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  • Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years

    Rovers Scooter Club, a local gang dedicated to celebrating and riding motor scooters, will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary this week with a very special ride. Motor City Shakedown, the annual birthday party for the club, will commence this Friday, August 1 at New Way Bar. DJ Grover from Cincinnati will be spinning northern soul, reggae, and ska, according to club member Michael Palazzola. Saturday will feature a ride from Ferndale to Detroit, starting at noon at M-Brew. Palazzola says this is where most bikes will congregate before taking the ride to the city and folks will be prepping by getting some grub starting at 10 a.m.  Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host the after party,  a special event that will feature performances by several bands as well as Satori Circus. That portion of the event will commence at 8 p.m. with performances starting at 9 p.m. It’s free to riders, but the public is welcome to join the party with the mere cost of a door charge. Come midnight, the club will raffle off a vintage Lambretta LI 150. Sunday morning will end the weekend of festivities, with brunch taking place at the Bosco in Ferndale.   

    The post Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times

    Turns out, our very own Jack Lessenberry knows the Grosse Pointer seeking to ban the MT: Ten years or so ago, a woman named Andrea Lavigne sat in on some media survey classes I was teaching at Wayne State University. She was in her late 30s or early 40s, and seemed to be searching for answers. She wanted to know how the media work, and told me she was a Maoist. This fascinated me, because I thought authentic Maoists were almost as rare as passenger pigeons. Chairman Mao, we now know, starved to death and slaughtered tens of millions of his own citizens, and kept China economically and intellectually backward. Intrigued, I got together one night before class with her and another Maoist, to find out what they were all about. Alas, they spouted a form of primitive, grade-school Marxism. They seemed to have very little historical knowledge of Communism or what it had actually been like. Yes. A Maoist. Read the full story at Michigan Radio here.

    The post Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’

    A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the owner of Detroit’s municipal solid waste incinerator Monday, accusing the company of nuisance and gross negligence violations According to the complaint filed by Detroit-based Liddle & Dubin P.C., “On occasions too numerous to list, Plaintiffs’ property including Plaintiffs’ neighborhood, residences and yards were physically invaded by noxious odors and contaminants … As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’s’ negligence in operating and/or maintaining the facility, Plaintiffs’ property has been invaded by noxious odors.” The eight-page complaint charges that local property values have dropped due to the incinerator’s presence, “and has interfered with Plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of their property.” The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, seeks a financial award in excess of $25,000 and all costs and attorney fees related to the case. In an email, a spokesperson for the company says, “Detroit Renewable Power is reviewing the complaint filed today,” but declined further comment. The suit comes weeks after a Metro Times’ cover story earlier this month found a growing number of odor complaints from nearby residents since Detroit Renewable Power LLC (DRP) took control of the facility in 2010. The investigation found a spike in citations from the Michigan Department […]

    The post Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup

    The High Times Medical Cannabis Cup is more than just a celebration — although with the recent shift in attitudes toward marijuana legalization, there certainly is much to celebrate.  HT‘s Danny Danko described it as “just like any other harvest festival or a county fair where people bring their best produce, their best pigs and horses and cows, and they compete with each other for bragging rights, basically.” Here are a list of winners from this year’s Cannabis Cup, who did indeed walk home with some well-deserved bragging rights — if anyone knows their marijuana it’s High Times: Indica 1ST - Oasis Medical Seeds - Paris OG 2ND - Herbal Solutions - Alien Dawg F2 3RD - Herban Legendz, LLC - Grape OX Sativa 1ST - Arborside Compassion - CATFISH 2ND - Organibliss - Ghost Train Haze #1 3RD - We Grow Education and Collective Centers - MelonGum Hybrid 1ST - Herbal Solutions - Gorilla Glue 2ND - Pure West Compassion Club - Death Star 3RD - Kushman Veganics for Buds & Roses - Veganic Candyland Concentrate 1ST - Mr. B’s Extracts - Raskal’s Lemon 2ND - 710 Savant - Kosher Kush Dewaxed 3RD - Oasis Medical / Vader Extracts / Dab Vader - Candy Jack Shatter Non-Solvent Hash 1ST - NLG - Jedi Kush Ice Wax 2ND - Arborside Compassion - HeadCandy Kush Hash 3RD - New World Seeds Resource […]

    The post Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative

    So is the title of the press release we received this morning from The Satanic Temple. You may recall our interview with Doug Mesner from earlier this year. The Satanic Temple is, perhaps, best known for trying to build a child-friendly monument to satan in OKC: How Mesner and TST are rocking the Hobby Lobby ruling is interesting: The Satanic Temple Leverages Hobby Lobby Ruling to Claim Exemption From State Mandated ProLife Materials Reads the next line of the press release. And then their website: A number of states require that abortion providers give information to patients that maybe inaccurate or misleading. Demands that members of the Satanic Temple, or those who share our beliefs, be subjected against our will to anything but the best scientific understanding are a violation of our religious beliefs. Thanks to rulings such as Hobby Lobby, we can take a stand against these practices. Mesner points out how the Hobby Lobby ruling bolsters their position: While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact. This was made clear when […]

    The post Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio

    On Saturday we set out to check out the High Times Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio, Mich. — High Times did hold a Cannabis Cup in the Motor City back in 2011, but Detroit police flexing their muscles and making arrests at that event may have been to blame, at least partially, for the choice of a new host city. The event was held this year at the Auto City Speedway, (also known as “B.F.E.” to Detroiters). Nevertheless, the prospect of stopping at the Torch for the best burger in the Genessee County was compelling — and anyway, this was the Cannabis Cup we were talking about. Was it really going to be “work?” It turned out, just a little bit. An inexplicable lack of an on-site ATM meant hiking quite a ways up the road to the nearest gas station, and then waiting for an attendant to restock the ATM with cash. We spoke with plenty of Cannabis Cup attendees at the gas station — everybody knows that the local gas station is a stoner’s best-friend. The two-day festival, for which one-day tickets were sold for $40, was divided into two sections — a general area and a medicating […]

    The post Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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A second chance

For one family, a business becomes a road to redemption

Photo: MT Photo: Detroitblogger John, License: N/A

MT Photo: Detroitblogger John

Artie and Arthur Willis.

