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  • 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 Ricky Rat’s Tokyo Pop/Glitter People (New Fortune) 7” single highlights all that’s great about the Trash Brats guitarist, but also his limitations. The man can write a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll song to match anyone in the city and most beyond. He’s also a killer guitarist, ripping out one throwaway riff after another with reckless abandon. He’s a machine. On his own though, without Trash Brats frontman Brian McCarty, his voice doesn’t have enough strength to do the songs justice. Not that you need to have the greatest voice in the world to sing this stuff – you don’t need to be able to perform vocal gymnastics – but you do have to be able to wail the tunes out. Both of the songs on this single are great, but you can’t help but wonder how much better they would sound with McCarty or somebody similar talking the mic. Still, as they are the songs are great fun. We’re just being picky. The Paper Sound’s Trajectories is a dense, atypically dark Americana-tinged album, unrelenting and […]

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  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of, a new website launched by the City of Detroit today to auction off city-owned homes to prospective buyers who pledge to fix them up and move in. “We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement today. “There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment.” The website to facilitate the auctions went live this afternoon. The first auction is scheduled to take place Monday, May 5. Officials said in a news release that one home will be auctioned per day, Monday through Friday. Fifteen homes are available for sale on the site, a dozen of which are in the East English Village neighborhood. Any Michigan resident, company, or organization that can do business in the state can bid, according to the website. Properties will be for sale for only one day, with bidding taking place from 8 […]

    The post Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes

    In case you haven’t heard, two of the biggest names in film, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, are collaborating to put on a benefit concert for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this summer. In case you wanted to go- well, you’re too damn late. The DSO says tickets to the June 14 concert were snapped up in a record-breaking 15 minutes after they went on sale at 9 a.m. today. The DSO has since released this statement to fans who didn’t snag seats: Our apologies to everyone who was unable to buy tickets this morning for our historic benefit concert featuring John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Despite increasing our phone and internet system capacity for the day, a surge of hundreds of ticket buyers purchased tickets in a matter of minutes, filling the phone lines and temporarily maxing out our web servers. After a one-hour pre-sale made available to donors and subscribers at 8am, we released additional seats at 9am to the general public, including seats available for as low as $30. All seats sold out immediately. The concert program seems nothing short of top notch: Williams will conduct the orchestra as it performs some of his most iconic tunes, such […]

    The post Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Blowout 2014 schedule available to view now

    The schedule for Blowout 17, taking place Wednesday April 30 to Saturday May 3 in Hamtramck, Detroit and Ferndale, is available to see now. Visit to see the schedule and plan your festival. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Blowout 2014 schedule available to view now appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Trash Brats get sleazy at Small’s

    The Trash Brats hardly ever play live anymore, so each show feels like an event. Wandering around Small’s in Hamtramck late Saturday night, there’s a near-carnival atmosphere in the air. The Brats were never supposed to be taken seriously, but years on-and-off the radar have given the band the gift of respect born out of longevity. We’re not being dismissive at all. In fact, no amount of kooky faces from guitarist Ricky Rat and bassist Toni Romeo can hide the fact that these boys can play and the band writes killer bubblegum sleaze-rock tunes. The fact that the venue was packed compared to, say, a recent show by internationally known punk icons Sylvain Sylvain and Glen Matlock (which you would think would attract a similar audience) is testament to the fact that, in Detroit, the Trash Brats command a certain reverence. Before the Trash Brats took to the stage, local punks The Dives kicked off the night with a set of sincere, energetic and well-performed, if standard, punk rock. No frills (besides frontman Ron McPherson’s dapper suit), the band features members of the Junk Monkeys, the Black Mollies and the Joint Chiefs, and it drives through a set of catchy, […]

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  • Cycle 7 opens at the Red Bull House of Art

    By: Ayana Bryant-Weekes The Red Bull House of Art, a multidisciplinary and collaborative art project, relieves the stress of financial limitation or lack of tools and space so budding artists can manifest their creative dreams right here in Detroit. Six artists are selected for a three-month residency where they are provided individual studio space and materials, allowing their artistic concepts to flow freely. At the end of each residency is an unveiling and public display at the Red Bull House of Art Gallery. As show curator Matt Eaton told us in a 2013 interview, “The selection process for the current crop of artists was just the same as every round. The goal is not to find the hippest, coolest artists (though I think they are all very cool), but to find the people who may not typically have a voice.” This year, for the first time, Red Bull House of Art will showcase more than just Detroit artists. National artists from across the country in a special artist-in-residency program will have the opportunity to showcase their work to a much broader audience, and bring a national art stage to the Motor City. Since opening, 54 Detroit-based artists have been given the […]

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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.

