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  • Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit

    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; tangentgallery.com.

    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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Politics & Prejudices

Riding Michigan’s roads to ruin

As state’s infrastructure crumbles, Lansing’s yahoos balk at funding road repair

Photo: N/A, License: N/A


Last weekend, best-selling author Jeff Zaslow was driving home to West Bloomfield from a book-signing event in Petoskey.

He never got very far. He apparently hit a patch of ice, and went into the path of a tractor-trailer. I knew him only very slightly, but he was, by all accounts, a very decent man. A few hours later I was on the same stretch of road. We also hit unsuspected ice, and went sailing into the oncoming lane. Except, fortunately, nobody was coming.

Had this happened two minutes later, we would have been in the path of a giant truck hauling propane. The road was littered with wrecks, and at one point near Kalkaska, six ambulances rushed by with sirens wailing. This was white-knuckle stuff of the worst kind.

Later, I mentioned this to Mark Dobias, an irreverent and highly skilled lawyer who defends clients all across Michigan's north country. "Never underestimate the capriciousness of northern Michigan Roads and big trucks in the winter. I know this stretch well. Never assume that a road is plowed, salted or sanded in these days of reduced manpower. No matter what the man says."

Naturally, I don't know if Zaslow would have survived or I would have had an easier time if the roads had been better maintained. It wasn't a good day to be driving, period.

What I do know is that Michigan roads are in bad shape and getting worse. Officially, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) says almost 90 percent of our roads are in good or fair condition. To anyone who drives a lot around Detroit, that may seem a trifle overoptimistic. But things may soon get worse, fast.

We've been neglecting the long-term needs of our roads and bridges for a long time, and MDOT also estimates that unless we start spending a whole lot more on them, in a mere eight years from now, only 44 percent of our roads will be in tolerable shape.

Yep, I look forward to driving on gravel, with chunks of concrete falling on my car from decaying overpasses. I'll bet that's just the way to attract a lot of new business to the state too.

Gov. Rick Snyder gets that. Now, I know I will be slammed as an apologist for him by some on the left who are waiting for Zolton Ferency or Ken Cockrel the first to come back and save us. However, the reality is that Democrats have no power in today's Lansing.

Nada, zip. And in many ways — not by any means all — Snyder is relatively enlightened, especially compared to many of the corrupt and/or stupid trolls in the Legislature. The governor wants to dedicate $1.4 billion in new spending to our roads, the minimum amount the experts say we need to prevent them from getting much worse.

Unfortunately, this will take money. Last year, he proposed financing much of this with a hefty vehicle registration fee increase. The lawmakers acted as if he had dropped a stone into their soup.

They utterly ignored his proposal. This year, Snyder is proposing a more modest registration fee increase, and to get most of the money by increasing the gas tax by nine cents a gallon.

Sound like a lot? You would scarcely notice. The price of gas ping-pongs around now, fluctuating by as much as 30 cents from day to day. You really would end up saving money, even in the relatively short run. Federal data shows drivers in the Detroit area pay an average of $536 a year more for extra gas and extra repairs because of problem roads.

I paid more than that a few years ago, when I lost a wheel to a pothole on the Lodge Freeway. Spending to fix our roads is about as much of a no-brainer as buying a warm coat in February.

Yet, incredibly, there is a chance the delta-minus thinkers in the Legislature could refuse to vote to approve extra money to fix our roads. This is an election year for every member of the Michigan House. A few of them are ignorant and fanatic Tea Party members, who regard any tax increase as evil, even if not spending the money would wreck civilization and cost us all more in the long run.

Others are afraid of being challenged in primary elections by Tea Party fanatics, or of being painted as tax-and-spenders in the general election. Sadly, a few empty-headed liberals feel the same way. When M-Live blogger Jeff Wattrick presented a detailed analysis of the road situation a few weeks ago, he was savaged by a procession of infantile left-wing posters.

"I'm poor and can't afford it," one said. Others whined that we have too many roads, the rich should be made to pay, we should all take trains instead, etc., etc. Well, that's all very nice.

Unfortunately, those who work for a living have to live in the world we've got. Common sense may be a pretty uncommon thing, but we damn well need a dose of it. Whether you are poor or rich, want to get to a job, find a job to get to, or attract new business and industry to the state, you need good roads and bridges that aren't falling apart and wrecking the cars passing under them.

Incidentally, we could get an automatic $2.1 billion to help fix our roads absolutely free of charge from the federal government if we just agree to take $550 million from Canada, to cover the costs of building a needed new bridge across the Detroit River.

That's because Washington will allow us to use that as matching funds. We don't have to pay the Canadians back until the bridge is up and running years from now, and even then we can do it out of our share of the toll revenues. Oh, but I forgot: Our legislators won't agree to that either. Speaking of which ... 

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