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  • 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.

  • Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup

    The High Times Medical Cannabis Cup is more than just a celebration — although with the recent shift in attitudes toward marijuana legalization, there certainly is much to celebrate.  HT‘s Danny Danko described it as “just like any other harvest festival or a county fair where people bring their best produce, their best pigs and horses and cows, and they compete with each other for bragging rights, basically.” Here are a list of winners from this year’s Cannabis Cup, who did indeed walk home with some well-deserved bragging rights — if anyone knows their marijuana it’s High Times: Indica 1ST - Oasis Medical Seeds - Paris OG 2ND - Herbal Solutions - Alien Dawg F2 3RD - Herban Legendz, LLC - Grape OX Sativa 1ST - Arborside Compassion - CATFISH 2ND - Organibliss - Ghost Train Haze #1 3RD - We Grow Education and Collective Centers - MelonGum Hybrid 1ST - Herbal Solutions - Gorilla Glue 2ND - Pure West Compassion Club - Death Star 3RD - Kushman Veganics for Buds & Roses - Veganic Candyland Concentrate 1ST - Mr. B’s Extracts - Raskal’s Lemon 2ND - 710 Savant - Kosher Kush Dewaxed 3RD - Oasis Medical / Vader Extracts / Dab Vader - Candy Jack Shatter Non-Solvent Hash 1ST - NLG - Jedi Kush Ice Wax 2ND - Arborside Compassion - HeadCandy Kush Hash 3RD - New World Seeds Resource […]

    The post Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative

    So is the title of the press release we received this morning from The Satanic Temple. You may recall our interview with Doug Mesner from earlier this year. The Satanic Temple is, perhaps, best known for trying to build a child-friendly monument to satan in OKC: How Mesner and TST are rocking the Hobby Lobby ruling is interesting: The Satanic Temple Leverages Hobby Lobby Ruling to Claim Exemption From State Mandated ProLife Materials Reads the next line of the press release. And then their website: A number of states require that abortion providers give information to patients that maybe inaccurate or misleading. Demands that members of the Satanic Temple, or those who share our beliefs, be subjected against our will to anything but the best scientific understanding are a violation of our religious beliefs. Thanks to rulings such as Hobby Lobby, we can take a stand against these practices. Mesner points out how the Hobby Lobby ruling bolsters their position: While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact. This was made clear when […]

    The post Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio

    On Saturday we set out to check out the High Times Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio, Mich. — High Times did hold a Cannabis Cup in the Motor City back in 2011, but Detroit police flexing their muscles and making arrests at that event may have been to blame, at least partially, for the choice of a new host city. The event was held this year at the Auto City Speedway, (also known as “B.F.E.” to Detroiters). Nevertheless, the prospect of stopping at the Torch for the best burger in the Genessee County was compelling — and anyway, this was the Cannabis Cup we were talking about. Was it really going to be “work?” It turned out, just a little bit. An inexplicable lack of an on-site ATM meant hiking quite a ways up the road to the nearest gas station, and then waiting for an attendant to restock the ATM with cash. We spoke with plenty of Cannabis Cup attendees at the gas station — everybody knows that the local gas station is a stoner’s best-friend. The two-day festival, for which one-day tickets were sold for $40, was divided into two sections — a general area and a medicating […]

    The post Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Cover Story

Keepers of the Flame

How the Detroit Fire Guild is igniting Detroit's most anarchic pagan parties

Photo: Photos: Doug Coombe, License: N/A

Photos: Doug Coombe

Photo: , License: N/A

Flame on!: Detroit Fire Guild members (l to r) Evan Bradish (rear), Noel Rivard, Matthew Surline and Christine Bingham.

It's Saturday night at Pontiac's Crofoot ballroom, and people are milling around the dance floor expectantly. The stark modern space is an unusual setting for the anarchic pageant that will follow, but there are hints of the weirdness to come, including masked and costumed attendees and a video projector showing scenes of mostly naked, torch-bearing pagans celebrating Beltane, the springtime pagan holiday, in Scotland. It feels kind of like Halloween in May as the energy begins to build. The DJ plays eerie music matched with Tibetan throat singers, the main video screen shows ripples of fire, and a dancer sashays back and forth swinging wands draped with purple cloths that glide through the air.

