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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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Broken home

A 71-year-old aunt gets kicked out of her house the hard way

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Dory Bryant in front of her aunt's ransacked house.

There once was an old woman who lived alone in a house. One winter day, her niece stopped by to take her to church, and when she got inside she found that her aunt's furnace was broken. It was almost as cold inside as it was outside.

"I took her hand to try to help her out of the house, and her hands were just ice-cold," says Dory Bryant, her 56-year-old niece. "So when she got out of the house and I saw her, she was just shivering. I said, 'Oh, no, you cannot go back in there.'"

So she put 71-year-old Betty Brock in her car and drove her back to her apartment to warm her up, get her to a doctor, check out the old house and see about getting the furnace fixed. 

And when some neighbors saw the old woman leave, they tore her house to pieces.

They kicked the front door in and stole the TV and the computer and the fridge. They tore the iron bars off the windows and the iron door off the front, then stole the windows themselves, frames and all. They pulled down the rain gutters, stole all the aluminum siding, walked off with the metal fence that circled the yard. They even took the electric meter from off the back of the house. 

She'd been gone only about a week.

And what they didn't steal, they destroyed. The rooms inside are a blizzard of thrown clothes and books and hoarded mementos and belongings, feet high in the impassable front rooms. Debris spills out of missing windows and scatters throughout the yard. Cans of food from the kitchen lie as far as the sidewalk out front. Some of her clothes are outside in the mud. Even her little red Bible was thrown out to the front porch, its pages bent and wrinkled and fluttering in the wind.

Scrapping is rampant in the city. Abandoned houses and foreclosed homes are routinely invaded and destroyed by thieves, who steal anything that can be traded for a little money. But it takes real brazenness to scrap a house that someone still lives in. 

"It's kind of a spiritually bankrupt mind if they can do stuff like that," says Chris Burns, 41, a family friend. "I mean, I can't even understand that. It's really sad, but I always knew that with that area being so desolate, that it was just a matter of time before something happened to the house. They were just waiting for the opportune time."

A few days after bringing her aunt to her small apartment, Bryant had gone back to the house to grab some things, and that's when she discovered the destruction. Now she had to bring her aunt there to show her she didn't have a home anymore. 

"When she went the first time she sat down — there was a crate like a milk crate — and she just sat in the yard on the side of the house, and just looked at the house, and just started crying," Bryant says.

Brock came to Detroit from Arkansas in 1959, spent most of her life as a seamstress and later as an upholsterer for Chrysler before retiring. She has no kids and never married. "All by myself," she says.

She bought a house on Arizona Street in 1973, by John R and East McNichols, back when it was still a good neighborhood. "Oh, yeah, the neighbors was neighbors," she remembers. "And then they started selling and renting their properties, and anything and everything started coming in."

Almost all her neighbors fled long ago, and their houses disappeared. Whole blocks in the area are completely empty and smothered in grass. Drug dealers sell openly on the street, and prostitutes roam John R in the daytime. Brock was just another elderly person trapped in a bad part of the city, too poor to move away. Now she had no choice.

"There's so much damage 'cause they've taken all the windows out, and it's just too expensive," Bryant says. "There's no way we can redo that, so it's just a wash at this point. We can't do anything with it."

Bryant originally thought her aunt would stay with her a few days at most. Suddenly she had a homeless elderly woman living with her indefinitely, one who struggles to walk, shows signs of dementia and needs constant care. 

To make things worse, Brock's identification, her Social Security card, her health care info, were back at the house. Now they're either stolen or buried in waist-high debris. Without them, Bryant can't get her aunt health care, can't access her bank account and its Social Security checks, can't use her aunt's Bridge Card to get her food, nothing.

"I can't prove she is who she is," Bryant says "I'm just stumped at every level. I can't do a thing."

Aunt Betty really missed her home. So one day, she decided she was simply going back.

Her niece came home from work on a Saturday afternoon, after only a few hours gone, and her aunt wasn't in the apartment. Or the hallways. Or outside.

"This is Dory. I am calling about Aunt Betty," Bryant said frantically into the phone. "She wasn't here when I got back to the apartment and I have no clue where she is, how she got out, or nothing. I'm trying to keep my mind from thinking crazy but I don't know where she would have gone. You know she can't walk. I don't know how far she could've gotten."

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