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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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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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