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    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

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    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

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    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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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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