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  • Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well

    By LeeAnn Brown Some people say that hip-hop is dead. Local ban Fderal Ground is proving that is not the case. The seven-member band, consisting of three lead vocalists, a DJ, bass, drums and guitar, plays what they call “living hip-hop.” Their music, peppered with multiple styles, covers all aspects of life from growing up in the D to playing with fire despite knowing you will likely get burned. Their undeniable chemistry and raw lyrics compose a music that is living, breathing, and connecting to their listeners. It has been nearly 11 years since Vinny Mendez and Michael Powers conjured up the basement idea that has flowered into the Detroit funk-hop band Feral Ground. Throughout high school the two wrote and rapped consistently, playing shows here and there. In those years they matched their rap stanzas with the animated, dynamic voice of Ginger Nastase and saw an instant connection. The now trio backed their lyrics with DJ Aldo’s beats on and off for years, making him a permanent member within the last year, along with Andy DaFunk (bass), Joseph Waldecker (drums), and newest member, Craig Ericson (guitar). We sat down with Feral Ground and their manager, Miguel Mira, in their […]

    The post Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law

    Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]

    The post Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week

    Walking with Dinosaurs, a magnificent stage show that features life-sized animatronic creatures from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, will be in town next week. But to preview the show’s run at the Palace, a baby T-Rex will be making an appearance at four area malls to the delight and wonderment of shoppers. Baby T-Rex, as the creature is being affectionately referred to, is seven-feet-tall and 14-feet-long. He’ll only be at each mall for about 15 minutes, so while there will be photo opportunities, they’ll be short. The dino will be at Fairlane Town Center Center Court at 18900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit from 2-2:15 p.m. today, July 30; The Mall at Partridge Creek at 17420 Hall Rd. in Clinton Township from 5-5:15 p.m. today, July 30; Twelve Oaks Mall at the Lord & Taylor Court at 27500 Novi Rd., Novi tomorrow, Thursday July 31 from 1:30-1:45 p.m.; and Great Lakes Crossing Food Court at 4000 Baldwin Rd., Auburn Hills from 5-5:15 p.m., tomorrow Thursday, July 31.  

    The post Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations

    Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.  

    The post Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial

    We don’t know about you, but usually Nancy Whiskey and Long John Silver’s aren’t two concepts we’d place in the same sentence. However, the international fast food fish fry conglomerate made a nod to the Detroit dive in their latest YouTube commercial. LJS is offering free fish fries on Saturday, August 2, which is the promotion the commercial is attempting to deliver. But, we think we’ll just go to Nancy Whiskey instead.

    The post Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women

    We came across an interesting item this week: Apparently, a music festival with the name “Michfest” is quietly oriented as a “Women-Only Festival Exclusively for ‘Women Born Women.’” It seems a strange decision to us. If you wanted to have a women-only music festival, why not simply proclaim loud and clear that it is for all sorts of women? But if you really wanted to become a lightning rod for criticisms about transphobia, organizers have found the perfect way to present their festival. Now, we know that defenders of non-cisgender folks have it tough. The strides made by gays and lesbians (and bisexuals) in the last 20 years have been decisive and dramatic. But the people who put the ‘T’ in LGBT have reason to be especially defensive, facing a hostile culture and even some disdain from people who should be their natural allies. That said, sometimes that defensiveness can cause some activists to go overboard; when we interviewed Dan Savage a couple years ago, he recalled his “glitter bombing” and said it was due to the “the narcissism of small differences,” adding that “if you’re playing the game of who is the most victimized, attacking your real enemies doesn’t prove you’re most victimized, claiming you […]

    The post Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Politics & Prejudices

Farewell, Western civilization

Giving away the Great Lakes for fun and profit

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Don't it always seem to go

That you don't know what you've got till it's gone.

—Joni Mitchell


Here's something that you should find far scarier than a whole brigade of religious nuts with explosives in their underwear: The ignorant, callous right-wing nuts in the Ohio Legislature passed a bill this month that could have destroyed Lake Erie. That's not an exaggeration. Ohio House Bill 231 would have allowed businesses to withdraw up to 5 million gallons a day from the lake without even getting any kind of permit

What's more, they could have siphoned off another 2 million gallons a day from inland rivers and streams. True, Ohio, Michigan and the other six Great Lakes states, Congress and Canada signed an agreement a couple years ago called the Great Lakes Compact that was designed to protect the lakes, the largest source of fresh water in the world. But the cretins couldn't care less about such things.

