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  • Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain

    The Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck will present a police drama called A Steady Rain May 2 through 24. Planet Ant veterans Ryan Carlson and York Griffith will star in the play, written by House of Cards and Mad Men co-writer Keith Huff. Tickets ($10-$20) are on sale now at According to the press release, “A Steady Rain by Keith Huff focuses on Joey and Denny, best friends since kindergarten and partners on the police force whose loyalty to each other is tested by domestic affairs, violence and the rough streets of Chicago. Joey helps Denny with his family and Denny helps Joey stay off the bottle. But when a routine disturbance call takes a turn for the worse their loyalty is put to the ultimate test.First produced at Chicago Dramatists, A Steady Rain appeared on Broadway featuring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The Planet Ant production of A Steady Rain is directed by York Griffith featuring Ryan Carlson and Andy Huff. This marks the return of two of Planet Ant’s founding members. Carlson and Griffith. Griffith has served as the theatre’s Artistic Director where he directed the critically-acclaimed productions The Adding Machine and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor

    Detroit home-girl Lily Tomlin will perform at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, June 14. A press release reads, “Get together with Lily Tomlin for an unforgettable night of fun and sidesplitting laughter. “Tomlin is amazing” The NY Times and “as always a revelation.” The New Yorker This unique comic artist takes her audience on what the Washington Post calls a “wise and howlingly funny” trip with more than a dozen of her timeless characters—from Ernestine to Mrs. Beasley to Edith Ann.” “With astounding skill and energy, Tomlin zaps through the channels like a human remote control. Using a fantastic range of voices, gestures and movements, she conjures up the cast of characters with all the apparent ease of a magician pulling a whole menagerie of animals from a single hat.” NY Daily News “Her gentle touch is as comforting as it is edifying.” NY Time Out She has “made the one-person show the daring, irreverent art form it is today.” Newsweek Her long list of awards includes: a Grammy; two Tonys; six Emmys; an Oscar nomination; two Peabodys; and the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Find more info here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor

    The Detroit Metro Times, Detroit’s award-winning alternative weekly media company, is proud to announce the recent hire of Valerie Vande Panne as Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning independent journalist and Michigan native, Vande Panne’s work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Daily Beast, and Salon, among other publications. Previously, Vande Panne attended Harvard University and was a regular contributor to The Boston Phoenix, and a news editor of High Times magazine. She has spent years covering drug policy among other subjects, including the environment, culture, lifestyle, extreme sports, and academia. “Valerie understands our business and what we expect to accomplish in Detroit. She has an excellent sense for stories that will move our readers, as well as experience with balancing print and digital content. I’m excited to have her at the paper and trust her leadership as we move forward,” said Detroit Metro Times publisher Chris Keating.

    The post Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’

    She welcomes you when you enter Detroit, from every direction, with the one word that might just be Detroit’s biggest philosophical question: Injured? Joumana Kayrouz is deeper than the inflated image watching over Detroit, peddling justice to the poor and broken of the city. This Wednesday, Drew Philp takes us behind the billboard and into the heart of the Kayrouz quest. (And all of Brian Rozman’s photos of Kayrouz have not been retouched.) Check out MT‘s cover story, on newsstands Wednesday!

    The post Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt

    There was a fire in an upstairs apartment at PJ’s Lager House on Monday evening. No people were hurt, although three cats belonging to the tenants died after CPR. The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. during a show featuring Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band, Curtin, and Jeffrey Jablonsky. “We just smelled smoke and someone yelled everyone has to get out,” 33-year-old Nick Leu told MLive. On the Lager House Facebook page in the early hours of the morning, a post said, “We at PJ’s lager House would like to thank everyone for their care and concern. Also, a very big THANK YOU to all who stepped up to do what they could this evening. The fire was contained to the upstairs but due to water damage in the bar, we will be closed until it can be assessed. Everyone is safe and we will keep you updated.” A later update read, “Update from the big boss. Since there was no damage to the stage side of the bar, the show will go on tomorrow! You may have to enter through the back door and there may not be a large selection of booze but we are going […]

    The post Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Solitary Man

A homeless man finds a version of serenity in the heart of Detroit

Photo: Photo: Detroitblogger John, License: N/A

Photo: Detroitblogger John

Tom Bell in the yard of his home.

It's another spring morning in Tom Bell's backyard. Birds whistle from the bare branches above, squirrels jump through the crispy leaves below, and another day of being alone, another day of nothingness, lies ahead.

Bell is homeless, but only in the official sense. Because when he found this place a decade ago, he made it a real home.

He lives by the river in a tent he pitched atop a tall concrete mound, so high you'd never see him up there if you weren't looking for him.

