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  • Here is why landlords could make money 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 make money 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.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Fall Arts Issue

Political theater

Magenta Giraffe introduces the season with a ripe rarity from a master dramatist

Photo: , License: N/A

L to R: Keith Allan Kalinowski, Jon Ager and Alysia Kolascz

This is no time for fluff. 

Even when it comes to weekend theater and a night on the town. 

Mother Nature's throwing a fit, we're on the verge of another recession, campaign season's upon us and it's filled with moralizing yahoos and Congress is repugnantly stagnant. 

But the political climate in 1880s Norway mirrors America today. Bear with me. 

Like our current Congress, theirs was unstable and highly partisan. But the Norwegian liberals had the gusto to file a historic impeachment case against representatives of the far right Christian conservative government for infringing on the separation of powers — the same principle behind the separation of church and state, which if scrutinized would take large issue with the proclivity of scripture informing, oh, say, Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann's platform. 

Both "separations" are based on the ancient Greek trias politica foundation of governance. Which used to mean something in the Western world.

The consequence of such extremism is under review in a rare production of Henrik Ibsen's masterpiece Rosmersholm from the Magenta Giraffe Theatre Company in Detroit. Freud dug it enough to write an essay about the female lead. 

Since 2006, Magenta Giraffe has been operating from a small space at 1515 Broadway. And its founder, Frannie Shepard-Bates (who's sister to the prolific young music man Jesse Shepard-Bates) is intent on reviving the district with quality contemporary productions. 

I recently had a conversation with the lady of the house. We spoke about this curious season opener, the casting process, our city's theatric energy, and Freud. 

Metro Times: Henrik Ibsen is, more or less, responsible for crafting the modern drama form, right? I think I've seen A Doll's House (originally performed in 1879 at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark). What can you tell us you know about this Ibsen guy?

Frannie Shepard-Bates: Ibsen's plays, especially A Doll's House, are widely regarded as some of the best pieces of theater ever to be written and produced. His plays dealt with contemporary issues in a naturalistic way when most plays did not. His primary focus on characters, rather than plot, and his not-so-subtle views on often-contentious issues, earned him negative attention at the same time he was being hailed as a master dramatist. 


MT: Your season opener, Rosmersholm, is a rarely performed Ibsen play. How did you discover it? 

Shepard-Bates: I was searching for plays for the upcoming season, and I thought maybe we ought to produce a classic. I was looking through my collection of Ibsen's plays when this one popped out at me — I'd never heard of or noticed it before. It requires only six actors, which makes it affordable for our limited budget. Once I read it, I realized how amazing it is. We had to do it.


MT: What's your research process like? How do you pick the season's plays?

Shepard-Bates: I read a lot of plays, and I read a lot of reviews of plays in newspapers and online. I'm always looking for new material, as well as exploring older plays that seem like they'd be a good fit for us. My decisions hinge on how well plays fit our mission and whether there's a chance they could start a discussion about eliminating apathy, violence, prejudice or some education barrier. I'm also thinking about whether or not they'll bring an audience, which is important for re-establishing and expanding Detroit's theater district.


MT: How does Rosmersholm set the tone for the 2010 season? And what can you tell us about the season's other two plays?

Shepard-Bates: Rosmersholm sets the tone in that, as usual, we approach our productions very seriously — even the comedies. We're not about producing fluff. Each play largely deals with politics of one kind or another, and all of them denounce certain aspects of politics. The Altruists centers around characters who are political hypocrites and The Maids has much to do with classism.


MT: One of Rosmersholm's themes concerns the social inflictions caused by blind political and religious radicalism. Does that motif function in a way that at all mirrors our nation's radical political mouthpieces culture?

Shepard-Bates: One of the first things that struck me about this play is how relevant it is to our current political climate in the U.S. No matter the time or location, extreme politics destroys relationships and puts blinders on otherwise reasonable people. And it is true now, politicians on the extreme right and left rally people behind them, people who do not always have objective political viewpoints.

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