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  • 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 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.

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Politics & Prejudices

What might have been

A glimpse into an alternate past, and the way forward

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You may be reluctant to be dragged back into thinking about Sept. 11, now that we've just completed a weekend of wallowing in remembrance of the tragedy that killed nearly 3,000 people.

No, nobody breathed a word, so far as I can tell, about the more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians who died as a consequence of our actions following the terrorist attacks.

Nor did anyone say much about the nearly 7,000 U.S. soldiers and "contractors" who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since, in wars still going on for no apparent rational reason.

That doesn't mean Sept. 11's victims of irrational Islamic terror shouldn't be remembered. Just that we should not forget that their families aren't alone in suffering, or that countless other nameless families weep in nameless villages as a result.

And we should remember too, that it could have been very different. What follows is what I wish I could have written this week:

 

When we look back on Sept. 11 today, it is hard to imagine that it could have been worse.

Much worse. Just consider — what if Al Gore had not been elected president 10 months before? What if we'd had as president a man who was cheerfully ignorant of foreign policy? A man who had said he was hot to invade Iraq and avenge his father, or complete his father's mission, and who said from his Texas ranch the day after the terrorist attacks that he "thought Saddam had done it." 

We almost did. I mean, of course, George W. Bush, the former governor of Texas, the guy who now does TV commercials for Halliburton. You may have forgotten this, but he almost became president. He would have, too despite losing the popular vote, if Al Gore hadn't won Florida by a mere 9,547 votes on Nov. 7, 2000.

In fact, there's a political scientist at Harvard who claims that if Florida hadn't been forced to clean up its election procedures in 1999, Gore might well have lost. One of the counties used something called a "butterfly ballot" in which it was very easy to cast a vote for the wrong candidate, and much of the state used out-of-date punch cards, like the ones that sabotaged Detroit's returns in the 1970 election.

Today, Middle East experts are pretty unanimous in saying that the best thing Gore did was to insist that al-Qaeda was, essentially a well-endowed, nihilist band of half-cult, half-killer thugs, and needed to be treated like an outlaw gang, not a nation-state.

When President Gore said that in 2001, he drew howls of protest from the Republicans, and some of their wackier members in Congress even threatened impeachment.

They said our limited invasion of Afghanistan was too weak a response. Probably the low point came when Vice President Joe Lieberman resigned.

But the strategy worked. Republicans weren't happy that it took nine months to isolate and kill Osama bin Laden in his cave. But they can't deny that the starch seemed to have gone out of al-Qaeda after that. Nobody ever wins praises or prizes for a negative. Yet it has to be observed that there was no real infringement on civil liberties in the months and years that followed.

No curtailment of freedom — no prison camps here, just holding pens in Afghanistan. The Afghan war and the mild recession that followed did produce three years of budget deficits that were mild by Reagan standards. But the stock market barely retreated, and by 2006 the budget once again struggled into balance.

Al Gore did make mistakes — or at least found out he couldn't please everybody. The economic rebound was strong enough by 2004 that he became the first Democrat since LBJ to win more than 400 electoral votes, burying challenger Newt Gingrich.

But in 2008, Mitt Romney managed to win the presidency in a close election by charging that the Democrats under Gore had neglected domestic concerns. He couldn't touch him on foreign policy. 

Gore's Nobel Peace Prize that year was the least surprising award in the history of the award once the United States' new respect among the Arab nations helped him broker the deal with Israeli Prime Minister Tzipi Livni that resulted, finally in a Palestinian state. Yet Americans still wanted a change after two Democratic presidents, and Romney cleverly figured out how to appeal to them.

He managed to narrowly defeat Vice President Evan Bayh by arguing that the top priority should be a national health care system like the one he had inaugurated as governor of Massachusetts.

Bayh agreed, but wanted a largely single-payer health care plan. Republicans, of course, said that was socialism.

Romney is a minority president, of course; the "True America" ticket of Ron Paul and Richard Shelby got 8 million votes, largely from libertarians and those who don't think Mormons are Christians.

But the Republicans captured Congress, and so now we have Romneycare. Interestingly, the only Democratic vote in favor of it in the U.S. Senate was cast by a charismatic second-term senator from Illinois with the unlikely name of Barack Obama. 

There are those who say we should keep our eye on him.

 

Well, that's not the world we have today. But we can dream. 

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