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  • Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well

    By LeeAnn Brown Some people say that hip-hop is dead. Local ban Fderal Ground is proving that is not the case. The seven-member band, consisting of three lead vocalists, a DJ, bass, drums and guitar, plays what they call “living hip-hop.” Their music, peppered with multiple styles, covers all aspects of life from growing up in the D to playing with fire despite knowing you will likely get burned. Their undeniable chemistry and raw lyrics compose a music that is living, breathing, and connecting to their listeners. It has been nearly 11 years since Vinny Mendez and Michael Powers conjured up the basement idea that has flowered into the Detroit funk-hop band Feral Ground. Throughout high school the two wrote and rapped consistently, playing shows here and there. In those years they matched their rap stanzas with the animated, dynamic voice of Ginger Nastase and saw an instant connection. The now trio backed their lyrics with DJ Aldo’s beats on and off for years, making him a permanent member within the last year, along with Andy DaFunk (bass), Joseph Waldecker (drums), and newest member, Craig Ericson (guitar). We sat down with Feral Ground and their manager, Miguel Mira, in their […]

    The post Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law

    Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]

    The post Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week

    Walking with Dinosaurs, a magnificent stage show that features life-sized animatronic creatures from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, will be in town next week. But to preview the show’s run at the Palace, a baby T-Rex will be making an appearance at four area malls to the delight and wonderment of shoppers. Baby T-Rex, as the creature is being affectionately referred to, is seven-feet-tall and 14-feet-long. He’ll only be at each mall for about 15 minutes, so while there will be photo opportunities, they’ll be short. The dino will be at Fairlane Town Center Center Court at 18900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit from 2-2:15 p.m. today, July 30; The Mall at Partridge Creek at 17420 Hall Rd. in Clinton Township from 5-5:15 p.m. today, July 30; Twelve Oaks Mall at the Lord & Taylor Court at 27500 Novi Rd., Novi tomorrow, Thursday July 31 from 1:30-1:45 p.m.; and Great Lakes Crossing Food Court at 4000 Baldwin Rd., Auburn Hills from 5-5:15 p.m., tomorrow Thursday, July 31.  

    The post Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations

    Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.  

    The post Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial

    We don’t know about you, but usually Nancy Whiskey and Long John Silver’s aren’t two concepts we’d place in the same sentence. However, the international fast food fish fry conglomerate made a nod to the Detroit dive in their latest YouTube commercial. LJS is offering free fish fries on Saturday, August 2, which is the promotion the commercial is attempting to deliver. But, we think we’ll just go to Nancy Whiskey instead.

    The post Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women

    We came across an interesting item this week: Apparently, a music festival with the name “Michfest” is quietly oriented as a “Women-Only Festival Exclusively for ‘Women Born Women.’” It seems a strange decision to us. If you wanted to have a women-only music festival, why not simply proclaim loud and clear that it is for all sorts of women? But if you really wanted to become a lightning rod for criticisms about transphobia, organizers have found the perfect way to present their festival. Now, we know that defenders of non-cisgender folks have it tough. The strides made by gays and lesbians (and bisexuals) in the last 20 years have been decisive and dramatic. But the people who put the ‘T’ in LGBT have reason to be especially defensive, facing a hostile culture and even some disdain from people who should be their natural allies. That said, sometimes that defensiveness can cause some activists to go overboard; when we interviewed Dan Savage a couple years ago, he recalled his “glitter bombing” and said it was due to the “the narcissism of small differences,” adding that “if you’re playing the game of who is the most victimized, attacking your real enemies doesn’t prove you’re most victimized, claiming you […]

    The post Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Holiday Gift Guide 2011

Low dough X-mas

A small bankroll can equal a high return this holiday season

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Holiday shopping is such a chore. It's not even the crowds or the long lines — it's just the plain monotony of staring at a shelf full of junk and trying to decide if any man ever really needs one more tie. The key, then, is to make shopping more of an activity. To make it an event. But how? 

It's easy, you dummy. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, a whole slew of events take place for no other purpose than to sell you nifty, one-of-a-kind gifts. They're mainly of the crafty, handmade, DIY persuasion, which is good because it keeps you away from mass-produced schlock, keeps your dollars local, supports all those creative types who deserve it and ensures you'll be able to find one really sweet tie.

