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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 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

Sounds of disharmony

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra strike's long-term effects

There is one effect the four-month-old Detroit Symphony Orchestra strike has had. Folks are hearing our good musicians elsewhere. For instance, bassist Alex Hanna has worked with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra and the East Coast Chamber orchestra, and he's got work lined up with the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra.

"Any orchestra that has an open spot for a week or a weekend, they know that there are 84 top-notch musicians in Detroit who are probably available," Hanna says.

Traveling all over the country to pick up work isn't what Hanna had in mind when he joined the DSO in August 2008. Then the 24-year-old musician was elated to be coming to Detroit to join one of the nation's top orchestras as its principal bassist.

Hanna, who was born in Bowling Green, Ohio, says he's "dedicated a tremendous amount of time and effort" to the DSO as the ensemble where he'll make a name for himself. "I haven't played with them in Orchestra Hall since August. It's frustrating not to be doing what I came to Detroit to do."

The strike started Oct. 4, after DSO management implemented a more than 30 percent pay cut for musicians. Union negotiators offered a 22 percent cut. Management's offer was built around an overall total compensation package of $33 million over three years; the musicians' offer would have cost about $39 million.�

The initial management offer would cut base pay from a guaranteed minimum of $104,650 to the low $70 thousands. Although orchestral musicians' pay can vary based on seniority and which chair the musician has, according to several websites, starting pay at top U.S. orchestras — Cleveland, Chicago, New York, Boston and Philadelphia — is about $110,000. A first chair violinist can make about $300,000.

"When I first got this job, it was definitely the greatest job available," says Hanna. "I had the best job a classical bass player could have in the United States except maybe three or four positions. If we accept management's proposal there would probably be hundreds of jobs that are this attractive."�

A couple of weeks ago, each side was to have submitted $36 million packages to a federal mediator, a number based on a December proposal from former Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Sen. Carl Levin. Each side's proposal includes draconian cuts, although there are also differences on work rules, pensions, and community outreach and education issues. Last week, the union hand-delivered letters to DSO board members rejecting the management offer, claiming it's actually for $32 million over 40 months.�

"They [management] believe Detroit is down for the count, it's not a major city anymore and cannot support a major performing arts institution," says cellist Haden McKay, a union spokesman.

"I really can't predict what's going to happen at this point. If there is a contract, we'll do our best to go forward, bring the audience back and bring the music back. We're trying to get through a difficult period without losing what's wonderful about the DSO and trying not to have such a terrible impact on the orchestra. They seem to want to change the work place once and for all and don't really care were the pieces fall."

There is an official media blackout agreed upon by the two sides, and McKay won't go into the details of negotiations. The DSO executive committee of the board has a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 2, to discuss possible contract offers.�

"I think our survival is at stake. I got that while I was interviewing for the job," says DSO senior manager Paul Hogle who's only been here since last May. "It's still true. You cannot run multimillion-dollar deficits indefinitely into the future. ... I would describe the executive committee as being passionate about coming to a final offer that will secure our future sustainability."

If the sides are close enough, they will go back to the negotiating table. If they're too far apart, it's possible the board will cancel the rest of the season.�

Either way, it seems that things are coming to a head and the next steps will happen quickly.

"We could be back on stage next week if a settlement is reached," says Hogle, adding that the next offer "won't be the same old thing."

At this point things have dragged out longer than anyone expected. DSO musicians have been appearing as guests with other orchestras, and one member has accepted a full-time position with another group. It wouldn't be surprising to see more of that, especially if the board cancels the season.�

It's beginning to look like the 1995 Detroit newspaper strike, and, as a former Freep staffer, I know the strikers' perspective on that one only too well. As time passes, part-time work to make ends meet turns into an opportunity to move on. DSO musicians who have been here a long time and have deeper roots in the community may be able to hold out longer. But a musician such as Hanna who's been here only two years has got to be looking around.

His fiancé is operations manager and outreach coordinator for Detroit Chamber Winds. That keeps some money flowing into their household and gives them more impetus to stay in Detroit. But as time passes, it gets harder.

"I'm young and I tend to be an optimist," Hanna says. "I thought the strike would be a week or two. We are in week 18 or 19 now. I knew there would be a big disagreement, but I didn't think it would go on. This stinks. I thought that the sides would realize that we strongly believe in the very legitimate reasons that we are on strike and we would move forward to get a deal. That hasn't happened."

In the meantime, he puts his time in practicing, if not for a specific program then just to keep his skills sharp. That's the thing about being a top musician. You always have to practice just to maintain where you are and to guard against injury, let alone advance in the music world.�

"A lot of people have families and mortgages and all this stuff. They're just ripping their hair out," Hanna says. "To see people who've worked very hard and done their job well then have to deal with this is frustrating. Some people have already moved away to places where there are better freelance opportunities."

Upheaval has become part of the territory in Michigan, particularly here in the southeast corner of the state. But at some point it becomes a question of who you are. Do we deserve a great orchestra in this region? Can we have a great orchestra in this region? Are the arts an essential part of our landscape or are they window dressing to be tossed off during financially trying times?

These are the questions being wrestled with at the DSO right now, but the questions will come again and again in municipalities across the region as we struggle to regain our economic footing.�

As a metropolitan area the DSO is also part of what makes us attractive to others, either tourists or potential businesses. If we cannot maintain an orchestra here, it's yet another sign that things are indeed dire.

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