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  • Thank you, Detroit

    I’m not going to lie to you – this isn’t easy. This week, the final City Slang local music column will be published in the Metro Times (on hardcore band Final Assault), and I have just submitted a cover feature on the women of Detroit hip-hop, to be published next week (8/6). This blog that you’re reading now will be my last one as a regular MT contributor. I have a lot to look forward to. I’m going to be an associate editor at Yellow Scene Magazine in Colorado, a tremendous publication in a beautiful part of the country. But leaving Detroit will be incredibly difficult for me. I love the place. It’s been (amazingly) six and a half years since I arrived, a couple of cases in hand and not much of a plan in mind. I just knew, after three separate research trips for books and a magazine article, that I felt at home here. Metro Times offered me freelance work almost immediately, as did a new website called Metromix (whatever happened to that?) When I arrived here, I had been working as a writer in the UK for nine years, but the help and encouragement I received […]

    The post Thank you, Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers

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    The post Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW)

      Footage from the Gathering of the Juggalos set to clips of Morgan Freeman’s narration from March of the Penguins? Kind of forced, but also kind of beautiful. As the AV Club reports: The oft-sought voiceover champion lends a touch of gravitas to the festival proceedings. Unfortunate scenes of barely clad people having various liquids dumped onto them now carries a quiet dignity as it’s all part of nature’s majestic plan that keeps the world spinning through this elegantly designed and truly wondrous universe. Also, the video is NSFW as there are boobs in it. Watch the clip below:

    The post Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW) appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love”

    It seems like the polar vortex will never end: the weather phenomenon that brought us the most brutal winter on record this winter is to blame for this summer’s chillier-than usual temperatures as well. A couple of bands, though, made lemonade out of lemons (or snow cones out of snow?) by using the icy landscape to film music videos. 800beloved shot the video for “Tidal” in some sand dunes near Empire, Mich., and this week Turn to Crime debuted the video for “Can’t Stop,” the title track of their recently-released album. Even more piles of ice and snow might be the last thing Detroiters want to see right now, but the footage makes for some good visuals that mesh well with the song. Watch the video below:

    The post Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love” appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed

    Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr transferred oversight of the the city’s water department Tuesday to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in an order intended to refocus “efforts to help DWSD customers get and remain current on their water bills,” Orr’s office said today. “This order provides additional clarity to the powers already delegated to the mayor,” Orr said in a statement released Tuesday. “As the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department works to operate more efficiently and communicate more effectively with customers, it is important to ensure there are clear lines of management and accountability.” Duggan will have the authority to manage DWSD and make appointments to the utility’s board, according to a news release. In a statement issued Tuesday, the mayor said he welcomed Orr’s order, adding that officials will develop a plan that “allows those who truly need to access to financial help … to do so with shorter wait times.” “We need to change a number of things in the way we have approached the delinquent payment issues and I expect us to have a new plan shortly,” Duggan said. “There are funds available to support those who cannot afford their bills — we need to do a much better job in […]

    The post Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years

    Rovers Scooter Club, a local gang dedicated to celebrating and riding motor scooters, will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary this week with a very special ride. Motor City Shakedown, the annual birthday party for the club, will commence this Friday, August 1 at New Way Bar. DJ Grover from Cincinnati will be spinning northern soul, reggae, and ska, according to club member Michael Palazzola. Saturday will feature a ride from Ferndale to Detroit, starting at noon at M-Brew. Palazzola says this is where most bikes will congregate before taking the ride to the city and folks will be prepping by getting some grub starting at 10 a.m.  Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host the after party,  a special event that will feature performances by several bands as well as Satori Circus. That portion of the event will commence at 8 p.m. with performances starting at 9 p.m. It’s free to riders, but the public is welcome to join the party with the mere cost of a door charge. Come midnight, the club will raffle off a vintage Lambretta LI 150. Sunday morning will end the weekend of festivities, with brunch taking place at the Bosco in Ferndale.   

    The post Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Stir It Up

Grand Old Panderers

Why Republican rhetoric is like a racist dog whistle

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The first time Republicans really, really scared me was in 1964. I can't remember where I got the idea, but in my then-11-year-old mind I believed that if Barry Goldwater won the election against Lyndon Johnson he was going to send all the black people back to Africa. Back then, I thought of Africa as a scary place where nearly naked people ran through the jungle chased by lions. Now I wouldn't mind getting a trip to the "dark" continent at government expense.

