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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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An icon passes: Faruq Z. Bey

Saxophonist-composer-poet symbolized a movement

Photo: , License: N/A

Those he touched wanted to share in his wake, to talk about the way his music had knocked them down or opened them up or raised their intellects — or touched them spiritually as well as musically. How he personified a creative essence or sound or a scene or an era — or even a city.

Faruq Z. Bey was the leader and central figure in Griot Galaxy, the group that, through the 1970s and 1980s, defined the jazz avant-garde more than any other in Detroit. 

In their early days, they were regulars at Cobb's Corner (at the corner of Cass and Willis), along with groups led by Marcus Belgrave and Lyman Woodard and others. But even in that scene, Griot had its own niche, with 10 or so musicians crowded onstage, sounding like even more with an approach that borrowed from Sun Ra, the Art Ensemble of Chicago and others on the cutting edge.

"They had a small, highly energetic and very supportive group of people who loved what they were doing ... a lot of artists, painters, a lot of poets, a lot of writers were interested in the band," the writer Kofi Natambu said for a 2003 profile of Bey. And along with the music, Natambu recalled, the audience was drawn to the "the visionary aspect of what Griot Galaxy was doing." 

They distilled their sound (three-sax, bass, drum) and stage presence around 1980 — Bey plus Tony Holland, David McMurray, Jaribu Shahid and Tani Tabbal. With Eastern and African garb and metallic face paint, an aura of ritual, and music that was intensely — and sometimes hypnotically — rhythmic, they were a band that should've made it out of Detroit, an avant-garde band that could reach fans who might not otherwise be listening to the style at all.

And Griot Galaxy might've become more widely known outside of Detroit but not for a mid-1980s motorcycle crash that left Bey first comatose and then partially paralyzed. The band made appearances with and without the recovering Faruq, and finally dissolved in acrimony. 

Post-Griot, Bey re-emerged slowly, mainly in the last decade, leading his own groups and collaborating with others, particularly the Northwoods Improvisers; Griot left behind two full LPs; Bey recorded nearly a dozen with the Improvisers and continued to influence younger musicians. 

More than a musician, he was a poet, a philosopher and more an old-school philologist than a modern linguist. He could digress on the word "hey" in conversation, and deliver a treatise on a more loaded word like "jazz." ("Avant-garde," by the way, he wasn't fond of, citing its military origins: advance troops tend to get wiped out in clash.) 

Faruq, who turned 70 on Feb. 4, had been in ill health with emphysema for many years; his oxygen tank was a constant companion. He had performed as recently as April with the group Box Deserter in Hamtramck. He was to be featured in the Don Was Detroit All-Star Revue as part of the Concert of Colors in July. His book Toward a "Ratio"nal Aesthetic was to be reissued this fall in conjunction with an exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit on Afro-futurism (a term that fit Griot Galaxy and Bey perfectly). 

He'd been in contact with friends on Thursday, but couldn't be reached Friday, raising concerns. He was subsequently found dead at his Detroit home on Saturday, apparently of natural causes; no cause of death has been determined.

Tuesday afternoon, 250 or so mourners gathered at the Muslim Mosque and Community Center, off Davison near the Lodge, to pay respects before Faruq's burial at Knollwood Cemetery in Canton. There were numerous remembrances of Bey the artist and philosopher and friend. Performance poet and artist Ann Holdreith recalled the time he explained that he'd once had ambitions to become an automotive designer "until I heard Coltrane and it ruined me.”

And although even the most casual acquaintance would know that Islam had been important to Faruq's life, few of his secular-world friends seemed to know that he was considered one of the founders of orthodox Islam in African-American Detroit in the early '70s.

According to his obituary, the First African Primal Rhythm Arkestra and the Bey Family — which are at the root of the Griot Galaxy story — also led to the genesis of the Masjid As Salaam, with Faruq as a founding member along with Imam Muhammad Jalil Bey, Imam Mubarrak Mutakalim and Imam Abdul Hakim Halim.

With those gathered nodding heads in agreement, one of the imams on Tuesday described Faruq as someone who "spoke and acted as a person with a Harvard education as opposed to someone from the west side of Detroit.”


Meanwhile, comments and reflections on Faruq's life continue to be added to the Music Blahg post started Saturday, along with links to videos and audios, including a link to a rare 1984 video recording of Griot Galaxy. These are excerpts from the comment thread:


From James Cornish, trumpeter, who last played with Bey in April: 

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