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  • 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.

  • 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.



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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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