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  • 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.



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Pit stop

Rewriting the rep of Detroit's unofficial city dog

Photo: Photo: Detroitblogger John, License: N/A

Photo: Detroitblogger John

Michael Hodges with his champion pit bull Pow.

The dog charges forward like he could do this for hours.

He's on a treadmill made just for pit bulls, a contraption of slat boards looped in an oval. Thick muscled and big jawed, this dog is a thoroughbred champion, a winner of awards, a celebrity of sorts.

He belongs to Michael Hodges, 31, who brought him one afternoon to hang out with the guys and dogs at the Bully Depot on Eight Mile near Wyoming, a store devoted almost entirely to pit bulls and the culture surrounding them.

These guys gathered here breed them, train them, buy and sell them. They travel around the country to enter them in competitions that reward winning animals with ribbons, plaques and money, but also the acclaim of an underground world.

The dogs are put on treadmills and other training equipment because these contests require endurance and stamina and strength. For instance, there's dock diving into a lake. There are challenging obstacle and agility courses. And there's the weight pull, in which a 40-pound dog is put in a harness and pulls 4,000 pounds of cinder blocks stacked on a sheet of plywood with wheels underneath down a narrow strip that passes through a gauntlet of cheering enthusiasts.

"I like pit bulls because they have a better high pain tolerance than most other dogs," Hodges says. "Meaning when stuff gets tight, they'll keep doing it. Also, they're willing to please. Other dogs pull, but when the weight gets heavy they stop."

His dog's name is Pow. Short for "prisoner of war." Because, he says, when you get deep into these competitions, it's a battle.

Some people might frown on these contests, but the dogs actually enjoy them, they insist here. "See, a pit bull is a working dog," says Earl Tilford, the store's 39-year-old owner. "If you don't give a dog something to do, all he's going to do is tear things up. The dogs need to have something to do, so you gotta put them into these little activities. It loves the sport. It loves to be active."

Though it might seem surprising, their thinking isn't that different from some animal rights advocates. "Weight pulling, if it's done right, can be an engaging tool for the dog," says Kevin Hatman, spokesman for the Michigan Humane Society. "It's almost an alternative to dog fighting, A lot of these dog owners view it as a competition-based activity, and weight pulling can function as a competitive alternative to dog fighting."

Pit bulls usually draw one of two reactions from people. Either they're inherently tough and dangerous, or they're naturally docile and make loving pets.

The guys at the Bully Depot are one side of that coin. They love the dog's fierceness and strength, and channel those traits into competitions.

"I wanna own a dog that can compete and do something," says 27-year-old Lance Smith. He's a dog breeder and Tilford's friend. "I don't want a dog to sit home and be bred to lick his own ass."

The pit bull
might just be the unofficial dog of the city. They're everywhere here — walking down streets on the ends of leashes, peering out of shabby dog houses in neighborhood back yards, barking with a fury from behind iron-barred front doors. They're protection for some, pets for others, reputation builders for many.

"It's a look they're trying to portray," Smith says with contempt. "It's an image thing. They want to be a tough guy, want to be macho, but they make it hard for guys like us that's in it for the love of the dog, the love of the sport, the breed."

The Bully Depot opened two years ago in Taylor, but Tilford moved it to Eight Mile last year after realizing nearly all of his customers drove in from Detroit. "So I'm just like cut out the middleman and bring it into the city," he says.

His store carries T-shirts with slogans on them like "Punish the deed, not the breed." Spiked dog collars and thick leashes dangle from hooks on a wall. He sells chew treats like roasted cow kneecap and dried cow windpipe for the dogs to chomp on. And you can buy a pit bull puppy here too.

But Tilford knows people like him and a place like this are tainted by the reputation the dog carries. Lately, for example, there's a woman who's been posting nasty comments all over the Internet about his store, even though she admits she's never been inside. She just drove by and her imagination ran wild.

"Animal rights people are the worst people to get on the wrong side of," he says. "They're crazy. They throw paint on people with fur coats and shit, getting naked. Those people are literally crazy. You see what they did to Mike Vick."

Another problem hurting the pit bull's image, they say, is amateur breeding. You can get pit bull puppies for under $50 on some street corners, sold out of the back of a pickup truck. And most are inbred or misbred, leading to temperament issues.

"There's different breeds out there that people are coming up with, illegitimate breeds," Tilford says. "Everybody wants a dog you've never seen before. They want the biggest, baddest, craziest-looking dog possible. And a dog is like a person. They can have mental problems or be slow."

Years of stories about pit bulls mauling babies and attacking people have taken their toll. It's led in recent years to breed-specific legislation in many communities surrounding Detroit, either banning pit bulls entirely or else declaring them dangerous and subject to stiff regulations. Detroit still allows them. A resident can legally have three.

Smith thinks a lot of those laws in the suburbs have to do with who's moving there from Detroit and bringing their pets with them. "It seems to me that it wasn't a problem until people of color got these dogs," he says.

The motto
at the Bully Depot is there are no bad dogs, only bad owners who make their dogs that way. Pit bulls may be tough, they say, but few are naturally inclined to attack people.

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