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  • 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.

  • 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.



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Politics & Prejudices

The People vs. the Monster

Even though the 'people have decided,' expect Moroun's meddling to continue

Photo: , License: N/A

Back in the 1960s, kids in my neighborhood would go to the Radio City Theatre in then not-so-beautiful downtown Ferndale to see monster movies on Saturday afternoons.

Mostly, these were cheap, low-budget things, where you could almost see the tape holding the fins on the little lizards masquerading as dinosaurs. But we loved them. The Mummy! Boris Karloff! Lon Chaney! Bride of Frankenstein!

I don't remember the titles of all the bad movies I saw, but one of them was mainly about the "undead," vampires that you could kill, but wouldn't stay dead. You could blast them, decapitate them, crush them, bury them — but they still kept coming, rising from the muck just when you were certain they were dead, staggering at you through the ooze and slime, making you pee your pants.

Time passed, and I forgot all about the matinee monsters. The movie theater closed. I moved away. And then, on Nov. 7, 2012, I realized with a shock that there was such a thing as the undead.

That there was a creature you could keep killing, a slimy, loathsome thing, which kept coming at you, intent on evil.

Except now I finally knew its name. Matty Moroun.

We have long known that the patriarch of the family that owns the Ambassador Bridge will stop at nothing to prevent someone else from building a second span over the Detroit River. He doesn't care about our future.

He doesn't care that our economy would be plunged into deep recession or depression if his ancient bridge were to collapse without any backup. He couldn't care less about Detroit, his rotting ruin of the train station, or his other slum properties.

He cares only to make himself richer. Never mind that he already is worth at least $1.5 billion, according to Forbes, or that he is 85 years old, and must, if indeed human, die soon.

He cares only to enlarge his own swollen monopoly, and possibly about his pathetic wife Nora, and his son Matthew.

But this has been the worst year for Moroun since the neighbors started wearing garlands of garlic and thrusting out little silver crosses when he came by. (OK, I made up that part.)

Still, it has been the year when Michigan residents finally woke up to who he is. This started in January, when Wayne County Judge Prentis Edwards had the guts to throw him in jail, after Moroun and Co. spent two years ignoring his court orders to live up to the terms of a contract he signed with the state. This was for the so-called Gateway Project, intended to improve access from the freeways to the Ambassador Bridge. Moroun illegally routed traffic past his duty-free shops. The courts released Moroun after a little more than a day, but the courts took control of the project away from him — and made him pay the state $16 million to do it right, which they speedily did.

Next, Gov. Rick Snyder found a way to build a new bridge without involving the Legislature, which has been so corrupted by Moroun's money they wouldn't even hold a vote on the project.

The new bridge is the best deal Michigan ever had. Canada will pay all our costs, and Washington gives us $2.2 billion in federal highway funds. Naturally, the deal enraged Moroun.

He declared war, spending possibly as much as $40 million to try to fool the voters into passing two constitutional amendments.

Proposal 6 would have essentially prevented anyone from building a new bridge across the river, ever. Proposal 5 would have made it impossible for the Legislature to raise any taxes, or change tax rates, thus reducing state government to virtual impotence.

Moroun then spent $34 million on a constant flood of TV commercials and a "let the people decide" advertising campaign, a little of which was hilarious distortion, and the rest vicious lies.

Yet on election night, he must have smelled, not his usual sulfur, but the cleansing stench of garlic, and glimpsed the crosses.

The people overwhelmingly said no to Moroun! Even though those telling the truth essentially did no advertising, the people voted down his bridge amendment by almost two to one.

His effort to stop the bridge was dead. Well, not quite. The votes were still coming in when Mickey Blashfield, Moroun's mouthpiece, came forth, saying the new bridge shouldn't be built because of "the unstable salt mine foundations" below the new bridge site.

Experts say that is nonsense, but the truth is of no more interest to the Morouns than it was to Joseph Goebbels. Blashfield hinted, however, that we can expect further lawsuits aimed at stopping what's now being called the New International Trade Crossing.

After all, every year the bridge is delayed is another $100 million or more for the Moroun family. Hopefully, a presidential permit to build will soon be forthcoming, and work can begin.

Call me vindictive, but it would be really nice for the vampire to see the new bridge rising south of his ancient, rotting and rusting structure before he next returns to the primordial ooze. 

Passing of giants: Imagine a Republican governor's wife demonstrating to pass an Equal Rights Amendment for women, and demonstrating for abortion rights at a Republican National Convention. Imagine the same woman saying publicly that abortion should not only be safe and legal — the costs should be covered by state and local governments.

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