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  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editor twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday evening. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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.

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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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