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  • 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 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.



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Politics & Prejudices

The choice for governor

Breaking down the race for governor: Bernero vs. Snyder

No doubt about it. The Democratic candidate was an accident of history, somebody who got the job by chance; got the nomination because none of the more experienced candidates wanted it.

They all knew he couldn't win.

So did all the smart guys in the media and the chattering classes: pollsters, pundits, talking heads. The Democrats had been in power a long time, and times weren't great.

Time for a change. The Democrats were divided. Their nominee was an emotional, passionate guy who could make a speech, charge up some of the fools, but didn't have a clue.

The Republican candidate was better connected, more accomplished, had far more education. He had it won. The only way things could change was if the Republican made a mistake. So his speeches were full of air. He was against waste, fraud and abuse.

He wanted to give citizens more value for their tax dollars. He pledged to clean up the mess in government. He smiled and waved, said we had been great and would be great again.

But the Democrat said all sorts of risky, sometimes contradictory things. He wanted universal health care and he wanted better conditions for the workers and he wanted to do more for them.

Even if it cost the rich people more than they are paying now.

You may think that passage above describes this year's race for governor of Michigan, between Rick Snyder, the venture capitalist Republican, and Virg Bernero, the mayor of Lansing. And, as a matter of fact, it does.

But I wasn't thinking of them when I wrote it. I was thinking of a long-ago presidential election between Democrat Harry Truman and Republican Thomas Dewey, candidates who share an uncanny resemblance to Snyder and Bernero stylistically and politically.

Truman was sneered at as a little man out of his depths, an emotional hot dog. Thomas Dewey was the reasonable, sober, adult candidate. Every political writer in the country said he would win. The Chicago Tribune set their headline in type and went to press early: DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN. The Wall Street Journal devoted the lead story to explaining how Dewey would govern. The Detroit Free Press wrote an editorial calling on Truman to resign immediately so that Dewey could become president early.

But guess what happened? Harry Truman won the election, easily.

Journalists, professors, pollsters and politicians intently studied how they could have been so wrong. There were three main answers:

People tended to like the scrappy little Democratic underdog. Nobody much liked Dewey, who was a strutting, pompous gasbag. But since all the cool people thought Truman was a loser, people didn't tell pollsters the truth. And reporters ignored signals that the conventional wisdom just might be wrong; Truman had larger and more enthusiastic crowds, for example.

But everybody refused to see all that.

That was way back in 1948. Today everybody "knows" that Rick Snyder is going to win the election. Reporters have been sneering at Bernero forever. But the mayor of Lansing won the nomination (which they also said he wouldn't do) and it ain't over till it is over. And we ought to remember that.

Before you jump to conclusions, I am not predicting that Bernero will win. As a matter of fact, I think he'll lose, probably decisively, though he did easily win the one debate Snyder reluctantly agreed to, last Sunday night.

Winning it wasn't all that easy; both Steve Henderson of the Free Press and especially Nolan Finley of The Detroit News were far harder on Bernero than Snyder. Finley asked Snyder, for example, if he could be "tough" in Lansing, instead of asking how he expected to govern when he had never spent a day in any office.

Snyder, who mainly appeared to be a robot, mostly said things like "we need an attitude of action." And "I have a 10-point plan on my website." Nolan Finley did ask him one very good question: "How do you create a job?"

Snyder's answer was something like "government can't do it," which isn't strictly true, and "I've created many jobs," which may or may not be true, but didn't answer the question.

Bernero countered this from the start by saying, "State government isn't working for regular people," though "the wealthy get taken care of." In perhaps the most profound statement either of them made, he said, "We can't afford to be ideologically biased. If [a program] is working, we keep it. If not, we throw it out."

And before you jump to any further conclusions — I am not a dyed-in-the wool Bernero supporter. He annoyed me throughout the debate, as he has throughout his campaign, by his endless repetition of the exaggerated claims that Snyder has "outsourced jobs to China."

Nor am I impressed by his constant banging the drum on the abortion theme. There is no evidence that Snyder has the slightest desire to change abortion policy at all. Many people don't even think he is really "pro-life," and believe he says he is to avoid the active hostility of all the Right to Life of Michigan nut jobs.

Snyder's best moment came when he said, in essence, that the next governor needs to forget about social issues and concentrate on jobs and economic improvement in Michigan.

But, on balance, I came away from the debate thinking that it is clear Virg Bernero, son of an Italian immigrant, genuinely cares about people and wants to help them. I also think that after his years in the Legislature and as mayor, he may have some idea how to govern. That's crucially important; Jennifer Granholm never had a clue.

Rick Snyder didn't give any sense that he had known any "regular people," not for a long time. Nor did he show evidence of the slightest clue he knew what governing in any kind of democracy is all about. Had I been a panelist, I would have been strongly tempted to ask if he would consider firing our lawmakers if they didn't get the job done on his schedule.

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