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  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to bcallwood@metrotimes.com. Ricky Rat’s Tokyo Pop/Glitter People (New Fortune) 7” single highlights all that’s great about the Trash Brats guitarist, but also his limitations. The man can write a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll song to match anyone in the city and most beyond. He’s also a killer guitarist, ripping out one throwaway riff after another with reckless abandon. He’s a machine. On his own though, without Trash Brats frontman Brian McCarty, his voice doesn’t have enough strength to do the songs justice. Not that you need to have the greatest voice in the world to sing this stuff – you don’t need to be able to perform vocal gymnastics – but you do have to be able to wail the tunes out. Both of the songs on this single are great, but you can’t help but wonder how much better they would sound with McCarty or somebody similar talking the mic. Still, as they are the songs are great fun. We’re just being picky. The Paper Sound’s Trajectories is a dense, atypically dark Americana-tinged album, unrelenting and […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of buildingdetroit.org, a new website launched by the City of Detroit today to auction off city-owned homes to prospective buyers who pledge to fix them up and move in. “We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement today. “There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment.” The website to facilitate the auctions went live this afternoon. The first auction is scheduled to take place Monday, May 5. Officials said in a news release that one home will be auctioned per day, Monday through Friday. Fifteen homes are available for sale on the site, a dozen of which are in the East English Village neighborhood. Any Michigan resident, company, or organization that can do business in the state can bid, according to the website. Properties will be for sale for only one day, with bidding taking place from 8 […]

    The post Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes

    In case you haven’t heard, two of the biggest names in film, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, are collaborating to put on a benefit concert for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this summer. In case you wanted to go- well, you’re too damn late. The DSO says tickets to the June 14 concert were snapped up in a record-breaking 15 minutes after they went on sale at 9 a.m. today. The DSO has since released this statement to fans who didn’t snag seats: Our apologies to everyone who was unable to buy tickets this morning for our historic benefit concert featuring John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Despite increasing our phone and internet system capacity for the day, a surge of hundreds of ticket buyers purchased tickets in a matter of minutes, filling the phone lines and temporarily maxing out our web servers. After a one-hour pre-sale made available to donors and subscribers at 8am, we released additional seats at 9am to the general public, including seats available for as low as $30. All seats sold out immediately. The concert program seems nothing short of top notch: Williams will conduct the orchestra as it performs some of his most iconic tunes, such […]

    The post Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Blowout 2014 schedule available to view now

    The schedule for Blowout 17, taking place Wednesday April 30 to Saturday May 3 in Hamtramck, Detroit and Ferndale, is available to see now. Visit MtBlowout.com to see the schedule and plan your festival. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Blowout 2014 schedule available to view now appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Trash Brats get sleazy at Small’s

    The Trash Brats hardly ever play live anymore, so each show feels like an event. Wandering around Small’s in Hamtramck late Saturday night, there’s a near-carnival atmosphere in the air. The Brats were never supposed to be taken seriously, but years on-and-off the radar have given the band the gift of respect born out of longevity. We’re not being dismissive at all. In fact, no amount of kooky faces from guitarist Ricky Rat and bassist Toni Romeo can hide the fact that these boys can play and the band writes killer bubblegum sleaze-rock tunes. The fact that the venue was packed compared to, say, a recent show by internationally known punk icons Sylvain Sylvain and Glen Matlock (which you would think would attract a similar audience) is testament to the fact that, in Detroit, the Trash Brats command a certain reverence. Before the Trash Brats took to the stage, local punks The Dives kicked off the night with a set of sincere, energetic and well-performed, if standard, punk rock. No frills (besides frontman Ron McPherson’s dapper suit), the band features members of the Junk Monkeys, the Black Mollies and the Joint Chiefs, and it drives through a set of catchy, […]

    The post City Slang: Trash Brats get sleazy at Small’s appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Cycle 7 opens at the Red Bull House of Art

    By: Ayana Bryant-Weekes The Red Bull House of Art, a multidisciplinary and collaborative art project, relieves the stress of financial limitation or lack of tools and space so budding artists can manifest their creative dreams right here in Detroit. Six artists are selected for a three-month residency where they are provided individual studio space and materials, allowing their artistic concepts to flow freely. At the end of each residency is an unveiling and public display at the Red Bull House of Art Gallery. As show curator Matt Eaton told us in a 2013 interview, “The selection process for the current crop of artists was just the same as every round. The goal is not to find the hippest, coolest artists (though I think they are all very cool), but to find the people who may not typically have a voice.” This year, for the first time, Red Bull House of Art will showcase more than just Detroit artists. National artists from across the country in a special artist-in-residency program will have the opportunity to showcase their work to a much broader audience, and bring a national art stage to the Motor City. Since opening, 54 Detroit-based artists have been given the […]

    The post Cycle 7 opens at the Red Bull House of Art appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Politics & Prejudices

Unpleasant truths for the Occupy Movement

And could 2012 mean the end of Michigan’s black reps. in Congress?

