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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 […]

    The post James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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 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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Politics & Prejudices

True colors in Lansing

Amid crisis, our legislators still want to stick it to gays and the environment

Want to know what Republicans are really like — at least, the mean-spirited variety that inhabit our Legislature? They revealed their true colors in glistening slimy iridescence last week, while voting massive cuts for education.

Not, that is, just by cutting education, though that is appalling enough. The official mantra of the Snyder administration is that it doesn't really want to cut education, but it is necessary to give business as big a tax break as possible.

That, they say, will really help education in the long run, because slashing business taxes will bring new industry and jobs pouring in. The newly employed workers will pay state income taxes. As a result, state coffers will soon swell with cash. Which means Michigan will be able to devote more support to education than ever before! This is called the "rising tide lifts all boats" theory, and was last energetically believed in by some college Republicans for Reagan back in 1980, many of whom had never yet had a date. Most of them later grew up.

However, Rick Snyder still appears to believe this with the fervor of a new convert in the coming resurrection. More on this theology later, but first, back to the Legislature.

Cutting education was not enough for the lawmakers; they also made a clumsy attempt to punish gays. The instigator was, once again, the state's worst legislator, the malevolently dense David Agema, a recycled airline pilot from the west side of the state. The Granville Republican offered an amendment to further cut by 5 percent the funding of any university that offers domestic partner benefits. First, he pretended this was "a cost factor." However, it didn't take him long to reveal his true colors: This was about Agema's crackbrained idea of morality. "It provides an extremely bad example to our youth," he said, according to the Gongwer News Service.

Yes, allowing some unmarried wretch to collect state-paid benefits violates Divebomber Dave's interpretation of the Michigan Constitution, which, as he noted, says that "religion and morality ... are necessary to good government."

Ironically, what the constitution really says appears to argue against cutting schools at all: "Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education will forever be encouraged."

Some fellow legislator with intelligence and integrity ought to have read that into the record — and then noted that so-called domestic partner benefits are not limited to gays. Full personal disclosure; I've added my female partner to my benefits at Wayne. This isn't free; it costs us more than $600 a month.

Not only is this benefit not only for gays, it isn't limited to those in romantic relationships. As I read the rules covering "other eligible persons," I could have added my mommy instead, if I owned, say, a house with her, and if she didn't have the bad taste to be dead.

But beyond that, some lawmaker also ought to have noted that if you are looking for someone guilty of immorally wasting state money, you need look no further than Dave Agema. Four years ago, he was nowhere to be found during an intense state budget debate: He was off hunting wild sheep in Siberia, continuing to collect his state salary and health care benefits while in full dereliction of duty.

They eventually threw this bozo off the House Appropriations Committee for missing more votes than anyone in either chamber. Yet the voters have kept re-electing him.

Now for the shocking part: Every Legislature has idiots who are mostly ignored. Except that in this case, a majority went along with Agema. The amendment punishing the universities was added to the education budget and then adopted by the full House. Democrats unanimously voted against it, and six Republicans too.

But they have large legislative majorities — and most of them are religious and right-wing ideologues. They don't stop at trying to regulate sexual morality either. Over in the Senate, they voted to try to prevent Rick Snyder himself from helping the environment.

That's right. They did it, they claimed, "to help the business climate." They voted to forbid the state from issuing guidelines more protective of the environment than those issued by the federal government. State Sen. Mike Kowall, (R-White Lake Township) pretended that this was so the Legislature could protect nature.

This was, of course, bullshit. Rick Snyder is thought to be the most environmentally friendly governor since Bill Milliken in the 1970s. It was Milliken, in fact, who helped save Lake Erie by banning phosphate-laden detergents when the Legislature refused to act.

If the House goes along with the Senate, no governor could take action like that again. The business interests who own so many of these legislators fear Snyder, too, might put life ahead of profits. So if you thought the current crop of Republican lawmakers lacks a malevolent social agenda, welcome to the real world. The question now, however: What is Rick Snyder?

Last summer, thousands of independents and Democrats crossed over to vote for Snyder in the Republican primary, enabling him to win. Many did so because they thought he was an intelligent, pragmatic, non-ideological reformer.

By then it was clear to the savvy that whomever the GOP nominated was likely to be our next governor. Snyder seemed much better than the other options, most of them tools of various anti-abortion or hard-right economic groups.

Turns out Snyder does seem to be a true believer in the ideology of Laffer curve economics. However, he has not — so far — sold out on the social issues. To his credit, he's brushed aside attempts to limit stem cell research.

But what about these two nasty, mean-spirited legislative moves? Will he sign an education budget that penalizes universities for allowing people like me to cover people whom they love?

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