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  • 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.

  • Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’

    She welcomes you when you enter Detroit, from every direction, with the one word that might just be Detroit’s biggest philosophical question: Injured? Joumana Kayrouz is deeper than the inflated image watching over Detroit, peddling justice to the poor and broken of the city. This Wednesday, Drew Philp takes us behind the billboard and into the heart of the Kayrouz quest. (And all of Brian Rozman’s photos of Kayrouz have not been retouched.) Check out MT‘s cover story, on newsstands Wednesday!

    The post Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt

    There was a fire in an upstairs apartment at PJ’s Lager House on Monday evening. No people were hurt, although three cats belonging to the tenants died after CPR. The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. during a show featuring Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band, Curtin, and Jeffrey Jablonsky. “We just smelled smoke and someone yelled everyone has to get out,” 33-year-old Nick Leu told MLive. On the Lager House Facebook page in the early hours of the morning, a post said, “We at PJ’s lager House would like to thank everyone for their care and concern. Also, a very big THANK YOU to all who stepped up to do what they could this evening. The fire was contained to the upstairs but due to water damage in the bar, we will be closed until it can be assessed. Everyone is safe and we will keep you updated.” A later update read, “Update from the big boss. Since there was no damage to the stage side of the bar, the show will go on tomorrow! You may have to enter through the back door and there may not be a large selection of booze but we are going […]

    The post Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Stir It Up

Numbers games

Why media shouldn't accept Detroit statistics at face value.

Journalists tend to love numbers. As subjective as anyone's perceptions may be, numbers tend to give the perception of objectivity. If a reporter writes that a band is popular, then the editor wants to know how many records they sold last quarter, or how many people showed up at their last show, or how many girls screamed and fainted when the musicians walked by.

And when someone publishes a Top 10 list, we absolutely go crazy. Even when a list is much longer we'll pick the Top 10 just to make it manageable. And when some study comes up with statistics about a city, it can become gospel truth in people's minds.

Detroit's been on the receiving end of numerous lists and studies that play into perceptions about the city. Those conclusions seem to verify perceptions people already have so there is little motivation for anybody to question them. For instance, in October Forbes magazine listed Detroit as the most dangerous city in the nation, based on an analysis of FBI crime statistics. The rest of the media ate it up.

About a year ago the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund released a report claiming in one bullet point that 47 percent of Detroiters are functionally illiterate. This was actually a rehash of a 1998 report from the National Institute for Literacy. Still the media ran with this "new" data, and CBS Detroit, Fox Nation, the Huffington Post and even African-American news website The Root piled on — as did the UK's Daily Mail. Forbes magazine reported it too, then backtracked and ran a story questioning the report and pointing out that the "statistic" has been a staple of white supremacist websites for at least a decade. 

Danny Devries, a data analyst at Data Driven Detroit (D3), took on the myth in a December D3 staff blog post after a caller repeated it to him while he was on WDET-FM's The Craig Fahle Show in December.

"I had seen this 47 percent functional illiteracy rate bouncing around the media for a while," Devries wrote in an e-mail to me recently. "That number just seemed so high. I did some digging and realized the methodology for determining the illiteracy rate for Detroit just wasn't accurate. There was too much extrapolation to determine a specific rate for Detroit based on a national survey from 1993 of 26,000 people. All of this isn't to say that functional illiteracy isn't an issue, but it deserves fair treatment. Throwing around this '47 percent' number isn't doing anyone any favors."

The question is why did these arguably responsible newsrooms take the bait like a big, fat bass going after a juicy nightcrawler? Mostly they took it hook, line and sinker. Devries got into that in his D3 blog post in December.

"Dissecting the origin of this statistic is more about the poor data literacy of some of our news agencies than it is about Detroit's literacy rates," wrote Devries. "Many of them referred to the report as a 'new study,' missing the important detail that the research is far from new. The 47 percent Detroit literacy rate is the result of a 1998 analysis by the National Institute for Literacy, performed on data from the National Adult Literacy Survey, published in 1993. That's right: those 'alarming new statistics' are based on data almost two decades old. Almost all of the media coverage neglected to communicate that fact."

Apparently the cutbacks in newsroom funding are having an effect on the reliability of information reported. But where is reliable information on the adult illiteracy rate in Detroit? The truth is that we don't know. Even the original data from 1993 came with a warning that the information was only reliable at the county level. The most useful information I could find came from the National Center for Education Statistics, which reported in 2003 that the functional illiteracy level for Wayne County is 12 percent. The only way Detroit could be at 47 percent illiteracy while the county is at 12 percent would be if there was zero illiteracy in Wayne County outside of Detroit. By comparison Washtenaw County's functional illiteracy rate was reported to be 6 percent; Oakland's and Macomb's at 7 percent each. The entire state of Michigan came in at 8 percent.

So let's get back to that Forbes list. Is Detroit the most dangerous city in the country? As commendable as Forbes was in debunking the illiteracy rate myth, they regularly fall into the same trap with statistics. For some perspective, let's consider a report by Zack Taylor, a Toronto-based planning consultant who wrote a study ("Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics: A Critical Examination of City Ranking Studies") on the shortcomings of highly publicized city rankings. Taylor's conclusion for journalists is "Be skeptical" when publicizing these rankings. After all, people believe this stuff and it becomes the basis of opinions that can turn into municipal policies.

Is Detroit the most dangerous city in the nation? Not so says a D3 blog post titled "Apples to apples, Detroit ranks 17th not first in crime, or ten reasons not to trust top ten lists." Among the things pointed out here is "Forbes uses the FBI's Uniform Crime Report data in exactly the way that the FBI advises it should not be used: to rank locales." It goes on to point out that the FBI data is incomplete, particularly because cities voluntarily report these statistics and some cities aren't included, like Chicago. So if Chicago happened to be the most dangerous city in the country no one would know based on the Forbes list or the FBI list.

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