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  • 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? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor

    Detroit home-girl Lily Tomlin will perform at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, June 14. A press release reads, “Get together with Lily Tomlin for an unforgettable night of fun and sidesplitting laughter. “Tomlin is amazing” The NY Times and “as always a revelation.” The New Yorker This unique comic artist takes her audience on what the Washington Post calls a “wise and howlingly funny” trip with more than a dozen of her timeless characters—from Ernestine to Mrs. Beasley to Edith Ann.” “With astounding skill and energy, Tomlin zaps through the channels like a human remote control. Using a fantastic range of voices, gestures and movements, she conjures up the cast of characters with all the apparent ease of a magician pulling a whole menagerie of animals from a single hat.” NY Daily News “Her gentle touch is as comforting as it is edifying.” NY Time Out She has “made the one-person show the daring, irreverent art form it is today.” Newsweek Her long list of awards includes: a Grammy; two Tonys; six Emmys; an Oscar nomination; two Peabodys; and the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Find more info here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor

    The Detroit Metro Times, Detroit’s award-winning alternative weekly media company, is proud to announce the recent hire of Valerie Vande Panne as Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning independent journalist and Michigan native, Vande Panne’s work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Daily Beast, and Salon, among other publications. Previously, Vande Panne attended Harvard University and was a regular contributor to The Boston Phoenix, and a news editor of High Times magazine. She has spent years covering drug policy among other subjects, including the environment, culture, lifestyle, extreme sports, and academia. “Valerie understands our business and what we expect to accomplish in Detroit. She has an excellent sense for stories that will move our readers, as well as experience with balancing print and digital content. I’m excited to have her at the paper and trust her leadership as we move forward,” said Detroit Metro Times publisher Chris Keating.

    The post Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’

    She welcomes you when you enter Detroit, from every direction, with the one word that might just be Detroit’s biggest philosophical question: Injured? Joumana Kayrouz is deeper than the inflated image watching over Detroit, peddling justice to the poor and broken of the city. This Wednesday, Drew Philp takes us behind the billboard and into the heart of the Kayrouz quest. (And all of Brian Rozman’s photos of Kayrouz have not been retouched.) Check out MT‘s cover story, on newsstands Wednesday!

    The post Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt

    There was a fire in an upstairs apartment at PJ’s Lager House on Monday evening. No people were hurt, although three cats belonging to the tenants died after CPR. The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. during a show featuring Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band, Curtin, and Jeffrey Jablonsky. “We just smelled smoke and someone yelled everyone has to get out,” 33-year-old Nick Leu told MLive. On the Lager House Facebook page in the early hours of the morning, a post said, “We at PJ’s lager House would like to thank everyone for their care and concern. Also, a very big THANK YOU to all who stepped up to do what they could this evening. The fire was contained to the upstairs but due to water damage in the bar, we will be closed until it can be assessed. Everyone is safe and we will keep you updated.” A later update read, “Update from the big boss. Since there was no damage to the stage side of the bar, the show will go on tomorrow! You may have to enter through the back door and there may not be a large selection of booze but we are going […]

    The post Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt 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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