Trending
Most Read
  • Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW)

      Footage from the Gathering of the Juggalos set to clips of Morgan Freeman’s narration from March of the Penguins? Kind of forced, but also kind of beautiful. As the AV Club reports: The oft-sought voiceover champion lends a touch of gravitas to the festival proceedings. Unfortunate scenes of barely clad people having various liquids dumped onto them now carries a quiet dignity as it’s all part of nature’s majestic plan that keeps the world spinning through this elegantly designed and truly wondrous universe. Also, the video is NSFW as there are boobs in it. Watch the clip below:

    The post Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW) appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love”

    It seems like the polar vortex will never end: the weather phenomenon that brought us the most brutal winter on record this winter is to blame for this summer’s chillier-than usual temperatures as well. A couple of bands, though, made lemonade out of lemons (or snow cones out of snow?) by using the icy landscape to film music videos. 800beloved shot the video for “Tidal” in some sand dunes near Empire, Mich., and this week Turn to Crime debuted the video for “Can’t Stop,” the title track of their recently-released album. Even more piles of ice and snow might be the last thing Detroiters want to see right now, but the footage makes for some good visuals that mesh well with the song. Watch the video below:

    The post Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love” appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed

    Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr transferred oversight of the the city’s water department Tuesday to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in an order intended to refocus “efforts to help DWSD customers get and remain current on their water bills,” Orr’s office said today. “This order provides additional clarity to the powers already delegated to the mayor,” Orr said in a statement released Tuesday. “As the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department works to operate more efficiently and communicate more effectively with customers, it is important to ensure there are clear lines of management and accountability.” Duggan will have the authority to manage DWSD and make appointments to the utility’s board, according to a news release. In a statement issued Tuesday, the mayor said he welcomed Orr’s order, adding that officials will develop a plan that “allows those who truly need to access to financial help … to do so with shorter wait times.” “We need to change a number of things in the way we have approached the delinquent payment issues and I expect us to have a new plan shortly,” Duggan said. “There are funds available to support those who cannot afford their bills — we need to do a much better job in […]

    The post Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years

    Rovers Scooter Club, a local gang dedicated to celebrating and riding motor scooters, will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary this week with a very special ride. Motor City Shakedown, the annual birthday party for the club, will commence this Friday, August 1 at New Way Bar. DJ Grover from Cincinnati will be spinning northern soul, reggae, and ska, according to club member Michael Palazzola. Saturday will feature a ride from Ferndale to Detroit, starting at noon at M-Brew. Palazzola says this is where most bikes will congregate before taking the ride to the city and folks will be prepping by getting some grub starting at 10 a.m.  Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host the after party,  a special event that will feature performances by several bands as well as Satori Circus. That portion of the event will commence at 8 p.m. with performances starting at 9 p.m. It’s free to riders, but the public is welcome to join the party with the mere cost of a door charge. Come midnight, the club will raffle off a vintage Lambretta LI 150. Sunday morning will end the weekend of festivities, with brunch taking place at the Bosco in Ferndale.   

    The post Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times

    Turns out, our very own Jack Lessenberry knows the Grosse Pointer seeking to ban the MT: Ten years or so ago, a woman named Andrea Lavigne sat in on some media survey classes I was teaching at Wayne State University. She was in her late 30s or early 40s, and seemed to be searching for answers. She wanted to know how the media work, and told me she was a Maoist. This fascinated me, because I thought authentic Maoists were almost as rare as passenger pigeons. Chairman Mao, we now know, starved to death and slaughtered tens of millions of his own citizens, and kept China economically and intellectually backward. Intrigued, I got together one night before class with her and another Maoist, to find out what they were all about. Alas, they spouted a form of primitive, grade-school Marxism. They seemed to have very little historical knowledge of Communism or what it had actually been like. Yes. A Maoist. Read the full story at Michigan Radio here.

    The post Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’

    A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the owner of Detroit’s municipal solid waste incinerator Monday, accusing the company of nuisance and gross negligence violations According to the complaint filed by Detroit-based Liddle & Dubin P.C., “On occasions too numerous to list, Plaintiffs’ property including Plaintiffs’ neighborhood, residences and yards were physically invaded by noxious odors and contaminants … As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’s’ negligence in operating and/or maintaining the facility, Plaintiffs’ property has been invaded by noxious odors.” The eight-page complaint charges that local property values have dropped due to the incinerator’s presence, “and has interfered with Plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of their property.” The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, seeks a financial award in excess of $25,000 and all costs and attorney fees related to the case. In an email, a spokesperson for the company says, “Detroit Renewable Power is reviewing the complaint filed today,” but declined further comment. The suit comes weeks after a Metro Times’ cover story earlier this month found a growing number of odor complaints from nearby residents since Detroit Renewable Power LLC (DRP) took control of the facility in 2010. The investigation found a spike in citations from the Michigan Department […]

    The post Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

Calendar

Calendar

Search thousands of events in our database.

