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  • City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May

    Margaret Doll Rod will celebrate the release of her new EP, Margaret, with a show at PJ’s Lager House on Saturday, May 10. A statement reads, “The EP contains 3 new original songs and one Chrome Cranks cover with Italian actress Asia Argento singing background vocals. Margaret moved to Italy after the end of the Demolition Doll Rods where she still lives touring and performing festivals in Europe. The Dollrods were a Garage Rock force for over 20 years, opening for Iggy, Jon Spencer, The Scientist, The Monks and The Cramps. Margaret was the front person and principal songwriter for The Dollrods. Her chief musical foil was Danny Kroha, who joined the Demolition Doll Rods after the now legendary Gories called it quits. Margaret’s sister, Christine, on drums, rounded out the legendary trio. Margaret will do a special performance in the round that night with a 360 degree revolving stage and special guest DJ Adam Stanfel.” The bill will also feature the Stomp Rockets and the Volcanos. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May 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 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, […]

    The post City Slang: Trash Brats get sleazy at Small’s appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Politics & Prejudices

How to kill journalism

Reporters should crowdsource, tweet, shoot, SMS, live chat and — oh, yeah — report the news

The other day, I was sent a copy of a memo written by the bright, talented and hard-working managing editor of a group of weekly newspapers just outside the Detroit metro area.

The memo, "A Reporter with Today's Tools Should Use Them," was supposed to be a helpful guide to her reporters as to how to do their jobs better. But it actually is the single most stunning example I've ever seen of what is wrong with print journalism today.

First, it needs to be said is that the author, a young widow in her early 40s, is extremely earnest, well-intentioned and one of the hardest-working administrators I know; I was a writing coach for her newspapers when they had different ownership years ago.

Unfortunately, she now works for a division of the Journal-Register Company, which is to journalism what a Soviet slave labor camp was to the union movement. In the process, she seems to have lost sight completely of what journalism is supposed to be.

That's not surprising, given that part of her memo notes:

"Most of my 60-hour work week is spent editing copy, posting articles and photos online, assigning stories to staff and freelancers, engaging the audience on behalf of our publications via social media, keeping abreast of issues going on across the county, checking out new technology, processing press releases and reader-generated content, and administrative tasks such as tracking website traffic, managing my e-mail account, which brings in about 300 messages a day, reviewing and submitting payroll, employee reviews and processing stringer invoices."

Plus occasionally "filling in when we've been short-staffed to cover a government meeting or write some police briefs."

Her company is aggressively promoting the "digital future" of journalism, whatever that means. She has completely bought into the idea, and has trouble understanding why her staff hasn't.

"While I try to promote and model the approach that I would like my reporting staff to take in today's world, with social media and new technology at their disposal, part of me is torn in understanding why it's not being completely done the way I ask," she says plaintively.

Next, she spells out exactly what she wants.

Any time a reporter covers a story, she would ask:

• Did you crowdsource this topic so you could ask more relevant questions of local officials?

• Did you upload the City Council's agenda to our website using Scribd.com before the meeting and share it on social media so that readers would know that city leaders were considering raising their own salaries despite a general fund deficit?

• Did you "check in" to the meeting on social media and then Tweet and post on Facebook some of the discussion points during the meeting?

• Did you shoot video of local residents during the meeting protesting the decision, process it during the meeting, and post it on our website before the meeting ended?

• Did you post a paragraph on our website under Breaking News about the vote during the meeting and then write the full story after, post it online, and then push it out using social media, SMS text, or our breaking news alert via our e-newsletter subscriber list?

• Did you follow up on the issue by hosting a live chat the next day with local leaders and residents?

Now stop for a moment, and try to imagine Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein reporting Watergate and being asked to do any of this. You can't even imagine anyone doing these things, except as a bad Saturday Night Live parody of the life of a multimedia reporter.

One woman named Martha who read this on the editor's blog asked two questions that were far more perceptive than anything in this pathetically ridiculous memo. Her first was, "Is a reporter going to spend literally days covering one event?"

The answer is, no way in hell. The weekly sweatshops that are Journal-Register newspapers expect reporters to cover dozens of events a week. Another reader named Beverly also gets it:

"If you are going to devote this much time and expertise to one story how are you going to cover the dozens of other stories that have the audacity to occur on the same day? Your method seems perfect for ... an encyclopedia. But in a metropolis ... it would be unwise to spend that much time bowing to electronic gadgetry."

Bingo.

What our poor, overworked, underpaid, technology-crazed editor has completely forgotten is the purpose of journalism. Which is, to make sense of a bewildering array of events for people.

We're supposed to give them a manageable digest of events — national, state and local, plus some good reading and useful information. Nobody wants to read a whole goddamn city council agenda. Nobody human wants to look at video of residents at a city council meeting, except those who care enough to go.

The multimedia approach this editor suggests for her local village council meeting would be entirely appropriate if Jesus Christ, Abraham Lincoln and Vladimir Lenin showed up and began raising the dead, while simultaneously walking a tightrope backwards.

Otherwise, no.

What is most ironic is that by driving their reporters to do this nonsense, editors like this woman are helping put their own papers out of business. Let's give the last word to blog reader Martha:

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