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  • 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.

  • City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May

    Margaret Doll Rod will celebrate the release of her new EP, Margaret, with a show at PJ’s Lager House on Saturday, May 10. A statement reads, “The EP contains 3 new original songs and one Chrome Cranks cover with Italian actress Asia Argento singing background vocals. Margaret moved to Italy after the end of the Demolition Doll Rods where she still lives touring and performing festivals in Europe. The Dollrods were a Garage Rock force for over 20 years, opening for Iggy, Jon Spencer, The Scientist, The Monks and The Cramps. Margaret was the front person and principal songwriter for The Dollrods. Her chief musical foil was Danny Kroha, who joined the Demolition Doll Rods after the now legendary Gories called it quits. Margaret’s sister, Christine, on drums, rounded out the legendary trio. Margaret will do a special performance in the round that night with a 360 degree revolving stage and special guest DJ Adam Stanfel.” The bill will also feature the Stomp Rockets and the Volcanos. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to Ricky Rat’s Tokyo Pop/Glitter People (New Fortune) 7” single highlights all that’s great about the Trash Brats guitarist, but also his limitations. The man can write a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll song to match anyone in the city and most beyond. He’s also a killer guitarist, ripping out one throwaway riff after another with reckless abandon. He’s a machine. On his own though, without Trash Brats frontman Brian McCarty, his voice doesn’t have enough strength to do the songs justice. Not that you need to have the greatest voice in the world to sing this stuff – you don’t need to be able to perform vocal gymnastics – but you do have to be able to wail the tunes out. Both of the songs on this single are great, but you can’t help but wonder how much better they would sound with McCarty or somebody similar talking the mic. Still, as they are the songs are great fun. We’re just being picky. The Paper Sound’s Trajectories is a dense, atypically dark Americana-tinged album, unrelenting and […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of, a new website launched by the City of Detroit today to auction off city-owned homes to prospective buyers who pledge to fix them up and move in. “We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement today. “There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment.” The website to facilitate the auctions went live this afternoon. The first auction is scheduled to take place Monday, May 5. Officials said in a news release that one home will be auctioned per day, Monday through Friday. Fifteen homes are available for sale on the site, a dozen of which are in the East English Village neighborhood. Any Michigan resident, company, or organization that can do business in the state can bid, according to the website. Properties will be for sale for only one day, with bidding taking place from 8 […]

    The post Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes

    In case you haven’t heard, two of the biggest names in film, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, are collaborating to put on a benefit concert for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this summer. In case you wanted to go- well, you’re too damn late. The DSO says tickets to the June 14 concert were snapped up in a record-breaking 15 minutes after they went on sale at 9 a.m. today. The DSO has since released this statement to fans who didn’t snag seats: Our apologies to everyone who was unable to buy tickets this morning for our historic benefit concert featuring John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Despite increasing our phone and internet system capacity for the day, a surge of hundreds of ticket buyers purchased tickets in a matter of minutes, filling the phone lines and temporarily maxing out our web servers. After a one-hour pre-sale made available to donors and subscribers at 8am, we released additional seats at 9am to the general public, including seats available for as low as $30. All seats sold out immediately. The concert program seems nothing short of top notch: Williams will conduct the orchestra as it performs some of his most iconic tunes, such […]

    The post Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Stir It Up

Grace Boggs, Detroit and the next revolution

Talkin' about an evolution - with Grace Lee Boggs

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Grace Lee Boggs says she would like the chapter titles of her new book, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century, written with Scott Kurashige, to become buzzwords for progressive activists.

So I imagine "Detroit, Place and Space to Begin Anew" or "We Are the Leaders We've Been Looking For" on T-shirts, trying to fit them on for size in the coming era of struggle to rebuild Detroit and Michigan.

