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  • 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project

    By Amanda Mooney There’s a lot that goes into producing a film, and unless you are a filmmaker you really have no idea. Writing, casting, finding a location, shooting, and editing; each step of the process can take days, months, and sometimes years to complete. Can you imagine doing it ALL in just 48 hours? The 48 Hour Film Project is an annual competition that takes place all over the world in various cities. According to Mike Madigan, head of the Detroit 48 Hour chapter, the city is one of the largest participating in terms of the number of teams. The competing teams go in blind as to what kind of film they will be producing, with no creative planning beyond getting a cast and crew together, Madigan explained. “They pick a genre out of a hat, and they get a line, a prop, and a character. And they have to incorporate that within a short film, that’s usually between 4 to 7 minutes long. And they have the timeframe of doing it all within 48 hours,” said Madigan, “So all the creative process of it all has to happen within that 48 hour–writing a script, putting it together, editing–to […]

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  • Passalacqua debut dark new project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space

    Church: Revival is the new project by local rap duo Passalacqua (aka Bryan Lackner and Brent Smith), but it’s more than just a new Passalacqua release. The rappers teamed up with siblings Jax Anderson (frontwoman of rockers Flint Eastwood) and Seth Anderson, who together form the songwriting team called Syblyng (naturally). The result is a cycle of songs that promises to be darker than Passalacqua’s material so far. The project will make a live debut on Saturday, July 26 at a brand new venue space at the Detroit Bus Co.’s building Eight & Sand, and they will premiere the Right Bros.-directed video for the track “Baptism” as well. Other performances include Tunde Olaniran and Open Mike Eagle, and DJ sets by Nothing Elegant, Dante LaSalle, and Charles Trees. We met up the two duos at Eight & Sand to check out the new space and to talk about the project with all parties involved. Metro Times: How long have you been working together? Jax Anderson: Seth and I are constantly writing songs together. We want to push in the direction of becoming songwriters more frequently. This is our first project that we took on to co-write everything together. We’re basically just a songwriting entity. We won’t play live that […]

    The post Passalacqua debut dark new project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • PETA offers to pay overdue water bills for Detroiters willing to go vegan

    #150207742 / As locals continue to flood Detroit streets to protest the city’s ongoing water debacle, one national organization is hoping to be part of the solution — that is, for a dietary price. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA as the organization is more commonly known, has offered to pay outstanding water bills for 10 Detroiters who are willing to go vegan for one month. “Vegan meals take far less of a toll on the Earth’s resources,” PETA representatives said in a recent press release. “It takes about 2,500 gallons of water to produce just a pound of meat but only about 155 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat.” PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk adds, “Vegan meals are also a cost-effective way to help prevent health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart conditions, the last thing that someone who is struggling financially needs to deal with.” Folks interested in participating are asked to send a copy of their most recent overdue water bill and their written pledge to go vegan for one month to PETA Attn: Detroit Water at 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510 before Aug. 1.

    The post PETA offers to pay overdue water bills for Detroiters willing to go vegan appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Dinner Club Does Brunch

    Sure, The Dinner Club, a regularly occurring pop-up that takes places at the Storefront Gallery  in Ferndale (and other locations, occasionally), usually happens around dinner time, but this Sunday, July 27, there will be a special edition: Brunch Chef Matthew Baldridge, who’s resume includes stints at such Detroit greats as Cliff Bell’s, The Rattlesnake Club, and Seldom Blues, has crafted a menu of French-inspired items that employ locally procured ingredients. Brunch includes four courses where guests will be treated to such delights as cocoa, cinnamon, chili-spiced creamy grits with pickled strawberries, cocoa puffs and strawberry-infused syrup, a smoked gouda potato gallette with Faygo Root Beer braised pork belly, quail egg and Faygo Root Beer syrup, banana marscapone-filled French toast with fresh raspberries, whipped cream and balsamic syrup, and champagne-soaked strawberries. It is also important to note that brunch is BYOChampagne. Baldridge, along with The Storefront Gallery’s Derek John and Lilacpop Studio owner and artist Janna Coumoundouros, curate the event that includes an art show, a great playlist, and visuals. Brunch services are at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and last about two hours, only 20 seats are available at each service. The cost is $25 plus a service fee. The Storefront Gallery […]

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  • Jurassic 5 holds onto what’s golden

      By Ashley Zlatopolsky It’s been a little over twenty years since iconic ‘90s alternative hip-hop group Jurassic 5 first formed in Los Angeles’ Good Life club. Widely regarded as a pivotal influence in the decade’s underground hip-hop movement by critics and fans alike, the six-piece crew consisting of two DJs (Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark) and four MCs (Akil, Zaakir, Marc 7 and Chali 2na) were well on their way to becoming one of hip-hop’s greatest and most powerful acts of all time, ranking alongside names such as Public Enemy and N.W.A. with socially-conscious lyrics and smooth beats paired with smart sampling. But in 2004, Cut Chemist left the group to pursue a solo career, and in 2007 Jurassic 5 completely called it quits after nearly 15 years of music. And that was it for the crew until 2013. After almost seven years apart (nine for Cut Chemist), Jurassic 5 reunited and re-emerged stronger than ever before with a new flair, seasoned attitude, and more vibrant energy at Coachella Music Festival, the group’s first show with the original six members since Cut Chemist split. During their performance, Jurassic 5 gave fans a memorable concert revisiting all the classic feel-good tracks […]

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  • Detroit Riverwalk west extension opens from Riverfront Towers to Rosa Parks