The second time was in 1992, when Pat Buchanan gave his famous "culture war" speech at the Republican convention in Houston. I was sitting in a motor home parked in the woods of northern Minnesota, swatting ineffectually at giant black flies as I stared at the grainy black-and-white image of Buchanan delivering the speech in which he likened taking "back our culture" to the troops taking back Los Angeles from rioting blacks in the wake of the Rodney King decision. I was flabbergasted that such openly racist rhetoric could be expressed during a political convention.

I guess I was naïve because it's happening again — the racial pandering, not my fear. Once again Republican candidates and their surrogates are playing the race card in a bid to solidify support in the conservative base. And as the primaries move into South Carolina and Florida, part of the Southern bloc of states that turned their backs on the Democrats after President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, I don't expect them to let up. 

Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have been the most overt offenders. Last month, Gingrich stirred the pot with comments about poor ("black") children having no work habits. He recently asserted that President Obama was the "best food stamp president in American history." Just in case people didn't know whom he was referring to, he went on to say that he was willing to go to the NAACP national convention to tell them "why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps." Then he went to a black church Sunday to say his comments had been misconstrued. I don't think so.

Santorum referenced food stamps in saying that he didn't want to make "black people's lives better by giving them someone else's money." Santorum has denied use of the word "black" in the statement, saying he was tongue-tied or stuttered or something — I don't know, maybe he burped — and that he actually said "blah people." So now we have the "blahs," that's a new one.

Amazingly enough, Santorum made his comments in Sioux City, Iowa, heart of Woodbury County where 2.4 percent of the population is black, and where 13 percent of the people are on food stamps. It's hard to say why that was even relevant there.

Gingrich and Santorum pulled the food stamp argument right out of the Ronald Reagan playbook. In 1976 Reagan created the fictitious Cadillac-driving Chicago "welfare queen" who had 80 names, 30 addresses and 12 Social Security numbers in order to collect numerous welfare checks. Reagan never identified the welfare queen's race, but he spoke in a code that everybody understands.

"The way that I see it is that whenever Republicans start using rhetoric about welfare, about poor — this crop is more overt about naming the target of that rhetoric — what these things constitute is symbolic racism. Symbolic racism tries to mask the reality of structural racism," says Austin Jackson, assistant professor of the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University. Jackson's work focuses on writing and rhetoric in African-American culture. "It's a racist dog whistle to appeal to a large portion of their white constituencies.

"What we see, from Republican candidates in particular, is used strategically to hide systems of racial exploitation and justice. The white constituency responds very well to this sort of coded racialized rhetoric."

The message in the rhetoric is that black people are a bunch of lazy freeloaders. But the food stamp association is not only racist, it is flat-out wrong. According to a 2010 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 35 percent of food stamp recipients are white, 22 percent are black, 10 percent are Hispanic, 4 percent are Native American, 2 percent are Asian and 19 percent are of unknown race or ethnicity. Many of them are the working poor. If you exclude children (47 percent) and retirees (8 percent), the majority of food stamp recipients have jobs. They just don't make enough to get by on. That's not to deny that African-Americans make up a larger proportion of food stamp recipients than in the general population; a legacy of hiring and wage discrepancies, and discrimination are at the root of that.

Republican presidential hopefuls Ron Paul and Rick Perry also have their own racial albatrosses around their necks. Paul has had to defend himself for racist statements in newsletters that went out under his name in the 1980s and 1990s; he didn't write or read them, he now claims, although he made no such claims when challenged on the newsletters in the '90s. A 1992 newsletter claimed that year's L.A. riots ended "when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks." Perry recently named Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to head up his Arizona campaign. The U.S. Justice Department recently concluded that Arpaio's office was guilty of "massive civil rights violations against Latinos," not to mention failure to investigate more than 400 sex crimes. Perry also came under fire last year when it was revealed that the family hunting lodge was once named "Niggerhead," and the epithet was painted on a big rock on the property.

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