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  • The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues

    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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.

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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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