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  • James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag

    The Magic Bag in Ferndale will host James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets on Thursday, May 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. A press release reads, “James McMurtry recently signed with the bourgeoning Los Angeles record label Complicated Game. The legendary songwriter will enter the studio later this month to start working on his first album in six years. “I’ve got a new batch of songs, organic and with no added sulfites, aged in oak for several years,” he says. “Francois Moret at Complicated Game seems to like these songs and (producer) C.C. Adcock thinks he can turn them into a record. Good times fixing to roll.” Label head Moret agrees. “In March 2013, when C.C. Adcock told me we were going to see James McMurtry at the Continental Club in Austin, I expected to see a good show,” he says, “but what I saw left me mesmerized! I immediately knew I wanted to sign him. As a European, it is an amazing opportunity to work with one of the most talented American singer-songwriters.” Evidence: McMurtry’s Just Us Kids (2008) and Childish Things (2005). The former earned his highest Billboard 200 chart position in nearly two decades and notched […]

    The post James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit

    The Dead Kennedys, still with local boy Klaus Flouride in the ranks, will play St. Andrew’s Hall on Tuesday, June 24. Alongside Flouride and fellow original members East Bay Ray and DH Peligro, the current lineup includes singer Ron “Skip” Greer, taking the place of Jello Biafra. Downtown Brown will open that show, which starts at 7 p.m., with tickets priced $20-$25. Give Klaus a hero’s hometown welcome. Just over a week before that, strangely enough, Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine will play at the Magic Stick. It’s a weird coincidence, but one that DK fans should be happy to embrace. That show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $17-$19. Local hardcore vets Negative Approach play before Jello, with the Crashdollz opening the show. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain

    The Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck will present a police drama called A Steady Rain May 2 through 24. Planet Ant veterans Ryan Carlson and York Griffith will star in the play, written by House of Cards and Mad Men co-writer Keith Huff. Tickets ($10-$20) are on sale now at According to the press release, “A Steady Rain by Keith Huff focuses on Joey and Denny, best friends since kindergarten and partners on the police force whose loyalty to each other is tested by domestic affairs, violence and the rough streets of Chicago. Joey helps Denny with his family and Denny helps Joey stay off the bottle. But when a routine disturbance call takes a turn for the worse their loyalty is put to the ultimate test.First produced at Chicago Dramatists, A Steady Rain appeared on Broadway featuring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The Planet Ant production of A Steady Rain is directed by York Griffith featuring Ryan Carlson and Andy Huff. This marks the return of two of Planet Ant’s founding members. Carlson and Griffith. Griffith has served as the theatre’s Artistic Director where he directed the critically-acclaimed productions The Adding Machine and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor

    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.



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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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