won’t play live that […]

    The post Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • PETA offers to pay overdue water bills for Detroiters willing to go vegan

    #150207742 / As locals continue to flood Detroit streets to protest the city’s ongoing water debacle, one national organization is hoping to be part of the solution — that is, for a dietary price. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA as the organization is more commonly known, has offered to pay outstanding water bills for 10 Detroiters who are willing to go vegan for one month. “Vegan meals take far less of a toll on the Earth’s resources,” PETA representatives said in a recent press release. “It takes about 2,500 gallons of water to produce just a pound of meat but only about 155 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat.” PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk adds, “Vegan meals are also a cost-effective way to help prevent health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart conditions, the last thing that someone who is struggling financially needs to deal with.” Folks interested in participating are asked to send a copy of their most recent overdue water bill and their written pledge to go vegan for one month to PETA Attn: Detroit Water at 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510 before Aug. 1.

    The post PETA offers to pay overdue water bills for Detroiters willing to go vegan appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Dinner Club Does Brunch

    Sure, The Dinner Club, a regularly occurring pop-up that takes places at the Storefront Gallery  in Ferndale (and other locations, occasionally), usually happens around dinner time, but this Sunday, July 27, there will be a special edition: Brunch Chef Matthew Baldridge, who’s resume includes stints at such Detroit greats as Cliff Bell’s, The Rattlesnake Club, and Seldom Blues, has crafted a menu of French-inspired items that employ locally procured ingredients. Brunch includes four courses where guests will be treated to such delights as cocoa, cinnamon, chili-spiced creamy grits with pickled strawberries, cocoa puffs and strawberry-infused syrup, a smoked gouda potato gallette with Faygo Root Beer braised pork belly, quail egg and Faygo Root Beer syrup, banana marscapone-filled French toast with fresh raspberries, whipped cream and balsamic syrup, and champagne-soaked strawberries. It is also important to note that brunch is BYOChampagne. Baldridge, along with The Storefront Gallery’s Derek John and Lilacpop Studio owner and artist Janna Coumoundouros, curate the event that includes an art show, a great playlist, and visuals. Brunch services are at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and last about two hours, only 20 seats are available at each service. The cost is $25 plus a service fee. The Storefront Gallery […]

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  • Jurassic 5 holds onto what’s golden

      By Ashley Zlatopolsky It’s been a little over twenty years since iconic ‘90s alternative hip-hop group Jurassic 5 first formed in Los Angeles’ Good Life club. Widely regarded as a pivotal influence in the decade’s underground hip-hop movement by critics and fans alike, the six-piece crew consisting of two DJs (Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark) and four MCs (Akil, Zaakir, Marc 7 and Chali 2na) were well on their way to becoming one of hip-hop’s greatest and most powerful acts of all time, ranking alongside names such as Public Enemy and N.W.A. with socially-conscious lyrics and smooth beats paired with smart sampling. But in 2004, Cut Chemist left the group to pursue a solo career, and in 2007 Jurassic 5 completely called it quits after nearly 15 years of music. And that was it for the crew until 2013. After almost seven years apart (nine for Cut Chemist), Jurassic 5 reunited and re-emerged stronger than ever before with a new flair, seasoned attitude, and more vibrant energy at Coachella Music Festival, the group’s first show with the original six members since Cut Chemist split. During their performance, Jurassic 5 gave fans a memorable concert revisiting all the classic feel-good tracks […]

    The post Jurassic 5 holds onto what’s golden appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit Riverwalk west extension opens from Riverfront Towers to Rosa Parks

    Dogs of Detroit have new territory to trot: Yesterday, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy held a soft opening for a 20-acre westward extension of the Riverwalk. Part of a planned two-mile track of the West Riverwalk, the new span runs from the Riverfront Towers to Rosa Parks Boulevard, says Mark Pasco, director of communications for the conservancy. “It’s going to be great,” Pasco says. “It’s a wide open green space. It’s going to be great for activities.” The endgame for the Riverwalk, Pasco notes, is to extend the walkway from the Ambassador Bridge to Gabriel Richard Park, just past the MacArthur Bridge — about a 5.5. mile route. The new westward expansion is wider than most of the walkway, about 30 feet, says Pasco — a decision made by the conservancy to accommodate fisherman that previously frequented the area. “We knew … once it opened up they’d want to fish there again, so we made the Riverwalk itself wider,” Pasco says. The conservancy will hold a grand opening in late September, which will include “food and music and activities,” Pasco says, though no official date has been set.