"I have no phone, no address, no identity either," says the 56-year-old Bell, who's thin, with a shabby beard and a helmet of hair flecked with gray.

His hidden perch is next to a potholed alley, surrounded by a strand of clustered trees and a row of old warehouses left empty years ago. It's a neglected, forgotten corner of the city, one where he can live undisturbed by little else but the sounds of the weather and the animals that share his space. Yet rising from the horizon, just a handful of streets away, are downtown's towering skyscrapers. Bell has managed to find nature's serenity in the heart of the city.

Ten years ago he was living under a freeway overpass. Then, in his wanderings, he came across this mammoth concrete embankment, the remains of an ancient elevated railroad track. He climbed a tree to peek up top, surveyed the strange landscape he found there and decided this was the place for him.

"This is one of the best homeless spots I've ever seen," he says. He went from living in the shadows to basking in the sun, in a world all to himself. And with his find, he claimed one of the most extraordinary places to live a most extraordinary life.

He has no past to dwell on, no future to plan, no job to go to. For him, time is meaningless. The days blend into weeks that become years of sameness, and every moment is the pure essence of now.

"Man, everything's everything," he says. "Ain't nothin' changes. The sun go up, the sun go down. The sun go up, the sun go down. It's what they call just a regular day in the neighborhood."

has been homeless since he was 18 years old. That's almost four decades now. That's most of a lifetime spent living on the streets of Detroit.

"I tried to pay rent, always fell behind payin' rent," he explains. "Never could keep a constant job, never could keep a permanent address, so all that accounts for being relatively known as homeless."

Bell grew up on the west side, he says. But he doesn't like to talk about his life much. He went to high school, but says little about that. Doesn't say much about his family, either. He never married.

"I might be what's known as anti-sociable," he says. "If you can't find your kind you can't find your kind. Ain't nothing wrong with that, either. Seldom seen is good, just like all-the-time seen is good. I'm one of those seldom-seen types. I'm always reserved, laid up away somewhere."

Sometimes the only living beings he encounters are the animals living in this grove. He calls them his friends. "They run up and down the trees and all that stuff, raccoons and foxes and cats and different kind of things come up around here. I bring them food to eat, you know."

Four decades outside have taught him the ways of nature and made him intimate with the weather. "I've damaged my feet, close to frostbite. I actually did get frostbit, but it wasn't to the point to where I panicked about it. Some people, man, they actually have to lose it. That ain't good at all. You find out you need your feet and hands."

All those years of experience, though, don't change the fact it's still hard to live this kind of life. He eats at soup kitchens, collects bottles and cans for the refunds, and gets everything else from the trash.

"Being homeless is serious business," he says.

Getting to
his place isn't easy. His concrete hill is two-tiered, about 15 feet high. To get up top he's fashioned a series of ladder steps by nailing slats of wood between two close-standing trees that grow along the concrete wall. Once you climb those there's a braided iron cord that juts out from a crack in the concrete. You grab that to hoist yourself up to the first tier. Then you go up an old stepladder to the top of the second tier. And you're suddenly in his secret world.

He lives on a wide track of weathered old railroad ties stretching far into the distance. They've become smothered in the grasses and tall trees whose roots somehow cleaved the concrete and dug their hold deep. It's like a wild, overgrown park in the sky. "It's perfectly weird," he says.

By contrast, his home is so small he can't stand up inside it.

It's a makeshift tent that's about waist high, shaped like a triangle, made of thin plastic sheeting. He made two round windows fronted by chicken wire, and he fashioned a real wood-framed screen door that latches shut. The top of the tent is shingled with foamy material he found in the trash — one sheet of white, one sheet of black. He cut them into dozens of little semi-circles and arranged them in alternating colors, giving it the look of a quaint, miniature cottage.

Once that was done he tamed his landscape. He cleared some grasses, took down a tree or two, defined his yard from the wilds surrounding it. A little garden is guarded by a ceramic frog that watches over the plastic houseplants Bell put in the ground. A birdhouse, detailed and painted, dangles above the garden from a tall, shady tree. A painted wood bin with a hinged lid holds his food, and another smaller one holds his trash.

But his biggest decorative impact was the long mural he painted along the base of his man-made hill. One day he found several half-empty paint cans and some brushes thrown in the trash. He took them home and illuminated the plain gray concrete with a painting that's 20 feet long and 5 feet high. Split in two by a stenciled image of a chain, the top shows curled black waves against a glowing blue backdrop, while underneath are evenly spaced triangles with different odd designs painted in each. After years of hiding in plain sight, Bell decided to announce his presence here as garishly as he could.

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