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  • Jumpin Jumpin: Police, fire fighters, and EMS workers to be honored at Sky Zone

    When we think of honoring the brave men and women who protect and serve the metro Detroit area, we think of trampolines.  We think they should jump on trampolines. And by trampolines, we mean an all-walled trampoline field where they can land in a pit of 10,000 foam cubes. They have to blow off steam some how. Sky Zone, the inventors of such a place, are hosting a special day at their Canton and Shelby Township locations that will be all about police officers, firefighters, EMS workers, and their families. On Tuesday, August 5 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. there will be free jumping for these folks. All metro Detroit police, firefighters, EMS workers and their families are invited to come, though an employee ID or professional organization ID will be required for admittance to 60 free minutes at the indoor park. The hour of free jumping comes with free pizza from Jet’s as well. This is the first event of its kind in Michigan.  Sky Zone Canton is located at 42550 Executive Drive Sky Zone Shelby Township is located at 50810 Sabrina Drive. Check skyzone.com for more information. 

    The post Jumpin Jumpin: Police, fire fighters, and EMS workers to be honored at Sky Zone appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times is getting a new website today

    Your favorite local alternative weekly is getting a digital facelift at around 4 p.m. today, and we need your help. If you, dear reader, spot anything amiss or notice that any of our regular features are not working properly, do give us a shout in the comment section below or on social media. If, on the other hand, you find that you positively adore our new design (which we surely hope you do!), we’d certainly enjoy hearing about that as well. Let the countdown to launch begin!

    The post Metro Times is getting a new website today appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well

    By LeeAnn Brown Some people say that hip-hop is dead. Local ban Fderal Ground is proving that is not the case. The seven-member band, consisting of three lead vocalists, a DJ, bass, drums and guitar, plays what they call “living hip-hop.” Their music, peppered with multiple styles, covers all aspects of life from growing up in the D to playing with fire despite knowing you will likely get burned. Their undeniable chemistry and raw lyrics compose a music that is living, breathing, and connecting to their listeners. It has been nearly 11 years since Vinny Mendez and Michael Powers conjured up the basement idea that has flowered into the Detroit funk-hop band Feral Ground. Throughout high school the two wrote and rapped consistently, playing shows here and there. In those years they matched their rap stanzas with the animated, dynamic voice of Ginger Nastase and saw an instant connection. The now trio backed their lyrics with DJ Aldo’s beats on and off for years, making him a permanent member within the last year, along with Andy DaFunk (bass), Joseph Waldecker (drums), and newest member, Craig Ericson (guitar). We sat down with Feral Ground and their manager, Miguel Mira, in their […]

    The post Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law

    Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]

    The post Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week

    Walking with Dinosaurs, a magnificent stage show that features life-sized animatronic creatures from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, will be in town next week. But to preview the show’s run at the Palace, a baby T-Rex will be making an appearance at four area malls to the delight and wonderment of shoppers. Baby T-Rex, as the creature is being affectionately referred to, is seven-feet-tall and 14-feet-long. He’ll only be at each mall for about 15 minutes, so while there will be photo opportunities, they’ll be short. The dino will be at Fairlane Town Center Center Court at 18900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit from 2-2:15 p.m. today, July 30; The Mall at Partridge Creek at 17420 Hall Rd. in Clinton Township from 5-5:15 p.m. today, July 30; Twelve Oaks Mall at the Lord & Taylor Court at 27500 Novi Rd., Novi tomorrow, Thursday July 31 from 1:30-1:45 p.m.; and Great Lakes Crossing Food Court at 4000 Baldwin Rd., Auburn Hills from 5-5:15 p.m., tomorrow Thursday, July 31.  

    The post Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations

    Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through BuildingDetroit.com, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.  

    The post Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations 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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