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  • Thank you, Detroit

    I’m not going to lie to you – this isn’t easy. This week, the final City Slang local music column will be published in the Metro Times (on hardcore band Final Assault), and I have just submitted a cover feature on the women of Detroit hip-hop, to be published next week (8/6). This blog that you’re reading now will be my last one as a regular MT contributor. I have a lot to look forward to. I’m going to be an associate editor at Yellow Scene Magazine in Colorado, a tremendous publication in a beautiful part of the country. But leaving Detroit will be incredibly difficult for me. I love the place. It’s been (amazingly) six and a half years since I arrived, a couple of cases in hand and not much of a plan in mind. I just knew, after three separate research trips for books and a magazine article, that I felt at home here. Metro Times offered me freelance work almost immediately, as did a new website called Metromix (whatever happened to that?) When I arrived here, I had been working as a writer in the UK for nine years, but the help and encouragement I received […]

    The post Thank you, Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers

      We here at MT will be delighted when Mr. Jack White throws out a pitch at Navin Field (at least, we hope he will), but until then, we’ll be happy with his pitch to Santa this evening at Comerica Park.    

    The post Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW)

      Footage from the Gathering of the Juggalos set to clips of Morgan Freeman’s narration from March of the Penguins? Kind of forced, but also kind of beautiful. As the AV Club reports: The oft-sought voiceover champion lends a touch of gravitas to the festival proceedings. Unfortunate scenes of barely clad people having various liquids dumped onto them now carries a quiet dignity as it’s all part of nature’s majestic plan that keeps the world spinning through this elegantly designed and truly wondrous universe. Also, the video is NSFW as there are boobs in it. Watch the clip below:

    The post Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW) appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love”

    It seems like the polar vortex will never end: the weather phenomenon that brought us the most brutal winter on record this winter is to blame for this summer’s chillier-than usual temperatures as well. A couple of bands, though, made lemonade out of lemons (or snow cones out of snow?) by using the icy landscape to film music videos. 800beloved shot the video for “Tidal” in some sand dunes near Empire, Mich., and this week Turn to Crime debuted the video for “Can’t Stop,” the title track of their recently-released album. Even more piles of ice and snow might be the last thing Detroiters want to see right now, but the footage makes for some good visuals that mesh well with the song. Watch the video below:

    The post Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love” appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed

    Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr transferred oversight of the the city’s water department Tuesday to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in an order intended to refocus “efforts to help DWSD customers get and remain current on their water bills,” Orr’s office said today. “This order provides additional clarity to the powers already delegated to the mayor,” Orr said in a statement released Tuesday. “As the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department works to operate more efficiently and communicate more effectively with customers, it is important to ensure there are clear lines of management and accountability.” Duggan will have the authority to manage DWSD and make appointments to the utility’s board, according to a news release. In a statement issued Tuesday, the mayor said he welcomed Orr’s order, adding that officials will develop a plan that “allows those who truly need to access to financial help … to do so with shorter wait times.” “We need to change a number of things in the way we have approached the delinquent payment issues and I expect us to have a new plan shortly,” Duggan said. “There are funds available to support those who cannot afford their bills — we need to do a much better job in […]

    The post Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years

    Rovers Scooter Club, a local gang dedicated to celebrating and riding motor scooters, will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary this week with a very special ride. Motor City Shakedown, the annual birthday party for the club, will commence this Friday, August 1 at New Way Bar. DJ Grover from Cincinnati will be spinning northern soul, reggae, and ska, according to club member Michael Palazzola. Saturday will feature a ride from Ferndale to Detroit, starting at noon at M-Brew. Palazzola says this is where most bikes will congregate before taking the ride to the city and folks will be prepping by getting some grub starting at 10 a.m.  Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host the after party,  a special event that will feature performances by several bands as well as Satori Circus. That portion of the event will commence at 8 p.m. with performances starting at 9 p.m. It’s free to riders, but the public is welcome to join the party with the mere cost of a door charge. Come midnight, the club will raffle off a vintage Lambretta LI 150. Sunday morning will end the weekend of festivities, with brunch taking place at the Bosco in Ferndale.   

    The post Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Culture Feature

Into the Past

Camping, hiking, cooking and standing there naked on the shores of Lake Superior.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

The Au Sable Point Light


Each May, my buddies and I head up North to “rough it.” In the past, we’d hit the Au Sable river for some scenic canoe camping, but this year we changed our plans: We aimed to go car camping at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula. We were especially fortunate to have a friend of ours, a fellow who writes for one of those national automobile magazines, arrange for us to borrow a vehicle for the trip. And so we wound up traveling in a massive $65,000 contractor’s truck with a crew cab, heated seats, new-car smell and little built-in coolers on the sides. My friends and I skew bohemian, so this was about as familiar an environment to us as the inside of a spaceship, but I must say it was a very comfortable way to travel.

