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  • 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.

  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to The Sugar Clouds’ Partners Don’t Do That (They Watch and be Amazed) (Wax Splat) is a nostalgic look at the psychedelic days of ’60s grooviness. Even the album cover looks like a lava lamp. The male-female vocals have a sort of Jefferson Airplane feel, and the songs are blessed with both sugary sweet pop melodies and a garage-y earthiness. The story of the band’s formation is rather interesting; the two vocalists, Greg and Melissa Host, are a divorced couple who wrote the songs in their living room. The band is still together, so this divorce was a hell of a lot more civil than any we’ve ever known of. Steffanie Christi’an has friends in fairly high places. Her new Way Too Much mini-album is being put out by Nadir Omowale’s Distorted Soul label, and she is also a regular feature on Jessica Care Moore’s Black Women Rock revue. Maybe the choice of cover image isn’t the best – she looks a bit like a Tina Turner tribute act here. But that can and should be […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup 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.

“Our inspiration was to show what is and what could be in Detroit,” Gruse says. “Let’s get these iconic Detroit spots and show a few other spots unknown. Clients come to us for the look and the unique way we conceptualize shots that are fitting with the X Games.”

The Work, founded in 2010, is made up of five partners, including Gruse, 30, Ed Knight, 27, Jerome Wald, 26 and brothers Shane Ford, 25 and Jesse Ford, 29. Their filming experience includes everything on Chevy’s website, work for Ford Motor Co., the new Corvette Stingray and the Silverado.

The video and the partnership between Action Sports Detroit and the Work started without money — all on trust with friends passionate about the project; it soon steamrolled. Ford Racing said it could get the men a rally car and driver if the guys promised they could get the streets closed. With just three weeks notice, Koehler’s response: “One hundred percent. We’ll get the streets closed.” The tactical operations unit of the city worked with the partners in an expedited timeline — mission accomplished.

From there, the Work said if you can get a rally car, we need a helicopter. Both the rally car and helicopter were monumental for the video. The helicopter, which appears in the video, allowed tracking and great shots of the city, including four rally car locations: the Cobo Hall roof parking structure, Campus Martius, Belle Isle and the train station. According to Koehler, “The Work got our vision with their vision.”

Paxahau, the event production management group, also became involved five months ago. Koehler says Paxahau was “hugely helpful when we were just two kids going door to door.”

According to Sam Fotias, operations manager at Paxahau, Krease and Koehler “had the idea and feedback from ESPN. They were looking for help on organizing and making this a reality … how to execute, how to judge expenses.”

If Detroit is awarded the 2014-2016 summer X Games from ESPN, Paxahau would, says Fotias, be the operations arm for the outdoors component of the games.

The relationship of Detroit’s X Games bid to the resurgence of a growing youth culture in the city can’t be overstated. Chicago native Koehler explains: “The reason I moved here is the incredible movement of young people taking action in the city. They are doing it without permission. Detroit is an affordable place to live and has the space to create things. Here everyone does it in a sense for Detroit. There is a very palpable sense of place here. Young people want to be part of that.”

Fotias of Paxahau weighs in: “There is a very strong momentum of the younger generation in the city, working and playing down here. There is a unique civic pride, very different than a lot of cities. This type of event really connects with what is going on here now.”

Action Sports’ X Games Detroit event plan is taking shape. They are thinking the skateboarding and BMX biking events would take place along the riverfront, including a possible superpark at Hart Plaza with street competitions there along with a half-pipe. Sponsorship action is being considered for Campus Martius. The rally car competition would likely be on Belle Isle, utilizing the home of the Grand Prix. Ford Field could house most of the motocross events, plus the big air ramp for skateboarding and BMX.

Kevin Krease is definitely jazzed after going overseas and seeing X Games Barcelona firsthand: “It was a fantastic trip. We spent time with ESPN learning the layout and infrastructure … from where you put the broadcasting vans to how large are the venues. We spent time learning how you build out the rally car race, down to the dirt mixture for the course.”

Krease sees Detroit as an international city, including its connection to Canada and Windsor. This international aspect is “… a wildly underplayed strength we have here. ESPN is viewing this as their North American event,” he explains. “Our goal in marketing it is to bring in Canadians and Americans alike.” Koehler echoes his partner’s sentiments when he calls Detroit “a global city where everyone has a vested interest in seeing this city come back.”

On the evening of Tuesday, May 28, ESPN came to town to examine Detroit’s X Games bid where, at Campus Martius, Action Sports with its #XG2D movement, pulled out all the stops. The party featured DJ sets by Mix Master Mike of the Beastie Boys and Ryan Richards, plus a live graffiti contest with Detroit artists, and an open skate and BMX.

After an all-day rain, the skies cleared for the 8 p.m. start time. The turnout was ample as the DJ set began; spirits were high as people danced to a remix of hometown legend Aretha Franklin’s Respect.

Now it is just a waiting game. X Games producers have stated that the bid city will be announced sometime at the end of June. As this week’s Metro Times goes to press, this writer and the city he lives in are on pins and needles.

Christopher Gruse of the Work sums it up when he says, “Detroit exemplifies what X Games is. From skaters to BMX riders to bands … it is an oyster here. Detroit is the perfect place for this.”

Carl Bookstein  is a freelance writer from Detroit. Send comments to

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