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  • 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 new 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 new project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • PETA offers to pay overdue water bills for Detroiters willing to go vegan

    #150207742 / gettyimages.com As locals continue to flood Detroit streets to protest the city’s ongoing water debacle, one national organization is hoping to be part of the solution — that is, for a dietary price. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA as the organization is more commonly known, has offered to pay outstanding water bills for 10 Detroiters who are willing to go vegan for one month. “Vegan meals take far less of a toll on the Earth’s resources,” PETA representatives said in a recent press release. “It takes about 2,500 gallons of water to produce just a pound of meat but only about 155 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat.” PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk adds, “Vegan meals are also a cost-effective way to help prevent health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart conditions, the last thing that someone who is struggling financially needs to deal with.” Folks interested in participating are asked to send a copy of their most recent overdue water bill and their written pledge to go vegan for one month to PETA Attn: Detroit Water at 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510 before Aug. 1.

    The post PETA offers to pay overdue water bills for Detroiters willing to go vegan appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Dinner Club Does Brunch

    Sure, The Dinner Club, a regularly occurring pop-up that takes places at the Storefront Gallery  in Ferndale (and other locations, occasionally), usually happens around dinner time, but this Sunday, July 27, there will be a special edition: Brunch Chef Matthew Baldridge, who’s resume includes stints at such Detroit greats as Cliff Bell’s, The Rattlesnake Club, and Seldom Blues, has crafted a menu of French-inspired items that employ locally procured ingredients. Brunch includes four courses where guests will be treated to such delights as cocoa, cinnamon, chili-spiced creamy grits with pickled strawberries, cocoa puffs and strawberry-infused syrup, a smoked gouda potato gallette with Faygo Root Beer braised pork belly, quail egg and Faygo Root Beer syrup, banana marscapone-filled French toast with fresh raspberries, whipped cream and balsamic syrup, and champagne-soaked strawberries. It is also important to note that brunch is BYOChampagne. Baldridge, along with The Storefront Gallery’s Derek John and Lilacpop Studio owner and artist Janna Coumoundouros, curate the event that includes an art show, a great playlist, and visuals. Brunch services are at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and last about two hours, only 20 seats are available at each service. The cost is $25 plus a service fee. The Storefront Gallery […]

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  • Jurassic 5 holds onto what’s golden

      By Ashley Zlatopolsky It’s been a little over twenty years since iconic ‘90s alternative hip-hop group Jurassic 5 first formed in Los Angeles’ Good Life club. Widely regarded as a pivotal influence in the decade’s underground hip-hop movement by critics and fans alike, the six-piece crew consisting of two DJs (Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark) and four MCs (Akil, Zaakir, Marc 7 and Chali 2na) were well on their way to becoming one of hip-hop’s greatest and most powerful acts of all time, ranking alongside names such as Public Enemy and N.W.A. with socially-conscious lyrics and smooth beats paired with smart sampling. But in 2004, Cut Chemist left the group to pursue a solo career, and in 2007 Jurassic 5 completely called it quits after nearly 15 years of music. And that was it for the crew until 2013. After almost seven years apart (nine for Cut Chemist), Jurassic 5 reunited and re-emerged stronger than ever before with a new flair, seasoned attitude, and more vibrant energy at Coachella Music Festival, the group’s first show with the original six members since Cut Chemist split. During their performance, Jurassic 5 gave fans a memorable concert revisiting all the classic feel-good tracks […]

    The post Jurassic 5 holds onto what’s golden appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit Riverwalk west extension opens from Riverfront Towers to Rosa Parks

    Dogs of Detroit have new territory to trot: Yesterday, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy held a soft opening for a 20-acre westward extension of the Riverwalk. Part of a planned two-mile track of the West Riverwalk, the new span runs from the Riverfront Towers to Rosa Parks Boulevard, says Mark Pasco, director of communications for the conservancy. “It’s going to be great,” Pasco says. “It’s a wide open green space. It’s going to be great for activities.” The endgame for the Riverwalk, Pasco notes, is to extend the walkway from the Ambassador Bridge to Gabriel Richard Park, just past the MacArthur Bridge — about a 5.5. mile route. The new westward expansion is wider than most of the walkway, about 30 feet, says Pasco — a decision made by the conservancy to accommodate fisherman that previously frequented the area. “We knew … once it opened up they’d want to fish there again, so we made the Riverwalk itself wider,” Pasco says. The conservancy will hold a grand opening in late September, which will include “food and music and activities,” Pasco says, though no official date has been set.

