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    By LeeAnn Brown Some people say that hip-hop is dead. Local ban Fderal Ground is proving that is not the case. The seven-member band, consisting of three lead vocalists, a DJ, bass, drums and guitar, plays what they call “living hip-hop.” Their music, peppered with multiple styles, covers all aspects of life from growing up in the D to playing with fire despite knowing you will likely get burned. Their undeniable chemistry and raw lyrics compose a music that is living, breathing, and connecting to their listeners. It has been nearly 11 years since Vinny Mendez and Michael Powers conjured up the basement idea that has flowered into the Detroit funk-hop band Feral Ground. Throughout high school the two wrote and rapped consistently, playing shows here and there. In those years they matched their rap stanzas with the animated, dynamic voice of Ginger Nastase and saw an instant connection. The now trio backed their lyrics with DJ Aldo’s beats on and off for years, making him a permanent member within the last year, along with Andy DaFunk (bass), Joseph Waldecker (drums), and newest member, Craig Ericson (guitar). We sat down with Feral Ground and their manager, Miguel Mira, in their […]

    The post Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law

    Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]

    The post Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week

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    The post Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations

    Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.  

    The post Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial

    We don’t know about you, but usually Nancy Whiskey and Long John Silver’s aren’t two concepts we’d place in the same sentence. However, the international fast food fish fry conglomerate made a nod to the Detroit dive in their latest YouTube commercial. LJS is offering free fish fries on Saturday, August 2, which is the promotion the commercial is attempting to deliver. But, we think we’ll just go to Nancy Whiskey instead.

    The post Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women

    We came across an interesting item this week: Apparently, a music festival with the name “Michfest” is quietly oriented as a “Women-Only Festival Exclusively for ‘Women Born Women.’” It seems a strange decision to us. If you wanted to have a women-only music festival, why not simply proclaim loud and clear that it is for all sorts of women? But if you really wanted to become a lightning rod for criticisms about transphobia, organizers have found the perfect way to present their festival. Now, we know that defenders of non-cisgender folks have it tough. The strides made by gays and lesbians (and bisexuals) in the last 20 years have been decisive and dramatic. But the people who put the ‘T’ in LGBT have reason to be especially defensive, facing a hostile culture and even some disdain from people who should be their natural allies. That said, sometimes that defensiveness can cause some activists to go overboard; when we interviewed Dan Savage a couple years ago, he recalled his “glitter bombing” and said it was due to the “the narcissism of small differences,” adding that “if you’re playing the game of who is the most victimized, attacking your real enemies doesn’t prove you’re most victimized, claiming you […]

    The post Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Cover Story

Shredding it up in Motown

Two 20-somethings carry the hope of a metropolis on their backs in an effort to bring the X Games to Detroit.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

The Works Inc., which produced the video bid touting Detroit, secured the closure of city streets and a helicopter to film a rally car weaving around Detroit landmarks.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

ESPN, the cable sports network, has produced the summer X Games since its inception in 1995; two years later the network launched the winter games.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Organizers estimate that hosting the X Games could deliver $150 million in economic benefit to the city of Detroit.

To see Michigan hometown athlete Brandon Dosch shred a BMX dirt bike course is something to behold. The recent silver medalist from X Games Brazil may now be coming home to X Games Detroit in 2014. “It would mean the world to me to compete in front of my city,” Dosch says. Such are the rich possibilities for the Motor City — one of four finalist cities in competition for the ESPN X Games expansion in summers of 2014-2016.

We have Action Sports Detroit LLC to thank for this chance. Action Sports is Kevin Krease and Garret Koehler — the team behind Detroit’s X Games bid. The other finalist cities are Chicago, Austin, Texas, and Charlotte, N.C. ESPN promises a decision as early as in the second half of June.

Recently back from Barcelona, Spain, to observe one of six current annual international X Games events, Krease and Koehler of Action Sports are energized. We meet at Great Lakes Coffee’s charming Midtown location. These two college friends from Ohio’s Miami University are in their mid-20s, youthful and vibrant. They see this city as the ultimate place for the X Games. Koehler speaks of “a perfect alignment between the grittiness of Detroit and the grittiness of the X Games.”

