Most Read
  • 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.

  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to The Sugar Clouds’ Partners Don’t Do That (They Watch and be Amazed) (Wax Splat) is a nostalgic look at the psychedelic days of ’60s grooviness. Even the album cover looks like a lava lamp. The male-female vocals have a sort of Jefferson Airplane feel, and the songs are blessed with both sugary sweet pop melodies and a garage-y earthiness. The story of the band’s formation is rather interesting; the two vocalists, Greg and Melissa Host, are a divorced couple who wrote the songs in their living room. The band is still together, so this divorce was a hell of a lot more civil than any we’ve ever known of. Steffanie Christi’an has friends in fairly high places. Her new Way Too Much mini-album is being put out by Nadir Omowale’s Distorted Soul label, and she is also a regular feature on Jessica Care Moore’s Black Women Rock revue. Maybe the choice of cover image isn’t the best – she looks a bit like a Tina Turner tribute act here. But that can and should be […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit councilman: Increased parking fines an ‘anti-growth strategy’

      There’s at least one city councilmember who’s less than pleased with Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s plan to increase all parking violation fines. Councilman Gabe Leland, whose district represents the city’s west side, issued a statement today, calling Orr’s plan a potential “deterrent” to attracting people to the city. I don’t believe the argument to raise the parking ticket fines from $30 to $45 and eliminate the $10 early payment fine are justification for this action. The emergency manager’s order to increase ticket fines places city government inefficiencies on the backs of our residents who need to do business in downtown and other parts of our city. And, this will increase the barrier for people to frequent Detroit-based establishments; likely to be a deterrent for some to shop and dine in our city. Leland suggested implementing a plan that maintains current rates for fines and reduces operating inefficiencies to collecting parking fines. “In my view, generating revenue by increasing fines when residents from neighborhoods must go downtown to get licenses and permits, attend court appointments and do other necessary business, is the wrong direction,” Leland said. “…Additionally, generating revenue using fines when we are trying to grow this city and attract […]

    The post Detroit councilman: Increased parking fines an ‘anti-growth strategy’ 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.

For Bingham, whose British parents didn't enforce a parochial upbringing, the camaraderie the group feels isn't rooted in any reaction to religion, but a coming-together of people who simply didn't fit the mold.

"We're like misfits who found one another as a family. We used to get made fun of for being freaks," she says, "and now we get paid for it."

The Pagans of Moran Street

The center of this small community is a faded bungalow on Moran Street in Hamtramck. Surline, Bradish and a few of the other performers have called it home for more than a year now. Others on the street might call it "the freak house," but to them it's jokingly called the "International Sillyfuck Hostel Pancake Paradise and Used Car Parts Emporium." That's where the guild does "weird stuff," such as building a flame-throwing equalizer, for fun.

Why is there an ice cream truck parked out front? Several months ago, when Surline's car died, he had to choose between a car that ran and an ice cream truck that didn't. Naturally, Surline says, he bought the nonfunctioning ice cream truck. Bradish recalls Surline's excited voice on the phone, crying, "This is the most awesome and irresponsible thing I've ever done!"

Now they take a cab to work.

Luckily, they work at Detroit's Traffic Jam, where husband-and-wife owners Scott Lowell and Carolyn Howard are known to give their staff a bit of leeway. Bradish says, "They're supportive, and they actually think we should be doing this stuff. There is a wealth of creative, intelligent people working there."

Bradish jokes about his family of "high-minded lowlifes" living in the city, their meager lifestyles contrasting with how they push their fire performing to consistently higher degrees. But the city, with its cheap rents, do-it-yourself ethos and wealth of unusual performers, is what makes their spectacles possible.

These twentysomethings are satisfied to keep bohemian ways, leaving them free to pour their energy into creating big shows, combining music, visuals, set decoration, dance, pantomime, a kick-ass dance party and, of course, fire. "These art forms are not mutually exclusive," Bradish says. "They can come together for a complete, full, real, immersive, mind-blowing production."

Perhaps that's what makes the DFG formula such a winner. In an age when you can dial up anything on YouTube or Netflix, when video games look as real as a movie, it's possible that the culture can forget the thrill of a 360-degree, live action spectacle that envelops you.

Surline says the goal is to take that Theatre Bizarre, Burning Man sensibility and take it to other venues. "We're nuts about stage aesthetics, this idea of creating almost a lucid dream. Like, one time I saw a photo album on Facebook of a Detroit Fire Guild event, and it was called 'Whoa, where the hell am I?' That's what I want, a total immersion in our vision."

Bradish one-ups Surline, saying, "I think it's nice when people are out there with cellphones or Tweeting or blogging about it before they leave the venue. But the feeling of being in the moment, that this moment is really important, where you can't look away, where even the smells are part of the experience — that's the goal. When we're making people realize we're not just playing: This is a chosen perception of reality.

"I mean, people come to see us to escape, but we get to live it. We don't expect to make money or a solid living, but it's important to wake people up like I've been woken up. The stage doesn't stop at the footlights, but at where individual people are comfortable with it. We want people in the audience to take some ownership of what they're seeing. That's how it becomes bigger."

Taking a cue from Surline, he emphasizes, "We want to change the conversation from, 'You won't believe what I saw last night,' to 'You won't believe what I did last night.' Like, I became a Roman goddess or an alien. That would be the ultimate success."

To learn more about the Detroit Fire Guild, see

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