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  • Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law

    Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]

    The post Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week

    Walking with Dinosaurs, a magnificent stage show that features life-sized animatronic creatures from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, will be in town next week. But to preview the show’s run at the Palace, a baby T-Rex will be making an appearance at four area malls to the delight and wonderment of shoppers. Baby T-Rex, as the creature is being affectionately referred to, is seven-feet-tall and 14-feet-long. He’ll only be at each mall for about 15 minutes, so while there will be photo opportunities, they’ll be short. The dino will be at Fairlane Town Center Center Court at 18900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit from 2-2:15 p.m. today, July 30; The Mall at Partridge Creek at 17420 Hall Rd. in Clinton Township from 5-5:15 p.m. today, July 30; Twelve Oaks Mall at the Lord & Taylor Court at 27500 Novi Rd., Novi tomorrow, Thursday July 31 from 1:30-1:45 p.m.; and Great Lakes Crossing Food Court at 4000 Baldwin Rd., Auburn Hills from 5-5:15 p.m., tomorrow Thursday, July 31.  

    The post Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations

    Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through BuildingDetroit.com, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.  

    The post Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial

    We don’t know about you, but usually Nancy Whiskey and Long John Silver’s aren’t two concepts we’d place in the same sentence. However, the international fast food fish fry conglomerate made a nod to the Detroit dive in their latest YouTube commercial. LJS is offering free fish fries on Saturday, August 2, which is the promotion the commercial is attempting to deliver. But, we think we’ll just go to Nancy Whiskey instead.

    The post Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns transwomen

    We came across an interesting item this week: Apparently, a music festival with the name “Michfest” is quietly oriented as a “Women-Only Festival Exclusively for ‘Women Born Women.’” It seems a strange decision to us. If you wanted to have a women-only music festival, why not simply proclaim loud and clear that it is for all sorts of women? But if you really wanted to become a lightning rod for criticisms about transphobia, organizers have found the perfect way to present their festival. Now, we know that defenders of non-cisgender folks have it tough. The strides made by gays and lesbians (and bisexuals) in the last 20 years have been decisive and dramatic. But the people who put the ‘T’ in LGBT have reason to be especially defensive, facing a hostile culture and even some disdain from people who should be their natural allies. That said, sometimes that defensiveness can cause some activists to go overboard; when we interviewed Dan Savage a couple years ago, he recalled his “glitter bombing” and said it was due to the “the narcissism of small differences,” adding that “if you’re playing the game of who is the most victimized, attacking your real enemies doesn’t prove you’re most victimized, claiming you […]

    The post Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns transwomen appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Use this widget to find your polling place for Aug. 5 primary election

    Reminder: the August 5 primary election is coming up. Where do you vote? What’s on the ballot? All these questions can be easily answered by simply typing the address you are registered to vote at into this handy widget created by Pew Charitable Trusts and Google: You can embed this widget on your own website with the following code, and more information can be found at the Voting Info Project.: <script type=”text/javascript” src=”https://voter-info-tool.appspot.com/js/loader.js”></script> <div id=”_vit”></div> <script type=”text/javascript”>vit.load({‘election_id’:’4034′, ‘suppress_voter_id_rules’: true});</script> Read up on MT‘s election guide for Wayne county executive here.

    The post Use this widget to find your polling place for Aug. 5 primary election appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Cover Story

Detroit Stars in Low Winter Sun

AMC’s newest drama has gritty Motown as a setting

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

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Much of the first episode’s action is set near Greektown; bad guys stroll down Randolph Street with impunity, and the timeworn Baltimore Lunch bar on that street, site of several pivotal moments, is renamed “The International” in the script.

“It was nuts in here,” says Hilga Nada, who co-owns Baltimore Lunch with her actor son, Ted. “Me and Teddy were here morning till night. We came in at around 6 in the morning and left when they got done. It took them almost three days.”

The Baltimore staff was given an extended Thanksgiving holiday so the one-time November shoot could be accomplished — not that they could have worked anyway.

