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    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 bcallwood@metrotimes.com. Ricky Rat’s Tokyo Pop/Glitter People (New Fortune) 7” single highlights all that’s great about the Trash Brats guitarist, but also his limitations. The man can write a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll song to match anyone in the city and most beyond. He’s also a killer guitarist, ripping out one throwaway riff after another with reckless abandon. He’s a machine. On his own though, without Trash Brats frontman Brian McCarty, his voice doesn’t have enough strength to do the songs justice. Not that you need to have the greatest voice in the world to sing this stuff – you don’t need to be able to perform vocal gymnastics – but you do have to be able to wail the tunes out. Both of the songs on this single are great, but you can’t help but wonder how much better they would sound with McCarty or somebody similar talking the mic. Still, as they are the songs are great fun. We’re just being picky. The Paper Sound’s Trajectories is a dense, atypically dark Americana-tinged album, unrelenting and […]

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

  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of buildingdetroit.org, a new website launched by the City of Detroit today to auction off city-owned homes to prospective buyers who pledge to fix them up and move in. “We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement today. “There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment.” The website to facilitate the auctions went live this afternoon. The first auction is scheduled to take place Monday, May 5. Officials said in a news release that one home will be auctioned per day, Monday through Friday. Fifteen homes are available for sale on the site, a dozen of which are in the East English Village neighborhood. Any Michigan resident, company, or organization that can do business in the state can bid, according to the website. Properties will be for sale for only one day, with bidding taking place from 8 […]

    The post Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes

    In case you haven’t heard, two of the biggest names in film, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, are collaborating to put on a benefit concert for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this summer. In case you wanted to go- well, you’re too damn late. The DSO says tickets to the June 14 concert were snapped up in a record-breaking 15 minutes after they went on sale at 9 a.m. today. The DSO has since released this statement to fans who didn’t snag seats: Our apologies to everyone who was unable to buy tickets this morning for our historic benefit concert featuring John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Despite increasing our phone and internet system capacity for the day, a surge of hundreds of ticket buyers purchased tickets in a matter of minutes, filling the phone lines and temporarily maxing out our web servers. After a one-hour pre-sale made available to donors and subscribers at 8am, we released additional seats at 9am to the general public, including seats available for as low as $30. All seats sold out immediately. The concert program seems nothing short of top notch: Williams will conduct the orchestra as it performs some of his most iconic tunes, such […]

    The post Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Blowout 2014 schedule available to view now

    The schedule for Blowout 17, taking place Wednesday April 30 to Saturday May 3 in Hamtramck, Detroit and Ferndale, is available to see now. Visit MtBlowout.com to see the schedule and plan your festival. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Blowout 2014 schedule available to view now appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Trash Brats get sleazy at Small’s

    The Trash Brats hardly ever play live anymore, so each show feels like an event. Wandering around Small’s in Hamtramck late Saturday night, there’s a near-carnival atmosphere in the air. The Brats were never supposed to be taken seriously, but years on-and-off the radar have given the band the gift of respect born out of longevity. We’re not being dismissive at all. In fact, no amount of kooky faces from guitarist Ricky Rat and bassist Toni Romeo can hide the fact that these boys can play and the band writes killer bubblegum sleaze-rock tunes. The fact that the venue was packed compared to, say, a recent show by internationally known punk icons Sylvain Sylvain and Glen Matlock (which you would think would attract a similar audience) is testament to the fact that, in Detroit, the Trash Brats command a certain reverence. Before the Trash Brats took to the stage, local punks The Dives kicked off the night with a set of sincere, energetic and well-performed, if standard, punk rock. No frills (besides frontman Ron McPherson’s dapper suit), the band features members of the Junk Monkeys, the Black Mollies and the Joint Chiefs, and it drives through a set of catchy, […]

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  • Cycle 7 opens at the Red Bull House of Art

    By: Ayana Bryant-Weekes The Red Bull House of Art, a multidisciplinary and collaborative art project, relieves the stress of financial limitation or lack of tools and space so budding artists can manifest their creative dreams right here in Detroit. Six artists are selected for a three-month residency where they are provided individual studio space and materials, allowing their artistic concepts to flow freely. At the end of each residency is an unveiling and public display at the Red Bull House of Art Gallery. As show curator Matt Eaton told us in a 2013 interview, “The selection process for the current crop of artists was just the same as every round. The goal is not to find the hippest, coolest artists (though I think they are all very cool), but to find the people who may not typically have a voice.” This year, for the first time, Red Bull House of Art will showcase more than just Detroit artists. National artists from across the country in a special artist-in-residency program will have the opportunity to showcase their work to a much broader audience, and bring a national art stage to the Motor City. Since opening, 54 Detroit-based artists have been given the […]

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Politics & Prejudices

How this came to pass

Mikhail Gorbachev and Christmas 1991 set the stage (no kidding)

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Ever wonder how our country ended up like this? As this year sputters to its end, that is, and children are being thrown off cash assistance forever in the dead of winter, and we are letting our roads fall apart, and few seem to give a damn about the next generation.

