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  • 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.

  • Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times

    Turns out, our very own Jack Lessenberry knows the Grosse Pointer seeking to ban the MT: Ten years or so ago, a woman named Andrea Lavigne sat in on some media survey classes I was teaching at Wayne State University. She was in her late 30s or early 40s, and seemed to be searching for answers. She wanted to know how the media work, and told me she was a Maoist. This fascinated me, because I thought authentic Maoists were almost as rare as passenger pigeons. Chairman Mao, we now know, starved to death and slaughtered tens of millions of his own citizens, and kept China economically and intellectually backward. Intrigued, I got together one night before class with her and another Maoist, to find out what they were all about. Alas, they spouted a form of primitive, grade-school Marxism. They seemed to have very little historical knowledge of Communism or what it had actually been like. Yes. A Maoist. Read the full story at Michigan Radio here.

    The post Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’

    A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the owner of Detroit’s municipal solid waste incinerator Monday, accusing the company of nuisance and gross negligence violations According to the complaint filed by Detroit-based Liddle & Dubin P.C., “On occasions too numerous to list, Plaintiffs’ property including Plaintiffs’ neighborhood, residences and yards were physically invaded by noxious odors and contaminants … As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’s’ negligence in operating and/or maintaining the facility, Plaintiffs’ property has been invaded by noxious odors.” The eight-page complaint charges that local property values have dropped due to the incinerator’s presence, “and has interfered with Plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of their property.” The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, seeks a financial award in excess of $25,000 and all costs and attorney fees related to the case. In an email, a spokesperson for the company says, “Detroit Renewable Power is reviewing the complaint filed today,” but declined further comment. The suit comes weeks after a Metro Times’ cover story earlier this month found a growing number of odor complaints from nearby residents since Detroit Renewable Power LLC (DRP) took control of the facility in 2010. The investigation found a spike in citations from the Michigan Department […]

    The post Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup

    The High Times Medical Cannabis Cup is more than just a celebration — although with the recent shift in attitudes toward marijuana legalization, there certainly is much to celebrate.  HT‘s Danny Danko described it as “just like any other harvest festival or a county fair where people bring their best produce, their best pigs and horses and cows, and they compete with each other for bragging rights, basically.” Here are a list of winners from this year’s Cannabis Cup, who did indeed walk home with some well-deserved bragging rights — if anyone knows their marijuana it’s High Times: Indica 1ST - Oasis Medical Seeds - Paris OG 2ND - Herbal Solutions - Alien Dawg F2 3RD - Herban Legendz, LLC - Grape OX Sativa 1ST - Arborside Compassion - CATFISH 2ND - Organibliss - Ghost Train Haze #1 3RD - We Grow Education and Collective Centers - MelonGum Hybrid 1ST - Herbal Solutions - Gorilla Glue 2ND - Pure West Compassion Club - Death Star 3RD - Kushman Veganics for Buds & Roses - Veganic Candyland Concentrate 1ST - Mr. B’s Extracts - Raskal’s Lemon 2ND - 710 Savant - Kosher Kush Dewaxed 3RD - Oasis Medical / Vader Extracts / Dab Vader - Candy Jack Shatter Non-Solvent Hash 1ST - NLG - Jedi Kush Ice Wax 2ND - Arborside Compassion - HeadCandy Kush Hash 3RD - New World Seeds Resource […]

    The post Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative

    So is the title of the press release we received this morning from The Satanic Temple. You may recall our interview with Doug Mesner from earlier this year. The Satanic Temple is, perhaps, best known for trying to build a child-friendly monument to satan in OKC: How Mesner and TST are rocking the Hobby Lobby ruling is interesting: The Satanic Temple Leverages Hobby Lobby Ruling to Claim Exemption From State Mandated ProLife Materials Reads the next line of the press release. And then their website: A number of states require that abortion providers give information to patients that maybe inaccurate or misleading. Demands that members of the Satanic Temple, or those who share our beliefs, be subjected against our will to anything but the best scientific understanding are a violation of our religious beliefs. Thanks to rulings such as Hobby Lobby, we can take a stand against these practices. Mesner points out how the Hobby Lobby ruling bolsters their position: While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact. This was made clear when […]

    The post Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio

    On Saturday we set out to check out the High Times Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio, Mich. — High Times did hold a Cannabis Cup in the Motor City back in 2011, but Detroit police flexing their muscles and making arrests at that event may have been to blame, at least partially, for the choice of a new host city. The event was held this year at the Auto City Speedway, (also known as “B.F.E.” to Detroiters). Nevertheless, the prospect of stopping at the Torch for the best burger in the Genessee County was compelling — and anyway, this was the Cannabis Cup we were talking about. Was it really going to be “work?” It turned out, just a little bit. An inexplicable lack of an on-site ATM meant hiking quite a ways up the road to the nearest gas station, and then waiting for an attendant to restock the ATM with cash. We spoke with plenty of Cannabis Cup attendees at the gas station — everybody knows that the local gas station is a stoner’s best-friend. The two-day festival, for which one-day tickets were sold for $40, was divided into two sections — a general area and a medicating […]

    The post Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Poletown saints

A beautiful 125-year-old church lives on despite faith-testing circumstances

Photo: Detroitblogger John, License: N/A

Detroitblogger John

Brian Baka, guardian of the temple, sits by the mannequin of St. Stanislaus' corpse.

