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  • 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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This woman tells the stories of the dead

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Stephanie Teamer, biographer to the deceased..

She has to choose her words carefully, because they can define a life forever, and can be as permanent as etchings on a gravestone.

Stephanie Teamer is a biographer of the dead. She sums up the lives of the departed in those little pamphlets handed out to mourners at a funeral. Their story will appear alongside the listing of the hymns to be sung, the scriptures to be read, the eulogy to be delivered, alongside the smiling pictures of the deceased, arm in arm with the people who shared their lives, and the sad parting words from those left behind to those now gone.

It was a vocation she never sought. When her brother died in 2002 after languishing for years in a nursing home, the family asked Stephanie to write a tribute to him. He had no life insurance, the funeral had to be bare bones, and besides, she'd spent years visiting him there twice a week, comforting him, keeping him company for hours. She seemed like the right person for such a solemn task.

That was her first obituary. And she messed it up. 

"I missed my stepmother," the 54-year-old Detroiter says with a laugh. "I didn't put her name in it. But she didn't say a word. Still, it would've been nice to have her in there."

But family members hung onto that little remembrance of her brother's life, and they thought so much of it they began turning to her when other relatives died. An aunt. A niece. A father-in-law.

The frequent requests inspired her to start her own home business, Obituaries by Stephanie. It's a side job to her real job as an office manager for a local union, though the more she does it the more she wants to do it. She writes them for a fraction of what a funeral home would normally charge for the service. Funerals are costly, and people struggling to pay for them find her inexpensive service helpful.

"I don't charge much, and that's my thing," she says. "That's why I started, because people weren't able to afford obituaries. They're very expensive."

It might seem a small task among the duties to the dead, but for some people a funeral without an obituary is like a story without an ending. 

"I don't know if the white culture does that, but the black culture does that at almost every funeral," she says. "I've seen them framed. It's a keepsake for their loved ones and their friends, like a history of somebody's life that walked the earth, you know? It's something they can hold onto."

Obituaries have to capture a whole life in a few quick paragraphs. Some read like folk stories, showing glimpses into people's everyday lives, revealing the memories that their loved ones chose to cherish. 

"In her lifetime, Ethel had many employers such as Denso and TAPS, but she was very excited about her employment with Hair Plus," reads Stephanie's obituary for one of her relatives, gone now after 56 years.

The life of a grandmother named Rebecca, who lived 84 years, was summed up in a few paragraphs that paint pictures more vivid than their length seemingly allows. "Bec firmly planted her feet in Detroit after purchasing her first home on 15th Street. This house would become the 'Revolving Door of Welcome' as she hosted many family and friends as they visited or relocated to Detroit. Her daughter, Betty, remembered as a child asking her mother, 'Why do they all have to stay here?' later welcoming the opportunity to make money ironing shirts for her uncles."

Those are the kinds of memories that stunned mourners conjure to give life to someone's story right after they die. "Granny was their first teacher," reads the account of a woman's love for her five grandchildren. "She taught them valuable life lessons as they played 'Restaurant' while she served them breakfast or their favorite hamburgers. She made sure they knew how to place orders, pay their bill and count their change."

Stephanie's obituaries weave the catchphrases of the church with the softened terms of grief. A birthday is referred to as the person's "sunrise." Their death date is "sunset." Their passing becomes a "transition." The funeral is a "going home celebration." She speaks the language of grief well, balancing reverence with lightheartedness, blending piety with the everyday poetry of real life.

One woman, she notes, "had a close relationship with her family, as they were the gas in her car that kept her going." She's able to gloss over certain indelicacies with a few smooth words. "During his lifetime he married three beautiful women," she notes, sidestepping a soap opera's worth of drama.

The relatives in her obituaries express the heartfelt belief that death is merely a pause, not an ending. "This is not a goodbye, this is a see ya later!" says Little Val to their grandmother. "Will keep you in my heart — 'til we meet again," a woman named Kimberly says to her father. 

And some tributes lay bare their writer's deep sadness about the loss of a soul mate. "It broke my heart to loose you, you did not go alone, for part of me went with you," read one poem, signed, "Your husband, Valint."

"Words on paper cannot express the way my heart feels being without you," wrote Desiree, who'd just lost her boyfriend Donald. "I wish we had just a little while longer together so that I could tell you how much I appreciate you."

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