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  • 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? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor

    Detroit home-girl Lily Tomlin will perform at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, June 14. A press release reads, “Get together with Lily Tomlin for an unforgettable night of fun and sidesplitting laughter. “Tomlin is amazing” The NY Times and “as always a revelation.” The New Yorker This unique comic artist takes her audience on what the Washington Post calls a “wise and howlingly funny” trip with more than a dozen of her timeless characters—from Ernestine to Mrs. Beasley to Edith Ann.” “With astounding skill and energy, Tomlin zaps through the channels like a human remote control. Using a fantastic range of voices, gestures and movements, she conjures up the cast of characters with all the apparent ease of a magician pulling a whole menagerie of animals from a single hat.” NY Daily News “Her gentle touch is as comforting as it is edifying.” NY Time Out She has “made the one-person show the daring, irreverent art form it is today.” Newsweek Her long list of awards includes: a Grammy; two Tonys; six Emmys; an Oscar nomination; two Peabodys; and the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Find more info here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor

    The Detroit Metro Times, Detroit’s award-winning alternative weekly media company, is proud to announce the recent hire of Valerie Vande Panne as Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning independent journalist and Michigan native, Vande Panne’s work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Daily Beast, and Salon, among other publications. Previously, Vande Panne attended Harvard University and was a regular contributor to The Boston Phoenix, and a news editor of High Times magazine. She has spent years covering drug policy among other subjects, including the environment, culture, lifestyle, extreme sports, and academia. “Valerie understands our business and what we expect to accomplish in Detroit. She has an excellent sense for stories that will move our readers, as well as experience with balancing print and digital content. I’m excited to have her at the paper and trust her leadership as we move forward,” said Detroit Metro Times publisher Chris Keating.

    The post Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’

    She welcomes you when you enter Detroit, from every direction, with the one word that might just be Detroit’s biggest philosophical question: Injured? Joumana Kayrouz is deeper than the inflated image watching over Detroit, peddling justice to the poor and broken of the city. This Wednesday, Drew Philp takes us behind the billboard and into the heart of the Kayrouz quest. (And all of Brian Rozman’s photos of Kayrouz have not been retouched.) Check out MT‘s cover story, on newsstands Wednesday!

    The post Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt

    There was a fire in an upstairs apartment at PJ’s Lager House on Monday evening. No people were hurt, although three cats belonging to the tenants died after CPR. The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. during a show featuring Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band, Curtin, and Jeffrey Jablonsky. “We just smelled smoke and someone yelled everyone has to get out,” 33-year-old Nick Leu told MLive. On the Lager House Facebook page in the early hours of the morning, a post said, “We at PJ’s lager House would like to thank everyone for their care and concern. Also, a very big THANK YOU to all who stepped up to do what they could this evening. The fire was contained to the upstairs but due to water damage in the bar, we will be closed until it can be assessed. Everyone is safe and we will keep you updated.” A later update read, “Update from the big boss. Since there was no damage to the stage side of the bar, the show will go on tomorrow! You may have to enter through the back door and there may not be a large selection of booze but we are going […]

    The post Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Stir It Up

Green underground

Second-guessing that apple orchard with Mulenga Haragua

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

I was out for a bike ride through Palmer Park on a sunny afternoon. I thought I'd take a look at the apple orchard that some folks are complaining about potentially attracting rats and causing their property values to plunge. I spotted Mulenga Harangua pedaling along on Pontchartrain Drive. He was on an old balloon-tired bike with a big basket in front carrying some plastic bags full of what looked like vegetables. I hadn't seen him in a few months, so I called out and pulled over to a picnic table to chat.

"Mulenga, how are you doing? You look like you lost some weight."

"Yeah, ever since I started this gardening thing a couple of years ago I've been evolving my diet, more of this green stuff and fewer potato chips and fast food." He pointed toward his plastic bags, which on closer inspection seemed to be mostly greens of some sort. "Plus I've been getting around on this old bike I pieced together from scrap parts. You get a lot of exercise riding one of these things."

"So what are you doing over this way?"

"I'm making my deliveries."


"Yeah, deliveries. I've got a few people I sell produce to. Right now I've got spinach and spring greens ready. I've bagged them up and I'm making the rounds of my customers. Once I finish selling these I'll have about $25 in my pocket. Despite the man trying to keep a brother down, I'm figuring out ways to make it."

"How'd you start with the produce delivery?"

"You remember that pregnant girl I was helping last year? She moved in with a family over this way and got them to start getting a few things from me. Well, they had a few friends who were interested too, so now I come through when I have something. "

"That sounds pretty good. Maybe you can get yourself a stall at one of these markets that are popping up around town."

Mulenga gave a practiced look over his shoulder as though he were checking for someone creeping up on him before he spoke. "No thanks. I don't want to get into all that overhead and paying taxes and whatnot. I like to keep things close to the vest."

"So you want to keep your business on System D."

Mulenga grinned at the suggestion. "What's that, some kind of special Detroit thing? It sounds cool — System D." He started to do a little dance, "I'm rolling in the D."

"System D isn't something specific to Detroit. It's a term that the writer Robert Neuwirth uses to refer to the shadow economy, or informal economy. He published a book last year called Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy. System D refers to a sort of black market economy where people do business off the books. No reporting, no taxes. It's like when you do some work for someone, say paint the garage, and they pay you cash."

"I do that all the time. I didn't know they had a name for it. ... System D." He said the last two words slowly, like he was savoring the way they felt as they rolled off his tongue. 

"Neuwirth took it from the French term débrouillard. It means someone who is self-reliant or ingenious. In former French colonies in Africa it came to refer to the street corner type business, l'économie de la débrouillardise."

Mulenga gave me a big, wide smile. "So it's an African thing. I can get next to that."

"It's also an illegal thing. This is business off the books. It can be anything from drug dealing and prostitution to paying illegal immigrants under the table. It can also be as simple as babysitting, lawn mowing, or ladies who do their friends' hair on the back porch."

"So I'm part of a pretty big thing?"

"Neuwirth claims it's a $10 trillion per year economy — $1.2 trillion in the United States alone. I couldn't find out anything about Detroit. Nobody answered the telephone at the city Finance Department when I made a couple of calls there, and someone I got hold of at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation said she didn't even know how you'd track that. But I did find an estimate that 10 to 20 percent of Michigan's economy is in the shadows."

"Well, I'll tell you that System D is big in the D. I pick up scrap metal sometimes and that is all off the books with those guys. Whenever I do odd jobs they're cash only. I certainly don't report when I sell a few bags of greens. If it wasn't for System D I would be out in the cold."

"I don't doubt that System D was made for you."

Mulenga surveyed the area near where we sat. "What's with all those little trees that look like they were just planted?"

"That's the apple orchard that People for Palmer Park planted a couple of months ago."

"I heard about that. Isn't that the one that some folks around here are all upset about? They went to the City Council saying that it's going to draw rats and stuff."


"But there are rats all over the city. It seems like they could be attracted to an orchard."

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