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  • 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.

  • PETA offers to pay overdue water bills for Detroiters willing to go vegan

    #150207742 / As locals continue to flood Detroit streets to protest the city’s ongoing water debacle, one national organization is hoping to be part of the solution — that is, for a dietary price. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA as the organization is more commonly known, has offered to pay outstanding water bills for 10 Detroiters who are willing to go vegan for one month. “Vegan meals take far less of a toll on the Earth’s resources,” PETA representatives said in a recent press release. “It takes about 2,500 gallons of water to produce just a pound of meat but only about 155 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat.” PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk adds, “Vegan meals are also a cost-effective way to help prevent health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart conditions, the last thing that someone who is struggling financially needs to deal with.” Folks interested in participating are asked to send a copy of their most recent overdue water bill and their written pledge to go vegan for one month to PETA Attn: Detroit Water at 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510 before Aug. 1.

    The post PETA offers to pay overdue water bills for Detroiters willing to go vegan appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Dinner Club Does Brunch

    Sure, The Dinner Club, a regularly occurring pop-up that takes places at the Storefront Gallery  in Ferndale (and other locations, occasionally), usually happens around dinner time, but this Sunday, July 27, there will be a special edition: Brunch Chef Matthew Baldridge, who’s resume includes stints at such Detroit greats as Cliff Bell’s, The Rattlesnake Club, and Seldom Blues, has crafted a menu of French-inspired items that employ locally procured ingredients. Brunch includes four courses where guests will be treated to such delights as cocoa, cinnamon, chili-spiced creamy grits with pickled strawberries, cocoa puffs and strawberry-infused syrup, a smoked gouda potato gallette with Faygo Root Beer braised pork belly, quail egg and Faygo Root Beer syrup, banana marscapone-filled French toast with fresh raspberries, whipped cream and balsamic syrup, and champagne-soaked strawberries. It is also important to note that brunch is BYOChampagne. Baldridge, along with The Storefront Gallery’s Derek John and Lilacpop Studio owner and artist Janna Coumoundouros, curate the event that includes an art show, a great playlist, and visuals. Brunch services are at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and last about two hours, only 20 seats are available at each service. The cost is $25 plus a service fee. The Storefront Gallery […]

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  • Jurassic 5 holds onto what’s golden

      By Ashley Zlatopolsky It’s been a little over twenty years since iconic ‘90s alternative hip-hop group Jurassic 5 first formed in Los Angeles’ Good Life club. Widely regarded as a pivotal influence in the decade’s underground hip-hop movement by critics and fans alike, the six-piece crew consisting of two DJs (Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark) and four MCs (Akil, Zaakir, Marc 7 and Chali 2na) were well on their way to becoming one of hip-hop’s greatest and most powerful acts of all time, ranking alongside names such as Public Enemy and N.W.A. with socially-conscious lyrics and smooth beats paired with smart sampling. But in 2004, Cut Chemist left the group to pursue a solo career, and in 2007 Jurassic 5 completely called it quits after nearly 15 years of music. And that was it for the crew until 2013. After almost seven years apart (nine for Cut Chemist), Jurassic 5 reunited and re-emerged stronger than ever before with a new flair, seasoned attitude, and more vibrant energy at Coachella Music Festival, the group’s first show with the original six members since Cut Chemist split. During their performance, Jurassic 5 gave fans a memorable concert revisiting all the classic feel-good tracks […]

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  • Detroit Riverwalk west extension opens from Riverfront Towers to Rosa Parks

    Dogs of Detroit have new territory to trot: Yesterday, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy held a soft opening for a 20-acre westward extension of the Riverwalk. Part of a planned two-mile track of the West Riverwalk, the new span runs from the Riverfront Towers to Rosa Parks Boulevard, says Mark Pasco, director of communications for the conservancy. “It’s going to be great,” Pasco says. “It’s a wide open green space. It’s going to be great for activities.” The endgame for the Riverwalk, Pasco notes, is to extend the walkway from the Ambassador Bridge to Gabriel Richard Park, just past the MacArthur Bridge — about a 5.5. mile route. The new westward expansion is wider than most of the walkway, about 30 feet, says Pasco — a decision made by the conservancy to accommodate fisherman that previously frequented the area. “We knew … once it opened up they’d want to fish there again, so we made the Riverwalk itself wider,” Pasco says. The conservancy will hold a grand opening in late September, which will include “food and music and activities,” Pasco says, though no official date has been set.

    The post Detroit Riverwalk west extension opens from Riverfront Towers to Rosa Parks 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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