    The post Detroit Riverwalk west extension opens from Riverfront Towers to Rosa Parks appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Politics & Prejudices

Titanic's dance band

Here's an idea: Merge Wayne, Oakland and Macomb into a Greater Detroit

Detroit has too little money, grinding poverty, a population appallingly ill-equipped for survival, a huge city budget deficit, a failed school system and many other enormous problems.

Nor is there any sign that anything is likely to get significantly better anytime soon. It is impossible to dispute anything I've just said, regardless of your politics. Everybody knows these things.

Those are the realities that should be the starting point for any conversation about the city. And every serious conversation should have one purpose: How do we fix this?

What higher purpose could any of us have?

Think about it. Michigan's greatest city has been mostly reduced to what amounts to a huge, rotting ghetto. That's not meant to be inflammatory or as an insult; it is hard, cold reality.

Real unemployment is, according to Mayor Dave Bing, more than 40 percent, when you count those discouraged workers who have dropped out of the labor force. What's worse is that hundreds of thousands of them are, probably, totally unemployable.

The National Adult Literacy Survey estimates 47 percent of Detroiters are functionally illiterate. What kind of jobs can they get, now that auto plants are no longer mass employers of the unskilled?

There are tens of thousands of dilapidated buildings that need to be torn down, except there is no money to do so.

That much is certain. But what nobody agrees on is exactly how the city, once one of the nation's most dynamic and vibrant, got in this shape — or who is to blame. Today's current leadership and population are nearly all black, and to a great extent — whether they openly say so or not — most blame the white establishment.

"They came here, made their money, dumped their pollution into the earth, and then took their money and jobs to the suburbs," one very bitter mayoral appointee told me, years ago.

The night Coleman Young was first elected mayor, way back in 1973, he reflected bitterly that he knew he'd won "because the white people didn't want the damn thing anymore. They were getting the hell out, more than happy to turn over their troubles to some black sucker like me." Older whites in the suburbs, those who grew up in Detroit and then indeed "got the hell out," saw it differently.

They felt most blacks lacked much work ethic, that they trashed the neighborhoods they moved into, failing to take care of their property even when they had the money.

There's some truth in both those stereotypes, and we've been engaging in sterile arguments about them for decades now. If we want, we can continue to do so, till the last business closes and the last refugee streams out of the ruins.

Or we can do something about it. The fact is that Detroit can no longer make it on its own. David Rusk explained and illuminated this back in 1993, in a brilliant little book called Cities Without Suburbs.

The bottom line is this: "Elastic cities flourish. Inelastic cities decline." Elastic cities are those, like Los Angeles, that can annex territory and incorporate suburbs within the city limits.

Inelastic cities are, well, like Detroit, which is bordered by county lines and incorporated areas. There is, however, a solution.

Recognize Detroit for what it really is — not the artificial city limits, but the real city, which is the counties of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb. 

Local units of government are creatures of the Legislature.

Lansing can create cities, dissolve cities. What our lawmakers should do is create a metropolis: Greater Detroit. The first step should be to merge Wayne County with the city.

That's worked well in places like Miami, Indianapolis and Nashville. Yes, they didn't have all our problems. They didn't have our resources and talent and size, either. Maybe we should go full out; merge Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

Yes, it will take some major adjustments on the part of all concerned. Yes, it will cost money. The tri-county area will have to pay to rebuild the city's infrastructure. Detroit politicians will have to share power, and some will be unelected. This will be difficult — in the short and middle run, that is. In the long run, we'll all be better off.

Otherwise, what's the alternative? More than likely, an eventual emergency manager, who will balance Detroit's books without much improving residents' quality of life.

Think about it. Ask yourself how Michigan can possibly prosper and thrive when its major city is in the shape Detroit is now.

Where there's no vision, the people perish, says one of the proverbs in the Bible. Well, that's mine. If you have a better idea, one that would enhance all of our lives and fortunes as much as a new, Greater Metropolitan Detroit would, I would be delighted to hear it.


Thaddeus steps out: Thaddeus McCotter, a Republican congressman from Livonia, announced at the beginning of this month that he was running for president. There is no law against that, anymore than there is a law against my wearing a too-tight pink tutu in public.

There is a question, however, as to whether either of these things is a good idea. The best thing you can say about McCotter is that he was once in a band called the New Flying Squirrels.

News flash: Senators sometimes get elected president. Member of the House never do. Well, one did, once. His name was James Garfield, and he was elected in 1880. Four months after he took office a grubby lunatic who never changed his clothes shot Garfield in the back, and incompetent doctors then proceeded to kill the president.

That oughta be enough to scare McCotter straight. But if it doesn't work, here's what we ought to consider. As a presidential candidate, McCotter's chief qualification is that he knows Livonia.

That's true. He was born in Livonia in 1965, where his mommy was the city clerk. He grew up in Livonia, he lives in Livonia.

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