More than just buzzing around, Boggs wants people to really ponder the meaning and implications of those words. "What does it mean to start anew? What does it mean to say we are the leaders we've been looking for?" she asks me rhetorically. "I think instead of growing our budgets, we need to be growing our souls. What are the economics of happiness instead of gross national product? People of every race are beginning to think differently. They're beginning to recognize that life isn't just about making a living. It's about making a life."

Boggs is a political philosopher whose thought and activism have been reaching around the globe from her modest home near Mack and East Grand Boulevard. Last week, I sat down with her and Kurashige, a Boggs Center board member and director of AC Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies at the University of Michigan, to ask how her ideas relate to some of the tumultuous events taking place these days. The large, though not fancy, brick house is filled with books and papers. It's not an advertisement for the electronic age and predictions of a paperless society. Boggs, the daughter of Chinese-American restaurant owners, earned a Ph.D from Bryn Mawr in 1940, became a leftist, and married black autoworker-activist James Boggs. The Boggses collaborated with the Marxist historian and theorist C.L.R. James during the 1950s, and, starting in the 1960s, set their own course, writing several books either separately or together. These days, Grace, a widow recently turned 95, is the leader of the nonprofit Boggs Center, headquartered at her home, which is the hub around which a number of efforts — Detroit Summer, the Allied Media Project, Detroit City of Hope, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality and others — maintain their philosophical grounding and connection to a broader, growing movement in Detroit.

Boggs' revolution is not a call to seize political power from the government. "A cultural revolution has begun to take place," says Boggs. "It's a phenomenon as historic and as far-reaching as the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture, and from agriculture to industry. Now we're at the heart of a change from industry to a world where people work not so much at jobs. Work is something that we do to develop skills as much as to produce goods and services. We're so used to the idea that we work in order to make money, but that's not why people have worked throughout history and that's the kind of way we're going now. It provides a very different perspective of revolution. It's not about seizing state power to plan the economy.

"The new focus of work is to develop one's ability and one's capacity to do a whole lot of things. For example, we're going into a period where, instead of people doing mass production line stuff, people will think much more of craftsmanship, which involves the development and expansion of the human being."

Indeed, that is a turn away from the revolutionary ideals of the past few centuries. Boggs has witnessed revolutions, rebellions and plain old social upheaval, and struggled with the idea of what those things mean. She was here and took part in the hope and euphoria that accompanied Coleman A. Young's election as mayor of Detroit. But over time she saw that having a black mayor wasn't enough to change the larger economic order, as she writes in Next:

But even though he was one of this country's brightest and most skillful politicians, he was helpless in the face of the deindustrialization and outsourcing that were gaining momentum in the 1970s. Because he had failed to think seriously about the profound changes taking place in the economy, he had no idea how to deal with the new information technology and the massive export of jobs overseas that was making it impossible for young people to find meaningful paid work in the city.

All Coleman could do was react, and he was ultimately driven to desperate measures to try to replace the jobs that were gone for good.

Boggs sees Detroit as the forefront of changes sweeping the industrialized world. Once the front line of industrialization, Detroit could be the model of what the future of the deindustrialized world looks like. That thought has led her to work on seemingly small projects in Detroit neighborhoods.� For instance, she sees urban gardening as the beginning of a major shift in the way we feed ourselves as well as a way to connect generations in a widely inclusive movement.

"Detroit, because we have this position in the history of the country and the world, is creating that alternative — not in words but in action," she says. "There's a group on the east side called Feed 'Em Freedom Growers; if you don't have food you can't be free. Detroit has over 1,000 community gardens. Urban agriculture started very simply with some African-American women seeing some vacant lots. That's how big changes take place, with small changes. Important changes always start from the bottom up. We think they come from the top, or start with millions of people. No, they start when some people respond to the historical context and do what needs to be done. That's how revolution takes place."

This revolution is a turning away from the capitalist ideals of more and more, and bigger and bigger. She says that we are in the end days of capitalism as we have known it for the past few centuries. And the new order is being fought over in places like Madison, Wis., and Lansing, in North Africa and even in the way Japan responds to man-made and natural disasters.

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