Arthur Willis calls a customer into the workshop at the back of his store.

"See this?" he says, pointing inside the gears of an old vacuum cleaner. He's showing the man how to perform a minor repair himself for next time. "Tighten this down. There. Now put that belt on that roller." The lesson takes three minutes.

And — with that — he just got rid of some repeat business.

But that gesture, he figures, will bring that customer back for something else some other time. Because here at Bronson's Vacuum Cleaner Service Shop, on McNichols near Greenfield, everything is about helping the customers. It has to be.

"It's tough. Wal-Mart, Sears, I cannot compete with them," says Arthur, 56. "They can sell 'em cheaper, but they can't beat us in service, and that's the benefit of having a ma-and-pa business. Nobody can beat a ma-and-pa in service. They're going to give you the service because they want you back."

The shop belongs to him and his son, Artie, 35. Two longtime employees work here too. The place is a relic from the days before mega-stores, when a single small business could specialize in a single small item.

When he bought the place 25 years ago, it was another shot at having his own business, after his first one was essentially wiped out. But the store became devoted to bigger things.

"It's a selfish reason," Arthur says. "Just to be able to keep a business in Detroit and not sell out. Almost every black business in the city of Detroit is selling out or closing up. We have a tremendous problem with African-Americans in the city of Detroit patronizing African-Americans, and our dollars don't stay in the community at all. So our young kids can't get a job."

"What if I can have enough business that I can hire 10 of those kids? That means I got 10 kids off the street and I'm teaching them a trade. And that's the reason I keep it open, because I refuse to shut it down."

That's not the main reason though.

Arthur once
had his own janitorial company. His wife ran a maid service.

Things went very well for a while. "We made a lot of money," he says. But he didn't pay all his taxes and it cost him. "You get involved with Uncle Sam in not paying the taxes and he has a way of bringing you down to the bottom," he says. The fines and back taxes ended the good life. Goodbye, Corvette. Goodbye, nice things.

"I was devastated," he says. "You go from having a nice income to no income. But I'm glad I went through it because it's why my faith is stronger. Really, it's not about how much money I make anymore. If I make a lot of money but I'm not happy with anything else, what's the purpose of having the money?"

After his fall, he started going to church more, took Bible studies classes, and became a pastor at a church in Romulus. He's also a volunteer chaplain for the Detroit Public Schools. When someone's kid gets shot at school or some other tragedy happens, he's the one who gets the call to come in and comfort the distraught.

Bronson's had been around for years when Arthur found it for sale and bought it. This would be his second chance.

"It never really was mine though," he says. "This was basically for the family and basically for my son."

All three of Arthur's other kids got college degrees. But Artie didn't want to. Since he was a kid he'd join his father at work, both at the janitorial company and at Bronson's, watching and learning. Arthur encouraged it. "Because he didn't go to college, I knew down the road that he's gonna need a place to work; he's gonna need this," he says.

Their shop
is small. A few dozen vacuum cleaners circle the floor space along the walls and poke upward from shelves standing in the middle. Some are 50-year-old Hoovers and Kirbys, right next to newer, more elaborate models imported from China. It's like a museum of vacuum cleaner history.

In the old days, they made them heavy and durable, and they'd last for a decade or more. If it broke you got it repaired. Nowadays they're made of light plastic and break easily.

Bronson's survives because, in tough times, its customers will get their old vacuum cleaners fixed instead of buying a new one, and because, many of them say, the old models are simply better than today's.

"When archaeologists come back a thousand years from now they're still going to find a Kirby," Artie says. "You can burn it, beat it, but you can't break it. They made a model of a vacuum cleaner that actually withstood the test of time."

Most repairs are about $20. Or you can trade in your old vacuum for credit on a new one. Rebuilt vacuums sell as cheaply as $29. The vintage models are still popular with the older folks, who know from experience that they don't make them like they used to.

"This one here's probably 50, 60 years old," Artie says, going into showroom mode. He taps on one. "Everything's cast iron on here. You could go outside and vacuum up the concrete with this. I'm serious!"

He clearly knows his way around vacuums. He had no choice but to learn. This place would become his second chance too.

He was
in his apartment about 10 years ago when some guys from the neighborhood broke in and robbed him. He chased them out, called the cops, filed a report. When the police left, the robbers showed up again, and a shoot-out ensued in the street.

A bullet hit Artie in the leg. He, in turn, shot and killed one of the men. That earned him six years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.

His father had given him the shop, and now had to come out of retirement to keep it alive until Artie got out. He'd need it more than ever after this, Arthur figured.

"Coming out of jail is gonna be tough for a young African-American to go find a job, 'cause when you get a record or something, it's tough to get a job anywhere, 'cause you get a stigma," Arthur says. "And you see that all over the city of Detroit. Very seldom are you going to make any big money doing anything, 'cause the first thing they're going to ask him is, 'Oh, you did time?' And I didn't want to have the streets be his life."

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