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  • 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.

  • Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor

    Detroit home-girl Lily Tomlin will perform at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, June 14. A press release reads, “Get together with Lily Tomlin for an unforgettable night of fun and sidesplitting laughter. “Tomlin is amazing” The NY Times and “as always a revelation.” The New Yorker This unique comic artist takes her audience on what the Washington Post calls a “wise and howlingly funny” trip with more than a dozen of her timeless characters—from Ernestine to Mrs. Beasley to Edith Ann.” “With astounding skill and energy, Tomlin zaps through the channels like a human remote control. Using a fantastic range of voices, gestures and movements, she conjures up the cast of characters with all the apparent ease of a magician pulling a whole menagerie of animals from a single hat.” NY Daily News “Her gentle touch is as comforting as it is edifying.” NY Time Out She has “made the one-person show the daring, irreverent art form it is today.” Newsweek Her long list of awards includes: a Grammy; two Tonys; six Emmys; an Oscar nomination; two Peabodys; and the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Find more info here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor

    The Detroit Metro Times, Detroit’s award-winning alternative weekly media company, is proud to announce the recent hire of Valerie Vande Panne as Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning independent journalist and Michigan native, Vande Panne’s work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Daily Beast, and Salon, among other publications. Previously, Vande Panne attended Harvard University and was a regular contributor to The Boston Phoenix, and a news editor of High Times magazine. She has spent years covering drug policy among other subjects, including the environment, culture, lifestyle, extreme sports, and academia. “Valerie understands our business and what we expect to accomplish in Detroit. She has an excellent sense for stories that will move our readers, as well as experience with balancing print and digital content. I’m excited to have her at the paper and trust her leadership as we move forward,” said Detroit Metro Times publisher Chris Keating.

    The post Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’

    She welcomes you when you enter Detroit, from every direction, with the one word that might just be Detroit’s biggest philosophical question: Injured? Joumana Kayrouz is deeper than the inflated image watching over Detroit, peddling justice to the poor and broken of the city. This Wednesday, Drew Philp takes us behind the billboard and into the heart of the Kayrouz quest. (And all of Brian Rozman’s photos of Kayrouz have not been retouched.) Check out MT‘s cover story, on newsstands Wednesday!

    The post Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt

    There was a fire in an upstairs apartment at PJ’s Lager House on Monday evening. No people were hurt, although three cats belonging to the tenants died after CPR. The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. during a show featuring Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band, Curtin, and Jeffrey Jablonsky. “We just smelled smoke and someone yelled everyone has to get out,” 33-year-old Nick Leu told MLive. On the Lager House Facebook page in the early hours of the morning, a post said, “We at PJ’s lager House would like to thank everyone for their care and concern. Also, a very big THANK YOU to all who stepped up to do what they could this evening. The fire was contained to the upstairs but due to water damage in the bar, we will be closed until it can be assessed. Everyone is safe and we will keep you updated.” A later update read, “Update from the big boss. Since there was no damage to the stage side of the bar, the show will go on tomorrow! You may have to enter through the back door and there may not be a large selection of booze but we are going […]

    The post Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Magic bus

Enlightening lives one book stop at a time

Photo: Photo: Detroitblogger John, License: N/A

Photo: Detroitblogger John

Ryan Boyd, right, and Aaron Jacobsen with his bags full of books inside the bookmobile.

"We're trying to get it pulled together, remodel it, because it was damaged," says Gail Jackson, 55, the home's new owner. It was a foreclosure they got on the cheap. The place had been empty and ransacked, tagged and torn up. Now they were trying to reclaim it as a home. "We just haven't gotten it together yet. It takes time," she says, softly.

She's tethered to an oxygen tank whose hose ropes around her head to feed air into her nose. Though she walks, she's too sick to get out anymore since she developed COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) a few years ago. "I don't smoke," she explains. "It was environmental."