Shop Detroit

First up is this annual event hosted by Inside Detroit and Detroit Synergy focusing on Detroit's mom-and-pop shops. Now in its eighth year, the event is geared for shoppers from the entire metro area who might not be familiar with all of Detroit's diverse retail offerings. This year, Shop Detroit is being held in conjunction with Small Business Saturday, an initiative spearheaded by American Express to encourage folks to take some time between Black Friday and Cyber Monday to support the indie businesses in their community. Shop Detroit enlivens the process with giveaways, specials and more. Participating stores include everything from longtime institutions such as John K. Kings Books to newer spots such as Goods and Leopold's Books to museum shops including MOCAD and the Charles Wright Museum. Shop Detroit takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26; check-in at the Inside Detroit Welcome Center, 1253 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-962-4590 or register in advance at


Low Dough Art Show

If you can only stomach shopping if you're also stomaching beer, then this barroom art fair may be your best bet. Local artists Rob-O, Beth Amber, Jerry Shirts and Amanda May offer up creative wares all priced to move at less than $50. Even better, Sharks Never Sleep, the McFlys and D-Day create the sonic accompaniment that make this 8 gazillion times better than visiting a mall. And for the broke and cheap, purchase a ticket for the art raffle for a chance to win, rather than buy, a gift. From 7 till 10 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29, at PJ's Lager House, 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-961-4668; $3 cover.


Detroit Urban Craft Fair

Next up is the granddaddy of the Motor City's handmade events, the Detroit Urban Craft Fair. Now in its sixth year, the DUCF packs together so many artsy and crafty types you just might need to go both days to see it all. Locally made ginger fizz soap, mojito-flavored lip gloss, Detroit-centric clothing, Marie Curie magnets, hand-drawn paper goods, repurposed vintage jewelry, purses, paintings, prints, candles, nightlights, hand puppets, shoes ... the list goes on and on. Basically, everything you never knew you wanted to buy for people who never knew they wanted it (but will love it). The DUCF takes place Saturday, Dec. 3 and Sunday, Dec. 4 at the Masonic Temple, 500 Temple St., Detroit. For info, see



New last year, DIYpsi expands to a second day giving Washtenawers twice the handmade shopping fun. The show offers a diverse array of vendors slinging goodies sure to please everyone on your list. Even better, you can slam a beer or two while you peruse the various DIY offerings. Filling a definite hole in the West Side craft scene since the Shadow Art Fair switched up its winter event from an art fair to a costume ball, DIYpsi takes place Saturday, Dec. 10 and Sunday, Dec. 11 at the Corner Brewery, 720 Norris St., Ypsilanti; 734-480-2739; info at


Tiny Expo

Also returning for a second year is Ann Arbor's Tiny Expo, billed as the city's "biggest little indie arts & craft fair." Founded by four Ann Arbor-area artists, Tiny Expo features more than 25 vendors selling affordable and original creations, as well as offerings not typical of your average craft fair, from the likes of the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Sobercove Press, J. Trees Wine, RoosRoast Coffee and more. Also expect lip balms, salves and other herbal goodies from Artemisia Herbals; singular floral arrangements and containers from Pot & Box; card and prints courtesy of Elevated Press; posters by the Silent Giants and plenty more. Food, libations and film screenings courtesy of the Ann Arbor Film Festival add to the festive atmosphere. Tiny Expo takes place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, across from the Kerrytown Farmer's Market at 327 Braun St., Ann Arbor; for info.


Rock and Rummage 

Holiday Shopping Show

By now, a single theme is clear — if you want holiday shopping to be fun, make sure alcohol is involved. Rock and Rummage is perhaps Detroit's original boozy buying experience, a traveling flea market of rock memorabilia, vintage items and more, all hawked in various bars throughout metro Detroit. The holiday show brings together 17 Rock and Rummage vendors offering the usual rock 'n' roll fare, including records, DVDs, posters, retro collectibles, clothing, books, jewelry, handmade goods and all manner of hard-to-find, super-cool surprises. Each night of the two-night shopping extravaganza will feature a variety of different vendors, so you might want to stop in for a beer and browse both nights. Just sayin'. Friday, Dec. 9 and Saturday, Dec. 10 at the Painted Lady Lounge, 2930 Jacob St., Hamtramck; 313-874-2991.

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