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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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Daydream believer

Despite the odds, George Lyles maintains his inner-city eatery with fresh food and homespun recipes

Photo: Photo: Detroitblogger John, License: N/A

Photo: Detroitblogger John

George Lyles inside his Turkey Grill restaurant.

A man walks into the Turkey Grill on Woodward Avenue in Detroit on a cold afternoon. He's old, with gray whiskers and a black cap. It's obvious most of his time is spent on the street.

He quickly finds his first target.

"Can you help me out with something to eat?" he says to a bundled older woman waiting in line for her carry-out order.

"What?" she replies, incredulously. She's clearly not used to a panhandler with the nerve to come inside a restaurant to beg. "No," the woman says.

So the man sits down in one of the empty booths, a mere few feet from her, and starts mumbling to himself. They're the mutterings of a disturbed man, the private language spoken by street people all over the city.

Food takes time to cook here because everything is prepared fresh, and now everyone in line has to stand there awkwardly as the man continues talking under his breath and staring at them.

Another customer comes in, this time a middle-aged man, and waits his turn. The panhandler asks him the same question and gets the same answer. "Think it over," the mumbler presses. But no free meal is coming from anyone here today, and he finally leaves.

This moment of freedom for these customers is fleeting. Another vagrant comes in, much younger this time, and announces to the room, "I'm trying to buy something to eat. I'm walking around trying to survive." But in this neighborhood, most people are trying to survive. He gets no sympathy and sulks out the door.

Panhandlers beg for money outside the doors of many Detroit places. It's the nature of life in a city where a whole lot of poor people live. For whatever reason, though, some of them like to work their hustle right in the Turkey Grill's lobby, much to the owner's quiet dismay.

"They're basically harmless," says George Lyles, the mild-mannered 58-year-old founder of the restaurant. "They don't really bother anybody, but it's just more or less the principle of when you're trying to enjoy yourself, go out grab a meal or grab a snack and then you got someone running around begging you for money, it's kind of annoying. We just kind of gently tell them to leave."

Owning a business in Detroit brings challenges that aren't as common outside the city limits. Burglaries. Erratic city services. A customer base without much money to spend. And those days when someone from the street winds up inside your door, chipping away at your livelihood. Lyles has had 15 years of such challenges here. Yet he's stayed. All because of a belief he won't let go of.

Few things
are as risky or scary as quitting a solid career to chase a dream. Lyles was a successful accountant when he first got the idea of opening his own restaurant. He and his friends would complain they couldn't find worthy lunch options near their office downtown, and would daydream aloud what they'd do if they had their own restaurant, how it would be decorated, what kind of food they'd serve.

But Lyles never let go of the idea. He eventually worked up the courage to quit his career, found an available building in the city's North End neighborhood, and opened the Turkey Grill in 1996. "It took a lot of guts and a lot of money," he says. "But here we are."

The real thrill of having your own restaurant is serving whatever you like and hoping others like it too. Lyles reached back into his childhood in the Deep South for the country foods he grew up with and gambled they'd sell in inner-city Detroit.

He went to South Carolina to get a recipe for fried turkey wings. In New Orleans he learned how to make turkey neck stew, with a whole turkey neck immersed in its thick rice and vegetable mix. He brought back a beans-and-rice recipe from Beale Street in Memphis, found a way to make turkey salad in south Mississippi, and in Texas he discovered how to smoke an already-fried turkey. "I said, 'How you gonna fry a turkey and it's smoked too?' But I got their recipe so I'm able to do it now."

You can get turkey meat into almost any dish, it turns out. So the Turkey Grill offers a Mexican turkey pita roll, a turkey pastrami sandwich, turkey sausage and turkey bacon for breakfast, turkey chili, turkey soup, turkey burgers and turkey meatloaf.

The dining area is small, decorated with drawings and paintings from New Orleans and Memphis. The seating is hard plastic cafeteria booths. Bulletproof glass separates the public from the smoky kitchen at the back.

Lyles toiled to get established his first year here. His sister worked the kitchen, he worked the books. Days were 14 hours long.

�"You're everything," he says. "You're the bookkeeper, you're the janitor, you're the inventory person, and it's much more of a responsibility than working for someone else."

He promoted the Turkey Grill through glossy flyers, through menus left around town, through funny TV commercials on WYMD-20 featuring a cartoon turkey interacting with a toddler. It took time, but soon a following developed for his unique menu.

"I wasn't making any money but I was kind of determined to do it," he says, standing in the kitchen next to an old blackened stove. "Maybe one day it might be slow, the next day we'd have a heavy sales volume, and that kind of encouraged me."

There are lines
at the counter just about all day, every day. The meals are cheap and country cooking has always been popular in the city. And every year, Thanksgiving brings orders for 600 whole fried turkeys.

But Lyles knows that a few miles away there are restaurants whose customers have more money than his do, places that don't need bulletproof glass at the counter or don't have the homeless hounding their patrons.

"I do find challenges in that we have a lot of people as you know that kind of walk the street around here, people that they let out of the mental institutions during the day, or the health care homes, and they're walking the street. And sometimes it becomes annoying to my customers."

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