    Dogs of Detroit have new territory to trot: Yesterday, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy held a soft opening for a 20-acre westward extension of the Riverwalk. Part of a planned two-mile track of the West Riverwalk, the new span runs from the Riverfront Towers to Rosa Parks Boulevard, says Mark Pasco, director of communications for the conservancy. “It’s going to be great,” Pasco says. “It’s a wide open green space. It’s going to be great for activities.” The endgame for the Riverwalk, Pasco notes, is to extend the walkway from the Ambassador Bridge to Gabriel Richard Park, just past the MacArthur Bridge — about a 5.5. mile route. The new westward expansion is wider than most of the walkway, about 30 feet, says Pasco — a decision made by the conservancy to accommodate fisherman that previously frequented the area. “We knew … once it opened up they’d want to fish there again, so we made the Riverwalk itself wider,” Pasco says. The conservancy will hold a grand opening in late September, which will include “food and music and activities,” Pasco says, though no official date has been set.

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Only the lonely

How a small group remembers Detroit's forgotten dead

Photo: , License: N/A

Kaitlyn Gamble, 13, lights candles for the dead.

Their names are read one by one. Each of them is dead, and nearly all of them died alone.

It's a winter evening inside Perry Funeral Home on Trumbull near Warren in Detroit. A handful of mourners and a few well-wishers are gathered in a small room, surrounded by flowers and candles and shaded lamps, the fixtures of funerals. This is the one place in town where unknown or unwanted bodies from the county morgue wind up to be prepared for burial.

Tonight's gathering is a memorial for these forgotten dead. Once a month, their names are read aloud slowly, solemnly, reverently. As each one is spoken, a bell is struck and a candle is lit on a table that stands where a coffin would normally be. By the time the final name on a long list is read, the front of the room will be lit a bright golden yellow.

Someone might wind up unclaimed for a few reasons. The body was discovered somewhere outside long after death and can't be identified. No next of kin can be found. Or the person was truly alone in the world.

"There's a whole group who, for whatever reason, have been cut off from society," says Carolyn Gamble, the 67-year-old organizer of this service. "In our city there are so many people who are destitute. They don't really have family, so for whatever reason, they end up in the morgue like this."

Tonight, the list of the deceased holds 30 names.

"Paul Brown," says her friend, Della Woodall, wearing church finery as she stands behind a lectern. A long pause follows her words. Nobody here knows Paul Brown. Nobody's ever heard of him. But in silence they contemplate his name, and for a brief moment he isn't forgotten anymore. 

"Date of birth: March 6, 1954," Woodall continues. "Date of death: Nov. 2, 2011. Age: 57." Another pause. Then the mourners, all eight of them, make the same intonation: "May he rest in peace."

They'll never speak of how he died, or why he's now on this list of the forgotten, even though some here have learned those facts from the morgue. This is to merely recognize that he, like the others on the list, is now missing from the world.

"Matthew Wilson," she continues. "Feb. 22, 1970. Date of death: Nov. 20, 2011. Age: 41."

Again, a pause. "May he rest in peace."

James Gallagher. Nora Adams. Gerald Freedman. Cornelius Wright. Duncan Cameron. Thomas Webb Jr. A couple dozen more names follow. Some barely middle-aged. Others in their 90s. 

Finally, the list comes down to the last of the deceased. "Baby Boy Watson," Woodall says. "Aug. 9, 2011." Alive so briefly he didn't even get a name.

The group then sings a hymn. "Bind us together, Lord, with ties that cannot be broken," it goes. It's almost a plea that those still here don't wind up as lonely as those on that list.

When the hymn ends, Woodall says, "Let us now offer a quiet moment of silence for the souls of those we are especially remembering today." And the room falls still.


A few years ago, some parishioners at St. Christopher's-St. Paul's Episcopal Church, on West McNichols near Grand River, heard that the county morgue had a lot of unclaimed bodies, found out that the burials were being handled by this funeral home, and called to ask if they could perform a memorial service for each of the deceased now and then. The problem was, there were just too many dead to honor.

But Betsy Deak, Perry's operations manager, thought their idea was beautiful. Years of working here, combined with her own spiritual beliefs, incline her to emphasize each deceased person's individuality, even if the body is so far gone nobody could tell who that individual was.

"The sights, the smells, are very graphic," says Deak, 61. "And yet I never ever looked at one of those people that I don't think this is someone's baby, somebody's little boy, somebody's someone. And if it were my family, this is how I'd want them to be treated."

The unclaimed wind up with the cheapest burial — unembalmed in a pine box, batched in sets of four that are buried together at a west side cemetery. 

With such an anonymous final rest, the least they could do, she figured, is recognize them in a thoughtful ceremony. They named it "A Celebration of Friends."

"I like the idea that, seven years down the road, if someone calls and says, 'Oh, I just found my uncle,' I can say we had a service for him, we recognized him at the service, we read his name, a candle was lit, a bell was sounded, a flower was dedicated to him," Deak says. "And what's more, when he was buried, prayers were said for him. It was respectful, and it was dignified."

This same small group has gathered here monthly for almost four years now. Sometimes a stranger will walk in and sit with the group, drawn by its meaning. But most often it's just these few, keeping the faith alone.

"When she mentioned it to me, I just got so full, 'cause I said, 'How can somebody not have anybody to acknowledge them?'" says the 67-year-old Woodall. "That's how I really became involved. It just touched my heart. All of these people on that list ..."

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