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  • 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; tangentgallery.com.

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

  • 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project

    By Amanda Mooney There’s a lot that goes into producing a film, and unless you are a filmmaker you really have no idea. Writing, casting, finding a location, shooting, and editing; each step of the process can take days, months, and sometimes years to complete. Can you imagine doing it ALL in just 48 hours? The 48 Hour Film Project is an annual competition that takes place all over the world in various cities. According to Mike Madigan, head of the Detroit 48 Hour chapter, the city is one of the largest participating in terms of the number of teams. The competing teams go in blind as to what kind of film they will be producing, with no creative planning beyond getting a cast and crew together, Madigan explained. “They pick a genre out of a hat, and they get a line, a prop, and a character. And they have to incorporate that within a short film, that’s usually between 4 to 7 minutes long. And they have the timeframe of doing it all within 48 hours,” said Madigan, “So all the creative process of it all has to happen within that 48 hour–writing a script, putting it together, editing–to […]

    The post 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space

    Church: Revival is the new project by local rap duo Passalacqua (aka Bryan Lackner and Brent Smith), but it’s more than just a new Passalacqua release. The rappers teamed up with siblings Jax Anderson (frontwoman of rockers Flint Eastwood) and Seth Anderson, who together form the songwriting team called Syblyng (naturally). The result is a cycle of songs that promises to be darker than Passalacqua’s material so far. The project will make a live debut on Saturday, July 26 at a brand new venue space at the Detroit Bus Co.’s building Eight & Sand, and they will premiere the Right Bros.-directed video for the track “Baptism” as well. Other performances include Tunde Olaniran and Open Mike Eagle, and DJ sets by Nothing Elegant, Dante LaSalle, and Charles Trees. We met up the two duos at Eight & Sand to check out the new space and to talk about the project with all parties involved. Metro Times: How long have you been working together? Jax Anderson: Seth and I are constantly writing songs together. We want to push in the direction of becoming songwriters more frequently. This is our first project that we took on to co-write everything together. We’re basically just a songwriting entity. We won’t play live that […]

    The post Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space 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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