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  • Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark

    Oh, the irony — initially criticized as Marxist propaganda when Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted them for the Detroit Institute of Arts in the early 1930s, Detroit Industry has now been designated as a a national landmark. The announcement was made Wednesday, according to the Detroit News by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis as part of National Park Week. The designation does not change the ownership status of the murals or grant any new protections or rights, leaving its place among the rest of the DIA’s art in possible bankruptcy negotiations in question. The work is considered the best of Rivera’s work in the United States (another mural Rivera had done in New York was destroyed by orders of Nelson Rockefeller). Rivera himself regarded Detroit Industries paintings as his finest work. In the midst of the McCarthy era, the DIA posted this sign outside the court: Rivera’s politics and his publicity seeking are detestable. But let’s get the record straight on what he did here. He came from Mexico to Detroit, thought our mass production industries and our technology wonderful and very exciting, painted them as one of the great achievements of the twentieth century. This came […]

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  • Detroit area code 313 may be phased out

    Hey, everybody from the 313, start thinking of new numbers to rally around– the longstanding Detroit area code may be phased out. Our friends over at the Detroit News report that pending a revised estimate next week, the North American Numbering Plan Administration will stop handing out 313 telephone prefixes on new phone numbers. Detroiters with existing cell phone lines would be able to keep their current area codes, while those with land lines would change. via Detroit News: The venerable 313 will ultimately become overtaxed. Even as Detroit’s population has fallen, cellphone usage has accelerated like one of those smoldering SRT Vipers that Dodge has been bolting together at Conner Avenue Assembly — which is, of course, comfortably within the confines of 313. … When the first five dozen area codes were assigned nearly 70 years ago, says NANPA’s Tom Foley, “that was expected basically to last forever.” Instead, somebody invented fax machines, and then somebody else came up with cellphones, and lots of somebody elses decided to give them to 10-year-olds, and meantime the population grew to 300 million. Now every telephone carrier is required to submit twice-yearly forecasts of its needs in each area code, factoring in […]

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  • Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council

    Unfortunately, we were unable to attend last night’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, which, in case you were unaware, is a 16-member board established to weigh in on the new Red Wings arena near downtown. About three dozen residents and property owners cast ballots by the 8 p.m. deadline on Wednesday inside the Block at Cass Park, The Detroit News reports. It’s the culmination of a handful of community meetings which began weeks ago. Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez facilitated the meetings, but emphasized at previous meetings that it’s up to the community to conduct business. According to the News, the 12 candidates selected include: Michael Boettcher, Richard Etue, Jason Gapa, Francis Grunow, Steve Guether, Paul Hughes, Ray Litt, Warner Doyle McBryde, Karen McLeod, Delphia Simmons, Melissa Thomas and Anthony Zander. Joel Landy, a land owner in the area, lost his bid. The City Council appointed four candidates last month. As we reported in this week’s issue, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee was negotiated after Olympia Development of Michigan, Detroit Red Wing’s owner Mike Ilitch’s real estate arm, balked on a proposed community benefits agreement.  The committee is charged with the task of offering input on the arena’s design, parking security and more.

    The post Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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 […]

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  • 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? […]

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Stir It Up

Game-changers ahead

With labor challenged, where will tomorrow's radical awakening come from?

As I wandered around the house setting my clocks forward this past weekend, I contemplated Republican-led efforts to turn the clock back on collective bargaining rights across the nation.

The big deal that most folks have been focused on is the protest in Madison, Wis., where as many as 100,000 union supporters reacted to Gov. Scott Walker's signing of a bill that stripped almost all collective bargaining rights from state workers. Walker claims that it's necessary to balance the state budget, although the budget seemed to be balanced before Walker cut corporate taxes. State worker unions agreed to all the economic rollbacks Walker sought, but the governor insisted that removing collective bargaining rights was key to his budget needs. In the final maneuver, after Democratic legislators fled the state to keep the fiscal bill from coming to a vote, Republicans removed the fiscal provisions of the bill in order to be able to vote on the law without needing the Democrats to be present.

