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    Former American Idol contestant Vonzell Solomon weighs in on twerking, natural hair & CEO status. In 2005, recording artist Vonzell “Baby V” Solomon embarked on a journey that changed her life. At the age of 20, Vonzell made it to the top three on American Idol before she was eliminated. But that was not the beginning nor the end of her journey to stardom. Vonzell is one of more than two dozen artists on tour with YouTube sensation Todrick Hall, who is a former Idol contestant as well. Todrick gained notoriety for his fast food drive-thru songs and also for producing parody videos  —  based on popular Broadway musicals and songs. His tour, uniquely entitled Twerk Du Soleil (translation: twerk of the sun), is a combination of his popular YouTube spoofs. Both Vonzell and her ratchet alter ego,Boonquisha Jenkins, made an appearance in Twerk Du Soleil,which stopped in Detroit July 23 at Saint Andrews Hall. Boonquisha opened the show by facilitating a twerking competition among the audience. Next, Vonzell made a reappearance singing a fan favorite – Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” Later, Boonquisha came on stage screaming “It’s so cold in the D! You gotta be from the D to […]

    The post Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race

    If a poll released this week is any indication of how the August 5 primary election will turn out, current Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano has reason to worry, Fox 2 reports. Ficano, who’s seeking a third term, polled in fourth place — behind former Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans, Westland Mayor Bill Wild and Wayne County Commissioner Phil Cavanaugh, according to Fox 2. The poll by Strategic Solutions LLC, showed 6.7 percent of respondents said they’d vote for Ficano, which isn’t so bad: He finished ahead of County Commissioner Kevin McNamara (who came in at No. 6) and someone literally described as “a candidate not named here” (who polled at No. 5.) If you’re planning to head to the polls — which you should! — and need some input on the candidates and ballot proposals, you can read for our election coverage in this week’s Metro Times.

    The post Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • A Mad Decent Mixtape

    Mad Decent Block Party will roll through town on Saturday, August 16, bringing to town artists like Dillon Francis, Diplo, Flosstradamus, RiFF RAFF, Keys N Krates, and Zeds Dead. Thugli, a Canadian duo, will perform on the Toronto leg of the tour and they put together a 45 minute mix that features songs by some of the tour’s featured artists as well as a host of others.  Listen to it here. 

    The post A Mad Decent Mixtape appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders

    Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host a special event this Saturday, July 26 in hopes of raising money for the local faction of an international nonprofit, Burners without Borders Detroit. Breaking Borders is a one-evening-only event that will feature live music, performance, and art. Satori Circus will perform along with spoken word artist ZakAndWhatArmy. Music by Tartanic, Dixon’s Violin, and Servitor. Fire dancers, hoop performers, and acrobats will provide a certain mysticism to the ambiance as old Victorian steampunk and tribal art is shown in the main gallery. There will also be a runway fashion show and the evening will end with a dubstep rave featuring DJ Forcefeed and Dotty. Truly, there’s something for everyone. Perhaps more importantly, there will be a full service bar. The event is open to those 18 and older and IDs will be checked at the door. Admission is $25 at the door, or $20 with the donation of a canned good. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the party goes until 2 a.m. A 20 percent commission will be taken from all art sold at this event and donated to Burners without Borders. The Tangent Gallery is located at 715 Milwaukee Ave., Detroit; 313-873-2955;

    The post Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project

    By Amanda Mooney There’s a lot that goes into producing a film, and unless you are a filmmaker you really have no idea. Writing, casting, finding a location, shooting, and editing; each step of the process can take days, months, and sometimes years to complete. Can you imagine doing it ALL in just 48 hours? The 48 Hour Film Project is an annual competition that takes place all over the world in various cities. According to Mike Madigan, head of the Detroit 48 Hour chapter, the city is one of the largest participating in terms of the number of teams. The competing teams go in blind as to what kind of film they will be producing, with no creative planning beyond getting a cast and crew together, Madigan explained. “They pick a genre out of a hat, and they get a line, a prop, and a character. And they have to incorporate that within a short film, that’s usually between 4 to 7 minutes long. And they have the timeframe of doing it all within 48 hours,” said Madigan, “So all the creative process of it all has to happen within that 48 hour–writing a script, putting it together, editing–to […]

    The post 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space

    Church: Revival is the new project by local rap duo Passalacqua (aka Bryan Lackner and Brent Smith), but it’s more than just a new Passalacqua release. The rappers teamed up with siblings Jax Anderson (frontwoman of rockers Flint Eastwood) and Seth Anderson, who together form the songwriting team called Syblyng (naturally). The result is a cycle of songs that promises to be darker than Passalacqua’s material so far. The project will make a live debut on Saturday, July 26 at a brand new venue space at the Detroit Bus Co.’s building Eight & Sand, and they will premiere the Right Bros.-directed video for the track “Baptism” as well. Other performances include Tunde Olaniran and Open Mike Eagle, and DJ sets by Nothing Elegant, Dante LaSalle, and Charles Trees. We met up the two duos at Eight & Sand to check out the new space and to talk about the project with all parties involved. Metro Times: How long have you been working together? Jax Anderson: Seth and I are constantly writing songs together. We want to push in the direction of becoming songwriters more frequently. This is our first project that we took on to co-write everything together. We’re basically just a songwriting entity. We won’t play live that […]

    The post Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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The Pot Issue

Amsterdam is Viper Central

Consider the advantages of going Dutch

Photo: , License: N/A

The Pot Issue

As a prominent European port city, Amsterdam has served as a center for lightweight vice — recreational drug use, prostitution, gambling, public sexual excess — for several centuries.

