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  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May

    Margaret Doll Rod will celebrate the release of her new EP, Margaret, with a show at PJ’s Lager House on Saturday, May 10. A statement reads, “The EP contains 3 new original songs and one Chrome Cranks cover with Italian actress Asia Argento singing background vocals. Margaret moved to Italy after the end of the Demolition Doll Rods where she still lives touring and performing festivals in Europe. The Dollrods were a Garage Rock force for over 20 years, opening for Iggy, Jon Spencer, The Scientist, The Monks and The Cramps. Margaret was the front person and principal songwriter for The Dollrods. Her chief musical foil was Danny Kroha, who joined the Demolition Doll Rods after the now legendary Gories called it quits. Margaret’s sister, Christine, on drums, rounded out the legendary trio. Margaret will do a special performance in the round that night with a 360 degree revolving stage and special guest DJ Adam Stanfel.” The bill will also feature the Stomp Rockets and the Volcanos. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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.

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Politics & Prejudices

We should be ashamed

In the Age of Charlie Sheen, H. Ross Perot looks absolutely statesmanlike

For increasingly the America rendered today in the American media is illusionary and delusionary disfigured, unreal, disconnected from the true context of our lives. —Carl Bernstein, The Idiot Culture

That's how things looked to one of America's most famous investigative reporters back in the long-vanished, more rational world of 1992. Poor Carl had no idea what was coming.

The man whose diligent reporting had helped bring down Richard Nixon was then scandalized by the media obsession with the likes of Ivana Trump and Marla Maples.

Today, we have progressed from the world of Bernstein's classic New Republic essay to something far worse. Today, the "idiot culture" looks downright dignified, and intellectual compared to what is daily portrayed in our media.

Viewed from the Age of Charlie Sheen, Maples looks prim, H. Ross Perot statesmanlike, and Geraldo Rivera seems a harmless clown. We now live in a nation where the bellowings of a defiantly ignorant hater — a dropout former druggie and drunk named Glenn Beck — are treated reverently by millions.

We live in a world where the Republican Party, after nominating a profoundly and proudly dimwitted governor of a backward state for vice president, has made her a cult figure whose devotees hang on her every utterance.

We live in a world where our leaders not only lie frequently, they — and increasingly, we — don't seem to give a damn whether anything they say is true.

Consider Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor whose main accomplishment in life seems to be once losing 100 pounds. Recently, he said on a radio talk show of President Obama: "If you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather, their view of the Mau Mau revolution in Kenya is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather."

While it isn't clear whether Huckabee is stupidly ignorant, deliberately lying or both, this does clearly fall under what libel lawyers call "reckless disregard of the truth." Obama never went anywhere near Kenya until he was an adult, when he visited the grave of his father, something discussed in one of the best-selling autobiographies in history.

Later, a spokesman for the pork belly philosopher said that Huck had meant to say "Indonesia," which, if true (not) would have been even stupider, if possible. Those black Mau Mau terrorists would have felt especially out of place in Indonesia, given that there were no British or black people.

Back in the day when literacy was prized, comments like that would disqualify Huck from any job where a pitchfork wasn't considered high tech. But today's media doesn't care.

Probably the biggest disgrace, however, is the tolerance of the bawling moron Glenn Beck. Ignorant, hate-filled broadcast babblers are nothing new in America. But Beck may be a new low. In the past, most of the ones who went national had some credentials to abuse. Father Charles Coughlin, the Twelve Mile and Woodward Nazi, made it through the seminary. Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.) earned a law degree before becoming a demagogue and a drunk. Beck, now 47, took a short cut.

He managed to drag himself through high school before getting heavily into alcohol and drugs, but that was it. Eventually, he says, he sobered up, became a Mormon, and decided to educate himself by reading, for starters, Adolf Hitler, Billy Graham and Friedrich Nietzsche. Possibly he also stumbled on a book about how to run a carnival. At any event, he became one — or, at least, learned to his delight that he could make millions by delivering clownish, hate-filled rants on the airwaves.

President Obama, he's said, "has shown a deep-seated hatred for white people and the white culture ... the guy is, I believe, a racist." Isn't that cute? More recently, Beck said that Reform Judaism was a lot like "radicalized Islam."

He apologized for that one, probably fearing he would lose sponsors. His excuse was that he "didn't do enough homework." When caught in an open lie by someone he can't ignore, Beck used to refer to himself as a "rodeo clown."

True, that's insulting to rodeos. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is anything but a liberal, but had the integrity a couple years ago to denounce Beck's know-nothing hate show as cynical and "antithetical to American values."

That's more than most of the mainstream media has done. The New York Times Magazine put Beck on its cover a few months ago, treating him as a serious subject. Howard Kurtz, the longtime media critic, called him a "talented, often funny broadcaster."

Last month, Beck crawled into local news here, showing some old pictures and ranting on the theme that Detroit is in worse shape than Hiroshima, and blaming "socialism." Ironically, he was right in a way he didn't understand. A government with a more vigorous public sector, something supposedly capitalist Japan has, would have pumped billions into rebuilding Detroit. That's what actually happened in Japan, with the American occupation government also providing vast amounts of aid.

What Glenn Beck did on his Fox segment was just rehash a right-wing rant that has been circulating on the Internet for years. Unfortunately, some of Detroit's leaders got defensive and acted as if Beck deserved respect.

Mayor Dave Bing invited him "to see and experience Detroit for himself." The Rev. Horace Sheffield said he was attempting to reach Beck's staff to schedule a meeting with their boss.

Coleman Young would have smacked them upside the head. Beck has no more interest in truth than my dog Ashley does in Jacques Derrida. My dog, however, did, as a puppy, sometimes turn belly up and emit a few drops of urine when a big, scary dog confronted him. Detroit's leaders don't need to do that.

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