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  • 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? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor

    Detroit home-girl Lily Tomlin will perform at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, June 14. A press release reads, “Get together with Lily Tomlin for an unforgettable night of fun and sidesplitting laughter. “Tomlin is amazing” The NY Times and “as always a revelation.” The New Yorker This unique comic artist takes her audience on what the Washington Post calls a “wise and howlingly funny” trip with more than a dozen of her timeless characters—from Ernestine to Mrs. Beasley to Edith Ann.” “With astounding skill and energy, Tomlin zaps through the channels like a human remote control. Using a fantastic range of voices, gestures and movements, she conjures up the cast of characters with all the apparent ease of a magician pulling a whole menagerie of animals from a single hat.” NY Daily News “Her gentle touch is as comforting as it is edifying.” NY Time Out She has “made the one-person show the daring, irreverent art form it is today.” Newsweek Her long list of awards includes: a Grammy; two Tonys; six Emmys; an Oscar nomination; two Peabodys; and the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Find more info here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor

    The Detroit Metro Times, Detroit’s award-winning alternative weekly media company, is proud to announce the recent hire of Valerie Vande Panne as Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning independent journalist and Michigan native, Vande Panne’s work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Daily Beast, and Salon, among other publications. Previously, Vande Panne attended Harvard University and was a regular contributor to The Boston Phoenix, and a news editor of High Times magazine. She has spent years covering drug policy among other subjects, including the environment, culture, lifestyle, extreme sports, and academia. “Valerie understands our business and what we expect to accomplish in Detroit. She has an excellent sense for stories that will move our readers, as well as experience with balancing print and digital content. I’m excited to have her at the paper and trust her leadership as we move forward,” said Detroit Metro Times publisher Chris Keating.

    The post Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’

    She welcomes you when you enter Detroit, from every direction, with the one word that might just be Detroit’s biggest philosophical question: Injured? Joumana Kayrouz is deeper than the inflated image watching over Detroit, peddling justice to the poor and broken of the city. This Wednesday, Drew Philp takes us behind the billboard and into the heart of the Kayrouz quest. (And all of Brian Rozman’s photos of Kayrouz have not been retouched.) Check out MT‘s cover story, on newsstands Wednesday!

    The post Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt

    There was a fire in an upstairs apartment at PJ’s Lager House on Monday evening. No people were hurt, although three cats belonging to the tenants died after CPR. The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. during a show featuring Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band, Curtin, and Jeffrey Jablonsky. “We just smelled smoke and someone yelled everyone has to get out,” 33-year-old Nick Leu told MLive. On the Lager House Facebook page in the early hours of the morning, a post said, “We at PJ’s lager House would like to thank everyone for their care and concern. Also, a very big THANK YOU to all who stepped up to do what they could this evening. The fire was contained to the upstairs but due to water damage in the bar, we will be closed until it can be assessed. Everyone is safe and we will keep you updated.” A later update read, “Update from the big boss. Since there was no damage to the stage side of the bar, the show will go on tomorrow! You may have to enter through the back door and there may not be a large selection of booze but we are going […]

    The post Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Stir It Up

Boys in the hoodies

The merits of the case aside, what do we tell our black children?

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

I'm obsessed with the Trayvon Martin case. Maybe it's the innocent aura that seems to project from his photos. He looks absolutely cherubic in the one where he's wearing a hoodie — the garment that may have helped seal his doom.

In case you've been in a coma these past few weeks, Trayvon Martin was an unarmed 17-year-old African-American boy gunned down in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., near Orlando, on Feb. 26 by self-appointed neighborhood watch vigilante George Zimmerman. Martin was walking to his father's girlfriend's house after going to the store to buy Skittles candy and iced tea. Zimmerman — white father, Peruvian mother — was subsequently released by police with little investigation. His freedom has put Florida's "Stand Your Ground" gun law in the spotlight, engendered a national uproar and brought probes from a state grand jury and the U.S. Justice Department. The law gives anyone, anywhere, the right to use deadly force if they feel their life or safety is in danger.

However, there is no way Zimmerman should have felt in danger as he cruised around in his truck carrying a loaded 9 mm pistol. When he spotted the 140-pound Martin, Zimmerman called 911. The operator told him, "We don't need you" to follow him. 

The case raises so many questions in my mind that I pore over every tiny piece of information trying to understand how it happened and how police could handle it so badly. Maybe some of my concern is rooted in the fact that my 14-year-old daughter will be vacationing in Florida in a couple of weeks with a friend and her family. I'm wondering if I should add more to the usual parental admonitions about safety. Should I talk to her about not getting into situations where someone could claim they feel threatened? Should I underscore her race and tell her that she could be in danger because of it?

These are the kinds of conversations black parents and their children have been having in America for decades if not longer. In the wake of the Trayvon tragedy, one news commentator talked about how, when his family moved to an upscale neighborhood, his father told him not to run because police would find a black kid running through the neighborhood suspicious — and certainly don't run while carrying something.

Is it just black boys who need that admonition? I spoke to a friend who raised a boy and a girl as a single mother. She told me that she gave her son more warnings about how to behave safely around police and white people than her daughter. She talked to him about always keeping your hands in view when pulled over for a traffic stop. She told him to avoid driving around with a car full of his friends, which is a magnet for people who think young black men are suspicious. 

I spoke to another friend who says he didn't have the conversation directly with his two sons, but they had pretty much picked up on the message through their friends.

I remember hearing a commentary once about Arthur Ashe, the great tennis pro and civil rights activist. One of the points made in the commentary was that Ashe was such an outstanding person ... well, who knows what he could have accomplished if he hadn't had to spend so much of his time worrying about racial issues. With that in mind, I've tried to not overburden my daughter about race. She knows she's black and what that means in America, and as issues come up that involve race I give her my perspective. But unlike my father, who told me I have to be three times as good as the white guy to get recognition for something, I don't lay that one on her.

Maybe it's more of a guy thing. In the Higher Ground column I also write for Metro Times, I recently wrote about Michelle Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow, which argues that drug laws, disproportionately used to prosecute young African-American men, have created a permanent underclass with the stigma of a felony drug record. The offender who tries to go straight can't find work, is ineligible for federal housing or education funds and often ends up in a revolving door in and out of prison. These young men may be guilty of using drugs, but their white peers who are just as likely to get high don't get arrested for it at nearly the same rates as blacks.

Trayvon Martin is another reminder of how young black males are scapegoated, feared, devalued and attacked. How they are guilty until proven innocent, and in the case of Martin, apparently executed. Zimmerman made a statement to police that he felt threatened and defended himself – one report Monday said that Martin attacked first. Maybe he was just standing his ground. Another report said the teenager had been suspended from school for possessing a bag with marijuana residue in it. This thing is going to go through major contortions – including attempts to discredit Martin.

It seems to me that when someone invokes the "stand your ground" law, there should be an investigation to ascertain whether they were justified, rather than the cops just taking the shooter's words — as seems to be the case with Zimmerman. I'm pretty sure that if Martin had somehow successfully defended himself, gone upside Zimmerman's head with his can of ice tea and killed him, there would have been an investigation. There would have been questions as to whether he was truly threatened. He would have been drug-tested. And Zimmerman's family would have been notified immediately.

It's clear from the transcript of the 911 tape that Zimmerman had a profile in mind when he saw Martin. He told the operator Martin was wearing a hoodie and added: "This guy looks like he's up to no good, or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about."

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