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  • Here is why landlords could make money 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 make money 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.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Opening Day Issue

Frozen in time

How a bone-chilling 31-1 home opener defeat was a team's greatest moment

Photo: Photo courtesy Peter Williams, License: N/A

Photo courtesy Peter Williams

In warmer climes: Oak Park Knights Matthew Waddell, Clayton Day, Earl Murrie and Robert Johnson with Coach Boyer in Florida.


2011 Opening Day Issue

Baseball home openers, with all the hot dogs, hot chocolate and hot corner clamor, stay with you for years. Like when I saw the Yankees edging the Tigers 2-1, April 6, 1987, despite Larry Herndon's colossal 500-foot blast soaring over my silent scream into the Tiger Stadium upper deck bleachers. The game on Opening Day can foreshadow truly unforgettable seasons, even when ending in a loss.

Speaking of lasting opening game memories: No one in Michigan should have played baseball on April 4, 2007. At least not outdoors, not when April so cruelly mimicked December. Thin batting gloves left my fingers freezing, so, as coach of the Oak Park Knights, I tossed mine to one of our most broke ("ghetto") players, one who kept batting barehanded, too shy to ever ask for a momentary loan. We grimly waited for the other team, the Avondale Yellow Jackets, to show. I kept turning to one of my volunteer assistants, Art Mellos, "This your coldest wind-chill ever for a game?" Art's long playing career culminated at Eastern Michigan University, but the chilly wind drowned out his glory days nasty weather boasting.

Like most high schools, baseball and softball are typically the least supported of any of the major sports programs offered. The American cliché of "football first, basketball second and everything else after" prevails. Due to the poverty and limited resources plaguing most urban settings, this means most city kids just don't play much baseball anymore. Somehow, for several years, I managed to recruit a small group of players willing to raise money and start spring training each February in Delray Beach, Fla., at the Bucky Dent Baseball School. Five weeks earlier, four of these players had been throwing beach sand after a week of throwing baseballs in the warm Atlantic sun, including two seniors who had never been on a plane before (I used to drive the guys down before marriage made me smarter). One player endured special teammate ridicule for believing socks were the preferred beach footwear. On this Opening Day, the guys were about to experience another lesson in a unique version of snow ball.

We had a brief head start, already fielding half a team, but at Oak Park High School, with no Little League, Babe Ruth or middle school feeder programs, and a Junior Varsity about to be terminated, we had to play harder preparing for a long-shot playoff run (every school qualifies for at least one initial playoff game). We had never won more than a half-dozen games per season in more than 20 years, which translated into at least a dozen defeats per season, some as 5-inning losses under the humane 10-run mercy rule. This included 19 years without a playoff win. This losing season streak should also have an asterisk, since, for much of the 1990s, baseball or softball did not even exist in Oak Park schools. The sport had been cut by an earlier school board and superintendent, along with various art, drama and music programs. A decade later, some of these programs had yet to return to the district.

The team survived on a barely playable dirt field with two boxes of baseballs, generic red and white pinstripe uniforms and vague reassurances that two umpires would be present for home games (with an available, if perennially late, school bus for the road). How we were able to compete at all was up to the head coach and my two volunteer assistants, Art and Ken "Mad Dog" Stechuk, a ball-playing friend since Little League.

Fan attendance had always been sparse enough to note who came to cheer the Knights. We usually drew only one or two noisy moms and one quiet dad per game, but in seven years, three different athletic directors had witnessed a combined total of only two innings of Oak Park baseball. No principal or assistant principal ever observed even one inning. Disgruntled coaches privately spit such trivia from dugouts furnished with the extra equipment they purchased beyond their meager allotted budget.

Less than a half-hour before game time, the metal stands and the adjacent running track were completely barren. The athletic director could have strolled outside and quickly postponed the contest with a couple of short phone calls. He instead drove home, leaving only the umpires with the power to delay or call the game.

Eleven courageous Oak Park players tried to stretch, throw and shiver through a feeble pre-game regimen, which proved to be a major tactical error. We should have warmed up inside the gym or, better yet, in an athletic field house and then on a hot bus like the belated visitors from Avondale, a considerably more affluent school district much farther north of Detroit. We also should have worn at least three undershirts beneath the long sleeve shirts under our jerseys. Avondale hailed from an upper division superior to Oak Park, so this typical Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) non-league game did not have to be made up if it was (understandably) canceled. "If the underpaid umpires arrive," we thought, "surely they'll call the game."

Two strangers resembling a darkly-clad ski patrol marched up five minutes before game time. Pleading, I stuttered how these conditions were unplayable.

They shrugged me off, muttering how the disadvantage affected both teams equally. The opposing manager, probably sensing a mercy-rule onslaught, simply clapped his gloved hands and buttoned his coat up to his chin. Shaking my head, I yelled at the team to take the icy field.

As a mini-snow squall began to swirl over the diamond, we quickly discovered the profound difficulty in catching and throwing a ball to first base. Everyone moved in close, as if somehow we might be a little warmer if we didn't stand so far apart. Their lead-off cracked a ground ball past our paralyzed shortstop. The ball rolled over the rock-hard tundra all the way to the fence as an improbable triple.

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