“They rented the whole parking lot and they had trucks and everything inside it,” Nada marvels. “We have two bars, and the back bar is where they put all the recordings. They took out everything I have and put their own things in here, made the bar look completely different. It was really amazing.”

 

The gravity of star power

 

Lennie James made national pop culture headlines this month for his surprise return to The Walking Dead as hardened survivor Morgan Jones, a character he hadn’t played since the show’s 2010 debut.

The Walking Dead producers really wanted to bring Morgan back and asked would I be interested,” James relates, in his neatly trimmed South London accent. “They gave us a rough idea of when it would happen and we managed to coordinate dates. The only thing they asked was that I not tell anybody I was coming back, so I had to lie to people for 11 months, for which I apologize profusely. But now the cat’s out of the bag, so I can stop lying to my friends and family.”

His joining the cast of Low Winter Sun was far more transparent. “If you get the option and the opportunity, the things that attract me to a project are the same every single time,” he says. “It’s a really good story, it’s really well told, and it’s a character I really want to play, a guy I can learn something from playing and can do something interesting with. And, it’s a rock-solid cast.”

James says one big enticement was the opportunity to work again with Strong. “Although I’ve known Mark for a very long time, I haven’t worked with him in a good few years,” he says.

They have been in two films together, one in which they shared scenes (1999’s

Elephant Juice) and one where they didn’t (The Martins, 2001).

James opted not to watch the British version of LWS until long after he completed the pilot, “because I didn’t want there to be any crossover or muddled thinking. I wanted to come at the character clear-eyed.” However, after watching the original, which is set in Edinburgh, Scotland, he understands why Detroit was a prime choice as this show’s location.

“It’s a very specific story, told in a very specific city,” James says. “The city of Edinburgh is a big character in that production in the way I think we hope Detroit will be. The characters we are dealing with, the stories we are telling, are in some way fueled by the fact that they’re happening in a city that has the characteristics of Detroit. In the sense that it is, for want of a better phrase, a desperate city, trying both to save itself and to move forward. I think that follows a lot of the themes of Low Winter Sun in that there are characters who have made mistakes, who have suffered from bad luck, who are trying to save themselves and move forward.”

The perspective of a black man from another country who makes his living through detailed observations, coming to work in this desperate city — with a population that is more than 80 percent African-American — could be compelling. However, although he previously spent time around Detroit when he played the pimp Charlie in the bygone HBO series Hung, James is prudently noncommittal. “On one level I haven’t spent enough free time in Detroit to really comment,” he submits.

“It’s the same when I’m in Atlanta where The Walking Dead shoots, a city that has a very prolific African American persona. Again, I haven’t spent a huge amount of time there, but you do feel it and it is a very different vibe than other cities. But so far my experience in Detroit has been very much about the work I’m doing there. We set up in Greektown, and although we traveled to other locations, and on days off did our best to try and see the city that we potentially will work in for a while, I can’t in all honesty say I know enough.

“What I do know is, I suppose everything I’ve read about Detroit, all the things that people are saying now, it’s kind of become the poster city for decay and the need for renewal. How a once powerful and rich city can decline over a short space of time. White flight, black middle-class flight, all those things. So far, almost everything I’ve read about Detroit is true, and that includes its passion and desire to bounce back.”

The people make the difference, James believes. “A lot of times with the Detroit actors and crew we were working with, the people in the hotel we were staying in, the people when we went to the [Eastern] Market, or to meet the cops to do research and have barbecues with them, everybody really wanted the show to come to Detroit,” he says. “In a way, to be one of a number of film and television productions that will come in and help Detroit get back on its feet. I hope that’s what Low Winter Sun is part of.

“But ask me at the end of the next nine episodes, because by then I may feel like my feet have been on the ground long enough to make an informed comment. At the moment, I’m a newbie. I’m just sucking it all up and seeing what there is. But my early experience of Detroit is that it’s a strangely exciting city and one I‘m looking forward to working in.”

 

Detroit: More than just tax incentives

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