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  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May

    Margaret Doll Rod will celebrate the release of her new EP, Margaret, with a show at PJ’s Lager House on Saturday, May 10. A statement reads, “The EP contains 3 new original songs and one Chrome Cranks cover with Italian actress Asia Argento singing background vocals. Margaret moved to Italy after the end of the Demolition Doll Rods where she still lives touring and performing festivals in Europe. The Dollrods were a Garage Rock force for over 20 years, opening for Iggy, Jon Spencer, The Scientist, The Monks and The Cramps. Margaret was the front person and principal songwriter for The Dollrods. Her chief musical foil was Danny Kroha, who joined the Demolition Doll Rods after the now legendary Gories called it quits. Margaret’s sister, Christine, on drums, rounded out the legendary trio. Margaret will do a special performance in the round that night with a 360 degree revolving stage and special guest DJ Adam Stanfel.” The bill will also feature the Stomp Rockets and the Volcanos. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to bcallwood@metrotimes.com. Ricky Rat’s Tokyo Pop/Glitter People (New Fortune) 7” single highlights all that’s great about the Trash Brats guitarist, but also his limitations. The man can write a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll song to match anyone in the city and most beyond. He’s also a killer guitarist, ripping out one throwaway riff after another with reckless abandon. He’s a machine. On his own though, without Trash Brats frontman Brian McCarty, his voice doesn’t have enough strength to do the songs justice. Not that you need to have the greatest voice in the world to sing this stuff – you don’t need to be able to perform vocal gymnastics – but you do have to be able to wail the tunes out. Both of the songs on this single are great, but you can’t help but wonder how much better they would sound with McCarty or somebody similar talking the mic. Still, as they are the songs are great fun. We’re just being picky. The Paper Sound’s Trajectories is a dense, atypically dark Americana-tinged album, unrelenting and […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of buildingdetroit.org, a new website launched by the City of Detroit today to auction off city-owned homes to prospective buyers who pledge to fix them up and move in. “We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement today. “There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment.” The website to facilitate the auctions went live this afternoon. The first auction is scheduled to take place Monday, May 5. Officials said in a news release that one home will be auctioned per day, Monday through Friday. Fifteen homes are available for sale on the site, a dozen of which are in the East English Village neighborhood. Any Michigan resident, company, or organization that can do business in the state can bid, according to the website. Properties will be for sale for only one day, with bidding taking place from 8 […]

    The post Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes

    In case you haven’t heard, two of the biggest names in film, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, are collaborating to put on a benefit concert for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this summer. In case you wanted to go- well, you’re too damn late. The DSO says tickets to the June 14 concert were snapped up in a record-breaking 15 minutes after they went on sale at 9 a.m. today. The DSO has since released this statement to fans who didn’t snag seats: Our apologies to everyone who was unable to buy tickets this morning for our historic benefit concert featuring John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Despite increasing our phone and internet system capacity for the day, a surge of hundreds of ticket buyers purchased tickets in a matter of minutes, filling the phone lines and temporarily maxing out our web servers. After a one-hour pre-sale made available to donors and subscribers at 8am, we released additional seats at 9am to the general public, including seats available for as low as $30. All seats sold out immediately. The concert program seems nothing short of top notch: Williams will conduct the orchestra as it performs some of his most iconic tunes, such […]

    The post Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Politics & Prejudices

The GOP's race to the bottom

The truth is that Mitt Romney doesn’t capture any hearts

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Last week, as you may have gathered from the saturation coverage, the vast array of Republican presidential candidates had what they call a "debate" at Oakland University, right here in the fabulous world of metro Detroit. Aren't we special!

Well, not so much. They've been having these debates ad nauseam, seemingly every other day, all across the nation.

You might think President Obama's best hope for surviving the tough economy lies in having as many people as possible see these jokers posture, preen and poke at each other.

Unfortunately, that would presuppose a rational majority of citizens. That doesn't exist, certainly not in the GOP. 

After weeks of sexual harassment stories, Herman Cain, a candidate without any shred of experience or qualifications, still was running first in the polls. (This guy had liver cancer, by the way, five years ago, and was supposed to be dead now. Why doesn't anyone ever ask about that?) Meanwhile, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a retread from the 1990s, was tied for second with the man who will become the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney.

Yes, you saw that correctly. Willard Mitt Romney, he of the Ken doll looks and the polystyrene heart, will be the GOP presidential nominee, unless he dies or is found in bed with Joe Paterno.

What you are seeing now is a form of Kabuki theater. The various candidates bob and weave, slide up in the polls, slide down, and take turns being flavor of the month. Michele Bachmann! Rick Perry! Newt! Everybody gets a magazine cover, and brief frisson of front-runnership, before the next monkey slides down the pole. 

But everybody who knows the game knows they are going to nominate Mitt. Here's how it works: Republicans always nominate the guy who was the runner-up at the last nomination dance.

This has gone on for half a century. Want proof? When Richard Nixon was nominated in 1960, the only other candidate to get delegate votes was Barry Goldwater ... who got it the next time. Michigan's own Jerry Ford barely edged out Ronald Reagan in 1976.

Four years later, it was Reagan's turn, after he beat out the first George Bush. Eight years later, Bush beat out Bob Dole, and then Dole won the next nomination without a serious challenger.

Left without an obvious runner-up, Republicans, not a group heavy on imagination, turned to some Son of a Bush in 2000.

He won by beating out "Crash" John McCain, who got his shot four years ago. Who did he beat for that nomination?

Mitt Romney, of course.

Now, I know that chronology sounds an awful lot like all the "begats" in the Bible. But there is a little bit more than dynastic succession to it. For one thing, the first time anyone runs a national campaign, they are bound to make mistakes.

Mitt Romney's first effort was as plastic and packaged as they get, but he still let slip the fact that he used to put his dog in a cage on top of the car when they traveled, till he saw the terrified animal's pee cascading down the windshield. He thought that was funny.

Dog lovers let him know otherwise. First campaigns also tend to shake out those hiding scandals, or who are too stupid for the taste of even those Tea Party members who happen to be literate. 

When Rick Perry announced at OU that he intended to abolish three cabinet-level departments and then was able to name only two, he was, effectively, Texas toast, fit to be served up with a heapin' helping of gristle at the local Ponderosa steakhouse.

True, Romney is a Mormon, and there are those in the Bible Belt, GOP voters all, who mutter darkly that Mormonism is a satanic cult. Not to worry; they would hold their nose and vote for — Ted Bundy, Dick Morris, anyone — against that communistic Kenyan-born, Muslim, America-hating negro in the White House. 

The only thing that might give anyone pause about the inevitability of Romney's nomination is that, well, nobody loves him.

Members of his own party tolerate him. They can pretend to respect him for short periods of time. More and more conclude every day that he is their best shot at winning the election. Romney looks good, and is filthy rich, meaning he can help fund his campaign. 

But nobody really loves him. He doesn't capture their hearts the way Ronald Reagan did. Still, they'll buy him, reluctantly. 

They think he looks presidential, talks a good game, and will seem moderate enough to snare the independents. They think with unemployment so high, the odds will favor any challenger who doesn't look completely loopy.

Yet will Romney really win, next November?

Nobody yet has any idea.

Nobody knows what will happen when it comes down to only two choices. Nobody knows whether we will decide out of hope or fear. Whether we pick based on our dreams or our dislikes.

What I suggest is that we wait around to find out.

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