Restaurants

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Nightlife

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

MT on Twitter
MT on Facebook

Print Email

Culture

Hustle and flow

Stroll past Bongo Man and you'll star in his rhymes

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Bongo Man slinging his rhymes outside the ballpark.


A passing woman sees him and tries to hide her face from his gaze. Too late.

The traffic light by the Fox Theatre has just released a burst of Tigers fans heading to the ballpark on a spring weekday evening. But first they must get past the street performers who line the way there, including the animated sax player, the deranged "Eat 'em up, Tigers" guy, and the man who rattles the nerves of passers-by the most — the one banging out beats on congas and shouting out a steady flow of spontaneous rhymes that point out a passing person's peculiarities, or comment on their clothes, or assess their significant other in frank terms.

The woman approaches, and Bongo Man, as he calls himself, has her in his sights.

"Now that pretty lady in the gray / I'm so glad that you came this way / Smile and don't be sad / Your husband's not that bad / Find a reason to be glad / At least I'm not your baby dad," he rhymes to her and her spouse.

A few in the passing crowd chuckle, but like this couple, most avoid eye contact with him, in fear he'll select them and reel off a few zingers at their public expense. In rhyme, no less.

A man using a wood cane walks by.  He catches Bongo Man's eye.

"Now here's a cool guy with a cane / I know this may sound insane / Now what happened to your leg? / Did you drink the whole keg?" This could mean a few different things, but the man's stony face suggests none of them strike him as funny.

The traffic light turns red, creating a pause in the stream of fans. Bongo Man twists the cap off a glass orange juice bottle and takes a sip of water. "This is not vodka!" he announces, an old joke but also a reference to some people's suggestion that he and the other street performers are little more than bums with talent.

He doesn't drink, though. Hasn't in years, he says. Plus he has a home, and a job, and another job on top of that. And unlike the panhandlers hustling around the ballpark, he offers something for the money he seeks, even if that something is a few squirmingly uncomfortable moments at the center of attention.

He looks down into his tips bucket. It holds two one-dollar bills, a five, a possibly used ticket for tonight's game (upper box, infield), and a handful of change so far. Not nearly enough. The flow must go on.

Another crowd is let loose by a green light and comes his way. He starts again.

"Here's a guy in the tan and black / He might cut me a little slack / I realize this job is wack / But at least I'm here not selling crack." This logic strikes Mr. Tan-and-Black as impeccable, and he puts a dollar into the bucket.

 

Though the mere sight of him frightens the self-conscious, Nahru Lampkin, 50, is friendly and soft-spoken when he's not behind the congas. He grew up in Michigan, served in the Army, held several jobs afterward, got and got rid of a drug habit, had two children and spent years perfecting this street act, starting at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, later in Florida, then finally in Detroit when he came back home.

He first performed in Hart Plaza during the summer festivals, where he drove the police crazy. They arrested him five times on five different charges — panhandling, obstructing the sidewalk, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct and performing without a permit, even though the city didn't have a permit for street performers to perform under. The cops would tell him to move on, he'd refuse, and they'd conjure up a new charge and take him to jail.

"I wanted to have my day in court," he says. "Each time I kicked their butt too." Eventually they gave up, and he added new stages — Lions games at Ford Field, Red Wings games at Joe Louis Arena, University of Michigan games in Ann Arbor. But his main venue became Tigers games downtown.

The man works constantly. He just started his own cab company, Bongo Man Taxi, a one-vehicle operation for which he's both driver and dispatch. His cab features an image of him and a bongo emblazoned on the cab's red door. It operates in off-hours, like 3 a.m. outside the Marriott hotel in the Ren Cen during the week, or downtown Royal Oak starting at midnight on the weekends.

He also teaches robotics at Highland Park Community High School, a career he fell into — he was working yet another job, this time as a school security guard, and was sitting outside the science lab when a student asked for help solving a problem with the little robot he was putting together. Soon a half-dozen other kids saw this and asked for his help too, and when a teacher noticed and made a complaint, the robotics coach not only didn't yell at him, he saw how good he was at it and made Lampkin the assistant coach. That same year the class won the Vex Middle School World Championship in robotics. The school promoted him to robotics instructor.

In his sporadic spare time between those two careers, he's out here on the street, rhyming in your face, sometimes even about your face.

The crowd pours into the park. Most walk briskly by, some smile or laugh at his lyrics, one or two offer to buy the congas. A few have run off with his bucket of tips. And a handful are openly hostile, or worse.

"This guy says, 'Get a job, you nigger!' And so I put him in the show. I said, 'Well, that guy called me a nigger / He's just mad 'cause my johnson is bigger.'"

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus