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  • Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark

    Oh, the irony — initially criticized as Marxist propaganda when Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted them for the Detroit Institute of Arts in the early 1930s, Detroit Industry has now been designated as a a national landmark. The announcement was made Wednesday, according to the Detroit News by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis as part of National Park Week. The designation does not change the ownership status of the murals or grant any new protections or rights, leaving its place among the rest of the DIA’s art in possible bankruptcy negotiations in question. The work is considered the best of Rivera’s work in the United States (another mural Rivera had done in New York was destroyed by orders of Nelson Rockefeller). Rivera himself regarded Detroit Industries paintings as his finest work. In the midst of the McCarthy era, the DIA posted this sign outside the court: Rivera’s politics and his publicity seeking are detestable. But let’s get the record straight on what he did here. He came from Mexico to Detroit, thought our mass production industries and our technology wonderful and very exciting, painted them as one of the great achievements of the twentieth century. This came […]

    The post Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit area code 313 may be phased out

    Hey, everybody from the 313, start thinking of new numbers to rally around– the longstanding Detroit area code may be phased out. Our friends over at the Detroit News report that pending a revised estimate next week, the North American Numbering Plan Administration will stop handing out 313 telephone prefixes on new phone numbers. Detroiters with existing cell phone lines would be able to keep their current area codes, while those with land lines would change. via Detroit News: The venerable 313 will ultimately become overtaxed. Even as Detroit’s population has fallen, cellphone usage has accelerated like one of those smoldering SRT Vipers that Dodge has been bolting together at Conner Avenue Assembly — which is, of course, comfortably within the confines of 313. … When the first five dozen area codes were assigned nearly 70 years ago, says NANPA’s Tom Foley, “that was expected basically to last forever.” Instead, somebody invented fax machines, and then somebody else came up with cellphones, and lots of somebody elses decided to give them to 10-year-olds, and meantime the population grew to 300 million. Now every telephone carrier is required to submit twice-yearly forecasts of its needs in each area code, factoring in […]

    The post Detroit area code 313 may be phased out appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council

    Unfortunately, we were unable to attend last night’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, which, in case you were unaware, is a 16-member board established to weigh in on the new Red Wings arena near downtown. About three dozen residents and property owners cast ballots by the 8 p.m. deadline on Wednesday inside the Block at Cass Park, The Detroit News reports. It’s the culmination of a handful of community meetings which began weeks ago. Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez facilitated the meetings, but emphasized at previous meetings that it’s up to the community to conduct business. According to the News, the 12 candidates selected include: Michael Boettcher, Richard Etue, Jason Gapa, Francis Grunow, Steve Guether, Paul Hughes, Ray Litt, Warner Doyle McBryde, Karen McLeod, Delphia Simmons, Melissa Thomas and Anthony Zander. Joel Landy, a land owner in the area, lost his bid. The City Council appointed four candidates last month. As we reported in this week’s issue, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee was negotiated after Olympia Development of Michigan, Detroit Red Wing’s owner Mike Ilitch’s real estate arm, balked on a proposed community benefits agreement.  The committee is charged with the task of offering input on the arena’s design, parking security and more.

    The post Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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.

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Politics & Prejudices

Wrong to recall?

Why efforts to boot Snyder may be pointless and counterprodcive

Thousands of citizens outraged by the Snyder administration's policies are now talking recall. In fact, a group has been formed that's making a serious attempt to do just that. Michigan Citizens United got petition language approved last week. They have a website, firericksnyder.org, and are taking donations and mobilizing for action. Their motto is that of the famous 18th century philosopher Edmund Burke:

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing," which is certainly true ...

Yet not the whole truth. There is an equally big truth, which every band of successful guerrilla warriors in the world has learned: Pick your battles. Yes, glorious defeats have sometimes inspired men and women to fight another day.

But all too often, losing has exactly the opposite effect. Illusions crushed, the disillusioned and dispirited melt away, turn off and drop out. That's what largely happened to the left wing in the 1960s and 1970s. The Kennedys were killed and Martin Luther King was killed and the cops smashed the protesters' heads at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in the summer of 1968.