How did it come to this? It wasn't always this way. Fifty years ago, we were a strong and confident country, committed to making this a better world, thinking we could educate more kids.

Thinking we could help the rest of the world too. Presidents could propose programs like the Alliance for Progress to help lift up Latin America. The statesman Sargent Shriver led a major effort to conquer poverty in this country, and continued to believe, until the day he died earlier this year, that's something we could have done.

Today, any politician who even suggested that we do something to help the nation's poor would be sneered at as a socialist. For the last 30 years, there has been a massive transfer of wealth from the poor and the fast-disappearing middle class to the super-rich. Do you see any major effort to suggest moving toward even a slightly more level playing field?

Does any major Democratic politician, in Lansing or Washington, dare to stand up and say, "It's time to increase taxes on the super-rich so students can get scholarships and poor children can get milk?" Don't be silly. They'd be afraid of losing votes because bloated radio fools like Rush Limbaugh would call them names.

How did we get to this place from the idealistic nation we were? For a large part of the answer, look back to a Christmas exactly 20 years ago, to an event that set the stage for everything that has followed. Mikhail Gorbachev, the last head of the USSR, appeared on television screens across the globe that Christmas morning.

Everything was truly over. He announced he was resigning, and that the nation that had been our mortal enemy had ceased to exist.

Nobody paid a whole lot of attention at the time. The Soviet Union had been dying since a failed coup that summer. The Cold War, which even eight years before still had the power to grip us with nuclear terror, had ended when the Eastern European states gave up communism and opted for what they saw as freedom, more or less, two years before that. When the end of the USSR became official that Christmas morning, we barely glanced up from our presents.

But something very fundamental had changed. A few years after that, Dick Wright, who taught journalism with me at Wayne State University, stopped by my office. He had studied the Soviet Union in army intelligence and spoke and understood Russian.

He also cared about the labor movement, and about workers in America, and he made a casual comment that I instantly saw held the key to a lot of what was going on in this society.

"You know, I really felt that people here didn't realize how bad it was when the USSR ceased to exist," he said. "It was corrupt and all that, of course, but it was officially a workers' state. They had gotten rid of the capitalists. And while you never would have wanted to live there, I always felt it was a good thing that it existed.

"That's because as long as it was there, there would always be the thought in the bosses' minds that maybe we better show some decency to our workers, pay them a decent wage."

Dick Wright, a truly decent man, died a few years later. I'm not sure whether he was right about the example of the Soviet Union serving as a deterrent to the nation's exploiters. I know that Franklin D. Roosevelt and a lot of other people believed in the 1930s that either we do something for the ordinary man, or we risked communism or, more likely, some form of fascism.

But most of the exploiters of his day were too stupid to see that the patrician FDR and his New Dealers were working hard to save them from themselves. If anything, today's seem even stupider.

Corporate America and the Republican Party seem to think they can export all the jobs overseas, end unemployment insurance and welfare for those they've screwed over, all with no negative consequences to themselves. The not-so-big-three are now paying newly hired autoworkers salaries too small for them to be able to afford new cars, much less a house and a family.

Let's see ... doesn't all this remind you of a book by Karl Marx called Das Kapital? Does anybody other than me remember how it turned out? We are creating an ever larger, ever more desperate class of unemployed and unemployable people.

We need to wake up and remember that we are all in this together, or, once again, as John F. Kennedy said half a century ago, "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it can't save the few who are rich." We desperately need leaders who are not too stupid or greedy to understand that, and need to find them soon.

 

Snyder puts his foot in it: Whatever you think of his policies, our governor has had a remarkably successful year.

The Legislature enacted virtually his entire program, from the huge business tax cut to the pension tax. His only main setback was over the needed New International Trade Crossing bridge, where he evidently miscalculated Matty Moroun's ability to buy the lawmakers.

Look for more of that epic struggle soon. Up to now, Snyder has avoided messy social legislation, or hatefully attacking the unions to the extent that the governors of Ohio and Wisconsin have.

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