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  • Thank you, Detroit

    I’m not going to lie to you – this isn’t easy. This week, the final City Slang local music column will be published in the Metro Times (on hardcore band Final Assault), and I have just submitted a cover feature on the women of Detroit hip-hop, to be published next week (8/6). This blog that you’re reading now will be my last one as a regular MT contributor. I have a lot to look forward to. I’m going to be an associate editor at Yellow Scene Magazine in Colorado, a tremendous publication in a beautiful part of the country. But leaving Detroit will be incredibly difficult for me. I love the place. It’s been (amazingly) six and a half years since I arrived, a couple of cases in hand and not much of a plan in mind. I just knew, after three separate research trips for books and a magazine article, that I felt at home here. Metro Times offered me freelance work almost immediately, as did a new website called Metromix (whatever happened to that?) When I arrived here, I had been working as a writer in the UK for nine years, but the help and encouragement I received […]

    The post Thank you, Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers

      We here at MT will be delighted when Mr. Jack White throws out a pitch at Navin Field (at least, we hope he will), but until then, we’ll be happy with his pitch to Santa this evening at Comerica Park.    

    The post Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW)

      Footage from the Gathering of the Juggalos set to clips of Morgan Freeman’s narration from March of the Penguins? Kind of forced, but also kind of beautiful. As the AV Club reports: The oft-sought voiceover champion lends a touch of gravitas to the festival proceedings. Unfortunate scenes of barely clad people having various liquids dumped onto them now carries a quiet dignity as it’s all part of nature’s majestic plan that keeps the world spinning through this elegantly designed and truly wondrous universe. Also, the video is NSFW as there are boobs in it. Watch the clip below:

    The post Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW) appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love”

    It seems like the polar vortex will never end: the weather phenomenon that brought us the most brutal winter on record this winter is to blame for this summer’s chillier-than usual temperatures as well. A couple of bands, though, made lemonade out of lemons (or snow cones out of snow?) by using the icy landscape to film music videos. 800beloved shot the video for “Tidal” in some sand dunes near Empire, Mich., and this week Turn to Crime debuted the video for “Can’t Stop,” the title track of their recently-released album. Even more piles of ice and snow might be the last thing Detroiters want to see right now, but the footage makes for some good visuals that mesh well with the song. Watch the video below:

    The post Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love” appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed

    Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr transferred oversight of the the city’s water department Tuesday to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in an order intended to refocus “efforts to help DWSD customers get and remain current on their water bills,” Orr’s office said today. “This order provides additional clarity to the powers already delegated to the mayor,” Orr said in a statement released Tuesday. “As the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department works to operate more efficiently and communicate more effectively with customers, it is important to ensure there are clear lines of management and accountability.” Duggan will have the authority to manage DWSD and make appointments to the utility’s board, according to a news release. In a statement issued Tuesday, the mayor said he welcomed Orr’s order, adding that officials will develop a plan that “allows those who truly need to access to financial help … to do so with shorter wait times.” “We need to change a number of things in the way we have approached the delinquent payment issues and I expect us to have a new plan shortly,” Duggan said. “There are funds available to support those who cannot afford their bills — we need to do a much better job in […]

    The post Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years

    Rovers Scooter Club, a local gang dedicated to celebrating and riding motor scooters, will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary this week with a very special ride. Motor City Shakedown, the annual birthday party for the club, will commence this Friday, August 1 at New Way Bar. DJ Grover from Cincinnati will be spinning northern soul, reggae, and ska, according to club member Michael Palazzola. Saturday will feature a ride from Ferndale to Detroit, starting at noon at M-Brew. Palazzola says this is where most bikes will congregate before taking the ride to the city and folks will be prepping by getting some grub starting at 10 a.m.  Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host the after party,  a special event that will feature performances by several bands as well as Satori Circus. That portion of the event will commence at 8 p.m. with performances starting at 9 p.m. It’s free to riders, but the public is welcome to join the party with the mere cost of a door charge. Come midnight, the club will raffle off a vintage Lambretta LI 150. Sunday morning will end the weekend of festivities, with brunch taking place at the Bosco in Ferndale.   

    The post Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Different strokes

An old-school porn shop keeps it up in the face of cultural shifts

Photo: , License: N/A

David Julian inside one of his store's peep show booths.

