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  • Get ready for National Tequila Day!

    Thursday, July 24th marks National Tequila Day, and forget everything you know about the beverage. Those nasty old “tequilas” of yesterday were find for doing body shots, but tequila has become something of a luxury spirit while few were paying attention. Have you tried all the varieties of tequila? Can you tell the difference between blanco, joven, reposed, añejo and extra añejo?  If your local bar doesn’t have the stuff that will help you celebrate this important holiday, there are several bars that cater just to the tequila fan. There’s Aqua Rum and Tequila Bar in the MGM Grand Detroit Casino in Detroit, as well as Rojo Mexican Bistro in Novi, which offers more than 100 kinds of tequila, and Taqo Detroit, a new spot serving American-friendly Mexican fare and serving an astonishing variety of tequilas, more than 200 in all. Been waiting for a reason to drink up this south-of-the-border nectar? You got it. Guzzle responsibly.    

    The post Get ready for National Tequila Day! appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • DWSD to host water fair in wake of 15 day moratorium on Detroit water shutoffs

    In light of worldwide attention on its efforts to cut water service for thousands of Detroit residents, the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department said today it would host a Water Affordability Fair on August 2nd to explain options available to those facing financial hardship. DWSD officials said in a news release today the fair will be take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the department’s Eastside Customer Service Center at 13303 E. McNichols. The move came on the heels of growing pressure from opponents of the initiative and criticism from the U.S. bankruptcy judge overseeing Detroit’s Chapter 9 case. “Every customer that has come to DWSD with a legitimate financial hardship has not had their water service terminated,” said Darryl Latimer, DWSD deputy director, in a statement. “In cases where the water has been shut off, it’s been restored. We keep hearing at DWSD that there are poor people who are not receiving the assistance that they need, so we want to help them and we want to make it as easy as possible for the to receive that help. That’s why we created the Water Affordability Fair – ease of access and ease of assistance. We are here to […]

    The post DWSD to host water fair in wake of 15 day moratorium on Detroit water shutoffs appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Thrillist Names Detroit’s Motz’s Burgers Among Best in Nation

    The folks at Thrillist have again compiled their annual list of the nation’s best burgers, and Southeast Michigan, it seems, is well represented. Ranking alongside joints in major cities such as New York and L.A., is Detroit’s own Motz’s Burgers, hailed specifically for its Double Cheeseburger Slider. Via Thrillist: There’s nothing remarkable about the façade of this SW diner… it’s just a diner, like the hundreds of others in the D. The staff’s been there for years… and so have the regulars, who can’t get enough of Motz’s legendary smashed burgers. The formula’s nothing revolutionary: smashed, griddled patties with oozy cheese and onions that melt into the burger itself as it cooks. But it’s that unmistakable flavor of a well-seasoned griddle — which has also been here for years — that makes the difference. You can score big burgers with accoutrements, but this isn’t really a place to say things like “accoutrements”. Grab the old-school slider (the double cheeseburger one), and prepare for three perfect bites of Detroit’s finest. Flint’s Torch Bar and Grill also made the cut, most notably for its Deluxe Torch Burger with Bacon. Tucked away in an alley beyond the brick streets that used to mark […]

    The post Thrillist Names Detroit’s Motz’s Burgers Among Best in Nation appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • In what weird ways are you paying for school? MT wants to know!

    The Metro Times is looking for college students or graduates of Michigan colleges that used atypical means to pay for their schooling (i.e. sugar baby, selling underwear, military enrollment purely for school help, etc.). We are looking for personal anecdotes about the lengths you went to help pay for school, what came of it, your monetary situation, if the resource worked to get you through college and more. If you have utilized any one of these avenues, or know someone who has, please drop us a line at

    The post In what weird ways are you paying for school? MT wants to know! appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Kid Rock ordered to produce dildo in ICP sexual harassment lawsuit

    File under “WTF” — attorneys representing former Psychopathic Records publicist Andrea Pellegrini announced Monday that they have subpoenaed Kid Rock to produce a glass dildo as part of Pellegrini’s sexual harassment lawsuit against the Insane Clown Posse’s record label. Pellegrini claims the glass dildo was given to her by Psychopathic Records employee “Dirty Dan” Diamond as part of a larger culture of constant harassment in which she was called “bitch,” made the target of explicit sexual advances by Diamond and other co-workers, asked to procure automatic weapons for a photo shoot, and even encouraged to “deceive government investigators from the US Department of Labor.” On Friday, Diamond admitted under oath that he told Pellegrini that he had “a fat cock” and that he would “fuck the shit out of her.” The dildo, though, was “a work of art,” according to Diamond, and should not be considered sexual harassment. Why is Kid Rock involved? Diamond says when Pellegrini declined his dildo, he gave it to Kid Rock instead (presumably as a “work of art” and not a sexual advance). So now, according to court orders, Rock has 14 days to produce the glass dildo so the court can better determine if it is art or, well, a dildo. We will […]

    The post Kid Rock ordered to produce dildo in ICP sexual harassment lawsuit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Henry Cavill and Amy Adams spotted at Pig & Whiskey