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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.

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Poor Mark was beat after having stayed awake throughout the night, driving toward this yearly respite. At some point later in the day he ended up nodding off, his head propped up on a boulder.

As dusk settled in, Mark and his one friend set up their pup tents while his other friend and I searched for firewood.

That night, with our camp made and a fire lit, the bacchanalian steakfest commenced. The three friends enjoyed their meat while trading memories of funny moments from previous years’ trips. As a stranger in a strange land, I just took it all in — as well as a shot or two of the communal bourbon; some liquid courage and I felt sufficiently ready for what lay ahead.

The next morning I learned, first-hand, what the dictionary had weakly tried to describe. Rucksacks on our backs, the pairs of us grabbed our canoes out of the water and carried them — overhead — about one kilometer to the next launch point.

It was hot, muggy, and for anyone who has ever trekked in damp, bug-laden forest during summertime, add the weight of a rucksack and canoe, and you know this trip was not for the physically faint of heart. Yet, I also dug the appeal of its ruggedness. It was prototypical self-dependence. No valet was coming to carry the canoe. No tiki bar waiting at the next beach. Making it to the next leg of the journey, we headed off.

Mother Nature’s Opus

Algonquin is truly an amazing place. Pristine, expansive — the park covers 2,946 square miles — and bio-diverse. Its Earth science attributes include glaciofluvial landforms, formed by meltwater channels during past glacial drainage, according to the Friends of Algonquin Park website.

The park is an example of a typical ice stagnation environment, born from glacial encompassing and retreat; it holds surficial features like eskers, terraces, deltas, outwash plains, sand dunes, beach ridges, meltwater channels and boulder deposits.

According to park geologists, Algonquin also contains the largest kame-moraine complex in the region. There is also a fault canyon (Barron Canyon)and Brent Crater, which was formed by a meteorite strike.

The area’s latitudinal position resulted in southern hardwood forests merging with northern coniferous forests, creating a diverse presence of birds from both timberlands. Outside of New York’s Central Park, I don’t know another place in the Northeast where such diversity exists in such a concentrated area — more than 272 different species, according to park geologists.

More than 50 species of mammals have been recording within the park’s boundaries, too, most of which we thankfully had no encounter with. There was the thrill of seeing a brown bear cub picking berries adjacent to the shore during one of our canoeing commutes. The majority of game animals one could see include moose, white-tailed deer, beavers, black bears and wolves.

With all those mammles, the fear of becoming a news clip with the title, “When Animals Attack,” was never too far from any of our minds. Each night, after we’d let the fire die out, one of us would make sure our foodstuffs were securely hung by rope, along a tree branch, off the ground. However, those asshole raccoons reminded me there was little room for error when I left an errant orange in my rucksack one night.

While we never did any fishing, the park has more than 1,500 lakes, 930-plus miles of streams, and countless ponds and bogs. Park geologists say more than 50 different species of fish live inside Algonquin’s boundaries; the two largest fisheries are brook and lake trout but other species, such as

Smallmouth bass, lake whitefish, yellow perch, northern pike, muskellunge and walleye also call the park home.

After that first 24 hours, and my baptism by fire had concluded, I allowed myself to drink in Algonquin’s splendor. From the call of the loons during dusk to the amazing nighttime sky, where the absence of light pollution gives you an unrivaled view of the Milky Way, the trip became for me what my fellow portageniks had crowed about: wondrous, physically laborious and friendship-enduring.

I am still a town mouse, but by the end of the trip there was no question in my mind as to why my country mice friends looked forward to this trip each year. The sense of peace that nature instills, a feeling of accomplishment from tackling the physical demands that portaging asks, and the inherent education associated with living off the land, are all aspects of life no town mouse should ever go without knowing.

Would I do it again? Probably.

Would I recommend it? Without a doubt, yes.

Bryan Gottlieb is the editor-in-chief of Metro Times. Contact him at

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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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