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  • 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.

  • 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. The Sugar Clouds’ Partners Don’t Do That (They Watch and be Amazed) (Wax Splat) is a nostalgic look at the psychedelic days of ’60s grooviness. Even the album cover looks like a lava lamp. The male-female vocals have a sort of Jefferson Airplane feel, and the songs are blessed with both sugary sweet pop melodies and a garage-y earthiness. The story of the band’s formation is rather interesting; the two vocalists, Greg and Melissa Host, are a divorced couple who wrote the songs in their living room. The band is still together, so this divorce was a hell of a lot more civil than any we’ve ever known of. Steffanie Christi’an has friends in fairly high places. Her new Way Too Much mini-album is being put out by Nadir Omowale’s Distorted Soul label, and she is also a regular feature on Jessica Care Moore’s Black Women Rock revue. Maybe the choice of cover image isn’t the best – she looks a bit like a Tina Turner tribute act here. But that can and should be […]

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

  • Detroit councilman: Increased parking fines an ‘anti-growth strategy’

      There’s at least one city councilmember who’s less than pleased with Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s plan to increase all parking violation fines. Councilman Gabe Leland, whose district represents the city’s west side, issued a statement today, calling Orr’s plan a potential “deterrent” to attracting people to the city. I don’t believe the argument to raise the parking ticket fines from $30 to $45 and eliminate the $10 early payment fine are justification for this action. The emergency manager’s order to increase ticket fines places city government inefficiencies on the backs of our residents who need to do business in downtown and other parts of our city. And, this will increase the barrier for people to frequent Detroit-based establishments; likely to be a deterrent for some to shop and dine in our city. Leland suggested implementing a plan that maintains current rates for fines and reduces operating inefficiencies to collecting parking fines. “In my view, generating revenue by increasing fines when residents from neighborhoods must go downtown to get licenses and permits, attend court appointments and do other necessary business, is the wrong direction,” Leland said. “…Additionally, generating revenue using fines when we are trying to grow this city and attract […]

    The post Detroit councilman: Increased parking fines an ‘anti-growth strategy’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Politics & Prejudices

What the numbers mean

Breaking down Detroit's long census decline

Nobody knows when Detroit will bottom out, though the census figures last week indicate things are even worse than we thought. Nobody knows how bleak things will get, in terms of poverty or population flight or urban devastation.

Nor do we know what the worst-case scenario will look like when it arrives. Will Detroit eventually be run by a state-appointed emergency financial manager? Will the city be broken up into smaller pieces? Will areas be abandoned, fenced off, left to coyotes, raccoons and the occasional dying vagrant?

Or will something, somehow, revitalize the city, perk it up, make it grow again, possibly in ways we haven't yet imagined? Everyone is hoping for that. Many are counting on seeing it.

Whether we ever will is another question. Detroit is still in decline, and Gov. Rick Snyder's financial reforms seem likely, even if they are wildly successful at luring new jobs in the long run, to be positively devastating to Detroit in the near future.

Ending the state's Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor threatens to plunge thousands of Detroiters into poverty. Ending credits for "brownfield redevelopment" may mean, a developer told me, that whatever development is going on in the city will just stop, making the economy worse.

But if we don't know where the devastation will stop, we can name the date when Detroit reached its modern-day zenith, when it was at the peak of its wealth, population and power:

July 28, 1951. That was the day the city kicked out the jams and celebrated its 250th birthday with a historic five-hour parade that had hundreds of thousands lining the sidewalks.

President Harry Truman started things off that brilliant Saturday afternoon with a speech. That was a bigger deal than it sounds today. Presidents didn't travel nearly as much back then. Yet Detroit was seen as worth it; we were the fifth largest city in the nation, and economically even more important.

This big, brawling, muscular city had sprung up between 1900 and 1930, replacing what had been a small town. Detroit put the world on wheels, and then served as the Arsenal of Democracy in World War II, arming the world to defeat fascism, sending trucks and tanks to all the Allied armies.

Detroit was still rich and still growing, after a temporary slowdown during the Great Depression. In 1951, the U.S. Census Bureau reported finding 1,849,568 Detroiters the year before. City fathers were sure they'd soon hit 2 million.

Nobody had heard of a Japanese car. We were killing Chinese in Korea, not buying cars from the Koreans and borrowing money from the Chinese.

Nobody imagined a black majority in Detroit. Negroes, as they were called, were barely a sixth of the population, and mostly rigorously segregated into a couple areas. Some white liberals muttered about that, but nobody else cared very much, except that they wanted to avoid a repeat of the vicious race riot that had occurred eight years before.

Detroiters thought they were the nation's future. They were breaking ground then for what became Cobo Hall, finishing what they would call the City-County Building.

Everyone thought the good times would go on forever. Nobody, but nobody in 1951, could have imagined the picture of sheer urban devastation that is today's Detroit.

Nobody certainly could have imagined the depopulation. Detroit today has barely more than one-third the population it had in 1950. Think of that! The census found a mere 713,777 people left in what urban explorers call the "Ruins of Detroit." In fact, if the trends of the last decade have continued, the population may now be less than 690,000.

Mayor Dave Bing is indignantly contesting that, claiming there are really 750,000 people. Even if he is right, it changes little. Forget the high point. The city has lost half a million people since Detroit managed to lure the Republican National Convention in 1980, the year they nominated Ronald Reagan.

The city has lost half the population it had when Coleman Young was elected. There is also less diversity than there was in the bad old segregated days of the city's early history.

Today, more than four-fifths of the population is black; the white population has virtually disappeared. The Detroit Free Press, perhaps striving for political correctness, did not print racial breakdowns in the census tables it published. But nearly half the city's small white population left over the past decade. Last year, Detroit had a white population of 55,604 souls, some of whom are from other lands.

There are far more white people in Macomb Township. Remember all the feel-good stories about the new urban pioneers, young whites from the suburbs moving back to the city to live in lofts and enjoy an urbane lifestyle?

Yes, maybe there are six of these people. But the trend is in the opposite direction. But the big story of this census has nothing to do with whites. It is massive black flight.

Detroit lost one-quarter of its black population during the decade — a staggering 185,393 people. That, more than anything else, says the city has totally failed, in the sense that the middle class of both races has now given up on the city.

And who can blame them? Living in the city is exhausting, expensive and risky. The schools are so bad few decent parents put their children in them. There is the fear of crime, yes.

But beyond that, there is the lack of good grocery stores; I once saw three Detroit City Council members shopping at Holiday Market in Royal Oak at the same time.

Detroiters have to endure the higher cost of everything, most notably auto insurance, and a painstakingly unresponsive city bureaucracy. I know people who've struggled heroically for years to stay in Detroit, before giving up in exhaustion.

Mayor Dave Bing may be honest, decent, intelligent and true. But he has to struggle with the corruption that came before him, and the effects of an economic holocaust.

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