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  • 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 PlanetAnt.com. 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? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor

    Detroit home-girl Lily Tomlin will perform at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, June 14. A press release reads, “Get together with Lily Tomlin for an unforgettable night of fun and sidesplitting laughter. “Tomlin is amazing” The NY Times and “as always a revelation.” The New Yorker This unique comic artist takes her audience on what the Washington Post calls a “wise and howlingly funny” trip with more than a dozen of her timeless characters—from Ernestine to Mrs. Beasley to Edith Ann.” “With astounding skill and energy, Tomlin zaps through the channels like a human remote control. Using a fantastic range of voices, gestures and movements, she conjures up the cast of characters with all the apparent ease of a magician pulling a whole menagerie of animals from a single hat.” NY Daily News “Her gentle touch is as comforting as it is edifying.” NY Time Out She has “made the one-person show the daring, irreverent art form it is today.” Newsweek Her long list of awards includes: a Grammy; two Tonys; six Emmys; an Oscar nomination; two Peabodys; and the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Find more info here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor

    The Detroit Metro Times, Detroit’s award-winning alternative weekly media company, is proud to announce the recent hire of Valerie Vande Panne as Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning independent journalist and Michigan native, Vande Panne’s work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Daily Beast, and Salon, among other publications. Previously, Vande Panne attended Harvard University and was a regular contributor to The Boston Phoenix, and a news editor of High Times magazine. She has spent years covering drug policy among other subjects, including the environment, culture, lifestyle, extreme sports, and academia. “Valerie understands our business and what we expect to accomplish in Detroit. She has an excellent sense for stories that will move our readers, as well as experience with balancing print and digital content. I’m excited to have her at the paper and trust her leadership as we move forward,” said Detroit Metro Times publisher Chris Keating.

    The post Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’

    She welcomes you when you enter Detroit, from every direction, with the one word that might just be Detroit’s biggest philosophical question: Injured? Joumana Kayrouz is deeper than the inflated image watching over Detroit, peddling justice to the poor and broken of the city. This Wednesday, Drew Philp takes us behind the billboard and into the heart of the Kayrouz quest. (And all of Brian Rozman’s photos of Kayrouz have not been retouched.) Check out MT‘s cover story, on newsstands Wednesday!

    The post Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt

    There was a fire in an upstairs apartment at PJ’s Lager House on Monday evening. No people were hurt, although three cats belonging to the tenants died after CPR. The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. during a show featuring Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band, Curtin, and Jeffrey Jablonsky. “We just smelled smoke and someone yelled everyone has to get out,” 33-year-old Nick Leu told MLive. On the Lager House Facebook page in the early hours of the morning, a post said, “We at PJ’s lager House would like to thank everyone for their care and concern. Also, a very big THANK YOU to all who stepped up to do what they could this evening. The fire was contained to the upstairs but due to water damage in the bar, we will be closed until it can be assessed. Everyone is safe and we will keep you updated.” A later update read, “Update from the big boss. Since there was no damage to the stage side of the bar, the show will go on tomorrow! You may have to enter through the back door and there may not be a large selection of booze but we are going […]

    The post Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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News Feature

Marching Toward Critical Mass

Are Americans ready to legalize marijuana?

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“Reform the draconian marijuana laws” has been a rallying cry of this newspaper since its inception, with groves felled and gallons of ink spent outlining a folly — at a plant with medicinal, psychosocial and economic benefits.

While it’s only taken 33 years (Metro Times’ first edition was published in 1980), it seems as if that cry has finally moved the argument to a Rubicon of change; when we cross it depends on those who can influence the debate. According to an April 2013 report by the Pew Research Center, for the first time in more than four decades of polling on the issue, a majority of Americans now favor legalizing the use of marijuana. The poll, which has garnered a lot of attention from the mainstream press because of its significance, says 52 percent of Americans now say marijuana should be legal.

For years, the prevailing view on weed has been a dismissive notion that it’s a recreational drug enjoyed by the unmotivated and, worse, it’s a gateway substance to “hard” drugs. Sadder still, a militarized approach toward its domestic eradication — including the incarceration of its users — has contributed to billions of dollars misspent and countless thousands of lives ruined by a hamstrung judiciary forced to impose mandatory minimum sentences.

The story arc of how America came to this point is as old as the country itself. From our most revered founder, George Washington, who chronicled his cultivation of hemp (the stem of the cannabis plant), to the inclusion of cannabis by early 20th century chemists in mixing medications, the story of America would be incomplete without including weed.

The first encroachment of government on the use and possession of marijuana began with the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act, which required the labeling of cannabis, and the amount contained, in over-the-counter remedies and food. Three decades later, Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act in response to growing fear around the drug — a fear brought to you by Hollywood and its propaganda-laden masterpiece, Reefer Madness. The Marijuana Tax Act effectively outlaws pot; save for those who pay an excise tax for certain authorized uses.

Thereafter, the assault on weed grew bold: In 1951 Congress passed the Boggs Act, which established mandatory prison sentences for possessing and distributing drugs, including marijuana. Five years later, President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law the Narcotics Control Act, which established a minimum sentence of two to 10 years for a first-offense conviction of marijuana possession, and a fine of as much as $20,000.

But the most egregious assault on weed, and one that held public opinion in stasis for decades still to come, stems from the plant’s classification as a Schedule I drug by the federal government under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The Schedule I classification, which is the CSA’s most damning, states that “a drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse; the drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and; there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.” Other Schedule I drugs include heroin and the date-rape concoction GHB.

Sadly, there was a brief moment before anti-pot hysteria fully metastasized when things could have turned out differently. As part of the omnibus legislation that also created the CSA, Congress established what would be known as the Shafer Commission, which was charged with studying marijuana abuse in the United States. Named for its chairman, former Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond P. Shafer, the commission was doomed to failure because the executive branch had little tolerance for views that differed from those of its chief executive.

During the commission’s first report to Congress, Shafer, a moderate Republican, suggested the decriminalization of marijuana in small amounts, saying, in part:

“The criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use. It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior, which we believe is not appropriate. The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior, a step [that] our society takes only with the greatest reluctance.”

You would be right to ask yourself, then, how domestic policy toward marijuana use went off the rails so precipitously, languishing as a sideline issue for more than two additional generations.

Conventional wisdom suggests you need not look further than the dickhead who signed the CSA into existence. While it was never a secret, the Nixon White House was less than enlightened — despite Nixon’s Sock-It-To-Me request from a young Goldie Hawn — and had the electorate known just what a shmuck Nixon really was, well … we know how that turned out in the end.

The Shafer Commission was a big ole hornswoggle and its findings ignored by a hostile White House. Nixon, by his own admission, had no intention of considering decriminalization of pot. He hated pot and the counterculture it became associated with:

“I had a press conference in California, which was not televised but I was asked about marijuana because a study is being made by a, group, [unintelligible] the government. Now, my position is flat-out on that. I am against legalizing marijuana. Now I’m against legalizing marijuana because, I know all the arguments about, well, marijuana is no worse than whiskey, or etc. etc. etc.

“But the point is, once you cross that line, from the straight society to the drug society — marijuana, then speed, then it’s LSD, then it’s heroin, etc. then you’re done,” said Nixon, arbiter of justice, during one of his secretly recorded Oval Office conversations; this one made in May 1971 with his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman and White House counsel, John Ehrlichman.

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