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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 […]

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  • 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 […]

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  • 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 […]

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  • 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 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? […]

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Politics & Prejudices

Year of decision

Holding back the GOP, even as we wish the prez were more impressive

Compared to the high hopes we had, [the president] is a bitter disappointment. 

—Joseph Rauh, of the liberal group Americans for Democratic Action

Mitt Romney, whose wife Barbie affectionately refers to him as Ken, got something right the other day. Campaigning in Iowa, he said this election would determine what kind of nation we would be.

He was right about that, though pretty much everything he says about this is carefully calibrated, market-tested horse exhaust. "The question we will decide is this," he likes to say: "Will the United States be an entitlement society or an opportunity society?"

Naturally, he argues that Republicans want to expand opportunities for people who are smart and want to work and get ahead, while President Obama and the Democrats want to redistribute the wealth created by the productive people to the lazy and shiftless who feel "entitled to it." And while Romney, who is still the most likely eventual GOP nominee, will never say it, it is clear what kind of people he intends his voters to picture when they think about those in the "entitlement" culture.

The truth is just the opposite. Republicans, especially those running for president, really believe those in the upper 1 percent of incomes should be entitled to the opportunity to do pretty much whatever they want. The idea that someone whose father wasn’t the head of American Motors and the governor of a major state, as Romney’s was, starts life having an "equal opportunity" with a poor kid whose parents weren’t well educated is absolutely ridiculous. 

The only way poor kids can have anything like a shot at success is if society attempts to give them a playing field they can manage, through decent education and scholarship opportunities. Republicans largely want to do away with those.

Democrats are sometimes corrupt, often send mixed messages, and break their promises. Nor has President Obama been the same kind of great communicator as president that he was as a campaigner. Too often, he has seemed frustratingly aloof, and he has failed to explain to most Americans what his health care plan will do for them.

But this much is clear to anybody who looks at the record and thinks rationally what kind of nation we want: The best possible one for everybody, including multi-millionaires and billionaires who need to be saved from their own folly. Though they have been inarticulate about it, the Democrats recognize that we live in a world where we are, in fact, interdependent, and have a stake in one another’s welfare.

Nobody calls having an army or police force "socialism," though those are, in fact, both quintessentially socialist institutions. Society also needs good roads, good bridges, food that isn’t tainted, and some level of affordable education and health care for all.

Some of those running for president may sneer contemptuously at much of this as outrageously promoting the "nanny state." Some of the same people would, however, discriminate against those whose sex lives are different from what they think they should be.

Talk about nannyism gone wild! The vast majority of Republicans are totally against legalizing gay marriage — and also against allowing governments to provide "domestic partnership benefits" for those in committed gay relationships.

Essentially, then, virtually all the Republican presidential candidates, not to mention nearly their entire caste of political leaders at every level, are either too stupid to realize the consequences of what they are offering, or a bunch of hypocrites gleefully working hard to delude enough common citizens to give them the power.

Apart from sanctioning the continued transfer of wealth to the rich, the GOP today is a "social conservative war party," according to supporters of the only Republican candidate who is different.

That would be Ron Paul, the wizened, gnome-like figure who was coming on strong in the last week before the Iowa caucuses. Paul is essentially a libertarian who actually believes what he says.

Nor is everything he says wrong. He thinks correctly that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were an unlawful and illegal waste of money and blood, and that we have no right to bomb Iran just because we feel like it. However, he also apparently wants to abolish the Federal Reserve System, thinks that "probably 80 percent of what the government does is unconstitutional," and would try to shrink the U.S. government to the size it was in the 18th century. This might all be nice, if we didn’t have to live in a reality-based universe.

Thirty-two years ago, President Jimmy Carter told us that, like it or not, we were living in an age of limits, and the days when we could pretend to be cowboys on the open frontier were over. Ronald Reagan then emerged and offered us a "shining city on a hill" fantasyland, and while there were other issues in that campaign than that, we bought it. Twenty years later, we bought the bargain-basement version from George W. Bush.

We’re still paying the price.

Living responsibly isn’t always exciting, or flashy. Giving up the fantasy that you, too, might be a billionaire and concentrating on making sure your kids can get health care and a job someday may not give you the world’s greatest adrenalin rush. But it is important.

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