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  • 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.

  • City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May

    Margaret Doll Rod will celebrate the release of her new EP, Margaret, with a show at PJ’s Lager House on Saturday, May 10. A statement reads, “The EP contains 3 new original songs and one Chrome Cranks cover with Italian actress Asia Argento singing background vocals. Margaret moved to Italy after the end of the Demolition Doll Rods where she still lives touring and performing festivals in Europe. The Dollrods were a Garage Rock force for over 20 years, opening for Iggy, Jon Spencer, The Scientist, The Monks and The Cramps. Margaret was the front person and principal songwriter for The Dollrods. Her chief musical foil was Danny Kroha, who joined the Demolition Doll Rods after the now legendary Gories called it quits. Margaret’s sister, Christine, on drums, rounded out the legendary trio. Margaret will do a special performance in the round that night with a 360 degree revolving stage and special guest DJ Adam Stanfel.” The bill will also feature the Stomp Rockets and the Volcanos. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to Ricky Rat’s Tokyo Pop/Glitter People (New Fortune) 7” single highlights all that’s great about the Trash Brats guitarist, but also his limitations. The man can write a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll song to match anyone in the city and most beyond. He’s also a killer guitarist, ripping out one throwaway riff after another with reckless abandon. He’s a machine. On his own though, without Trash Brats frontman Brian McCarty, his voice doesn’t have enough strength to do the songs justice. Not that you need to have the greatest voice in the world to sing this stuff – you don’t need to be able to perform vocal gymnastics – but you do have to be able to wail the tunes out. Both of the songs on this single are great, but you can’t help but wonder how much better they would sound with McCarty or somebody similar talking the mic. Still, as they are the songs are great fun. We’re just being picky. The Paper Sound’s Trajectories is a dense, atypically dark Americana-tinged album, unrelenting and […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of, a new website launched by the City of Detroit today to auction off city-owned homes to prospective buyers who pledge to fix them up and move in. “We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement today. “There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment.” The website to facilitate the auctions went live this afternoon. The first auction is scheduled to take place Monday, May 5. Officials said in a news release that one home will be auctioned per day, Monday through Friday. Fifteen homes are available for sale on the site, a dozen of which are in the East English Village neighborhood. Any Michigan resident, company, or organization that can do business in the state can bid, according to the website. Properties will be for sale for only one day, with bidding taking place from 8 […]

    The post Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes

    In case you haven’t heard, two of the biggest names in film, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, are collaborating to put on a benefit concert for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this summer. In case you wanted to go- well, you’re too damn late. The DSO says tickets to the June 14 concert were snapped up in a record-breaking 15 minutes after they went on sale at 9 a.m. today. The DSO has since released this statement to fans who didn’t snag seats: Our apologies to everyone who was unable to buy tickets this morning for our historic benefit concert featuring John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Despite increasing our phone and internet system capacity for the day, a surge of hundreds of ticket buyers purchased tickets in a matter of minutes, filling the phone lines and temporarily maxing out our web servers. After a one-hour pre-sale made available to donors and subscribers at 8am, we released additional seats at 9am to the general public, including seats available for as low as $30. All seats sold out immediately. The concert program seems nothing short of top notch: Williams will conduct the orchestra as it performs some of his most iconic tunes, such […]

    The post Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Cover Story

Bruce Campbell - the man, the myth, the chin

Chronicling the rise of hometown hero

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

What is it about Bruce Campbell that makes him such a compelling actor? When he makes an appearance in a movie or TV show, it’s impossible to turn away and yet — let’s be absolutely fair and clear — when the lists of the great actors in history are made, Campbell isn’t going to be up there with the likes of Jeremy Irons and Daniel Day Lewis. He certainly has an “ingredient X,” an attractive quality and old-school cool. The man may have limited ability, yet he has mastered the art of milking every last bit of it.

So, again, what makes him so damned watchable? Is it that distinctive and admittedly impressive square chin? Perhaps, in part. Is it the fact that people of a certain age remember his performances as Ash in the Evil Dead movies with nostalgic glee and all else from then on is forgiven? That has a lot to do with it. But the truth is, sometimes hammy is fun and, because everyone around metro Detroit knows that Campbell is one of our own, there’s a feeling that we’re watching an old friend doing well every time we see Campbell on such TV shows as Burn Notice and Xena: Warrior Princess, or a movie like Sky High, even if we’ve never met him. It’s kind of like watching a relative doing community theater, just on a bigger scale. Appropriately enough, that’s where Campbell’s story begins.

