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  • Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well

    By LeeAnn Brown Some people say that hip-hop is dead. Local ban Fderal Ground is proving that is not the case. The seven-member band, consisting of three lead vocalists, a DJ, bass, drums and guitar, plays what they call “living hip-hop.” Their music, peppered with multiple styles, covers all aspects of life from growing up in the D to playing with fire despite knowing you will likely get burned. Their undeniable chemistry and raw lyrics compose a music that is living, breathing, and connecting to their listeners. It has been nearly 11 years since Vinny Mendez and Michael Powers conjured up the basement idea that has flowered into the Detroit funk-hop band Feral Ground. Throughout high school the two wrote and rapped consistently, playing shows here and there. In those years they matched their rap stanzas with the animated, dynamic voice of Ginger Nastase and saw an instant connection. The now trio backed their lyrics with DJ Aldo’s beats on and off for years, making him a permanent member within the last year, along with Andy DaFunk (bass), Joseph Waldecker (drums), and newest member, Craig Ericson (guitar). We sat down with Feral Ground and their manager, Miguel Mira, in their […]

    The post Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law

    Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]

    The post Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week

    Walking with Dinosaurs, a magnificent stage show that features life-sized animatronic creatures from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, will be in town next week. But to preview the show’s run at the Palace, a baby T-Rex will be making an appearance at four area malls to the delight and wonderment of shoppers. Baby T-Rex, as the creature is being affectionately referred to, is seven-feet-tall and 14-feet-long. He’ll only be at each mall for about 15 minutes, so while there will be photo opportunities, they’ll be short. The dino will be at Fairlane Town Center Center Court at 18900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit from 2-2:15 p.m. today, July 30; The Mall at Partridge Creek at 17420 Hall Rd. in Clinton Township from 5-5:15 p.m. today, July 30; Twelve Oaks Mall at the Lord & Taylor Court at 27500 Novi Rd., Novi tomorrow, Thursday July 31 from 1:30-1:45 p.m.; and Great Lakes Crossing Food Court at 4000 Baldwin Rd., Auburn Hills from 5-5:15 p.m., tomorrow Thursday, July 31.  

    The post Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations

    Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.  

    The post Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial

    We don’t know about you, but usually Nancy Whiskey and Long John Silver’s aren’t two concepts we’d place in the same sentence. However, the international fast food fish fry conglomerate made a nod to the Detroit dive in their latest YouTube commercial. LJS is offering free fish fries on Saturday, August 2, which is the promotion the commercial is attempting to deliver. But, we think we’ll just go to Nancy Whiskey instead.

    The post Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women

    We came across an interesting item this week: Apparently, a music festival with the name “Michfest” is quietly oriented as a “Women-Only Festival Exclusively for ‘Women Born Women.’” It seems a strange decision to us. If you wanted to have a women-only music festival, why not simply proclaim loud and clear that it is for all sorts of women? But if you really wanted to become a lightning rod for criticisms about transphobia, organizers have found the perfect way to present their festival. Now, we know that defenders of non-cisgender folks have it tough. The strides made by gays and lesbians (and bisexuals) in the last 20 years have been decisive and dramatic. But the people who put the ‘T’ in LGBT have reason to be especially defensive, facing a hostile culture and even some disdain from people who should be their natural allies. That said, sometimes that defensiveness can cause some activists to go overboard; when we interviewed Dan Savage a couple years ago, he recalled his “glitter bombing” and said it was due to the “the narcissism of small differences,” adding that “if you’re playing the game of who is the most victimized, attacking your real enemies doesn’t prove you’re most victimized, claiming you […]

    The post Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Politics & Prejudices

Character assassins and corruption

Lansing's McCarthy-style follies, from calling Obama Muslim to playing at election fraud

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Sounding like Joe McCarthy on steroids, Bachman called on the administration to identify and expel "Muslim extremists" she believes have infiltrated our government.

Last week, the worst member of the state Legislature — and that's saying something — dived deeper than ever into the toilet.

