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  • Thank you, Detroit

    I’m not going to lie to you – this isn’t easy. This week, the final City Slang local music column will be published in the Metro Times (on hardcore band Final Assault), and I have just submitted a cover feature on the women of Detroit hip-hop, to be published next week (8/6). This blog that you’re reading now will be my last one as a regular MT contributor. I have a lot to look forward to. I’m going to be an associate editor at Yellow Scene Magazine in Colorado, a tremendous publication in a beautiful part of the country. But leaving Detroit will be incredibly difficult for me. I love the place. It’s been (amazingly) six and a half years since I arrived, a couple of cases in hand and not much of a plan in mind. I just knew, after three separate research trips for books and a magazine article, that I felt at home here. Metro Times offered me freelance work almost immediately, as did a new website called Metromix (whatever happened to that?) When I arrived here, I had been working as a writer in the UK for nine years, but the help and encouragement I received […]

    The post Thank you, Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers

      We here at MT will be delighted when Mr. Jack White throws out a pitch at Navin Field (at least, we hope he will), but until then, we’ll be happy with his pitch to Santa this evening at Comerica Park.    

    The post Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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.



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Sloshed 2012

Into the past

The Oakland's oasis of quality, style and manners a successful one

Photo: , License: N/A

The Oakland Art Novelty Company

201 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale


For a few years now, metro Detroit has seen coastal cocktail culture slowly creeping in from the coasts. From the East Coast comes an emphasis on classic recipes and exclusive, almost candlelit interiors; from the West Coast, it's more an emphasis on fresh ingredients and complex flavor profiles. Luckily, we seem to be getting the best of these two worlds, as cocktail joints informed by both trends have opened their doors this year, such as Detroit's Sugar House in Corktown, and the Oakland Art Novelty Company in Ferndale.

The Ferndale spot, better known as "the Oakland" to its guests, is the creation of thirtysomething husband-and-wife team Sandy and Heather Levine. Sandy Levine says the genesis of the Oakland dates to 2007, when, having moved back to metro Detroit after traveling with his wife quite a bit in their 20s, he couldn't find one bar or liquor store that had absinthe or rye. The two had been a wee bit spoiled by the resurgence of the cocktail on the coasts, and so they opened the Oakland in July of last year.

It's a moody, atmospheric spot decorated with candles and chandeliers a la the 1920s, which Levine calls "arguably the most stylish of any time. It creates a special atmosphere. When we were doing build-out and design, we were inspired by bars in New York and Chicago that had an element of not just nostalgia but timelessness. For instance, there aren't windows, it's very dark. We play specific music that's not necessarily all old but we try to create an environment where you forget about the outside world."

The intention to create a haven away from the modern world means low music and no TVs. With few distractions, good chatter has a way of blossoming. 

"That's a huge topic in terms of feedback. People say, 'It's nice to be in a bar where I can talk to my friends and actually hear them.'"

To preserve the mood they've worked so painstakingly to create, the Levines do have some house rules that are slightly more involved than at a typical bar. Guests must be seated to be served. Sometimes, as with large parties, that can cause problems, but it certainly is appealing to sit at a bar and not have customers standing behind you, shouting orders at bartenders. The Oakland also discourages cell phone use, because, as Sandy Levine puts it, "your guests would value your company more than your mobile device."

While most customers appreciate the rules, there has been some push-back. "No question about it," Levine says, "some people resist the house rules. The biggest one is our seating policy; we stick to it. And if you use your phone, please do it quietly. And about being able to hold your liquor and not being rowdy and raucous, most regulars are into that. Of course, there's a small group of people that are against that. We get online reviews occasionally that say, 'I don't want to be told what to do when I go to a bar. I want to shout and be rowdy.' Well, we go to those dive bars mostly patronized by people like that. But we want to provide a more relaxed atmosphere where you can have a classy drink, be able to hold your liquor, and taste what you're drinking and savor it — instead of gulping and chugging, which certainly has its place."

Levine continues, "There are 1,000 different ways you can do a bar and all 1,000 have some element of merit and can create a cool place. There's nothing wrong with having a sports bar with 1,000 TVs. We just feel this is one sort of bar that was underrepresented here."

In a way, the Oakland is more than a bar: It's a social experiment, trying to push people a little bit to expose themselves to things they haven't had 1,000 times before.

"Sometimes people say something about the drinks being a bit more expensive," Levine says, "but we try to make up for it by making them strong. And with vermouth that's, say, $25 a bottle instead of $3, hopefully it makes a difference by tasting better. It makes a big difference when you start with fresh ingredients and better spirits.

"We don't keep any soda — except homemade — no Coke or Red Bull, no cranberry juice. ... Basically anything that comes in a box or a jar, we don't have. All the juices are squeezed daily, we make the syrups and bitters in-house here. There are a couple drinks we even scrape our own fresh nutmeg over the top of. Our Manhattan even has real maraschino cherries, grown on a farm up North and soaked in Maraschino liqueur. Any one of those things may or may not make a difference, but when you do seven or eight things right together, I think it makes a difference."

Having tried the Oakland's Manhattan, we can assure you of its excellence. After finishing off one of these creations, we wished we could strike every so-called Manhattan we'd ever tried. After the second one, we forgot where we were. These drinks weren't cheap, but they were worth every penny. And, as the success of the Oakland shows, quality — in product and environment — is something today's drinkers are willing to put a premium on. —Michael Jackman

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