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  • Thank you, Detroit

    I’m not going to lie to you – this isn’t easy. This week, the final City Slang local music column will be published in the Metro Times (on hardcore band Final Assault), and I have just submitted a cover feature on the women of Detroit hip-hop, to be published next week (8/6). This blog that you’re reading now will be my last one as a regular MT contributor. I have a lot to look forward to. I’m going to be an associate editor at Yellow Scene Magazine in Colorado, a tremendous publication in a beautiful part of the country. But leaving Detroit will be incredibly difficult for me. I love the place. It’s been (amazingly) six and a half years since I arrived, a couple of cases in hand and not much of a plan in mind. I just knew, after three separate research trips for books and a magazine article, that I felt at home here. Metro Times offered me freelance work almost immediately, as did a new website called Metromix (whatever happened to that?) When I arrived here, I had been working as a writer in the UK for nine years, but the help and encouragement I received […]

    The post Thank you, Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers

      We here at MT will be delighted when Mr. Jack White throws out a pitch at Navin Field (at least, we hope he will), but until then, we’ll be happy with his pitch to Santa this evening at Comerica Park.    

    The post Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW)

      Footage from the Gathering of the Juggalos set to clips of Morgan Freeman’s narration from March of the Penguins? Kind of forced, but also kind of beautiful. As the AV Club reports: The oft-sought voiceover champion lends a touch of gravitas to the festival proceedings. Unfortunate scenes of barely clad people having various liquids dumped onto them now carries a quiet dignity as it’s all part of nature’s majestic plan that keeps the world spinning through this elegantly designed and truly wondrous universe. Also, the video is NSFW as there are boobs in it. Watch the clip below:

    The post Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW) appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love”

    It seems like the polar vortex will never end: the weather phenomenon that brought us the most brutal winter on record this winter is to blame for this summer’s chillier-than usual temperatures as well. A couple of bands, though, made lemonade out of lemons (or snow cones out of snow?) by using the icy landscape to film music videos. 800beloved shot the video for “Tidal” in some sand dunes near Empire, Mich., and this week Turn to Crime debuted the video for “Can’t Stop,” the title track of their recently-released album. Even more piles of ice and snow might be the last thing Detroiters want to see right now, but the footage makes for some good visuals that mesh well with the song. Watch the video below:

    The post Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love” appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed

    Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr transferred oversight of the the city’s water department Tuesday to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in an order intended to refocus “efforts to help DWSD customers get and remain current on their water bills,” Orr’s office said today. “This order provides additional clarity to the powers already delegated to the mayor,” Orr said in a statement released Tuesday. “As the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department works to operate more efficiently and communicate more effectively with customers, it is important to ensure there are clear lines of management and accountability.” Duggan will have the authority to manage DWSD and make appointments to the utility’s board, according to a news release. In a statement issued Tuesday, the mayor said he welcomed Orr’s order, adding that officials will develop a plan that “allows those who truly need to access to financial help … to do so with shorter wait times.” “We need to change a number of things in the way we have approached the delinquent payment issues and I expect us to have a new plan shortly,” Duggan said. “There are funds available to support those who cannot afford their bills — we need to do a much better job in […]

    The post Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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.



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Cover Story

Back to Au Sable

Freshwater traveling among the salts of the earth

Photo: , License: N/A

For the second year in a row, my Hamtramck friends and I went on an early-season canoe trip in the Huron National Forest. Up around Mio, a 23-mile segment of the Au Sable (oddly, pronounced ah-SOB-bow) River is a designated  "scenic river" with campsites for canoers. Last year, I went with my friends Steve Cherry and Jeff Fournier, but this year we managed to convince Andy Dow, owner of the Painted Lady Lounge in Hamtramck, to come along. 

So Andy and I drove up together on a Tuesday afternoon before Memorial Day weekend and got to Mio early. So early, in fact, that we went to a local bar, where a few grizzled old-timers sat sucking on longneck bottles of beer and eyeing us warily. Finally, one of them asked where we were from.

