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  • Here is why landlords could do well 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 do well 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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Sign of the times

A Detroiter signals distress from a neighborhood under siege

Photo: , License: N/A

After a drive-by shooting at a playground, Andre Ventura erected his sign.

Photo: , License: N/A

Rudell Solomon: "I teach kids how to plant."

He spent six years in that neighborhood before moving to his current home near Eight Mile and Dequindre, to what he thought was a better neighborhood in which to raise his own three kids. It was worse.

"Just constantly under attack every day," he says. "I wake up every morning to see what I got left. They sneak in through every crack they can find. Cut all the locks I had on an $80,000 shop in a 16-foot box truck. Everything is gone. Just gone. My snowplow was piece by piece. They took the hydraulics, they took the switch controls, they took the plow, and then actually the whole truck."

He says he's lost $50,000 worth of tools and equipment since moving here. "All this shit just empties out. I keep filling it up, it keeps emptying out. They're like vultures. They sit there and watch, they'll put one on the corner or something, and they'll sit and watch and watch and watch until the second you get in the car and leave or turn your back."

Still, he tried contributing. He cleared mounds of trash from the city-owned corner lot next to his house, installed playground equipment and invited the neighborhood's children to play there. He opened a candy store in his living room for kids too scared to walk all the way to the store. He mowed the lawns on vacant lots on his street. But these gestures were just crumbs compared to the mayhem around him.

"There's hundreds of different explanations of why it's going on. Especially now, with all the people dropped off welfare, it's become more desperate, it's getting worse. But nobody's scared of the police. Everybody knows that nobody cares. There is no law."

City life began taking its toll. In his frustration he started leaving hand-painted signs all over the east side. "Where's 20,000 troops to protect our own children and communities?" one read. "Will the last person to leave Detroit kindly turn out the lights?" said another. "Does this place look safe for your child to play?" he wrote on a boarded-up abandoned house.

The signs got edgier as time went on and his nerves frayed. "Pedophiles' paradise, inquire within. Children wanted," he scrawled on a stubbornly enduring vacant house. "Free dopehouse kit. Start your own spot," one sign announced. And he nailed a rusty bucket to a picket fence in a high prostitution area with a sign that read, "Free used condoms." In his own yard he wrote simply, "Save Detroit, adopt a crackhead."

But until he put up the warning sign along Eight Mile, few people noticed.


Rudell Solomon noticed, though. The 70-year-old Army veteran has a community garden across from Ventura's house and the children's playground where the sign stands.  "I told him, 'Why don't we just put up something positive?' Solomon remembers. "And he said, 'No, not until they do something.' So he got a right to his free speech. I can't argue that."

Solomon, who lives a few blocks over, is big, brash and intense. "You're looking at a black Rambo," he shouts. "I've done hand-to-hand combat, I've been stabbed. I've been shot. I've been fucked up. And I promised the Lord when I was in Vietnam if he'd let me get back I'd serve the community for the rest of my days. And I'm doing it, and that's the only reason I'm doing it."

The two former military men, both caught in the same neighborhood, became friends. The irony is that Ventura, the gentler of the pair, is the more militant, while Solomon, the fierier of the two, declares himself a pacifist — to a degree.

"Him and I work together, in conjunction," Solomon barks. "He got his thing, I got my thing. His thing is about crackheads stealing all his stuff, breaking into his house. I'm on the peaceful side of the community. I teach kids how to plant." 

But Solomon has also driven drug dealers out of the neighborhood, he says, with a look suggesting it wasn't solely through persuasive words. And he's got nails poking upward from the top of his wood fence to keep out the waves of thieves that try to jump into his yard. 

His first glimpse of Detroit was a stark one — he was with the 101st Airborne as they patrolled the city streets during the 1967 riots. He came back in 1972, moved to a house on the corner of Eight Mile, where he still lives. Things are so bad here now, he says, that everyone preys on anyone who has anything, a symptom of the worsening poverty out here.

"People got to feed their kids. That's why I'm trying to get these gardens, grow you some beans, man. I'm showing people how they can eat off the land. Somebody got to get in there and do something from the bottom up. I'm doing it working with the kids, he's working with the crackheads," he says, motioning toward Ventura. "He's fighting them motherfuckers. I told him I hope they don't blow his shit off the corner one day. But he's brave."

A story from his first years here tells a lot: Solomon was on National Guard duty one night up the street, and a neighbor called to tell him there was a pimp and some hookers working their trade in his front yard. He showed up with a dozen uniformed National Guard soldiers and absolutely pummeled the group. The incident made the neighbors terrified of him, just as he wanted. "They went and told everybody, and that's why they don't fuck with me," he says.

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