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  • Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark

    Oh, the irony — initially criticized as Marxist propaganda when Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted them for the Detroit Institute of Arts in the early 1930s, Detroit Industry has now been designated as a a national landmark. The announcement was made Wednesday, according to the Detroit News by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis as part of National Park Week. The designation does not change the ownership status of the murals or grant any new protections or rights, leaving its place among the rest of the DIA’s art in possible bankruptcy negotiations in question. The work is considered the best of Rivera’s work in the United States (another mural Rivera had done in New York was destroyed by orders of Nelson Rockefeller). Rivera himself regarded Detroit Industries paintings as his finest work. In the midst of the McCarthy era, the DIA posted this sign outside the court: Rivera’s politics and his publicity seeking are detestable. But let’s get the record straight on what he did here. He came from Mexico to Detroit, thought our mass production industries and our technology wonderful and very exciting, painted them as one of the great achievements of the twentieth century. This came […]

    The post Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit area code 313 may be phased out

    Hey, everybody from the 313, start thinking of new numbers to rally around– the longstanding Detroit area code may be phased out. Our friends over at the Detroit News report that pending a revised estimate next week, the North American Numbering Plan Administration will stop handing out 313 telephone prefixes on new phone numbers. Detroiters with existing cell phone lines would be able to keep their current area codes, while those with land lines would change. via Detroit News: The venerable 313 will ultimately become overtaxed. Even as Detroit’s population has fallen, cellphone usage has accelerated like one of those smoldering SRT Vipers that Dodge has been bolting together at Conner Avenue Assembly — which is, of course, comfortably within the confines of 313. … When the first five dozen area codes were assigned nearly 70 years ago, says NANPA’s Tom Foley, “that was expected basically to last forever.” Instead, somebody invented fax machines, and then somebody else came up with cellphones, and lots of somebody elses decided to give them to 10-year-olds, and meantime the population grew to 300 million. Now every telephone carrier is required to submit twice-yearly forecasts of its needs in each area code, factoring in […]

    The post Detroit area code 313 may be phased out appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council

    Unfortunately, we were unable to attend last night’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, which, in case you were unaware, is a 16-member board established to weigh in on the new Red Wings arena near downtown. About three dozen residents and property owners cast ballots by the 8 p.m. deadline on Wednesday inside the Block at Cass Park, The Detroit News reports. It’s the culmination of a handful of community meetings which began weeks ago. Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez facilitated the meetings, but emphasized at previous meetings that it’s up to the community to conduct business. According to the News, the 12 candidates selected include: Michael Boettcher, Richard Etue, Jason Gapa, Francis Grunow, Steve Guether, Paul Hughes, Ray Litt, Warner Doyle McBryde, Karen McLeod, Delphia Simmons, Melissa Thomas and Anthony Zander. Joel Landy, a land owner in the area, lost his bid. The City Council appointed four candidates last month. As we reported in this week’s issue, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee was negotiated after Olympia Development of Michigan, Detroit Red Wing’s owner Mike Ilitch’s real estate arm, balked on a proposed community benefits agreement.  The committee is charged with the task of offering input on the arena’s design, parking security and more.

    The post Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag

    The Magic Bag in Ferndale will host James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets on Thursday, May 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. A press release reads, “James McMurtry recently signed with the bourgeoning Los Angeles record label Complicated Game. The legendary songwriter will enter the studio later this month to start working on his first album in six years. “I’ve got a new batch of songs, organic and with no added sulfites, aged in oak for several years,” he says. “Francois Moret at Complicated Game seems to like these songs and (producer) C.C. Adcock thinks he can turn them into a record. Good times fixing to roll.” Label head Moret agrees. “In March 2013, when C.C. Adcock told me we were going to see James McMurtry at the Continental Club in Austin, I expected to see a good show,” he says, “but what I saw left me mesmerized! I immediately knew I wanted to sign him. As a European, it is an amazing opportunity to work with one of the most talented American singer-songwriters.” Evidence: McMurtry’s Just Us Kids (2008) and Childish Things (2005). The former earned his highest Billboard 200 chart position in nearly two decades and notched […]

    The post James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit

    The Dead Kennedys, still with local boy Klaus Flouride in the ranks, will play St. Andrew’s Hall on Tuesday, June 24. Alongside Flouride and fellow original members East Bay Ray and DH Peligro, the current lineup includes singer Ron “Skip” Greer, taking the place of Jello Biafra. Downtown Brown will open that show, which starts at 7 p.m., with tickets priced $20-$25. Give Klaus a hero’s hometown welcome. Just over a week before that, strangely enough, Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine will play at the Magic Stick. It’s a weird coincidence, but one that DK fans should be happy to embrace. That show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $17-$19. Local hardcore vets Negative Approach play before Jello, with the Crashdollz opening the show. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain

    The Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck will present a police drama called A Steady Rain May 2 through 24. Planet Ant veterans Ryan Carlson and York Griffith will star in the play, written by House of Cards and Mad Men co-writer Keith Huff. Tickets ($10-$20) are on sale now at According to the press release, “A Steady Rain by Keith Huff focuses on Joey and Denny, best friends since kindergarten and partners on the police force whose loyalty to each other is tested by domestic affairs, violence and the rough streets of Chicago. Joey helps Denny with his family and Denny helps Joey stay off the bottle. But when a routine disturbance call takes a turn for the worse their loyalty is put to the ultimate test.First produced at Chicago Dramatists, A Steady Rain appeared on Broadway featuring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The Planet Ant production of A Steady Rain is directed by York Griffith featuring Ryan Carlson and Andy Huff. This marks the return of two of Planet Ant’s founding members. Carlson and Griffith. Griffith has served as the theatre’s Artistic Director where he directed the critically-acclaimed productions The Adding Machine and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? […]

