Most Read
  • The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues

    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards 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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