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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

Will it work?

One thing is certain: Detroit cannot fix Detroit

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Nobody really knows.

By the narrowest of margins — one vote — Detroit's City Council voted last week not to commit political suicide. They opted instead to approve a "consent agreement" under which the state and city agree to work together to make the radical economic changes needed.

Switch one vote the other way, and the odds are that the city's elected officials would today be essentially powerless, and under the thumb of an emergency manager. 

Everybody praised the council's newfound maturity. Most said the consent agreement is really the best possible outcome.

And if it works the way it is supposed to, it does give the city a way to solve its current economic crisis, and at least avoid toppling into bankruptcy. But I am not so sure. Whether the consent agreement will work, even in the short run, is far from certain.  It depends on close cooperation between the mayor, the governor and the City Council, three players who would probably have a hard time agreeing on how to pour piss out of a boot.

Consider this, for starters:  The agreement specifies that a nine-member Financial Advisory Board will oversee all aspects of city finances. The state appoints four members; the council and the mayor each appoint two. But the ninth — and potentially deciding vote — is supposed to be appointed jointly by the mayor and governor and then confirmed by the City Council.

Good luck finding someone those birds can all agree upon.

But that's not the only hurdle. Within a month, the mayor has to find people to fill two key positions: a chief financial officer, who cannot be a former elected official, and a powerful program manager.

The program manager will have the power, if necessary, to make unilateral changes to any city decisions that the Financial Advisory Board decides violate the consent agreement.

Those positions have to be filled right away, in other words, picked by the mayor in consultation with state Treasurer Andy Dillon, who is essentially a surrogate for the governor. That wouldn't be easy in the best of times. But these aren't the best of times, and there is another problem nobody is talking very much about.

Mayor Dave Bing is sick, and there are reasons to believe we don't really know how sick. A few weeks ago, we were told he was going to the hospital following some "dental discomfort."

Next thing we knew, he was having emergency surgery for a perforated intestine. Soon after he got out, he was back in for what they said was mild discomfort, which turned out to be a pulmonary embolism. This is a man in his late 60s, who is under heavy stress.

Don't expect him to be at full strength anytime soon.

Former Wayne State President Irvin Reid was a member of the financial review team that had the responsibility of investigating Detroit's distress and making a recommendation to the governor. Reid is normally a cautious man; I have known him since 1997, and don't recall him ever taking a controversial position.

To my surprise, he came out two days before the consent agreement was agreed upon to say flatly that, in his opinion, Detroit needs an emergency manager. Things are so bad, he wrote in a guest column in the Detroit Free Press, that "I am not convinced that even this will prevent bankruptcy at this stage. It may merely help us get to a managed process."  To his credit, Irvin Reid pulled no punches.

"I shudder at the sight of a city on the brink of anarchy," he wrote. Reid, himself born into rural poverty in the apartheid world of South Carolina, has no use for the irrational idiots threatening to burn the city down or claiming that "Detroit will fix Detroit," a theory that he, with classic understatement, called "downright tiresome."

The problem is precisely that. Detroit cannot fix Detroit. The city is billions and billions of dollars in debt. Half the city's adults are neither working nor looking for work, according to the U.S. government.

That's the worst ratio of any large city in the nation, and may be related to the fact that nearly half the city's adults are functionally illiterate.  The schools are broken; the streetlights don't come on. How can the 700,000 remaining Detroiters ever fix this mess?

How can they get out from under their crushing debt? They can't, and even if the short-term crisis can be solved, or deferred, the city needs to fix its infrastructure and attract new growth.

That's the only hope Detroit has for the future. If the consent agreement can get us even partly there, I'll be thrilled.

But the odds are that more radical surgery lies ahead. 

 

He's baaaack: Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings all know that Sauron was the embodiment of evil in the world, and although he had been killed before, he was able to keep coming back and building his evil empire, so long as the one ring existed.

I'm sure this is purely coincidence ... but I somehow thought of the old lidless eye last week, when Matty Moroun slithered stealthily back onto the stage. Most of us, including me, were pretty much consumed with Detroit's drama, but a state employee alerted me that Matty was back with a new TV ad even more brazenly false than the others he's run. I saw the ad, and he wasn't kidding.

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