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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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Cover Story

Maybe you missed them ...

Some lives and how they mattered

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Although he was an innovator when it came to using camera tricks to create imaginary worlds on film, Clokey was no virtuoso of animation. If anything, his knack was for telling a story using rudimentary props and limited special effects, using character and story to somehow rope you in and make you care about a green clay person or a puppet of a talking dog. Perhaps it came from wanting to make viewers sympathize, to better drink in the humanistic and — yes — sacred messages he hoped to convey. Clokey's own spirituality was benign, never incurious, sharp or moralizing; a lifelong adventurer, he'd even visit India and experiment with LSD in later years. Call it religion, call it secular humanism, call it what you will, but a certain civility, dignity and decorum come through loud and clear in Clokey's creations.

Perhaps his greatest gift was for imbuing seemingly simple characters with a sense of decency and humanity. You still see it in the best animated films, where an imagined world, no matter how astonishing, is only a backdrop for characters who must make you care. Clokey knew how to do that. And some of today's big-budget animated bonanzas could learn a thing or two from an episode of Davey and Goliath. —Michael Jackman



Patricia Neal

What makes the camera love a particular face mystifies even those who spend their careers searching for that quality. In Patricia Neal's case, though, the best bet would be her eyes. Wide-set and dark, they dominated her full mouth and delicate jawline. But it wasn't just their beauty; they telegraphed intelligence, a watchful quality. Those eyes helped her build a career as a sui generis presence in American films during the 1950s and '60s, though many of her greatest dramas took place offscreen.

Born in Kentucky in 1926, Patsy Neal grew up in Knoxville, Tenn., and took to her future vocation through the usual school plays and regional theater productions. After studying drama at Northwestern University, she wound up in New York, picked up the more patrician-sounding Patricia, and soon found success on Broadway. She won a Tony Award for Lillian Hellman's Another Part of the Forest in 1947, the first year the awards were presented, before heading for Hollywood.

Her role in the 1949 film adaptation of Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead transformed her life. The film brought Neal her first true renown, and it propelled her into a torrid affair with her co-star, married Hollywood icon Gary Cooper, then more than 20 years her senior. While she later referred to Cooper as the love of her life, the ill-fated romance took a steep toll on her personally. Cooper's family reviled her, and Cooper himself talked her into aborting their child.

Despite the resulting behind-the-scenes scandal, various rifts with studio heads and producers over roles, and a brief retreat to Broadway, she extended her budding streak of memorable film performances. In the 1951 sci-fi hit The Day the Earth Stood Still, she personified the sort of kind, calm, intelligent human an extraterrestrial visitor might trust. (Her husky voice underwrote her mature appeal.) In Elia Kazan's undersung 1957 classic A Face in the Crowd, she was the well-educated East Coast sophisticate who should have been too savvy to fall for Andy Griffith's populist shtick, but his magnetic draw on her character was right there in those eyes for anyone to see. That conflicted, should-know-better quality helped her win a Best Actress statuette for her performance as Alma, the put-upon housekeeper flirted with, harassed and ultimately broken by Paul Newman's title scoundrel in 1963's Hud.

Neal's personal life had stabilized after her 1953 marriage to writer Roald Dahl, but the '60s brought a series of devastating blows. Their infant son Theo suffered brain damage after his stroller was struck by a taxi in 1960, and they lost daughter Olivia to a sudden illness in 1962. In 1965, Neal, then not yet 40, was felled by a massive brain bleed. Some media outlets prematurely reported her death as she lingered in a weeks-long coma. Pregnant at the time, she survived both the coma and brain surgery and eventually gave birth to daughter Lucy. At Dahl's not-always-welcome prodding, she painstakingly learned to walk and talk all over again. The story of her illness and recovery was turned into a TV movie in 1982; Dahl and Neal divorced the next year after three decades of marriage.

Neal devoted much of the rest of her life until her death from cancer on Aug. 8 to advocacy for stroke victims, but she recovered enough to return to acting, most often in television. She made her last significant screen appearance in Robert Altman's 1999 farce Cookie's Fortune, playing the title eccentric Southern dowager. Her character's death sets the cockamamie plot in motion, so she isn't onscreen long, but her few scenes revealed something rare in those eyes. She looked like she was having fun. —Lee Gardner



Benoit Mandelbrot

The mathematician Stephen Wolfram made a bold pronouncement last summer: The universe, in all of its infinite complexity, is the result of less than a handful of computational rules. That is, you plant a tiny seed of incredible simplicity, tell it a few basic things about how to grow, and it will generate a chaotic infinity.

The computational universe is what the thinker calls a "new science" but, in fact, is rooted in a very basic yet extremely recent concept: fractals, the discovery of mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, who passed away Oct. 14 of pancreatic cancer.

Put simply, a fractal is a geometric shape that cannot be reduced to a smooth curve or line. It is infinitely rough and infinitely complex. You could take a simple fractal shape the size of your hand and blow it up past the boundaries of the universe without reaching the "bottom" or end. There are more shapes and details past eternity.

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