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  • 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.

  • Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times

    Turns out, our very own Jack Lessenberry knows the Grosse Pointer seeking to ban the MT: Ten years or so ago, a woman named Andrea Lavigne sat in on some media survey classes I was teaching at Wayne State University. She was in her late 30s or early 40s, and seemed to be searching for answers. She wanted to know how the media work, and told me she was a Maoist. This fascinated me, because I thought authentic Maoists were almost as rare as passenger pigeons. Chairman Mao, we now know, starved to death and slaughtered tens of millions of his own citizens, and kept China economically and intellectually backward. Intrigued, I got together one night before class with her and another Maoist, to find out what they were all about. Alas, they spouted a form of primitive, grade-school Marxism. They seemed to have very little historical knowledge of Communism or what it had actually been like. Yes. A Maoist. Read the full story at Michigan Radio here.

    The post Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’

    A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the owner of Detroit’s municipal solid waste incinerator Monday, accusing the company of nuisance and gross negligence violations According to the complaint filed by Detroit-based Liddle & Dubin P.C., “On occasions too numerous to list, Plaintiffs’ property including Plaintiffs’ neighborhood, residences and yards were physically invaded by noxious odors and contaminants … As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’s’ negligence in operating and/or maintaining the facility, Plaintiffs’ property has been invaded by noxious odors.” The eight-page complaint charges that local property values have dropped due to the incinerator’s presence, “and has interfered with Plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of their property.” The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, seeks a financial award in excess of $25,000 and all costs and attorney fees related to the case. In an email, a spokesperson for the company says, “Detroit Renewable Power is reviewing the complaint filed today,” but declined further comment. The suit comes weeks after a Metro Times’ cover story earlier this month found a growing number of odor complaints from nearby residents since Detroit Renewable Power LLC (DRP) took control of the facility in 2010. The investigation found a spike in citations from the Michigan Department […]

    The post Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup

    The High Times Medical Cannabis Cup is more than just a celebration — although with the recent shift in attitudes toward marijuana legalization, there certainly is much to celebrate.  HT‘s Danny Danko described it as “just like any other harvest festival or a county fair where people bring their best produce, their best pigs and horses and cows, and they compete with each other for bragging rights, basically.” Here are a list of winners from this year’s Cannabis Cup, who did indeed walk home with some well-deserved bragging rights — if anyone knows their marijuana it’s High Times: Indica 1ST - Oasis Medical Seeds - Paris OG 2ND - Herbal Solutions - Alien Dawg F2 3RD - Herban Legendz, LLC - Grape OX Sativa 1ST - Arborside Compassion - CATFISH 2ND - Organibliss - Ghost Train Haze #1 3RD - We Grow Education and Collective Centers - MelonGum Hybrid 1ST - Herbal Solutions - Gorilla Glue 2ND - Pure West Compassion Club - Death Star 3RD - Kushman Veganics for Buds & Roses - Veganic Candyland Concentrate 1ST - Mr. B’s Extracts - Raskal’s Lemon 2ND - 710 Savant - Kosher Kush Dewaxed 3RD - Oasis Medical / Vader Extracts / Dab Vader - Candy Jack Shatter Non-Solvent Hash 1ST - NLG - Jedi Kush Ice Wax 2ND - Arborside Compassion - HeadCandy Kush Hash 3RD - New World Seeds Resource […]

    The post Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative

    So is the title of the press release we received this morning from The Satanic Temple. You may recall our interview with Doug Mesner from earlier this year. The Satanic Temple is, perhaps, best known for trying to build a child-friendly monument to satan in OKC: How Mesner and TST are rocking the Hobby Lobby ruling is interesting: The Satanic Temple Leverages Hobby Lobby Ruling to Claim Exemption From State Mandated ProLife Materials Reads the next line of the press release. And then their website: A number of states require that abortion providers give information to patients that maybe inaccurate or misleading. Demands that members of the Satanic Temple, or those who share our beliefs, be subjected against our will to anything but the best scientific understanding are a violation of our religious beliefs. Thanks to rulings such as Hobby Lobby, we can take a stand against these practices. Mesner points out how the Hobby Lobby ruling bolsters their position: While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact. This was made clear when […]

    The post Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio

    On Saturday we set out to check out the High Times Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio, Mich. — High Times did hold a Cannabis Cup in the Motor City back in 2011, but Detroit police flexing their muscles and making arrests at that event may have been to blame, at least partially, for the choice of a new host city. The event was held this year at the Auto City Speedway, (also known as “B.F.E.” to Detroiters). Nevertheless, the prospect of stopping at the Torch for the best burger in the Genessee County was compelling — and anyway, this was the Cannabis Cup we were talking about. Was it really going to be “work?” It turned out, just a little bit. An inexplicable lack of an on-site ATM meant hiking quite a ways up the road to the nearest gas station, and then waiting for an attendant to restock the ATM with cash. We spoke with plenty of Cannabis Cup attendees at the gas station — everybody knows that the local gas station is a stoner’s best-friend. The two-day festival, for which one-day tickets were sold for $40, was divided into two sections — a general area and a medicating […]

    The post Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Brush with fate

Robert Watson pulled himself up by the hair follicles — for real

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Robert Watson with his brushes in his home barbershop.


