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    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

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    The post Here is why landlords could do well 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.



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Summer Reading Guide 2012

Herzog the Hypnotist

The mad genius of film remains a mystery

Photo: , License: N/A

Werner Herzog at a 2007 press conference

Photo: , License: N/A

Every Night the Trees Disappear

Alan Greenberg

Chicago Review Press, $24.95, 224 pp.

When Hollywood adapts a beloved book, inevitably people say, "I want to read the book first." Alan Greenberg's new book about Werner Herzog's 1976 film Heart of Glass inspires the opposite reaction: You want to see the movie first.

For one thing, it will allow you to skip over the sections of the book that contain the film's scenario. The script would be worth reading if the film had been lost — but it hasn't. Even if you don't watch the film first, you must watch it if you want to read the book (and you can still skip the scenario, because, you must promise, you will watch the film).

The scenario is there to fill out what would otherwise be a slim volume comprised of the author's recollections of the making of Heart of Glass. If you know anything about Herzog — the mad genius of film — then you can probably guess this is nothing like the Making of Star Wars TV special you saw as a kid. It is a philosophical rumination about an infinitely peculiar artist that takes you straight into the heart of darkness — or at least the Heart of Glass, which, as it turns out, is pretty dark.

The film — set in a small village in Germany whose main industry is a glass factory famous for a red "ruby glass" whose formula has been lost with the death of the master craftsman — is one in which the actors are all characterized by stilted, jerky motions, bizarre speech, and glassy, distant gazes. But without reading Greenberg's book, one might not know that Herzog achieved this effect by hypnotizing the actors — who, in every case but one, were not professional actors at all, but rather people susceptible to hypnosis.

In the afterword, Herzog explains the rationale behind this strange method. "The story of a village community in Bavaria that walks straight into a foreseen and foretold disaster, almost like a community of sleepwalkers, needed a specific stylization," he writes. Only the actor playing Hias, the prophet who foretells doom, and those portraying the master glassmakers (who were actually dealing with molten glass), were not hypnotized. 

"But the trance was not with the actors alone," Herzog explains. "The film is permeated by images (and music) of a 'Land of Trance.'" For that matter, watching the film (at least as I did, with a slight cold after a long day of travel) puts the viewer into a similar trance. There was a several-hour period when I was convinced that Herzog had figured out a way to use film as a hypnotic method. (Herzog suggests as much in the afterword, so beware.)

Though Herzog is famed as one of the greatest directors, he is equally well-known for his eccentric personality and working methods. His epic battles with actor Klaus Kinski are legendary, as are his insane insistence that the crew of 1982's Fitzcarraldo actually lug a steamboat over an Amazonian mountain and the occasion when he ate his shoe on camera after losing a bet to documentarian Errol Morris.

It is the glimpse into this Herzog — the methodical madman with the camera — that makes Greenberg's book so compelling. Greenberg, now a filmmaker in his own right, met Herzog when he was a very young man. When Greenberg was sent to interview Herzog for a film journal in late 1975, the director immediately suggested that they "forget this interview; it's a waste of time. Make it up — say what you want." Instead, they talked poetry, music and sports. At the end of the day, Herzog mentioned that his new film would involve hypnosis, and asked Greenberg to join him. "There is work to be done, and we will do it well," Herzog told him. "On the outside we'll look like gangsters, while on the inside we'll wear the gowns of priests."

Gangsters, indeed: The next day, Herzog got Greenberg to drive while he and a friend went off with rifles to collect money from a producer. It wasn't until later, in the back of an Italian restaurant where Herzog began his experiments with hypnosis, that Greenberg saw the priestly aspect. But Herzog saw nothing mystical about hypnosis and fired the hypnotist he had hired because, as Herzog writes in the afterword, "He annoyed me to the point of utter disgust, as he tried to make me believe that there was a Cosmic aura somewhere. ... This New Age babble truly enraged me, and I decided to become the hypnotist myself."

As the book progresses, the hypnotism begins to play an increasingly minor role, and we see deeper into Herzog's working methods. He filmed much of the movie near his childhood home, giving Greenberg the chance to engage both the director, and the director's mother, with reflections on Herzog's childhood. "As a boy he had some strange habits," Mrs. Herzog says in the book. "At times I would look in and find him staring at a single object, the same object all day long." Herzog adds, "I was very dangerous, and my character was peculiar. It was almost as if I had rabies."

When Greenberg asks Herzog what he meant by "heart of glass," the director tells him that it is a fragile inner state. "It also means transparency," Herzog says. "And it means a glacial quality, as if some people have feelings from the freezer."

Though Every Night the Trees Disappear is a candid picture of the great director, it is more glacial than transparent. We learn a lot about Herzog, but he remains a mystery, like the ruby glass that eludes the factory owner. In the end, the best way to understand Herzog's Heart of Glass is to watch it

Baynard Wood is a staff writer at Baltimore's City Paper, in which this review originally appeared. Send comments to

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