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  • Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law

    Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]

    The post Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week

    Walking with Dinosaurs, a magnificent stage show that features life-sized animatronic creatures from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, will be in town next week. But to preview the show’s run at the Palace, a baby T-Rex will be making an appearance at four area malls to the delight and wonderment of shoppers. Baby T-Rex, as the creature is being affectionately referred to, is seven-feet-tall and 14-feet-long. He’ll only be at each mall for about 15 minutes, so while there will be photo opportunities, they’ll be short. The dino will be at Fairlane Town Center Center Court at 18900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit from 2-2:15 p.m. today, July 30; The Mall at Partridge Creek at 17420 Hall Rd. in Clinton Township from 5-5:15 p.m. today, July 30; Twelve Oaks Mall at the Lord & Taylor Court at 27500 Novi Rd., Novi tomorrow, Thursday July 31 from 1:30-1:45 p.m.; and Great Lakes Crossing Food Court at 4000 Baldwin Rd., Auburn Hills from 5-5:15 p.m., tomorrow Thursday, July 31.  

    The post Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations

    Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.  

    The post Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial

    We don’t know about you, but usually Nancy Whiskey and Long John Silver’s aren’t two concepts we’d place in the same sentence. However, the international fast food fish fry conglomerate made a nod to the Detroit dive in their latest YouTube commercial. LJS is offering free fish fries on Saturday, August 2, which is the promotion the commercial is attempting to deliver. But, we think we’ll just go to Nancy Whiskey instead.

    The post Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns transwomen

    We came across an interesting item this week: Apparently, a music festival with the name “Michfest” is quietly oriented as a “Women-Only Festival Exclusively for ‘Women Born Women.’” It seems a strange decision to us. If you wanted to have a women-only music festival, why not simply proclaim loud and clear that it is for all sorts of women? But if you really wanted to become a lightning rod for criticisms about transphobia, organizers have found the perfect way to present their festival. Now, we know that defenders of non-cisgender folks have it tough. The strides made by gays and lesbians (and bisexuals) in the last 20 years have been decisive and dramatic. But the people who put the ‘T’ in LGBT have reason to be especially defensive, facing a hostile culture and even some disdain from people who should be their natural allies. That said, sometimes that defensiveness can cause some activists to go overboard; when we interviewed Dan Savage a couple years ago, he recalled his “glitter bombing” and said it was due to the “the narcissism of small differences,” adding that “if you’re playing the game of who is the most victimized, attacking your real enemies doesn’t prove you’re most victimized, claiming you […]

    The post Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns transwomen appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Use this widget to find your polling place for Aug. 5 primary election

    Reminder: the August 5 primary election is coming up. Where do you vote? What’s on the ballot? All these questions can be easily answered by simply typing the address you are registered to vote at into this handy widget created by Pew Charitable Trusts and Google: You can embed this widget on your own website with the following code, and more information can be found at the Voting Info Project.: <script type=”text/javascript” src=””></script> <div id=”_vit”></div> <script type=”text/javascript”>vit.load({‘election_id’:’4034′, ‘suppress_voter_id_rules’: true});</script> Read up on MT‘s election guide for Wayne county executive here.

    The post Use this widget to find your polling place for Aug. 5 primary election appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Stir It Up

Pryor disturbances

Mulenga Harangua builds a shrine to Richard Pryor

As I walked up the steps to Mulenga Harangua's porch, I noticed that he seemed to be fixing the place up. At least he's slapped a coat of paint on the porch and steps. It made the place he was squatting in look a lot friendlier. I knocked lightly on the front door and it swung open. So I walked in. Nobody was near the front door but I heard something that sounded like muttering coming from the back of the house.

As I got closer I could make out the words. "Niggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggerniggernigger," chanted Mulenga with his back to me. He had earphones on as he moved around in front of what looked like some kind of voodoo altar.

There were several candles with their flickering flames creating a dance of shadows around the room. Flowers and what looked like cheap Mardi Gras beads festooned the altar, and there were little pictures that looked like they were cut out from magazines peeking out here and there. Bowls containing different colored liquids sat about and smoke that smelled suspiciously like marijuana drifted lazily through the holes of an incense holder. Atop the pyramid of trinkets was fastened a T-shirt with a picture of Richard Pryor holding his fists up like a boxer.

