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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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Politics & Prejudices

Don’t rail against buses

Why a big new system beats a little old line

Photo: N/A, License: N/A


I remember the first time I heard about the possibility of building light rail along Woodward Avenue. I thought that was really neat. I had visions of hopping on the train in Ferndale, where I lived, and going to Detroit Tigers' games.

That would have been especially appealing because I didn't have a car. That's because I was still in high school then ... and Lyndon Johnson was still president of the United States.

Guess what. 

Damn good thing I decided not to wait for the morning train, and eventually bought a car. Long ago, it became painfully clear that I was no more going to see light rail in my lifetime than I was going to be summoned to play for the Tigers.

Yes, as my hair grayed and the country marched through war after war, Our Elected Leaders dangled the prospects of light rail before us from time to time. But anyone who looked below the surface and the talk of federal money for startup grants could see that Detroit's real problem with getting light rail was exactly the same one the Big Bopper made famous.

The Big Bopper, aka J.P. Richardson, is today best remembered as the least well-known of the musicians who died in the famous Day-the-Music-Died 1959 plane crash. He is relevant to this discussion because of the elegant philosophical view expressed in his one big hit: "Chantilly Lace":

This is it, put as succinctly as only he could:

"I ain't got no money, honey."

Neither does Detroit. So you might say I wasn't completely surprised when the government pulled the plug on the light rail plan last week. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood politely said he was pulling the plug because he doubted the city could pay the operating costs.

Mayor Dave Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder supported that decision, which surprised some people. But what else could they do? As things now stand, the city is currently going to run out of cash for paper clips by spring. The governor has ordered a preliminary review of the city's finances, which is what they do when they are getting ready to name an emergency manager.

Had they decided to start a light rail system, my guess would be that we would have ended up in a few years, after hundreds of millions were squandered, with some abandoned trenches in the ground, and thousands of carless Detroiters would be no closer to actually being able to get to work.

Yet the transportation secretary did, to my delighted surprise, announce something that we can get excited about.

High-speed, rapid bus lines throughout Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. These wouldn't be your familiar dirty, frequently out-of-repair Detroit and suburban buses.

Those bus systems we have now are seldom punctual or efficient, and they certainly aren't coordinated. What the federal, state and local governments are doing instead, in Ray LaHood's words, is coming together "around a high-tech vision that will provide state-of-the-art, reliable transit to far more people and in a far more cost-effective way," than rail.

What they are proposing is a system of futuristic-looking buses that resemble train engines on wheels — and which are already in use in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. These buses have accordion-like pleats in the center and special technology to allow them to control traffic signals. That means they wouldn't have to stop for red lights. Bing, Snyder and LaHood are talking about four lines and, at least to start, 34 stations.

Sixteen of these would be in Wayne County; nine each in Oakland and Macomb. That makes far more sense than a light rail line that only goes as far as the Detroit border. Most people in the city who have jobs work in communities outside Detroit.

Light rail would take years and years to build, even if money were not a problem. Rapid bus service could be a reality within three to five years, everyone in the know says.

There is a catch: The Michigan Legislature would have to approve a rapid bus system, and do it soon. Transportation Secretary LaHood says he is prepared to offer the metro area millions to help build this — but under two conditions.

Besides legislative approval, our leaders, whoever they are, would have to set up an approved body to run the new systems. Plus, money would have to be found to pay the annual operating costs. That would likely mean a regional tax.

That's something that would have to be approved by the voters. Getting this through the Legislature ought to be possible, may not be all that easy. There are a number of people in there who hate, fear and distrust Detroit, and are unwilling to consider anything they might see as helping the city.

There are others who think anything any government does is bad, and anything paid for with tax dollars is worse, except, that is, for their own salaries.

Nevertheless, it should be a lot easier to get support for rapid buses than rapid rail. But what is threatening most to sabotage this is not the Tea Party fanatics but the die-hard mass transit supporters, who are bawling "trains of nothing."

TRU, or Transportation Riders United, issued a press release claiming light rail "could have brought in $2-$3 billion in new economic development," and produced far more tax revenue than needed to run the system.

Mayor Bing, they charged, has tossed away "an economic development opportunity that could have been the centerpiece of Detroit's revitalization."

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