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  • 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 PlanetAnt.com. 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? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor

    Detroit home-girl Lily Tomlin will perform at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, June 14. A press release reads, “Get together with Lily Tomlin for an unforgettable night of fun and sidesplitting laughter. “Tomlin is amazing” The NY Times and “as always a revelation.” The New Yorker This unique comic artist takes her audience on what the Washington Post calls a “wise and howlingly funny” trip with more than a dozen of her timeless characters—from Ernestine to Mrs. Beasley to Edith Ann.” “With astounding skill and energy, Tomlin zaps through the channels like a human remote control. Using a fantastic range of voices, gestures and movements, she conjures up the cast of characters with all the apparent ease of a magician pulling a whole menagerie of animals from a single hat.” NY Daily News “Her gentle touch is as comforting as it is edifying.” NY Time Out She has “made the one-person show the daring, irreverent art form it is today.” Newsweek Her long list of awards includes: a Grammy; two Tonys; six Emmys; an Oscar nomination; two Peabodys; and the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Find more info here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor

    The Detroit Metro Times, Detroit’s award-winning alternative weekly media company, is proud to announce the recent hire of Valerie Vande Panne as Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning independent journalist and Michigan native, Vande Panne’s work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Daily Beast, and Salon, among other publications. Previously, Vande Panne attended Harvard University and was a regular contributor to The Boston Phoenix, and a news editor of High Times magazine. She has spent years covering drug policy among other subjects, including the environment, culture, lifestyle, extreme sports, and academia. “Valerie understands our business and what we expect to accomplish in Detroit. She has an excellent sense for stories that will move our readers, as well as experience with balancing print and digital content. I’m excited to have her at the paper and trust her leadership as we move forward,” said Detroit Metro Times publisher Chris Keating.

    The post Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’

    She welcomes you when you enter Detroit, from every direction, with the one word that might just be Detroit’s biggest philosophical question: Injured? Joumana Kayrouz is deeper than the inflated image watching over Detroit, peddling justice to the poor and broken of the city. This Wednesday, Drew Philp takes us behind the billboard and into the heart of the Kayrouz quest. (And all of Brian Rozman’s photos of Kayrouz have not been retouched.) Check out MT‘s cover story, on newsstands Wednesday!

    The post Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt

    There was a fire in an upstairs apartment at PJ’s Lager House on Monday evening. No people were hurt, although three cats belonging to the tenants died after CPR. The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. during a show featuring Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band, Curtin, and Jeffrey Jablonsky. “We just smelled smoke and someone yelled everyone has to get out,” 33-year-old Nick Leu told MLive. On the Lager House Facebook page in the early hours of the morning, a post said, “We at PJ’s lager House would like to thank everyone for their care and concern. Also, a very big THANK YOU to all who stepped up to do what they could this evening. The fire was contained to the upstairs but due to water damage in the bar, we will be closed until it can be assessed. Everyone is safe and we will keep you updated.” A later update read, “Update from the big boss. Since there was no damage to the stage side of the bar, the show will go on tomorrow! You may have to enter through the back door and there may not be a large selection of booze but we are going […]

    The post Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Higher Ground

War-on-drugs vets

Ex-prisoners critique the 'correctional economy'

Legalized medical marijuana has helped remove the looming physical and mental presence of the narcotics police from our lives for the first time since we started smoking weed. If we have a patient ID card, we're protected from arrest and imprisonment for our daily smoking activities, and we can replenish our supplies from our licensed caregivers without fear of intervention by the police on either end of the transaction.

This breakthrough in the criminally elongated War on Drugs is a great thing for those of us with physical or mental ailments for which we've sought treatment from our physicians and ended up as certified medical marihuana patients.

But it does nothing for the millions of Americans who enjoy marijuana or other criminal substances on a recreational basis but suffer arrest, prosecution, jailing, drug testing, job loss, mandatory treatment programming, draconian probation or parole supervision, and other chilling punishments simply because they like to get high.

When I did my time for marijuana offenses some 40 years ago, the police forces were just beginning to find us as ugly blips on their cultural radar screens, and there weren't very many of us in confinement.

