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  • The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues

    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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



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Stir It Up

Body vs. soul food

Eating low on the hog may not be good for you, and fresh food folks can help

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My mom made some of the best Southern-style fried chicken I ever ate. After church dinners that featured her crispy, golden yard birds, Mom would often have to pass her recipe on to other church ladies.

Growing up, I ate all the staples of the soul food diet — pork chops, pig feet, ham hocks, greens, assorted beans, macaroni and cheese — most of it cooked with requisite amounts of lard or Crisco. We ate low on the hog, high on the hog, and hogs in general. Once in a while Dad would bring home a half of a hog’s head and mom would make head cheese. I loved that spicy, gelatinous concoction. I would buy pickled pig feet from the big jar that sat on the counter at Mr. Robinson’s store on the corner of Myrtle and 18th Street in Detroit. He’d wrap it in butcher paper, and I’d stand outside and happily suck on the vinegary fat and gristle.

I know I’m not the only one who can rhapsodize about soul food. And many of you recently had your special New Year’s soul food dishes. You had Hopping John (black-eyed peas cooked with cubed fatback or ham hocks) for good fortune and prosperity. You had collard greens (overcooked and with salt pork or ham hocks) to encourage green in your wallet. There was a pork entrée (chops) to encourage family bonds. Maybe you had macaroni and cheese, sweet tea chock-full of processed white sugar or banana pudding.

Stop! Every one of those foods represents the antithesis of the purported reason for eating them. Hopping John won’t bring you good luck. It will bring you bad health. The collard greens will take the green out of your wallet when you pay your doctor’s bills. The pork will not encourage family bonds; it will kill your family members. 

Soul food is the residual culinary expression of a slavery and poverty diet. Leftover parts of animals — pig intestines, feet, tails — and vegetables that were unpopular or considered weeds (okra, greens) were eaten for survival. Enslaved people took what was available and, with the help of unhealthy amounts of salt and sugar, made something that tasted good. When slavery ended, most blacks were too poor to afford anything else, and by then most had grown accustomed to and indeed preferred the foods their mamas had fed them. It’s championed as a part of the culture. Soul food is comfort food for the vast majority of African-Americans. If you doubt that, take a look at the repast served up at any black church function.

Filmmaker Bryon Hurt is finishing up a documentary titled Soul Food Junkies. The title is appropriate because people are indeed addicted to the fat, salt and sugar in this cuisine. Jersey-based Hurt is the same guy who made the 2006 documentary Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, which examines gender roles, misogyny and homophobia in hip-hop culture. He is currently seeking funds to finish Soul Food. This project comes on the heels of Chris Rock’s Good Hair, chronicling issues and attitudes about hair culture in the black community. Maybe there’s something going on with black filmmakers turning the camera on issues that were pretty much taboo in the past. I mean, isn’t it telling that the first African-American millionaire was Madame C.J. Walker, who sold products to her people for straightening their curly hair — something near and dear to the hearts of black folks.

Soul food is also near and dear to our hearts — even though it gives us heart attacks. Hurt’s project will probably hit a nerve. Even beyond the Soul Food film and television series, there’s hardly a black family film out there without a scene involving the copious eating of poison-laced victuals. Writer Stanley Crouch, in his New York Daily News column, suggests that Hurt’s film might become as widely discussed as Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 documentary Super Size Me. There’s a connection between the two. Fast food contains all the same bad stuff that soul food has. In Super Size Me, Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald’s food for a month. During this time he gained weight and his blood pressure rocketed to dangerously high levels. 

African-Americans suffer disproportionately from diseases caused by a bad diet. According to statistics from the American Diabetes Association, 14.7 percent of all African-Americans have diabetes, and 25 percent of black women older than 55 have diabetes — rates nearly twice that of non-Hispanic whites. People with diabetes have an increased risk of going blind, kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, amputations and nerve damage. According to the American Heart Association 40 percent of African-Americans have high blood pressure and overall develop the malady earlier in life than whites; the disease tends to be more severe among African-Americans.

That’s why efforts to help make fresh, healthy foods more available in urban areas are so important. In Detroit, the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network and the Georgia Street Community Collective, both members of the Detroit Agricultural Network, are vital. The first point on Georgia Street’s mission statement is "to provide residents of our community with health." The strategy is to achieve this by maintaining a community garden and teaching others to start their own garden. There are also nutrition classes at the Georgia Street Community Center on Detroit’s east side, not far from city airport.

"Mostly we teach how to prepare certain dishes," says Mark Covington, who founded the community garden. "Some of it is introducing neighbors to things like kale salads, how to cook eggplant, how to cook collard greens without using a lot of pork. You can cook greens with smoked turkey, which is healthier, or without meat products at all. Pork in high quantities can cause your blood pressure to go up."

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