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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 […]

    The post Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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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Cover Story

Outlaw Country

A daughter exhumes her father's photos of his '60s biker brethren. And you've not seen anything like it

Photo: , License: N/A

Photo: , License: N/A

Grown men in leather, dirty beards and fingerless gloves riding Harleys aren't always as grizzly or as grimy as they appear.

Some could be criminal lawyers, anesthesiologists or marketing gurus in boots flaunting vicarious thrills on drop-dead expensive bikes, with their trophy blondes and Bloomfield Hills houses in the rearview.

But this writer grew up around true-grit bikers, guys who wore rockers and rolled patches; guys who belonged to 1-percenter motorcycle clubs. Guys with "M/C" patches on their backs so you knew exactly who you were dealing with. These guys weren't the casual cruisers, they are, often, truck-stop bruisers.

American Motorcycle
Clubs go back to the Depression era, but it was the 1947 Hollister, Calif., clash between the Boozefighters ("a drinking club with a motorcycle problem") and the local fuzz that changed American culture. The event was somewhat immortalized, inspiring Marlon Brando's 1953 film The Wild One — and anything after that involved two wheels and a cigarette. After the Boozefighters fracas, the American Motorcycle Association released a statement claiming that 99 percent of motorcyclists are law-abiding citizens, and 1 percent are outlaws. Hence the "1 percenter" tag embraced by hardcore motorcycle clubs the country over.

In the summer
of 1935, a bunch of motorcyclists gathered at Matilda's Bar on old Route 66 in McCook, just outside Chicago. The men entered as unaffiliated roughnecks and left a unified gang, christening themselves the Outlaws.

In 1963, the Outlaws were the first official 1-percenter club east of the Mississippi. Expansion followed in '65, and the club established charters in Milwaukee, Detroit, Cincinnati and elsewhere. By the '70s, the Outlaws were national. Today, they roll throughout Canada and across Europe, from Italy to Serbia, with a strong presence in
Germany. Some claim they're the largest motorcycle club in the world, now that they've rooted in Japan and Australia.

Jim Miteff
was a husband, father, biker, businessman and photographer from Detroit. He could build a bike from the floor up before he joined the Outlaws as a founding member of the Detroit charter in 1965. And while some in the gang tucked knives and guns into their belts and boots, Miteff rode armed with wrenches and cameras, even on stormy rides to Milwaukee. The local Outlaws dubbed him "Flash." (That's him with the camera on the preceding page.)

In those days, when the various Midwestern charters were meeting regularly under the direction of the mother chapter in Chicago, the group was without a Detroit clubhouse, so the Miteff's home in Dearborn Heights became a crash pad for Flash's extended family. He documented it all too, beautifully, from the house party comings and goings to the long highway rides, bar nights and courthouse mornings.

For what Miteff's eldest child doesn't remember, his photos filled the gaps: "We constantly had two to 20 Outlaws at our house at any given time," says Beverly Roberts, who only began to compile her father's photos a few years ago. "It was a pretty crazy house. Parties all the time. Somehow [my parents] managed to juggle it all. We were good, educated kids. The guys were rowdy, but they were always extremely nice to my sister and me. I actually couldn't have felt safer. It was one huge adventure."

Miteff's photos of those early days reveal a kind of aimless adventure and misfit anarchy, as these guys were caught between the greaser '50s and hippie late '60s. Flash was there in the very beginning, when they were wild, when they'd wear Nazi garb and touch tongues for reaction.

For Miteff, the adventure lasted from 1965 to 1969 — critical years for Detroit and for the country. He left the club in good standing. But what he documented was pure outsiderist Americana. He knew it too. "The pictures are sacred and he kept them that way," Roberts says.

So it is
that Roberts, with the blessing of the club, has published in two volumes her dad's photos. Bringing them to light was an adventure in itself, one that saw her reunite with a somewhat estranged "family" and rediscover parts of herself in the process.

See, reprinting or publishing the Outlaws skull-and-pistons logo is forbidden, or so it's said. To protect club privacy and uphold his sworn oath, Flash made sure his images never went public.

Then, in 2008, Roberts compiled negatives for what would be Portraits of American Bikers: Life in the '60s. The Flash Collection. First she started selling prints at biker conventions, testing the market for the photos. Reactions were split. People loved the photos but thought she was crazy for printing and selling them.

"It's not my goal to expose anything about them that they don't want the public to have access to," Roberts says. "I can respect that because these photos were part of my private life for so long — they're like my family photo album. In publishing them, I'm also saying, 'Here's my life, my upbringing, for the world to see and judge.' That's as uncomfortable as anything." (Surely some won't know what to make of all the swastikas, switchblades, bonfires and doe-eyed women.)

Roberts was also selling her dad's prints on the same eBay store where she sold dollhouse miniatures.

People noticed, especially a few members of the Outlaws. Soon after throwing them on the Internet, she was in touch with Jingles, a club elder who handled its PR.

Jingles and much of the old Outlaws guard dug what Roberts was dishing, and these books wouldn't have been possible without his help. Unfortunately, Jingles was diagnosed with throat cancer shortly after getting approval from the club to go forth publishing with Roberts.

"A lot of people in the club thought Jingles could be spending what was the last year of his life in better ways than working on this book," Roberts says. "But I worked with him and talked with him every single day and I believe he did exactly what he wanted to the last year of his life. And he wanted to see my relationship with the club settled in a way that I could continue to work with them on these books after he passed. Both of those things happened."

The Jim "Flash" Miteff photos fantastically capture the rebellion of America's early bikers caught between eras — guys who turned a commotion into a lasting culture, two wheels at a time.

Portraits of American Bikers, Life in the 1960s: The Flash Collection and Portraits of American Bikers, Inside Looking Out: The Flash Collection II are self-published works by Beverly V. Roberts with the permission of the Outlaws. A third volume is in the works.

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