Most Read
  • Thank you, Detroit

    I’m not going to lie to you – this isn’t easy. This week, the final City Slang local music column will be published in the Metro Times (on hardcore band Final Assault), and I have just submitted a cover feature on the women of Detroit hip-hop, to be published next week (8/6). This blog that you’re reading now will be my last one as a regular MT contributor. I have a lot to look forward to. I’m going to be an associate editor at Yellow Scene Magazine in Colorado, a tremendous publication in a beautiful part of the country. But leaving Detroit will be incredibly difficult for me. I love the place. It’s been (amazingly) six and a half years since I arrived, a couple of cases in hand and not much of a plan in mind. I just knew, after three separate research trips for books and a magazine article, that I felt at home here. Metro Times offered me freelance work almost immediately, as did a new website called Metromix (whatever happened to that?) When I arrived here, I had been working as a writer in the UK for nine years, but the help and encouragement I received […]

    The post Thank you, Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers

      We here at MT will be delighted when Mr. Jack White throws out a pitch at Navin Field (at least, we hope he will), but until then, we’ll be happy with his pitch to Santa this evening at Comerica Park.    

    The post Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW)

      Footage from the Gathering of the Juggalos set to clips of Morgan Freeman’s narration from March of the Penguins? Kind of forced, but also kind of beautiful. As the AV Club reports: The oft-sought voiceover champion lends a touch of gravitas to the festival proceedings. Unfortunate scenes of barely clad people having various liquids dumped onto them now carries a quiet dignity as it’s all part of nature’s majestic plan that keeps the world spinning through this elegantly designed and truly wondrous universe. Also, the video is NSFW as there are boobs in it. Watch the clip below:

    The post Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW) appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love”

    It seems like the polar vortex will never end: the weather phenomenon that brought us the most brutal winter on record this winter is to blame for this summer’s chillier-than usual temperatures as well. A couple of bands, though, made lemonade out of lemons (or snow cones out of snow?) by using the icy landscape to film music videos. 800beloved shot the video for “Tidal” in some sand dunes near Empire, Mich., and this week Turn to Crime debuted the video for “Can’t Stop,” the title track of their recently-released album. Even more piles of ice and snow might be the last thing Detroiters want to see right now, but the footage makes for some good visuals that mesh well with the song. Watch the video below:

    The post Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love” appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed

    Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr transferred oversight of the the city’s water department Tuesday to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in an order intended to refocus “efforts to help DWSD customers get and remain current on their water bills,” Orr’s office said today. “This order provides additional clarity to the powers already delegated to the mayor,” Orr said in a statement released Tuesday. “As the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department works to operate more efficiently and communicate more effectively with customers, it is important to ensure there are clear lines of management and accountability.” Duggan will have the authority to manage DWSD and make appointments to the utility’s board, according to a news release. In a statement issued Tuesday, the mayor said he welcomed Orr’s order, adding that officials will develop a plan that “allows those who truly need to access to financial help … to do so with shorter wait times.” “We need to change a number of things in the way we have approached the delinquent payment issues and I expect us to have a new plan shortly,” Duggan said. “There are funds available to support those who cannot afford their bills — we need to do a much better job in […]

    The post Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years

    Rovers Scooter Club, a local gang dedicated to celebrating and riding motor scooters, will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary this week with a very special ride. Motor City Shakedown, the annual birthday party for the club, will commence this Friday, August 1 at New Way Bar. DJ Grover from Cincinnati will be spinning northern soul, reggae, and ska, according to club member Michael Palazzola. Saturday will feature a ride from Ferndale to Detroit, starting at noon at M-Brew. Palazzola says this is where most bikes will congregate before taking the ride to the city and folks will be prepping by getting some grub starting at 10 a.m.  Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host the after party,  a special event that will feature performances by several bands as well as Satori Circus. That portion of the event will commence at 8 p.m. with performances starting at 9 p.m. It’s free to riders, but the public is welcome to join the party with the mere cost of a door charge. Come midnight, the club will raffle off a vintage Lambretta LI 150. Sunday morning will end the weekend of festivities, with brunch taking place at the Bosco in Ferndale.   

    The post Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years 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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