"Hamtramck," we said.

"Jesus Christ," one of them said. "I'm from Hamtramck."

Another one laughed and piped up, "Me too!"

They regaled us with stories about old Hamtramck. The guy sitting across from us said his parents owned a few bars in the Polish area, one on Chene in Poletown. The other guy in the baseball cap went into a drunken reminiscence of his family house there.

But then he scowled and declared, "You still live there? I thought no white people lived there. Those black people ruined it."

Except he didn't say black people.

In fact, for the next few sentences, he absolutely napalmed us with N-bombs. They ruined this. They ruined that. Obviously, he was one of those Detroit expatriates for whom north of Hall Road wasn't far away enough. He finished the rant with, "It's a goddamn shame."

"Please, no swearing," the bartender promptly said, and made him put money in the jar for saying, "Goddamn." This was a real family-friendly bar, after all.

But only the drunk guy was pestering us. The other people there were friendlier, trying to change the subject to the past, to avoid troublesome topics. Yet, the old drunk interrupted again.

"And those Muslims!" he cried. "You know," he said, getting close to me, conspiratorially, "they want to take over the world!"

"You might not realize, mister," I told him, "but me and my friend left our turbans out in the car."

He drew back in disbelief, then, realizing the other patrons were laughing, mostly at him, settled back in on his barstool.

"Well, where do you work down there?" he asked.

"Nobody works in Hamtramck," Andy Dow joked, giggling as he added, "We're all living on your taxes. They gave us so much welfare, we get to go on vacation!"

"What?" he cried, again distracted by the laughter.

"How about it, Pops?" I asked. "They're taxing your pension so we can live it up on the river!"

Another patron teased him about his government pensions.

"I earned that goddamn money!" he cried.

Before the bartender could say anything, he thrust a dollar at him for the swear jar. "I'm gonna need to pay in advance at this rate!" he shouted.

Aside from the drunk, though, the people were cool as hell in that lazy Oscoda County way, with plenty of time to shoot the breeze and drain some cold beers on a Tuesday night. One of them urged us to say hello when we passed his house on the river, telling us where it was.

Oddly, before we left, Pops urged us to join him on a late-night jaunt to a place called Mr. T's Roadhouse. But with the sun setting, we decided it was best to head to Mio and set up camp.

Our other friends, Steve Cherry and Jeff Fournier, arrived late to our camp just outside town. In the morning, we packed up and headed to the livery in Mio and they dropped us in the river.

I'm a little ambivalent about canoeing. On one hand, it's a wonderful way to slip silently through the wilderness, spying wildlife and using your wits to pilot a small craft — as well as one hell of a core workout. But on the other hand, it takes a lot of effort. It's like, no sooner have I lit a cigarette and cracked a beer than I have to start paddling again. Luckily, the conditions were excellent, warm temperatures with almost full sun, and very few bugs.

We brought everything: not just sleeping bags and tents and cookware but chairs, several coolers, bags of food, several changes of clothing, lots of firewood, even a cast iron Dutch oven. Surprisingly, it's not really a hardship to pack a lot of gear into a canoe. You have to make sure that you have some stuff where you can get at it, but all your things can be waterproofed in case you spill, and it can all be tied under the thwarts, and it gives you enough ballast to sit comfortably up on your seat. That's a must when you're paddling in shallow water, and the levels on the Au Sable this year were definitely lower than last year.

Our first day on the river, we paddled about 10 miles downstream in moderate wind. That wind didn't cooperate much, blowing us from side to side. But I learned how to fight it better than I had in the past. Thanks to all that ballast, I was confident enough in my balance to shift the angle of my canoe against the wind by lowering a leg to one side, all while powering through broad, wide paddle stokes on the other side to fight it. You don't always win. Sometimes you give up fighting and backpaddle on the wind side to keep faced downstream, although you lose time and momentum. Heck, sometimes you can't win and have to let the wind swoop your canoe down the river backwards until you can find an eddy and turn around again. After all, the river is the boss.

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