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  • Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark

    Oh, the irony — initially criticized as Marxist propaganda when Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted them for the Detroit Institute of Arts in the early 1930s, Detroit Industry has now been designated as a a national landmark. The announcement was made Wednesday, according to the Detroit News by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis as part of National Park Week. The designation does not change the ownership status of the murals or grant any new protections or rights, leaving its place among the rest of the DIA’s art in possible bankruptcy negotiations in question. The work is considered the best of Rivera’s work in the United States (another mural Rivera had done in New York was destroyed by orders of Nelson Rockefeller). Rivera himself regarded Detroit Industries paintings as his finest work. In the midst of the McCarthy era, the DIA posted this sign outside the court: Rivera’s politics and his publicity seeking are detestable. But let’s get the record straight on what he did here. He came from Mexico to Detroit, thought our mass production industries and our technology wonderful and very exciting, painted them as one of the great achievements of the twentieth century. This came […]

    The post Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit area code 313 may be phased out

    Hey, everybody from the 313, start thinking of new numbers to rally around– the longstanding Detroit area code may be phased out. Our friends over at the Detroit News report that pending a revised estimate next week, the North American Numbering Plan Administration will stop handing out 313 telephone prefixes on new phone numbers. Detroiters with existing cell phone lines would be able to keep their current area codes, while those with land lines would change. via Detroit News: The venerable 313 will ultimately become overtaxed. Even as Detroit’s population has fallen, cellphone usage has accelerated like one of those smoldering SRT Vipers that Dodge has been bolting together at Conner Avenue Assembly — which is, of course, comfortably within the confines of 313. … When the first five dozen area codes were assigned nearly 70 years ago, says NANPA’s Tom Foley, “that was expected basically to last forever.” Instead, somebody invented fax machines, and then somebody else came up with cellphones, and lots of somebody elses decided to give them to 10-year-olds, and meantime the population grew to 300 million. Now every telephone carrier is required to submit twice-yearly forecasts of its needs in each area code, factoring in […]

    The post Detroit area code 313 may be phased out appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council

    Unfortunately, we were unable to attend last night’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, which, in case you were unaware, is a 16-member board established to weigh in on the new Red Wings arena near downtown. About three dozen residents and property owners cast ballots by the 8 p.m. deadline on Wednesday inside the Block at Cass Park, The Detroit News reports. It’s the culmination of a handful of community meetings which began weeks ago. Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez facilitated the meetings, but emphasized at previous meetings that it’s up to the community to conduct business. According to the News, the 12 candidates selected include: Michael Boettcher, Richard Etue, Jason Gapa, Francis Grunow, Steve Guether, Paul Hughes, Ray Litt, Warner Doyle McBryde, Karen McLeod, Delphia Simmons, Melissa Thomas and Anthony Zander. Joel Landy, a land owner in the area, lost his bid. The City Council appointed four candidates last month. As we reported in this week’s issue, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee was negotiated after Olympia Development of Michigan, Detroit Red Wing’s owner Mike Ilitch’s real estate arm, balked on a proposed community benefits agreement.  The committee is charged with the task of offering input on the arena’s design, parking security and more.

    The post Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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 PlanetAnt.com. 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.

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Politics & Prejudices

The GOP’s toxic agenda

… and the ‘moderate’ governor who won’t stand up to it

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For months, while many of us have been understandably obsessed with Detroit, something else has been going on in Lansing, mostly overlooked by the press and people alike.

A development, that is, with far-reaching and potentially ominous consequences for everyone in this state: the imposition of a fanatical right-wing agenda by the ideologues now in control of the Michigan Legislature. They are passing legislation meant to hurt science and cripple education. They couldn't care less about academic freedom, and they regard public employees as worthless scum who deserve neither decent salaries, benefits nor the freedom to organize.

These legislators largely fear and distrust public education. They have no sympathy for the poor, and have been contemptuously saying no to even Gov. Rick Snyder's feeble attempts to help the downtrodden. What's terrible is that the governor, who was thought to be a moderate, is signing pretty much anything that ends up on his desk. Some of this should be tossed as unconstitutional.

That doesn't matter, however, because the disgracefully partisan GOP majority on the Michigan Supreme Court can be counted on to approve whatever their fellow Republicans want them to. Case in point: Democrats were in charge of local redistricting in Oakland County. Republicans didn't want to play fair.

So they rushed through a bill in Lansing changing the process so they could keep control. This was pretty clearly unconstitutional interference with local authority. The Supreme Court should have slapped the Legislature down. But the GOP majority slavishly voted to uphold what their party had done

Far worse is happening. More and more, the Republican legislators have made it clear they couldn't care less about fairness, the rules or the Michigan Constitution. For example: Under that constitution, any bill passed and signed by the governor doesn't take effect till 90 days after the end of the current legislative session. The Legislature can vote to give a bill immediate effect, but only if a two-thirds majority in each chamber votes to do so.

The Democrats still have more than a third of the House, and should be able to stop any bill from taking effect immediately.

But last month, the GOP majority decided to ignore that law, and ignored Democratic demands to hold a vote on immediate effect. This was in the case of the bill Republicans rushed through forbidding graduate students to unionize.

Democrats had to go to court to ask a circuit judge to tell the partisans to obey their own rules. The legislative Republicans are clearly an incredibly mean-spirited lot. The governor, to his credit, wanted to budget $5 million to put at-risk youth in crime-riddled cities to work for the Department of Natural Resources this summer, something like the famous Civilian Conservation Corps.

Sneering Republican lawmakers in both chambers contemptuously rejected that. Last week, they did the same to the governor's proposals to expand children's dental coverage.

And now they are expanding their right-wing agenda to the state universities, which are supposed to be autonomous.

The House Higher Education Committee voted to take $6.7 million away from Michigan State University unless the school drops its sensible policy of requiring every student to have health insurance, something good for both students and the school.

Additionally, to please the religious right, they voted to withhold $4.7 million from the University of Michigan unless it explains — in the manner the lawmakers want — what stem cell research it is conducting. Such research is fully legal now, by the way; four years ago, the citizens voted to legalize it in all forms.

But the religious nuts have never accepted that, and want to have a chilling effect on embryonic stem cell work. Ironically, Bob Genetski, the subcommittee chair, has a lot in common with some of the less responsible students at Michigan State: He has a problem with drinking and driving. Starting April 7, he will have to have someone drive him to Lansing, because a judge took his license away.

That's your leadership in action.

So what can we do about this? Make your voices heard, especially by the governor, who has to run for re-election in two years. There are three seats up on the Michigan Supreme Court; if Democrats win two, that will end the reign of the rubber-stamp court. But the fastest way to restore balance in Lansing would be for the Democrats to gain nine House seats in this November's election.

That won't be easy; the GOP majority has drawn new lines to give themselves maximum advantage. But they've tried that before and still lost control. The lower house has been volatile; the Repubs gained 20 seats two years ago, the Dems nine the time before that.

If ever there was a case where better checks and balances were badly needed, Michigan today is it. 

Tragedy and farce: For years, the government has required everyone riding in a car to wear seatbelts. They do this because it saves thousands of lives every year. What's even clearer is that it is essential that motorcycle riders wear helmets. Michigan has had a law for years requiring them to do so, and those who ride motorcycles have been screaming like spoiled toddlers ever since, demanding the right to splatter their brains on the highway.

Letting them ride without helmets makes no sense. The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning forecasts that without the helmet law, there will be an average of an additional 30 deaths and 127 incapacitating injuries every year.

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