I cleared my throat a couple of times but Mulenga didn't hear me, so I tapped him on the shoulder. He jumped and knocked over a couple of bowls. The smell of liquor wafted into the air.

"Damn, man; don't sneak up on me like that."

"I knocked on the door but you didn't answer, so I came on in. I figured you wouldn't mind if I came in. Why are you so jumpy?"

"Well, when I'm burning my special incense," he pointed at the burning weed, "I don't like to get surprises."

"Then you should lock your door. So what is all this niggering? I thought you didn't go for the N-word."

"I generally don't but I make an exception for Richard. The way he used it was poetry. I swear he almost killed it as a pejorative. But in the end the N-word wouldn't die. It's like funk, it just gets stronger."

"I agree, and you do know that in the end he rejected the N-word. I remember what he said, memorized it. He said, 'I been wrong. I ain't going to ever call another black man "nigger." That's a word we use to describe our own wretchedness.'"

"That may be, but before he rejected it he made much money throwing out 'nigger' left and right."

"Well, you're right on that. But what is this altar thing anyway? I never figured you for any of this hoodoo stuff."

"It's an ofrenda, one of those Mexican Day of the Dead altars."

"Wasn't the Day of the Dead about a month ago?"

"Yeah, but we're coming up on the fifth anniversary of Pryor's death, Dec. 10, so I thought it was appropriate. And if he were still kicking, it'd be his 70th birthday next Wednesday."

I looked closer at the ofrenda. There were pictures of Pryor's album covers. That Nigger's Crazy, with the tight photo of his face with his own fingers pointing at it; Is it Something I Said?, with hooded, medieval-looking characters with torches about to burn him at the stake; the one with him nearly naked squatting in the dirt looking like an aboriginal tribesman clutching a rustic-looking bow and arrow.

The memories began flooding back to me. "Man, we really got some laughs out of that. I remember when you first brought That Nigger's Crazy over to my house. Daddy kicked you and the record out. But we listened to it over in Joe's basement. We laughed till we peed our pants."

"Maybe you did. My pants were dry. But that shit was funny. Remember that bit about getting pussy back in the 1950s? 'In the '50s it was very seldom you got any parts of pussy. You be tongue-kissing and shit. Dick get harder than times in '29. ... Getting some pussy beats going to war.' And remember the advice from his uncle? 'Boy don't you ever kiss no pussy.' Then Richard said, 'I couldn't wait to kiss a pussy; he'd been wrong about everything else. The women had to beat me off.'"

I had to laugh again. "Yeah, he turned it out. He took everything about black life that nobody talked about and put it out front and center. It may not seem all that deep today, with the way comedians talk about ghetto stuff, but then, man, it was like a revolution. All the characters, winos and all. What's he say? Oh, yeah, 'Winos never get scared of nothing but running out of wine.' I know that's true. And there's the one about having a heart attack and trying to talk to God: 'Your heart get mad if it finds out you was going behind its back to talk to God.'"

But Mudbone was my favorite, crazy as hell, talking like them old brothers from down South. He was one of them cats that always seemed to be a little drunk, but they didn't bother anybody. Just run their mouths all day. They'd be off the wall, but there was something deep going on back there. Remember what Mudbone said about first meeting his drinking buddy? There was some honesty there. 'He could lie his ass off. Ah, that nigger could tell lies. That's how we became friends. He tell a lie; I tell a lie, see. And we'd complement each other's lies.'"

"That was good, but I liked the one about him and his partner crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and they had to pee. So they're going off the side of the bridge and one of them says, 'Goddamn, this water cold.' Other nigger say, 'Yeah, and it deep too.'"

"Yeah, that was deep."

I looked at the ofrenda again. "What's in those bowls?"

"That's liquor. You're supposed to put something the person liked in the bowls. Richard liked to drink and smoke weed, so that's what I got. I got cognac in that blue bowl; that's what he doused himself with before he set himself on fire. I was going to a pork chop but I didn't in deference to his heart attack."

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