"I'm a black manufacturer from Detroit ..." Watson begins, pulling out his brush. The leery old barber, trimming a customer's hair, cuts to the point. "How much are they?" Watson announces today's $10 deal. "Ten dollars? With the way the economy is?" the barber shoots back, eyebrows arched in an expression that says, "Are you kidding?" A cheap brush usually cost about $3, he notes. "All you got to do is put it on somebody's head," Watson tells him, handing him one. 

The no-frills barber runs it across his customer's scalp. The customer winces. "You're tearin' the skin off my head!" he yells with a laugh. 

Watson grabs the brush and runs it along the customer's hair in a gentle sweep. "How's that feel?" Watson asks him. "Feel good, don't it?" The man nods and smiles.

No sale, though. "Well, check me out," Watson says, politely, and he steps back out to the street after handing fliers to the few here. Those fliers, he's discovered, are the real source of future business. "Once people get the flier, once they get the word about it, then that's cool." Watson says. "But don't nothin' come easy, that's for sure."

 

Dishes are stacked in the sink. A scorched pot sits on the stove. And in this small kitchen is a barbershop.

"I always cut hair, since I was 13 years old," Watson says, standing inside his old Midtown apartment, the kind with tight turns and small rooms. "My family has always been in it. My great grandmother had a beauty shop, my cousin cuts hair. I would go to barbershops and watch barbers cut."

Soon after he cleaned up his life, his grandmother offered him an old barber chair that was sitting in her basement. He hauled it home, put it by the kitchen window and started a home business.

He advertised this new hidden barbershop by pasting advertising stickers all over Midtown's light poles. "Robert the Barber" it read, giving no address, only a phone number. Slowly he built up a clientele, customers he hopes to bring with him someday soon to a real shop in a retail space.

Then one day the idea of that curved hairbrush came to him in a flash. "I always said there could be a better hairbrush for black males in particular," he says. He prayed, he says, and a voice told him to go for it. 

So he got a two-by-four, chiseled out a shape, sawed it down to size, drilled holes for bristles, pulled the bristles from other brushes with his soon-calloused fingers, and painstakingly glued them into his new prototype. He found a company to mass-produce them, and named his new business Crown Quality Products. Since then he's traveled the country in a minivan full of brushes, selling to barbershops in 14 states so far, and walking local streets like Gratiot, going from shop to shop, trying to build a future $10 at a time.

While he waits for the brushes to catch on, he cuts hair at his home shop. Jazz and old soul play on the living room stereo. Uplifting self-help slogans on the walls are granted importance by the frames around them. A hand-painted wood sign lists prices for everything from a simple haircut and a shave to eyebrow trimming. Another gives the price for the DVDs and mix CDs that he sells. And a placard written in different magic marker colors posts the simple shop rules: No profanity and no alcohol. 

Once people discovered it, the shop grew to be like other barbershops — a gathering place, a hangout where friends meet friends and fathers bring their kids. "Oh, we get serious debates in here, especially on a Friday night or a Saturday night," Watson says. "One interesting thing is I cut whites' hair, blacks', so that's when the best energy is, and so that's what I envision having a barbershop down here, having a shop like that, that's mixed. That starts the conversation, and shows the toddlers that we're all the same."

 

J-Rock stands bewildered on the sunny sidewalk, frantically dialing on his cellphone. He's a barber, mid-20s, gangly and agitated, and somehow he's locked out of his own shop, Luxury Kuts, on Gratiot near Conner. And into his baffled world comes Robert the Barber.

"My man's on his way," J-Rock announces to explain his haplessness. "Damn, I wish he was here right now. He's coming to open up the door."

As he waits for his man to come with a key, J-Rock takes a brush and rubs it his head, and it's like an epiphany. "These motherfuckers cold!" the stranded barber says, speaking not of temperature but of wonderfulness. "I like these motherfuckers. Oh, yeah, yeah! I like the curve."

"I want you to have one!" Watson says, matching his enthusiasm like a good salesman. He means buy one. But J-Rock is broke because his money is locked in the shop. 

This might seem another sigh-worthy moment in a long day of slow sales, but a guy like J-Rock might be immensely helpful in the future. Buzz can generate a lot of sales down the road, and someone as enthusiastic as he is about this brush could sell them fast. He too gets a flier. Another seed is planted.

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