Trending
Most Read
  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May

    Margaret Doll Rod will celebrate the release of her new EP, Margaret, with a show at PJ’s Lager House on Saturday, May 10. A statement reads, “The EP contains 3 new original songs and one Chrome Cranks cover with Italian actress Asia Argento singing background vocals. Margaret moved to Italy after the end of the Demolition Doll Rods where she still lives touring and performing festivals in Europe. The Dollrods were a Garage Rock force for over 20 years, opening for Iggy, Jon Spencer, The Scientist, The Monks and The Cramps. Margaret was the front person and principal songwriter for The Dollrods. Her chief musical foil was Danny Kroha, who joined the Demolition Doll Rods after the now legendary Gories called it quits. Margaret’s sister, Christine, on drums, rounded out the legendary trio. Margaret will do a special performance in the round that night with a 360 degree revolving stage and special guest DJ Adam Stanfel.” The bill will also feature the Stomp Rockets and the Volcanos. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to bcallwood@metrotimes.com. Ricky Rat’s Tokyo Pop/Glitter People (New Fortune) 7” single highlights all that’s great about the Trash Brats guitarist, but also his limitations. The man can write a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll song to match anyone in the city and most beyond. He’s also a killer guitarist, ripping out one throwaway riff after another with reckless abandon. He’s a machine. On his own though, without Trash Brats frontman Brian McCarty, his voice doesn’t have enough strength to do the songs justice. Not that you need to have the greatest voice in the world to sing this stuff – you don’t need to be able to perform vocal gymnastics – but you do have to be able to wail the tunes out. Both of the songs on this single are great, but you can’t help but wonder how much better they would sound with McCarty or somebody similar talking the mic. Still, as they are the songs are great fun. We’re just being picky. The Paper Sound’s Trajectories is a dense, atypically dark Americana-tinged album, unrelenting and […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of buildingdetroit.org, a new website launched by the City of Detroit today to auction off city-owned homes to prospective buyers who pledge to fix them up and move in. “We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement today. “There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment.” The website to facilitate the auctions went live this afternoon. The first auction is scheduled to take place Monday, May 5. Officials said in a news release that one home will be auctioned per day, Monday through Friday. Fifteen homes are available for sale on the site, a dozen of which are in the East English Village neighborhood. Any Michigan resident, company, or organization that can do business in the state can bid, according to the website. Properties will be for sale for only one day, with bidding taking place from 8 […]

    The post Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes

    In case you haven’t heard, two of the biggest names in film, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, are collaborating to put on a benefit concert for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this summer. In case you wanted to go- well, you’re too damn late. The DSO says tickets to the June 14 concert were snapped up in a record-breaking 15 minutes after they went on sale at 9 a.m. today. The DSO has since released this statement to fans who didn’t snag seats: Our apologies to everyone who was unable to buy tickets this morning for our historic benefit concert featuring John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Despite increasing our phone and internet system capacity for the day, a surge of hundreds of ticket buyers purchased tickets in a matter of minutes, filling the phone lines and temporarily maxing out our web servers. After a one-hour pre-sale made available to donors and subscribers at 8am, we released additional seats at 9am to the general public, including seats available for as low as $30. All seats sold out immediately. The concert program seems nothing short of top notch: Williams will conduct the orchestra as it performs some of his most iconic tunes, such […]

    The post Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

Calendar

Calendar

Search thousands of events in our database.

Restaurants

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Nightlife

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

MT on Twitter
MT on Facebook

Print Email

Culture

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."

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus