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  • Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark

    Oh, the irony — initially criticized as Marxist propaganda when Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted them for the Detroit Institute of Arts in the early 1930s, Detroit Industry has now been designated as a a national landmark. The announcement was made Wednesday, according to the Detroit News by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis as part of National Park Week. The designation does not change the ownership status of the murals or grant any new protections or rights, leaving its place among the rest of the DIA’s art in possible bankruptcy negotiations in question. The work is considered the best of Rivera’s work in the United States (another mural Rivera had done in New York was destroyed by orders of Nelson Rockefeller). Rivera himself regarded Detroit Industries paintings as his finest work. In the midst of the McCarthy era, the DIA posted this sign outside the court: Rivera’s politics and his publicity seeking are detestable. But let’s get the record straight on what he did here. He came from Mexico to Detroit, thought our mass production industries and our technology wonderful and very exciting, painted them as one of the great achievements of the twentieth century. This came […]

    The post Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit area code 313 may be phased out

    Hey, everybody from the 313, start thinking of new numbers to rally around– the longstanding Detroit area code may be phased out. Our friends over at the Detroit News report that pending a revised estimate next week, the North American Numbering Plan Administration will stop handing out 313 telephone prefixes on new phone numbers. Detroiters with existing cell phone lines would be able to keep their current area codes, while those with land lines would change. via Detroit News: The venerable 313 will ultimately become overtaxed. Even as Detroit’s population has fallen, cellphone usage has accelerated like one of those smoldering SRT Vipers that Dodge has been bolting together at Conner Avenue Assembly — which is, of course, comfortably within the confines of 313. … When the first five dozen area codes were assigned nearly 70 years ago, says NANPA’s Tom Foley, “that was expected basically to last forever.” Instead, somebody invented fax machines, and then somebody else came up with cellphones, and lots of somebody elses decided to give them to 10-year-olds, and meantime the population grew to 300 million. Now every telephone carrier is required to submit twice-yearly forecasts of its needs in each area code, factoring in […]

    The post Detroit area code 313 may be phased out appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council

    Unfortunately, we were unable to attend last night’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, which, in case you were unaware, is a 16-member board established to weigh in on the new Red Wings arena near downtown. About three dozen residents and property owners cast ballots by the 8 p.m. deadline on Wednesday inside the Block at Cass Park, The Detroit News reports. It’s the culmination of a handful of community meetings which began weeks ago. Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez facilitated the meetings, but emphasized at previous meetings that it’s up to the community to conduct business. According to the News, the 12 candidates selected include: Michael Boettcher, Richard Etue, Jason Gapa, Francis Grunow, Steve Guether, Paul Hughes, Ray Litt, Warner Doyle McBryde, Karen McLeod, Delphia Simmons, Melissa Thomas and Anthony Zander. Joel Landy, a land owner in the area, lost his bid. The City Council appointed four candidates last month. As we reported in this week’s issue, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee was negotiated after Olympia Development of Michigan, Detroit Red Wing’s owner Mike Ilitch’s real estate arm, balked on a proposed community benefits agreement.  The committee is charged with the task of offering input on the arena’s design, parking security and more.

    The post Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag

    The Magic Bag in Ferndale will host James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets on Thursday, May 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. A press release reads, “James McMurtry recently signed with the bourgeoning Los Angeles record label Complicated Game. The legendary songwriter will enter the studio later this month to start working on his first album in six years. “I’ve got a new batch of songs, organic and with no added sulfites, aged in oak for several years,” he says. “Francois Moret at Complicated Game seems to like these songs and (producer) C.C. Adcock thinks he can turn them into a record. Good times fixing to roll.” Label head Moret agrees. “In March 2013, when C.C. Adcock told me we were going to see James McMurtry at the Continental Club in Austin, I expected to see a good show,” he says, “but what I saw left me mesmerized! I immediately knew I wanted to sign him. As a European, it is an amazing opportunity to work with one of the most talented American singer-songwriters.” Evidence: McMurtry’s Just Us Kids (2008) and Childish Things (2005). The former earned his highest Billboard 200 chart position in nearly two decades and notched […]

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  • City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit

    The Dead Kennedys, still with local boy Klaus Flouride in the ranks, will play St. Andrew’s Hall on Tuesday, June 24. Alongside Flouride and fellow original members East Bay Ray and DH Peligro, the current lineup includes singer Ron “Skip” Greer, taking the place of Jello Biafra. Downtown Brown will open that show, which starts at 7 p.m., with tickets priced $20-$25. Give Klaus a hero’s hometown welcome. Just over a week before that, strangely enough, Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine will play at the Magic Stick. It’s a weird coincidence, but one that DK fans should be happy to embrace. That show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $17-$19. Local hardcore vets Negative Approach play before Jello, with the Crashdollz opening the show. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain

    The Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck will present a police drama called A Steady Rain May 2 through 24. Planet Ant veterans Ryan Carlson and York Griffith will star in the play, written by House of Cards and Mad Men co-writer Keith Huff. Tickets ($10-$20) are on sale now at PlanetAnt.com. According to the press release, “A Steady Rain by Keith Huff focuses on Joey and Denny, best friends since kindergarten and partners on the police force whose loyalty to each other is tested by domestic affairs, violence and the rough streets of Chicago. Joey helps Denny with his family and Denny helps Joey stay off the bottle. But when a routine disturbance call takes a turn for the worse their loyalty is put to the ultimate test.First produced at Chicago Dramatists, A Steady Rain appeared on Broadway featuring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The Planet Ant production of A Steady Rain is directed by York Griffith featuring Ryan Carlson and Andy Huff. This marks the return of two of Planet Ant’s founding members. Carlson and Griffith. Griffith has served as the theatre’s Artistic Director where he directed the critically-acclaimed productions The Adding Machine and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? […]

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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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