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  • Thank you, Detroit

    I’m not going to lie to you – this isn’t easy. This week, the final City Slang local music column will be published in the Metro Times (on hardcore band Final Assault), and I have just submitted a cover feature on the women of Detroit hip-hop, to be published next week (8/6). This blog that you’re reading now will be my last one as a regular MT contributor. I have a lot to look forward to. I’m going to be an associate editor at Yellow Scene Magazine in Colorado, a tremendous publication in a beautiful part of the country. But leaving Detroit will be incredibly difficult for me. I love the place. It’s been (amazingly) six and a half years since I arrived, a couple of cases in hand and not much of a plan in mind. I just knew, after three separate research trips for books and a magazine article, that I felt at home here. Metro Times offered me freelance work almost immediately, as did a new website called Metromix (whatever happened to that?) When I arrived here, I had been working as a writer in the UK for nine years, but the help and encouragement I received […]

    The post Thank you, Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers

      We here at MT will be delighted when Mr. Jack White throws out a pitch at Navin Field (at least, we hope he will), but until then, we’ll be happy with his pitch to Santa this evening at Comerica Park.    

    The post Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW)

      Footage from the Gathering of the Juggalos set to clips of Morgan Freeman’s narration from March of the Penguins? Kind of forced, but also kind of beautiful. As the AV Club reports: The oft-sought voiceover champion lends a touch of gravitas to the festival proceedings. Unfortunate scenes of barely clad people having various liquids dumped onto them now carries a quiet dignity as it’s all part of nature’s majestic plan that keeps the world spinning through this elegantly designed and truly wondrous universe. Also, the video is NSFW as there are boobs in it. Watch the clip below:

    The post Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW) appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love”

    It seems like the polar vortex will never end: the weather phenomenon that brought us the most brutal winter on record this winter is to blame for this summer’s chillier-than usual temperatures as well. A couple of bands, though, made lemonade out of lemons (or snow cones out of snow?) by using the icy landscape to film music videos. 800beloved shot the video for “Tidal” in some sand dunes near Empire, Mich., and this week Turn to Crime debuted the video for “Can’t Stop,” the title track of their recently-released album. Even more piles of ice and snow might be the last thing Detroiters want to see right now, but the footage makes for some good visuals that mesh well with the song. Watch the video below:

    The post Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love” appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed

    Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr transferred oversight of the the city’s water department Tuesday to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in an order intended to refocus “efforts to help DWSD customers get and remain current on their water bills,” Orr’s office said today. “This order provides additional clarity to the powers already delegated to the mayor,” Orr said in a statement released Tuesday. “As the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department works to operate more efficiently and communicate more effectively with customers, it is important to ensure there are clear lines of management and accountability.” Duggan will have the authority to manage DWSD and make appointments to the utility’s board, according to a news release. In a statement issued Tuesday, the mayor said he welcomed Orr’s order, adding that officials will develop a plan that “allows those who truly need to access to financial help … to do so with shorter wait times.” “We need to change a number of things in the way we have approached the delinquent payment issues and I expect us to have a new plan shortly,” Duggan said. “There are funds available to support those who cannot afford their bills — we need to do a much better job in […]

    The post Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years

    Rovers Scooter Club, a local gang dedicated to celebrating and riding motor scooters, will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary this week with a very special ride. Motor City Shakedown, the annual birthday party for the club, will commence this Friday, August 1 at New Way Bar. DJ Grover from Cincinnati will be spinning northern soul, reggae, and ska, according to club member Michael Palazzola. Saturday will feature a ride from Ferndale to Detroit, starting at noon at M-Brew. Palazzola says this is where most bikes will congregate before taking the ride to the city and folks will be prepping by getting some grub starting at 10 a.m.  Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host the after party,  a special event that will feature performances by several bands as well as Satori Circus. That portion of the event will commence at 8 p.m. with performances starting at 9 p.m. It’s free to riders, but the public is welcome to join the party with the mere cost of a door charge. Come midnight, the club will raffle off a vintage Lambretta LI 150. Sunday morning will end the weekend of festivities, with brunch taking place at the Bosco in Ferndale.   

