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  • 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.

  • Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times

    Turns out, our very own Jack Lessenberry knows the Grosse Pointer seeking to ban the MT: Ten years or so ago, a woman named Andrea Lavigne sat in on some media survey classes I was teaching at Wayne State University. She was in her late 30s or early 40s, and seemed to be searching for answers. She wanted to know how the media work, and told me she was a Maoist. This fascinated me, because I thought authentic Maoists were almost as rare as passenger pigeons. Chairman Mao, we now know, starved to death and slaughtered tens of millions of his own citizens, and kept China economically and intellectually backward. Intrigued, I got together one night before class with her and another Maoist, to find out what they were all about. Alas, they spouted a form of primitive, grade-school Marxism. They seemed to have very little historical knowledge of Communism or what it had actually been like. Yes. A Maoist. Read the full story at Michigan Radio here.

    The post Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’

    A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the owner of Detroit’s municipal solid waste incinerator Monday, accusing the company of nuisance and gross negligence violations According to the complaint filed by Detroit-based Liddle & Dubin P.C., “On occasions too numerous to list, Plaintiffs’ property including Plaintiffs’ neighborhood, residences and yards were physically invaded by noxious odors and contaminants … As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’s’ negligence in operating and/or maintaining the facility, Plaintiffs’ property has been invaded by noxious odors.” The eight-page complaint charges that local property values have dropped due to the incinerator’s presence, “and has interfered with Plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of their property.” The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, seeks a financial award in excess of $25,000 and all costs and attorney fees related to the case. In an email, a spokesperson for the company says, “Detroit Renewable Power is reviewing the complaint filed today,” but declined further comment. The suit comes weeks after a Metro Times’ cover story earlier this month found a growing number of odor complaints from nearby residents since Detroit Renewable Power LLC (DRP) took control of the facility in 2010. The investigation found a spike in citations from the Michigan Department […]

    The post Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup

    The High Times Medical Cannabis Cup is more than just a celebration — although with the recent shift in attitudes toward marijuana legalization, there certainly is much to celebrate.  HT‘s Danny Danko described it as “just like any other harvest festival or a county fair where people bring their best produce, their best pigs and horses and cows, and they compete with each other for bragging rights, basically.” Here are a list of winners from this year’s Cannabis Cup, who did indeed walk home with some well-deserved bragging rights — if anyone knows their marijuana it’s High Times: Indica 1ST - Oasis Medical Seeds - Paris OG 2ND - Herbal Solutions - Alien Dawg F2 3RD - Herban Legendz, LLC - Grape OX Sativa 1ST - Arborside Compassion - CATFISH 2ND - Organibliss - Ghost Train Haze #1 3RD - We Grow Education and Collective Centers - MelonGum Hybrid 1ST - Herbal Solutions - Gorilla Glue 2ND - Pure West Compassion Club - Death Star 3RD - Kushman Veganics for Buds & Roses - Veganic Candyland Concentrate 1ST - Mr. B’s Extracts - Raskal’s Lemon 2ND - 710 Savant - Kosher Kush Dewaxed 3RD - Oasis Medical / Vader Extracts / Dab Vader - Candy Jack Shatter Non-Solvent Hash 1ST - NLG - Jedi Kush Ice Wax 2ND - Arborside Compassion - HeadCandy Kush Hash 3RD - New World Seeds Resource […]

    The post Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative

    So is the title of the press release we received this morning from The Satanic Temple. You may recall our interview with Doug Mesner from earlier this year. The Satanic Temple is, perhaps, best known for trying to build a child-friendly monument to satan in OKC: How Mesner and TST are rocking the Hobby Lobby ruling is interesting: The Satanic Temple Leverages Hobby Lobby Ruling to Claim Exemption From State Mandated ProLife Materials Reads the next line of the press release. And then their website: A number of states require that abortion providers give information to patients that maybe inaccurate or misleading. Demands that members of the Satanic Temple, or those who share our beliefs, be subjected against our will to anything but the best scientific understanding are a violation of our religious beliefs. Thanks to rulings such as Hobby Lobby, we can take a stand against these practices. Mesner points out how the Hobby Lobby ruling bolsters their position: While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact. This was made clear when […]

    The post Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio

    On Saturday we set out to check out the High Times Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio, Mich. — High Times did hold a Cannabis Cup in the Motor City back in 2011, but Detroit police flexing their muscles and making arrests at that event may have been to blame, at least partially, for the choice of a new host city. The event was held this year at the Auto City Speedway, (also known as “B.F.E.” to Detroiters). Nevertheless, the prospect of stopping at the Torch for the best burger in the Genessee County was compelling — and anyway, this was the Cannabis Cup we were talking about. Was it really going to be “work?” It turned out, just a little bit. An inexplicable lack of an on-site ATM meant hiking quite a ways up the road to the nearest gas station, and then waiting for an attendant to restock the ATM with cash. We spoke with plenty of Cannabis Cup attendees at the gas station — everybody knows that the local gas station is a stoner’s best-friend. The two-day festival, for which one-day tickets were sold for $40, was divided into two sections — a general area and a medicating […]

    The post Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Culture Feature

Ponyride's Entrepreneurial Spirit

Ponyride, the brainchild of Slows Bar-B-Q founder Phil Cooley, houses innovation that feeds Detroit’s ‘renaissance’ buzz.

