Most Read
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    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor

    Detroit home-girl Lily Tomlin will perform at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, June 14. A press release reads, “Get together with Lily Tomlin for an unforgettable night of fun and sidesplitting laughter. “Tomlin is amazing” The NY Times and “as always a revelation.” The New Yorker This unique comic artist takes her audience on what the Washington Post calls a “wise and howlingly funny” trip with more than a dozen of her timeless characters—from Ernestine to Mrs. Beasley to Edith Ann.” “With astounding skill and energy, Tomlin zaps through the channels like a human remote control. Using a fantastic range of voices, gestures and movements, she conjures up the cast of characters with all the apparent ease of a magician pulling a whole menagerie of animals from a single hat.” NY Daily News “Her gentle touch is as comforting as it is edifying.” NY Time Out She has “made the one-person show the daring, irreverent art form it is today.” Newsweek Her long list of awards includes: a Grammy; two Tonys; six Emmys; an Oscar nomination; two Peabodys; and the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Find more info here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor

    The Detroit Metro Times, Detroit’s award-winning alternative weekly media company, is proud to announce the recent hire of Valerie Vande Panne as Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning independent journalist and Michigan native, Vande Panne’s work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Daily Beast, and Salon, among other publications. Previously, Vande Panne attended Harvard University and was a regular contributor to The Boston Phoenix, and a news editor of High Times magazine. She has spent years covering drug policy among other subjects, including the environment, culture, lifestyle, extreme sports, and academia. “Valerie understands our business and what we expect to accomplish in Detroit. She has an excellent sense for stories that will move our readers, as well as experience with balancing print and digital content. I’m excited to have her at the paper and trust her leadership as we move forward,” said Detroit Metro Times publisher Chris Keating.

    The post Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’

    She welcomes you when you enter Detroit, from every direction, with the one word that might just be Detroit’s biggest philosophical question: Injured? Joumana Kayrouz is deeper than the inflated image watching over Detroit, peddling justice to the poor and broken of the city. This Wednesday, Drew Philp takes us behind the billboard and into the heart of the Kayrouz quest. (And all of Brian Rozman’s photos of Kayrouz have not been retouched.) Check out MT‘s cover story, on newsstands Wednesday!

    The post Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt

    There was a fire in an upstairs apartment at PJ’s Lager House on Monday evening. No people were hurt, although three cats belonging to the tenants died after CPR. The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. during a show featuring Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band, Curtin, and Jeffrey Jablonsky. “We just smelled smoke and someone yelled everyone has to get out,” 33-year-old Nick Leu told MLive. On the Lager House Facebook page in the early hours of the morning, a post said, “We at PJ’s lager House would like to thank everyone for their care and concern. Also, a very big THANK YOU to all who stepped up to do what they could this evening. The fire was contained to the upstairs but due to water damage in the bar, we will be closed until it can be assessed. Everyone is safe and we will keep you updated.” A later update read, “Update from the big boss. Since there was no damage to the stage side of the bar, the show will go on tomorrow! You may have to enter through the back door and there may not be a large selection of booze but we are going […]

    The post Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to The Sugar Clouds’ Partners Don’t Do That (They Watch and be Amazed) (Wax Splat) is a nostalgic look at the psychedelic days of ’60s grooviness. Even the album cover looks like a lava lamp. The male-female vocals have a sort of Jefferson Airplane feel, and the songs are blessed with both sugary sweet pop melodies and a garage-y earthiness. The story of the band’s formation is rather interesting; the two vocalists, Greg and Melissa Host, are a divorced couple who wrote the songs in their living room. The band is still together, so this divorce was a hell of a lot more civil than any we’ve ever known of. Steffanie Christi’an has friends in fairly high places. Her new Way Too Much mini-album is being put out by Nadir Omowale’s Distorted Soul label, and she is also a regular feature on Jessica Care Moore’s Black Women Rock revue. Maybe the choice of cover image isn’t the best – she looks a bit like a Tina Turner tribute act here. But that can and should be […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Politics & Prejudices

The Snyder budget

Governor unveils tough calls, but they must be made

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it, good and hard." —H.L. Mencken

"Everybody likes change until it affects them." —Gov. Rick Snyder

Our new governor presented his new budget to the Legislature last week, and it really was a bombshell.

Bye-bye, film industry tax credits! Bye-bye, Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) for the poor!

