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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

Snyder house rules

The massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich continues

Well, Governor Rick Snyder pulled it off. He got the Legislature to enact his massive tax cut for business and slap a tax on future pension income. This will be paid for — in part — by shortchanging education at all levels, from elementary to graduate school.

Film industry tax credits are out the window, as are breaks for cleaning up brownfields. This follows earlier legislation making it easier to appoint emergency financial managers, and giving them broad new powers. Public employees, especially teachers, are bound to see their benefits cut as well. All this has people in a tizzy.

Most of the business community is ecstatically happy. Most of those who care about education and the poor — or those who are part of those communities themselves — are apoplectic.

You can hardly blame them. If this state has any future, it lies not only in attracting new jobs; it is having a better-educated workforce. On top of that, the Snyder house rules continue an ominous trend in America that began with Ronald Reagan: the massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. State Rep. Maureen Stapleton of Detroit put it eloquently. With Michigan struggling to recover from the long recession, "Snyder and the Legislature threaten to derail it by ramming though the largest redistribution of wealth in our state's history."

True, that. But Stapleton is not a leader in the Democratic caucus, and neither she nor her party's leadership is putting forth any kind of alternative plan. Democrats, by the way, have essentially no power whatsoever in Lansing today. But you'd think they'd offer some kind of alternative people could buy into.

That's what an opposition "shadow government" would do in most parliamentary democracies. That would give something to responsibly rally people around. But they aren't.

Yes, the Democrats are denouncing Snyder. State Sen. Steve Bieda of Warren said the governor is "shifting the tax [burden] to those who are least able to pay in society." Again, that's true enough. But why isn't his leader, the charismatic Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, putting forward a plan?

Simple. She, and they, don't want to commit to anything. Standing for something is bound to alienate somebody. They prefer to bleat "Snyder is bad," and hope to pick up the pieces when the state economy runs off the rails.

This may not be bad short-term politics. America would have voted for almost any Democrat after eight years of George W. Bush. Michigan would have voted for a spotted Republican gerbil after eight years of the vacant charisma of Jennifer Granholm.

Yet not standing for anything is not responsible policy, nor does it help people believe the system can still fix things and help them. That's why you have frustrated hordes either joining irrational protests like the so-called Tea Party movement, or wasting their energies on an almost-certainly-doomed effort to recall Snyder.

What we need is honesty, straight talk and a program to reinvent the state without trampling the poor in the dust. This state badly needs to attract new business — Snyder isn't wrong about that.

The auto industry isn't ever going to supply jobs in sufficient quantity again, and the Democrats haven't a clue of how to create any. But that doesn't mean we should leave those who are displaced to starve in desperation amid rusting abandoned machinery.

Even worse, shortchanging our kids on education and further neglecting our infrastructure is just plain stupid — even from the standpoint of job creation. Does the governor really think he is going to lure high-tech job creators to a state with king-size potholes on the roads and concrete falling off overpasses?

Does he think middle-class people are going to move to a place where the schools are inferior and declining everywhere?

Let's make shared sacrifice have some meaning, damn it. So in the absence of any intellectually coherent opposition to the Snyder reforms, let me present my program. We'll call it the Fair and Responsible Program for Michigan's Economic Reconstruction.

Leave the lowered business taxes where they are. We need to take a gamble to get new industry and jobs, and since the governor was elected on a platform of doing this, we'll try it.

However — we need to raise the Michigan Income Tax rate to make sure we provide a decent education, decent services, and an acceptable quality of life. Those of us who are still working ought to carry more of the burden. I'd boost it from 4.35 to 6 percent now.

We might index this to the unemployment rate so it gradually declines to 5 percent — but no more than that. That will raise a few hundred million dollars, but we can responsibly get much more.

Drop the sales tax from 6 to 5 percent — but extend it to most commercial services. No, not education, business-to-business or medical expenses. But if I buy four new tires, I pay sales tax on them but not on the cost of installation. That doesn't make sense.

Not having raised the beer tax for half a century, even to adjust it for inflation, makes even less sense. Beer drinkers, those with good jobs and lives, should be asked to pay a little more to help bring Michigan back. That means me, by the way, and I hope you too.

Incidentally, I am never running for office, ever, in case anyone has any suspicions. I will cheerfully and enthusiastically support anyone who supports some reasonable program that combines shared sacrifice with trying for a better future. I love this state passionately, and intend to spend my life here. So let's fix it.

Unpleasant reality: Michigan is losing a seat in Congress with the next election, and since the Republicans control every branch of government, they get to determine the shape of the new districts. Odds are that they will throw Sander Levin and Gary Peters in the same Oakland-Macomb county district.

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