In early May, Action Sports released a video supporting this city’s bid for the X Games. The video, produced by the Work Inc., a Detroit-based production house, includes poignant, vivid camera shots showcasing the city. It features young bikers, skateboarders and a rally car racer covering terrain from Belle Isle to Campus Martius. From the abandoned train station to the Ambassador Bridge, this video’s hard-edged vision of the city and its inspired youth culture is completely captivating.

ESPN’s X Games are the widely popular and quintessential extreme sports Olympics: from skateboarding to BMX biking to motocross, rally car racing and beyond. These are the very elite top athletes in their games performing breakthrough tricks and athletic acrobatics. The summer X Games may now be venturing from their glamorous Los Angeles home base to gritty Detroit, home of survivors.

In the early 1990s, ESPN saw a punk rock-inspired Generation X demographic that wasn’t necessarily watching football, and seized upon it. The games, which began in 1995 in Rhode Island and have called L.A. their primary home over the years, now include a winter games in Aspen, Colo., as well as events in Brazil, Barcelona, Munich, Germany and Tignes, France — all part of ESPN’s global expansion of the X Games to six annual events. Originally titled the “Extreme Games,” the event has included sports later incorporated into the Olympics and has contributed to the definition of an action sports lifestyle.

The X Games in Detroit would, according to Krease, likely be a three-day event held in late July or early August for three consecutive years, 2014-2016. The events, which have changed over the years, would certainly include skateboarding, motocross, BMX biking and rally cars, but going back to past X Games, may even include street luge and bungee jumping. According to Krease, “There could be wakeboarding in the Detroit River. It is an open platform to do some interesting things.”

Koehler describes these games as a “celebration of youth culture.” He begins: “X Games is a brand ESPN started comprised of action sports never before televised — an entire brand created around the action sports lifestyle. A lot of the events in the X Games later became Olympic sports. They are a cutting-edge brand. What is happening in Detroit is in perfect alignment with the X Games brand. Young people are taking action, taking risks to succeed in this city.” Koehler speaks fondly of the current business climate in Detroit and its favorability to young people exploring new ventures.

According to Krease, “What is attractive about X Games is what is attractive about Detroit. The X Games are all about action — action sports and action generally. Detroit is also about action and creating meaningful change.”

The two men feel Detroit is the ideal host city for these games because of the synergies between the event’s brand and Detroit’s well-acknowledged vibe. “X Games is a gritty extreme event. Detroit is a city of extremes — extreme wealth and extreme poverty,” Koehler says. “We believe this event can bridge these extremes and build stronger community.”

X Games is hugely popular among young people. The average attendee is 23 years old. This fits well with a growing youth community in this city, Krease explains. “Young people want to fix a lot of problems and stresses of the city,” he says, adding, “X Games is a platform to share the new story of Detroit and what is changing for the positive here.”

“This city embodies perseverance, more so than our competition,” Koehler says. “Austin or Charlotte would hold events at a race track outside the city. We’re proposing they hold events in spaces that these athletes are already performing in anyway. The urban environment of Detroit allows the showcasing of talent — whether BMX biking or skateboarding — in areas of the city they are always showcasing their talents.” The powerful video by the Work made as part of this city’s campaign for the games aptly captures this vision with local athletes riding and skating in Detroit’s gritty urban places and spaces.

“Action sports are about a lot more than sports,” Koehler says. “They are about lifestyles, building communities and events built in public spaces, not in private racetracks outside of town.”

According to an economic impact study of the 2010 X Games in Los Angeles (done by Micronomics, Inc.), that year’s games produced as much as $50 million in identifiable benefits to Los Angeles. The team at Action Sports Detroit feels very realistically that three years of summer X Games in Detroit, from 2014-2016, could bring $150 million in economic benefits to the city.

Furthermore, based on historical numbers, they feel attendances can safely be forecast at 150,000 to 200,000 over three days. Last year’s games in Los Angeles saw 144,700 people attend. Peak attendance was 268,390 in 1999 for X Games 5, held in San Francisco. Costs for putting on the games are estimated at between $15 million and $20 million per year.

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We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
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