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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 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 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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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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