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  • Thank you, Detroit

    I’m not going to lie to you – this isn’t easy. This week, the final City Slang local music column will be published in the Metro Times (on hardcore band Final Assault), and I have just submitted a cover feature on the women of Detroit hip-hop, to be published next week (8/6). This blog that you’re reading now will be my last one as a regular MT contributor. I have a lot to look forward to. I’m going to be an associate editor at Yellow Scene Magazine in Colorado, a tremendous publication in a beautiful part of the country. But leaving Detroit will be incredibly difficult for me. I love the place. It’s been (amazingly) six and a half years since I arrived, a couple of cases in hand and not much of a plan in mind. I just knew, after three separate research trips for books and a magazine article, that I felt at home here. Metro Times offered me freelance work almost immediately, as did a new website called Metromix (whatever happened to that?) When I arrived here, I had been working as a writer in the UK for nine years, but the help and encouragement I received […]

    The post Thank you, Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers

      We here at MT will be delighted when Mr. Jack White throws out a pitch at Navin Field (at least, we hope he will), but until then, we’ll be happy with his pitch to Santa this evening at Comerica Park.    

    The post Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW)

      Footage from the Gathering of the Juggalos set to clips of Morgan Freeman’s narration from March of the Penguins? Kind of forced, but also kind of beautiful. As the AV Club reports: The oft-sought voiceover champion lends a touch of gravitas to the festival proceedings. Unfortunate scenes of barely clad people having various liquids dumped onto them now carries a quiet dignity as it’s all part of nature’s majestic plan that keeps the world spinning through this elegantly designed and truly wondrous universe. Also, the video is NSFW as there are boobs in it. Watch the clip below:

    The post Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW) appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love”

    It seems like the polar vortex will never end: the weather phenomenon that brought us the most brutal winter on record this winter is to blame for this summer’s chillier-than usual temperatures as well. A couple of bands, though, made lemonade out of lemons (or snow cones out of snow?) by using the icy landscape to film music videos. 800beloved shot the video for “Tidal” in some sand dunes near Empire, Mich., and this week Turn to Crime debuted the video for “Can’t Stop,” the title track of their recently-released album. Even more piles of ice and snow might be the last thing Detroiters want to see right now, but the footage makes for some good visuals that mesh well with the song. Watch the video below:

    The post Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love” appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed

    Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr transferred oversight of the the city’s water department Tuesday to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in an order intended to refocus “efforts to help DWSD customers get and remain current on their water bills,” Orr’s office said today. “This order provides additional clarity to the powers already delegated to the mayor,” Orr said in a statement released Tuesday. “As the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department works to operate more efficiently and communicate more effectively with customers, it is important to ensure there are clear lines of management and accountability.” Duggan will have the authority to manage DWSD and make appointments to the utility’s board, according to a news release. In a statement issued Tuesday, the mayor said he welcomed Orr’s order, adding that officials will develop a plan that “allows those who truly need to access to financial help … to do so with shorter wait times.” “We need to change a number of things in the way we have approached the delinquent payment issues and I expect us to have a new plan shortly,” Duggan said. “There are funds available to support those who cannot afford their bills — we need to do a much better job in […]

    The post Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years

    Rovers Scooter Club, a local gang dedicated to celebrating and riding motor scooters, will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary this week with a very special ride. Motor City Shakedown, the annual birthday party for the club, will commence this Friday, August 1 at New Way Bar. DJ Grover from Cincinnati will be spinning northern soul, reggae, and ska, according to club member Michael Palazzola. Saturday will feature a ride from Ferndale to Detroit, starting at noon at M-Brew. Palazzola says this is where most bikes will congregate before taking the ride to the city and folks will be prepping by getting some grub starting at 10 a.m.  Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host the after party,  a special event that will feature performances by several bands as well as Satori Circus. That portion of the event will commence at 8 p.m. with performances starting at 9 p.m. It’s free to riders, but the public is welcome to join the party with the mere cost of a door charge. Come midnight, the club will raffle off a vintage Lambretta LI 150. Sunday morning will end the weekend of festivities, with brunch taking place at the Bosco in Ferndale.   

