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  • Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio

    On Saturday we set out to check out the High Times Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio, Mich. — High Times did hold a Cannabis Cup in the Motor City back in 2011, but Detroit police flexing their muscles and making arrests at that event may have been to blame, at least partially, for the choice of a new host city. The event was held this year at the Auto City Speedway, (also known as “B.F.E.” to Detroiters). Nevertheless, the prospect of stopping at the Torch for the best burger in the Genessee County was compelling — and anyway, this was the Cannabis Cup we were talking about. Was it really going to be “work?” It turned out, just a little bit. An inexplicable lack of an on-site ATM meant hiking quite a ways up the road to the nearest gas station, and then waiting for an attendant to restock the ATM with cash. We spoke with plenty of Cannabis Cup attendees at the gas station — everybody knows that the local gas station is a stoner’s best-friend. The two-day festival, for which one-day tickets were sold for $40, was divided into two sections — a general area and a medicating […]

    The post Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • ICYMI: Forbes rates Detroit #9 on its “America’s Most Creative Cities” list

    Yes, it’s true. Forbes says Detroit is one of America’s most creative cities: “We ranked these places based on four metrics: activity per capita on project-funding platforms Kickstarter and Indiegogo and music sites Bandcamp and ReverbNation. The goal was to capture organic creativity, since many artistic and musical types have “day jobs” outside of creative pursuits.” The Forbes list sandwiches #9 Detroit between #8 Seattle and #10 Oakland, Calif. If you are watching the art and culture explosion happening right now in Detroit, you probably think we should rank higher than #2 Boston and #1 San Francisco, if only for the fact that it’s actually affordable to create here and there is space for everyone to be creative. But hey, those metrics weren’t part of the equation. And there’s always next year.

    The post ICYMI: Forbes rates Detroit #9 on its “America’s Most Creative Cities” list appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Food trucks go to the dogs

    Today, starting at 10am, Milo’s Kitchen Treat Truck will be swinging by the  Cherry Hill Village at Preservation Park on  N. Roosevelt St. in Canton. They’ll be serving the pups (“gour-mutts,” as Milo’s calls them) treats and the dog parents the opportunity of “family portraits.” Milo’s is on a cross-country food truck trip, promoting their “grilled burger bites” and “chicken meatballs” to pup parents from L.A. to NYC, with stops in between, including Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, the Carolinas, and Arkansas. But watch out! Milo’s Kitchen Treat Truck markets “real chicken and beef home-style dog treats” that are are “wholesome” and “authentic” without “artificial flavors or colors-made right here in the USA.” Authentic, processed food that is. Remember what George Carlin said about “home-style”? Their treats are also packed with soy, TVP, wheat flour, tapioca, rice, and sugar–fillers that make the meat go far and aren’t the best for your pup. They’re also packed with preservatives, like sodium erythorbate, nitrates, BHA, sodium tripolyphosphate, and potassium sorbate. Small amounts are probably ok, and no doubt the pup will love it, the same way it’s easy for humans to love carb- and sugar- laden, processed and preserved, treats.  

    The post Food trucks go to the dogs appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Former Tigers Dave Rozema and Ike Blessitt to honor Mark “The Bird” Fidrych

    Coming up on August 16, former Detroit Tigers Dave Rozema and Ike Blessitt will team up with the Navin Field Grounds Crew and Metro Times‘ own Dave Mesrey to honor legend Mark “The Bird” Fidrych. The festivities, known as the annual “Bird Bash,” will be held at the infamous Nemo’s Bar & Grill, and will benefit The Bird’s favorite charity, the Wertz Warriors, and also the Mark Fidrych Foundation. For more information, check out their website or Facebook page.

    The post Former Tigers Dave Rozema and Ike Blessitt to honor Mark “The Bird” Fidrych appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • First Little League game at Navin Field today

    Today Navin Field (the Old Tiger Stadium) hosts its first Little League game on a new field made just to host the youngsters! Here’s a photo of the game happening right now, courtesy Tom Derry and Metro Times‘ copy editor extraordinaire, Dave Mesrey: Stop by the site (corner of Michigan and Trumbull) today to watch history in the making!

    The post First Little League game at Navin Field today appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit

    Former American Idol contestant Vonzell Solomon weighs in on twerking, natural hair & CEO status. In 2005, recording artist Vonzell “Baby V” Solomon embarked on a journey that changed her life. At the age of 20, Vonzell made it to the top three on American Idol before she was eliminated. But that was not the beginning nor the end of her journey to stardom. Vonzell is one of more than two dozen artists on tour with YouTube sensation Todrick Hall, who is a former Idol contestant as well. Todrick gained notoriety for his fast food drive-thru songs and also for producing parody videos  —  based on popular Broadway musicals and songs. His tour, uniquely entitled Twerk Du Soleil (translation: twerk of the sun), is a combination of his popular YouTube spoofs. Both Vonzell and her ratchet alter ego,Boonquisha Jenkins, made an appearance in Twerk Du Soleil,which stopped in Detroit July 23 at Saint Andrews Hall. Boonquisha opened the show by facilitating a twerking competition among the audience. Next, Vonzell made a reappearance singing a fan favorite – Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” Later, Boonquisha came on stage screaming “It’s so cold in the D! You gotta be from the D to […]

    The post Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Politics & Prejudices

Shared sacrifice?