Jackson used the bookmobile for years, back before she got sick, back when she lived in a nice riverfront apartment, when its visit was a luxury, not a necessity. Now she relies on it because she can't get out anymore.

"It's exciting, you know, to get these books when they come once a month," she says. "We love the bookmobile. We love the library. We're avid readers." Along the wall, two shopping bags full of already-read books affirm her point.

She lives here with her mother, Blanche Taylor, 78, who sits at a small fold-out table with a large, plastic machine in front of her and a wooden cane across her lap. She went blind two years ago and she too doesn't leave the house much anymore.

Now she devours books using a specialized, old-fashioned tape player loaned to patrons like her, using cartridges containing long volumes that fill the air with hours of prose at a time.

"Everybody needs to know about the bookmobile," she says. "I'm fortunate to get the audio books from the library, which I didn't know existed, but which has been great for me because I love to read, and I haven't been able to since I can't see. It's just been a blessing."

Jacobsen, now running behind on the route because everyone wants to talk with him awhile, says a polite goodbye, turns and leaves behind him two dedicated readers in a battered house full of words — in books, on tape and all over the walls.

It's hard
for them not to get attached to the people they visit. But when all your customers on these runs are elderly, those you befriend may not be around for long.

"It's gotten me a couple of times," Jacobsen says. "It really has. You're not supposed to get possessive, but they're such good people and they can pass away in the night, and you're just like, wow. It's just all shock. But this is part of the reality of the program, dealing with seniors."

Sometimes they get the call from a family member, canceling the service because the patron has passed away. Other times they find this out firsthand.

McCormick, who's been with the library on and off for 26 years, has heard from employees who have walked in and found someone near death on the couch, or collapsed on the floor, or lying still in their beds.

The ones who come to the door on their own often press a librarian into service, asking them to do things like grab something off a high shelf, or mail a letter for them, or otherwise just keep them company because it's the only human contact they'll have for a long time.

"We're somebody that sees them, and we're somebody they know they can depend on once something is wrong," McCormick says. She points out that many grow to trust the bookmobile librarians so much they leave the door open for them to come in, especially if they're bedridden. But the librarians never know what they might find once they walk inside.

"It's not always good," McCormick says.

The city's
library system has been in the news a lot lately — budget woes, spending controversies, layoffs and threatened branch closings. Just about everyone on this route has heard these stories and is rattled, and asks about it.

"They worry about us," McCormick says. "They're like, 'Are you sure you're going to be OK? How is this going to affect you? And they want to give you their little 10 and 15 dollars, because they want to do everything they can to keep the service and keep the libraries open. Detroiters have always liked their libraries."

She says despite the city's ongoing budget problems, the bookmobile is safe. In fact, her branch won the National Library Service Award last month, and she and the staff have been invited to Washington, D.C., to be honored.

"With all the mess that has been going on, we were really glad to hear that we were doing something good here at Detroit Public Library," she says.

"Now I'm gonna
fuss with you, Aaron. Where's your jacket?"

Julie Milner, an 80-year-old living on the sixth floor of the River Towers senior apartments along the Detroit River, is hounding Jacobsen because it's a windy day outside and she thinks he'll catch a chill. If Jenkins in McCauley Commons thinks of him as her boyfriend, Milner has made him her grandson.

She too is listed in the library files as a shut-in. "I'm all alone," she says. "No brothers, no sisters. I got grandchildren but I don't see them. And every time I see them they got their hand out."

Her place is like all the others — neat, ordered, full of the hallmarks of elderly people — an afghan draped over a chair, knickknacks arranged neatly on shelves, and a TV — always a TV — playing loudly in the background.

Milner, like others along the route, gets a bag filled to the top with books. She can read a whole novel in a single day. There are enough people like her in this complex that the staff started a book club for them. And several use the bookmobile.

"These people are really into their books," says Almira Mathis, senior services coordinator at River Towers. "These are avid readers. They just love to read. Some read a book in two or three days, and that's all they do."

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