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  • Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well

    By LeeAnn Brown Some people say that hip-hop is dead. Local ban Fderal Ground is proving that is not the case. The seven-member band, consisting of three lead vocalists, a DJ, bass, drums and guitar, plays what they call “living hip-hop.” Their music, peppered with multiple styles, covers all aspects of life from growing up in the D to playing with fire despite knowing you will likely get burned. Their undeniable chemistry and raw lyrics compose a music that is living, breathing, and connecting to their listeners. It has been nearly 11 years since Vinny Mendez and Michael Powers conjured up the basement idea that has flowered into the Detroit funk-hop band Feral Ground. Throughout high school the two wrote and rapped consistently, playing shows here and there. In those years they matched their rap stanzas with the animated, dynamic voice of Ginger Nastase and saw an instant connection. The now trio backed their lyrics with DJ Aldo’s beats on and off for years, making him a permanent member within the last year, along with Andy DaFunk (bass), Joseph Waldecker (drums), and newest member, Craig Ericson (guitar). We sat down with Feral Ground and their manager, Miguel Mira, in their […]

    The post Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law

    Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]

    The post Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week

    Walking with Dinosaurs, a magnificent stage show that features life-sized animatronic creatures from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, will be in town next week. But to preview the show’s run at the Palace, a baby T-Rex will be making an appearance at four area malls to the delight and wonderment of shoppers. Baby T-Rex, as the creature is being affectionately referred to, is seven-feet-tall and 14-feet-long. He’ll only be at each mall for about 15 minutes, so while there will be photo opportunities, they’ll be short. The dino will be at Fairlane Town Center Center Court at 18900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit from 2-2:15 p.m. today, July 30; The Mall at Partridge Creek at 17420 Hall Rd. in Clinton Township from 5-5:15 p.m. today, July 30; Twelve Oaks Mall at the Lord & Taylor Court at 27500 Novi Rd., Novi tomorrow, Thursday July 31 from 1:30-1:45 p.m.; and Great Lakes Crossing Food Court at 4000 Baldwin Rd., Auburn Hills from 5-5:15 p.m., tomorrow Thursday, July 31.  

    The post Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations

    Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.  

    The post Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial

    We don’t know about you, but usually Nancy Whiskey and Long John Silver’s aren’t two concepts we’d place in the same sentence. However, the international fast food fish fry conglomerate made a nod to the Detroit dive in their latest YouTube commercial. LJS is offering free fish fries on Saturday, August 2, which is the promotion the commercial is attempting to deliver. But, we think we’ll just go to Nancy Whiskey instead.

    The post Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women

    We came across an interesting item this week: Apparently, a music festival with the name “Michfest” is quietly oriented as a “Women-Only Festival Exclusively for ‘Women Born Women.’” It seems a strange decision to us. If you wanted to have a women-only music festival, why not simply proclaim loud and clear that it is for all sorts of women? But if you really wanted to become a lightning rod for criticisms about transphobia, organizers have found the perfect way to present their festival. Now, we know that defenders of non-cisgender folks have it tough. The strides made by gays and lesbians (and bisexuals) in the last 20 years have been decisive and dramatic. But the people who put the ‘T’ in LGBT have reason to be especially defensive, facing a hostile culture and even some disdain from people who should be their natural allies. That said, sometimes that defensiveness can cause some activists to go overboard; when we interviewed Dan Savage a couple years ago, he recalled his “glitter bombing” and said it was due to the “the narcissism of small differences,” adding that “if you’re playing the game of who is the most victimized, attacking your real enemies doesn’t prove you’re most victimized, claiming you […]

    The post Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Politics & Prejudices

Saving Detroit

Drastic measures are necessary right now

Photo: , License: N/A

Detroit, contrary to what some think who never come here, is anything but dead. Last Saturday we went down to Eastern Market for lunch and found that, even in the blustery cold, there was an hour wait to get into Vivio's, and a line even longer for the Russell Street Deli. So we fled to the funky Bucharest Grill, close to the Fox Theatre, near where rumors say a new hockey palace may go up.

