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  • Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit

    Former American Idol contestant Vonzell Solomon weighs in on twerking, natural hair & CEO status. In 2005, recording artist Vonzell “Baby V” Solomon embarked on a journey that changed her life. At the age of 20, Vonzell made it to the top three on American Idol before she was eliminated. But that was not the beginning nor the end of her journey to stardom. Vonzell is one of more than two dozen artists on tour with YouTube sensation Todrick Hall, who is a former Idol contestant as well. Todrick gained notoriety for his fast food drive-thru songs and also for producing parody videos  —  based on popular Broadway musicals and songs. His tour, uniquely entitled Twerk Du Soleil (translation: twerk of the sun), is a combination of his popular YouTube spoofs. Both Vonzell and her ratchet alter ego,Boonquisha Jenkins, made an appearance in Twerk Du Soleil,which stopped in Detroit July 23 at Saint Andrews Hall. Boonquisha opened the show by facilitating a twerking competition among the audience. Next, Vonzell made a reappearance singing a fan favorite – Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” Later, Boonquisha came on stage screaming “It’s so cold in the D! You gotta be from the D to […]

    The post Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race

    If a poll released this week is any indication of how the August 5 primary election will turn out, current Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano has reason to worry, Fox 2 reports. Ficano, who’s seeking a third term, polled in fourth place — behind former Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans, Westland Mayor Bill Wild and Wayne County Commissioner Phil Cavanaugh, according to Fox 2. The poll by Strategic Solutions LLC, showed 6.7 percent of respondents said they’d vote for Ficano, which isn’t so bad: He finished ahead of County Commissioner Kevin McNamara (who came in at No. 6) and someone literally described as “a candidate not named here” (who polled at No. 5.) If you’re planning to head to the polls — which you should! — and need some input on the candidates and ballot proposals, you can read for our election coverage in this week’s Metro Times.

    The post Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • A Mad Decent Mixtape

    Mad Decent Block Party will roll through town on Saturday, August 16, bringing to town artists like Dillon Francis, Diplo, Flosstradamus, RiFF RAFF, Keys N Krates, and Zeds Dead. Thugli, a Canadian duo, will perform on the Toronto leg of the tour and they put together a 45 minute mix that features songs by some of the tour’s featured artists as well as a host of others.  Listen to it here. 

    The post A Mad Decent Mixtape appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders

    Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host a special event this Saturday, July 26 in hopes of raising money for the local faction of an international nonprofit, Burners without Borders Detroit. Breaking Borders is a one-evening-only event that will feature live music, performance, and art. Satori Circus will perform along with spoken word artist ZakAndWhatArmy. Music by Tartanic, Dixon’s Violin, and Servitor. Fire dancers, hoop performers, and acrobats will provide a certain mysticism to the ambiance as old Victorian steampunk and tribal art is shown in the main gallery. There will also be a runway fashion show and the evening will end with a dubstep rave featuring DJ Forcefeed and Dotty. Truly, there’s something for everyone. Perhaps more importantly, there will be a full service bar. The event is open to those 18 and older and IDs will be checked at the door. Admission is $25 at the door, or $20 with the donation of a canned good. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the party goes until 2 a.m. A 20 percent commission will be taken from all art sold at this event and donated to Burners without Borders. The Tangent Gallery is located at 715 Milwaukee Ave., Detroit; 313-873-2955; tangentgallery.com.

    The post Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project

    By Amanda Mooney There’s a lot that goes into producing a film, and unless you are a filmmaker you really have no idea. Writing, casting, finding a location, shooting, and editing; each step of the process can take days, months, and sometimes years to complete. Can you imagine doing it ALL in just 48 hours? The 48 Hour Film Project is an annual competition that takes place all over the world in various cities. According to Mike Madigan, head of the Detroit 48 Hour chapter, the city is one of the largest participating in terms of the number of teams. The competing teams go in blind as to what kind of film they will be producing, with no creative planning beyond getting a cast and crew together, Madigan explained. “They pick a genre out of a hat, and they get a line, a prop, and a character. And they have to incorporate that within a short film, that’s usually between 4 to 7 minutes long. And they have the timeframe of doing it all within 48 hours,” said Madigan, “So all the creative process of it all has to happen within that 48 hour–writing a script, putting it together, editing–to […]

    The post 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space

    Church: Revival is the new project by local rap duo Passalacqua (aka Bryan Lackner and Brent Smith), but it’s more than just a new Passalacqua release. The rappers teamed up with siblings Jax Anderson (frontwoman of rockers Flint Eastwood) and Seth Anderson, who together form the songwriting team called Syblyng (naturally). The result is a cycle of songs that promises to be darker than Passalacqua’s material so far. The project will make a live debut on Saturday, July 26 at a brand new venue space at the Detroit Bus Co.’s building Eight & Sand, and they will premiere the Right Bros.-directed video for the track “Baptism” as well. Other performances include Tunde Olaniran and Open Mike Eagle, and DJ sets by Nothing Elegant, Dante LaSalle, and Charles Trees. We met up the two duos at Eight & Sand to check out the new space and to talk about the project with all parties involved. Metro Times: How long have you been working together? Jax Anderson: Seth and I are constantly writing songs together. We want to push in the direction of becoming songwriters more frequently. This is our first project that we took on to co-write everything together. We’re basically just a songwriting entity. We won’t play live that […]

    The post Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space 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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