It's hard to hear the priest.

His voice has softened with age, he's got a thick Polish accent and his microphone keeps cutting in and out. Still, Father Edward Kaszak pushes forward with the Mass, a little in fluent Polish, some in halting English, giving the most unique liturgy in town.

There are only 12 parishioners seated in the pews at the front. There's room behind them for almost 2,500 more.

It's Sunday at St. Albertus Catholic Church in Detroit's old Poletown. But this isn't an official church anymore; the Archdiocese of Detroit closed it 20 years ago. These infrequent Masses aren't sanctioned anymore; they're performed by the freelance priest who bikes in from Hamtramck, wearing black clothes and a backpack.

The lights are kept low during services to save money, so the church stays dim except when light pours through the stained glass windows, bathing everything in soft colors. The heat is on just to keep the water pipes from freezing, so in winter the congregants inside wear winter coats.

The plaster in the 125-year-old church is chipping, the paint is peeling, scrappers have set upon the place with fervor, and the only thing standing between it and destruction are the efforts of a handful of people who've devoted themselves to keeping a magnificent relic alive.

There's no place else like it in Detroit. The way its tattered beauty still shows despite its age, the way a handful of people keep it going despite the challenges, the way its past was wild and sometimes even violent, it's a lot like the city it has stood in all these years.

"This place is not only a statement about God; it's a statement about us," says Bob Duda, 64, part of the Polish American Historic Site Association, the group that takes care of St. Albertus. "It's like a skyscraper — here we are folks, we're important, just as important as anybody else. We're going to be proud of ourselves. That's why they built churches like this; otherwise they could've done it in tents. It's a testimony to us and our history and our heritage."

St. Albertushas been here since 1872, when about 300 immigrant families from Poland started the church in a small, wood-frame building with a single priest and his one-armed assistant, a veteran of the Polish Wars.

A new priest fresh from Poland, Father Dominic Kolasinski, came a few years later and rallied the parishioners to build a bigger church with a Gothic Prussian design, to remind them of the lavish, medieval churches they left behind in Europe.

Not long after the new church opened in 1885, the local bishop suddenly removed its charismatic priest and appointed a replacement. The congregation split into camps for and against the move. Kolasinski's supporters got so riled up by his ouster they blocked the new priest, Father Joseph Dombrowski, from celebrating Mass. When Christmas Day came a few weeks later the angry parishioners, fueled by holiday zeal, organized a protest march to the diocesan's office that got so out of hand a 24-year-old man got shot and killed by the mob.

The angry faction soon split off and followed their disgraced priest down the road, where he established a new church, Sweetest Heart of Mary, at Canfield and Russell, where it still stands today. It quickly had thousands of its own parishioners.

The two groups, so notorious around town they earned the names Kolasinskians and Dombrovites, kept at each other's throats for years, like gangs of Old Detroit. Another altercation between the two factions on Christmas Eve 1891 led to the killing of a 19-year-old man.

All this because a priest was replaced at a church.

Eventually, both groups settled down in their own districts. By the turn of the century, 2,000 families were attending St. Albertus, even as it shared a neighborhood with four other Polish Catholic churches. That's how densely populated Poletown was back then.

But as the parishioners started moving out of the city, the number of families belonging to St. Albertus was halved by the 1930s, and by the 1950s was down to 700. Its school closed for lack of enrollment in 1966. And once the church drew only handfuls of worshippers on Sundays, it was doomed. The last official Mass here was in 1990.

A handful of die-hards though, begged church officials to let them keep the place. They convinced the Archdiocese to sell them the entire property — church, rectory and school — for a mere $100, plus the costs of maintaining it as a museum.

"We didn't want it torn down," says Brian Baka, 65, one of the three remaining original members of the group that bought it. "My dad went to school here, my parents were married here, my dad's funeral was one of the last ones here. I couldn't let it go."

Step inside
St. Albertus and it's easy to see why the church generates such devotion from its caretakers.

The outside is relatively plain, but the interior is astonishing. Color and texture and detail shine out from every direction. It's psychedelic, bizarre, otherworldly; like some mystical experience expressed in architecture. A plaster St. Albertus looks down from above the main altar, surrounded by angels of various hierarchies floating alongside him, standing on platforms, leaning out from walls. There are flowers and candles everywhere, and little flames cast flickering shadows onto the kaleidoscope walls. The curved plaster ceilings are painted a soft blue and dotted with tiny gold stars, a fanciful depiction of the heavens beyond.

Mannequins stand near a sepulchre at the rear of the church, clothed in Polish folk costumes, clutching baskets of food, eternally heralding Easter. Large, painted sculptures of holy figures stare at you from all directions.

The most arresting displays are the altar-flanking, illuminated glass coffins containing life-size mannequins representing the corpses of St. Stanislaus and St. Hedwig, two Polish icons. They lie in stiff repose, faces pale, hands folded, eyes shut.

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