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    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.

  • 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.



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Stir It Up

Why to be paranoid

Mulenga Harangua feels the pain of his people

I was at a wedding where I expected to see my old pal Mulenga Harangua. He wasn't at the wedding, so I swung by his house so we could chew the fat for a while. Mulenga always has something interesting to say. He's been squatting in an abandoned house on the west side since his girlfriend tossed him out. (I think it was after he maxed out her credit cards buying clothes in the effort to become a bigwig sexy Detroit man.) He actually fixed the place up with mostly scavenged material. It looks better than most of the homes on the block. There's a big vegetable garden in the back yard and herbs growing in the front.

I wandered past the chives, which had produced some lovely white blossoms, and climbed the creaky stairs onto the porch. The place was dark but I knocked anyhow. After not getting a response I gave the door a couple of good bangs. I saw the blinds flicker and a few moments later I heard a series of snaps as he undid the locks. When the door swung open there stood Mulenga with a dark-blue blanket over his head and shoulders like a hooded cape.

"Hi," he rasped, "come on in." He sounded like Darth Vader on a bad day. His skin was gray and sagging on his face. He turned and shuffled slowly back into the darkness of his catacombs.

"Mulenga, what's the matter? You look like death warmed over twice."

He made a few more guttural noises as he walked away from me.


When we entered his living room, decorated with various pieces of scavenged furniture, he turned to me. "I'm feeling the pain of my people."

"The pain of your people, isn't that more of a metaphorical or psychological pain? You look like you had a run-in with Ndamukong Suh last night."

"I'm talking about real physical pain. My joints are all messed up. I can hardly move."

I've got arthritis in my neck and have suffered a few bouts of gout in my feet, so I've got some sympathy for folks who suffer joint pain. "When did this all start?"

"It started when I was back in high school."

"Sports injuries?"

"No, it was beatings from my teachers. My parents sent me to a Catholic school back when corporal punishment was in vogue. There were only a few brothers in the school and I stood out like a black bean in the grits. I was catching it all the time. While in high school I was hit with a baseball bat, a hockey stick, a rubber whip and fists. And that was from the teachers. I was flat-out punched in the face one time, knocked me off of my seat and busted a brand new pair of glasses."

"I find that a little hard to believe."

"Believe it, man. Obama's talking about it. Education Week magazine says that Obama is making racial differences in school discipline a high priority. It's about time. This guy, Thomas E. Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, said that students of color are 'receiving different and harsher disciplinary punishments than whites for the same or similar infractions.'"

I hadn't heard about that, but it seemed to ring true. That pretty much seems to be the case when it comes to the criminal justice system. That's why you get longer sentences for crack cocaine, which is associated with minorities, than for similar amounts of powder cocaine, more associated with whites. That's pretty much the case in all kinds of crime. The Sentencing Project, a national organization working for a fair and effective criminal justice system, has put out reports on the subject.

"I believe you, Mulenga, but we've got to get you to a doctor. You don't look good at all."

"I've been to doctors over the years but they haven't done much for me. For some reason they see my black face and suddenly I'm making things up. I got proof." He pointed to some papers resting on an old milk crate. I looked them over and was blown away by what I saw. According to a study funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services a couple of years ago, blacks and Hispanics are under-treated and under-medicated for pain. A more recently published study conducted by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan found that blacks and Hispanics were prescribed fewer pain medications than whites, and that women were given weaker pain medications than men. In addition, a study published earlier this year in the Journal of the National Medical Association showed that black men were more likely than white men to suffer chronic pain. It went on and on.

One study published in the Sept. 24 issue of Academic Emergency Medicine reported that "black Americans and Hispanics who show up at emergency rooms with chest pain are less likely than whites to get the care they need, despite displaying the same symptoms."

"Wow, Mulenga, I guess you are feeling the pain of your people and there's nothing metaphorical about it. I guess this shows that just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean that nobody is out to get you. No wonder so many brothers medicate themselves with alcohol, not that I'm an expert on this or anything."

Mulenga swelled up with the verification of his complaints. It's not often that I agree wholeheartedly with his musings. He seemed to get taller and the blanket slipped off his head, though he still held it about his shoulders.

"And another thing," he said, getting on a roll, "this whole thing with the mortgage crisis. Princeton University did a study showing that blacks were more likely to be offered subprime loans over whites who had similar financial situations. They said that the foreclosure crisis had racial dimensions from the 'point of origination to the point of foreclosure.'"

"Wow, where are you getting all this information?"


"But you don't have a computer, or electricity," I glanced around the shadowy environs.

"I use computers at the public library. You've got to use the resources at hand. That's how I found out that black women have suffered more than others under the military's don't ask, don't tell policy. They've been discharged under that policy at three times the rate at which they serve in the military."

"Whoa, Mulenga, you're covering a lot of ground here. Besides, I thought you weren't a fan of the military or gays.'

'Well, I'm not usually, but I have a niece who is a lesbian in the Army. I generally don't cotton to that stuff but my niece is different. She's family."

"Nice double standard you have going there." Mulenga slumped a little in his cape. I decided to change the subject. "You got some kind of stove here for cooking?"

"Got a little propane stove for camping back there."

"Tell you what, I see you still have some vegetables growing back there. I'll pick some and make you a good pot of soup. That'll make you feel better."

"All right, I got some chickens in the shed back there. I'll get one of those and we'll have a feast. You know, I'm starting to feel a little better."

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