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    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.

  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to The Sugar Clouds’ Partners Don’t Do That (They Watch and be Amazed) (Wax Splat) is a nostalgic look at the psychedelic days of ’60s grooviness. Even the album cover looks like a lava lamp. The male-female vocals have a sort of Jefferson Airplane feel, and the songs are blessed with both sugary sweet pop melodies and a garage-y earthiness. The story of the band’s formation is rather interesting; the two vocalists, Greg and Melissa Host, are a divorced couple who wrote the songs in their living room. The band is still together, so this divorce was a hell of a lot more civil than any we’ve ever known of. Steffanie Christi’an has friends in fairly high places. Her new Way Too Much mini-album is being put out by Nadir Omowale’s Distorted Soul label, and she is also a regular feature on Jessica Care Moore’s Black Women Rock revue. Maybe the choice of cover image isn’t the best – she looks a bit like a Tina Turner tribute act here. But that can and should be […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit councilman: Increased parking fines an ‘anti-growth strategy’

      There’s at least one city councilmember who’s less than pleased with Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s plan to increase all parking violation fines. Councilman Gabe Leland, whose district represents the city’s west side, issued a statement today, calling Orr’s plan a potential “deterrent” to attracting people to the city. I don’t believe the argument to raise the parking ticket fines from $30 to $45 and eliminate the $10 early payment fine are justification for this action. The emergency manager’s order to increase ticket fines places city government inefficiencies on the backs of our residents who need to do business in downtown and other parts of our city. And, this will increase the barrier for people to frequent Detroit-based establishments; likely to be a deterrent for some to shop and dine in our city. Leland suggested implementing a plan that maintains current rates for fines and reduces operating inefficiencies to collecting parking fines. “In my view, generating revenue by increasing fines when residents from neighborhoods must go downtown to get licenses and permits, attend court appointments and do other necessary business, is the wrong direction,” Leland said. “…Additionally, generating revenue using fines when we are trying to grow this city and attract […]

    The post Detroit councilman: Increased parking fines an ‘anti-growth strategy’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Stir It Up

Far from City Hall

If government can't or won't help, let's all meet in the street

Young Chris and Denise were taking turns playing the small wooden xylophone at the table sponsored by the Detroit Disability Justice Coalition. While the kids were banging away at the instrument, I couldn't help pulling out my mandolin, strumming along with them and dancing a bit. It was the highlight of my time at the People's Festival: An East Side Declaration of Love and Hope, held earlier this month over at Mack Avenue and East Grand Boulevard.

Not that there wasn't plenty of other enjoyable stuff going on there.

The youth of the St. Charles Praise Dancers did their thing outdoors; there was a demonstration on how to make sauerkraut, another one on belly dancing, a presentation on composting, a station where folks could pedal a stationary bicycle in order to charge up some lights, a session on creating neighborhood community councils, and ... well, there was a lot of stuff going on.

There were tables with literature and other offerings from many of the 33 organizations that came together to create the festival, many of them in the orbit around the progressive activism of the Boggs Center.

"It was fantastic," says Gloria Lowe, founder and CEO of We Want Green, Too. "We created this environment that people had not experienced in a long time. We saw and heard the smiles and the laughter. I did not see one person hollering and screaming at the kids. Older people were having conversations with their neighbors.

"People who hadn't seen each other in years were reunited. I saw my high school teacher, who I haven't seen in 30 years. It felt like a huge family reunion, and truly a family, multigenerational."

Lowe was one of the prime movers in the planning group. Her business focuses on building sustainable urban communities through training in the skills necessary to remodel and build green living spaces in an affordable way. The trainees tend to be disabled veterans, citizens returning to the city after incarceration, and homeless people.

There was a green vibe going throughout the festival.

It was on the grounds of Genesis Lutheran Church, where an organic garden tended by volunteers from GenesisHOPE grows next to a small orchard, and a compost pile recycles debris into dirt for use in future years. The garden project is part of a work-skills training program for teenagers. They tend the garden, harvest the vegetables, and sell them at Eastern Market. They'll soon be selling them right at the garden site where GenesisHOPE will sponsor a produce market two days a week starting in July.

"For me, the festival was to celebrate," says Chloe Richardson, a community organizer for GenesisHOPE. "In this community, there are a lot of things that aren't the way they should be, and this was a time to have fun, it was also about healing and the beginning of a lot of work that needs to be done."

A quick tour through the surrounding neighborhood would underscore Richardson's comment about things that need to be done.

The area is plagued with the same problems one sees in many of the city's residential areas — abandoned houses and overgrown lots.

Unemployment is alarmingly high in Detroit, and, as the folks at the Boggs Center say, young people lack meaningful work. Part of the effort among these organizations is the creation of an entrepreneurial spirit to help people see the resources that are already in the community and use them to build a better future.

Can-Did Revolution, a fledgling canning business founded and run by twentysomethings Andrew Plisner and Kezia Curtis, had a table at the festival that provided an example of the entrepreneurial effort. They are both active with Freedom Freedom Growers, a local urban agriculture organization. After a trip to an apple orchard last fall, Curtis had an excess of apples around the house. Plisner thought it would be a good idea to try canning.

They started off with jam, then moved on to an applesauce recipe from Curtis' family. In January, they started the business in earnest. It was literally a kitchen start-up on a shoestring. They work with local suppliers and are trying to build their business in the local community, networking with like-minded people.

"We're learning as we go," says Plisner. "We're trying to figure it out. I was at the festival to celebrate the phenomenal work that so many folks have been involved in, and to provide a glimpse of what's possible."

Can-Did hasn't really taken off yet, and Plisner reports profits in the low hundreds of dollars, but it's a start.

That's part of what the People's Festival was about, jump-starting community economic development from within.

The idea of a big corporation coming in and providing tens of thousands of jobs is a pipe dream. And with the mayor's office is in turmoil with a revolving door of officials, a financial deficit in the hundreds of millions of dollars and a new lawsuit from a fired executive, it's hard to see how the city government is ever going to get to supporting economic development in neighborhoods. I don't even know if that's part of the government's duties. But it seems that somebody needs to step into the vacuum and make things happen. The organizations that put on the People's Festival are willing to do it.

"A big reason for the festival was to move us to the next step of helping the community to understand the need for self-governance," Lowe says.

"We need to let the folks know we're here, and what we're doing in our community. Not just that we're here but that we are here for them. We can change all this drama that's going on around us right now. We need to have a discussion about what we are able to do rather what we accept.

"We want sustainability. We want to live healthy. We want to eat good. We want our children to be happy. It's not just about the garden. We want to maintain this earth. We want to know what that feels like."

Another high point of the day for me was when they handed out prizes to kids who had written a short essay on what they like about Detroit while at the festival.

A young man named Demar, who wrote about working in the garden, racial equality, struggle and success, won an IBM laptop computer.

A boy named Reggie, who wrote about Motown records, the Motor City Museum and rebuilding the city, won a new bicycle.

They both burst with pride as they read their essays and received their prizes.

I'm not one of those who goes around making the children the reason for all community efforts, although that's a great motivation. The bottom line is that what we do is for all of us, young and old.

We're all part of the continuum. But I must admit, when the kids point the way, it sounds so simple. Maybe that's the way it should be.

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