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  • 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.

  • 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.



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Culture Feature

A cancer patient’s journey with medical marijuana.

Finding Relief through a traditional medicinal.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Anne Johnston, 56, was recently told she has approximately six months left to live. Medical marijuana has helped increase her quality of life in many ways.

My mom Anne was born in 1957 to a very middle-class family in a very middle-class town. She graduated from high school and, as was the way back then, was married soon after. She did all sorts of normal things that teenagers did in the 1970s, like going to concerts and hanging out with friends. One of her proudest accomplishments was chasing down Bob Seger from Toledo to Plymouth and getting his autograph on some rolling papers. Her other notable accomplishment, she swears, was having a daughter — me. To that, she jokingly adds, “… and that was more than enough for me!”

By age 30, my mom had gone through a divorce and was awarded full custody of me — and still everything was average. She struggled with her average job, making house payments and raising a child on $11 an hour (in 1987). Through the years, she eventually found her way into a job that, though one she hated with every fiber of her being, finally allowed her to start saving, take vacations, and live a slightly less stressful, less average life.

Unfortunately, average ceased at age 53 when my mom was told that she had the “C” word: cancer. And it was no run-of-the-mill melanoma; Stage III colorectal cancer that had spread to neighboring lymph nodes.

In September 2010, Mom began chemo and radiation treatment. The massive size and unfortunate location of the tumor meant that she was facing a permanent colostomy. For those lucky enough not to be familiar with a colostomy, it’s when an artificial port, or stoma, is created, into which a bag is attached on the outside of the body to collect feces — literally, a bag of shit.

As if dealing with this major life-altering surgery weren’t enough, my mother was also struggling with the crippling side effects of chemotherapy, namely nausea and vomiting, fatigue, nerve damage and diarrhea. After her permanent colostomy at the beginning of 2011, deep depression set in.

“I was ready to die at that point,” she confides. “I wished I would have died on the table.” A month later, she was back on chemotherapy, suffering the same side effects. “Predominantly, it was nausea and fatigue,” she explains. It was around this time my mom, my prototypically average mom, started smoking pot. Her old friend agreed to bring over a couple of joints. Trying weed wasn’t her go-to, nor was it without first seeking pharmacological alternatives. She had tried numerous drugs to help with the nausea: Compazine, Zofran, even synthetic THC.

“None of it really did anything,” she says. “At the time, I thought I was handling my diagnosis and everything pretty well. Well, [an old friend] brought this over, and I had about three hits off of the joint; all of a sudden — the pain was gone, the nausea was gone. I felt the anxiety going away. Anxiety that I didn’t even know that I had. Everything was really kinda OK. I was feeling like how a normal person should.”     

After her final round of treatment, my mom went back to work in August 2011. She worked full time, until March 2012. She was rapidly losing function in her left arm and leg, unable to walk but a few steps.

After an emergency trip to the emergency room, we discovered the cancer had come back. This time, though, with metastases to the lungs and liver, and a large tumor in her brain.

In July 2012, Anne became officially “legal” to smoke medical marijuana. Yet, she was faced with a difficult task: Where to go shopping?

“At first I had a bit of a problem. [Dispensaries] aren’t just in the phone book, and the ones I found online, half of them were closed,” she says. “The one I did find that was closest to me … closed, and that one wasn’t close to me, either … but the next closest one is like an hour-and-a-half away. I did find a caregiver that will now deliver to me and that’s been wonderful. I can’t thank him enough, ’cause he works with me and helps me find what works … for me.”

As far as the strains that treat her chemotherapy symptoms the best, my mom — it’s still hard to believe my average mom is offering opinions on weed — recommended, “ATF and Komondo Dragon. Those two take me where I need to be without getting me paranoid or anxious,” she says. “I only need about two to three puffs and I’m good to go.” She also faced an oxymoronic, secondary issue that might seem comical if its intended use wasn’t so gravely important: “Everything that I get is just too strong! If I smoke too much, I become too anxious, and that defeats the purpose.”

Today, as we enter the final months of 2013, with just 13 shopping weeks left until Christmas, my mom was told she has approximately six months left to live. She’s tried almost every chemotherapy concoction that exists. (Currently, she is on Stivarga, a brand-new oral form of chemotherapy. The side affects are much stronger and she has been struggling a little more each week.)

“God bless those people that supply it! Everybody that is going through this sickness should have the choice and the ability to get it,” she expresses. “It’s been a godsend; it just really has. I don’t smoke it every day, only when I need it and I’m so glad it’s there when I need it — and it should be available to everybody that needs it.”

Kelly Johnston is Metro Times events photographer and a contributor to the Chronicle Issue. Send comments to

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We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

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Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
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