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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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Culture feature

The Art of the Deal

Pecha Kucha brings the art of precise presentation to fashionable Ferndale.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2013:05:21 16:37:49

Jennie Kay wants people to help photograph every house of worship in Detroit.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

One woman came to talk about a community-based attempt to photograph every house of worship in Detroit. A pair of college students from Toledo focused attention on volunteer efforts to build a bridge in a remote part of Honduras. There was a guy who highlighted a project that’s bringing art to building rooftops, and another who explained how his innovative T-shirt business got its start. And then there was the woman who came to tell people just how fabulous she and her life are.

One by one, they stepped up to a microphone last week at One-Eyed Betty’s, a bar and restaurant in Ferndale. Photos appeared on a screen behind them as they spoke. Twenty photos each, to be exact, each one flashing for 20 seconds, then on to the next so that each presentation lasted just six minutes and 40 seconds.

Welcome to Pecha Kucha, an event that began in Tokyo 10 years ago and has since brought the “art of precise presentation” to more than 500 cities around the world. Last week’s event in Ferndale was the 15th such gathering held in metro Detroit since 2008.

Roughly translated, the term PechaKucha means chitchat in Japanese. But the chatter, for the most part, is anything but idle.  As the Detroit organizers say on their website, the intention is to “celebrate creative and business-minded talent that may not otherwise have an outlet to share their inspirations, creations and ways they’ve changed a community.”

The whole thing is run as a nonprofit, with local groups operating like franchises. The Detroit group stages four events a year. Attendees are asked for a $10 donation to help cover expenses. Several local sponsors also kick in.

As one of the organizers, Frank Nemecek says that last week’s event was in many ways fairly typical of the 14 “volumes” that preceded it. Featuring 10 presenters, there was a good mix of people promoting businesses, artistic projects and do-gooder efforts.

He points out that one of the features of the format and its time limit is that it keeps presenters from “droning on too long.”

You know how loquacious creative types can be when they are talking about a project they are into. On the other hand, if someone wants more information, there is plenty of opportunity to connect with a presenter during the customary intermission, or after the presentations have concluded.

One unusual aspect was the venue. Rather than a place like One-Eyed Betty’s, the presentations are more typically held at cultural institutions such as the DIA and the Charles H.  Wright Museum of African American History. The next one, scheduled for Aug. 21, will be at the Hamtramck Public Library.

For Nemecek, another thing that set last week’s PechaKucha Night apart from the others was the fact that he finally made the leap to being a presenter himself.

A resident of the Warrendale neighborhood on Detroit’s far-west side, Nemecek began looking for ways to deal with the more than 1,000 empty homes in the immediate area. When he learned that there are more than 30,000 students attending Henry Ford Community College and UM’s Dearborn campus that would like to live in the area but couldn’t find housing, the solution clicked into place.

A nonprofit has been started with the intent of renovating empty homes and targeting students as renters.

“We’re picking up steam,” he says. “We’ve got a sponsor, and we’ve got some houses.”

After spending years watching others do it, what was it like to at last get up on the stage himself?

“I found that the process really helps you think about what you are doing,” he says. “If forces you to crystalize your thoughts, and how you are going to convey information, not only in words, but also with the images you attach to those words.”

Some people make their presentations in the hopes that it could lead to the funding of worthy projects. Katie Burns and Kyle Layton, for example, attend the University of Toledo, where they belong to the student chapter of a group called Engineers Without Borders.

During their six minutes and 40 seconds, they talked about Los Sanchez, a small village in Honduras that loses easy access to a nearby town when a nearby river swells during the rainy season. Kids can’t get to school, sick people have a hard time making it to the hospital, and buying food is difficult. A pedestrian bridge would make everyone’s lives infinitely easier. A creative, relatively low-cost span has been designed. Now all that’s needed is the $60,000 in materials required to actually construct the 180-foot bridge.

The one thing that links all of the PechaKucha participants is creativity. Architects, artists, photographers and designers of all stripes are drawn to the event.

Sometimes what people want to talk about is mostly themselves. That was the case for Detroiter Tene’ Dismuke, who says she started studying dance at the age of 4, then went on to become a model (she teaches at Barbizon) and writer (“I have three books in the can and am looking for a publisher,” she tells the crowd.) Among many other things, she runs a summer program for girls called Camp Fabulous. It is a place where girls ages 7 to 16 can develop both their performing arts talents and their self-esteem.

As Dismuke says, it is important to know that you don’t have to “apologize for being fabulous.”


To be considered as a presenter for the Aug. 21 event in Hamtramck, send 300 words on you and 300 words on your work; and a 5-megabyte sample (image, audio, video, whatever) to More information can be found at


Curt Guyette is Metro Times news editor. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or

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