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  • Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit

    Former American Idol contestant Vonzell Solomon weighs in on twerking, natural hair & CEO status. In 2005, recording artist Vonzell “Baby V” Solomon embarked on a journey that changed her life. At the age of 20, Vonzell made it to the top three on American Idol before she was eliminated. But that was not the beginning nor the end of her journey to stardom. Vonzell is one of more than two dozen artists on tour with YouTube sensation Todrick Hall, who is a former Idol contestant as well. Todrick gained notoriety for his fast food drive-thru songs and also for producing parody videos  —  based on popular Broadway musicals and songs. His tour, uniquely entitled Twerk Du Soleil (translation: twerk of the sun), is a combination of his popular YouTube spoofs. Both Vonzell and her ratchet alter ego,Boonquisha Jenkins, made an appearance in Twerk Du Soleil,which stopped in Detroit July 23 at Saint Andrews Hall. Boonquisha opened the show by facilitating a twerking competition among the audience. Next, Vonzell made a reappearance singing a fan favorite – Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” Later, Boonquisha came on stage screaming “It’s so cold in the D! You gotta be from the D to […]

    The post Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race

    If a poll released this week is any indication of how the August 5 primary election will turn out, current Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano has reason to worry, Fox 2 reports. Ficano, who’s seeking a third term, polled in fourth place — behind former Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans, Westland Mayor Bill Wild and Wayne County Commissioner Phil Cavanaugh, according to Fox 2. The poll by Strategic Solutions LLC, showed 6.7 percent of respondents said they’d vote for Ficano, which isn’t so bad: He finished ahead of County Commissioner Kevin McNamara (who came in at No. 6) and someone literally described as “a candidate not named here” (who polled at No. 5.) If you’re planning to head to the polls — which you should! — and need some input on the candidates and ballot proposals, you can read for our election coverage in this week’s Metro Times.

    The post Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • A Mad Decent Mixtape

    Mad Decent Block Party will roll through town on Saturday, August 16, bringing to town artists like Dillon Francis, Diplo, Flosstradamus, RiFF RAFF, Keys N Krates, and Zeds Dead. Thugli, a Canadian duo, will perform on the Toronto leg of the tour and they put together a 45 minute mix that features songs by some of the tour’s featured artists as well as a host of others.  Listen to it here. 

    The post A Mad Decent Mixtape appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders

    Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host a special event this Saturday, July 26 in hopes of raising money for the local faction of an international nonprofit, Burners without Borders Detroit. Breaking Borders is a one-evening-only event that will feature live music, performance, and art. Satori Circus will perform along with spoken word artist ZakAndWhatArmy. Music by Tartanic, Dixon’s Violin, and Servitor. Fire dancers, hoop performers, and acrobats will provide a certain mysticism to the ambiance as old Victorian steampunk and tribal art is shown in the main gallery. There will also be a runway fashion show and the evening will end with a dubstep rave featuring DJ Forcefeed and Dotty. Truly, there’s something for everyone. Perhaps more importantly, there will be a full service bar. The event is open to those 18 and older and IDs will be checked at the door. Admission is $25 at the door, or $20 with the donation of a canned good. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the party goes until 2 a.m. A 20 percent commission will be taken from all art sold at this event and donated to Burners without Borders. The Tangent Gallery is located at 715 Milwaukee Ave., Detroit; 313-873-2955;

    The post Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project

    By Amanda Mooney There’s a lot that goes into producing a film, and unless you are a filmmaker you really have no idea. Writing, casting, finding a location, shooting, and editing; each step of the process can take days, months, and sometimes years to complete. Can you imagine doing it ALL in just 48 hours? The 48 Hour Film Project is an annual competition that takes place all over the world in various cities. According to Mike Madigan, head of the Detroit 48 Hour chapter, the city is one of the largest participating in terms of the number of teams. The competing teams go in blind as to what kind of film they will be producing, with no creative planning beyond getting a cast and crew together, Madigan explained. “They pick a genre out of a hat, and they get a line, a prop, and a character. And they have to incorporate that within a short film, that’s usually between 4 to 7 minutes long. And they have the timeframe of doing it all within 48 hours,” said Madigan, “So all the creative process of it all has to happen within that 48 hour–writing a script, putting it together, editing–to […]

    The post 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space

    Church: Revival is the new project by local rap duo Passalacqua (aka Bryan Lackner and Brent Smith), but it’s more than just a new Passalacqua release. The rappers teamed up with siblings Jax Anderson (frontwoman of rockers Flint Eastwood) and Seth Anderson, who together form the songwriting team called Syblyng (naturally). The result is a cycle of songs that promises to be darker than Passalacqua’s material so far. The project will make a live debut on Saturday, July 26 at a brand new venue space at the Detroit Bus Co.’s building Eight & Sand, and they will premiere the Right Bros.-directed video for the track “Baptism” as well. Other performances include Tunde Olaniran and Open Mike Eagle, and DJ sets by Nothing Elegant, Dante LaSalle, and Charles Trees. We met up the two duos at Eight & Sand to check out the new space and to talk about the project with all parties involved. Metro Times: How long have you been working together? Jax Anderson: Seth and I are constantly writing songs together. We want to push in the direction of becoming songwriters more frequently. This is our first project that we took on to co-write everything together. We’re basically just a songwriting entity. We won’t play live that […]

    The post Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Stir It Up

Crushing the unions

Suddenly, the Midwest looks like the Middle East

It seems not long ago that we started watching mass protests shake up regimes across the Middle East and North Africa, even toppling Egypt's government. Now we're witnessing protests across the United States in response to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to strip collective bargaining rights from state workers. The protests probably won't lead to regime change in Wisconsin, but they have lit a fire under union supporters across the country.