Tough times at Detroit Rescue Mission, and Gannett's goofs

The staff at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries didn't need economists to tell them how devastating the lingering effects of this recession have been. They see them every day, in the faces of the people they feed, keep warm and to whom they try to give hope.

They see people who aren't like the clients they've had before. These are people who never imagined they'd be jobless, let alone homeless. "Recently, one of our volunteers saw a man standing in line for a meal with two children," Chad Audi, DRMM's president and CEO, told me the other day.

The day was bitterly cold; the man tightly gripped the hands of his kids. The volunteer suggested they come inside with him. No, the man said; he just wanted to wait in line like everyone else. They asked about his situation.

He had relatives he could stay with, he explained, but didn't want them to have to feed him too. The volunteers got him and the kids, who looked to be about 12, meals. DRMM has transitional housing available, but he politely said no. He just wanted to get his family some food.

"What we are seeing now is more and more of the working homeless," said Audi, who has a doctorate in business and gave up a high-paying job to do what he feels is the Lord's work.

"You have people who do work full time, but who can't afford somewhere to live. So we try to help them." That's been a special challenge this winter. The weather has been so cold, and money has been so short. But DRMM never turns anyone away who needs a safe and warm place to sleep.

"Sometimes, yes, we run out of beds. But we can at least put chairs together, and they can get some rest," Audi said, in the melodious lilting accent of his native Lebanon.

Money is, naturally, never in sufficient supply. "Because of all the bad economy we've seen, we're not able to get donations at the level we expected in the past, to sustain operations at the level we need," said Audi.

Yet something remarkable has happened. Large institutional donations have fallen off, true. But ordinary people have stepped up — big-time. "We're getting a much broader base at this point. They are actually covering what the bigger donations did in the past, or almost as much."

"But the demand is so much larger," he said. Every day, they serve, on average, 1,400 people. Five years ago, it was about 900. Then the economy tanked, demand exploded, and Audi and his troops have scrambled to keep up.

By the way, there are still those who think of DRMM, which has been around for more than a century, as a soup kitchen. Once it indeed was that, back in the Great Depression, when it was housed in the Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church, and the founder, David Stucky, used to bring in canned goods from his own shelves to keep people alive.

These days they have educational programs, transitional and some permanent housing, and an array of rehab facilities. They have recreation and camping programs for inner-city kids. They've opened a restaurant called Cornerstone in Highland Park — that city's only sit-down restaurant — where they are training people for jobs in the hospitality business.

They are a faith-based group, clearly Christian, but vow not to discriminate against those who aren't. They are nonpartisan, nonprofit, and are doing what Republicans say they want groups like this to do — helping people with voluntary funds provided by the private sector.

Yet Chad Audi is worried by the governor's budget, mainly because it proposes to end the Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor. That, he fears, would cause a financial disaster for those working hard to keep heads above water, and create a new tidal wave of need.

The Michigan League for Human Services estimates ending the credit would tip thousands of children into poverty. Polls show most people are dead against ending the credit, but it's likely to happen anyway, unless people get to their lawmakers and register enormous disapproval.

Regardless of what happens, Audi is going to do his best. Fourteen years ago, he turned down a job paying three times as much to go to work for DRMM. He was young and single then; he's 41 and is raising four kids now, and has no regrets.

You'd think with all the stem cell research going on, somebody would have the decency to have him cloned.


Saving the newspapers:
Two weeks ago, the Detroit Media Partnership made an announcement that stunned even those used to the appalling idiocies of the Gannett-controlled newspaper agency. Having failed to stem either the flood of red ink or the steep decline in readership, the secretariat essentially conceded it was intellectually out of gas.

They are offering $5,000 a pop for the two best ideas "that help the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News better serve the community and help grow their audiences." You've got till March 31, Al Gore's birthday, to cash in.

Growing their audience is something they certainly haven't done. In 1985, before Gannett began destroying the News (and later the Free Press) the News sold 670,000 papers a day. The Free Press was close behind, with a circulation of 630,000. Know what those numbers are now?

As of last September, Free Press circulation had dwindled to 245,326. The News was a ghastly shadow of its former self, at 146,962. They've undoubtedly declined further since then.

Their grand experiment to convert readers to reading the things online four days a week has more or less failed. Now, they are doing what they first refused to do, allowing independent contractors to bring the papers to homes on days the mighty partnership declines to do so.

True, newspapers all across the country have lost readership. But none quite as disastrously.

My guess is that the "media partnership" would rather print the things in Old Church Slavonic than give me a prize, but as a lifelong reader of newspapers, writer and editor for newspapers, journalism professor and student of the industry, here's my two cents worth, absolutely free of charge: Try the radical step of putting out newspapers aimed at people who care about what's happening, and who like to read. That may be a smaller number than it once was, but still includes many people.

Gannett, which seems to have a kind of contempt for its readers, has been trying for years to produce papers for people who don't want to read. They haven't been very successful. Here's a secret, Detroit failing daily newspaper monopoly: People who don't want to read don't want a paper aimed at people who don't like to read. They want to watch television instead.

So let them. Devote your energies to putting out a well-written, intelligent newspaper for people who care. They may sneer and say that wouldn't work. They might even be right.

But it is hard to imagine that a really good newspaper could fail any more miserably than what they are doing now.

I'm not hopeful that my advice will be followed; the contest judges include the CEO of Domino's Pizza, a finance guy from USA Today and the former mouthpiece, now CEO, for the money-losing newspaper partnership. But, hey.

For those who still read, it was worth a try.

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