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  • The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues

    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards 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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