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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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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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