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  • 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.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Stir It Up

The usual suspects

Running down the GOP's rogues' gallery of potential presidential candidates

The rapture was supposed to happen over the weekend, followed by a series of apocalyptic events. The rapture didn't happen, none of the believers were whisked away, however, the apocalypse for Republican presidential contenders, which started a few weeks ago, is still claiming wannabes.

Real estate developer and reality show star Donald Trump, who trundles around like a petulant Baby Huey, admitted the lie of his media-fronting faux campaign by dropping out when NBC called the question on whether Trump would continue to host the next season of Celebrity Apprentice. Trump opted for forcing B-list celebrities to kiss his backside on a weekly basis rather than trying to become the leader of the free world. Of course, that happened after President Obama took the wind out of Trump's Birther sails by releasing his long form birth certificate (in between meetings setting up the raid the killed Osama bin Laden). Trump puffed himself up about the release, saying, "Now we can talk about oil. We can talk about gasoline prices. We can talk about China ripping off this country." However, rather than continuing the discussion about any of that, he slinked back to his NBC studio to practice glaring out from under his impressive comb-over and saying, "You're fired."

Mike Huckabee, the bass-playing, evangelical former governor of Arkansas, opted to stay in front of the cameras at the FOX network rather than enter the internecine rumble for the honor of running against Obama in 2012. Huckabee was much less flamboyant and entertaining than Trump, but a much more viable candidate. Huckabee's declination leaves the evangelical aura to Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann, who has found it "interesting" that swine flu only breaks out under Democratic presidents (obviously the wrath of God), that the movie The Lion King teaches gay superiority, and that not even one study "shows carbon dioxide is a harmful gas." Well, Bachman is going to be a lot of fun if she actually throws her hat into the ring. It might even be "interesting."

And then there's Newton "Newt" Gingrich, the former congressman and current college professor who says his patriotism made him cheat on his wives (no he's not a fundamentalist Mormon, just the usual serial philanderer). Gingrich seemed like the kind of guy who could bring a breath of sanity to the Republican race — after all, he actually says something based on fact from time to time. And having engineered the Contract with America and the Republican domination of Congress in 1994, it seemed he may know something about political strategy. Of course, it didn't help that he was censured by the House in 1997 for ethics violations and in 1998 resigned from the seat he had just been re-elected to in the midterm elections.

Gingrich's current candidacy is under fire from the Republican side because he had the audacity to speak an unflattering truth about Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's controversial budget proposal that would end Medicare as we know it. Gingrich called it "radical social engineering." Since then he has been kicked by practically every major conservative pundit on the planet (OK, just in the United States, it just seems universal). Newt has backed off, apologized to Ryan, claimed that if he could he would vote for the legislation and said, "Any ad which quotes what I said ... is a falsehood." Nothing I say can enhance that line.

Gov. Mitch Daniels, the guy who took collective bargaining rights away from Indiana state workers by fiat several years ago, chose not to jump into the fray. As has Paul Ryan, although he played coy and left the door open just in case. Sarah Palin has stayed mum, but the pundits seem to think she, too, will stay put in front of the FOX cameras. (BTW, a recent study from Hamilton College on the accuracy of pundits' predictions found that they were accurate only about 50 percent of the time. However liberal pundits were right a bit more often than conservatives and the New York Times' Paul Krugman scored the highest, George Will the lowest. )

Getting back the Republican ire Gingrich faces, there's plenty more to go around.

Rep. John Boehner caught crap from the Tea Party when he admitted that Congress will raise the national debt ceiling. John McCain has caught it again for saying that torture is wrong and useless, as conservatives praised the "enhanced interrogation" they claim led to finding bin Laden's courier.

Whoever emerges from next year's primary season will probably feel like he or she has gone through the end of days, but (sigh) it's just politics.


President Obama caught his own criticism-from-your-base action last week. I'm talking about Princeton Professor Cornell West calling Obama a "puppet of Wall Street" and several other unflattering things.

I've always thought West a fun guy. His flamboyance and audacity have always added colorful entertainment to any panel he sits on, and his unkempt Afro and ever-present scarf add a devil-may-care fashion vibe to the conservative dress of most pundits. Seemingly never afraid to wade into roiling waters, West touched off a war of words among black intellectuals attacking or defending West's views. Unfortunately, the tone of much of this commentary, from West's screed to the back and forth punditry, has been deeply personal. Among West's complaints is the fact that a bellhop at his Washington hotel got a ticket to Obama's inauguration while West didn't.

The fact that there was open argument among African-Americans about Obama was actually a good thing, and got me to thinking about Disintegration, journalist Eugene Robinson's book about the fragmenting of black society published last year. In the book, Robinson argues that black America, formerly a more or less monolithic socio-economic order, has fragmented into four groups. They are: the Mainstream, a working class and middleclass group that by and large works in white America by day and goes home to black America by night; the Abandoned, poor and poorly educated people on the margins of society with few options for changing their lot; the Transcendent, people like Oprah Winfrey, the recently deceased Don Barden, even a Dave Bing who have enjoyed unparalleled success in business, entertainment and politics; and the Emergent, a growing group of African and Caribbean immigrants, and racially mixed people such as Obama, who don't experience black cultural traditions and history in the same way as the rest of us.

Not only does Robinson define these categories, he discusses the dynamics that created them and the fluctuating distances and interactions between them. Whether you think these developments are positive or bemoan them as a black apocalypse, they are part of the landscape of modern American life. West's taking on Obama is a part of that dynamic, as is West's seeming elitism at noting that somehow a bellhop got a ticket to Obama's inauguration while West, a mainstreamer who often walks among the transcendent, was left holding the bag.

There is plenty of apocalyptic fervor to go around these days. I think it has a lot less to do with otherworldly forces and more to do with greed, vanity and the pursuit of power.

Then again, maybe we're just warming up for the next apocalypse — predicted for Dec. 12, 2012. Mark your Mayan calendar.

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