Just about everybody seems excited about the Occupy Wall Street-inspired protests currently sweeping the nation. Michael Moore himself, filmmaker and patron saint of Flint, has been dashing around various cities, attempting to inspire the protesters.

"There's no turning back, is there?" he challenged the occupiers in Oakland, Calif., where, last week, a poor veteran of our war on and in Iraq nearly got killed when he was apparently hit in the head by a tear gas canister fired by the local police.

"NO," the crowd roared back enthusiastically. No turning back. Right on. Moore claimed the movement, if that's what it is, has already "scored a number of victories in our first six weeks."

Like what?

Well, "we've killed despair and we've killed apathy," he said, claiming this was the start of a "watershed moment."

That would be nice, if it were true.

But I doubt it. Here's a contrary view, from a cranky old cynic. The high priests of greed, the bailed-out bankers and the plutocrats who own the nation aren't really worried about Occupy Wall Street.

Not one bit.

Sure, a few nervous right-wing editorial writers and radio talk show clowns are railing against the movement and telling lies about the demonstrators, in part because they think that's what their masters want. But the smart capitalists, while they are keeping a watchful eye on the protesters, aren't really concerned.

Here are three reasons why: 

First, the Occupiers have no coherent agenda. They think bailing out the rich was a terrible thing, especially since so many people have no jobs, nor prospects of jobs.

But what are they demanding the government do about it? Do they have any program? Not that I can see. Two weeks ago I blundered into an "Occupy" protest on a crisp fall day in Traverse City, of all places. They were a band of mostly merry folk holding signs, waving and trying to get cars to honk, and having a good time.

What their demands were, if they had any, was not at all clear.

Occasionally they ducked into a nearby bookstore and ordered hot chocolate. If I were a bailed-out banker or other parasite, I might even think the Occupy protests were a good idea.

They haven't really threatened anything — so far — and allow those screwed over by the system to let off steam.

The second reason J.P. Morgan's successors aren't quaking in their tuxedos: No politician of any stature has stepped forth to lead the movement and propose a coherent program of action.

Not even, for example, making the rich "1 percent" or even 5 percent pay their fair share in taxes, or suggesting we use some of the money we are using to destroy Afghanistan to rebuild Detroit.

Again, do you see anyone, even U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont socialist, stepping forward to rally these folks around an agenda? Nope, uh-uh, can't be bothered. Yes, inequality is bad, but what do they want to do about it?

And, finally, the third reason the plutocrats aren't breaking a sweat is simply this: It is getting cold outside. That's right. Winter is coming. Are Muffy and Brian and their grandma going to be out in those tents in Grand Circus Park in February? Especially without any one thing they are pressing the government, any government to do?

You know the answer. Think back. Remember the big globalization protests in Seattle in 1999? Remember the round of protests against globalization that swept the nation and the world in 2007? What did they accomplish? Did they stop globalization?

Are the protesters still on the job, demonstrating, agitating, demanding equal pay for equal work nationwide? Again, you know the answer. They went back to school or back to work.

Or back to el barrio. That doesn't mean all this is hopeless. Some stupid police brutality might help energize this movement.

Somebody with guts and brains could still come forward and seize this moment to try and remake the world. But it won't be easy.

Consider this: The civil rights movement of the 1960s and the anti-Vietnam War movement of the '60s and '70s were coherent and focused, and the demonstrators knew exactly what they wanted.

They eventually succeeded. But getting there literally took years. Overthrowing this corrupt system might be a lot harder.

No one fights harder than those who have money and want to hang on to it. I'm not putting the cause down; this may be the most important battle we could ever wage, if we want to save democracy. 

But if you think it's going to be easy, think again. 


No black congressmen? Last week, I wrote about state Sen. Bert Johnson's decision to challenge longtime U.S. Rep. John Conyers in next year's Democratic primary in the 13th District, which is primarily Detroit and western Wayne County.

Since then, state Sen. Glenn Anderson of Westland has also jumped into the race, and state Rep. Shanelle Jackson of Detroit is making noises about running. Anderson is white; the rest are African-American. This is a district that is about 56 percent black. 

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