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  • Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain

    The Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck will present a police drama called A Steady Rain May 2 through 24. Planet Ant veterans Ryan Carlson and York Griffith will star in the play, written by House of Cards and Mad Men co-writer Keith Huff. Tickets ($10-$20) are on sale now at PlanetAnt.com. According to the press release, “A Steady Rain by Keith Huff focuses on Joey and Denny, best friends since kindergarten and partners on the police force whose loyalty to each other is tested by domestic affairs, violence and the rough streets of Chicago. Joey helps Denny with his family and Denny helps Joey stay off the bottle. But when a routine disturbance call takes a turn for the worse their loyalty is put to the ultimate test.First produced at Chicago Dramatists, A Steady Rain appeared on Broadway featuring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The Planet Ant production of A Steady Rain is directed by York Griffith featuring Ryan Carlson and Andy Huff. This marks the return of two of Planet Ant’s founding members. Carlson and Griffith. Griffith has served as the theatre’s Artistic Director where he directed the critically-acclaimed productions The Adding Machine and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor

    Detroit home-girl Lily Tomlin will perform at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, June 14. A press release reads, “Get together with Lily Tomlin for an unforgettable night of fun and sidesplitting laughter. “Tomlin is amazing” The NY Times and “as always a revelation.” The New Yorker This unique comic artist takes her audience on what the Washington Post calls a “wise and howlingly funny” trip with more than a dozen of her timeless characters—from Ernestine to Mrs. Beasley to Edith Ann.” “With astounding skill and energy, Tomlin zaps through the channels like a human remote control. Using a fantastic range of voices, gestures and movements, she conjures up the cast of characters with all the apparent ease of a magician pulling a whole menagerie of animals from a single hat.” NY Daily News “Her gentle touch is as comforting as it is edifying.” NY Time Out She has “made the one-person show the daring, irreverent art form it is today.” Newsweek Her long list of awards includes: a Grammy; two Tonys; six Emmys; an Oscar nomination; two Peabodys; and the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Find more info here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor

    The Detroit Metro Times, Detroit’s award-winning alternative weekly media company, is proud to announce the recent hire of Valerie Vande Panne as Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning independent journalist and Michigan native, Vande Panne’s work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Daily Beast, and Salon, among other publications. Previously, Vande Panne attended Harvard University and was a regular contributor to The Boston Phoenix, and a news editor of High Times magazine. She has spent years covering drug policy among other subjects, including the environment, culture, lifestyle, extreme sports, and academia. “Valerie understands our business and what we expect to accomplish in Detroit. She has an excellent sense for stories that will move our readers, as well as experience with balancing print and digital content. I’m excited to have her at the paper and trust her leadership as we move forward,” said Detroit Metro Times publisher Chris Keating.

    The post Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’

    She welcomes you when you enter Detroit, from every direction, with the one word that might just be Detroit’s biggest philosophical question: Injured? Joumana Kayrouz is deeper than the inflated image watching over Detroit, peddling justice to the poor and broken of the city. This Wednesday, Drew Philp takes us behind the billboard and into the heart of the Kayrouz quest. (And all of Brian Rozman’s photos of Kayrouz have not been retouched.) Check out MT‘s cover story, on newsstands Wednesday!

    The post Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt

    There was a fire in an upstairs apartment at PJ’s Lager House on Monday evening. No people were hurt, although three cats belonging to the tenants died after CPR. The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. during a show featuring Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band, Curtin, and Jeffrey Jablonsky. “We just smelled smoke and someone yelled everyone has to get out,” 33-year-old Nick Leu told MLive. On the Lager House Facebook page in the early hours of the morning, a post said, “We at PJ’s lager House would like to thank everyone for their care and concern. Also, a very big THANK YOU to all who stepped up to do what they could this evening. The fire was contained to the upstairs but due to water damage in the bar, we will be closed until it can be assessed. Everyone is safe and we will keep you updated.” A later update read, “Update from the big boss. Since there was no damage to the stage side of the bar, the show will go on tomorrow! You may have to enter through the back door and there may not be a large selection of booze but we are going […]

    The post Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Stir It Up

Scared of the scarf

How I learned to stop worrying and love the hijab

When I was in Morocco for about a month in 1981, I learned not to speak to the women there — especially women who wear the head covering called the hijab. Maybe it was because I was a stranger, but I had some vague notion that religious Muslim women were not allowed to talk to men who weren't their relatives. This wasn't just on the street. I stayed with a family in Rabat and all communication with women went through the man of the house.

