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  • James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag

    The Magic Bag in Ferndale will host James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets on Thursday, May 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. A press release reads, “James McMurtry recently signed with the bourgeoning Los Angeles record label Complicated Game. The legendary songwriter will enter the studio later this month to start working on his first album in six years. “I’ve got a new batch of songs, organic and with no added sulfites, aged in oak for several years,” he says. “Francois Moret at Complicated Game seems to like these songs and (producer) C.C. Adcock thinks he can turn them into a record. Good times fixing to roll.” Label head Moret agrees. “In March 2013, when C.C. Adcock told me we were going to see James McMurtry at the Continental Club in Austin, I expected to see a good show,” he says, “but what I saw left me mesmerized! I immediately knew I wanted to sign him. As a European, it is an amazing opportunity to work with one of the most talented American singer-songwriters.” Evidence: McMurtry’s Just Us Kids (2008) and Childish Things (2005). The former earned his highest Billboard 200 chart position in nearly two decades and notched […]

    The post James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit

    The Dead Kennedys, still with local boy Klaus Flouride in the ranks, will play St. Andrew’s Hall on Tuesday, June 24. Alongside Flouride and fellow original members East Bay Ray and DH Peligro, the current lineup includes singer Ron “Skip” Greer, taking the place of Jello Biafra. Downtown Brown will open that show, which starts at 7 p.m., with tickets priced $20-$25. Give Klaus a hero’s hometown welcome. Just over a week before that, strangely enough, Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine will play at the Magic Stick. It’s a weird coincidence, but one that DK fans should be happy to embrace. That show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $17-$19. Local hardcore vets Negative Approach play before Jello, with the Crashdollz opening the show. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain

    The Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck will present a police drama called A Steady Rain May 2 through 24. Planet Ant veterans Ryan Carlson and York Griffith will star in the play, written by House of Cards and Mad Men co-writer Keith Huff. Tickets ($10-$20) are on sale now at According to the press release, “A Steady Rain by Keith Huff focuses on Joey and Denny, best friends since kindergarten and partners on the police force whose loyalty to each other is tested by domestic affairs, violence and the rough streets of Chicago. Joey helps Denny with his family and Denny helps Joey stay off the bottle. But when a routine disturbance call takes a turn for the worse their loyalty is put to the ultimate test.First produced at Chicago Dramatists, A Steady Rain appeared on Broadway featuring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The Planet Ant production of A Steady Rain is directed by York Griffith featuring Ryan Carlson and Andy Huff. This marks the return of two of Planet Ant’s founding members. Carlson and Griffith. Griffith has served as the theatre’s Artistic Director where he directed the critically-acclaimed productions The Adding Machine and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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.



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Politics & Prejudices

How to save Detroit

Bing's address, hard realities and a modest proposal

"When I was elected, I thought I knew what was going on. But I got here and found out ... things were way worse than I ever imagined."—Mayor Dave Bing, Washington Post, February 2011

A half-century ago, when the mayor was still a high school basketball star, Detroit was a happening place. Downtown Hudson's was the tallest department store in the world.

They were, alas, knocking down old City Hall, thanks to the new modernistic City-County Building. (Historic preservation wasn't much on anyone's mind, because Motown still saw itself as a young and vibrant city.) Sure, it had lost a little population, something the experts at the time put down to the freeways, but Detroit still had nearly 1.7 million people.

Seventy-one percent of them were white. But the black population was not only mushrooming, it was making itself heard. "Please Mr. Postman" would be Motown's first No. 1 nationwide hit that year. The Red Wings made the Stanley Cup finals. The Detroit Tigers would stun everyone by winning 101 games, only to be beaten out at the end by the Yankees.

Change was coming, though. That fall, for the first time, a young politician running for mayor would openly court the black vote. With their help, Jerry Cavanagh would pull off the biggest upset victory in Detroit mayoral history.

When he took office, he was only 33 years old. It was an age of young men; the governor, John Swainson, was only 35 when who took office. The new mayor believed in Detroit, believed in the future, believed in cities.

Today, Detroit city is a very different place than those vibrant leaders must have dreamed it would be. Soon, we'll have the final census figures from last year. The city almost certainly has fewer than 800,000 people, the vast majority of them black.

They are overwhelmingly poor, poorly skilled and poorly educated. The affluent have largely left, the skilled have left, many who want decent public schools for their kids have left.

And the city left behind is being crushed by debt.

According to the Washington Post, which did a long story on Detroit last month, the city's long-term debt is $5.7 billion, a figure the city has no realistic prospect of paying off.

The annual budget deficit had been wrestled down to $150 million, before the city got the bad news about the governor's budget. Among other things, it once again slashed revenue sharing, for the umpteenth time.

That's money the city needed to keep going. Last week, the mayor, a good and decent and talented man, gave his annual State of the City speech.

Dave Bing is more than twice the age of the mayor Detroit had half a century ago, and seemed older and wearier than his 67 years. The governor's budget, he said, "has potentially devastating consequences for the city of Detroit. It threatens the concrete but fragile gains we have made."

"We simply can't afford it," he said. Later, when discussing labor negotiations, the mayor said, "I know change is difficult. I know change takes time. But we are getting there."

But is Detroit really getting there? Can it get there?

Bing meant specifically the negotiations, but also Detroit as well, a city he called "a work in progress." Dave Bing is loyal to the city he moved back to to govern. Yet he is also an honest and realistic man.

During his State of the City speech, he talked about building something that they would have taken for granted half a century ago, "a city that works." Detroit doesn't work now. Dave Bing knows that, and admitted as much — something other mayors wouldn't have dreamt of doing.

He spoke, however, of a vision of his version of Detroit as a shining city on a hill, "a city that reversed the cycle of decline by stopping the population drain and [is] beginning to attract new residents ... a city that transformed its economy and made Detroit a major job center once again.

"A city that attacked blight and turned vacant land into opportunity for economic development, jobs and public use. A city that brought residents together to create safe neighborhoods and deliver outstanding public services."

The mayor told Detroiters that this was, indeed, the future they could build, "but not without dealing with today's reality."

Astonishingly, in his speech, he subtly touched on just how divorced from reality Detroiters are. This is, he reminded people, a city where 50,000 false security alarms get pulled every year, a place where, as the mayor delicately put it, "we must also continue educating our residents about the appropriate use of 911." As in, don't call it if your cat is sick.

One thing the mayor didn't mention, however, was what was even then going on behind the scenes in Lansing. The day after the annual State of the City speech, the Michigan House of Representatives easily passed a bill designed to make it easier for the state to appoint emergency financial managers to run troubled cities, school districts or other local governments.

In addition, the bills would give the EFMs broad new powers, including the ability to void labor contracts, and strip local officials of virtually all their powers. Nor would emergency financial managers have to be an individual. The law would permit the state treasurer to appoint a firm to govern a city.

Does that mean, say, that Nationwide Security Contractors could be given total power in Detroit, if it came to that? Damn right it could. Needless to say, this has sparked a far amount of outrage. But the people who would normally rise to protest this were too busy last week protesting the governor of Wisconsin's attempt to destroy public sector unions.

Without much doubt, the bills will sail through the Senate, where the pathetic Democratic minority doesn't even have the ability to delay a bill from taking immediate effect.

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