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  • Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark

    Oh, the irony — initially criticized as Marxist propaganda when Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted them for the Detroit Institute of Arts in the early 1930s, Detroit Industry has now been designated as a a national landmark. The announcement was made Wednesday, according to the Detroit News by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis as part of National Park Week. The designation does not change the ownership status of the murals or grant any new protections or rights, leaving its place among the rest of the DIA’s art in possible bankruptcy negotiations in question. The work is considered the best of Rivera’s work in the United States (another mural Rivera had done in New York was destroyed by orders of Nelson Rockefeller). Rivera himself regarded Detroit Industries paintings as his finest work. In the midst of the McCarthy era, the DIA posted this sign outside the court: Rivera’s politics and his publicity seeking are detestable. But let’s get the record straight on what he did here. He came from Mexico to Detroit, thought our mass production industries and our technology wonderful and very exciting, painted them as one of the great achievements of the twentieth century. This came […]

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  • Detroit area code 313 may be phased out

    Hey, everybody from the 313, start thinking of new numbers to rally around– the longstanding Detroit area code may be phased out. Our friends over at the Detroit News report that pending a revised estimate next week, the North American Numbering Plan Administration will stop handing out 313 telephone prefixes on new phone numbers. Detroiters with existing cell phone lines would be able to keep their current area codes, while those with land lines would change. via Detroit News: The venerable 313 will ultimately become overtaxed. Even as Detroit’s population has fallen, cellphone usage has accelerated like one of those smoldering SRT Vipers that Dodge has been bolting together at Conner Avenue Assembly — which is, of course, comfortably within the confines of 313. … When the first five dozen area codes were assigned nearly 70 years ago, says NANPA’s Tom Foley, “that was expected basically to last forever.” Instead, somebody invented fax machines, and then somebody else came up with cellphones, and lots of somebody elses decided to give them to 10-year-olds, and meantime the population grew to 300 million. Now every telephone carrier is required to submit twice-yearly forecasts of its needs in each area code, factoring in […]

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  • Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council

    Unfortunately, we were unable to attend last night’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, which, in case you were unaware, is a 16-member board established to weigh in on the new Red Wings arena near downtown. About three dozen residents and property owners cast ballots by the 8 p.m. deadline on Wednesday inside the Block at Cass Park, The Detroit News reports. It’s the culmination of a handful of community meetings which began weeks ago. Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez facilitated the meetings, but emphasized at previous meetings that it’s up to the community to conduct business. According to the News, the 12 candidates selected include: Michael Boettcher, Richard Etue, Jason Gapa, Francis Grunow, Steve Guether, Paul Hughes, Ray Litt, Warner Doyle McBryde, Karen McLeod, Delphia Simmons, Melissa Thomas and Anthony Zander. Joel Landy, a land owner in the area, lost his bid. The City Council appointed four candidates last month. As we reported in this week’s issue, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee was negotiated after Olympia Development of Michigan, Detroit Red Wing’s owner Mike Ilitch’s real estate arm, balked on a proposed community benefits agreement.  The committee is charged with the task of offering input on the arena’s design, parking security and more.

    The post Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag

    The Magic Bag in Ferndale will host James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets on Thursday, May 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. A press release reads, “James McMurtry recently signed with the bourgeoning Los Angeles record label Complicated Game. The legendary songwriter will enter the studio later this month to start working on his first album in six years. “I’ve got a new batch of songs, organic and with no added sulfites, aged in oak for several years,” he says. “Francois Moret at Complicated Game seems to like these songs and (producer) C.C. Adcock thinks he can turn them into a record. Good times fixing to roll.” Label head Moret agrees. “In March 2013, when C.C. Adcock told me we were going to see James McMurtry at the Continental Club in Austin, I expected to see a good show,” he says, “but what I saw left me mesmerized! I immediately knew I wanted to sign him. As a European, it is an amazing opportunity to work with one of the most talented American singer-songwriters.” Evidence: McMurtry’s Just Us Kids (2008) and Childish Things (2005). The former earned his highest Billboard 200 chart position in nearly two decades and notched […]

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  • City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit

    The Dead Kennedys, still with local boy Klaus Flouride in the ranks, will play St. Andrew’s Hall on Tuesday, June 24. Alongside Flouride and fellow original members East Bay Ray and DH Peligro, the current lineup includes singer Ron “Skip” Greer, taking the place of Jello Biafra. Downtown Brown will open that show, which starts at 7 p.m., with tickets priced $20-$25. Give Klaus a hero’s hometown welcome. Just over a week before that, strangely enough, Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine will play at the Magic Stick. It’s a weird coincidence, but one that DK fans should be happy to embrace. That show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $17-$19. Local hardcore vets Negative Approach play before Jello, with the Crashdollz opening the show. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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 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? […]

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Culture Feature

Town Mouse Portaging

A city dweller’s guide to surviving — and enjoying — a canoe trip among the great outdoors.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

The majesty of Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario reminds us nature is awesome.

