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  • Detroit area code 313 may be phased out

    Hey, everybody from the 313, start thinking of new numbers to rally around– the longstanding Detroit area code may be phased out. Our friends over at the Detroit News report that pending a revised estimate next week, the North American Numbering Plan Administration will stop handing out 313 telephone prefixes on new phone numbers. Detroiters with existing cell phone lines would be able to keep their current area codes, while those with land lines would change. via Detroit News: The venerable 313 will ultimately become overtaxed. Even as Detroit’s population has fallen, cellphone usage has accelerated like one of those smoldering SRT Vipers that Dodge has been bolting together at Conner Avenue Assembly — which is, of course, comfortably within the confines of 313. … When the first five dozen area codes were assigned nearly 70 years ago, says NANPA’s Tom Foley, “that was expected basically to last forever.” Instead, somebody invented fax machines, and then somebody else came up with cellphones, and lots of somebody elses decided to give them to 10-year-olds, and meantime the population grew to 300 million. Now every telephone carrier is required to submit twice-yearly forecasts of its needs in each area code, factoring in […]

    The post Detroit area code 313 may be phased out appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council

    Unfortunately, we were unable to attend last night’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, which, in case you were unaware, is a 16-member board established to weigh in on the new Red Wings arena near downtown. About three dozen residents and property owners cast ballots by the 8 p.m. deadline on Wednesday inside the Block at Cass Park, The Detroit News reports. It’s the culmination of a handful of community meetings which began weeks ago. Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez facilitated the meetings, but emphasized at previous meetings that it’s up to the community to conduct business. According to the News, the 12 candidates selected include: Michael Boettcher, Richard Etue, Jason Gapa, Francis Grunow, Steve Guether, Paul Hughes, Ray Litt, Warner Doyle McBryde, Karen McLeod, Delphia Simmons, Melissa Thomas and Anthony Zander. Joel Landy, a land owner in the area, lost his bid. The City Council appointed four candidates last month. As we reported in this week’s issue, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee was negotiated after Olympia Development of Michigan, Detroit Red Wing’s owner Mike Ilitch’s real estate arm, balked on a proposed community benefits agreement.  The committee is charged with the task of offering input on the arena’s design, parking security and more.

    The post Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag

    The Magic Bag in Ferndale will host James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets on Thursday, May 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. A press release reads, “James McMurtry recently signed with the bourgeoning Los Angeles record label Complicated Game. The legendary songwriter will enter the studio later this month to start working on his first album in six years. “I’ve got a new batch of songs, organic and with no added sulfites, aged in oak for several years,” he says. “Francois Moret at Complicated Game seems to like these songs and (producer) C.C. Adcock thinks he can turn them into a record. Good times fixing to roll.” Label head Moret agrees. “In March 2013, when C.C. Adcock told me we were going to see James McMurtry at the Continental Club in Austin, I expected to see a good show,” he says, “but what I saw left me mesmerized! I immediately knew I wanted to sign him. As a European, it is an amazing opportunity to work with one of the most talented American singer-songwriters.” Evidence: McMurtry’s Just Us Kids (2008) and Childish Things (2005). The former earned his highest Billboard 200 chart position in nearly two decades and notched […]

    The post James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit

    The Dead Kennedys, still with local boy Klaus Flouride in the ranks, will play St. Andrew’s Hall on Tuesday, June 24. Alongside Flouride and fellow original members East Bay Ray and DH Peligro, the current lineup includes singer Ron “Skip” Greer, taking the place of Jello Biafra. Downtown Brown will open that show, which starts at 7 p.m., with tickets priced $20-$25. Give Klaus a hero’s hometown welcome. Just over a week before that, strangely enough, Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine will play at the Magic Stick. It’s a weird coincidence, but one that DK fans should be happy to embrace. That show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $17-$19. Local hardcore vets Negative Approach play before Jello, with the Crashdollz opening the show. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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.

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Politics & Prejudices

Snyder takes command

Snyder promises to leave nobody behind, and you must hope he succeeds

Richard D. Snyder was sworn in as governor last weekend, taking power in a state that has lost people, lost political clout, lost nearly a million jobs in the last decade. He then, in his distinctive, oddly nasal voice, gave an unusual inaugural speech.

Unusual, that is, because it was worth listening to. Though he did his appropriate best to encourage us to believe we can build a better future, he pretty much also spelled out how bad things are.

"The last part of the industrial era has been a period of decline in our state [that] has gone on for several decades," he said.

Reversing this trend "will not be simple or easy," he said. "It will require shared sacrifices from all of us ... many of us will have to take a step back in the short term to move us all forward together in the long term." That isn't quite Winston Churchill saying he could offer his people "nothing but blood, toil, tears and sweat."

Melodrama is not Snyder's style. What he did say is that the state couldn't be reformed; it needs to be reinvented.

