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    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.

  • ICYMI: Forbes rates Detroit #9 on its “America’s Most Creative Cities” list

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    The post ICYMI: Forbes rates Detroit #9 on its “America’s Most Creative Cities” list appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Food trucks go to the dogs

    Today, starting at 10am, Milo’s Kitchen Treat Truck will be swinging by the  Cherry Hill Village at Preservation Park on  N. Roosevelt St. in Canton. They’ll be serving the pups (“gour-mutts,” as Milo’s calls them) treats and the dog parents the opportunity of “family portraits.” Milo’s is on a cross-country food truck trip, promoting their “grilled burger bites” and “chicken meatballs” to pup parents from L.A. to NYC, with stops in between, including Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, the Carolinas, and Arkansas. But watch out! Milo’s Kitchen Treat Truck markets “real chicken and beef home-style dog treats” that are are “wholesome” and “authentic” without “artificial flavors or colors-made right here in the USA.” Authentic, processed food that is. Remember what George Carlin said about “home-style”? Their treats are also packed with soy, TVP, wheat flour, tapioca, rice, and sugar–fillers that make the meat go far and aren’t the best for your pup. They’re also packed with preservatives, like sodium erythorbate, nitrates, BHA, sodium tripolyphosphate, and potassium sorbate. Small amounts are probably ok, and no doubt the pup will love it, the same way it’s easy for humans to love carb- and sugar- laden, processed and preserved, treats.  

    The post Food trucks go to the dogs appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Former Tigers Dave Rozema and Ike Blessitt to honor Mark “The Bird” Fidrych

    Coming up on August 16, former Detroit Tigers Dave Rozema and Ike Blessitt will team up with the Navin Field Grounds Crew and Metro Times‘ own Dave Mesrey to honor legend Mark “The Bird” Fidrych. The festivities, known as the annual “Bird Bash,” will be held at the infamous Nemo’s Bar & Grill, and will benefit The Bird’s favorite charity, the Wertz Warriors, and also the Mark Fidrych Foundation. For more information, check out their website or Facebook page.

    The post Former Tigers Dave Rozema and Ike Blessitt to honor Mark “The Bird” Fidrych appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • First Little League game at Navin Field today

    Today Navin Field (the Old Tiger Stadium) hosts its first Little League game on a new field made just to host the youngsters! Here’s a photo of the game happening right now, courtesy Tom Derry and Metro Times‘ copy editor extraordinaire, Dave Mesrey: Stop by the site (corner of Michigan and Trumbull) today to watch history in the making!

    The post First Little League game at Navin Field today appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit

    Former American Idol contestant Vonzell Solomon weighs in on twerking, natural hair & CEO status. In 2005, recording artist Vonzell “Baby V” Solomon embarked on a journey that changed her life. At the age of 20, Vonzell made it to the top three on American Idol before she was eliminated. But that was not the beginning nor the end of her journey to stardom. Vonzell is one of more than two dozen artists on tour with YouTube sensation Todrick Hall, who is a former Idol contestant as well. Todrick gained notoriety for his fast food drive-thru songs and also for producing parody videos  —  based on popular Broadway musicals and songs. His tour, uniquely entitled Twerk Du Soleil (translation: twerk of the sun), is a combination of his popular YouTube spoofs. Both Vonzell and her ratchet alter ego,Boonquisha Jenkins, made an appearance in Twerk Du Soleil,which stopped in Detroit July 23 at Saint Andrews Hall. Boonquisha opened the show by facilitating a twerking competition among the audience. Next, Vonzell made a reappearance singing a fan favorite – Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” Later, Boonquisha came on stage screaming “It’s so cold in the D! You gotta be from the D to […]

    The post Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit 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.

"Theater Bizarre provided a completely surreal venue, where you fit in there and it looks natural," Surline says dryly. "It's OK that a guy's dressed like a demon and swinging fire around his face — what else would he be doing?"

Inspired by further trips to Burning Man, Ely says, "I saw all kinds of performance I'd never seen, before, but I wanted to bring it home. And not only to mimic it, but to try to do it better."

