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    The Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck will present a police drama called A Steady Rain May 2 through 24. Planet Ant veterans Ryan Carlson and York Griffith will star in the play, written by House of Cards and Mad Men co-writer Keith Huff. Tickets ($10-$20) are on sale now at According to the press release, “A Steady Rain by Keith Huff focuses on Joey and Denny, best friends since kindergarten and partners on the police force whose loyalty to each other is tested by domestic affairs, violence and the rough streets of Chicago. Joey helps Denny with his family and Denny helps Joey stay off the bottle. But when a routine disturbance call takes a turn for the worse their loyalty is put to the ultimate test.First produced at Chicago Dramatists, A Steady Rain appeared on Broadway featuring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The Planet Ant production of A Steady Rain is directed by York Griffith featuring Ryan Carlson and Andy Huff. This marks the return of two of Planet Ant’s founding members. Carlson and Griffith. Griffith has served as the theatre’s Artistic Director where he directed the critically-acclaimed productions The Adding Machine and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor

    Detroit home-girl Lily Tomlin will perform at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, June 14. A press release reads, “Get together with Lily Tomlin for an unforgettable night of fun and sidesplitting laughter. “Tomlin is amazing” The NY Times and “as always a revelation.” The New Yorker This unique comic artist takes her audience on what the Washington Post calls a “wise and howlingly funny” trip with more than a dozen of her timeless characters—from Ernestine to Mrs. Beasley to Edith Ann.” “With astounding skill and energy, Tomlin zaps through the channels like a human remote control. Using a fantastic range of voices, gestures and movements, she conjures up the cast of characters with all the apparent ease of a magician pulling a whole menagerie of animals from a single hat.” NY Daily News “Her gentle touch is as comforting as it is edifying.” NY Time Out She has “made the one-person show the daring, irreverent art form it is today.” Newsweek Her long list of awards includes: a Grammy; two Tonys; six Emmys; an Oscar nomination; two Peabodys; and the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Find more info here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor

    The Detroit Metro Times, Detroit’s award-winning alternative weekly media company, is proud to announce the recent hire of Valerie Vande Panne as Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning independent journalist and Michigan native, Vande Panne’s work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Daily Beast, and Salon, among other publications. Previously, Vande Panne attended Harvard University and was a regular contributor to The Boston Phoenix, and a news editor of High Times magazine. She has spent years covering drug policy among other subjects, including the environment, culture, lifestyle, extreme sports, and academia. “Valerie understands our business and what we expect to accomplish in Detroit. She has an excellent sense for stories that will move our readers, as well as experience with balancing print and digital content. I’m excited to have her at the paper and trust her leadership as we move forward,” said Detroit Metro Times publisher Chris Keating.

    The post Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’

    She welcomes you when you enter Detroit, from every direction, with the one word that might just be Detroit’s biggest philosophical question: Injured? Joumana Kayrouz is deeper than the inflated image watching over Detroit, peddling justice to the poor and broken of the city. This Wednesday, Drew Philp takes us behind the billboard and into the heart of the Kayrouz quest. (And all of Brian Rozman’s photos of Kayrouz have not been retouched.) Check out MT‘s cover story, on newsstands Wednesday!

    The post Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt

    There was a fire in an upstairs apartment at PJ’s Lager House on Monday evening. No people were hurt, although three cats belonging to the tenants died after CPR. The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. during a show featuring Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band, Curtin, and Jeffrey Jablonsky. “We just smelled smoke and someone yelled everyone has to get out,” 33-year-old Nick Leu told MLive. On the Lager House Facebook page in the early hours of the morning, a post said, “We at PJ’s lager House would like to thank everyone for their care and concern. Also, a very big THANK YOU to all who stepped up to do what they could this evening. The fire was contained to the upstairs but due to water damage in the bar, we will be closed until it can be assessed. Everyone is safe and we will keep you updated.” A later update read, “Update from the big boss. Since there was no damage to the stage side of the bar, the show will go on tomorrow! You may have to enter through the back door and there may not be a large selection of booze but we are going […]

    The post Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt 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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