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

    Coming up on August 16, former Detroit Tigers greats 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 Detroit 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.

  • Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race

    If a poll released this week is any indication of how the August 5 primary election will turn out, current Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano has reason to worry, Fox 2 reports. Ficano, who’s seeking a third term, polled in fourth place — behind former Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans, Westland Mayor Bill Wild and Wayne County Commissioner Phil Cavanaugh, according to Fox 2. The poll by Strategic Solutions LLC, showed 6.7 percent of respondents said they’d vote for Ficano, which isn’t so bad: He finished ahead of County Commissioner Kevin McNamara (who came in at No. 6) and someone literally described as “a candidate not named here” (who polled at No. 5.) If you’re planning to head to the polls — which you should! — and need some input on the candidates and ballot proposals, you can read for our election coverage in this week’s Metro Times.

    The post Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • A Mad Decent Mixtape

    Mad Decent Block Party will roll through town on Saturday, August 16, bringing to town artists like Dillon Francis, Diplo, Flosstradamus, RiFF RAFF, Keys N Krates, and Zeds Dead. Thugli, a Canadian duo, will perform on the Toronto leg of the tour and they put together a 45 minute mix that features songs by some of the tour’s featured artists as well as a host of others.  Listen to it here. 

    The post A Mad Decent Mixtape appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders

    Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host a special event this Saturday, July 26 in hopes of raising money for the local faction of an international nonprofit, Burners without Borders Detroit. Breaking Borders is a one-evening-only event that will feature live music, performance, and art. Satori Circus will perform along with spoken word artist ZakAndWhatArmy. Music by Tartanic, Dixon’s Violin, and Servitor. Fire dancers, hoop performers, and acrobats will provide a certain mysticism to the ambiance as old Victorian steampunk and tribal art is shown in the main gallery. There will also be a runway fashion show and the evening will end with a dubstep rave featuring DJ Forcefeed and Dotty. Truly, there’s something for everyone. Perhaps more importantly, there will be a full service bar. The event is open to those 18 and older and IDs will be checked at the door. Admission is $25 at the door, or $20 with the donation of a canned good. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the party goes until 2 a.m. A 20 percent commission will be taken from all art sold at this event and donated to Burners without Borders. The Tangent Gallery is located at 715 Milwaukee Ave., Detroit; 313-873-2955;

    The post Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Stir It Up

Sticky thicket

The Hantz Farm proposal has already raised a bumper crop of controversy

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Last week Craig Fahle devoted a segment of his show on WDET-FM 101.9 to the controversial proposed Hantz Woodlands project near the Indian Village neighborhood. His guests were Hantz Woodlands CEO Mike Score and Malik Yakini, director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network. I met Score briefly last winter when he attended the meeting that rolled out of the Lower Eastside Action Plan, an ambitious, long-range effort to revitalize the southern part of the east side. I've been acquainted with Yakini for nearly 30 years, going back to my days with the Cass Corridor Food Co-op.

Score is the pointman for financial adviser John Hantz, whose Hantz Farms/Woodlands proposal is getting a lot of attention lately. Although Hantz has changed the original plan from farm to woodlands, if you search Hantz Farms on the Internet it pops right up top with the words: "Hantz Farms is our dream to rejuvenate our city by returning to our agrarian roots, by creating the world's largest urban farm right here in Detroit ... "

From my perspective, if Hantz wants to convince people that he is sincere in his stated plan not to farm, then he should take that terminology off his website.

During his interview with Score, Fahle stated that he has nothing more to go on than what Hantz and his people have said about the project. I've given Fahle credit for bending over backward to be a fair and impartial interviewer over the years. Myself, well I try to be fair but I'm generally not so impartial. And there are other things I will take into account when looking at this issue. For instance, during the interview Score said, "The primary purpose of the investment is to make neighborhoods more livable."

If that is true, then there are plenty of ways to do that. I know a lot of people who do that in their own neighborhoods. They mow overgrown lots. They put in gardens. They clean up lots and board up houses. Check in with the Motor City Blight Busters to find out about the work they've been doing in the Redford area for the past 20 years. There is a house on my block that was empty for nearly a decade. The woman who lives next door to it has mowed the lawn and kept the area clean with help from others on the block. Our neighborhood association has held clean-ups where a blighted house is chosen and a bunch of people show up one day to clear out the debris, cut down bushes and mow lawns. There is a woman who walks three miles a day through the neighborhood and voluntarily picks up trash while she's doing it. She's done this for years.

Now that's commitment to making the neighborhood more livable.

Hantz lives in Indian Village. He could hook up with community groups in his area and do the work. He could donate a little cash to the effort to spread the fixing-up around. Maybe Hantz thinks in bigger terms than I do. But I think Score's use of the word "investment" is telling. It's about future returns. Now there is nothing wrong with that. I have made my peace with capitalism. That is the system we have going here, although I believe there must be rules that everybody adheres to — unfettered capitalism is not my thing. And Hantz has a right to make money; but he should be honest about what he is up to.

Score made another telling remark. He said that Hantz will, "Forgo the right to recover expenses over time through agricultural production." 

So he has a right to recover expenses. That's OK. But he's not necessarily going to do it through agricultural production. That means he'll be looking for other ways to recover expenses. During the interview Score admitted that there are "some parcels that we would put back into the marketplace. We would not expect that to happen anytime soon."

That bespeaks land banking. That's how it works for people of great means. If I were to invest in land, I'd need to make the money back fairly quickly. I don't have money to live on while I wait out the market. When wealthy people invest in land, it just becomes part of the estate. You hold onto it until values go up, whether it's in three years or three generations. In fact, during Yakini's portion of the interview, he said that in a conversation with Hantz, the financier said that he intended to leave the property to his daughter. Hantz is a money guy. He thinks like a money guy. He may be totally sincere in his stated objective to make the neighborhood more livable — but he's going to make money along the way.

That's fine. But let's all be honest about it and evaluate the sale based on what it really is. 

Now there is plenty of land in the city to go around. Although Fahle and Score fell into the oft-repeated-but-wrong assertion that there are 40 square miles of vacant land available in Detroit. (Gee whiz, don't they read my column?) Data Driven Detroit long ago showed (and I reported on it) that the 40 square miles figure includes Belle Isle, Palmer Park, Rouge Park, Howell Park and the surface area of all the streets. The amount of vacant land actually available to use is closer to 20 square miles.

One of the reasons Yakini and others oppose this sale of land to Hantz is that many of them have been involved in urban agriculture over the past 20 years. Some of them have tried to buy vacant lots from the city to no avail. One guy who has a profitable garden in Detroit (yes, making a profit!) says he's buying land outside the city because he can't even figure out who owns some of the lots he's been working. When the Detroit Food Policy Council held a listening session at Gleaners Food Bank in August, there were a few people who told tales of woe about trying to buy land from the city in order to farm it, but got nowhere. One church had been trying to buy adjacent lots for some 15 years.

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