After a lot of organizing and practicing, the guild put on its first show one year ago, the Motor City Vaudeville Revue at a space in the Russell Industrial Center. Not only was the show a success, it sold out many nights. A much more ambitious endeavor, the MCVR didn't just showcase a bunch of performers, but used live music, the fire arts, and a story to keep the show moving.

"Without the collective effort, we wouldn't have been able to pull it off," Bradish says. "It just exploded with creative ideas and possibilities."

"We're insane about theatrics, characters, costumes," Surline adds. "Other groups are a bunch of people who look like fire dancers. We have clowns, gypsies, an actual storyline. It's much more than burning stuff."

And the group kept gigging with small cabaret shows at such venues as the Old Miami, the Painted Lady and Hamtramck's now-defunct Trowbridge House of Coffee. Last month, some of the crew performed at a birthday party at a church on Detroit's west side; within a week the group also gigged at Lincoln Park's Hustler Club. Small performances might feature just a fire dancer or two, but their larger productions have live music from the Bride Stripped Bare — a "punk cabaret" band with Surline and drummer-keyboardist Noel Rivard — or perhaps dance-inducing music from Bradish as DJ Intercom.

In January, the guild staged the Winter Ball, a performance environment that drew hundreds to the Eagle Theatre at Pontiac's Crofoot complex. With live music, DJ segments, pagan themes, fire performance, a shattered fourth wall, and a largely out-of-control audience, the guild seems to have hit upon a winning formula.

Ritual and Religion

There's one other surprise: It turns out that Grassa, Bradish and Surline — the nonconformist pyros who've helped create pagan-inspired festivals of fire, music and hedonism — all attended Pentecostal churches as youths.

Though Bradish was baptized and raised Lutheran by his grandparents, and had considered entering the seminary, after confirmation he left the Lutherans and decided to attend Pentecostal church with his mom — "to make her happy."

For those unfamiliar with the faith, sometimes members of a Pentecostal congregation will leap up during a sermon and "speak in tongues," moved to do so, the church believes, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes other parishioners will interpret and translate what is being said. Moved by the spirit, worshippers can jump around and even fall down unconscious.

Though Bradish now says he's somewhere between "a total nihilist and a post-religious fanatic," he says, "I have no belief, but I am obsessed with religion, how people experience it and how it affects them."

In fact, he first met Grassa when they attended the same church camp, at the Michigan Church of God in Fenton, in the late 1990s and early '00s. Astonishingly, Surline was also at the camp when Bradish and Grassa were there, though they don't recall meeting.

"Later on," Surline says, "we'd meet at Burning Man and put it all together. You know: 'Oh, my god!'"

Surline's religious experience was more confrontational. "I was always getting kicked out of Sunday school," he says. "I always felt like an observer, an outsider. I always felt like I was collecting this information for something later on. I never spoke in tongues — I don't think I could have taken myself that seriously."

During one desperate effort to save his soul, he endured the "exorcism" of a "demon" — and to purge him of sin, the church burned all his belongings for good measure.

At this point in the conversation, the metaphor is running way too rich. They all went to a church that believes the Holy Spirit — often symbolized by a flame — moves us to theatrics? And the church set fire to all Surline's worldly goods?

Surline laughs, admitting that no matter how far he runs from religion, some things just never change. "At the Motor City Vaudeville Revue, naturally, I played the pipe organ. And the seating was church pews! We were hauling around these church pews, getting the seating ready, and I had to realize I'd come full-circle. I even called my grandma and said, 'Grandma, I didn't escape it!'"

So are the fun-as-hell shows actually a concerted effort to take fire, formerly a sacred symbol, and celebrate it profanely?

Surline admits, "In creating our own rituals, it's cathartic to the ones we've shed. But most of our rituals are just celebrations of existence."

Fire guild co-owner and fire performer Christine "Majik" Bingham, 21, has dropped by the bar. The Clarkston native helped co-write the Fires of Beltane show, timed to coincide with the pagan holiday, and she is a practicing pagan — even if she admits that often just means going out into nature. Her hair may be a nest of blond dreads, but she is — like the other fire-heads — coherent and professional. She's a serious-minded student working on her psychology degree at U-M Dearborn and helping manage the business of the guild; she has been to the Edinburgh Fire Festival for Beltane, she joins with pagans at the annual Starwood celebration, and she considers Burning Man to be a "sacred place."

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