I carried that feeling with me for many years, avoiding speaking to women in hijab. I thought they didn't want to talk to me, and I respected that. Then, a couple of years ago, on a school trip with my daughter, I found myself sitting at a table with a group of people directly across from a woman wearing the head scarf. After being uneasy for a while I told her that I was having a hard time talking to her and recounted my Morocco experience.

She found my attitude amusing and told me that she was born and raised in the United States, and had chosen to wear the hijab as an adult. She also told me there was no reason not to talk to her.

Since then, I've been making the effort to speak when I find myself around women in hijab. Recently, I was picking up some takeout from my favorite Arabic restaurant in Dearborn. The middle-aged woman at the cash register — there is usually an older man there — was wearing the hijab. After we finished our transaction I said "shukran" — the Arabic word for thank you. She replied, "I was born here. You can speak English to me."

We chatted for a few moments. Something I wouldn't have done in the past.

"I think it's great that you told that woman that you were uncomfortable," says Zeinab Chami, a 26-year-old graduate student at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. "That is a really good point to start a dialogue. Sometimes people are surprised when women who wear the headscarf are friendly. People just see the headscarf as something foreign. It's not foreign; it's organic. That's part of this country's freedom of religion."

Chami was born here, and didn't start wearing the hijab until she was 20 years old. When she changed the way she dressed, it didn't make much difference to the people she knew. But strangers approached her differently.

"People started making assumptions," she says. "The first question I get is, 'Do you speak English?' Or, 'Where are you from?' I don't get offended. I find it interesting."

Chami is from Dearborn, which has one of the largest Arabic communities outside of the Middle East. Dearborn has been getting a lot of scrutiny since 9/11, and recent Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle put the spotlight on Dearborn again when she claimed that sharia (Islamic law) was taking over in Dearborn.

"I laugh at that just because it's so ridiculous," Chami says. "The best way to combat this is by educating ourselves. The truth has a domino effect. It's really the best that we can do. You also have to look at who's saying that. Sharron Angle knows nothing about us." Then Chami pulls out the trump card with a tone of self-satisfaction. "She lost the election."

I wrote recently about Angle's ignorance and outright hate talk raised against Dearborn and its Arabic population (30 percent in the 2000 census). That column generated enough online comment that I felt the need to revisit the subject. Chami found humor in Angle's misguided pronouncement. She's got company in Dearborn.

"I can almost belly laugh at that," says Warren David, founder and publisher of ArabDetroit.com. "It reminds me of a Saturday Night Live parody. There's no such thing as sharia in Dearborn. I don't even know where it came from. I've never heard the word mentioned in 30 years that I've lived here."

David, a third-generation American of Syrian-Lebanese descent, was raised an Antiochian Orthodox Christian in Pawtucket, R.I. He moved to the Detroit area in 1979.

After 9/11, David and Siham Awada Jaafar created an annual Images and Perceptions of Arab Americans diversity workshop. This year's workshop on Dec. 2, the eighth, is called "The New America: Mom, Apple Pie and Arab-Bashing." Helen Thomas, the groundbreaking woman journalist born in the United States of Lebanese parents who raised her as a Greek Orthodox Christian in Detroit, is the keynote speaker.

She retired as a columnist for Hearst Newspapers in June after a controversial statement that Israelis should "get the hell out of Palestine" and go back to "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else"; she later apologized with a call for "mutual respect and tolerance" as the only path to peace in the Middle East. Her appearance is sure to catch some media flak.

"We are hoping that it doesn't get to that point," says David. "The woman is 91 years old. She's very frail. We're really in the spirit of diversity and cultural understanding. That's our goal, nothing more than that. We're very proud of her accomplishments over the years."

It will be a good moment to start a dialogue. I'm guessing that someone in the conservative blogosphere will take note of Thomas' appearance in Dearborn and heap more abuse on the city and its Arabic residents. But those are probably people who don't know Dearborn.

Michael Albano, who writes occasional columns for the Dearborn Press and Guide, does know Dearborn. He lived there for some 35 years, moved to California for 25 years, and returned recently to care for his parents.

"When I left in 1983, the east Dearborn business districts were really run-down," says Albano, who is of Italian descent.

"They've pretty much rejuvenated Warren and Michigan Avenues. It's never been as nice as it is now. It's incredible what they've done. I don't have any fear going through the neighborhoods and the streets. I have nothing but praise for what they've brought to the city. ...

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