Private pensions will be taxed! Public pensions will be taxed! Prison spending will be slashed! Money for higher education will be cut! Money for elementary and high school education will be cut! Revenue sharing will be cut by a third!

But business taxes will be lowered dramatically.

The howling began immediately, some of it less dignified than the rest. Starting at the bottom, Mitch Albom, who wants more of his cloying books made into movies, emitted a protracted whine about the film credits in the Sunday Gannett paper. "As a person who helped create the film credits program, I asked for months to meet with Snyder," he huffed.

The governor, evidently not knowing that Mitch was a Very Important Person, kept him waiting until two weeks ago, the churl. When the governor didn't do what Mitch wanted, Albom wrote that he felt like he'd "been punched in the stomach." No five friends in heaven waiting for Rick Snyder, no siree!

Granted, there were a lot of more serious objections to the governor's proposals. There are actually legitimate arguments that cutting back the film credits is the wrong thing to do. More importantly, there are deep concerns about what these budget cuts mean to the poor and our children.

Gilda Jacobs, who now heads the Michigan League for Human Services, was appalled at the specter of another 14,000 kids being driven into poverty. Others were stunned by the proposed $470 per pupil cut; one wonders how many more districts this will tip over into either emergency financial manager-hood or bankruptcy.

The revenue sharing cuts will hurt cities too, but actually came as a relief to some city officials I talked with; many of them feared it might be zeroed out entirely.

Labor complained too, of course, but the biggest caterwauling of all came from seniors who objected to the idea of having to pay tax on the money they collect from their pensions, some of which are quite generous.

"Class and generation warfare at their highest!" bellowed one Tom Diamondale, who in e-mails referred to the governor as "Slicky Slider," which, as nicknames go, is sort of cute.

State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, who heads the tiny caucus of Democrats in that body, complained that there was no shared sacrifice.

Yes, just about everybody hated this budget, except big business interests and the Chamber of Commerce. But curiously, I had a hard time working up much sympathy for the critics, for one largely overlooked reason:

They offered no alternatives.

All last week, I kept waiting for the Democrats to release a proposed alternative budget. Then I waited for some group to do so. But no one offered anything, except more whining.

Sorry, but the facts are these: Michigan has a huge budget deficit and the books have to be balanced. Right now.

We also have a broken economy and tax structure, which is partly still the legacy of our automotive past and partly due to our failed term-limits system, and the even more dysfunctional politicians we've been electing, one in particular: Jennifer Granholm.

Make no mistake about it. If you are a liberal, if you are a Democrat, if you care about children and education, you have her to thank for this. She knew this day was coming.

Everybody in Lansing who knew about state finances knew it was coming. We were going to run out of money and crash and burn, unless we changed our ways.

When the Democrats were running things, they weren't even willing to try. After her triumphant re-election in 2006, I urged the governor (through a meeting with her husband) to be bold. Go on television, explain everything to everybody.

Talk, I suggested, about shared sacrifice and the need to bite the bullet and address the real problems of this state. Use your landslide victory and superb communication skills.

Had she done that, she might or might not have succeeded. Mike Bishop, that dark pool of negativity, did not have the clout or confidence he would later attain.

There's a good chance she could have defined the debate, perhaps won a small increase in the state income tax or sensibly pushed to extend the sales tax on services.

Possibly she could have even started a major move to restructure state government. But she didn't have the guts to try. The moral bankruptcy of this state's political culture reached rock bottom in 2007. That's when the slimy politicians sold off $900 million in future tobacco settlement revenues in exchange for $400 million right away.

They did that in order to avoid hard, necessary decisions. They should all have been impeached. Shortly thereafter, they came up with the now-hated Michigan Business Tax to replace the older, Single Business Tax. What people now forget was that when it was first approved, the MBT was an improvement on what came before. But then, at the last minute, the parties slapped a 22 percent surcharge on the new tax, effectively driving business away.

After that, anybody with two brain cells to rub together knew the coming crash of state government finances was only a matter of time, and not much time. Actually, it would have happened on Granholm's watch, except for one thing: President Obama's stimulus program, which sent billions to this state.

There were probably some starry-eyed idealists who thought the money might be used for job creation or to invest in new and better infrastructure, etc. But our politicians just threw it in the deficit hole. Now, it's all gone, and there won't be any more. Hence the Snyder revolution. Nobody, by the way, should be mad at the governor.

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