    The post Detroit Riverwalk west extension opens from Riverfront Towers to Rosa Parks appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Stir It Up

Black activist's food for thought

James Beard award underscores Malik Yakini's importance to movement

Photo: W. Kim Heron, License: N/A

W. Kim Heron

Malik Yakini: "Food impacts every aspect of society. It's a great uniter."

Malik Yakini, director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN), often tries to deflect attention away from himself and toward the many people he works with as a food activist. His congenial sharing of the spotlight will become more difficult after Oct. 17, when he will be one of five 2012 James Beard Foundation Leadership Award recipients.

The prestigious national award will give Yakini (pronounced ee-uh-KEY-knee) an even higher profile as he will be feted at Hearst Tower in New York City during the foundation's annual food conference, titled "A Crisis in Confidence: Creating a Better, More Sustainable Food World We Can Trust." And just to make things a little more unusual for the bespectacled, dreadlocked Yakini, who favors dashiki shirts, the conference is co-hosted by Good Housekeeping magazine.

"I've been an activist all of my adult life, with concerns about freedom and justice and a high quality of human life in general, and specifically in the African-American community," Yakini says. 

There is a quiet charisma about Yakini. He doesn't bluster and pose, yet he directly addresses racial issues that have polarized people in and around the city for decades. People seem attracted to him, and he is indeed a leader. He is a reggae musician who takes the consciousness espoused by the music seriously. In 1989, he founded the Nsoroma Institute, an African-centered private school that is now a Detroit charter school. He led the school until last year, when he left it to focus more on food security. The DBCFSN, which works the seven-acre D-Town Farms in River Rouge Park, is an outgrowth of gardening activities and food issues he became involved with at Nsoroma. Yakini also owned the Black Star Bookstore for teachers on Livernois Avenue near Seven Mile Road for several years before it closed. He was also one of the principal activists who worked with the Detroit City Council to establish the Detroit Food Policy Council in 2009. Yakini is a past chair of the DFPC.

"Malik is very important because he has done several things," says Dr. Kami Pothukuchi, a Wayne State University professor and a nationally recognized food policy expert. "He has not only made a case for why the African-American community needs to take leadership on community food justice issues, but also why movement activists in Detroit need to think critically about race in the food system. ... His leadership that led to the founding of the DFPC is a very important manifestation. He's not just someone who has said a lot of words; he went and showed how it should be done. He tells the truth without being off-putting. He has done important, critical thinking about relationships in Detroit. He is thoughtful, listens and is fair. All those things make him a very attractive leader and someone people want to listen to and follow."

Yakini is an unwavering black activist who seems to be able to tell white people where to get off and make them like it because he speaks from an informed and caring position rather than anger.

"White food activists are well intentioned, but haven't done a thorough process of divesting themselves of white supremacist thinking," Yakini says. "They have a paternalistic or missionary style with black people."

And he walks the walk. Although his activism takes him around the country to forums and seminars, when he is in town he gets his hands dirty at the farm and drives produce to market. He can talk about soil science, medicinal herbs, composting, crop rotation and more, all the while trying to balance his time with individuals, organizations and media vying for his attention. D-Town has created a relationship with the groundbreaking Growing Power, founded by Will Allen in Milwaukee. Allen, who received a MacArthur "genius" grant in 2008, nominated Yakini for the Beard award — another indication that what Yakini and others have been quietly doing in Detroit has gained attention in broader environs. 

"We're hopeful that this will elevate our work in the public consciousness and bring greater resources to our cause," Yakini says. "I am less concerned about my recognition as an individual and more concerned about collective work in Detroit. Nothing that I do is done individually, elevating individuals can be counterproductive. I'm part of a team. I couldn't create D-Town by myself; this is collective work."

To a certain extent, working in the food system is visionary. The United Nations' prediction for the world population in 2050 is 9.2 billion — up from a little more than 7 billion this year. Feeding all those people is going to take a major effort, especially as climate change and pollution stress food production capabilities worldwide. This year, droughts in the United States have reduced expected harvests and driven up the cost of food. Costs have also been driven up by the high price of petroleum, which is used in everything from fertilizers to fuel for farm machinery and trucks delivering food to markets.

In addition, the prevalence of highly processed foods laden with fats and sugars are driving an obesity epidemic that is raising the incidence of high blood pressure and diabetes — which lead to heart and kidney disease. Urban African-Americans and Hispanics suffer disproportionately from these ailments, and are more likely to encounter complications and death from these causes than non-Hispanic whites.

"Food impacts every aspect of society," Yakini says. "It's a great uniter. Everyone needs high-quality food regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, class or religion. It can be the basis of a broad consensus on improving our lives. ... Food is one of the basic building blocks of life. Any communities or nations seeking to be prosperous have to develop a food system that provides high-quality, nutritious food for their people."

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