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    On Saturday we set out to check out the High Times Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio, Mich. — High Times did hold a Cannabis Cup in the Motor City back in 2011, but Detroit police flexing their muscles and making arrests at that event may have been to blame, at least partially, for the choice of a new host city. The event was held this year at the Auto City Speedway, (also known as “B.F.E.” to Detroiters). Nevertheless, the prospect of stopping at the Torch for the best burger in the Genessee County was compelling — and anyway, this was the Cannabis Cup we were talking about. Was it really going to be “work?” It turned out, just a little bit. An inexplicable lack of an on-site ATM meant hiking quite a ways up the road to the nearest gas station, and then waiting for an attendant to restock the ATM with cash. We spoke with plenty of Cannabis Cup attendees at the gas station — everybody knows that the local gas station is a stoner’s best-friend. The two-day festival, for which one-day tickets were sold for $40, was divided into two sections — a general area and a medicating […]

    The post Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • ICYMI: Forbes rates Detroit #9 on its “America’s Most Creative Cities” list

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    The post ICYMI: Forbes rates Detroit #9 on its “America’s Most Creative Cities” list appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Food trucks go to the dogs

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    The post Food trucks go to the dogs appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Former Tigers Dave Rozema and Ike Blessitt to honor Mark “The Bird” Fidrych

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    The post Former Tigers Dave Rozema and Ike Blessitt to honor Mark “The Bird” Fidrych appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • First Little League game at Navin Field today

    Today Navin Field (the Old Tiger Stadium) hosts its first Little League game on a new field made just to host the youngsters! Here’s a photo of the game happening right now, courtesy Tom Derry and Metro Times‘ copy editor extraordinaire, Dave Mesrey: Stop by the site (corner of Michigan and Trumbull) today to watch history in the making!

    The post First Little League game at Navin Field today appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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.

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Politics & Prejudices

Too little, too timid

Mayor Bing punts on the ballyhooed Detroit Works program

Detroit today has too few people spread too thinly across too many square miles, and not enough money to take care of their needs.

Nobody disputes that much. The question is what can be done about it? There are now perhaps no more than 700,000 mainly poor, mainly poorly educated Detroiters rattling around in a city that once housed at least 1.9 million of them. City government is in tough shape. The long-term deficit, which had been declining, was $155 million at the start of this year, but is now likely to increase.

Thanks, that is, to state government's revenue-slashing policies. So how can the city possibly meet Detroiters' minimal needs?

There's no way they can get more money out of the residents, who already pay some of the highest tax rates in the state. Tax rates could (and should) be raised in the suburbs, if the politicians had the political will to do so. Detroiters don't have it to give.

To say they are poor is also beyond dispute. More importantly, they don't have any real prospect of being otherwise. Mayor Dave Bing's estimate of the real unemployment rate is somewhere around 45 percent. That's when you count the so-called "discouraged" workers, who have dropped out of the labor force because they don't see any point in looking for jobs that aren't there.

Many of these folks are also, in all likelihood, unemployable. Recent reliable estimates are that 47 percent of Detroit adults essentially cannot read. What can they possibly do to make a legal living, one in which they pay taxes in today's economy?

More than a year ago, officials in Mayor Bing's administration began talking about "shrinking" or "repurposing" the city, that is, trying to get the people who remain to move to fewer neighborhoods, under the theory that a smaller area would be easier to service.

That made some sense, though the idea also left me uneasy; it reminded me of a government invaded by the Nazis desperately trying to withdraw to a smaller, and more easily defensible perimeter.

What nobody ever talked about was what would happen to the essentially abandoned areas. Would they be fenced off and left to feral swine? Would they be taken over by roving armed gangs?

What would the city do about the one stubborn old lady on an abandoned block who refused to move? Legally, Detroit would have no power to move her, unless they used eminent domain to seize the land for a civic project. The answer, I was eventually told, was this:

The city wouldn't try to make anybody move. Instead, they would pour extra resources into a selection of better, more viable neighborhoods. This would be an added incentive for people to live there. Eventually, it was hoped this would have a snowball effect.

The mayor's program to get this done was called Detroit Works, and we were told it would eventually identify four to 10 stable neighborhoods, which would then get better resources.

We then waited for the neighborhoods to be identified ... and waited and waited. A week ago, we got the answer ...

And it couldn't have been more disappointing. 

At the last moment, our all-star basketball player mayor lost his nerve and failed to make the much-needed three-point shot. Instead, he dribbled the ball weakly down the court, hoping someone else would grab it.

Instead of identifying a bunch of neighborhoods, the mayor announced that his plan would focus on the entire city, a clear abdication of his responsibility to make hard decisions.

Hello, Mr. Mayor. The city doesn't have the money to take care of all its neighborhoods, which was the reason for the Detroit Works program in the first place. What he proposes is to focus on three areas — the Boston-Edison area near Midtown; Palmer Woods and nearby neighborhoods in the north; and a growing chunk of southwest Detroit.

Fine. But here's the existentialist kicker into absurdity. Detroit won't give them any extra resources other areas won't get. Instead, the entire city is supposed to get "enhanced" city services over the next six months. (If you are asking, "How in the hell can they do that? There is no money," you are guilty of being a rational adult.)

But stay with the mayor in Cloud Cuckoo Land for a moment. After six months of the wonderfully enhanced services, the city will study and analyze what worked well in the three targeted areas.

Then, they will apply what they learned elsewhere! Can't you just imagine the scenes at City Hall. "Hey, Mr. Mayor! People like it when they have streetlights and the fire trucks actually come when called! Who knew? They also are happier when there are enough cops so people can't take 5-year-old girls out of their homes, smother them and set them on fire! God, we learned a lot!"

Presumably, City Hall will then put what they learned into practice. (Except, again, that there is no money.) In fact, Bing even used Gov. Rick Snyder's favorite phrase, "best practices," to describe what he wanted to do. Snyder normally uses that phrase to mean "limit and take away benefits from workers in the public sector."

What Mayor Bing means by it isn't clear, unless it is shorthand for doing nothing at all. Dave Bing seems to have gotten cold feet. He knew that the demagogues and "Afrocentrists" on City Council would have screamed bloody murder at the thought of nicer neighborhoods getting special treatment. They'd rather we all went down together, until everyone who can walk and think has left.

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