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  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to Ricky Rat’s Tokyo Pop/Glitter People (New Fortune) 7” single highlights all that’s great about the Trash Brats guitarist, but also his limitations. The man can write a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll song to match anyone in the city and most beyond. He’s also a killer guitarist, ripping out one throwaway riff after another with reckless abandon. He’s a machine. On his own though, without Trash Brats frontman Brian McCarty, his voice doesn’t have enough strength to do the songs justice. Not that you need to have the greatest voice in the world to sing this stuff – you don’t need to be able to perform vocal gymnastics – but you do have to be able to wail the tunes out. Both of the songs on this single are great, but you can’t help but wonder how much better they would sound with McCarty or somebody similar talking the mic. Still, as they are the songs are great fun. We’re just being picky. The Paper Sound’s Trajectories is a dense, atypically dark Americana-tinged album, unrelenting and […]

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  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of, a new website launched by the City of Detroit today to auction off city-owned homes to prospective buyers who pledge to fix them up and move in. “We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement today. “There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment.” The website to facilitate the auctions went live this afternoon. The first auction is scheduled to take place Monday, May 5. Officials said in a news release that one home will be auctioned per day, Monday through Friday. Fifteen homes are available for sale on the site, a dozen of which are in the East English Village neighborhood. Any Michigan resident, company, or organization that can do business in the state can bid, according to the website. Properties will be for sale for only one day, with bidding taking place from 8 […]

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  • Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes

    In case you haven’t heard, two of the biggest names in film, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, are collaborating to put on a benefit concert for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this summer. In case you wanted to go- well, you’re too damn late. The DSO says tickets to the June 14 concert were snapped up in a record-breaking 15 minutes after they went on sale at 9 a.m. today. The DSO has since released this statement to fans who didn’t snag seats: Our apologies to everyone who was unable to buy tickets this morning for our historic benefit concert featuring John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Despite increasing our phone and internet system capacity for the day, a surge of hundreds of ticket buyers purchased tickets in a matter of minutes, filling the phone lines and temporarily maxing out our web servers. After a one-hour pre-sale made available to donors and subscribers at 8am, we released additional seats at 9am to the general public, including seats available for as low as $30. All seats sold out immediately. The concert program seems nothing short of top notch: Williams will conduct the orchestra as it performs some of his most iconic tunes, such […]

    The post Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Blowout 2014 schedule available to view now

    The schedule for Blowout 17, taking place Wednesday April 30 to Saturday May 3 in Hamtramck, Detroit and Ferndale, is available to see now. Visit to see the schedule and plan your festival. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Blowout 2014 schedule available to view now appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Trash Brats get sleazy at Small’s

    The Trash Brats hardly ever play live anymore, so each show feels like an event. Wandering around Small’s in Hamtramck late Saturday night, there’s a near-carnival atmosphere in the air. The Brats were never supposed to be taken seriously, but years on-and-off the radar have given the band the gift of respect born out of longevity. We’re not being dismissive at all. In fact, no amount of kooky faces from guitarist Ricky Rat and bassist Toni Romeo can hide the fact that these boys can play and the band writes killer bubblegum sleaze-rock tunes. The fact that the venue was packed compared to, say, a recent show by internationally known punk icons Sylvain Sylvain and Glen Matlock (which you would think would attract a similar audience) is testament to the fact that, in Detroit, the Trash Brats command a certain reverence. Before the Trash Brats took to the stage, local punks The Dives kicked off the night with a set of sincere, energetic and well-performed, if standard, punk rock. No frills (besides frontman Ron McPherson’s dapper suit), the band features members of the Junk Monkeys, the Black Mollies and the Joint Chiefs, and it drives through a set of catchy, […]

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  • Cycle 7 opens at the Red Bull House of Art

    By: Ayana Bryant-Weekes The Red Bull House of Art, a multidisciplinary and collaborative art project, relieves the stress of financial limitation or lack of tools and space so budding artists can manifest their creative dreams right here in Detroit. Six artists are selected for a three-month residency where they are provided individual studio space and materials, allowing their artistic concepts to flow freely. At the end of each residency is an unveiling and public display at the Red Bull House of Art Gallery. As show curator Matt Eaton told us in a 2013 interview, “The selection process for the current crop of artists was just the same as every round. The goal is not to find the hippest, coolest artists (though I think they are all very cool), but to find the people who may not typically have a voice.” This year, for the first time, Red Bull House of Art will showcase more than just Detroit artists. National artists from across the country in a special artist-in-residency program will have the opportunity to showcase their work to a much broader audience, and bring a national art stage to the Motor City. Since opening, 54 Detroit-based artists have been given the […]

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Soul kitchen

It's about the shared inability to afford something as necessary to life as a meal

Photo: Detroitblogger John, License: N/A

Detroitblogger John

The hungry line up for a meal at Crossroads Soup Kitchen.