David Agema, a washed-up airline pilot from Grandville, proclaimed that the president of the United States is a Muslim.

"That explains it all. He is a Muslim," Agema proclaimed on Facebook. What's more, he posted what passes for proof in his pinched, narrow, little, Republican forebrain.

Agema, who normally reserves his slurs for gay people and immigrants, linked his comments to a series of patched-together, clumsily edited videos that appear to show Barack Obama saying nice things about Islam. Never mind that George W. Bush repeatedly did the same thing, while emphasizing that the war on terror was by no means a war against Muslims.

One wonders if Agema thinks Bush is a Muslim too, though it is hard to couple the word "think" with anything having to do with the state representative from Intolerance.

Actually, Agema did achieve something important: He proved, for the first time as far as I know, that the Fox News channel has standards. He admitted to the Gongwer News Service that he posted the video after Fox refused to air it.

What made Agema angriest, apparently, was that the video showed President Obama saying that Islam is a religion of peace. "Not all Muslims are terrorists, but just about every terrorist is a Muslim," flyboy Dave said, brilliantly exhibiting the depths of both his philosophical and religious expertise.

My guess is that the Irish Republican Army and the Oklahoma City bombers never knew how Muslim they were.

We've known about Agema for years, however. He's been voted the Legislature's least effective member. He introduced anti-immigrant bills worse than Arizona's, tried to make schools teach "creation science" and has never missed the opportunity to try to deny gay people their rights.

He has, however, missed many votes on bills. In his first year, he missed more votes than anyone else in Lansing, but continued to draw his full salary. That fall, when the state faced the real possibility of a prolonged government shutdown if a budget wasn't passed, Agema should have been close to the action; he had a seat on the Appropriations Committee.

Should have been, but wasn't. He was off in Siberia on a hunting trip, shooting at wild sheep. He collected his pay, however, just the same. 

From time to time, both parties have had some totally contemptible elected officials. Take Sen. Joe McCarthy, back in the 1950s.  He destroyed lives and careers by recklessly accusing people of being Communists without the slightest bit of evidence.

Eventually, he was stripped of his powers and soon drank himself to death. After that, there was sort of mutual agreement that in politics, there was such a thing as going too far.

For a long time, reckless, vicious and false character assassination was seen as unacceptable. But not any more.

Not, anyway, among Republicans. Even as Agema was trying to spread his moronic dirt, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann accused a greatly respected State Department official, Huma Abedin, of "trying to destroy Western civilization from within," apparently through her ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Abedin, who was actually born in Detroit, is of Pakistani descent, though her husband is Jewish.

Sounding like Joe McCarthy on steroids, Bachman called on the administration to identify and expel "Muslim extremists," who she believes have infiltrated our government.

Unfortunately for Minnesota's bargain-basement demagogue, she picked the wrong target. Not only has Abedin been thoroughly vetted by the U.S. intelligence services, even most Republicans respect her; she is a close adviser and confidante to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Ed Rollins, who once worked as a campaign manager for Bachmann, said her "vicious" smears "reach the late Sen. Joe McCarthy level." Sen. John McCain denounced Bachmann. Speaker of the House John Boehner joined in.

The nasty little woman from Minnesota scuttled back to her lair. But back in Michigan, it was a different story.

Decent people from both parties should be calling for Agema to slither out of the Legislature. But not only did that not happen, Republicans a few weeks ago elected him the state's Republican National Committeeman.

Every state has a male and female representative on the GOP's national committee, and this creature is ours.

Nobody's moving to replace him for lying about the president, and the state party apparently doesn't have any problem with that. They did have bigger problems last week:

In one of the most astounding examples of political corruption Michigan has seen, the Kent County Prosecutor's office revealed that GOP Speaker of the House Jase Bolger secretly conspired with Roy Schmidt, a representative from Grand Rapids, to deceive the people by trying to rig an election.

Election fraud, in other words. The two of them conspired to have Schmidt switch from the Democratic to the Republican Party, and to do so at the last minute so Democrats couldn't find a legitimate replacement candidate. It gets worse:

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