It's dark as the movie begins. You sit in your seat and take in the bright light of the screen, the vivid sounds, the action that unfolds before you. And when you're ready, you pull down your pants and stroke yourself.

This is how movie watching goes at Mini Book Shoppe on Gratiot north of Seven Mile on the city's east side. Although its quaint name suggests otherwise, you will not find the novels of William Faulkner or the gentle verse of Robert Frost on the shelves here. 

Instead you can buy the latest issue of Buttman Magazine. Or the Fat Boy, a dildo as thick as a wrist. Or a blowup doll modeled after a porn star that, when inflated, looks nothing like a porn star. And you can watch porno movies in darkened little cubicles all by yourself.

Mini Book Shoppe is an old-time sex shop and peep show. Its deceptive name vanished from the building's outdoor signage a remodeling or two ago, partly to dissuade the occasional stray innocent who'd wander in looking for comic books or a mystery novel. The sign out front now says only, "Adult Videos. Peep Shows. Magazines. Novelties." Because that says it all.

A peep show might seem obsolete in an age of free porn clips saturating the Internet and adult movies that can be ordered through cable, but this place still serves a purpose, says David Julian, the store's 46-year-old owner.

"Guys that come in here from the suburbs, maybe he's got a family at home and he wants to watch a movie, but he can't do it at home with his wife and kids there, so he'll come here, blow five or 10 bucks, and split," he says. 

Meanwhile, the customers drawn from the impoverished blocks surrounding the shop have their own reasons to visit. "A lot of them around here don't have Internet access, they don't know how to get online and use a computer," he says. "So they still come in and watch their movies."

There are 15 cramped booths in the back, each featuring a rubber mat on the floor mopped daily by some poor soul, a video screen on the wall and a chair bolted into place. Close the door and a little red sign announcing "Occupied" lights up. There are 80 movies to choose from, each on its own channel, with new movie offerings every week. The DVD covers for each are shown in a lit display case on a wall outside the booths, with a channel number indicated underneath each. Feed a dollar into the slot and you get a few X-rated minutes. Most guys are done after about $5, Julian says.

He prides himself on his shop's cleanliness, its friendly customer service, its lack of bulletproof glass around the front counter, where customers can find the store's owner on the job every day. To him it's just another mom-and-pop shop, despite some people's initially uncomfortable reaction when they learn what he does for a living.

"You tell people what you do, they kind of get a little like that," he says. "But to me it's just a family business, no different than owning a party store or dry cleaner or car wash. That's the way I always looked at it."

Mini Book Shoppe is one of the few peep shows still operating in the city. Zoning laws passed in the early '70s grandfathered in existing shops but prohibited new ones from ever opening, making them a dying breed. Few neighborhoods, it seems, wanted places nearby that draw men to masturbate, and the city cracked down.

"The theaters were even worse, though" Julian says. "Them days of the theaters like the Guild and all them theaters, they were way worse than the bookstores ever were. They were swinging right there in the fucking aisles. A guy would bring his wife or girlfriend there, and six guys would be around them, waiting to do her right in the middle of the fucking theater."

Julian's dad Frank started Mini Book Shoppe back in 1971, within one of the busiest shopping districts in the city, where this little porn shop coexisted with Cunningham, Kresge, Sanders and other local retailers that are now just fond memories for older people. A brother-in-law had opened his own peep show, and Frank saw what a jackpot that had become. He followed suit.

Back then, the stock was centerfold magazines and 8 mm skin flicks, both in the booths and on the shelves. "They would sell them and make $40, $50; the ones with the reel — you had to put it on a projector. Some of them didn't have no sound. Some of them were black and white — color didn't come out yet, and they were getting 40, 50 bucks."

By the late '70s, though, stores like his were suffering as cities scared away customers as they sought to clean up sex-oriented businesses within their borders. But home video, and later DVDs, revolutionized the industry, and pornography lost much of its stigma. Business boomed again.

"You know, years ago porn used to be, like, taboo and hidden," says Julian, who started here when he was 23. He gets visits nowadays not only from lone men but also women stocking up for bachelorette parties. "Now it's so mainstream — it's in the movies, it's right on your TV box coming through your cable, it's everywhere, man. I mean, look at MTV, look at the videos that they put out with all that rump shaking they got going on. It wasn't like that back in the '70s and '80s. It really became mainstream when the Internet came out. The stereotype of the guy with the raincoat, them days are over."

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