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  • Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well

    By LeeAnn Brown Some people say that hip-hop is dead. Local ban Fderal Ground is proving that is not the case. The seven-member band, consisting of three lead vocalists, a DJ, bass, drums and guitar, plays what they call “living hip-hop.” Their music, peppered with multiple styles, covers all aspects of life from growing up in the D to playing with fire despite knowing you will likely get burned. Their undeniable chemistry and raw lyrics compose a music that is living, breathing, and connecting to their listeners. It has been nearly 11 years since Vinny Mendez and Michael Powers conjured up the basement idea that has flowered into the Detroit funk-hop band Feral Ground. Throughout high school the two wrote and rapped consistently, playing shows here and there. In those years they matched their rap stanzas with the animated, dynamic voice of Ginger Nastase and saw an instant connection. The now trio backed their lyrics with DJ Aldo’s beats on and off for years, making him a permanent member within the last year, along with Andy DaFunk (bass), Joseph Waldecker (drums), and newest member, Craig Ericson (guitar). We sat down with Feral Ground and their manager, Miguel Mira, in their […]

    The post Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law

    Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]

    The post Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week

    Walking with Dinosaurs, a magnificent stage show that features life-sized animatronic creatures from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, will be in town next week. But to preview the show’s run at the Palace, a baby T-Rex will be making an appearance at four area malls to the delight and wonderment of shoppers. Baby T-Rex, as the creature is being affectionately referred to, is seven-feet-tall and 14-feet-long. He’ll only be at each mall for about 15 minutes, so while there will be photo opportunities, they’ll be short. The dino will be at Fairlane Town Center Center Court at 18900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit from 2-2:15 p.m. today, July 30; The Mall at Partridge Creek at 17420 Hall Rd. in Clinton Township from 5-5:15 p.m. today, July 30; Twelve Oaks Mall at the Lord & Taylor Court at 27500 Novi Rd., Novi tomorrow, Thursday July 31 from 1:30-1:45 p.m.; and Great Lakes Crossing Food Court at 4000 Baldwin Rd., Auburn Hills from 5-5:15 p.m., tomorrow Thursday, July 31.  

    The post Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations

    Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.  

    The post Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial

    We don’t know about you, but usually Nancy Whiskey and Long John Silver’s aren’t two concepts we’d place in the same sentence. However, the international fast food fish fry conglomerate made a nod to the Detroit dive in their latest YouTube commercial. LJS is offering free fish fries on Saturday, August 2, which is the promotion the commercial is attempting to deliver. But, we think we’ll just go to Nancy Whiskey instead.

    The post Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women

    We came across an interesting item this week: Apparently, a music festival with the name “Michfest” is quietly oriented as a “Women-Only Festival Exclusively for ‘Women Born Women.’” It seems a strange decision to us. If you wanted to have a women-only music festival, why not simply proclaim loud and clear that it is for all sorts of women? But if you really wanted to become a lightning rod for criticisms about transphobia, organizers have found the perfect way to present their festival. Now, we know that defenders of non-cisgender folks have it tough. The strides made by gays and lesbians (and bisexuals) in the last 20 years have been decisive and dramatic. But the people who put the ‘T’ in LGBT have reason to be especially defensive, facing a hostile culture and even some disdain from people who should be their natural allies. That said, sometimes that defensiveness can cause some activists to go overboard; when we interviewed Dan Savage a couple years ago, he recalled his “glitter bombing” and said it was due to the “the narcissism of small differences,” adding that “if you’re playing the game of who is the most victimized, attacking your real enemies doesn’t prove you’re most victimized, claiming you […]

    The post Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women 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

On the game's second play, our best infielder, freshman LaSaan Harris, tried to three-hop a simple throw into the wind from third to first. The routine ground ball turned into a two-base error signifying a glacial three innings. These three innings still must be played before the extra-merciful, 15-run mercy rule kicks in. We make seven errors in the first inning.

One of our outfielders, Kenneth Jordan in left, seemed unable to bend over when the baseball rolled past him. When our centerfielder heaved the ball in the direction of third base, Kenneth simply braced himself against the fence, and stayed there, a frozen scarecrow, unable to respond to our feeble cries. We escaped the first inning slaughter through three strikeouts with two different pitchers, after 19 runs had been scored.

Our starting pitcher Clayton Jr. was thrown out of the game after hitting a batter, walking two more, and then hurling his glove in the air while arguing balls and strikes. A general no-no for baseball on any level, surely his gesture offered a worthy exception given a well-bundled home plate umpire enforcing a postage stamp-sized strike zone on the coldest day of the year.

Kenneth shuffled slowly into the dugout to gather his frozen belongings. As the umpires illegibly signed our scorebook, Kenneth mumbled to Art how he just had to leave. He quietly disappeared, never to return to baseball. He would bashfully turn in his uniform on the last day of school.

We fell down to nine players and still no fans. Late in the second inning, as another gust of snow flurries dusted the field, two fathers suddenly appeared. The dads offered stunning charity: a dozen steaming hot chocolates. Many of us were now actually showing early signs of frostbite. My red hands lacked sensation, yet no player urged me to pull them from the field, at least until we got our due last at-bat. Avondale's centerfielder made a diving catch in the play of the day (though only two catches were recorded the entire game). It doubled up our lone base runner for that inning, Jonathan Gordon, rounding third for the final out.

As the umpires scurried away, the two teams remembered to congratulate each other at home plate. Avondale raced to their idling bus and we staggered into the gym, more than two hours after we had first stumbled into the unforgiving chill.

In three long innings, we committed 14 errors and lost 31-1, perhaps a school record. The guys conceded Avondale was the better team, yet something seemed wrong in how we found this out. We slowly tried to shake off the cold, slumping on the empty gym bleachers. The coaches had to say something, and we wondered if we should emphasize the positive, such as our three hits, including Jonathan's two-bagger and lone run?

Curiously, these youngsters seemed more attentive than usual, perhaps because they were too cold to be restless, but maybe because they agreed with my assessment that they gained an inner strength they didn't know they had, that they had just passed a different kind of character test they would never forget. This was no minor message for these young men, many of whom had few, if any, adult males in their lives encouraging this kind of growth. We shared a few laughs reviewing proper first aid procedures for frostbite.

Snow flurries continued on the drive home under the darkening sky. I left a terse message on the athletic director's voice mail that we should never have played that game and that our school trainer should have been present to administer some climate-related first aid. Two years later, I would lose my coaching job over such outspoken criticisms about an alleged ongoing lack of support for our baseball program. A new contract clause no longer supported hiring teachers as coaches. In 2009, the baseball field would be bulldozed over for a new softball facility instead.

Still, at that moment, I remember snickering, almost smiling, in spite of a broken car heater fan. The radio had affirmed a temperature of 16 degrees Fahrenheit, with a wind chill of 0 degrees for this extraordinary Home Opener. Major League Baseball and the Detroit Tigers would cancel their home game the following day. The Oak Park Knights would be back working on their hitting, in one half of the school gymnasium, as if the promise of April would never end.

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