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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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Stir It Up

Unchained riff

Larry on Django and what it means

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

I don't go to a lot of first-run movies, but since I was hearing so much chatter about Quentin Tarantino's, I thought I'd check it out myself. Seemingly in recognition of the film's controversial subject matter, director Tarantino and lead actor Jamie Foxx got out in front of the criticism and released an hour-long promotional video that takes on many of the concerns that folks have about the subject matter, the liberal use of the N-word and, somewhat less, about the film's depiction of slavery's brutality. 

Tavis Smiley tweeted a disparaging comment about the movie, referring to is as "a spoof on slavery: Hollywood's Christmas gift for Negroes. Thanks, you shouldn't have."

Perhaps most intriguing is that filmmaker Spike Lee told Vibe magazine the movie is "disrespectful to my ancestors." Lee didn't expand on the theme because he hadn't seen  and claimed that he will not see it. Lee is probably the most influential black film director in the country (unless you think Tyler Perry has passed him by), so it's news when he speaks about such a high-profile film with slavery as its subject matter. Of course, dissing the movie and announcing that you haven't seen it in practically the same sentence doesn't give Lee much credibility. It would be different if he'd been able to say, "I saw it and here is where it goes wrong."

With Lee having not seen the movie, we're left to guess at his motivation. Is it just a general thing that white guys aren't allowed to make movies about slavery? Maybe it's that white guys aren't allowed to make movies where the N-word is used so frequently — although in Tarantino's case that train left the station long ago in works such as Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown. Maybe Lee has become the grumpy old man of black filmmaking. He's always come off as a bristly kind of guy when dealing with the media and the public, but more and more it seems like he should be sitting in a Minnesota ice-fishing shanty grousing with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. Then again maybe Lee just likes to say controversial things to raise his media profile.

I saw  and thought it was a pretty good cowboy movie. It was certainly entertaining, and I only found its two-hour-and-45-minute running time to drag once. I tend to like Tarantino films, and this is pretty much what he does. His movies are ultraviolent with a humorous twist — it contains the funniest Klansmen scene I've ever seen — and he must buy fake blood by the shipping container and spray it around with a fire hose. And the N-word is all over this movie, although, historically speaking, that's the way folks talked back then. Heck, plenty of black folks talk that way now.

Uplifting films like Roots, Glory and Amistad notwithstanding, it's fun to see a brother in a movie about slavery jump up and just whup some ass, even if he splatters blood all over you in the process. And pretty much everybody who gets killed in this movie has it coming, except for a couple of brothers who are the victims of slave-master brutality.

It isn't a perfect movie, and as a shoot-'em-up Western set mostly in the pre-Civil War South, we're not talking about generating a lot of introspection. Still, Tarantino does manage to present images of dynamics that don't get much discussion outside of academic circles. For instance, we get a peek at the relationship, and gulf, between free blacks and the enslaved during that period. What we see in the movie isn't the end-all be-all of that dynamic, but that it was even broached is a rare experience. Also, the spectacle of Mandingo fighting — wherein white men force black men to brutalize each other for sport — brings up another aspect of slavery's ugliness. We also witness the docile manner in which many of the enslaved accepted this way of life and found the Django character so astounding and foreign to their own experiences. And finally there is the Samuel L. Jackson character "Stephen," who brutalizes his own people yet also masterfully manipulates Massa from the moment he steps in front of the camera. His performance may be the most multifaceted of any in the entire film. 

Most of the characters in this movie are stock cartoon caricatures. Certainly Jamie Foxx's Django is as one-dimensional as Chuck Connors' Rifleman. But that is the country inhabited by cowboy movies. Mario Van Peebles' Jesse Lee in Posse is a more intriguing character in his motivations and actions, but not as emotionally cathartic because Django serves up retribution against slavers. And that's where the power of  the film comes from. 

Anyone who wants to quibble with the portrayal of blacks in the media should pay more attention to stuff like the Oxygen network's upcoming All My Babies' Mamas featuring rapper Shawty Lo, his 11 children, and their 10 mothers. I can't imagine that it is any more uplifting than the old Being Bobby Brown reality show, in which Brown and Whitney Houston display themselves in a manner more crass and unimaginable than most characters in Django.


Let's move on to another divisive subject: Wayne County Sheriff and could-be mayoral candidate Benny Napoleon began poisoning the waters last week with an attack on the candidacy of Mike Duggan. Napoleon claimed that Palmer Woods, where Duggan has lived less than a year, was "not Detroit." Napoleon backpedaled over the next few days — probably thinking about his fundraising possibilities in Palmer Woods — in a Facebook post and elsewhere, sucking up to deep-pocketed developers in town and denying any racial motivation in his comments. He bent over backward, although he'd already achieved his goal in painting Duggan as a white carpetbagger trying to take over the city. Napoleon didn't say anything about Mayor Dave Bing, who hasn't made any announcements about his own re-election aspirations, and who happens to be a black carpetbagger. Napoleon didn't come out and call Duggan white, but his claim that, "It's our Detroit, and we're going to keep it for Detroiters," is as surely code as the word "urban" means "black." If Napoleon doesn't know what those words imply, then he's not smart enough to be our mayor. 

This attack shows that the impending mayoral election is getting ugly early and will probably get uglier as things progress. It also prompts the question: Is Sherwood Forest, where City Council President Pro Tem (and anticipated mayoral candidate) Gary Brown lives, in Detroit? Are Rosedale Park, Greenacres and Indian Village in Detroit? Napoleon's comments at New Bethel Baptist Church on New Year's Day seemed to say that if you don't live next to a crack house, then you are not a Detroiter. That's bringing us all together. I'm not a Duggan or Napoleon fan at this point. But we've already seen the ugliness of Birthers who claim that President Barack Obama is not American. That shouldn't be the focus of the mayoral race in Detroit. Let's hear your positive ideas, sheriff.

Larry Gabriel is a writer, musician and former editor of Metro Times. Contact him at

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