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  • Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark

    Oh, the irony — initially criticized as Marxist propaganda when Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted them for the Detroit Institute of Arts in the early 1930s, Detroit Industry has now been designated as a a national landmark. The announcement was made Wednesday, according to the Detroit News by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis as part of National Park Week. The designation does not change the ownership status of the murals or grant any new protections or rights, leaving its place among the rest of the DIA’s art in possible bankruptcy negotiations in question. The work is considered the best of Rivera’s work in the United States (another mural Rivera had done in New York was destroyed by orders of Nelson Rockefeller). Rivera himself regarded Detroit Industries paintings as his finest work. In the midst of the McCarthy era, the DIA posted this sign outside the court: Rivera’s politics and his publicity seeking are detestable. But let’s get the record straight on what he did here. He came from Mexico to Detroit, thought our mass production industries and our technology wonderful and very exciting, painted them as one of the great achievements of the twentieth century. This came […]

    The post Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit area code 313 may be phased out

    Hey, everybody from the 313, start thinking of new numbers to rally around– the longstanding Detroit area code may be phased out. Our friends over at the Detroit News report that pending a revised estimate next week, the North American Numbering Plan Administration will stop handing out 313 telephone prefixes on new phone numbers. Detroiters with existing cell phone lines would be able to keep their current area codes, while those with land lines would change. via Detroit News: The venerable 313 will ultimately become overtaxed. Even as Detroit’s population has fallen, cellphone usage has accelerated like one of those smoldering SRT Vipers that Dodge has been bolting together at Conner Avenue Assembly — which is, of course, comfortably within the confines of 313. … When the first five dozen area codes were assigned nearly 70 years ago, says NANPA’s Tom Foley, “that was expected basically to last forever.” Instead, somebody invented fax machines, and then somebody else came up with cellphones, and lots of somebody elses decided to give them to 10-year-olds, and meantime the population grew to 300 million. Now every telephone carrier is required to submit twice-yearly forecasts of its needs in each area code, factoring in […]

    The post Detroit area code 313 may be phased out appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council

    Unfortunately, we were unable to attend last night’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, which, in case you were unaware, is a 16-member board established to weigh in on the new Red Wings arena near downtown. About three dozen residents and property owners cast ballots by the 8 p.m. deadline on Wednesday inside the Block at Cass Park, The Detroit News reports. It’s the culmination of a handful of community meetings which began weeks ago. Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez facilitated the meetings, but emphasized at previous meetings that it’s up to the community to conduct business. According to the News, the 12 candidates selected include: Michael Boettcher, Richard Etue, Jason Gapa, Francis Grunow, Steve Guether, Paul Hughes, Ray Litt, Warner Doyle McBryde, Karen McLeod, Delphia Simmons, Melissa Thomas and Anthony Zander. Joel Landy, a land owner in the area, lost his bid. The City Council appointed four candidates last month. As we reported in this week’s issue, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee was negotiated after Olympia Development of Michigan, Detroit Red Wing’s owner Mike Ilitch’s real estate arm, balked on a proposed community benefits agreement.  The committee is charged with the task of offering input on the arena’s design, parking security and more.

    The post Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag

    The Magic Bag in Ferndale will host James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets on Thursday, May 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. A press release reads, “James McMurtry recently signed with the bourgeoning Los Angeles record label Complicated Game. The legendary songwriter will enter the studio later this month to start working on his first album in six years. “I’ve got a new batch of songs, organic and with no added sulfites, aged in oak for several years,” he says. “Francois Moret at Complicated Game seems to like these songs and (producer) C.C. Adcock thinks he can turn them into a record. Good times fixing to roll.” Label head Moret agrees. “In March 2013, when C.C. Adcock told me we were going to see James McMurtry at the Continental Club in Austin, I expected to see a good show,” he says, “but what I saw left me mesmerized! I immediately knew I wanted to sign him. As a European, it is an amazing opportunity to work with one of the most talented American singer-songwriters.” Evidence: McMurtry’s Just Us Kids (2008) and Childish Things (2005). The former earned his highest Billboard 200 chart position in nearly two decades and notched […]

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  • City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit

    The Dead Kennedys, still with local boy Klaus Flouride in the ranks, will play St. Andrew’s Hall on Tuesday, June 24. Alongside Flouride and fellow original members East Bay Ray and DH Peligro, the current lineup includes singer Ron “Skip” Greer, taking the place of Jello Biafra. Downtown Brown will open that show, which starts at 7 p.m., with tickets priced $20-$25. Give Klaus a hero’s hometown welcome. Just over a week before that, strangely enough, Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine will play at the Magic Stick. It’s a weird coincidence, but one that DK fans should be happy to embrace. That show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $17-$19. Local hardcore vets Negative Approach play before Jello, with the Crashdollz opening the show. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain

    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? […]

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Summer Guide 2011

Juggalos in the mist

A retreat to the wilderness turns weird in a heartbeat

Photo: MT illustration: Justin Rose, License: N/A

MT illustration: Justin Rose

Summer Guide 2011
  • In (the) heat The psychology, anthropology and politics of the summer fling | 6/15/2011
  • Juggalos in the mist A retreat to the wilderness turns weird in a heartbeat | 6/15/2011
  • Killer prose By day, he's a Detroit business writer. On his time off, Tom Henderson is a chronicler of the sensational, the lurid | 6/15/2011
  • Feed your head Detroiter lit-lovers share their summer reads | 6/15/2011
  • Life's a beach Summer highs to look forward to | 6/15/2011

Late this winter, my Hamtramck buddies Steve Cherry and Jeffrey Fournier asked me to join them canoe-camping on the Au Sable River in northern Michigan. After long months trapped in the city, I was psyched to get away to nature. I agreed instantly, took time off work, and looked forward to our getaway longingly. Cherry had done this stretch of the Au Sable before, and was familiar with the various stops along the way where camping was free to canoeists, a kind of subsidy for the canoe liveries that dot Mio's main drag. He scheduled us to rent canoes from the Hinchman Acres canoe livery, and we drove up together in Fournier's truck the last week of May. Once there, an old-timer set us up with canoes, took our money, and scheduled us for a few days on the river.

