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    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.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Cover Story

Beat Angel

A Detroit writer brings poetry to a war-torn zone

Photo: Justin Rose, License: N/A

Justin Rose

Photo: , License: N/A

The Deal >>

Since 2000, I have built a significant rep within the State Department's Cultural Affairs Division for conducting cultural and education programs abroad with students in middle school, high school, teachers colleges and universities. I've gone to places like Israel, the West Bank, Russia, Germany, England, Macao and, now, Afghanistan. I usually spend a fair amount of time helping instructors, teachers and professors with ideas for creatively teaching English, writing and literature classes as a second language. In addition to offering classes, workshops and consultations, I am always requested to read and perform my poetry.

I am usually hosted by the U.S. Embassy in the countries I visit. I am often one of only a few American poets or writers invited to many of these programs. For example, as far as I know, only one other poet — from Iowa — visited Afghanistan in recent months, or maybe years. Some of the places I go don't exactly top "must visit" lists for other writers I know. Many are leery of even visiting Israel or the West Bank, let alone Afghanistan. 

Look, I am not brave; I am just a dedicated teacher-poet who keeps focused on the task I am assigned in any overseas assignment. 

More, the U.S. State Department does not, in any way, censor my work, my performances, lectures or talks overseas when I work for them. Actually, their Cultural Affairs Division is quite liberal and art-and-artist friendly. I am also always aware of how far I can push the envelope in certain locations and with certain audiences. I think the State Department is very comfortable, after 12 years, with the fact I am always very respectful of a country's traditions, religions and customs. My assignments are not for every artist, but they fit my work and who I am as a person. —M.L. Liebler


I want to write, I want to write about

My dreams which never come true,

My power that has always been ignored,

My voice which is never heard by this deaf universe,

My rights which have never been counted,

My life decisions which are always made by others.

Oh my destiny, give me the answer, what am I for in this universe?


—From "Read My Poems on the Reddish Stream of My Blood" by Emaan


This is a poem by one of the brave young women I met upon my arrival in Kabul in early May. I was asked to go to Afghanistan for 10 days by the U.S. State Department's Cultural Programs Division. They called me two days before last Thanksgiving and told me that I had been requested in Afghanistan by a cultural affairs officer with whom I had worked successfully in the West Bank a couple of years ago. 

The gentleman on the phone asked if I'd "take this mission?" I'd worked in dangerous places before for the State Department — such as the West Bank and Israel during the 2006 Lebanon War — so I said I'd do it. After a long trip, I started working early my second morning in Afghanistan.

For my first in-country assignment, I was driven to an undisclosed place in a quiet Kabul neighborhood. For the next three hours I visited with several strong, courageous young women involved in the Afghan Women's Writers' Project. The project was started by American writer and novelist Masha Hamilton in 2009 after she viewed a disturbing underground video of Zarmeena, a mother of seven who, 10 years earlier, was executed by the Taliban in Kabul's Ghazi Stadium for allegedly killing her husband. A videotape of the execution was smuggled out by RAWA (Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan). Masha was determined to find out about this executed woman, so she could honor her memory. She started the AWWP for that purpose, and also to offer women of Afghanistan hope through their creative words, images and art. 

I arrived early by way of an armored SUV with tracking devices and "jammers" turned on to keep anyone from activating roadside bombs through cell phones. (Jammers stop all cell phone usage within the range of the passing SUV.) I found the gathered women to be alive with creativity, with energy, and they were anxious to meet an American poet and talk poetry as a way to express their inner and cultural struggles. We sat on the pillows on the floor in traditional Afghan style. The host served cookies and plenty of traditional tea. The women were hungry to create new work, to read their new and older poems to me, and to share stories of their recent protests at local colleges on behalf of women's rights. 

Some said their actions earned them coverage on BBC News and the cover of U.K. newspaper The Guardian. They told me they'd have to give their blood to make things better for the next generation of Afghan women. This sounded very brave and admirable, but these ladies were only in their 20s, and at times they spoke as though their lives were over for their cause to liberate women. 

I was shocked to see students the age of my own students at Wayne State University talking this way, but Afghanistan is a different place with different problems, and I could tell that they felt they had to face their struggles using desperate methods. One of the poets told me that Afghanistan's women's rights movement was at the point where the American suffragist movement was in here in the early 1900s. They were determined to win, or die trying. 

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