They stand in line so patiently, you'd never know some of them haven't eaten since yesterday.

The line's so long it winds from the soup kitchen door along the wall and around the corner to the back, then curves down the alley and out to the street on the side. And no matter how hard the wind blows or how heavy the rain falls, they wait politely. By the end of the day, a thousand of them will have stood here.

The crowd is a mix of those who are somewhat poor to those who are desperately so. Some are homeless and have to scrounge every meal, while others are just short on their assistance at some point each month and need a little help. But once in line the distinctions are blurred. They're just hungry people waiting for a meal.

Here is Jean Kahn, 72 and slight, who walked a mile to eat today. And here is Jessica Rodnez, 23, who works at McDonald's and just started nursing school, but whose food stamps don't cover a month's worth of meals for her and her two young children, who've come with her, bundled in winter clothes. Here is glassy-eyed Billy Rogers, 52, who's waiting on a dishwashing job he says he's sure to get any day, though the wait so far has been 16 years. And here is Sidney Lester Williams, a name the 72-year-old offers with aristocratic flourish. He's a well-dressed gentleman who, like some here today, isn't really here anymore in a sense. "My father was a wizard, mother was a witch," he announces.

Inside the door, Saundra Richardson sits alone at a small table, same as every Sunday, waiting for the hungry to pour into the building. She's like the lunchlady and doorman in one, the person who instructs the volunteers making the meals, the one those in line have to see before eating one. And whether it's due to her calm demeanor or the white clerical collar she wears, everyone is soft-spoken and polite when they approach her. 

An Episcopal minister since 1990, Richardson spends her weekdays working at Mariners Inn on Cass, a substance abuse treatment center, and spends her Sundays at this table, inside the Crossroads Soup Kitchen on West Grand Boulevard near 14th Street. The two jobs leave her no time to preach at a church. "My altar is a soup pot," the 63-year-old says.

To eat, each person in line has to get a little paper ticket from the big roll Richardson holds in her hands. Each person gets one ticket, and each ticket gets one meal. A handful of those in line are allowed additional tickets for someone ill or infirm back at home, but that absent person has to be on the extras list. There are so many people in line that if someone takes more than one meal just for themselves, some in line might not get anything at all.

No proof of income or need is required to get food. "We'll take anybody who wants to come in, anybody who wants a meal," says Nicole Harris, the 31-year-old associate director of Crossroads, waiting for the door to open and the room to fill.

About two-dozen volunteers scramble in the kitchen, ladling soup out of massive pots, making ham and cheese sandwiches one by one, pouring coffee or lemonade into Styrofoam cups, and meeting face to face, one at a time, with a thousand single casualties of bad times and hard lives.

"People are people, and they're just a little down on their luck," says volunteer David Schull, 52. "These are just people wanting to make a living, wanting to have a life. And everybody that could possibly pitch in to help them out, if they would, things would be a lot better in this area of Detroit."

Crossroads does a little of everything for the poor, because there are so many ways the poor can use help. 

They offer counseling, employment assistance, a food pantry, a clothes closet. They let the clients, as they're called here, use their copiers and fax machines to try to find work. Sometimes they'll buy someone their prescription medicine for the month, or help with a late utility bill, or cover overdue rent, or buy someone a bus pass to get them to a new job until they start getting regular paychecks. They'll help people get new IDs, work boots, tool belts, eyeglasses. 

So this place becomes the general go-to spot for those who are struggling. Although hundreds of homeless stand in that Sunday morning line, many who come here have simply fallen into poverty but are just one or two factors away from rising above it.

"I would say more than half, if given the opportunity, could make it," Harris says. "If they could get into some kind of job training program, if they could get into some kind of supportive housing program, if they could get support for child care, if they could get their GED, then they could make it." 

Crossroads was founded in 1971 by Father James McLaren, an Episcopal priest at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul at Woodward and Warren, to offer general outreach to the poor of the area. It began in a small church office, moved to a Midtown building when the demand proved too great, and then to this west side location four years ago when even more space was needed. A small office on Jefferson serves the east side too. Everything's funded through donations.

Back in Midtown, the clients were mostly single men. At this building, there are a lot more families and single mothers from the neighborhood. And nobody who visits here is ever forgotten.

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