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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

Crisis on the corner

Should we legalize drugs to save the hood?

The War on Drugs has been fought from corner to corner in black communities across the United States. Although African-Americans make up only 13 percent of the general population, 40 percent of drug offenders in federal prisons and 45 percent of offenders in state prisons are black.

It's not that blacks make up 40 or 45 percent of American drug users. A study of New York drug arrests from 1997 to 2006 by sociologist Harry Levine and drug policy activist Deborah Small found that 18-to-25-year-old whites are more likely than blacks or Hispanics to smoke marijuana, yet blacks were five times and Hispanics three times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Similar statistics can be found in all kinds of studies out there. All of it leads to black and brown communities where young men committing victimless offenses get criminal records, get sent to jail, lose their families, and enter a system wherein a life of crime is more likely than getting an education and a job.

So it's amazing that the drug war and civil rights haven't been more closely tied together the way linguist and conservative political pundit John McWhorter links them in a recent column for the The New Republic's website titled "Getting Darnell Off the Corners: Why America Should Ride the Anti-Drug-War Wave."

I don't know what that guy on the corner is named, Pookie or Tyrone or whatever, but McWhorter wrote "... with no War on Drugs there would be, within one generation, no 'black problem' in the United States. Poverty in general, yes. An education problem in general — probably. But the idea that black America had a particular crisis would rapidly become history, requiring explanation to young people. The end of the War on Drugs is, in fact, what all people genuinely concerned with black uplift should be focused on. ..."

And, in fact, he says all drugs should be legalized. Some civil rights groups have nibbled at the edges of the drug war, sometimes suggesting that marijuana is not as bad as other drugs. The California NAACP went that route last year when it came out in support of Proposition 19 to legalize marijuana in the state. Proposition 19 lost by a 53.5 to 46.5 percent vote in November. But California NAACP President Alice Huffman threw down the gauntlet in saying marijuana law reform is a civil rights issue.

Neil Franklin, president of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition who worked with Huffman in creating the NAACP policy, casts some wisdom on the roiling waters of drug policy debate.

"We went to a prison here in Baltimore with a section for juveniles; it's a high school in prison for them," says Franklin, an African-American with more than 30 years policing experience in Maryland. "We did a workshop with 12. I think 10 were there for drug violations. We asked them what your neighborhood would be like if drugs were legal tomorrow. The number one answer was that they would have no money. There would pretty much be no money in their households. The drug market provides more money into those communities than anything else. The second answer was that the police would no longer harass us if drugs were legal in the community."

The kids focused in on two important issues: economics and police-community relations. Legalizing drugs would cut the economic legs out from under the drug business because legal drugs would be cheaper and easily obtainable. Drug dealers would no longer be able to finance terrorizing neighborhoods, and drug addicts would be a public health issue not a law enforcement problem. Regarding community relations, growing up without an adversarial relationship with the police goes a long way in creating citizens who would rather cooperate with law enforcement than fight it.

Despite the failure of the drug war to reduce the use of illicit drugs, support for prohibition remains strong among many African-Americans. Carl Taylor, a sociology professor at Michigan State University who focuses on crime and other urban issues, takes a hard line against legalization. "I contend strongly that illegal drugs, legal drugs and alcohol are truly the barbed wire around the neck of the black community. I see not one serious plus in my life experiences professionally or personally from illicit narcotics. ... I don't agree with McWhorter. I don't think he knows what he's talking about. If you put the black market out of business, the fellas out on the street are still going to find deeper and better drugs. Just because I don't know what to do doesn't mean you do something that you've got to be out your mind to do from where I'm sitting. The ignorance of very distorted socialization, the racism, the discrimination is not going to go away, the failure of the family structure, interactions. ..."

Indeed, McWhorter's article tends to gloss over the details of how legalizing drugs will work to "magically" fix race relations, nor does he tell us what job "Darnell" will get when he no longer has drug money fueling his lifestyle. In an e-mail last week, McWhorter told me, "It won't be easy and the jobs won't often be upwardly mobile middle-class jobs. The issue here is very specific: Whatever Darnell does instead, anything at all, is better than selling drugs on the corners. That's what matters. But for starters, the Darnells would start doing vocational training at community colleges. The economy will not be this bad forever. We know Darnell can do this because his brother Eugene already does. Eventually the Darnells would install cable, fix heaters, be bail bondsmen, be real estate inspectors, work on boats, work for UPS, be security guards, be hospital assistants. That is, they would do what Eugene has always done."

But these are tough economic times. Where will the money for job training and job creation come from? Activists have an easy answer for that one: the War on Drugs. The group DrugSense ( keeps a running tally with its "Drug War Clock 2011," and Monday afternoon showed that federal and state governments have spent nearly $2 billion so far in 2011; we spent around $40 billion on the War on Drugs in 2010.

To some, that might be money well spent. But a 1994 study by the RAND Drug Policy Institute found that "treatment is 10 times more effective than interdiction in reducing the use of cocaine." It also found that "every additional dollar invested in substance abuse treatment saves taxpayers more than $7 in societal costs, and that additional domestic law enforcement costs 15 times as much as treatment to achieve the same reduction in societal costs." And that doesn't even take into account potential revenues from taxing drug sales and payroll taxes from employed citizens.

Regardless of which tactic you support, prohibition or legalization, the goal is the same. "We pretty much desire to do exactly what the War on Drugs seeks, to reduce crime, disease, death and addiction," Franklin says. "We aim to do it through legalization, regulation and control of drugs rather than prohibition. It's quite obvious to us that the efforts are ineffective; they have failed and it's time for a different approach."

It certainly seems like it's a conversation worth having without histrionics. Go ahead, talk about it. It's therapeutic.

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