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  • Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark

    Oh, the irony — initially criticized as Marxist propaganda when Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted them for the Detroit Institute of Arts in the early 1930s, Detroit Industry has now been designated as a a national landmark. The announcement was made Wednesday, according to the Detroit News by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis as part of National Park Week. The designation does not change the ownership status of the murals or grant any new protections or rights, leaving its place among the rest of the DIA’s art in possible bankruptcy negotiations in question. The work is considered the best of Rivera’s work in the United States (another mural Rivera had done in New York was destroyed by orders of Nelson Rockefeller). Rivera himself regarded Detroit Industries paintings as his finest work. In the midst of the McCarthy era, the DIA posted this sign outside the court: Rivera’s politics and his publicity seeking are detestable. But let’s get the record straight on what he did here. He came from Mexico to Detroit, thought our mass production industries and our technology wonderful and very exciting, painted them as one of the great achievements of the twentieth century. This came […]

    The post Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit area code 313 may be phased out

    Hey, everybody from the 313, start thinking of new numbers to rally around– the longstanding Detroit area code may be phased out. Our friends over at the Detroit News report that pending a revised estimate next week, the North American Numbering Plan Administration will stop handing out 313 telephone prefixes on new phone numbers. Detroiters with existing cell phone lines would be able to keep their current area codes, while those with land lines would change. via Detroit News: The venerable 313 will ultimately become overtaxed. Even as Detroit’s population has fallen, cellphone usage has accelerated like one of those smoldering SRT Vipers that Dodge has been bolting together at Conner Avenue Assembly — which is, of course, comfortably within the confines of 313. … When the first five dozen area codes were assigned nearly 70 years ago, says NANPA’s Tom Foley, “that was expected basically to last forever.” Instead, somebody invented fax machines, and then somebody else came up with cellphones, and lots of somebody elses decided to give them to 10-year-olds, and meantime the population grew to 300 million. Now every telephone carrier is required to submit twice-yearly forecasts of its needs in each area code, factoring in […]

    The post Detroit area code 313 may be phased out appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council

    Unfortunately, we were unable to attend last night’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, which, in case you were unaware, is a 16-member board established to weigh in on the new Red Wings arena near downtown. About three dozen residents and property owners cast ballots by the 8 p.m. deadline on Wednesday inside the Block at Cass Park, The Detroit News reports. It’s the culmination of a handful of community meetings which began weeks ago. Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez facilitated the meetings, but emphasized at previous meetings that it’s up to the community to conduct business. According to the News, the 12 candidates selected include: Michael Boettcher, Richard Etue, Jason Gapa, Francis Grunow, Steve Guether, Paul Hughes, Ray Litt, Warner Doyle McBryde, Karen McLeod, Delphia Simmons, Melissa Thomas and Anthony Zander. Joel Landy, a land owner in the area, lost his bid. The City Council appointed four candidates last month. As we reported in this week’s issue, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee was negotiated after Olympia Development of Michigan, Detroit Red Wing’s owner Mike Ilitch’s real estate arm, balked on a proposed community benefits agreement.  The committee is charged with the task of offering input on the arena’s design, parking security and more.

    The post Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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? […]

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Politics & Prejudices

Media disgrace

On our local journos' feeding frenzy over Karen Dumas

Last month, the local media turned on Karen Dumas, a top aide to Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, with the sort of savagery starving sharks normally reserve for a freshly bleeding swimmer.

Suddenly, the press discovered that the mayor's communications director was an evil sorceress who was bewitching the mayor! Driving good people out of the administration!

For eight days they pounded energetically at her. The excuse was a bizarre lawsuit by Rochelle Collins, another Bing aide the mayor had attempted to quietly ease out of her job.

Non-news flash: People who get fired often file angry and absurd lawsuits. Collins, who has been described to me as "way over her head" in the job she lost, brought forth a doozy: She is demanding $750,000, reinstatement as an "executive assistant" to the mayor, with a salary nearly twice what she was making, and a private meeting and "personal apology," from Dave Bing.

And while she forgot to ask for a pony, she did ask for $100,000 for her husband's "emotional distress and loss of consortium."

