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    Former American Idol contestant Vonzell Solomon weighs in on twerking, natural hair & CEO status. In 2005, recording artist Vonzell “Baby V” Solomon embarked on a journey that changed her life. At the age of 20, Vonzell made it to the top three on American Idol before she was eliminated. But that was not the beginning nor the end of her journey to stardom. Vonzell is one of more than two dozen artists on tour with YouTube sensation Todrick Hall, who is a former Idol contestant as well. Todrick gained notoriety for his fast food drive-thru songs and also for producing parody videos  —  based on popular Broadway musicals and songs. His tour, uniquely entitled Twerk Du Soleil (translation: twerk of the sun), is a combination of his popular YouTube spoofs. Both Vonzell and her ratchet alter ego,Boonquisha Jenkins, made an appearance in Twerk Du Soleil,which stopped in Detroit July 23 at Saint Andrews Hall. Boonquisha opened the show by facilitating a twerking competition among the audience. Next, Vonzell made a reappearance singing a fan favorite – Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” Later, Boonquisha came on stage screaming “It’s so cold in the D! You gotta be from the D to […]

    The post Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race

    If a poll released this week is any indication of how the August 5 primary election will turn out, current Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano has reason to worry, Fox 2 reports. Ficano, who’s seeking a third term, polled in fourth place — behind former Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans, Westland Mayor Bill Wild and Wayne County Commissioner Phil Cavanaugh, according to Fox 2. The poll by Strategic Solutions LLC, showed 6.7 percent of respondents said they’d vote for Ficano, which isn’t so bad: He finished ahead of County Commissioner Kevin McNamara (who came in at No. 6) and someone literally described as “a candidate not named here” (who polled at No. 5.) If you’re planning to head to the polls — which you should! — and need some input on the candidates and ballot proposals, you can read for our election coverage in this week’s Metro Times.

    The post Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • A Mad Decent Mixtape

    Mad Decent Block Party will roll through town on Saturday, August 16, bringing to town artists like Dillon Francis, Diplo, Flosstradamus, RiFF RAFF, Keys N Krates, and Zeds Dead. Thugli, a Canadian duo, will perform on the Toronto leg of the tour and they put together a 45 minute mix that features songs by some of the tour’s featured artists as well as a host of others.  Listen to it here. 

    The post A Mad Decent Mixtape appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders

    Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host a special event this Saturday, July 26 in hopes of raising money for the local faction of an international nonprofit, Burners without Borders Detroit. Breaking Borders is a one-evening-only event that will feature live music, performance, and art. Satori Circus will perform along with spoken word artist ZakAndWhatArmy. Music by Tartanic, Dixon’s Violin, and Servitor. Fire dancers, hoop performers, and acrobats will provide a certain mysticism to the ambiance as old Victorian steampunk and tribal art is shown in the main gallery. There will also be a runway fashion show and the evening will end with a dubstep rave featuring DJ Forcefeed and Dotty. Truly, there’s something for everyone. Perhaps more importantly, there will be a full service bar. The event is open to those 18 and older and IDs will be checked at the door. Admission is $25 at the door, or $20 with the donation of a canned good. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the party goes until 2 a.m. A 20 percent commission will be taken from all art sold at this event and donated to Burners without Borders. The Tangent Gallery is located at 715 Milwaukee Ave., Detroit; 313-873-2955;

    The post Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project

    By Amanda Mooney There’s a lot that goes into producing a film, and unless you are a filmmaker you really have no idea. Writing, casting, finding a location, shooting, and editing; each step of the process can take days, months, and sometimes years to complete. Can you imagine doing it ALL in just 48 hours? The 48 Hour Film Project is an annual competition that takes place all over the world in various cities. According to Mike Madigan, head of the Detroit 48 Hour chapter, the city is one of the largest participating in terms of the number of teams. The competing teams go in blind as to what kind of film they will be producing, with no creative planning beyond getting a cast and crew together, Madigan explained. “They pick a genre out of a hat, and they get a line, a prop, and a character. And they have to incorporate that within a short film, that’s usually between 4 to 7 minutes long. And they have the timeframe of doing it all within 48 hours,” said Madigan, “So all the creative process of it all has to happen within that 48 hour–writing a script, putting it together, editing–to […]

    The post 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space

    Church: Revival is the new project by local rap duo Passalacqua (aka Bryan Lackner and Brent Smith), but it’s more than just a new Passalacqua release. The rappers teamed up with siblings Jax Anderson (frontwoman of rockers Flint Eastwood) and Seth Anderson, who together form the songwriting team called Syblyng (naturally). The result is a cycle of songs that promises to be darker than Passalacqua’s material so far. The project will make a live debut on Saturday, July 26 at a brand new venue space at the Detroit Bus Co.’s building Eight & Sand, and they will premiere the Right Bros.-directed video for the track “Baptism” as well. Other performances include Tunde Olaniran and Open Mike Eagle, and DJ sets by Nothing Elegant, Dante LaSalle, and Charles Trees. We met up the two duos at Eight & Sand to check out the new space and to talk about the project with all parties involved. Metro Times: How long have you been working together? Jax Anderson: Seth and I are constantly writing songs together. We want to push in the direction of becoming songwriters more frequently. This is our first project that we took on to co-write everything together. We’re basically just a songwriting entity. We won’t play live that […]

    The post Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Higher Ground

Pot, pols and polls

State AG race an important one for medical marijuana

Just because the Detroit Election Commission chose not to put the question of legalizing marijuana on the Nov. 2 ballot doesn't mean there's no cannabis drama in this election. At least for Michigan medical marijuana activists, the contest for attorney general is crucial.