This was the dead brainchild, by the way, of an Ohio state representative named Lynn Wachtmann, who lives in a hamlet called Napoleon outside Toledo. Wachtmann has the interests of the public at heart, all right. He owns a business that pumps water out of the Lake Erie watershed and wants to get even richer, faster.

Destroy the Great Lakes, and this region has no future. They are immense, but any scientist can tell you how delicate the ecology is. We've been working hard for years at damaging them.

We've pumped pollution into the lakes, introduced invasive species and seem unwilling to do what's needed to stop the Asian carp, which are likely to do their worst damage to Lake Erie.

And now this. What would pumping that water out likely do to the lake? Well, many bad things. But at the top of the list is create a perfect breeding ground for toxic, ugly, blue-green algae. 

This eyesore smells as bad as it looks, produces a toxin that is harmful to both humans and animals and is already a growing threat. That's thanks to farms, especially megafarms and factory farms, which produce large amounts of phosphorus as a byproduct, a chemical that then leaches into the lakes. Lowering the water level concentrates the phosphorus.

Phosphorus is what makes the algae grow. We literally could be facing an ecological disaster. (The moon-faced Wachtmann says these are merely "insignificant" withdrawals.)

For a while, it appeared that Gov. John Kasich, no great environmentalist himself, would sign this turkey into law. But in the end, he vetoed it, saying it didn't provide for "sufficient evaluation and monitoring" of water usage. Kasich, in fact, had come under heavy pressure not to sign it. Not just from every environmental group under the sun, but from sensible Republicans, including former Gov. Bob Taft. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo flatly threatened to sue Ohio. So Kasich backed off ... for now.

Significantly, he didn't say the bill allowed too much water to be withdrawn. He praised it, and sent it back to the drawing board. The idea is to wait till the heat's off, modify it slightly and slip it through.

That cannot be allowed to happen, if we are to have a future. Anyone who cares about the future needs to be vigilant. Frankly, the federal government should intervene, though it probably won't.

The choice is pretty stark. Future generations can have a future. Or they can have a huckster politician with a bottling plant who can be allowed to steal from them — and us — so he can get as rich as he wants to.

What a country.


Farewell to Congress: Dale Kildee, the longtime congressman from Flint, is unlikely to have any monuments in Washington. He arrived in the Capitol in the last days of the Ford administration, when an IBM Selectric typewriter was a high-tech personal communication device. He's been there ever since.

When he arrived, he was in his mid-40s. He is now in his 80s. They put him on the Education and Labor committee when he arrived; he will be on it till the day he leaves. He wasn't the driving force on any major legislation, didn't even get to chair a committee.

Instead, he stood up for workers and children (he was a high school teacher before entering politics). He did the best he could for his people during what have been the worst years in their history.

Flint was a General Motors company town. Ninety percent of the GM blue-collar jobs that were there when Kildee arrived in Washington are gone. The effect on the city was devastating. 

The congressmen did what he could, which wasn't very much. Nobody foresaw this when he got elected in the long-ago year of 1976, by going around and knocking on doors.

He won easily, and his campaign cost what he then thought was a lot of money — $48,595. You probably couldn't get elected dogcatcher for that today. Even Kildee, who has tried harder than most not to go nuts on spending, had to spend $1.2 million last year.

That was one of his closer races, though it wasn't really close. The voters have re-elected him 17 straight times, and Kildee could probably have stayed until he was senile or dropped dead.

That's what a lot of politicians do these days. Yet last week, this modest little man from Flint did the right thing. "Thirty-five years are enough," he said. He will retire at the end of next year.

My guess is that he will be succeeded by his nephew, Dan Kildee, though it's too early to say. Whoever does win will probably have to spend millions, for a two-year job that pays $174,000 a year.

There's something very wrong with that. By the way, in any other occupation, 83 would be seen as awfully old to finally retire.

But Michigan has three other congressmen in their 80s, two of whom are older than Kildee. They are mere shadows of their former selves, and show no sign of leaving. Isn't something also very wrong here? 

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