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Veronika Scott

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Phillip Cooley

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Derek Craig

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Ponyride, located at 1401 Vermont Street in Detroit houses 25 different businesses.


An adventure and a great cup of java are brewing at Anthology Coffee. Tucked away at 1401 Vermont St. in a former abandoned warehouse in Corktown, Anthology Coffee is part of Ponyride — a community of shops and businesses found in a unique Detroit setting.

The brainchild of Slows Bar-B-Q owner Phillip Cooley, Ponyride opened two years ago and was created to house concepts and concerns its tenants were passionate about, from entrepreneurial to nonprofit. Distinctive murals decorate the building’s outer walls as you drive up — painted by many different American and international artists, as part of the Detroit Beautification Project.

Working the counter at Anthology Coffee is California native Derek Craig, 25, from Napa Valley. Craig serves up a dynamite cup of coffee called Ardi, which is from Southern Ethiopia — and tastes like blueberries and dark chocolate; it’s as good a cup of coffee as you can imagine.

Craig met Anthology Coffee owner Josh Longsdorf in California and moved to Detroit to work for him. Anthology Coffee has been up an running for more than two years and has operated out of Ponyride since last September; before that, Longsdorf operated out of various pop-up stores.

“The people of Detroit is what sold it for me” says Craig, Anthology’s only employee, about moving from the West Coast to lay stakes in the Motor City. “They are humble and genuine.”

On a peaceful Saturday morning, a ballet class is being held at the venue next door to Anthology. Craig sees the community at Ponyride as collaborative rather than competitive. “It is more like a family,” he says, where residents barter and trade in good faith. “It’s really easy for ideas to turn into something.”

On a Monday afternoon, Ponyride is positively hopping. In a shared space typically used for yoga and hip-hop dance, there is a workshop collaboration to promote joy in Detroit. The place is filled with about 40 people and growing. The energy is electric.

A visit to Ponyride is a journey. Walk upstairs to Detroit Denim Company. The owner, Eric Yelsma, has been here two years and loves Ponyride. “Any community space has its pros and cons” says Yelsma, “but this space is fantastic.”

Detroit Denim started out of Yelsma’s house, but he calls Ponyride his first real start. His handmade jeans include all U.S.-manufactured materials, made on traditional machines. He and his three part-time employees also make belts, a few leather goods and even Apple MacBook covers, developed, he says, from a Ponyride-facilitated collaboration.

Journey to the space adjacent to Detroit Denim, and you happen to the home of the Empowerment Plan, where multiple seamstresses are making coats that turn into sleeping bags. Arnetta is making pockets. Annis is working on Velcro and foot bags.

The coat-and-sleeping bag combination is the invention of Veronika Scott, who had the idea a couple of years ago while a student at the College for Creative Studies. In 2011, Scott became Ponyride’s first tenant and this has become her full-time job. Four thousand coats have been made so far this year, going all to homeless people in 10 cities throughout the country; Scott states that her main priority, however, is Detroit.

All her employees are single parents who have, themselves, been homeless. They take donations. People can sponsor coats for $100 dollars. The Empowerment Plan also receives corporate sponsorships, including from Rock Ventures, Quicken Loans and General Motors.

A return to Anthology Coffee finds Ponyride creator Cooley, who calls this space his actual home and residence. “I feel like I get to wake up and play every day,” Cooley says, “with people bouncing ideas off each other from all different disciplines, whether for profit or nonprofit.”

Cooley grew up in the rural town of Marysville, one hour north of Detroit. He earned an undergraduate film degree and then dropped out of a master’s architectural program at the University of Michigan to work full time at Slows Bar-B-Q, the company he founded.

Combining Slows and architecture school was a 180-hour week, he says, adding, “and an impossibility.” Before that, he spent two years modeling, a job that took him from New York to London, Tokyo, Paris and Barcelona.

Cooley bought the 30,000-square-foot space that is Ponyride for a bargain foreclosure rate of $100,000 with earnings from Slows because, he says, it was a bargain he could not pass up. He was looking for a residence with working shop space and wanted to no longer pay rent. He saw Ponyride as both a home and a springboard for a myriad of possibilities. He then brought in friends and, ultimately, the community to ask them what they wanted to do with the space — taking suggestions for whatever people were passionate about.

Because of volunteer labor, he is able to keep rents low, at 20 to 25 cents per square foot, constituting a 75-80 percent reduction from the market rate. There is also an educational component whereby tenants teach free classes to give back for the bargain they receive. The goal, Cooley says, is to make this sustainable.

There are 25 shops and businesses at Ponyride and another 20 waiting to get in. Remodeling is 90 percent complete. From a typeset letterpress to a production company making videos, to a metalsmith’s shop and woodworkers, the tenants, according to Cooley, are “the reason that Ponyride exists.”

The name Ponyride is meant to conjure going back in time to when people are younger and more creative with fewer hang-ups. “When you are young, everyone loves a pony ride,” says Cooley, who sees Detroit as a city of hope and tremendous potential. He feels projects like Ponyride allow people to do what they’re passionate about, “Detroiters — and Detroit — will save itself.” A visit to Ponyride truly makes this seem possible.

Carl Bookstein writes about culture and business for the Metro Times. Send comments to cbookstein@metrotimes.com.

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