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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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No show

Without a ride to gigs, one Detroiter's puppet show remains obscure

Photo: Detroitblogger John, License: N/A

Detroitblogger John

Darrell Banks lip-syncing with his puppet Diamond inside his booth.


That Saturday, he gathered his puppets, dismantled his stage and packed his black shroud. And he did it all for nothing. He never made it to the show because his ride fell through. 

"I don't even want to talk about it," he says the next day, shaking his head. Then, as if to sum up what happened in a few words, he adds, "Oh, man. My brother."

Banks needs rides to get around town because he's been handicapped most of his life. He's got ankylosing spondylitis, which he refers to as Bamboo Spine. It's an arthritic condition that causes the spine's vertebrae to eventually fuse together into a solid, single bone that leaves the body contorted and difficult to maneuver. 

He can barely get around his small booth, let alone from a bus stop to his destination. He can't drive a car, though for a time he figured out how to do so using wooden canes to reach the pedals on the floor, but he really needs a vehicle with hand controls. So despite his ambition, despite his commitments and appointments, he's at the mercy of others if he needs to get someplace.

Banks talks about all this as he sits on a stool inside his booth on a chilly autumn afternoon. His walker stands nearby, his cane stays in his hand. The crowd is thin today at the bazaar, and apart from a few hellos from others who work here, nobody's shopping in his booth.

He leans over and picks up a puppet, a white-haired dog wearing a leopard print costume and red sunglasses that he named Diamond. The dog starts rapping along with a Queen Latifah CD. And Banks breaks into his toothy grin again.

 Barely a minute passes before several people have gathered, staring with amusement. They can't help but smile or chuckle, because the sight of a fuzzy rapping dog is genuinely funny. The dog beckons the crowd, strokes its own hair, puts its hand on its heart, waves its arms wildly. For a few moments, it's as if the puppet gives him a chance to express the movements that his own body can't, and the delight on his face steals the show.

And when it ends, his audience melts away. Nobody pays him for the entertainment, and nobody buys anything. Banks goes back to waiting quietly as the TV flickers and the puppet goes back to being lifeless on a shelf.


A few days later, despite missing his gig the weekend before, he was invited for the next week's Halloween show at Bert's. And Saturday is here! He was planning to be there by 10 a.m. to set up for the noon show, he says excitedly. This time, he insists, one of the organizers has promised to pick him up and take him there.

Ten o'clock comes. So does 11. And Banks is still at home, waiting for a ride that would never come. He leaves voicemails and waits. Nothing. By mid-afternoon, he's given up. 

"She never did show up," he says, his voice dispirited at the end of another day's defeat. "I called her and it just seemed like she had a lot on her plate."

Now he missed both the Halloween party and the weekend bazaar that day. "I'm starting to see that I won't be able to do outside performances," he says, forlornly. "When you have a handicap and you've had one all your life you begin to learn certain things. You begin to learn how to have patience and how to do things more efficiently, so when things just don't go, you don't let it bother you. You can't let it frustrate you. You have to squash it and then just move on."

For now, he says, he'll just focus on making DVDs of his performances until someone else comes along and decides that his puppet show is worth being shown elsewhere.

Until then, his puppets come to life only in the shadows of his dimly lit booth, animated at whim, unseen by all but those few who pass by when there happens to be a spontaneous lip-sync-a-long. At least, Banks says in self-consolation, he can put on a performance or two at the bazaar the following day, and draw some appreciative smiles, maybe even a paying customer.

All he has to do is find a ride there. 


Detroitblogger John is John Carlisle. He scours the Motor City for Metro Times. Send comments to

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