    The post Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Politics & Prejudices

The problems that remain

From Detroit to across the nation, there is much to be done

The votes are in — except, that is, for 10 million or so absentee, mail-in and provisional ballots that won't be counted for days or weeks. Still, odds are you know something I didn't when I wrote this column: You probably know who won.

That is, unless we are hip-deep in another disputed presidential election, in which case we will have final proof that we and our nation are hated by all the gods.

But the odds are pretty good that by now, you know either that President Obama is going to serve a second term, or that Mitt Romney will be our first Mormon president.

No matter which is the case, the talking heads on all the cable channels are chattering away about why the election went the way it did. Tomorrow, they'll have moved on to predicting what the next administration will do — though based on history, they won't have much of a clue, especially if it's Malleable Mitt.

But here's what I know: Regardless of who is president, regardless of who controls the Michigan Legislature, regardless of how Michigan voted on the six ballot proposals and regardless of who controls the U.S. Senate, ...

We still have problems. Big problems. Now that the last lying campaign commercial has assaulted our brain cells, it's time to get real about some of what lies ahead:

 

Detroit: The voters on Tuesday either reaffirmed or pulled the plug on the tough Emergency Manager law the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder created last year.

That law was suspended when those who hate it — mainly unions and their supporters — collected enough petition signatures to slap it on the ballot. Everybody knows the main reason the governor wanted it: Detroit can't go on much longer the way it is.

Two months ago, I went to see Mayor Dave Bing. I could see how he might balance the budget by using the consent agreement, I told him. But I didn't see how that could do anything about — his figure — $12 billion in unfunded liabilities.

Essentially, he agreed. There's no way the city will be able to come up with that money. It seems inevitable that at some point the city will pass into some kind of state control, with or without a session in bankruptcy court.

If the emergency manager law is back as a result of the election, and an EM is named, what will his or her mission be?

And if the voters have repealed the EM law, what then becomes of Detroit? How does the city get out of this immense hole? How does a city function when it doesn't have enough police to ensure even minimal public safety?

How does a city with no trustworthy public school system attract new middle-class families?

How does a city that is totally broke turn down an offer from the state to fix up and restore its once-beautiful, now crumbling signature public park, i.e. Belle Isle?

And having done that, thanks to an insular and irrational City Council — how do the ruins of that once great city even begin to attract any rational investors?

 

Michigan's forlorn proletariat: Thirty years ago, this was a nicely humming, brawn-based economy. Men with sometimes less than a high school education could make $60,000 to $70,000 a year, with minimal skills and no overtime.

Then the world changed forever. No matter how far the economy recovers, there will never again be hundreds of thousands of high-paying, low-skilled jobs in the automotive industry here. When the automakers do hire nowadays, the new workers make less than $30,000 a year.

You can't buy a house on that. You can't even buy much of a new car on that. Yet we haven't a clue what to do about the hundreds of thousands of kids who come rolling out of our high schools every year, wanting to find careers and stay in this state.

We've cut scholarships and raised tuition, so that kids who could once have almost paid for college by working good summer jobs now come out $40,000 or more in debt.

Despite laying out all that money, they too often are finding that there aren't any good jobs available.

And what about those who aren't cut out for a traditional four-year school? How do they find and afford training programs that will actually lead to a real job?

What about the tens of thousands who come out of inner-city (and some suburban) high schools every year, basically illiterate and without work ethic and life coping skills?

What about them? Did either presidential candidate indicate they'd do anything to give them the skills they need to have a shot at becoming productive members of this society?

Did any candidate for any office say anything about helping these people, sometimes called the lumpenproletariat?

Does it ever occur to anyone living in the Grosse Pointes that their lives might not be utterly secure forever, living next to a huge and growing mass of desperate people with no future?

How much do you think the next president is thinking about those leading lives of quiet desperation in the ruins?

How long do you think their desperation will be quiet?

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