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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

High society notes

Loving looks at best buds, old and new

Highest greetings from Amsterdam. I'd like to begin with a salute to a pair of dear friends of mine in Detroit who have just passed from our midst: the poet and composer James Semark, a founder of the Detroit Artists Workshop whose early works were published by the Artists Workshop Press and who struggled to revive the Artists Workshop after his return to Detroit in the early 2000s; and my man Bruce Cohen, the well-known viper, music lover, collector of Grande Ballroom and Gary Grimshaw art work, and heroic fighter against the final stages of cancer for the last five years.

When I first met James Semark, shortly after I moved to Detroit in 1964, there weren't many weirdos, but he was definitely one of them. We shared a burning interest in the music of the time and particularly in John Coltrane.

In those days virtually everyone interested in jazz was committed to viping, and I have the most vivid recollection of Semark in the house when the Detroit Narcotics Squad crawled through the front windows at 4821 John C. Lodge in October 1964 to notch their first arrest of your correspondent for violation of state narcotics laws, to wit, selling a $10 bag to an undercover state police officer called Tall Paul.

When the police appeared in our living room, a joint was being passed amongst five of us — two poets, a painter and two musicians— and the game of musical tokes ended as the police entered with the roach in the clutch of drummer Danny Spencer, who ended up taking the bust with me while the other three went free.

At that point I learned that the penalty on conviction for selling $10 worth of marijuana was a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison. As a graduate student at Wayne State University and a young man of solid white middle-class background not yet distinguished as a poet, writer or cultural activist, I was allowed to plead guilty to possession of narcotics and sentenced to two years probation.

By the time I was sentenced James Semark, Danny Spencer and about 20 of us had rented a house at 1252 W. Forest and opened the Detroit Artists Workshop on Nov. 1, 1964. We staged free jazz and poetry concerts in our living room every Sunday afternoon, offered workshops in poetry, music, photography and underground filmmaking during the week, published a newsletter called the Artists Worksheet and smoked joints together on the front porch.

A couple of months later I opened my mail one afternoon to find a flier sent from New York City by Allen Ginsberg and Ed Sanders, my poetic and spiritual leaders, which was sort of like receiving a note from God and Jesus Christ in my religion. It announced the formation of a marijuana legalization movement called New York LEMAR and posited the group's first public event coming up later that month.

I smoked a joint, lost in thought for a few minutes, then turned to my typewriter and bashed out an announcement that heralded the formation of Detroit LEMAR, set a date for the first meeting, cut a stencil for the Gestetner mimeograph machine that throbbed at the center of our existence, and ran off a flier calling for the legalization of marijuana in Michigan.

So I entered this picture with Jim Semark sitting next to me on the couch and I underwent many an adventure with my old friend over the years. Now he's gone, but his work continues to be seen at, and his classic poem "John Coltrane Rhythm Ballad For All" may be seen at my website,, under Fattening Blogs For Snakes.

Bruce Cohen started out as a teenager sneaking into the Grande and then pushed an ice cream cart (that also stocked a sizable selection of tabs of LSD) at free concerts at Tartar Field. When I first knew Bruce he was managing the Mickey Shorr's outlet on Woodward in Ferndale where I would take him a few joints and he would install a new tape deck and speakers in my road van.

Bruce relocated to Florida in the mid-'70s where he hung out with fellow Detroiters Dave Dixon, Jesse Crawford and Billy Lynn, then came back and started a business marketing custom motorcycle taillights under the label of Motor City products, subsequently adding a line of sound systems for mounting on road bikes.

Bruce was doing fine when the first bout of cancer struck. He began a long and arduous series of treatments and operations and found his pain could be alleviated only by the ingestion of relatively massive doses of cannabis; he finished his life as a Medical Marihuana Patient duly registered with the State of Michigan.

I was always trying to get him to come and visit me in Amsterdam, where he would find a world more to his liking than the one which had deemed him a criminal marijuana smoker, but Bruce enjoyed his life in Detroit to such an extent that I failed to persuade him. Here's a word to the wise: Do it now before it's too late!

Meanwhile, here in Amsterdam, the 23rd annual Cannabis Cup festivities were recently celebrated under the noxious cloud of impending doom emitted by the new far-right government of the Netherlands with its recent threats of persecution and severe diminishment of the cannabis community, starting with the idea that Dutch marijuana smokers must be licensed and only licensed smokers would be allowed to purchase their five grams of marijuana in the coffee shops. No foreigners allowed!

According to local news media, the new cabinet plans to turn all cannabis cafés, known as coffee shops, into members-only clubs to keep out tourists and underage smokers. As a sop, the mayor of Eindhoven, Rob van Gijzel, has proposed the city's cannabis cafés be allowed to grow their own marijuana for members. He also wants to end cash payments and limit sales to 3 grams rather than the 5 grams currently allowed.

Eindhoven is one of 10 cities designated to carry out experiments with different ways of keeping organized crime out of the coffee shop system. The government has given the city EU645,000 to fund the experiments. Meanwhile, some 15,000 households in Rotterdam and The Hague reportedly are being given "scratch and sniff" cards to help them identify the smell of marijuana so they can inform the police and electricity company when they suspect a neighbor of growing. The card also includes other suspicious signs to watch out for, such as the sound of ventilators and closed curtains.

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