"We're concerned about the potential election of Bill Schuette as attorney general," says Tim Beck of the Detroit Coalition for Compassionate Care, an organization that supports the use of medical marijuana. "He is obsessed with destroying the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. He led the opposition back in '08. There's a lot of stuff that he can do that is pretty damaging. We've got some people who are actively helping David Leyton, not that he is a person that wants to give joints to everyone. He believes the will of the voters should be respected. Under Bill Schuette it would be lucky if terminally ill people had access to medical marijuana."

In a debate broadcast on East Lansing's WKAR Public Television last week Schuette, a Republican and former state appellate judge, state senator and congressman, re-stated his opposition to the law that was passed by 63 percent of Michigan voters in 2008. Leyton, the Democratic Genesee County prosecutor, did not take a definitive stance either way during the debate.

According to a Sept. 16 Epic/MRA poll, Schuette leads Leyton by a 39 percent to 25 percent margin among voters, with 31 percent undecided and 5 percent going with minor candidates. A key finding in the poll was that most Michiganders just don't know who Leyton is, while longtime officeholder Schuette enjoys wide name recognition. I left a voice mail message at the campaign office of Schuette and sent an e-mail to the campaign of Leyton; neither of them got back to me by press time. Other candidates, Gerald Van Sickle of the U.S. Taxpayers Party and Libertarian Daniel Grow, were not included in the debate.

Overall, Leyton has focused his campaign on government reform; Schuette has highlighted a tough-on-crime message. However, the attorney general's office is important to the medical marijuana question because it can set the agenda for the state by choosing whether to go after compassion clubs or even doctors who seem too prone to recommend marijuana to patients — which qualifies them to apply for state cards. The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act clearly states that patients can legally grow, possess and use the plant, and designated caregivers can grow plants for specific patients. It is less clear when it comes to distribution between patients in more dispensary-like settings.

California-like dispensaries are not addressed in the act and are illegal, which is why Michigan has compassion clubs, places where transfers between patients and suppliers who aren't necessarily their designated caregivers take place. When it comes to these clubs, current Attorney General Mike Cox has left any enforcement up to local authorities.

The result is that things are all over the place — mirroring the hodgepodge of medical marijuana laws across the 14 states and the District of Columbia that allow it. Communities such as Livonia and Royal Oak have taken fairly prohibitive stances toward distribution centers, while Ypsilanti, Roseville, Niles and Allen Park have allowed compassion clubs with various restrictions. Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard has taken a tough stance, busting dispensary-style compassion clubs in Ferndale and Waterford in August for alleged violations of rules about how much and between what parties marijuana can be transferred. Advocates say patient-to-patient transfers are legal; that is where the legal debate stands.

"Each municipality has to figure out for themselves how they want to deal with this, with no guidance from the attorney general," says Jamie Lowell, of the Third Coast Compassion Center in Ypsilanti. "I've been to a lot of meetings. They all have a different idea. For some people, their mind is open but it's totally foreign to whatever they've thought before. They need to be educated, sometimes opposing forces get there first. Sometime they restrict it to home growing, some allow for commercial enterprises, sometimes they're completely prohibitive."

Dispensaries, or compassion clubs as proponents call them, are cropping up all over the state with different levels of response from their communities. That could change under an attorney general who decides to take on the issue and use the position as a bully pulpit to challenge dispensary-like operations across the state. The costs of fighting busts in court could financially crush some operations, regardless of the legal outcomes; the threat of busts could dissuade others from getting into the business at all.

"Schuette's guidance is, 'No, they are prohibited, they need to be busted,'" says Beck. "He can lean on prosecutors to do that."

The medical marijuana law itself can't be changed without a three-quarter super majority of the state Legislature, but the details of how it's administered will be fought out in the courts. Decisions and precedents will govern what's allowed. Some of it comes down to a question of whether you can teach an old dog new tricks. After a lifetime of drug wars and prohibition, can our law enforcement officers change their attitude toward marijuana used for medical purposes?

"It actually happens quite quickly," says Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Washington, D.C. "As juries come back and nullify the prohibitions, when law enforcement comes back with a similar case, prosecutors don't take them on. If past is prologue, across all states, the statistical chance of getting a jury to go against a well-defended medical marijuana patient or grower will go down."

While Leyton may have waffled on where he stands vis-�-vis medical marijuana during his WKAR debate, activists are very clear that they want him as attorney general rather than Schuette.

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