    Fans of the latest Superman franchise got a treat at Pig & Whiskey this weekend. Actors Henry Cavill and Amy Adams were spotted amid the crowds of the festival that took place in downtown Ferndale as well as a local restaurant. Cavill, who plays the man of steel in the upcoming Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, stopped to chat with fans, take pictures, and sign autographs on Saturday afternoon and evening. He was wearing an inconspicuous black polo shirt as well as a signature Superman-style ‘do. Other fans spotted Amy Adams at Ferndale’s Imperial on Saturday night, some were even seated next to her at the restaurant’s communal benches. Adams reportedly was slightly annoyed that patrons continuously asked for her photo, but she smiled while cell phones snapped images nonetheless. The Zach Snyder film the two are starring in together is currently filming in Birmingham. Ben Affleck, who plays Batman, has been spotted around town with his wife Jennifer Garner recently as well. The closed movie set is under intense security and Brett Callwood attempted to infiltrate the filming last month, but was forced to give up his camera’s memory card, lest he make off with telling photos.

    The post Henry Cavill and Amy Adams spotted at Pig & Whiskey appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Herbal essences

A little Detroit store dispenses the remedies of a fading tradition

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Gary Wanttaja stands before his jars of herbs.

Silence lingers in the old shop the way it would inside a library, as if to say that here too, years of accumulated wisdom are stored and revered.

The old wood shelves on the walls are lined with hundreds of glass jars filled with colorful powders and mysterious leaves, like containers of magic potions. Some jars are clear; many are brown to protect their contents from the light. A small label on each says in carefully hand-printed letters what they hold. 

Irish moss sits dried and crumbled in one, myrrh fills half of another with fine grains. They share shelf space with the oat straw and the yam root, the hyssop and the shepherd's purse, the sassafras bark and the coltsfoot. 

This small room is home to Nature's Products, a bulk herb store whose simple name reflects the essence of its conviction — that long before the modern drug industry, nature provided cures to most of our ailments. It sits in a plain building on Conant by Seven Mile, a dusty stretch of road where its closest neighbor is a noisy collision shop that strews crumpled cars along what little parking the road affords. With its dim lighting and old tin ceiling, the shop has the air of an apothecary a century ago.

Its regular customers are practitioners of folk medicine, who use the herbs in traditional remedies often passed down through families or learned from neighbors in the rural countryside. So the labels describe the jars' contents not in their proper name, but in their common one. Thus the euphrasia is labeled as eyebright, to indicate what it does, and the phytolacca is introduced by its vernacular name of pokeroot, to suggest what it looks like.

When someone comes for help with an illness, or for an ingredient for a family concoction, owner Gary Wanttaja will twist the lid off one of those big jars, pour a portion into a plastic bag using his eyes as a measuring stick, then confirm his estimation by putting the bag on one side of an ancient, heavy metal scale that sits in the sunlit window among all the houseplants angling for the light.

But that ritual happens less every year, and not just because business is slow, as it is throughout the city. The hand-me-down knowledge this store embodies is utilized mostly by old folks now, and they're dying off. And marking a break in a long chain, they say their children and grandchildren have little interest in learning the old ways. The tradition is slowly fading away.

"It's not just here, it's happening all over the planet," says the slight, pale Wanttaja, 54. "They're changing all over. They're looking at this like, 'This is the old way, this is going backwards. We need to go forwards.' Their attitude is, like, 'We don't need all this funky weeds and seeds.' And that was what kind of happened here."

Wanttaja had severe allergies when he was young, and he turned to alternative medicine when doctors couldn't help. "Regular medicine just wasn't doing anything," he says. "So after a couple of years of changing my diet, using nutrition and using the herbs and realizing it worked, I started looking at more alternative things, and I thought I'd like to do this as a living."

He opened the store in 1978, in an old building that used to be the neighborhood's little grocery store. At first he expected the growing interest in alternative medicine at the time would provide him a natural customer base. He was wrong. "I thought I might have all these hippies coming in here," he laughs. 

But to his surprise, most of the customers were middle-aged and elderly black people from the neighborhood, many who grew up in deep poverty down South, where for years they had little access to doctors or modern medicine. For them, the woods and the backyard garden were the pharmacy.

"You've got a sick kid, what are you gonna do? You look through the options — I could go to the doctor but I don't have money, I could watch the kid burn up with a fever, or go talk to your neighbor, who knows to use some herbs. So that became part of the culture. A lot of Detroit came in around World War II to work in the factories, so they brought that culture with them."

His customers began sharing with him years of shared secrets and traditions, and he became a repository for different strains of herbal knowledge. "I just started logging this information, and after years it was kind of neat," he says. "You get an idea of what they were using down through the South, and they were happy to share it."

But he's not supposed to share it himself. Telling customers what to take for certain ailments crosses the line into practicing medicine, and could land him in trouble. Instead he shares stories of how certain herbs worked for him personally, and from those hints, some of his longtime customers have realized that he knows more than he's letting on.

"Gary knows it, he just won't tell you a lot," says 78-year-old Faith, an eccentric, longtime regular who years ago rechristened herself with that single name. "He'll tell you he's not a doctor, but as far as knowing it, he does know it."

She grew up in the backwoods of Louisiana, where the family created cures from things growing in the wilds out back. "There weren't any doctors," the 78-year-old says. "The only thing you had was herbs. And you had an herb for everything. They used them to heal us with the things that just got on everyone's nerves. We call them weeds, but yet these herbs heal." 

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