I served six months in the old Detroit House of Correction in 1966 for possession of less than an ounce of weed, and then two-and-a-half years of a 9-1/2- to 10 year-sentence in Jackson and Marquette as a maximum security prisoner of the state of Michigan for the crime of giving two joints to an undercover policewoman from the Detroit Narcotics Squad.

Since the reviled Richard M. Nixon administration seized on the recreational drug issue in a big way and triggered the War on Drugs against an innocent and helpless populace involved in mental and sensual stimulation of various sorts, prosecution of this vicious campaign has stimulated the growth of a vast police state mechanism of almost unbelievable proportions.

"The United States jails, imprisons and correctionally monitors (supervision, probation, parole) more people than any other nation in the world," Charles Shaw asserts in his new online memoir Exile Nation: Drugs, Prisons, Politics & Spirituality, "around six million, or one out of every 50 Americans. Most are for nonviolent drug offenses.

"This 'correctional economy' which comprises the police, courts and prisons, accounts for millions of jobs and billions of dollars. At the same time, state budgets are so overwhelmed they can't afford to hold all the prisoners they have jammed into their systems like animals on a factory farm [while] marijuana is the No. 1 cash crop in America."

I met Charles Shaw in London this past week, when I attended his lecture about the War on Drugs at the Hub in Kings Cross. He was showing footage of his interviews with a wide variety of recreational drug users and victims of the drug wars that he's recorded for his current film project, Unheard Voices.

Shaw is a fellow ex-convict and a close friend of my pal Dimitri Mugianis, the ex-dope fiend and former Detroiter who cleaned up his habit with the help of iboga and has since dedicated himself to treating addicted persons all over the Western world as an underground iboga healer. Both have turned their bitter experiences with the culture of addiction and the minions of drug law enforcement into inspiration for their committed activism on behalf of the people's side of the War on Drugs.

Charles and Dimitri met when Shaw was filming his two-part documentary The Iboga Insurrection (Parts 1 & 2), which "delves into the history and typology of the ibogaine underground, with evangelizing addicts and lay-providers, activists, medical researchers and shamans."

Shaw's credentials are stunning. He serves as editor for the openDemocracy Drug Policy Forum and the Dictionary of Ethical Politics, both collaborative projects of Resurgence, openDemocracy, and the Tedworth Charitible Trust. He's written for everybody from Alternet and Alternative Press Review to the Huffington Post and the New York Times; he's the founder and publisher of Newtopia and former head writer for the nationally syndicated radio show Reality Checks.

Shaw's new book, Exile Nation, now appearing serially on the Reality Sandwich website throughout 2010 (tinyurl.com/yj6lk3c) is a memoir of his life as a writer, addict, activist, prisoner and spiritual seeker — as he puts it, "a mosaic of his descent into shadow, his personal reckoning, and the long slow crawl back out to reclaim his life, heal the past, and start over."

This guy knows the issue from the inside, and has a lot to teach the casual bystanders of the War on Drugs, whose support must be enlisted in order to bring this dreadful episode in our national history to a shuddering conclusion. I saw him win over an audience of normal citizens of the United Kingdom, who were visibly shocked by the images confronting them on the screen.

A native of Chicago, Shaw spent the first few years of the century as a radical journalist, political activist and habitual drug user in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Boston and San Francisco, before he was arrested, tried and sentenced to a one-year prison sentence for possession of 14 capsules of MDMA.

He did his time for the Illinois Department of Corrections in the Cook County Jail in Chicago, Stateville prison in Joliet, and the East Moline Correctional Center, and then — "released from prison, unable to find meaningful work, and alienated from nearly everyone in his life" — Shaw backslid into a state of suicidal depression before what he calls his "rebirth and spiritual awakening" led him into "meaningful work, shamanic medicines, love and community."

There's an addendum to the book titled "The Secret History of the War on Drugs" that will open the eyes of even the best-informed student of this historical monstrosity. Shaw examines the global drug trade and the war on drugs "as a means of foreign policy, covert operation, domestic policy and social control. Highlights include the role of U.S. intelligence services in the drug trade and in the psychedelic community, the connection between drug laws and racism, and how crack and heroin were intentionally used to destroy the African-American community."

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