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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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Cover Story

Girls of Summer

A blown cycling career in the glimpses of a teenage fool

Photo: Justin Rose, License: N/A

Justin Rose

It was never an option to not saddle up and not go it alone in the rain, cold and wind, or in 100-degree heat with a group of toned and mad-eyed masochists. You hit an 80-mile training ride before strolling late into third-period chemistry class with no notebook or pencil, nor any interest at all in being there, and find a desk at the very back with the stoners and retreat into the sweet endorphin overload that washes over you. That was, basically, your high school life until that day in 10th grade when you strolled out of there for good.

You learn there's nothing like, say, descending Colorado's mighty Independence Pass on your racing bike at 50 miles per hour, heading straight for Aspen, at 1 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon in May when your fellow high schoolers are back in that chemistry class, bored right out of their skulls.

Then comes summer and that's when the bike-racing season really begins. And little compares to Los Angeles in late May, especially racing in a category for 17- and 18-year-olds when you're all of 15. Southern California is to you an elevated existence of oceanside utopia, an untouchable idea of life where images of TV shows you grew up on reappear like ghosts on palm-tree-lined boulevards that disappear into hills strewn with vine-covered Spanish homes and gated driveways. What is this place? It's like Raymond Chandler, but colored in with soft lines and edges. You long for the Cali girls whose beauty is so rich and well-bred that it produces an ache in your gut that stays for weeks. You wonder: Will that interfere with my performance?

Worse, the California cyclists are bankrolled and arrive behind the wheels of German cars; they look cooler than you, and always, always have super-hot, sparsely clothed chicks from west L.A. on their arms. You're outclassed even before you saddle up. They win.

Do they?

There's something inside you that's winding itself up. The race begins and you long to prove how an obsessive bike-racing kid can be put together like a pro cyclist. You feel alive. Your legs feel great. So you fucking go for it and attack after 35 miles. You're on the day's second climb and you still have 30 agonizing miles of fighting the road's elements — and yourself — to go. But you manage to stay clear of the 60 riders. You cross the line more than a minute ahead of second place.

Later, the 18-year-old So Cal cyclists are stunned and humiliated to learn your age, but they want you on their teams. Yet their perfect summer girls, and the incalculable number of beautiful chicks, never look at you. Don't even acknowledge your presence. It's a pain as great as that which you suffer on the bike. 

You soon learn of the adrenaline from the frightening chaos of alloy and bones crashing to asphalt. You're in the midst of a bloodbath in downtown Long Beach. Some promoter had the bright idea to stage a massive bicycle race on closed-off, fuel-and-oil-slicked freeways during a break in the Long Beach Grand Prix. You understand quickly that the course wasn't mopped up after the last Formula One contest. Shoulder-to-shoulder, figures in your periphery collide and crack. On a lethal hairpin curve one rider clings desperately to your jersey before he nails the concrete siding, and you just catch that fierce look of absolute panic on his face. Christ! Another lap and you see that guy strapped to a gurney getting loaded into an ambulance. His face and body parts are raw hamburger. 

One hundred starters; 30 finishers. By some inexplicable fluke you stay upright, finish top five. 

Another summer and you learn there's nothing like negotiating the slick, rain-wet turns on streets in downtown Green Bay, flat-out hammering — heart rate a steady 160 — legs, lungs, arms, back cramped with ache and sting. You're soaked, streaked with the mud spinning off rear wheels ahead of you. But you're sick of the splatter so you risk the street's edges; you bump other riders, slide on corners, nearly eat shit, but it pays off. Suddenly you're doing the lion's share of the "work" in a three-man breakaway that could stay clear of the group to the finish. You're taking insane chances because you're racing in Cat. 1, the best of those over the age of 18, and you're only 16. You've only read about a lot of the guys in the main group behind you. You want the pain and the race to end but there are 10 laps left. Anguish displaces fear displaces nerves. You single-handedly keep up a pace to ensure that your three-man break stays clear to the finish line — only to get edged in the sprint finish for the win. But still. Second place. You could be home learning to be a teenager.

There's nothing like leading a group of chasers by 25 seconds over a final climb in Utah. That is until a deadly pothole crosses your path, snaps the top of your forks so it's impossible to steer. But you continue on, and then things go blank. You wake up hours later in a hospital. The road burns on one side of your body between chin and ankle look like a medley of raspberries and roses. You're told you have a concussion. All you think about is how you lost the event. 

You keep racing because this is your career. But girls get to you. Their mere presence hits you like blows to the abdomen, and why can't you touch them? By the end of the next summer a woman finally touches you. Not a chick, a much older woman. She's in love with your sinuous lines, and a physique reserved only for those with 4 percent body fat. She can't get enough. You're cooked. Your cycling coach and teammates do everything to save you. No such luck. You got a taste and it ended your cycling career in less than 48 hours. You sell off the bikes, tires, wheels, shoes ... anything to remind you of what regret might one day feel like. Besides, you now need the money.

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