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  • The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues

    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards 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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