    The post Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Politics & Prejudices

Right-wing power grab

‘This was the action of a Third World dictator’

Photo: Sam Inglot/City Pulse, License: N/A

Sam Inglot/City Pulse

Protestors crowded into the Capitol rotunda Dec. 6. Demonstrators and Democratic legislative maneuvers have failed to blunt the GOP’s moves

After years studying the oppressive regimes of Eastern Europe, I knew exactly what to call what happened with "Right to Work" in Lansing last week: fascism with a human face.

Or, perhaps, tyranny without a tie. The way legislation was rammed through in a single day would have been admired by all of those puppet regimes that used to do Hitler's and Stalin's bidding. (Democracy? Fuck that.)

"We have had more deliberative hearings on something like a new commemorative license plate," state Sen. Steve Bieda (D-Warren) told me. Bieda, one of the state's most thoughtful and creative legislators, added, "As much as I detest the legislation, what's worse is the way they did it."

"This was the action of a Third World dictator," he said. "The governor went back on his word — this governor who was posing as a moderate. This was really a right-wing power grab."

Well, yes it was. They didn't even bother with the veil. Shortly before lunch on Thursday, the governor, who had long said abolishing the union shop wasn't on his agenda, did a complete about-face, proclaiming not only did he want it ...

But that the time to do it was now. Within hours, both houses had passed bills blowing apart the long-established labor-management relationship as we've known it.

What Right to Work means is the essential death of the power of unions, in any real sense. In case you aren't too sure of the principles involved here: Unions have been able to get what clout they've had by getting workers in an industry or a plant to establish what is called a "union shop."

When you went to work there, you either had a choice of joining the union or, if you didn't want to do that, you at least had to pay them dues, and agree to accept them as the group who negotiated your contracts with management.

Right-wingers say union shops are an outrageous slap at freedom, and that workers should be free to work wherever they want without having to join anything they don't want to.

Likewise, they say management should have the right to negotiate whatever terms they like with free workers on an individual basis, rather than with some socialistic "union" that insists all workers be treated exactly the same.

All that makes perfect sense ... if you are some affluent guy without much of a sense of history, sitting in your parents' vacation home, reading Ayn Rand.

But the fact of the matter is this: The unions are what made it possible for ordinary workers to have vacations and health care and a decent living. "Prior to the unions, working people didn't have any such thing as a vacation," former Michigan Attorney General Frank Kelley told me last week.

Kelley, who is almost 88 but still is as sharp as most 50-year-olds, grew up in a world before unions. 

"People didn't have weekends. They didn't have health care, for Christ's sake. The unions made that possible. The unions in this country created the middle class. This is the worst day in my life," Kelley said, shaking his head.

Believe me, the corporations know that too. Once the union shop is abolished, employers can speedily undermine unions by hiring non-union workers. They may pay them a little more, or make them think they are getting something special.

Eventually, the union will have lost much of its clout and have no real power to negotiate hard for better conditions or to call a strike. Management will just blissfully fill the ranks with scabs.

Eventually, wages and benefits will fall markedly. The nonpartisan Center for Michigan's online magazine Bridge recently did a study comparing the so-called right-to-work states with states where union shops still exist.

They found no evidence to support the idea that right-to-work states attract more jobs. They did find considerable evidence that wages are lower in such states.

"Unless and until this is repealed, Michigan will never again be a major industrial state," Frank Kelley thundered at me. But is there any chance of stopping or repealing it?

Not anytime soon, seemingly. The reason they rushed it through with such unseemly haste is that Snyder and his legislative henchmen knew they couldn't do it in January.

Democrats will still be in a minority, but they gained five seats. RTW only passed the state House of Representatives 58-52. Even six Republicans voted against it. Had four more votes switched, it would have failed. Some of the Republicans voting to stick it to the workers were lame ducks who aren't coming back, and so didn't have to fear the wrath of their voters.

If you need further proof that the Republicans hate democracy, they deliberately attached an appropriations rider to the bill. When they do that, it means voters can't collect signatures to try to get repeal of this law on the ballot.

The special interests gave very specific instructions to their puppets in the Legislature, and they followed through.

But something good may, just may, come out of this:

Let's face it: The right wing was able to do this because labor has been slipping for years, and there hasn't been a labor leader worthy of the name for a long, long time.

The bottom line, and labor's dirty little secret, is this: There isn't any "labor movement." To some extent, there may not have been one since the old IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World, ceased to become a major player.

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