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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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Higher Ground

The roots of the fiasco

From shoddy premises to final 'failure,' a look at the War on Drugs

I'd like to start off the new year, if I may, with a radical look at the War on Drugs — a close look at its roots and at the ugly growths that have resulted in America's failing social order today.

I'd like to take as my text a statement by — of all people — TV evangelist Pat Robertson, who commented recently on his 700 Club broadcast on the Christian Broadcasting Network: "We're locking up people that take a couple of puffs of marijuana, and the next thing you know they've got 10 years.

"I'm not exactly for the use of drugs — don't get me wrong," Pat said, "but I just believe that criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot and that kind of thing, I mean it's costing us a fortune and it's ruining young people. Young people go into prison ... as youths and they come out as hardened criminals, and it's not a good thing." Robertson's spokespersons later tried to back away, saying that he only wanted government to "revisit the severity of the existing laws," but the episode is telling.

Our subtext is provided by the Associated Press in a piece cited by Tony Newman in Alternet last month. The AP headline: "The U.S. drug war has met none of its goals." The AP said, "After 40 years, the United States War on Drugs has cost 1 trillion dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence more brutal and widespread."

"This year," Newman adds, "Mexico President Calderon called for a debate on drug legalization to help reduce the bloody war in Mexico. Former Mexico President Vicente Fox has since gone further and called for an end to prohibition. Just last week, United Kingdom's Bob Ainsworth, the former drugs and defense minister, called for the legalization and regulation of drugs.

"All of this follows a 2009 report by three former Latin American presidents, Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, Cesar Gaviria of Colombia and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, where they called the drug war a failure and emphasized the need to 'break the taboo' on an open and honest discussion on international drug policy."

"An open and honest discussion" would lead first to an examination of what the War on Drugs is all about: Why do they have a War on Drugs? What are its goals? Who are the combatants? Why has there been no measurable success at all?

First off, it's not a war on drugs per se, because all sorts of drugs are more prevalent than ever, and the pharmaceutical industry is indeed the most profitable of enterprises, but it's a war on recreational drugs and their users.

The purpose of the War on Drugs is to persecute and punish users of recreational drugs in an effort basically to try to keep people from getting high on substances ruled illegal by a political process with little regard for medical or moral niceties — nor for due process of law, for that matter.

Recreational drugs like marijuana, cocaine and heroin were once legal. One day, through some mystical process that took place in the houses of Congress and in state legislative bodies in turn, each of them was determined to be illegal.

Marijuana was declared a narcotic. The narcotics themselves were deemed to have no redeeming social value whatsoever. Users and suppliers would be subject to long punitive sentences up to and including life in prison, and there would be no provision for medical or mental health uses. The shit would be illegal, period. Case closed.

This "tissue of horseshit" (as William Burroughs would put it) was sold to lawmakers and the nation's press by a creep named Harry Anslinger not long after the repeal of alcohol prohibition (remember that?) in 1933. Four years later, the idiotic marijuana laws were enacted by Congress with absolutely no convincing medical evidence in support, and users of cocaine and heroin began to be characterized as bigger threats to society than bank robbers or kidnappers.

Like the great novelist Upton Sinclair (no relation) pointed out, as cited by Paul Armentano on AlterNet: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." Quickly, however, the stakes progressed beyond simply Herr Anslinger's measly salary to spawn a vast legion of drug law enforcement personnel that gradually reshaped our nation's approach to the very nature of law enforcement itself.

This is all in my own lifetime. I was born four years after marijuana was criminalized, started smoking weed in 1962, and was a criminal user of marijuana until the age of 67, when I was recognized as a medical marijuana patient by the same State of Michigan that had held me for three years in its various prisons some 40 years before.

I started my own war against the marijuana laws 46 years ago this very month, even before the government admitted that there was a War on Drugs — or better said, a war on drug users. The drugs weren't going anywhere, and in fact the government itself has arguably been responsible for importing massive quantities of heroin and other drugs from Afghanistan and Southeast Asia since World War II.

The drug user is a pretty easy target for the drug police. The real criminal elements who present a law enforcement problem are the large-scale suppliers of drugs to the recreational drug users, and they're a problem because incredible sums of money are at stake in their operations as a result of the criminality of the drugs themselves.

If the drugs were legal, these people would be druggists, not criminal drug dealers, they would purvey a uniformly high-quality product and they would be taxed on their sales and earnings. Duh! Instead both users and suppliers are viciously demonized by the forces of law and order, and their parrots in the press, persecuted as a danger to society, and subjected to the entire range of penalties and punishments mandated by the lawmakers.

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