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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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Cover Story

Detroit Stars in Low Winter Sun

AMC’s newest drama has gritty Motown as a setting

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: N/A, License: N/A


There is a sense of territorial pride in knowing outsiders think enough of your city to base their talent, resources and reputations here. It’s a happy diversion from convicted ex-mayors, tax-liened emergency managers and a dysfunctional school system, and it’s fun to look for familiar landmarks in the background of a series broadcast worldwide. But let’s be for real: Detroit might magically have been transformed into New Orleans, Albuquerque or the big city in a film-friendly state had it not been for the $7,544,611 in incentives granted Low Winter Sun by the state of Michigan. According to the Michigan Film

Office (MFO), the production expects

to hire 245 Michigan workers, a full-time equivalent of 148 jobs, and is projected to spend $26.4 million here in making its nine remaining episodes.

Mark Adler, owner of VAIdigital video assist company in Novi and founder of the Michigan Production Alliance, worked on the Low Winter Sun pilot as key video assist operator.

“They had a predominantly Michigan crew on the pilot, and I think you will have a predominantly Michigan crew on the series, which will shoot for 10 months,” Adler says. “I would say there will be at least a 150 [person]-Michigan crew, both on set and behind the scenes in departments like accounting, licensing and their production office.”

The incentive legislation, officially titled the Film and Digital Media Production Assistance Program, was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) and signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2011. It transformed the film credits into a line-item budget appropriation and capped the state’s total contribution for all productions at $25 million annually. Through an unexpected bubble in the system, the figure was more than doubled to $58 million for fiscal 2013, which ends in October. However, Snyder has said he intends to slash it back to $25 million for fiscal 2014.

“The sad truth is, each year an appropriations committee has to decide whether they’re going to allow us to have $25 million,” says Adler. “Due to the efforts of many filmmakers who lobbied on Sen. Richardville, we were able to get an additional $25 million plus an amount, I think it was $8 million, that rolled over. That’s how we got to $58 million.”

Regardless of the number, it’s up to Margaret O’Riley to divvy it up. A veteran Republican politico who served under Gov. John Engler and helped create the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, O’Riley was appointed by Snyder to direct the MFO around Halloween 2012. She traveled to the Sundance Film Festival to explain Michigan’s confused incentive picture and reaffirm the state is still open and eager for film business.

“I was very busy meeting with producers who had Michigan connections,” O’Riley explains. “Either they had done projects here or they were from here. I was trying to get the word out about the Michigan film industry and the resources we have. I think we’re going to see projects coming here because of some of those meetings.”

No single topic engages and enrages the local film community more than the incentive program. There’s not enough money in the pot. We can’t compete with the packages of other states. We lost precious momentum when Snyder bad-mouthed filmmaking as an industry here, then approved funding reductions.

None of this comes as a shock to O’Riley. “I come to this job with 20 years of experience in economic development, and incentives have always been a source of debate,” she says. “Whether they’re for manufacturing or green energy or technology, it’s an age-old issue. But I was a little surprised that there was this whole discussion about films being supported with public dollars, because I’m so used to debating whether we should have them at all.”

The concern for Adler is, “There seems to be no strategic plan. There’s a certain amount of money, they’re bringing in films, but there’s no real plan to build infrastructure or maintain crew levels, which have fallen back to 2007 levels after hundreds left the state to find work.”

Going back to Lansing every year to ensure the incentives are still there is a long-term detriment to attracting producers, Adler believes. “These people work several years out, and they need to know,” he maintains. “They don’t want to wait until the last minute. What we would like to see from the state is a little more consistency, and some support. We hate it when the governor says negative things about the film industry because faith in the leadership goes down. Our application process is not as easy as states like Ohio and Georgia. And we’d like to get the Michigan Economic Development Corporation promoting us in a more positive way.”


LWS: Long-term thing or just a fling?


The expectations for Low Winter Sun are considerable, yet the plot suggests that the storyline could be wrapped up in a one-season arc, like the British version. Is Mundy producing a show for the short term or a long, successful run?

“You need to do both,” he says. “I think The Wire was pretty much the best show ever on television, and every one of those seasons was very much its own self-contained thing. And yet its world was big enough so you knew it was always going to keep going. So to me, that’s the goal. You want it to be satisfying for people who watch this season and not feel like they’re being eased along, but at the same time you’ve got to understand all the avenues for growth and the ways you want to keep following these people for hopefully five, six, seven seasons, as long as we can keep making it good.

“I’ve got such a deep affection for this city, I’ve got to tell you,” Mundy adds. “For everybody, it was such a special process doing this pilot. I can’t quite describe it, but everybody from the crew to the cast just attached themselves to the place in a really kind of profound way. It was great.”

Maybe he’ll need to start looking for a condo.


Jim McFarlin writes about media for Metro Times. Send comments to

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