Even there, with not much going on, we had to wait briefly to be seated. Though the Bucharest is known for shawarma, I had an absolutely first-rate hamburger and was happy as an old crank can be.

Except when I walked back to the car, and studied all the ruined and deserted and abandoned buildings. In a way, it felt like what eating in Berlin in 1946 must have felt like, with one exception.

Their war was over. The war for the future of Detroit is still raging on, and it is clear that city government as it now stands can't be part of the solution. It has failed and is failing in every way.

Nor can the city, as things now stand, possibly succeed.

There is no money. Detroit has lost so many cops it cannot even guarantee a minimum of public safety to the neighborhoods. The firefighters don't even have soap or toilet paper in their firehouses.

And while it still isn't clear whether Detroit can balance its budget, it is clear that the city will never be able to do anything about the billions and billions in unfunded liabilities hanging out there.

Detroit, as things now stand, cannot go on much longer. 

This is highlighted by the sheer clownish incompetence of the characters on City Council, from the strutting and preening Charles Pugh, the one-time TV anchor who can't pay his bills, on.

Mayor Dave Bing may not be as dynamic or as decisive a leader as the city needs. But it's not clear that anyone could work with this council. There are, to be sure, a few sane members — Gary Brown and Ken Cockrel Jr. But the rest seem caught up either in sheer inability to understand what's going on, or some stubborn, outdated and pigheaded racial idea that Detroit has to be protected from those white folks who secretly want to come back and take it away.

So they vote no on everything, like screaming 2-year-olds having temper tantrums. The state wants to pour money into crumbling Belle Isle, make it a state park? Absolutely not.

Reform the Department of Water and Sewerage? Hell, no. Sign a contract with a law firm that the state says is necessary before Lansing gives Detroit any more cash. NO MAMA NOOOO! What about selling some vacant land to developer John Hantz, so he can put a lovely tree farm on the dilapidated east side? They won't even make a decision.

In a small way, their total failure to behave as adults may be a blessing. It should make it that much easier for the Legislature to pass a new Emergency Manager Law as quickly as possible.

True, voters narrowly rejected the old one, and the lawmakers should take note of that. But emergency measures are needed.

Then, Gov. Rick Snyder should give up on a consent agreement that has plainly failed, and appoint someone with the ability and power to try to make Detroit work. That will be anything but easy.

Ideally, there would be a two-stage process. First, the no-longer-realistic contracts, the inefficient procedures and the bad debts have to be gotten out of the way. Plans have to be executed — fast — to restore some standard of public safety.

Procedures have to be put in place so that if someone like Hantz has a plan to improve the city, some rational authority will be able to make a reasonable ruling in a timely fashion.

Meanwhile, our relentless positive-action governor needs to be thinking of how to make Detroit work in the long term. Eventually merging Detroit and Wayne County would make all kinds of sense.

Actually, a tri-county authority ought to be immediately empowered to handle transportation — a unified bus service — and perhaps other functions. What matters is making things work.

Now, there's bound to be lots of opposition. Many politicians in Detroit will say any form of state action — other than to give them money to spend as they please — is outrageous.

They say this just proves that "they" want to take the city away. But I have news for them: Detroit politicians don't own Detroit.

We all do. The state of Michigan does. Cities, under our state constitution, are creatures of the state.

The Legislature can break up any city as a governmental unit, require it to merge with other cities, create new cities, anything our statewide lawmakers think is appropriate.

But at the same time, everyone who lives in Michigan has a responsibility to and a vested interest in fixing Detroit.

Thousands of businessmen, most of them white, got rich here, and then took their money and their businesses and skedaddled for the suburbs. They have a responsibility to Detroit as well. We all do.

Mike Duggan, they tell me, is convinced he can save Detroit if he is elected mayor. Frankly, I don't think he can and I don't think he can get elected, but it's now almost irrelevant who our next mayor is.

What matters is that we make this a city worth living in and one worth being mayor of, whatever that takes.

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