The lights go down a bit and the mood changes as a procession of performers streams through the entrance. The celebrants are led by a duo carrying burning lamps, and a train of wildly decked-out drummers and dancers follow them in slowly, taking over the dance floor. Soon, the center of the room is a mass of movement, an odd collection of people hula-hooping, doing modern dance moves, ballet, even pantomiming wild animals. They're done up in spiky mohawks, fauxhawks, dreadlocks, tattoos, horns, body paint, tattered garments, fur and feathers. Some wear boots, some go barefoot and half-naked, wearing flowers in their hair, or with menacing stripes of paint across their faces. It's like a vision deep in some tribal future.

After a few minutes of this crazed dance party, the leaders of this procession take to the stage, staging a battle with double-ended torches. Fire is the potent symbol tonight, and it drives the crowd bananas. As the performers twirl, spin and juggle the torches, the audience erupts in a roar and a 100-cameraphone salute. This is what they've come to see: The Detroit Fire Guild's spring spectacular, the Fires of Beltane.

Before the night is over, the crowd of several hundred will be treated to fire juggling, modern dance, an aerial trapeze show from the ladies at Detroit Flyhouse Circus School, striptease burlesque from the lovely Chloe Bowie, belly dancing with a flaming sword by Chantal, human sculpture from a team of contortionists, more than a little dirty dancing, and a "human sacrifice" — as well as performances from two bands. The men and women on the stage expose their muscled and supple flesh, and the fire is the binding sensual metaphor. The whole while, performers range through the audience, engaging the mob. Outside in the smoking area, burners stand on the stairs or climb atop the outdoor bar to whirl flames to joyous shouts. Orange firelight leaps over the walls, and over the din you can hear the whooshing of the torches as they rip through the air. And this audience of hundreds is ready to have fun: Even during lulls and stage setups, they're dancing along to the music, or spontaneously playing limbo with a long feather boa, or donning yet stranger costumes, such as one reveler with an eye patch and face paint who carried a spear around all night.

This exciting, immersive experience is the stock in trade of the Detroit Fire Guild, a group of several dozen local folks who've joined forces to create the ultimate in over-the-top spectacle. And it has grown from a small collection of misfit performers and musicians into a full-fledged enterprise in just a few years.

Rising From the Ashes

Detroit Fire Guild co-founder Evan Bradish and DFG member Matthew "Ely" Surline sip on beers at Hamtramck's Painted Lady bar, sketching out the beginnings. Aside from generous sideburns and a two-gauge barbell piercing in his septum, Bradish looks clean-cut, with close-cropped red hair and a work jacket. Surline exudes mystery, with only a soul patch on his chin and a shock of hair on the back of his shaven head. They're polite, organized and friendly guys — although when they're really having fun they can get a sinister sort of glimmer in their eyes.

Originally a raver from Flint, Bradish moved to Detroit from Genessee County in 2006, shortly after getting involved with Fire Fabulon, Detroit's most high-profile fire-slingers at the time. Upon his arrival, a whole new world of performance opened up to him.

Bradish laughs and says, "Seeing the weirdos in Detroit really inspired me. It turned out that all the absurd things I'd thought about doing were not just doable, but in demand."

Ely, 26 as well, is a former folksinger who also moved to Detroit in 2006 from Port Huron, because, as he says it, Detroit "wasn't Port Huron."

"I had a few friends who said they'd let me crash on their couch if I did some dishes," he says, adding with a laugh, "I still owe some people some clean dishes."

That year, Bradish and Surline joined the tight-knit group of Detroiters who make the annual pilgrimage out to the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert, a 1-million-watt spectacle in which thousands of performers, neo-hippies and just plain oddballs converge to create a temporary city for a week. The two missed each other at the festival, but met in a hotel room in Reno, Nev., where several Detroit people had stopped on their way back to Michigan. Surline's soon-to-be girlfriend, Jessica "Rabbit" Grassa, a Fire Fabulon performer herself, introduced him to her ex, Bradish. The three hit it off.

And not a moment too soon. Over the next year, Fire Fabulon's momentum slackened to a standstill. "Right as I was becoming active and learning a lot," Bradish says, "people in the group had a lot of other goals in their lives. They weren't as interested in performing as much." The members drifted away, and by 2008 it was all a memory.

Luckily for Detroit, Bradish and Grassa connected with a few other performers and organizers eager to rekindle interest in a fire group. With the help of such seasoned folks as Eric Miller and Danielle "Doxie" Kaltz, they had expert advice on performance. They designed their own courses in fire safety, using advice culled from other fire groups, such as Chicago's Pyrotechniq. They made pains to befriend fire marshals and try to codify fire performance safety in Michigan. And they found a supportive venue to strut their stuff in Detroit's Theatre Bizarre, whose freakish, haunted midway hosted Detroit's best annual Halloween party for years on West State Fair.

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