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  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to Ricky Rat’s Tokyo Pop/Glitter People (New Fortune) 7” single highlights all that’s great about the Trash Brats guitarist, but also his limitations. The man can write a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll song to match anyone in the city and most beyond. He’s also a killer guitarist, ripping out one throwaway riff after another with reckless abandon. He’s a machine. On his own though, without Trash Brats frontman Brian McCarty, his voice doesn’t have enough strength to do the songs justice. Not that you need to have the greatest voice in the world to sing this stuff – you don’t need to be able to perform vocal gymnastics – but you do have to be able to wail the tunes out. Both of the songs on this single are great, but you can’t help but wonder how much better they would sound with McCarty or somebody similar talking the mic. Still, as they are the songs are great fun. We’re just being picky. The Paper Sound’s Trajectories is a dense, atypically dark Americana-tinged album, unrelenting and […]

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  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of, a new website launched by the City of Detroit today to auction off city-owned homes to prospective buyers who pledge to fix them up and move in. “We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement today. “There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment.” The website to facilitate the auctions went live this afternoon. The first auction is scheduled to take place Monday, May 5. Officials said in a news release that one home will be auctioned per day, Monday through Friday. Fifteen homes are available for sale on the site, a dozen of which are in the East English Village neighborhood. Any Michigan resident, company, or organization that can do business in the state can bid, according to the website. Properties will be for sale for only one day, with bidding taking place from 8 […]

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  • Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes

    In case you haven’t heard, two of the biggest names in film, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, are collaborating to put on a benefit concert for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this summer. In case you wanted to go- well, you’re too damn late. The DSO says tickets to the June 14 concert were snapped up in a record-breaking 15 minutes after they went on sale at 9 a.m. today. The DSO has since released this statement to fans who didn’t snag seats: Our apologies to everyone who was unable to buy tickets this morning for our historic benefit concert featuring John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Despite increasing our phone and internet system capacity for the day, a surge of hundreds of ticket buyers purchased tickets in a matter of minutes, filling the phone lines and temporarily maxing out our web servers. After a one-hour pre-sale made available to donors and subscribers at 8am, we released additional seats at 9am to the general public, including seats available for as low as $30. All seats sold out immediately. The concert program seems nothing short of top notch: Williams will conduct the orchestra as it performs some of his most iconic tunes, such […]

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  • Blowout 2014 schedule available to view now

    The schedule for Blowout 17, taking place Wednesday April 30 to Saturday May 3 in Hamtramck, Detroit and Ferndale, is available to see now. Visit to see the schedule and plan your festival. Follow @City_Slang

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  • City Slang: Trash Brats get sleazy at Small’s

    The Trash Brats hardly ever play live anymore, so each show feels like an event. Wandering around Small’s in Hamtramck late Saturday night, there’s a near-carnival atmosphere in the air. The Brats were never supposed to be taken seriously, but years on-and-off the radar have given the band the gift of respect born out of longevity. We’re not being dismissive at all. In fact, no amount of kooky faces from guitarist Ricky Rat and bassist Toni Romeo can hide the fact that these boys can play and the band writes killer bubblegum sleaze-rock tunes. The fact that the venue was packed compared to, say, a recent show by internationally known punk icons Sylvain Sylvain and Glen Matlock (which you would think would attract a similar audience) is testament to the fact that, in Detroit, the Trash Brats command a certain reverence. Before the Trash Brats took to the stage, local punks The Dives kicked off the night with a set of sincere, energetic and well-performed, if standard, punk rock. No frills (besides frontman Ron McPherson’s dapper suit), the band features members of the Junk Monkeys, the Black Mollies and the Joint Chiefs, and it drives through a set of catchy, […]

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  • Cycle 7 opens at the Red Bull House of Art

    By: Ayana Bryant-Weekes The Red Bull House of Art, a multidisciplinary and collaborative art project, relieves the stress of financial limitation or lack of tools and space so budding artists can manifest their creative dreams right here in Detroit. Six artists are selected for a three-month residency where they are provided individual studio space and materials, allowing their artistic concepts to flow freely. At the end of each residency is an unveiling and public display at the Red Bull House of Art Gallery. As show curator Matt Eaton told us in a 2013 interview, “The selection process for the current crop of artists was just the same as every round. The goal is not to find the hippest, coolest artists (though I think they are all very cool), but to find the people who may not typically have a voice.” This year, for the first time, Red Bull House of Art will showcase more than just Detroit artists. National artists from across the country in a special artist-in-residency program will have the opportunity to showcase their work to a much broader audience, and bring a national art stage to the Motor City. Since opening, 54 Detroit-based artists have been given the […]

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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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