Things have gotten very interesting since the GOP-sponsored bill was introduced in Wisconsin's Legislature. Republicans control the executive office, the House and the Senate in the Badger state, and it seems that they are using the opportunity to force their agenda through. Wisconsin's 14 Democratic state senators fled the state in order to keep the Senate from having a quorum, thus keeping the bill from coming to a vote.

Walker says the state's financial crisis calls for draconian measures. Some say that Walker created the financial crises by cutting taxes in the state. Regardless of the cause, Wisconsin public unions have actually agreed to all the economic provisions of the bill, wage cuts, and paying more for pensions and health care. But Walker's continuing insistence on curtailing collective bargaining rights makes this move look like bald-faced union busting.

"Walker is showing unwillingness to compromise," says John Beck, director of Labor Education at Michigan State University. "He has no intention to negotiate. The fiscal crisis only exists in Wisconsin because he got into office to cut taxes. They actually had a surplus before he came in. It's nothing but an attack on organized labor."

Republicans and their corporate allies have been pretty successful in attacking unions for decades. In 1945, union members made up 33.5 percent of the workforce. Today that number is about 12 percent; however 35 percent of public sector workers belong to unions while only about 7 percent of private sector workers are organized. Those numbers show where anti-union forces see their opportunity. If they can bust the public sector unions, they can effectively smash the union movement.

"A blind man can see it," says Beck. "Unions have already conceded that they're willing to talk about economic concessions. Going after the heart of organized labor is what he's really trying to do."

But why?

"Of the top 10 financiers of the 2010 elections, seven of them were right-wing, the other three were unions — AFSCME, NEA and SEIU," says Beck.

So it looks like a strategy for political domination: Take the financial backing away from your opponent. And if you don't believe that right-wing corporate money backs this move, consider the billionaire Koch brothers.

Charles and David Koch — whose Koch Industries has business interests from oil and petrochemicals to forest products — were principal financiers of Walker's campaign through contributions from their company and secondarily through the Republican Governors Association. A Koch spokesman at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference is reported to have said that their goal was to take the unions down "at the knees." The Kochs are also major Tea Party financiers.

The relationship between Walker and the Kochs was highlighted last week when Ian Murphy, editor of the Buffalo Beast alternative newspaper, prank called Walker pretending to be David Koch. In the recording posted online, Walker sounds like a subordinate reporting to his superior: Murphy, pretending to be Koch, asks, "What's the latest?" Walker goes into a long explanation of tactical plans, and says, "Each day we crank up a little pressure." He also says, "This is ground zero, there's no doubt about it" regarding the fight with unions. When Murphy suggests he bring a baseball bat to a meeting with opponents, Walker says, "I have one in my office; you'll be happy with that."

If there's still any doubt about collusion, note that a Koch front group, Americans for Prosperity, uses to encourage the elimination of labor rights.

As many as 100,000 demonstators in Madison and the flight of Democratic senators has stymied the controversial bill since Feb. 15. On Sunday, protesters won a battle of sorts when they successfully defied a police deadline to vacate the Capitol building by 4 p.m. Meanwhile, Walker refuses to negotiate.

Union supporters nationwide see the fight in Wisconsin as connected to their own fates and have been mobilizing. organized demonstrations in all 50 states over the weekend. In Lansing, Beck reported about 400 or 500 pro-union demonstrators turned out, with about 20 Tea Party counter-demonstrators.

"They said we have to support folks in Wisconsin because that's where the beachhead is right now," says Beck. "They see this as a way station to a much more galvanized and united labor movement."

There is concern in Michigan that — although he hasn't taken on organized labor directly — some of Gov. Rick Snyder's policies will weaken unions. For instance, with our state's economic crisis many municipalities face budget shortfalls. The state has been training some 175 emergency financial managers (EMFs) and the proposed Emergency Manager Takeover Bill would give EMFs the power to void union contracts. As cities, school districts and other municipal entities hit the financial wall, the EMFs will be making their draconian moves across Michigan.

In Detroit, while it may seem a very different situation, Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians, who have been on strike since Oct. 4, see their situation as connected to Wisconsin.

"To put it succinctly, the DSO is trying to strip the musicians of their right to bargain," says Greg Bowens, a spokesman for the musicians. "It's not in a law like Wisconsin's but you've got to call a spade a spade."

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