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Culture Feature

Halloween in Detroit: Theatre Bizarre

John Dunivant’s festival matures in its indoor digs

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Artist John Dunivant spent a decade building up the Theatre Bizarre carnival near the old Michigan State Fairgrounds site — outside the law — before the law’s long arm finally caught up with him in 2010, putting the kibosh on that year’s event at the venue. Dunivant, though devastated, wasn’t to be stopped and the 2010 Theatre Bizarre was held at the Fillmore with only 18 hours’ notice. The following year, it moved to the Masonic Temple, which has been its home ever since.

“Moving to the Fillmore was a devastating blow,” Dunivant says about moving something as vast as Theatre Bizarre indoors. “We weren’t really sure what was going to happen in the future and we were scrambling for a year trying to find a new home. The first year at the Masonic, I was ready to be done and give it all up. It was so incredibly hard. This being our third year, we’ve learned so much. There was a huge leap from the first year to the second year, and we’re anticipating that again. It’s still hard, and I still miss the fairgrounds. I can’t believe how well we’ve survived and grown in ways that we wouldn’t have, especially being illegal, not being able to really get the word out and talk to anyone about it. Going from an illegal punk rock backyard party to being called a cultural institution is pretty insane.”

Arguably the greatest challenge Dunivant has faced has been re-creating the beautiful chaos of the old, outdoor Theatre Bizarre indoors without it turning into a club night.

“We spoiled people at the grounds because we were able to do so many things that were illegal,” he says. “You can’t compete with when you had no rules. Still, there’s more to do and see in one night than you’ll see in over a week. It’s an immersive experience. You’re not just going to a club where somebody’s setting up some moving lights, and throwing in a DJ. Schematically, people are picking up on the [Masonic Temple] feel of this strange mix of carnival and secret society.”

New attractions Dunivant says we can expect to see this year include a tightrope line between two chandeliers, so a tightrope walker will be walking above the crowd. “We’re going to have some interaction with him,” he says. “A devil will come out and get a chance to throw things at [him].”

As is the norm (for want of a better word), there will be all manner of carnival entertainment on hand, from creepy clowns and acrobats to jugglers, bands and burlesque dancers. Roxi D’Lite, an inductee in the Burlesque Hall of Fame, will be dancing and also managing the Dirty Devils Peep Show.

“All of the dancers come out of a giant devil’s head and they dance on a long runway which is a serpent tongue,” D’Lite says. “We have 19 burlesque performers from all over Canada and the United States. We had performers from as far as Italy and the United Kingdom last year. This year, our headline performer is Michelle L’amour from Chicago. We also have Russell Bruner from Portland, Kalani Kokonuts from Las Vegas, and myself, and we’re all Burlesque Hall of Fame titleholders. It’s a big year, and I’m really excited about it.”

D’Lite doesn’t want to give too much away about her own set, but, she says, “At 11:45 p.m., I’ll be in the ballroom and we’ll actually be having a procession. That’s my act. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I can’t give too much away, but John [Dunivant] has been working hard on amazing artwork for it. I can’t wait to share it all with you guys.”

Theatre Bizarre takes place on Saturday, Oct. 19, but there will be a preview gala the night before — a first for the event. “That’s more of an intimate event,” Dunivant says. “Saturday night is jam-packed with people and you’re going to miss a lot, no matter what. At the gala event, we’ll lead you through the highlights and our headline performers, who will be spread out on Saturday. The gala will be more concentrated.

“We’re also pushing a dress code: On Saturday, it’s Halloween. So as long as you’re in costume, you can come as whatever you want. On Friday, we want to push the immersion even more by having very specific outfits. Semi-formal or formal suits, tuxes, ball gowns and masquerade masks. There’s an open bar for close to eight hours, as well as dinner included. We’ve never offered those things before,” he says.

Another first this year is that Dunivant and the Theatre Bizarre were awarded a grant from the Knight Foundation, resulting in a welcome injection of cash. “One of the biggest problems with this project is that it’s not sustainable,” Dunivant says. “One of the reasons we’re doing the preview night is to try to expand. Even with our sell-out capacity, we’re still pushing performers and the crew too hard for very little return. To be able to pull off a project on this scale, based solely on ticket sales, we’re just realizing our ceiling is a lot lower than we were expecting, compared to the cost. To have a little bit of help is cool, because this can’t possibly last unless things change.”

Dunivant has made every attempt to spread the word and expand, even going so far as to take a little bit of Theatre Bizarre to New York for an art show.

“The show was actually pieces inspired by the show by the State Fairgrounds getting shut down. The series that I did was called ‘The Expatriate Parade,’ because we were forced out of the grounds, our homeland,” he says. “For my initial sketch, I was drawing a goat with a Ferris wheel on its back. This was a scapegoat, cast out of town. I did a series of paintings and sculptures, and I was able to bring some of the Theatre Bizarre performers to New York to perform a parade for the show, which was fantastic.”


Theatre Bizarre will have its gala at the Masonic Temple on Friday, Oct. 18, and procession Saturday, Oct. 19, at 500 Temple St., Detroit; 313-832-7100. For more information, see

Click here to see a slideshow of Theatre Bizarre.

Brett Callwood is a staff writer for Metro Times. Send comments to him at

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