Trending
Most Read
  • 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 bcallwood@metrotimes.com. 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 buildingdetroit.org, 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.

Calendar

Calendar

Search thousands of events in our database.

Restaurants

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Nightlife

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

MT on Twitter
MT on Facebook

Print Email

Politics & Prejudices

Porn and other atrocities

Once upon a time, journalism strived to help people make informed decisions

We're all against pornography, even the pornographers.

That's because campaigning against the evils of their trade helps generate free publicity for them. That's at least as true of prostitution, perhaps especially child prostitution.

CNN, which once upon a time actually covered significant news in a serious way, aired a documentary last month called Selling the Girl Next Door, which was billed as an exposé of underage prostitution, which everyone agrees is a bad thing. Everyone, that is, except its few million or so clients, something usually glossed over in our zeal to whack prostitutes and pimps.

I saw perhaps a third of the documentary while engaged in the decidedly non-prurient job of cleaning my basement after a sewer pipe burst and the floor had to be dug up to replace it.

The host was not anyone resembling Edward R. Murrow, but a ravishing blonde (Amber Lyon) who seemed barely legal herself, which may have been the point. She raised our social conscience by telling us that the World Wide Web has become a sexual supermarket. Sex ads had been driven off Craigslist, at least in part, she hinted, because of her crusade against sexploitation.

Instead, however, a new site provides links and ads to underage prostitution in every city. She named it several times, evidently to make sure we wouldn't look it up by accident.

"Well, they'll shut that down by noon tomorrow," I thought, as I stuffed another contaminated throw rug into the washing machine.

Silly me. Having jotted it down, I logged on Tuesday. (Actually, I had it wrong at first, and blundered onto what seemed to be an exclusively anal sex site. Ouch.) Once I got it right, I found that, sure enough, the supermarket was still open. Some of the hookers, indeed, looked like jailbait. But others were clearly mature.

Some were downright scary, in fact, offering whips and chains and "waterfalls." Nor were all of them women. In fact, just about everything was on offer except an ocelot.

Incidentally, if there are any ocelot sex sites I don't want to know about them. The non-ocelot hookers, did, however, all seem to be observing the item-pricing law. I wondered idly how much new business they owed to CNN.

This was, I suppose, more titillating than the fact that the governments of most states, not just Michigan, are on the point of collapse. I did idly wonder how much tax revenue states might realize if they abandoned hypocrisy and licensed and regulated an activity they're never going to stop. Bet nobody's looked into that.

But beyond all this, the wide world of hookers may — perhaps — be just a smidgen less significant than the possible collapse of, say, education funding in our state.

Once upon the time, before the age of hooker cafeterias on the World Wide Web, there was a quaint belief that journalism was supposed to help us make sense of the world. One of the major ways we did that was to sort out what was really important from that which was only fascinatingly loopy. Not only don't we do that anymore; even when we do try to tackle the serious news, we end up being manipulated by politicians of all stripes. Take, for example, the "Citizen's Guide to Michigan's Financial Health," which the governor delivered Jan. 31.

This is a mostly sound and well-written booklet that does a pretty good job explaining to the average person how we got in the mess we are in. But almost everyone ignored all but one small section of the report that went out of its way to bash government workers.

"Average annual compensation of state employees (including salary, wages and benefits) was over twice the average annual compensation of private sector workers in 2009," screamed a sentence that had been put in a box to draw attention to it.

Not only that, but it also said, in bold type, "Compensation of state and local government employees has increased during the last 10 years while private sector compensation has declined in real, inflation-adjusted terms."

In other words: Let's string up those greedy kindergarten teachers and desk clerks at Clawson city hall. That'll save our state!

That set off a firestorm. Conservatives said they knew it all along. Public employee unions cried outrage, and within days were out with a study done by the (union-friendly) Economic Policy Institute, that claimed they were underpaid.

So who was right? Both, actually. The sections highlighted in the government study seemed designed to give a misleading impression. The problem was the study compared a largely highly educated and skilled state work force to an undereducated private sector one. When specific jobs are compared, to the extent they can be, state and local employees make a little less, but have slightly better benefits.

The study itself — and the governor — admitted they weren't comparing "private and public sector employees with similar jobs, years of experience or education." It also notes that "compensation for public schools teachers has fallen," since 2000.

Not to mention that there has also been a vast decline in the number of both local and state employees in recent years.

Ho hum. But what was criminal about this silliness is this: It took our attention off the real problems we are facing.

They are beyond huge. Consider: The day the governor's report was released, the Senate Fiscal Agency released a report revealing that the state's public retirement systems have combined unfunded liabilities of $15.4 billion. Ten years ago, they were in fine shape.

Also that same day, Treasurer Andy Dillon, the former speaker of the House, had a press conference urging the Legislature to pass a new law making it easier for the state to take control when cities are near financial collapse. Five communities are in such sad shape they may soon be unable to pay their employees.

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus