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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 […]

    The post Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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 […]

    The post Detroit area code 313 may be phased out appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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 […]

    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 PlanetAnt.com. 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.

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Grand Old Panderers

Why Republican rhetoric is like a racist dog whistle

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Front-runner Mitt Romney has been more subtle by attacking Obama's "entitlement society." Yet when the question of electability comes up, he is obviously considered the white guy who can save the country from the Obama abomination.

The problem is that, regardless of the truth, once a candidate makes a racially disparaging remark there are people who believe it.

"Americans don't understand the nature of language," Jackson says. "They need to give more attention to the centrality of language in shaping our perceptions of everyday life. We need greater attention to the role that language has in masking these overtly racist sentiments."

There will be plenty of that in the coming months. Remember the last presidential election cycle, when Obama had to disavow the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and was accused of not being American — not to mention the various attacks for being Muslim, socialist and lazy (read "black"). We've recently seen a narrative painting Michelle Obama as a big-ass, angry black woman. I don't doubt that she is sometimes angry; she exhibits the full range of normal human emotions and from where she sits the stakes are high.

Republicans aren't the only ones who play this game. Bill Clinton had his Sister Souljah moment. But with a sitting president who is African-American the crap is already getting out of hand. By the time the general election comes around, it's going to be downright nasty. Republicans obviously have little intention of engaging blacks other than throwing the embarrassing Herman Cain at us (come on, a candidate who sings hymns on request). That's their kind of black man. 

It's enough to give me a serious case of the blahs.

Postscript: In Tuesday night's debate (after MT had gone to press), Gingrich scored big points with the conservative South Carolina audience by not backing down when moderator Juan Williams, of Fox News, brought up Gingrich's food stamp comments, and his assertions that schools should hire poor children as janitors in order to help them create a work ethic. According to reports, the crowd went wild, giving Grinch-rich a standing ovation.

First of all, the claim that Obama has put more people on food stamps than any other president in American history is debatable. The elections-claim referees at Politifact.com rate it a "half truth." There are more Americans on food stamps (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program — SNAP) during Obama's administration than under any of his predecessors, but that's a continuation of an upward trend he inherited from the Bush administration. Two factors are involved: more lenient qualification rules (rewritten during the Bush years) and the worsening economy. On the second point, the Politifact.com reports:

 

Obviously, the rise in food stamps is a direct consequence of the serious recession that began in December 2007 — more than a year before Obama took office. It's hard to determine how much blame Obama deserves compared to his predecessor, President George W. Bush, but the experts we spoke to, conservative and liberal, agree that Obama inherited a serious economic situation.

 

Part of the reason it's tricky to divvy up blame is that there is typically a lag time before an upturn in the broader economy begins to show up in decreased SNAP usage. The monthly growth has slowed over the last three months, and if current trends continue, it could start declining in a month or two.

 

With all that in mind I wonder that if Bush made it easier for people to get food stamps, should Obama be blamed for people using them? Maybe Bush was the "best food stamp" president.

Another point is that most adults who receive assistance already have jobs but don't make enough to get by on. So if Gingrich wants to get people off food stamps he should be championing higher wages. However I still believe that rhetorically coupling Obama and food stamps, particularly given the history here, is indeed using the racist dog whistle to remind conservatives that the president is black and he's going to give all your money to "those people."

Gingrich also got applause for standing by his assertion that school children should do janitorial work in their schools. Putting aside child labor issues, what about the janitors they will put out of work? This idea would take an already low-paying job and make it even lower. If the janitor wasn't already on food stamps, he certainly will be after the kids take his job away, not to mention the unemployment compensation.

Finally, I get the sense that with Williams being an African-American, the audience eagerly consumed the aspect of Gingrich standing up to a black man on a racial issue as a surrogate for how Gingrich would handle Obama in a general election. Indeed that may be the most powerful result of this exchange for the former speaker of the House — the perception that he will stand up to the black man.

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