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Me and my brother-in-law, Mark, rowin’ down the river.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

The first summer after I got married, when relations with my brothers- and sisters-in-law were still coalescing, I was invited to join my wife’s older brother Mark and two of his buddies on their annual portaging pilgrimage up north. I thought it was a nice gesture and since Mark had recently moved from Detroit to South Florida with his family, I felt it would be a good opportunity to hang out and establish a friendship. The offer, which came packaged in a broader conversation about summer camp, was accepted as casually as it was tendered — more as an aside than intentional.

After hanging up the phone and sharing the news with my wife, she was excited and somewhat surprised by my acceptance. When I asked about the surprise part, she answered my question by asking a question: “You do know what portaging is, right?” Indignantly, I replied, “Of course I do  — (pause) — not know what that is, but I’ll look it up.”

I consulting my bible — the dictionary: “Portaging is the practice of carrying a watercraft over land, between two bodies of water.”

No need for self-actualization on that one; I’m a town mouse, not a country mouse. I didn’t grow up in a family where lakes and fishing, canoes or campers were a holiday du jour. I could order you a tequila popper, or ask for the bathroom in Spanish by age 12, but carrying a watercraft over land seemed more foreign than a beach in Acapulco. What the hell kind of “watercraft” could be carried, anyway?!

As the vacation drew near, I conducted a serious inventory of the things one would need on such a trip. I realized, with only days left before departure, I was kind of screwed. I did, however, have a descent rucksack.

It’s not that the idea of “roughing it” was a foreign concept. Having backpacked across much of continental Europe, I’ve stayed in shitholes that would make any pup tent seem luxurious. Yet, the thought of relieving myself in a hand-dug latrine seemed more gross than serene.

Mark, my still newish brother-in-law, arrived from Ft. Lauderdale to Detroit the morning of our watercraft-carrying adventure. By that evening I got the on-deck call, letting me know he was headed to my house, after which we would hook up with his buddies and hit the road.

I concede: I was sweating it big time. I had no idea what to expect, nor did I know the guys I would be dependent on to ensure I didn’t drown or get eaten by God-knows whatever resided in the woods. I did take some comfort that: No. 1 … I was married to Mark’s sister, so he was somewhat obligated to guarantee she didn’t become a widow, and; No. 2 … even though these dudes were country mice, they weren’t country bumpkins. Mark is a cardiologist, and his two buddies: a neurologist and a custom-home builder. I figured, at worst, I was going into the backwoods with two physicians and an expert in construction.

Mark came over around 10:30 p.m.all geared up — bandana on his head — and psyched to get on the road. First we had to grab his buddies, both of whom lived in, or adjacent to, my neighborhood; then the market — to stock up on “provisions.”

I thought, “provisions, holy shit … how could I be going somewhere I would need ‘provisions!’”

“Awesome,” I said. “Let’s go get … those.”

So, at 11-something p.m., there we were, four portaging fools walking up and down the food aisles at Meijer’s, that venerable Detroit-area sanctuary for 24-hour shopping where worlds collide in commonality during the late night procurement window: Packs of drunken teens, one of whom inevitably ends up puking down the cereal aisle; drug tweekers, their carts filled with half-used cans of whipped cream; and, for me always the most curious — the couple with that wide-awake, pajama-clad toddler, strolling along and buying produce or frozen TV dinners.

Mark and his buddies were bananas excited. The three of them, all a high school epoch older than me, had been taking this trip together for years; one was his grad school roomate and the other his best friend from childhood.

The guys explained that we had to be selective in what we bought since everything we purchased would have to be carried by a member of our group. I decided to hang back, letting the experts decide our menu.

We got small things, like cans of tuna, boxes of add-water-only meal “helpers” and various other foodstuffs that seemed slightly one step above the freeze-dried crap sporting goods stores carry for campers.

The consensus among the experts was that the “special” meal, meaning the one not found in box or can, would be enjoyed that first night, since perishables were a luxury that wouldn’t keep beyond Day No. 1. Apparently, steaks were de rigueur — I was a vegetarian; I grabbed a can of soda.

Land Lubber’s Launch

Getting on the road sometime after midnight, we drove northeast toward Sarnia and the Bluewater Bridge, which would be our gateway to Canada. We were headed to Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, which is 240 miles northeast of Toronto and, as described by Mark, is as close to Eden as we mortals can hope to get.

Thankfully, I was able to knock off in the backseat for nearly the entire drive, waking up as dawn was breaking — I’m not a fan of long car rides.

After more than seven hours en route, we approached one of the park’s entrance gates. Several kilometers of winding road later we reached the outfitter’s lodge. “Holy cow,” I thought, “this is real.”

We secured the rental of two canoes for our 5-day, 4-night adventure and, within 30 minutes of arrival, the four of us paired up and launched from the docks.

“This isn’t so bad,” I thought. It was actually pretty decent. Two or three hours later, of course, the novelty of paddling along miles of nautical waterway toward our first camp waned. It was sometime around noon when we pulled up toward the shore.

We hopped out of the canoes, dragged the watercraft onto the beach, and found a clearing by the water’s edge that was suitable to make camp.

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

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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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