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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

Coalition of the winning

Victories are made by broad, united fronts

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Amiri Baraka at a Malcolm X Day gathering in Oakland, Calif. In Detroit, he praised the "united front" that secured Obama's second term.

On Friday evening, I dropped by the opening of Barbara Green Mann's art exhibit at the Hannan House on Woodward at Hancock in Detroit. 

Barbara is an old Cass Corridor compatriot from the 1970s who now lives in Toronto, and it was good to see her and her lovely artwork. While there I told a couple that I was leaving to see Baraka at the Wright Museum of African American History. They misheard me and thought I was going there for something to do with Barack Obama. I had to clear up that I was going to see writer and political activist Amiri Baraka. 

As it turned out, I was at the museum for a program about Obama. Baraka had some sharp and witty words about the recent election for the 200 or so folks gathered to hear him. His first statement was a tribute to President Obama's re-election victory over Mitt Romney, saying that the president showed us "How to kick a Republican's ass."

There was some gloating in the statement, but Baraka had a serious point. He went on to explain that Obama had pulled together a "united front" coalition of African-Americans, Latinos, single women, young people, homosexuals and progressive whites to win the election. This is how you do it, he repeated throughout the evening: with a united front. It was a point that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had impressed on him in a visit to Baraka's home a week before King was killed.

This perspective came during a week when Romney, the graceless loser (who apparently couldn't believe this coalition of takers beat him) reared his head from the seclusion he'd been in since the election to speak to the rich donors who'd bet millions on Romney's campaign. Romney disparaged the same "united front" in saying: "The president's campaign focused on giving targeted groups a big gift, so he made a big effort on small things."

Romney said this during a conference call that was not intended to go public, like the famous 47 percent video from a spring fundraiser that went public in September. That video showed Romney disparaging 47 percent of the public as "victims" who believe "they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, you name it."

When the video came out in September, Romney at first stood behind his statements before disavowing them. That he's still disparaging Obama's coalition behind closed doors all but confirms the insincerity of his campaign trail pleadings that he believed in serving the interests of all Americans. It also reinforces the worst image of Romney, as a sneering plutocrat who has contempt for common people.

This is the time for Romney to show grace, humility and maybe some humor too. Instead, he's coming across like a sore loser, one who'd rather make excuses than give his opponent any real credit. If the rest of the Republican Party members believe this then they are in for a long, hard journey in days to come. 

The old Republican coalition that came together in the 1970s — whose prominent constituents include Southern whites, rural residents, conservative Christians opposed to abortion and gay rights — just isn't enough to put the party over the top in presidential elections. 

Indeed, they seemed to admit it themselves with the voter ID laws they pushed in swing states that seemed like an attempt to keep African-Americans and Latinos from voting. 

Baraka, astute observer that he is, called for political activists to continue pulling together a "united front" to get things done. He even suggested that some organizations with a mainly black focus need to join in coalitions with other progressive groups in order to continue winning on issues important to progressive interests. Baraka's appearance was an example of what he preached. The event was the result of sponsorship between the Wright Museum and the MOCAD gallery.


Obama's coalition of traditional outsiders won the election, but I think there was another element that made a difference here. It's a lesson I learned in the 2004 election between President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry. At the time I was working for the UAW as editor of Solidarity magazine. In the months leading up to the election I had noticed that communications from the local unions to their members contained a lot of vitriol against Bush but not much about why to vote for Kerry. I taught a class at a Local Union Press Association conference around that time, and I told folks that they needed to give people reasons to vote for Kerry — not just spew hate against Bush.

After the conference I noted that editors continued their anti-Bush campaign. The same thing was pretty much happening in the rest of the liberal media. We hated Bush, but there wasn't much love for Kerry. Bush won. 

It seemed like we revisited that dynamic in this year's election. There was a lot of hate against Obama on the right, but not a lot of love for Romney. That leads me to think that negative campaigns are not as effective as those focused on positive values. You need to give people hope. Romney refused to give details of his plans, in addition to changing his position on issues such as health care from those he held as governor of Massachusetts. I think he felt he could get away with it and counted on the we-hate-Obama gang to carry him to victory. Apparently Americans weren't buying what he was selling.

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