Bruce Campbell’s dad was a member of the St. Dunstan’s Theatre Guild in Cranbrook, and it was while watching his father tread the boards that young Campbell caught the bug. “He joined because he was in the ad business but he felt that he wanted more of a creative outlet,” says Campbell, on the phone from L.A. “I think I saw him in a play around 1966 when I was about 8. I think it was Brigadoon. He was singing, dancing and acting goofy, and people were applauding. I was like, ‘What the hell is this?’ It left a big impression. Then I got older and during the summer they’d do plays outdoors in a beautiful Greek theater that they had there. They’d need kids for extras, so I got in my first play in my formative years when I was about 12. You had to be 18 to join, so I joined when I was 18. Then I could do what they called the ‘indoor shows’, which was where the real theater was going on. Outdoor shows were like The King and I, South Pacific, the classic musicals. With the indoor shows, you could do drama, and they had some farces that were really fun. It was a great proving ground, and my dad opened that world to me.”

Campbell, a warm and funny but no-nonsense man in conversation, was raised in Royal Oak, a city that he says bears little resemblance now to the one in which he spent his early years. “Oh, c’mon, in my day when I was there living near the railroad tracks, you got flat-top haircuts there,” he says. “This was not hip. Nothing was happening. You went to the Main Theatre, which is still there I guess. But there was nothing going on in Royal Oak. But it’s nice to see the town that you spent a lot of time in get better and better instead of worse and worse. Even fashionable Ferndale, when we had our offices there at Nine Mile and Woodward, I won’t call it a shithole but there was nothing fancy about it. Now Ferndale is getting all hipster on us. That’s better than watching it go down the toilet like a lot of our small towns.”

The story at that point was one that has been told a thousand times; the disenchanted and bored kid gets to high school and meets some other disenchanted and bored kids who have a similar interest in cinema, acting and making movies. In Campbell’s case, the first person he met was Josh Becker and the two would go on to make a short film called Oedipus Rex.

“My buddy Josh Becker, who I still work with [Becker is best known for his work on shows like Xena and B-movies with names like Harpies], was doing some Regular 8 movies (not even Super 8) for school, and we had both been in a school play in about 8th grade, The Lottery,” Campbell says. “He grew a beard by then so he got the adult role — he stole the adult role from me. I always hold that over him. He was making this movie and he knew I was an actor so he said, ‘Hey, can you get a toga?’ I said yeah, so I impressed him with my professionalism early on. I played King Creon. This was really like cutting to a title card with what everyone says. It was pretty primitive.”

Perhaps Campbell’s most significant school-time meeting came in the 8th grade, even if it didn’t stick right away. “Sam Raimi I saw in 8th grade dressed as Sherlock Holmes, sitting on the floor of our junior high school playing with dolls,” he says. “That was my first introduction. I specifically remember going way around him in the hallway, thinking, ‘This guy’s a first class weirdo.’ I never really met him in 8thgrade, I met him properly in 10th grade, during a radio speech class. We started performing announcements together, and we had a radio show that we would do. I found out that he was sort of doing little movies in his neighborhood, I was doing little movies in my neighborhood, and one other guy at Segal was doing movies in his neighborhood. High school is when all of the junior highs collide, so a bunch of us met and started to combine equipment, ideas, stories and just manpower. It became quite a little industry. We did about 50 of these movies that are all tucked away somewhere in various stages. But there were some really good little bits that came out of them that worked better than some of the movies, when we finally got to remake stuff into an actual movie. That was our proving ground: in high school. That was where we got everything started.”

The idea that there is a closet full of Raimi-Campbell collaborations locked away somewhere is mouthwatering, to say the least. The pair graduated in 1976, and in 1979 they made a short movie called Within the Woods, the seed of a much bigger idea. “Within the Woods was a Super 8 movie, and by then we were very good at making Super 8 movies. We had good cameras, the projectors were better, as was the sound. Within the Woods was what we used to raise money for The Evil Dead. We would show it to investors. It was a half hour movie, and we wanted to show people we could make something scary and effective. There wasn’t much in the way of sales tools. We were very skeptical to give them any kind of numbers of how well the movie would do, because we didn’t know. We used a visual tool to show them that we thought we knew what we were doing.”

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