The livery van dropped us off at a sandy river slope just outside Mio, and laid out our crafts for us. Cherry had a bunch of 3-mil contractors' bags to pack away our gear, just in case we spilled out of our canoes. He had a clever way of sealing them, pushing all the air out, then twisting the top of the bag until it was long and thin, then bending it back on itself and tying it off with thin rope. It took a while to get it right, and at least two sets of hands to do the job, but the seal was impressive. No water would get in there.

Soon we were about ready to push off into the water. A few other people were starting off ahead of us, rare travelers on this chilly, damp May afternoon. I looked over at them and saw them dressed in rain gear, despite the lack of rainfall. Cherry took out his rain poncho and put it on. Where was mine? Where was Fournier's? In our haste to pack our waterproof bags, we'd packed them away as well. Did we want to open the waterproof bags, then go through the trouble of finding our ponchos and resealing them? Nah, we were OK. It wasn't raining. We pushed off.

I'd never canoed solo before, and I must say you feel a bit more secure in your balance than you do canoeing with a partner. You know where your weight is while you move, and I didn't miss the unexpected jolts and tilts of having somebody up front. The tradeoff is that you do lose a certain amount of steering power. All the more reason to work on your J-stroke, pushing with your oar, then straightening it out for a moment like a rudder. I've heard the best canoeists seldom have to switch sides, though I switch it up a lot, especially in a current.

At some points on the Au Sable, you pass a bunch of tacky 1940s getaways, million-dollar hillside dream homes and manicured lawns, but this part of the river just outside Mio seemed wild and natural. Late May meant few bugs, but swallows darted around our watercraft to gobble what bugs there were. We even saw two bald eagles soar away from us when we disturbed them, a beautiful sight. But wildness also means there were some hazards to take seriously: fallen dead trees waiting to snag you and turn your canoe sideways, dead branches ready to take an eye out, eddies whirling you off-course and into danger. Luckily, the water was high, which meant we were less likely to founder on rocks.

Then the rain started. At first, just a gentle patter of drops, darkening the cotton of my light jacket. Then came a steadier drizzle of rain, dampening my hat, shoulders and pants. The wind picked up, turning our canoes into sails, pushing us sideways, seemingly whenever a particularly dangerous looking hazard lurked to that side. Sure, maybe once or twice the strong breeze blew at our backs, but mostly it toyed with us. I struggled with my oar to outpace it, but as some dead tree or white water came closer, I'd have to brake with my oar on the other side, saving me from danger but slowing me down. Then I'd paddle like mad to catch up with Cherry and Fournier, already far ahead.

I'm not sure when exhaustion set in. After an hour, I realized that working at a newspaper can turn you into a deskbound weakling. Fighting the wind, the current, shivering in the rain, struggling to keep up with my party, I felt my face turning grim. How long could I keep this up? Would we make it to our campsite? The way the river twisted and turned, who knew where we were?

Cherry seemed to be an expert canoeist, sliding ahead without apparent effort, warm and dry under his hat and poncho in what was now a driving rain. I caught up with Fournier, who was now, like me, soaked through entirely, his black cotton shirt sticking to his skin, his jeans dark and wet. He looked over at me with an expression that said it all: the ultimate look of hapless anguish, eyes wide, a slight rictus of the mouth, an I-am-about-to-go-into-fucking-shock face. We were in trouble unless we found land soon. We were in luck. Cherry pointed his oar ahead to our campsite, and we maneuvered our canoes in delicately.

Morale was low. On a normal canoe trip, Cherry told us, the party would simply grab a cooler and some chairs and have a few beers before even thinking of setting up, but as wet and cold as we were, we needed to take action. We humped all our gear up the hill, put the canoes on dry land, rigged up a fly where we could take shelter from the rain that now fell in a steady mist, changed into some dry clothes and ponchos, set up our tents, got a fire going, even found a dead tree to saw down for firewood. After a few hours of work, camp was built, and we were seated around a fire, Cherry splitting the dry, dead wood into chunks with a hatchet to feed the flames, our dirty, wet clothes sizzling on the metal fire ring, a small transistor radio barking out classic rock hits from "The Bear." Cherry had also brought a small grill, and we cooked up a few small steaks and wolfed them down. Food seldom tastes as good as when you're exhausted, cold, wet, hungry and in the middle of nowhere.

Though there was little conversation, there was something we vocally agreed on: At least we were away from it all. That was why we'd been looking forward so much to this trip, our getaway, our retreat from society and its ills. We had gotten up early, driven hundreds of miles, embarked on a trip with some dangers, faced some hardship, and now, on a wet and rainy afternoon somewhere on the Au Sable River, we had found our peaceful reward. We nursed our cold, adult beverages, speaking little, enjoying the calm.

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