That is, by the way, exactly right. You may not have voted for Rick Snyder. Interestingly, most of the 1,874,834 people who did vote for him in November hadn't even heard his name yet a year ago today.

But now he's in charge, and if you are reasonable, intelligent, sane and have a brain in your head, you have to hope he succeeds beyond anybody's wildest dreams, even his own.

Otherwise, Michigan, your Michigan, stands a very good chance of becoming Haiti with ice storms. The old economy is indeed dead. The domestic automotive industry is still alive, mostly thanks to the Obama administration. But it will never again play the role it did.

Think about this: For nearly a century, the auto plants defined the economy of this state. They employed hundreds of thousands of workers who, beginning in the 1940s, were paid high wages for largely unskilled work, thanks to the efforts of the United Auto Workers.

For many years after World War II, we were so rich we could afford this, and the autoworkers' fat contracts drove up wages and benefits across the board in Michigan. We were one of the highest-income states in the nation a half-century ago. Then things started slipping, and, finally, the bottom fell out a couple years ago.

Want to know what happened to Michigan? Back in 1979, General Motors had more blue-collar employees working in the city of Flint than it does today in the entire country. In fact, more than 91 percent of all GM blue-collar jobs in Michigan that existed then are gone. Forever. The auto companies may survive, but they never again will be a mass employer of high-wage, low-skill workers.

In fact, the UAW is now so beaten up and broken, they have agreed that when the factories hire new workers, they can get away with paying them only $14 an hour, and, in most cases, people need two-year degrees to even be considered for those jobs.

Most people finally get that the auto industry will never again be the all-driving force of the state's economy. But too many of us still have a sort of unthinking industrial worker mentality.

We want another industry to come in here and open up a new chain of big-box factories and put us all to work making scrunchies or condoms or windmill parts, providing good-paying, hourly jobs.

Jobs where we could punch in, punch out, not have to think too much and occasionally pile up lots of even better-paying overtime. Guess what. That isn't happening. Not this year, not next year, not ever again. Rick Snyder knows that; he knew it a long time ago.

That's why, as a young boy from Battle Creek, he got a law degree and an MBA when he was still in his early 20s. Now, to the extent I can tell, he isn't an elitist. He doesn't expect everyone to do that. What he expects is for us to work smart, think, take chances.

The example he used in his speech was of a couple from the Ann Arbor area who started a couple sandwich shops, turned to baking and came up with a new kind of bread which caught on, nationwide.

"We have to remember that innovation is not about technology, it's a state of mind that we all have the power to do."

Shortly we'll find out how he intends to make that happen. The voters elected him by a landslide, and he deserves a chance.

Even while he was speaking, Mark Brewer, the Democratic Party Chairman-for-Life, was cranking out a sophomoric press release whining that "Snyder has never offered a specific plan."

Right. Now go sit in the corner. The new governor is facing a state budget deficit of at least $1.8 billion, and how he handles that will tell us a lot. If he does it by savaging education in this state, our one hope for a workforce that can compete in the future, we'll know he is just another hypocrite, or a Tea Party, Ayn Rand-style wacko.

Somehow I think he may surprise us all. What the Democrats should be doing is trying to ensure that the least of us are not left completely behind, that foster children and the elderly aren't trampled in our rush to entrepreneurial reinvention.

"The reinvention of Michigan must not leave anyone behind," the new governor said. If he follows through on that, and gets the economy going, our best days and his may be yet to come.


Nothing against Sue Snyder, but
... Few in the press discussed this openly, but one of the bigger embarrassments of the Granholm administration was the perpetual problem of the care and feeding of her husband, Dan Mulhern, the "First Gentleman."

The First Gentleman did, it's true, write leadership books, and look after the household's three children, something he once called "leading from behind." But he also needed something to do, and though he got a radio show after a while, didn't really have a job.

So he beat up on reporters who dared to criticize wifey, and we the taxpayers paid for something called the Office of the First Gentleman. While he didn't get a salary, he had a chief of staff who got a very nice one, plus other employees.

Mulhern also cost the taxpayers a pretty penny in other ways, especially when he wanted to go somewhere or someone asked him to speak. A notice on the governor's official state website said:

Please note that the First Gentleman is accompanied to all events by a staff person and security personnel. We request that accommodations be made in seating and in meals.

Naturally, the taxpayers paid for the security personnel too. Now, apart from the fact that the state was broke, this was nuts.

Now hear this: The governor's family is not royalty.

Nor is the governor president of the United States, an office that has both governmental and ceremonial functions. I have no problem with a state employee driving Sue Snyder somewhere if she is appearing on behalf of her husband on what is clearly state business.

But she is a private person who both deserves privacy and doesn't merit an imperial staff. Here's hoping the Office of the Unelected Spouse is a tradition she is smart enough to let die.

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