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  • 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 […]

    The post James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Last days

A legendary downtown bar and its owners remain entwined until the end

Photo: , License: N/A

Steve and Sophie inside their longtime bar.

The decor hasn't changed in decades. Lime greens, bright chartreuses and patterned wallpaper on wood paneling create its surreal backdrop. 

The long bar gleams with pale, distorted reflections of the Christmas lights on the wall. Yards of hallway lead to the bare-bones bathrooms. And filling out the space are restaurant-style tables and booths, dozens of them, persistent reminders that this place once served meals but hasn't in at least a decade. A sign on the wall lists old lunch specials now frozen in time: roast beef and chicken noodle on Mondays, meatballs and spaghetti on Wednesdays, and so on; a connection to a past before the couple got too old to cook, before the lunch crowd stopped coming by.

Several vintage tin lunchboxes, including decades-old originals featuring such pop-culture figures as Nancy Drew and Fat Albert and the Monkees, gather dust above the bar. They were new when Steve bought them for decoration; now they're collectors' items that sometimes draw spontaneous offers of cash from visitors. "But I cannot sell them," he says. "If I sell them it would be empty in here."


Steve himself is the very essence of his bar. He's a renmant from Old Detroit — a charming, grandfatherly, Old World gentleman who still wears a tie and a checkered shirt to work every day, who hitches his baggy trousers high, who glides in little shuffles across the floor in scuffed dress shoes.

He was born in Oregon but was raised from an early age in Greece, and in his younger days he'd regale customers with his battle stories from the German occupation in World War II and the Greek civil war after that. "I was in the service almost six years fighting against the Communists," he says. "I lost everything to the Communists — my house, my job." 

He came back to America in the '50s, settled in Detroit, married Sophie and worked in high-end restaurants like the London Chop House and Caucus Club until he'd saved enough money to buy his own bar. 

Somehow he's managed to retain his thick Greek accent through his years here, and combined with the softening of his voice with age, he's nearly impossible to understand when he speaks. He can't hear so well either anymore, so most interactions between him and his customers are wordless conversations of shared expressions, a nod to generously poured drinks, gestures of politeness.

His age is beginning to show more now. Even only a few months back, on a bright summer weekday, he seemed more lively as he sat outside his bar on a chair that leaned against the brick wall, smoking a cigarette, his legs crossed elegantly, smiling as he watched the life of the street. Not long before, he had the sign outside repainted to say “Mr. Steven’s Place” in a curious attempt at freshening things up.

He sprang to life when a regular customer walked up with his 1-year-old son in tow. The sight of the boy caused a sunburst of a smile on Steve's face. He reached into his baggy pants pockets and pulled out a dollar bill, and with a trembling hand reached out and gave it to the child. The elderly bartender was so delighted at the sight of the toddler he wanted to express his affection in a tangible way, and this was the gift he spontaneously came up with. It was likely more money than he'd made so far that day. 

As father and son left, an elderly man walked over from somewhere in Greektown, and the two began speaking animatedly in Greek to one another. It was just like the old days for a moment, one immigrant catching up with another, old friends in a Greektown that's become less Greek by the year. Once, this area was filled with thousands of others like them, but every year there are fewer of them around to talk to like this. 

That day's just a warm memory now as Steve sits huddled inside the bar on a cold November weekday night, hunched into himself for warmth, unable to sit in his chair outside because of the chill. Sophie is upstairs, sleeping.

"She's not feeling too good," he says. When she wakes up it'll be his turn to nap. And he can use the rest. He's not feeling well either right now, he says. "Health," he says, simply. "But for the age, not bad."

He and his wife could've retired years ago, but then what? They live upstairs; the bar is their home and this is all they've done half their lives. Despite worsening health and advancing age, their bar is going to remain here as long as they do. "I have no choice," Steve says. "We've worked hard all our life over here. I work like slave over here. This is my job and my house."

He gets up slowly from his table and makes his painstaking way to the back booth, by the open doorway that leads to the couple's apartment, where he sits and stares forward again, a man waiting out the clock, both on this day and in this life. But this time, as his only visitor gets up to leave, he suddenly breaks into a sweet, friendly smile, and waves and waves with a wide sweep of his hand until the customer is all the way out the door, leaving Steve all alone, waiting patiently by the apartment door for his sleeping wife to awaken.


Detroitblogger John scours the city for Metro Times. Send comments to

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