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  • Thank you, Detroit

    I’m not going to lie to you – this isn’t easy. This week, the final City Slang local music column will be published in the Metro Times (on hardcore band Final Assault), and I have just submitted a cover feature on the women of Detroit hip-hop, to be published next week (8/6). This blog that you’re reading now will be my last one as a regular MT contributor. I have a lot to look forward to. I’m going to be an associate editor at Yellow Scene Magazine in Colorado, a tremendous publication in a beautiful part of the country. But leaving Detroit will be incredibly difficult for me. I love the place. It’s been (amazingly) six and a half years since I arrived, a couple of cases in hand and not much of a plan in mind. I just knew, after three separate research trips for books and a magazine article, that I felt at home here. Metro Times offered me freelance work almost immediately, as did a new website called Metromix (whatever happened to that?) When I arrived here, I had been working as a writer in the UK for nine years, but the help and encouragement I received […]

    The post Thank you, Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers

      We here at MT will be delighted when Mr. Jack White throws out a pitch at Navin Field (at least, we hope he will), but until then, we’ll be happy with his pitch to Santa this evening at Comerica Park.    

    The post Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW)

      Footage from the Gathering of the Juggalos set to clips of Morgan Freeman’s narration from March of the Penguins? Kind of forced, but also kind of beautiful. As the AV Club reports: The oft-sought voiceover champion lends a touch of gravitas to the festival proceedings. Unfortunate scenes of barely clad people having various liquids dumped onto them now carries a quiet dignity as it’s all part of nature’s majestic plan that keeps the world spinning through this elegantly designed and truly wondrous universe. Also, the video is NSFW as there are boobs in it. Watch the clip below:

    The post Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW) appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love”

    It seems like the polar vortex will never end: the weather phenomenon that brought us the most brutal winter on record this winter is to blame for this summer’s chillier-than usual temperatures as well. A couple of bands, though, made lemonade out of lemons (or snow cones out of snow?) by using the icy landscape to film music videos. 800beloved shot the video for “Tidal” in some sand dunes near Empire, Mich., and this week Turn to Crime debuted the video for “Can’t Stop,” the title track of their recently-released album. Even more piles of ice and snow might be the last thing Detroiters want to see right now, but the footage makes for some good visuals that mesh well with the song. Watch the video below:

    The post Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love” appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed

    Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr transferred oversight of the the city’s water department Tuesday to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in an order intended to refocus “efforts to help DWSD customers get and remain current on their water bills,” Orr’s office said today. “This order provides additional clarity to the powers already delegated to the mayor,” Orr said in a statement released Tuesday. “As the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department works to operate more efficiently and communicate more effectively with customers, it is important to ensure there are clear lines of management and accountability.” Duggan will have the authority to manage DWSD and make appointments to the utility’s board, according to a news release. In a statement issued Tuesday, the mayor said he welcomed Orr’s order, adding that officials will develop a plan that “allows those who truly need to access to financial help … to do so with shorter wait times.” “We need to change a number of things in the way we have approached the delinquent payment issues and I expect us to have a new plan shortly,” Duggan said. “There are funds available to support those who cannot afford their bills — we need to do a much better job in […]

    The post Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years

    Rovers Scooter Club, a local gang dedicated to celebrating and riding motor scooters, will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary this week with a very special ride. Motor City Shakedown, the annual birthday party for the club, will commence this Friday, August 1 at New Way Bar. DJ Grover from Cincinnati will be spinning northern soul, reggae, and ska, according to club member Michael Palazzola. Saturday will feature a ride from Ferndale to Detroit, starting at noon at M-Brew. Palazzola says this is where most bikes will congregate before taking the ride to the city and folks will be prepping by getting some grub starting at 10 a.m.  Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host the after party,  a special event that will feature performances by several bands as well as Satori Circus. That portion of the event will commence at 8 p.m. with performances starting at 9 p.m. It’s free to riders, but the public is welcome to join the party with the mere cost of a door charge. Come midnight, the club will raffle off a vintage Lambretta LI 150. Sunday morning will end the weekend of festivities, with brunch taking place at the Bosco in Ferndale.   

    The post Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years 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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