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  • Jumpin Jumpin: Police, fire fighters, and EMS workers to be honored at Sky Zone

    When we think of honoring the brave men and women who protect and serve the metro Detroit area, we think of trampolines.  We think they should jump on trampolines. And by trampolines, we mean an all-walled trampoline field where they can land in a pit of 10,000 foam cubes. They have to blow off steam some how. Sky Zone, the inventors of such a place, are hosting a special day at their Canton and Shelby Township locations that will be all about police officers, firefighters, EMS workers, and their families. On Tuesday, August 5 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. there will be free jumping for these folks. All metro Detroit police, firefighters, EMS workers and their families are invited to come, though an employee ID or professional organization ID will be required for admittance to 60 free minutes at the indoor park. The hour of free jumping comes with free pizza from Jet’s as well. This is the first event of its kind in Michigan.  Sky Zone Canton is located at 42550 Executive Drive Sky Zone Shelby Township is located at 50810 Sabrina Drive. Check for more information. 

    The post Jumpin Jumpin: Police, fire fighters, and EMS workers to be honored at Sky Zone appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times is getting a new website today

    Your favorite local alternative weekly is getting a digital facelift at around 4 p.m. today, and we need your help. If you, dear reader, spot anything amiss or notice that any of our regular features are not working properly, do give us a shout in the comment section below or on social media. If, on the other hand, you find that you positively adore our new design (which we surely hope you do!), we’d certainly enjoy hearing about that as well. Let the countdown to launch begin!

    The post Metro Times is getting a new website today appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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.



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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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