Most Read
  • 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

System failure

Why all Michiganders should be able to vote absentee

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Two years ago, I committed election fraud, in a manner of speaking. Under our medieval election laws, you pretty much have to pretend you will be out of town to get an absentee ballot.

For years, Oregon has sent everyone a ballot they can study, fill in, and mail back, and Washington state does now too. Most other states allow voters to request an absentee ballot, no questions asked. But not Michigan. Technically, it is illegal to take an absentee ballot except in a few cases, such as knowing you are going to be out of town. You also can have one if you are over 60, can't vote physically without help, or can't show up at the polls for religious reasons.

They also let all those nice folks who work at the polls and check your name off the list have an absentee ballot — if they are working a precinct other than the one in which they vote. Oh, and there's one other category: If you are in jail awaiting trial or arraignment.

Otherwise, you are expected to stand in line. I used to think there was nothing wrong with that. I remember waiting in 1984, proud to cast one vote Ronald Reagan wouldn't get.

Today, however, I think not voting absentee could be hazardous to the health of us all. That's because there are so many races and so much other stuff on the ballot these days. Most people will go the polls knowing whether they want Mitt Romney or Barack Obama. They'll also know if they want Sen. Debbie Stabenow, or whatever boring old white male opponent the GOP dimwittedly chooses.

But what about ... probate, circuit and district judges? Community college trustees? Members of the Michigan State University board? Look, I have covered politics and government in this state for years and years. Even I don't know some of these people or issues, and my guess is that you won't either.

So how do you manage voting, then? Our choices are:

1  Stand in the voting booth and skip some of these races.

2  Vote for names that sound nice, like Kelly, say, or O'Brien, which is how we usually choose judges in this state.

3  Or say you are going to be out of town (hey, it's always possible with space aliens on the prowl) and take that ballot home and research and study it before you vote.

That is, if you don't want to get yourself arrested the day before the election and legally vote absentee that way. One of my problems is that, in my later years, I think of myself as a citizen as much as a journalist, and want to cast informed votes.

So I thumbed my nose at this stupid rule, and took home an absentee ballot. Even then I ended up calling a woman I know who used to be a community college trustee, and pleaded for guidance on who to vote for on that particular board.

But, you might ask, why doesn't this state do like most places, and let anyone have an absentee ballot for any reason? Even Secretary of State Ruth Johnson thinks that would be a good idea, as did Terri Lynn Land, who held the job before her.

And they are both Republicans! Well, the dirty little secret is that a lot of other members of the GOP don't like it because they fear it will increase voter turnout — usually a bad thing for them — or because they hold wild conspiracy theories about voter fraud, even though that's never been an issue in our state.

Republican Michelle McManus, for example, a former state legislator and two-time loser for higher office, said two years ago that she was against "no-reason" absentee voting because she feared it would open the door to those evil ACORN volunteers swarming in to pull "absentee voter shenanigans."

Well, that's always been my biggest fear, right up there with snow bunnies from Saturn. The Legislature is filled these days with creatures like McManus, and so refuses to make absentee ballots more widely available. This year, however, I think it would be downright immoral for anyone not to vote absentee. Here's why: There may be as many as eight proposed laws and constitutional amendments on the November ballot.

They range from one repealing the emergency manager law to another protecting collective bargaining; from totally legalizing marijuana to forcing a statewide vote on any new bridges, the so-called Matty Moroun amendment.

Many of these are extremely complex and would have major impact on life as we know it. It will be important to vote on them, and to get it right — probably more important, in fact, than which party hack you send to the Legislature.

But if every voter stopped to study the ballot in the voting booth, it would take us four years to get the election over, by which time we'd be a Chinese colony.

Now it is true that you can go to Vince Keenan's wonderful website, punch in your ZIP code, and print out a sample ballot. But the vast majority of people don't know that exists, and some still aren't computer-savvy.

There is, however, a solution to all this, which came to me while I lay soaking in my morning bath of liquid mercury. If I have any religious belief, it is that it is better to be informed than ignorant. I suggest you adopt my religion and thereby feel free to request an absentee ballot for religious reasons.

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