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  • 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.

  • Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times

    Turns out, our very own Jack Lessenberry knows the Grosse Pointer seeking to ban the MT: Ten years or so ago, a woman named Andrea Lavigne sat in on some media survey classes I was teaching at Wayne State University. She was in her late 30s or early 40s, and seemed to be searching for answers. She wanted to know how the media work, and told me she was a Maoist. This fascinated me, because I thought authentic Maoists were almost as rare as passenger pigeons. Chairman Mao, we now know, starved to death and slaughtered tens of millions of his own citizens, and kept China economically and intellectually backward. Intrigued, I got together one night before class with her and another Maoist, to find out what they were all about. Alas, they spouted a form of primitive, grade-school Marxism. They seemed to have very little historical knowledge of Communism or what it had actually been like. Yes. A Maoist. Read the full story at Michigan Radio here.

    The post Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Politics & Prejudices

Save our schools

The unusual idea that schools are for children

A few years ago, a woman I knew moved into Detroit and decided to try putting her son, a slow learner, into a public high school.

She had been warned that the schools were impossible. However, she was somewhat of an idealist who believed public schools were essential to our democracy. So she felt it was important to at least give them a try. She thought the horror stories had to be exaggerated.

They weren't. The district put her son, for whom graduating would have been a challenge in any case, into all Advanced Placement classes. There was no way he could pass those classes. She called the office. Sorry, they said.

Those are classes where we have empty desks, so that's where we put him. He dropped out, and I lost track of them. Other educators have told me that stories like that are common.

But Detroit's wretchedly dysfunctional schools aren't the main issue. What really matters is the impending failure of all our state's public schools. Michigan, once a high-income state, is now headed for the cellar, thanks to the collapse of our old brawn-based economy.

In terms of per-person income, we are now 37th or lower, and on a rapid transit ride to the bottom. Tom Watkins, perhaps the most thoughtful state superintendent of schools in recent times, says our system of public education is "bankrupt — fiscally, morally and academically." Watkins was our state's top education official until 2005, when he challenged the prevailing orthodoxy.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm then promptly forced him out of office. Watkins is a man of integrity; when the Toledo Public Schools offered him the top job this year, Watkins asked for unanimous support of the board, so that he could make the hard and necessary changes that urban school district needs to make to survive. They wouldn't give it to him, and so he declined to take the job. Now, he works as a business and education consultant here and in China, a nation he tells me, is getting the better of us in both arenas.

The biggest trouble with education in this state, he says, is not the amount of money we are spending. It is that we aren't thinking about it in the right way. "Conservatives" are all about slashing teacher salaries, benefits and pensions, which account for the vast majority of education spending. So-called liberals want to protect our teachers' standards of living. Neither camp thinks much about the only thing that matters — educating our children.

We have other things to worry about than the "brain drain," of graduates fleeing our state for jobs in Chicago. "We need to be equally concerned about the uneducated and undereducated ones that stay behind," Watkins notes.

You'd never know from the newspapers what happens to the hundreds of thousands of dropouts and barely literate high school "graduates" the system churns out, year after year. Many, maybe most, will eventually become an expensive drain on society. The bottom line is that our education system is clearly not designed for the benefit of the person who is supposed to be its focus: the student. Six years ago, realizing this, Watkins took on the education establishment. He posed, in various ways, the question he asked in a guest column in the Dearborn Press and Guide last week: "Would our schools exist for teaching, learning and children, or exist for power, control, politics and adults?"

Watkins soon found out that, as he puts it, "the latter won." Outgoing Speaker of the House Andy Dillon found out much the same when he suggested that, in a state with shrinking resources, teacher pensions and health care benefits couldn't stay the same as in the good old full-employment-at-high wages days.

The angry teachers' union bureaucrats did their best to destroy his candidacy for governor. Meanwhile, Watkins knows better than most people that "unless we reinvent our schools, and have the imagination to do so, we will fail as a state and a nation."

How to do that is tricky — but not the hardest part. "Clearly, I do not have the answers," Watkins told me last weekend. "But we are at a period where if we are going to forge meaningful change in our society, this is it."

Though a lifelong Democrat, he is hopeful Gov.-elect Rick Snyder will really be willing to think outside the box and revamp education. Otherwise, it won't make a damn bit of difference if they cut our tax rate to zero. New economy, high-paying jobs and businesses aren't coming. Devising a new, student-centered statewide model for education may be challenging, but is certainly doable.

Watkins is a fan of the WAY Program — Widening Advancement for Youth, a personalized learning experience for students who haven't done well in traditional high school. WAY is being tried in the Washtenaw Intermediate School district this year.

Regardless of method, what's really needed here is what amounts to the equivalent of a World War II-style, full-mobilization attitude. Michigan needs to make properly educating our children our top priority, period. We shouldn't even be thinking about the costs until we find out what we need to do to get the job done.

For Tom Watkins, that means reinventing education, as a step in reinventing and reviving our state. "We must substitute brain power for brawn power. Quality education, from the womb to the tomb is the foundation a repowered Michigan needs."

"The only question that remains is will we commit ourselves to it?" We haven't so far. With a new governor, a new Legislature and a huge new deficit, we have a new chance to find out.


Justice for Debbie:
For years, right-wing blogger Debbie Schlussel has whined a lot, in an apparent attempt to convince the metropolitan area she is some sort of local Ann Coulter, and/or an expert on Islam. She's done about as well with both goals as Rodney Dangerfield did with being universally respected.

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