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    Turns out, our very own Jack Lessenberry knows the Grosse Pointer seeking to ban the MT: Ten years or so ago, a woman named Andrea Lavigne sat in on some media survey classes I was teaching at Wayne State University. She was in her late 30s or early 40s, and seemed to be searching for answers. She wanted to know how the media work, and told me she was a Maoist. This fascinated me, because I thought authentic Maoists were almost as rare as passenger pigeons. Chairman Mao, we now know, starved to death and slaughtered tens of millions of his own citizens, and kept China economically and intellectually backward. Intrigued, I got together one night before class with her and another Maoist, to find out what they were all about. Alas, they spouted a form of primitive, grade-school Marxism. They seemed to have very little historical knowledge of Communism or what it had actually been like. Yes. A Maoist. Read the full story at Michigan Radio here.

    The post Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’

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    The post Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup

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    The post Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative

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    The post Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio

    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

    Yes, it’s true. Forbes says Detroit is one of America’s most creative cities: “We ranked these places based on four metrics: activity per capita on project-funding platforms Kickstarter and Indiegogo and music sites Bandcamp and ReverbNation. The goal was to capture organic creativity, since many artistic and musical types have “day jobs” outside of creative pursuits.” The Forbes list sandwiches #9 Detroit between #8 Seattle and #10 Oakland, Calif. If you are watching the art and culture explosion happening right now in Detroit, you probably think we should rank higher than #2 Boston and #1 San Francisco, if only for the fact that it’s actually affordable to create here and there is space for everyone to be creative. But hey, those metrics weren’t part of the equation. And there’s always next year.

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