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  • Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit

    Former American Idol contestant Vonzell Solomon weighs in on twerking, natural hair & CEO status. In 2005, recording artist Vonzell “Baby V” Solomon embarked on a journey that changed her life. At the age of 20, Vonzell made it to the top three on American Idol before she was eliminated. But that was not the beginning nor the end of her journey to stardom. Vonzell is one of more than two dozen artists on tour with YouTube sensation Todrick Hall, who is a former Idol contestant as well. Todrick gained notoriety for his fast food drive-thru songs and also for producing parody videos  —  based on popular Broadway musicals and songs. His tour, uniquely entitled Twerk Du Soleil (translation: twerk of the sun), is a combination of his popular YouTube spoofs. Both Vonzell and her ratchet alter ego,Boonquisha Jenkins, made an appearance in Twerk Du Soleil,which stopped in Detroit July 23 at Saint Andrews Hall. Boonquisha opened the show by facilitating a twerking competition among the audience. Next, Vonzell made a reappearance singing a fan favorite – Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” Later, Boonquisha came on stage screaming “It’s so cold in the D! You gotta be from the D to […]

    The post Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race

    If a poll released this week is any indication of how the August 5 primary election will turn out, current Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano has reason to worry, Fox 2 reports. Ficano, who’s seeking a third term, polled in fourth place — behind former Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans, Westland Mayor Bill Wild and Wayne County Commissioner Phil Cavanaugh, according to Fox 2. The poll by Strategic Solutions LLC, showed 6.7 percent of respondents said they’d vote for Ficano, which isn’t so bad: He finished ahead of County Commissioner Kevin McNamara (who came in at No. 6) and someone literally described as “a candidate not named here” (who polled at No. 5.) If you’re planning to head to the polls — which you should! — and need some input on the candidates and ballot proposals, you can read for our election coverage in this week’s Metro Times.

    The post Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • A Mad Decent Mixtape

    Mad Decent Block Party will roll through town on Saturday, August 16, bringing to town artists like Dillon Francis, Diplo, Flosstradamus, RiFF RAFF, Keys N Krates, and Zeds Dead. Thugli, a Canadian duo, will perform on the Toronto leg of the tour and they put together a 45 minute mix that features songs by some of the tour’s featured artists as well as a host of others.  Listen to it here. 

    The post A Mad Decent Mixtape appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders

    Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host a special event this Saturday, July 26 in hopes of raising money for the local faction of an international nonprofit, Burners without Borders Detroit. Breaking Borders is a one-evening-only event that will feature live music, performance, and art. Satori Circus will perform along with spoken word artist ZakAndWhatArmy. Music by Tartanic, Dixon’s Violin, and Servitor. Fire dancers, hoop performers, and acrobats will provide a certain mysticism to the ambiance as old Victorian steampunk and tribal art is shown in the main gallery. There will also be a runway fashion show and the evening will end with a dubstep rave featuring DJ Forcefeed and Dotty. Truly, there’s something for everyone. Perhaps more importantly, there will be a full service bar. The event is open to those 18 and older and IDs will be checked at the door. Admission is $25 at the door, or $20 with the donation of a canned good. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the party goes until 2 a.m. A 20 percent commission will be taken from all art sold at this event and donated to Burners without Borders. The Tangent Gallery is located at 715 Milwaukee Ave., Detroit; 313-873-2955;

    The post Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project

    By Amanda Mooney There’s a lot that goes into producing a film, and unless you are a filmmaker you really have no idea. Writing, casting, finding a location, shooting, and editing; each step of the process can take days, months, and sometimes years to complete. Can you imagine doing it ALL in just 48 hours? The 48 Hour Film Project is an annual competition that takes place all over the world in various cities. According to Mike Madigan, head of the Detroit 48 Hour chapter, the city is one of the largest participating in terms of the number of teams. The competing teams go in blind as to what kind of film they will be producing, with no creative planning beyond getting a cast and crew together, Madigan explained. “They pick a genre out of a hat, and they get a line, a prop, and a character. And they have to incorporate that within a short film, that’s usually between 4 to 7 minutes long. And they have the timeframe of doing it all within 48 hours,” said Madigan, “So all the creative process of it all has to happen within that 48 hour–writing a script, putting it together, editing–to […]

    The post 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space

    Church: Revival is the new project by local rap duo Passalacqua (aka Bryan Lackner and Brent Smith), but it’s more than just a new Passalacqua release. The rappers teamed up with siblings Jax Anderson (frontwoman of rockers Flint Eastwood) and Seth Anderson, who together form the songwriting team called Syblyng (naturally). The result is a cycle of songs that promises to be darker than Passalacqua’s material so far. The project will make a live debut on Saturday, July 26 at a brand new venue space at the Detroit Bus Co.’s building Eight & Sand, and they will premiere the Right Bros.-directed video for the track “Baptism” as well. Other performances include Tunde Olaniran and Open Mike Eagle, and DJ sets by Nothing Elegant, Dante LaSalle, and Charles Trees. We met up the two duos at Eight & Sand to check out the new space and to talk about the project with all parties involved. Metro Times: How long have you been working together? Jax Anderson: Seth and I are constantly writing songs together. We want to push in the direction of becoming songwriters more frequently. This is our first project that we took on to co-write everything together. We’re basically just a songwriting entity. We won’t play live that […]

    The post Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space 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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