It was important to have a good rig, because we were going way north. To travel north in late May is to visibly travel back in time. While the trees of Detroit were already beginning to leaf out, on the drive north the leaves grew lighter and tighter, retreating into golden sprays of buds by the time we reached Lake Superior. In the woods leading down to the lakeshore, even a few small patches of snow remained.

To travel down to the lakeshore itself, however, was to travel back in time not mere weeks, but ages. The roaring surf bashes against rock and sand, the shore devoid of foliage except for a few patches of grass on higher dunes, or prehistoric-looking lichens clinging to rocks. The Ice Age doesn’t seem so long ago there. The scene is primordial, but beautiful in a spare way, painted with only a few colors. At night, tucked away in our sleeping bags, the inland ocean sounded at times like a busy nighttime expressway or a cranked-up diesel engine, thrashing out its savage, eternal song.

 

Sometimes people ask us why we choose to go up North before Memorial Day. I think part of it is that we can’t wait to get out of the city after a long winter. But I also suppose we find some things preferable to warmth. For instance, we want to avoid the swarms of bugs: In late May, there are only a few mosquitoes, and there are no black flies to speak of. On our last trip, though, a few of us had to pull deer ticks out of our skin, so this year we ventured past our old camps in Oscoda and headed a few hours further.

But can’t you avoid all the bugs by going in August? Well, you can, but in May you can also avoid the swarms of people: the crummy teenagers stealing dedicated canoe camps, the teeming crowds of children, the equestrians galloping through, the yahoos blasting their stereos. Instead of that, we saw no other campers, only some hikers and a few rangers, one of whom courteously checked in on us to see if we were ready for the rainy, chilly nights. (Every once in a while, you get lucky and have a run of nice, sunny days, but don’t expect it.)

With its welcome solitude from people and bugs, this trip was kind of perfect — that is, if you don’t mind sitting around a fire in full gear and a poncho in a 40-degree drizzle. I’m proud to say our group has toughened up a lot over the years. (And we naturally brought some goodies to keep our spirits up, our guts warm, and the conversation heady.)

 

Since we’ve been doing this for a while, I have a routine of several things I do on each trip. One night, for instance, I will make Spanish rice. I’ll dice three or four bell peppers of various colors, a few onions, and chop up several toes of garlic. I’ll start cooking ground beef in bacon fat in a large cast iron pot while I start boiling rice in another pot covered with foil. Once the beef is cooked well, I’ll add the onions and garlic, then the peppers, then a large can of crushed tomatoes and a pouch or two of taco powder. I’ll add the rice whenever it’s done. I’ve gotten pretty good at doing this over a fire. The results usually pass muster with the guys, although any hot chow usually boosts morale, right?

At least one night before turning in, we’ll take potatoes, onions and heads of garlic, wrap them in tin foil, and toss them around the edges of the fire. These are called “potato bombs.” In the morning, they can be found well-cooked and ready to be cut for a good morning hash. The garlic usually liquefies, but it’s great smeared on toast.

Also, when we go into town, I’ll spend $3 for a copy of the Great Lakes Pilot. It’s a monthly full of smiling pictures of every bartender, waitress and hostess from Marquette on down, along with charming, half-proofread histories from the old days of Michigan. For a Detroiter, though, it’s an especially weird read, providing a strange view of Michigan, as if Detroit ceased to exist in, say, 1960. You’ll find no pictures of Detroit-area bartenders in Great Lakes Pilot. Now, I’m not complaining: I like old-time tales about lumberjacks or the northwoods musings of Lon Emerick as much as the next Michigander, but reading the Pilot is enough to make you wonder whether outstaters know Detroit is still located in Michigan. Which is very odd, because it seems half the people I meet outstate seem to be from Detroit.

 

We took an afternoon hike to the Au Sable Point Light. A store clerk in Grand Marais urged us to walk there along the shore, and I’m glad she did. Not only was it a forbiddingly beautiful stroll, we also passed the remains of three different shipwrecks, their ancient timbers preserved by the water, grim monuments to the merciless Gitche Gumee. We finally ascended a rough stairway made of logs up the bluffs to the lighthouse, where the views of the lakeshore were best. The low clouds hung over the bluffs, shearing them off at a uniform height so they looked like the ramparts of some eerie lost world.

We also built a sweat lodge. First, we dug a deep hole in the damp sand and set it off with rocks. Then we found a few green saplings at least 10 feet tall that bent readily. If one end had a big rootball, we’d bury it in a hole and cover it with rocks, then sharpen the other end and drive it into the earth. We were able to make a dome in this manner, tying off the crown with zip-ties, lashing other lengths of green wood around the sides for stability and structure. Then we piled the whole thing over with tarps, sleeping bags, unused tents, blankets and more tarps. Then we took several rocks that had been cooking for many hours in the fire and used our shovel to dump them into the hole in the center. A few of us got in, and it was dark and cold, but we were out of the wind and rain. The rocks were so hot that, in the darkness, you could actually descry them glowing in the hole.

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