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  • The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues

    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Stir It Up

Raising up this city

Neighborhoods Day brings out people who want to rebuild Detroit

Photo: , License: N/A

Photo: , License: N/A

Belle Isle tug-of-war and the MLK High School marching band during past Neighborhoods Days.

The Motor City Blight Busters, a nonprofit organization in the Old Redford neighborhood of Detroit, has bought seven houses it plans to demolish in order to create a community garden. Those demolitions will be the centerpiece of the group's efforts on Saturday as neighborhood groups across the city observe Neighborhoods Day.

Neighborhoods Day, the brainchild of ARISE Detroit!, and its director Luther Keith, seeks to highlight community service in the city. This year's event will be the biggest of its six years, with 200 events and thousands of volunteers doing what their organizations mostly do quietly in neighborhoods year-round.

"This year has taken a quantum leap," Keith says. "We have more sponsorships than we've ever had. It's grown literally right out of the streets of the city."

Neighborhoods Day events run the gamut from cleanups around schools and home renovations, to baseball, golf, soccer and boxing tournaments, public art projects, health fairs and environmental projects. Some 30 churches and mosques, the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club, the Belle Air Theater, Cobo Cleaners, Marygrove College and many others are involved. Even attorney Jamouna Kayrouz, whose billboard and bus-side advertising seems ubiquitous around the city, is pitching in with her staff to do service at Beckham Academy Public School. You can get more information on events near you, and there will be something near you, at or call 313-921-1955.

"If Detroit is so without hope, so without any future, why are these people doing this?" Keith asks. "These are the people who truly have not given up. These are the stayers; these are the fighters. They know that, with the condition the city is in, there's not a lot of hope out there. They need the help that comes from helping themselves. Even in neighborhoods without a lot of resources, that creates the energy that draws folks together. What we have is a message to encourage people to get involved."

The Motor City Blight Busters has been involved with improving Detroit for 24 years — clearing away debris, demolishing run-down houses, fixing up others and rehabbing buildings clustered around the Redford Theater, where it supports the Artists Village and the Motor City Java House. It's also supported urban gardening recently, and the six houses it plans on demolishing this year are the first step in an ambitious plan to create the two-acre Farm City Detroit. It's an outgrowth of its partnership with the Fertile Ground collective and Detroit Arts City.

"There are many, many groups that work on these projects," says John George of Blight Busters. "Our goal is not just to clean up the city, but to really create a community where we can turn a liability into an asset."

That's how urban gardening works. Vacant lots and empty houses are a draw for crime, dumping grounds for unscrupulous individuals and an eyesore in the community. But it doesn't take much to turn those negatives into a net positive with a community garden. They've already done that with two lots where crack houses once stood to create the Royal Garden, a community space where they grow food but also have a barbwcue pit, tables and benches. The wood used to build a fence around the garden and the raised garden beds is recycled from the crack houses. It demonstrates how you can get things done on slim resources.

"Gardens get people to see what they could do with a space and also to introduce them to growing their own food with the anticipation that they take those skills and do stuff in their own back yards — which they've started to do," says Cofi Royal, the master gardener from Fertile Ground. "It's also a means of bringing the community together in terms of communications and personal exchange. Sometimes people bring their kids in to show them the vegetables and how they grow. The kids play there. Sometimes people just sit and meditate."

The coalition in Old Redford is also focused on young people in the area, paying 15 of them to work on various projects this summer. The Artists Village has a stage where they put on music performances or short plays. It's a positive outlet that beats standing around on the corner waiting for something to happen.

"Urban farming isn't only about food," Royal says. "It's an excellent way of providing a nonprofessional therapeutic endeavor for youth while they develop skills, a counseling modality. It gives us a chance to work with them and kind of develop a relationship. What we want to do with the Farm City is use that site to create an oasis in our community, a family-friendly cross between a park and growing space."

Handyman Ministries, a group that has partnered with Blight Busters in the past, is another Neighborhoods Day participant that will be returning with a big project this year. They're bringing 300 volunteers from General Motors' Electrical Division to do five full-block cleanups, board up 21 houses, and cut down trees and bushes. Neighborhoods Day features similar efforts around 17 city schools.

"Some of those houses are dangerous and an eyesore," says Timothy Addy of Handyman Ministries. "It makes me nervous to walk by them, so you can imagine how the kids feel when they walk by them."

Last year Handyman Ministries rehabbed a full block of houses on Tennessee Street. The action sparked a block club there, and that club has become a participant in Neighborhoods Day. Addy hopes this year's project will help engender something similar around Clark School. The group started the weeklong project on Monday, July 30, and is having a barbecue each day and inviting neighbors to eat for free. 

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