Trending
Most Read
  • 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.

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

One man's stand

A ragtag market becomes a fixture in a falling neighborhood

Photo: , License: N/A

Luther Fowler at his fruit market.


Luther Fowler sits in a foldout chair and watches the neighborhood pass before him.

He's seated inside the open bay door of a warehouse on the corner of Conner and Canfield, where he has a cobbled together fruit market and a full view of east-side life. His perch has given him an assessment of the mood out here.

"The spirit is low," the 59-year-old says of this area. "All the life seems to be leaving. There's just a sense of disappointment, not really giving a fuck, wanting to get the heck on out of here, leave Detroit and just go. Get up and just go."

This area isn't downtown, or midtown, or the riverfront, where there are exciting projects, new residents, signs of hope for the future. This is an old east side neighborhood, a remote place where a Church's Chicken or a dollar store is talked about as a major development, where more people travel by bus than by car, and where the old housing isn't being restored but instead just crumbles slowly.

He points to some teenagers meandering by. "I see it walking — pants down, look like they're forgotten children. They don't really have no upbeat tempo about them. They're like they just give up."

Fowler's fruit store takes up a small section of a big warehouse that once was Steve's Produce Plus — "The People's Market" as a painted sign declares. Some still call it Steve's. Some call it "Obama Fruit" because of the now-fading portraits of a then-obscure presidential candidate that a wandering painter put on the walls there years ago, next to the scrawls announcing this store's affiliation with the Michigan Coalition of Black Farmers.

But most simply call it "Luther's" because of the man who sits here almost every day, at unpredictable hours, looking out from the warehouse shade, selling fruit one apple or banana at a time.

A new Save-A-Lot supermarket opened down the street not long ago. It's got a huge selection of produce. Yet Fowler still draws customers because his offerings cost just a little less, but also — maybe even especially — because there's something idealistic about a man who opens up a little fruit market right by a national grocery chain he can't possibly compete with. That's the point, he says.

"This corner could do a lot for this neighborhood, it really could," he says of his store. "A little hope would brighten it up. I'd like the neighborhood to come on in here and stop and let them know we as a people can do something." 

 

Fowler used to be among those who shopped at the warehouse. He lives nearby, about a mile's walk away, and, like everyone else, he'd swing by sometimes for a single potato or a couple apples. Supermarkets have come and gone out here, but Steve's Produce was always a part of the community. Its commitment created loyalty.

Then the owner got ill, gradually reduced the amount of selling space to a small section on the warehouse's east end, and finally gave that up too. When Fowler heard it was closing, he saw an opportunity and asked if he could take over.

"He said, 'You wanna give it a try? Go ahead,'" Fowler says. "He wasn't going to give me the money to do it, so I had a couple hundred dollars, a couple of friends loaned me a couple hundred — I still haven't paid it back — I took it all and did this." He gestures toward the handful of half-filled boxes of fruit, the bottles of water lined up on a shelf, the potatoes in bags and the wrapped peppermint candies selling for a dime each.

Fowler moved here 30 years ago from Huntsville, Ala., a place whose inflections still color his words. His mother left his father, and he followed her north to Detroit. For years he was an auto mechanic, fixing transmissions before he got older and that work dried up. He didn't have much to fill his time after his mother died last year; the idea of opening his own grass-roots market came to him a few months later. 

"I ain't got nothing to do," he admits. "I don't really have a hobby, I really don't. I used to like to work on cars, but I don't have any car now, so I don't do that anymore. I don't have any transportation. I stay home, I shampoo the carpet. Like tomorrow, I'll probably get up about 5:30, 6, shampoo the carpet."

Then came his idea. He took what little money he had, bought a few boxes of fruit, opened his own market and found a new role for himself — as a determined sign of enduring life in a slowly dying neighborhood.

Not everyone shared his hopeful outlook. For a while Fowler's spot served more as a perch for neighborhood vagrants and the wandering homeless than the regular customers he'd envisioned attracting. The Capuchin Soup Kitchen sits next door, drawing clients who'd congregate on his lot while they waited for meals to be served. It took time to win their respect.

"They used to come over here and drink and throw their bottles up in here, but after I started cutting the grass and telling them what I was doing over here, I didn't have any more trouble. I just went out and talked to them. I asked them about the neighborhood — Don't they care anything about it? 'I'm trying to run a business here. What's wrong with you?'"

 

Soon they stopped leaving the empty bottles on his lot and went from loitering to just passing through, and in that small victory Fowler thinks he's done something to make this corner just a little better. 

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