Then Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew were elected, and boatloads of people went off to communes. When Nixon and Agnew fell, the best anyone could do was Jimmy Carter, whose most radical counterculture thought was turning down the heat and wearing a sweater.

After him came Ronald Reagan and the Bushes, interrupted only by Bill Clinton, who once described himself as an "Eisenhower Republican." I mention all this history for a reason.

We've got lots of people hot to oust Snyder, and everything I know about practical matters tells me they are going to waste a lot of energy and impale themselves on the sharp stakes of the process. Here's why: Just getting a state constitutional amendment on Michigan's ballot this year would take 322,609 valid signatures.

This number fluctuates a little, from election to election. But in practice, it is always very hard to achieve. Most who try fall short unless they have lots of corporate or special interest money behind them, and can pay people $1 a scrawl to collect signatures.

The rule of thumb is that a quarter of all signatures are always invalid. People sign twice or don't know what county they live in or aren't really registered to vote, so you have to turn in at least 25 percent more than the amount really needed to get on the ballot.

When Jack Kevorkian was riding high, he and his supporters tried to get an amendment on the ballot; he told me he thought he could get enough in a few days. They never came close.

And recalling a governor is much, much harder. Michigan Citizens United can't legally start collecting signatures till July 1. Then, they have to collect 807,000 valid signatures by Oct. 1 — well more than twice the number needed for a constitutional amendment. Practically speaking, they'd need more.

Many, many more. Citizens United estimates they'd have to collect 1.1 million signatures. According to their website, as I write these lines on May 1, the group now has $5,695 in the bank.

They would need a $1.5 million, at a minimum, to have a prayer. By the way, even if they succeeded, a recall election couldn't be called till next year. Legally, they now can hold a vote only at the next regularly scheduled election, and no sooner than 95 days after the recall petitions are filed. That means February 2012.

Plus, if they succeeded, Jesus would not become governor. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley would take over. You might want to read up on his voting record before you pull that ripcord, comrades.

Incidentally, getting a recall on the ballot does not automatically mean it will be successful. Some anti-tax fanatics did collect enough signatures to get a recall on the ballot for former Speaker of the House Andy Dillon, back in 2008.

Guess what. Voters said no. By the way, the state doesn't pay for a recall election. Every already-cash-strapped city and county and township has to bear the costs in their area.

(You don't have to take my word for any of this; look online, or call the Michigan Secretary of State elections division: 517-373-2540.)

Last week, after I said here and elsewhere that I was opposed to a recall, I was savagely attacked by a number of people, including one Regina Bruner Markowicz of Macomb County, who wrote to me that "your thinking is no longer impartial ... you are led by opinion rather than facts. You will soon become irrelevant ... our family cast its vote, and it is anti-Jack Lessenberry. You are not (any) longer our friend."

Well, hey, my dog Ashley still likes me, at least when he wants to play ball. However, I have just presented a whole lot of facts above.

But at the risk of being hated even more by the Family Markowicz, I would still be opposed to a recall even if I thought one could be achieved. (Full disclosure: I did not vote for Rick Snyder.)

I strongly oppose his cuts to education at all levels — though there are a lot of good proposals in his education policy itself.

I think ending the Earned Income Tax Credit (or EITC) for the working poor is not only socially and morally terrible, it is foolish, and will cost us all more in the long run. I also think ending tax credits for the film industry is a mistake.

Yet the voters of the state of Michigan elected Snyder by a landslide. During the campaign he said he was against the film tax credit and said he would give big tax breaks to business. He also said he was against raising the income tax to compensate. Did we really think he was going to balance the budget by finding a platinum mine under the governor's office?

Everyone should have seen this coming. However, there's another huge piece of this that everyone is missing. There is another, easier way to stop these policies. Contrary to popular opinion, Rick Snyder cannot pass laws all by himself. Matter of fact, he can't pass them at all. The Legislature has to approve any laws.

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