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  • The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues

    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Politics & Prejudices

The meaning of Dr. K.

The crank who made us rethink how lives should end

Photo: Photo: WillMcC, License: N/A

Photo: WillMcC


Very few people knew this, but a wealthy woman from California fell in love with Jack Kevorkian soon after he finally got himself convicted and sent to prison back in 1999.

Her name was Fuensanta Plaza, and while her name sounded like a shopping mall in Los Angeles, she was actually a Venezuelan who had lived many years in Switzerland. She would show up monthly, sometimes staying in the Townsend Hotel, and would take a limousine to see Dr. Death.

She was in her early 50s, highly educated, multilingual, had an exotic Mitteleuropean accent, and, with her dark hair and very white skin, could easily have fit in on the set of The Addams Family. She felt they were destined to be. Sometimes she talked as if he would be released and they would marry. Other times, she had visions of them ending it all together.

Once, she even mentioned smuggling some poison into prison, slipping it between the bars and biting it together, which, besides being practically impossible, given that they search you at Jacktown, smacked uncomfortably of Adolf and Eva's bunker farewell.

"Do you know what first brought us together?" she asked me once. "It was when we found out that we agreed that nobody who hated children and dogs could be all bad!" she said, laughing. I decided not to suggest a trip to Cedar Point.

For a while, the good Dr. Death looked forward to her visits; she was well-read, intelligent, and morbidly witty. She fooled herself (as other people have) into thinking that he cared for her. Kevorkian was bored in prison, and needed someone to amuse him. He was, however, incapable of forming any kind of deep, lasting human attachments.

Eventually, I think the senorita realized this. What really disillusioned her, however, was his failure to follow through on his promise to starve himself to death. Kevorkian had vowed for years to do that if he were ever imprisoned.

Once on the cellblock, however, that didn't look quite so appetizing. On one of the few occasions I talked to him during his prison years, he confessed a soft spot for "those chewy, rubbery cookies" they had in the prison cafeteria.

When Fuensanta realized Dr. Death wasn't ready to put his cyanide where his mouth was, she was scandalized. "He is killing Kevorkian so that Jack may liff!" she spluttered, accent thicker than usual. With that, she flounced back to California, where she became a devotee of the Norse gods.

I'm not making that up. Last year, she went to meet Loki. I don't know if she did self-medicide, though she told me once that she had vowed not to live to see 60, and she was three months short of that milestone when she entered Valhalla.

Last week, Jack Kevorkian joined her in what he believed would be eternal nothingness. Though he only talked to me once after he got out of the slam four years ago, (he said I was "too objective"), I once knew him as well as, or better than, any other journalist. I covered all his trials for The New York Times and did major pieces about him for Esquire and Vanity Fair.

He was, indeed, an eternally colorful character, even if the palette had heavy black accents. Now, however, his personal story is finally over, and it is time to start asking:

What was his place in history? Was he, in fact, a prophet ahead of his time, a medical pioneer who will be seen as a visionary by future generations? Or was he just a ghoulish crank, a relic of the mid-1990s, who titillated us with morbid death porn in an era when the economy was good, we weren't at war, and nobody had heard of Osama, Obama or even Monica?

In a sense, Fuensanta was right, in that Kevorkian the trailblazer had ceased to exist some time ago — but not because he refused to commit suicide in jail.

When he died last week, I was at Stirling Castle in Scotland, cell phone-free so that I could imagine myself as a medieval Scottish warrior. My significant other had no such fantasies, and so she got the call. When I found out, I mentioned Dr. Death's demise to an Israeli traveler.

"I thought he died a long time ago," she said. She wasn't alone; from time to time, people in Detroit have asked me whether he was still alive, or whatever happened to him.

In fact, during the last few years, Dr. Death had largely lived as a cranky recluse, dividing much of his time between the Royal Oak Public Library and a cheap apartment across the street. Three years ago, he launched a bid for Congress as an independent, before characteristically losing interest in his own campaign, finishing with 3 percent of the vote.

Ironically, his reputation — and that of the cause he championed — might be vastly different if he had died when he predicted he would. Years ago, he insisted he would never live to be 70. "Nobody in my family has, and I won't either," he said.

When he did turn that magic number, on May 26, 1998, he — with the necessary help of attorney Geoffrey Fieger — had accomplished something astounding: he had made his brand of physician-assisted suicide de facto legal in metropolitan Detroit, if not all of Michigan. Prosecutors indicated they would no longer charge him in assisted suicide cases.

Other doctors were talking about also openly helping patients. But there was always a reckless and self-destructive piece of Jack Kevorkian. He began assisting patients with more dubious physical or mental problems. Finally, he insisted on performing euthanasia on a victim of Lou Gehrig's disease.

He deliberately baited prosecutors by videotaping the act, sending it to Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes, and — just to make sure he got himself convicted — firing Fieger, the man to whom he owed his freedom and his international celebrity status.

Kevorkian insisted on defending himself. This time, his client really was a fool. As they led him away after conviction, he grinned at me and said: "Now I've got them right where I want them."

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