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  • The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues

    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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.

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Higher Ground

Hemp on the ropes

Efforts to liberalize hemp growing could offer jobs and revenues

Back in the 1970s, a friend of mine was headed to Missouri on a motorbike. Due to the low horsepower and speed of his vehicle, he stuck to the back roads. As he cruised through rural Indiana he looked over and gosh-a-mighty there was a field of marijuana as far as the eye could see. Feeling like he'd hit the jackpot on a one-armed bandit he grabbed as much as he could carry and headed on down the road.

When he finally got around to smoking it, imagine his surprise when it didn't get him high. It was probably a wild hemp field left over from World War II, when it was widely grown as part of the war effort. Back then, the U.S. government produced and distributed Hemp for Victory, a film encouraging farmers to grow hemp because industrial fiber was in short supply.

Hemp is the non-psychoactive cousin of marijuana. It has about a 0.3 percent level of THC, the part of marijuana that gets you high, while marijuana's level is more like 5 percent to 10 percent. There are some 25,000 products made from hemp or with hemp ingredients or parts, from textiles to soap to cooking oil to cars. Yet almost all of them come from outside of the United States, because the hemp plant is lumped in with marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug along with the likes of heroin and cocaine. Even during World War II, farmers who grew it needed a special permit.

"The United States has sweeping anti-marijuana laws that don't recognize that hemp is not the same as marijuana," says LaMar Lemmons Jr., a former state representative who introduced three bills supporting hemp in Lansing last year.

"The Chinese make a massive amount of hemp products, everything from foodstuffs to bricks. There's a biodegradable plastic that's made from hemp, there's a brick that's stronger than concrete. It's all part of the new green economy."

Lemmons' bills — one called for Congress to reschedule industrial hemp and remove barriers to farming it, another for a feasibility study on growing hemp in the state, a third to allow hemp farming here without DEA permits — went to the Committee on Agriculture and died when the new legislative body came in on Jan. 1. Lemmons, who retired due to term limits, says the main problem around hemp is "ignorance."

"For lack of a better word, people are unfamiliar with the difference between psychoactive and non-psychoactive," Lemmons says. "They see no upside and they're hesitant to do anything courageous or think outside of the box."

Maybe a little education would help. That's certainly the goal of the Michigan Industrial Hemp Education and Marketing Project that is, according to its website, "working to expand hemp as a natural resource for industrial and private enterprise." MIHEMP is holding an Industrial Hemp Education Bazaar Feb. 19, at the Atlanta Senior Center in Atlanta, in northern Michigan. The event will feature hemp products for sale, speakers on hemp farming, workshops connecting retailers with producers of hemp products, video presentations and hemp history. There will be an auction too — though I'm not sure what folks will be bidding on.

"We'll have a hemp block that is a mixture of hemp and lime. They built a house out of it in Asheville, N.C.," says Everett Swift, director of MIHEMP. "We import $350 million of raw hemp materials each year. It's used in Dr. Bronner's soap; Johnson Controls uses it to make switches. Importing drives the cost up. It could create a new crop for farmers, and it's better for the environment than many crops."

Swift's most immediate legislative goal is to get Montmorency County — Atlanta is the county seat — to pass a resolution in favor of industrial hemp farming in order to push the state Legislature to act on the issue. In an "up North" area where agriculture is a frontline reality, that seems to make sense.

That's also the case in tiny Benzie County, population 15,998, just south of the Traverse City area.

"Two of our main farmers, they're just waiting for hemp to become legal so they can start growing it," says the Rev. Steven B. Thompson, director of Michigan NORML. "If our agricultural community were allowed to grow hemp, it would create jobs. Companies are now buying hemp, but bringing it in from other countries. It would help our farmers. Farms in this area are suffering greatly."

Hemp is the flip side of the cannabis coin. While medical marijuana activists tout the economic benefits of the medical marijuana industry, and those fighting to outright legalize the weed tout the potential revenues of a regulate-and-tax approach, hemp itself may be good medicine for the economy.

There is a page on the MIHEMP website (tinyurl.com/5t9xh2a) that displays an amazing number of products that can be made from hemp. The seed itself seems to be a trove of plenty, used in the making of such edible products as bread, ice cream, protein powder, salad oil, margarine and granola. The seed also contributes ingredients for shampoos, cosmetics, diesel fuel, printing ink and pet foods. The fibrous stalk accounts for numerous textile products, fiberboard, insulation, paper products and ethanol. That's a short list. Note that the leaves and flowers aren't used, although in marijuana those are the main source of THC.

At last year's Electric Vehicle trade show in Vancouver, Canada's Motive Industries debuted the Kestrel, a four-seat car with an outer shell made of a hemp-based composite. Production is to kick off this year. But that's in Canada, where regulated hemp agriculture was legalized in 1998. It's a wonder Canadians have enough hemp for manufacturing; U.S. companies buy up about 90 percent of Canada's hemp harvest.

Hemp has a venerable history in the United States. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were hemp farmers, and early drafts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written on hemp paper (which reportedly does not yellow with age). For those concerned with the environment, one acre of hemp is said to yield four times the pulp used for paper-making than an acre of trees.

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