This sort of activity has been tolerated in Amsterdam since the city's beginnings, exemplified in modern times by fully legalized prostitution and the virtual legalization of small-scale marijuana sales and recreational drug use of all sorts.

But in no way is Amsterdam a wide-open city in any sense of the word. Vice is regarded as simply a part of normal life and, in the Dutch way, sensibly tolerated and regulated to fit proportionately into the everyday life of its 600,000 citizens. Cannabis use has stabilized at something like 20 percent of the populace and presents no sort of threat to the rather staid social order.

Nothing is more boring to Dutch citizens than the topic of marijuana use. There are those who oppose it on the usual religious or cultural grounds, but the sensationalism and public drama of American-style War on Drugs propaganda is nowhere in evidence; the forces of law and order are perfectly happy with the way things work in terms of recreational drug use.

It's important to remember that marijuana is not exactly legal in the Netherlands. Marijuana use and procurement exist in what the Dutch describe as a "gray area" where it's OK to buy some weed and smoke it in the hundreds of licensed "coffee shops" that abound in the Netherlands, with nearly 250 in operation in Amsterdam itself.

But it's illegal to cultivate, grow, harvest, import, transport or deliver cannabis to the outlets where it's sold across the counter to anyone over 18 who can meet the modest price of purchase. An individual may grow five plants for personal use, but larger grow operations intended to supply the coffee shop market with salable product are targeted for arrest and prosecution by the police and courts.

The marijuana smoker is allowed by national governmental policy to enjoy possession of five grams and the ability to purchase them over the counter in the coffee shops, which are themselves permitted to possess no more than 500 grams of marijuana and hashish on their premises at any one time.

Holland has legalized medical marijuana, available at pharmacies with a doctor's prescription, but word on the street is that the medicinal weed isn't as good as that available commercially and even costs somewhat more than the over-the-counter brands.

For centuries, weed itself was scarce in Holland, and hashish mixed with tobacco into joints ("jointjes") was the traditional smoke. But in modern times, the Dutch have learned from the holy farmers of Hawaii and the West Coast how to cultivate vast quantities of top-quality marijuana and make it available to the retail counters in the coffee shops.

Now there are almost countless strains of marijuana — cannabis indica, cannabis sativa and blends of the two basic types — offered to the consumer by means of explicit menus provided at the point of purchase. Standard brands like White Widow, Blueberry, Skunk and Power Plant are always in the house, along with more exotic strains like Super Silver Haze, Amnesia Haze, New York Diesel, various breeds of Kush and Cheese, and whatever hybrid delicacies the growers manage to dream up and cultivate from season to season.

Some coffee shops (such as the 420 Café, the author's favorite hang) offer limited menus with maybe six marijuana and six hashish selections. Others have strains specially grown for them, or specialize in voluminous listings of 20 or 30 types of smoke always kept on hand. Some weigh out your grams and bag them before your eyes, while others sell pre-prepared gram bags.

Unlike our own measures in terms of ounces, quarters, eighths and sixteenths, the Dutch use the metric system, and cannabis is sold strictly by the gram. For the causal smoker of limited financial power, this means that you can cop by the $8-$10 gram and rest assured that there'll be another gram of the same sort and quality available in the same location when you need it next — no pressure to round up $60 or $80 in order to enjoy your smoke.

The great thing is that there's no stigma attached to getting high or enjoying a smoke in a public setting, although the Dutch much prefer that such use is kept indoors and confined to like-minded sorts. Smoking cannabis is de riguer in the coffee shops, and there are many smoker-sympathetic bars that allow the simultaneous ingestion of cannabis and alcoholic spirits.

Until a few years ago, the coffee shops were allowed to serve both smoke and drink, but such mixing is no longer permitted, and the bars that allow smoking don't sell the stuff on the premises. And since the European Union enacted anti-tobacco legislation that forbids smoking cigarettes in coffee shops, restaurants and bars anywhere, only cannabis smoking is permitted in properly licensed establishments.

Coffee shop culture is a topic in and of itself, but a brief historical survey reveals that the coffee shops resulted from the growth of public smoking and cannabis provision that started in squatted entertainment venues like the Paradiso and the Melkweg around 1972.

At the same time, enterprising individuals of the burgeoning cannabis culture determined to make the stuff available in fixed locations, such as the houseboat that originally offered hash and weed for sale, and seminal coffee shops such as the Rusland and Mellow Yellow.

By this time, the effects of the Netherlands becoming a signatory to the Single Drug Convention propagated by the hated Richard M. Nixon administration should have squelched the incipient movement for legalization of cannabis in Holland, but a sort of miracle happened. The son of a prominent Dutch cabinet member convinced his mother that there was little personal or social harm that could reasonably be blamed on cannabis use, and the government should seek to reduce and limit the potential harm to the smoker from the legal system.

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