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  • 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.

  • 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 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, 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.



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Stir It Up

Of Kwame and Kwanzaa

Mulenga Harangua sees the conspiracy behind the indictments

Like a holiday present to Detroit, the latest round of federal indictments swept up former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, his father Bernard Kilpatrick, former mayoral aide Derrick Miller, former Department of Water and Sewerage director Victor Mercado, and contractor Bobby Ferguson and in a single stroke. It's been a long time coming.

After listening to the callers to local talk radio shows carry on for a couple of days I figure Detroiters are close to evenly split on their support or disgust for Kwame. I decided to run by Mulenga Harangua's place and see what conspiracy he thought was behind the indictments. First I stopped by Palmer Park to pick up a few sturdy pieces of dead wood. Mulenga used a wood stove he'd scavenged from some empty building to keep the temperature tolerable inside the house where he squatted.

I walked in through the unlocked door as usual. There he sat near the stove, wearing an antler hat and pecking away at a manual typewriter sitting on an old milk crate.

"Mulenga, man, you've got to get a lock for this door. Anybody can walk in anytime they want."

"Like you just did, my brother?"

"I mean someone who means to do you some harm."

"Ain't nobody mad at me. There are only four houses on this block with anybody in them, and three of us are squatters. Everybody around here knows that I don't have anything worth stealing." Mulenga gestured toward the typewriter. "This is my computer. You want it?"

I shrugged. "So what's with the antlers? Are you a reindeer in training?"


"On your head."

"This is my kinara hat. I just don't have any candles for it yet, made it myself. It's my Kwanzaa present to me. I thought it might catch on and I could sell a few to help get people into the holiday. Santa Claus ain't coming up my street."

"Kwanzaa hat, huh? You know I always felt like the kinara looks kind of like a menorah. You know the Jewish candelabra thing."

Mulenga's face fell, he was obviously ticked off. "There you go with the Jews. Why does everything black have to come from the Jews. Can't we have anything of our own?"

"Hey, don't blame me for the resemblance. Blame Dr. Maulana Karenga, hey, his name sounds kind of like yours. Anyway, he's the one who created Kwanzaa and made up the kinara. Hey, if you're going to have candles there are only so many ways you can hook up the candleholder."

"Well, dig this. The Hanukkah menorah has nine candles and the Kwanzaa kinara has seven. And we use red, black and green candles. The menorah candles are always the same color. That's different. So don't be giving me all this derivative stuff from the Jews." Mulenga puffed up his chest and strutted a few steps.

"OK, OK, don't get all uptight about it. We can have a civil conversation, can't we? Besides, that's not what I came here to talk about. I was wondering what you thought about Kwame and the federal indictments."

Mulenga relaxed and smiled. "Aw, man, ain't nothing to that. He's getting what he deserves."

"What? I thought he was your boy. You were carrying on before about how whitey was taking down the only real black man around here. How they wouldn't let him have all that power. You sounded like some of those fools who call in to talk radio to rant about the conspiracy against Kwame."

Mulenga held his finger in the air like he had a point to make. "The difference between me and those others — and I will not call my brothers fools — is that they do not have a kinara hat. They don't know Kwanzaa. When this mess was announced I was in the middle of a Kwanzaa meditation as I made my hat. I realized that what Kwame stands for is the opposite of the Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of Kwanzaa. For instance, Ujamaa, the principle of cooperative economics, Kwame and his gang were getting all that money for themselves."

"That's allegation, not fact."

Mulenga just kept talking: "They weren't thinking about community when they were jacking folks for cash. They were thinking about cars and clothes and women. They were holding up work that would have benefited people in the city until they got their cut. Then there is Nia, the principle of purpose for building and developing our community. Those cats were building their own fortunes. What's that the feds charged? Bernard Kilpatrick deposited $600,000 in cash to his bank accounts. He was probably like Tony Soprano with a garbage can full of cash in his backyard. One thing I don't understand, I know who Kwame and his pals are, but who is this Rico dude I keep hearing about? I know Mercado is Puerto Rican, was that his assistant?"

"No, RICO is an acronym. It stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. That law allows the government to charge leaders of corrupt organizations for the crimes they sanctioned even if they didn't do it themselves. The feds say that Kwame ran the mayor's office as a criminal enterprise."

"You mean like some Mafia shit."

"Pretty much"

Mulenga's lips curled up in a sly smile. "Damn, the brother was slick, running his gang from the top of the heap. I bet some deep deals got made in Manoogian Mansion. No wonder Bing don't want to live there, probably got some serious skeletons in them big old closets. Just like the Bada Bing club on The Sopranos. A bunch of dudes sitting around drinking, playing cards, getting serviced by strippers and planning gangsta shit. He does have a certain genius for criminal enterprise. He wasn't on the street jacking cars. He had the Navigator delivered to him by the police. Then he's like Nixon talking about, 'I am not a crook.' When they start all that denying you know something bad is in the shadows."

"Another Soprano trait seems to be that Kwame liked to get a little taste from everything that went down. But, as bluesman Blind Blake used to sing, 'He's in the jailhouse now.' "

"You know, Soprano seemed like a regular guy. He had charisma and you could get to like him, but deep down inside you knew he was a cold-blooded killer."

I looked over to the typewriter Mulenga had been working at. "What do you have there? Is it your novel?"

Mulenga snatched the paper out of the roller. "It's another Kwanzaa thing I'm working on, Kuumba, the principle of creativity. I thought I'd write a song about how Kwame responded to the federal prosecutor. It's to the tune of that Cee Lo song that's nominated for a Grammy Award."

He held the paper up and started singing:

I hear you chargin' I ran a criminal gang,

and I'm like fuck you

Yea you chargin' all my friends and my daddy too, I'm like fuck you and fuck Bing too

You said I took money, to spend on my honeys

But I ain't got a dime (ain't got a dime)

I'll just get more prison, from your crusadin' mission, I say fuck you

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