In other words, Walker and his right wing co-conspirators removed the legislative fig leaf to get what they really wanted: union-busting legislation.

It seems that a conservative Republican cabal, with ideological and financial leadership from the billionaire Koch brothers and others, is making an effort to stamp out union power. Public sector workers have the highest concentration of union representation today; so if you can crush public unions, you deal a crippling blow to the union movement and its ability to support the political opposition. The Midwest, traditionally an area of union strength, is the focus of that offensive. In Ohio, the SB 5 law that strips most collective bargaining rights from public workers recently passed the Senate by a one-vote margin, though it has yet to be passed by the state House. In Indiana, where Gov. Mitch Daniels stripped collective bargaining rights from state workers by executive order in 2005, some 20,000 pro-union activists rallied last week in opposition to HB 1216, which would exempt most public building projects from being subject to construction wage rules requiring that all workers on site be paid the locally prevailing wage and benefits, and prevent companies from having to sign project labor agreements that guarantee a certain percentage of union jobs.

In Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder hasn't taken on unions head-on, but many are wary of his Emergency Financial Managers legislation, which would grant new wide-ranging powers to EFMs, including the ability to dissolve local governments and school districts, and to void contracts. The law has been passed and awaits the nerd governor's signature. The state has begun training 175 EFMs in anticipation of Snyder's draconian budget measures taking effect. As municipalities and school systems buckle under the state cutbacks, he'll be able to deploy EFMs across the state. Anti-EFM activists held protests in several Michigan cities on Tuesday.

"I assume Rick Snyder is Scott Walker with a worse haircut. There isn't any significant difference between Walker and Snyder policies. It all comes from the Koch brothers," says Frank Joyce, a political activist and writer who formerly headed UAW public relations. "Snyder wants to distinguish himself with some of his taxes, shifting the tax burden from business to retirees. And the EFM is a thinly disguised union-busting scheme; anybody pretending to be a neutral observer looking at the Detroit Public Schools as an example of how the EFM works would not be expanding the program. None of this is about fixing any real problems, this is about consolidating power.

"This war on unions and war on working people has been quite explicitly waged for 30 years. The working people of the United States have not had a raise in 30 years. Incomes are stagnant or in decline despite the fact that productivity has increased dramatically. A single breadwinner in most houses then was bringing in more real money than multiple breadwinners do now. Every household is up to their eyeballs in personal debt. The significant thing about Madison, Lansing and some other places is that now there is some pushback, resistance. People are saying enough is enough, and that's pretty significant. This is way bigger than Scott Walker."

But given the steady erosion of union memberships over the decades and the current economic atmosphere, is it too little too late? Or is that even the right question? Joyce and others, including political philosopher and activist Grace Boggs, who I'll be talking to for my next column, would agree that we are entering a new economic age where the questions and answers on the right and left are changing, and the struggles we see today are more about what the next economic order will be. Boggs' new book, The Next American Revolution, establishes that point, and moves forward from there to ask how progressive forces are organizing themselves in this new, technologically shrunken world.

One possible outcome is that "This is the beginning of a much more radical awakening of consciousness about the building of power," says Joyce, who hosts an hour-long Sunday afternoon segment as part of Sirius radio's weekly Land of Hopes and Dreams program. "Things are much different, and the issues we're facing call for a radical re-examination of problems and what the solutions are. It's not all that clear what direction we'll go.

"We're in a systemic breakdown now; capitalism as we know it is coming to the end of the arc of its growth development and legitimacy. ... There are shifting demographics and attitudes about marriage and family, even mental health. These are game-changing evolutions that we have seen before in human history; get used to the simultaneous crises. Libya, Japan, Madison — these are big, unwieldy events. It's going be like this for a while. There are going to be lots of surprises and manifestations.

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