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  • 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.

  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to The Sugar Clouds’ Partners Don’t Do That (They Watch and be Amazed) (Wax Splat) is a nostalgic look at the psychedelic days of ’60s grooviness. Even the album cover looks like a lava lamp. The male-female vocals have a sort of Jefferson Airplane feel, and the songs are blessed with both sugary sweet pop melodies and a garage-y earthiness. The story of the band’s formation is rather interesting; the two vocalists, Greg and Melissa Host, are a divorced couple who wrote the songs in their living room. The band is still together, so this divorce was a hell of a lot more civil than any we’ve ever known of. Steffanie Christi’an has friends in fairly high places. Her new Way Too Much mini-album is being put out by Nadir Omowale’s Distorted Soul label, and she is also a regular feature on Jessica Care Moore’s Black Women Rock revue. Maybe the choice of cover image isn’t the best – she looks a bit like a Tina Turner tribute act here. But that can and should be […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit councilman: Increased parking fines an ‘anti-growth strategy’

      There’s at least one city councilmember who’s less than pleased with Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s plan to increase all parking violation fines. Councilman Gabe Leland, whose district represents the city’s west side, issued a statement today, calling Orr’s plan a potential “deterrent” to attracting people to the city. I don’t believe the argument to raise the parking ticket fines from $30 to $45 and eliminate the $10 early payment fine are justification for this action. The emergency manager’s order to increase ticket fines places city government inefficiencies on the backs of our residents who need to do business in downtown and other parts of our city. And, this will increase the barrier for people to frequent Detroit-based establishments; likely to be a deterrent for some to shop and dine in our city. Leland suggested implementing a plan that maintains current rates for fines and reduces operating inefficiencies to collecting parking fines. “In my view, generating revenue by increasing fines when residents from neighborhoods must go downtown to get licenses and permits, attend court appointments and do other necessary business, is the wrong direction,” Leland said. “…Additionally, generating revenue using fines when we are trying to grow this city and attract […]

    The post Detroit councilman: Increased parking fines an ‘anti-growth strategy’ 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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