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  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Stir It Up

Go to health

We hear a lot about health care, but what about health?

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Last week's Supreme Court decision that essentially upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been getting lots of play in the media. That's an understatement when it comes to the right-wing media. That gang — Glenn Beck, Ben Shapiro et al. — has gone absolutely nuts. Blogger Shapiro wrote, "This is the end of America as we know it." Others have been no less sanguine, calling for armed revolution, declaring that the Supreme Court does not have the last word on what's constitutional, even threatening to secede from the union. 

Much vehemence has also been aimed at Chief Justice John Roberts (a George W. Bush appointee), who conservatives saw as solidly in their corner. Roberts sided with the liberal camp in saving the ACA and brought the right-wing thunder down on his head.

On the liberal side, there is crowing that the decision validates the righteousness of the Obama administration, which pushed the controversial law through in 2010.

The biggest question now is: How will the decision affect this fall's presidential election? Of secondary value, at least for now, is the question of how it will affect the cost of health care, especially in 2014 when the full provisions of the ACA kick in. What is not being discussed is the basic nature of our health care system and how it operates. And even more basic: How do Americans get healthy? Everybody is talking about health care, but few are talking about health.

And health is a big issue in the United States, where consumption of overly processed, salt- and sugar-laden foods has created an obesity and diabetes epidemic that threatens to make affordable care a sideshow in the face of overwhelming illness.

According to a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index taken in 2009, 63.1 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. That's almost two out of three people. The headline of a webmd.com article discussing the well-being index said: "Americans Are Eating Poorly, Exercising Less, and Getting Bigger, Survey Finds." 

Obesity leads to numerous ailments, including breast cancer, coronary heart disease, type II diabetes, sleep apnea, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, colon cancer, hypertension, kidney disease and stroke.

African-Americans are 1.4 times as likely to be obese as non-Hispanic whites, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, and four out of five African-American women are considered overweight or obese. All of the attendant disease linked to obesity is hitting the African-American community harder than other groups. One out of every three people with kidney failure is African-American. African-Americans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. All of the various complications that result from those diseases, such as being hospitalized, are higher for blacks too.

"In 23-plus years in emergency medicine and critical care nursing, I saw a lot of complications of diabetes," says Yvette Cobb, a local nurse practitioner who also teaches yoga and has trained in the Tree of Life therapy that claims to reverse diabetes through a raw food diet. "I saw a lot of limbs being cut off." 

The health care system will cut off your leg after you get diabetes, but will not do a lot to prevent your diabetes in the first place. Prevention takes a lot of education and lifestyle change. We actually got some leadership from the White House on that, but it wasn't from the president. First lady Michelle Obama took the lead when she planted the White House kitchen garden in 2009. She's followed that up with last month's publication of American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America.

Michelle Obama's book will never get near the attention that the ACA has, but what she champions has the potential to make a bigger difference in the health of Americans. The ACA is about who gets how much money in a sick system. American Grown is about people taking charge of themselves and their health by eating the kinds of things that prevent disease. It's not quantifiable; we have no idea how many cases of cancer were avoided by eating healthy, how many did not become diabetic. But we do know it makes a difference.

American Grown also puts a focus on community gardening, something Detroiters have taken up with enthusiasm. It's hard to walk through a neighborhood and not trip over a community garden these days. The book also covers composting and beekeeping, another angle of the growing community/urban gardening phenomenon.

So how does this gardening business fit in with health? Consider the points made in the headline from WebMD: eating poorly, exercising less, getting bigger. It follows that the cure involves eating better and getting some exercise. Those are certainly the short answers. 

Mark Covington, founder of the Georgia Street Collective community garden on the east side, reports losing 40 pounds over the past couple of years from working in the garden and eating healthier. He wasn't trying to lose weight. His motivation in starting the garden was to clean up a vacant lot near his mother's house. But that's the beauty of this gardening thing; it can bring you unintended benefits.

Malik Yakini, director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, understands the dynamic between gardening and good health. The DBCFSN runs D-Town Farms, a seven-acre endeavor in the River Rouge Park area growing vegetables, fruit and herbs. It has an apiary and an ambitious composting operation. All of this is directed toward instilling self-dependence regarding food.

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