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  • The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues

    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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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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