Well, we all need a little consortium from time to time, and I hope the poor man gets some. But I don't know why the taxpayers ought to have to pay a hundred grand for it.

Naturally, Collins's suit also savaged her direct boss, Karen Dumas. She said Dumas drove down morale in the office! (Why, whoever heard of any boss doing that?) Horror of horror, Collins also charged that Cruella DeVil canceled a meeting with our sainted senior senator, Carl Levin, because she wanted to shop at Burberry.

Karen Dumas said that was absurd. (Actually, what she should have done was taken Carl to Burberry; the man is a bit rumpled, and could use a makeover before the next election.)

Bizarrely, the media acted as if these accusations were proven facts, and used them as a springboard to destroy Dumas. They incorrectly called this a "whistleblower lawsuit," when it was anything but. Whistleblowers are people in government who courageously come forth with damning information, at great risk to themselves.

Once you've been fired, you aren't a whistleblower. But this was way too fine a distinction for the News and Free Press, and the radio and TV reporters who follow, rewrite and ape them.

The word was out that it was time to destroy Dumas, and stories filled with anonymous sources followed, day after day, coupled with large pictures that made her look like a stressed-out speed addict.

What was baffling is that the same reporters who were out to do in Dumas paid scant attention — at least after the first day — to Rochelle Collins' far more serious charges against the mayor.

The lawsuit says that Dave Bing was plotting a complete takeover of not only the city, but the schools, and that he secretly wrote legislation that his stooge, one Gov. Rick Snyder, could sign.

"I know for a fact that [Bing] was involved in the writing of that legislation and making sure than everything was in place so that the mayor could take control of the city of Detroit and DPS."

Did she have a smoking gun, or at least a smoking document? Well, no, because "he didn't talk to all his staff about it because he didn't want it to get out." Perhaps Buzz Lightyear flew in and told Collins. In any event, those charges would seem to be far more significant than that — waahhh! — Dumas was mean to people.

But the media had its agenda, and may have correctly figured that there was no way they could oust the mayor. Eventually, as I said in this column last week, they began writing things to the effect of: "Well, nobody has alleged Dave Bing has been sleeping with Karen Dumas, but she is a pretty woman and he is a powerful man, and Kwame Kilpatrick screwed his top aide, so who needs facts?"

After a week of this, the mayor eventually admitted that the controversy had produced too much of a "distraction," and so he fired Dumas, who, in addition to her communications duties, wore multiple other hats, including supervising the city's community action centers, philanthropic affairs and cable communications.

Firing her leaves a number of giant and not-easy-to-fill holes. However, if Bing felt this would keep the wolves from his door, he was sorely mistaken. Throwing raw meat to wolves tends only to whet their appetites. Within days, it became evident how much the mayor needed his fired aide's skills. When City Council rejected his offer for a compromise over the budget, he appeared to have a temper tantrum.

The mayor proclaimed he was done negotiating, and would instead cut everything to the bone; close parks, lay off cops, so there.

Karen Dumas, whatever her managerial faults may or may not have been, would never have allowed the mayor to make such a petulant statement. Naturally, he was back negotiating the next day.

Last weekend, I caught up with Dumas over lunch, and was surprised by how philosophical she seemed. Though she left a $141,000 job without severance or benefits, she didn't appear bitter.

I told her I thought it sent a bad signal when she hired Sharon McPhail to defend her against Collins' lawsuit. "I never hired her," Dumas told me. "She offered advice, but I didn't hire her."

That stunned me; I had read it in the Detroit News; seen it on TV. Dumas smiled. "Don't you think it is pretty clear the media care more about being first than being correct?"

Well, duh. That's what I've been criticizing them about for years. I am not especially worried about Dumas, who is plenty resilient and talented enough to reinvent herself.

However, I am more worried about the mayor's administration, not to mention the city. There's a scene in Oliver Stone's monumental movie Nixon, in which Tricky Dick fires some aide in an effort to get the heat off himself. H.R. (Bob) Haldeman turns to counsel John Ehrlichman.

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