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  • Thank you, Detroit

    I’m not going to lie to you – this isn’t easy. This week, the final City Slang local music column will be published in the Metro Times (on hardcore band Final Assault), and I have just submitted a cover feature on the women of Detroit hip-hop, to be published next week (8/6). This blog that you’re reading now will be my last one as a regular MT contributor. I have a lot to look forward to. I’m going to be an associate editor at Yellow Scene Magazine in Colorado, a tremendous publication in a beautiful part of the country. But leaving Detroit will be incredibly difficult for me. I love the place. It’s been (amazingly) six and a half years since I arrived, a couple of cases in hand and not much of a plan in mind. I just knew, after three separate research trips for books and a magazine article, that I felt at home here. Metro Times offered me freelance work almost immediately, as did a new website called Metromix (whatever happened to that?) When I arrived here, I had been working as a writer in the UK for nine years, but the help and encouragement I received […]

    The post Thank you, Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers

      We here at MT will be delighted when Mr. Jack White throws out a pitch at Navin Field (at least, we hope he will), but until then, we’ll be happy with his pitch to Santa this evening at Comerica Park.    

    The post Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW)

      Footage from the Gathering of the Juggalos set to clips of Morgan Freeman’s narration from March of the Penguins? Kind of forced, but also kind of beautiful. As the AV Club reports: The oft-sought voiceover champion lends a touch of gravitas to the festival proceedings. Unfortunate scenes of barely clad people having various liquids dumped onto them now carries a quiet dignity as it’s all part of nature’s majestic plan that keeps the world spinning through this elegantly designed and truly wondrous universe. Also, the video is NSFW as there are boobs in it. Watch the clip below:

    The post Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW) appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love”

    It seems like the polar vortex will never end: the weather phenomenon that brought us the most brutal winter on record this winter is to blame for this summer’s chillier-than usual temperatures as well. A couple of bands, though, made lemonade out of lemons (or snow cones out of snow?) by using the icy landscape to film music videos. 800beloved shot the video for “Tidal” in some sand dunes near Empire, Mich., and this week Turn to Crime debuted the video for “Can’t Stop,” the title track of their recently-released album. Even more piles of ice and snow might be the last thing Detroiters want to see right now, but the footage makes for some good visuals that mesh well with the song. Watch the video below:

    The post Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love” appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed

    Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr transferred oversight of the the city’s water department Tuesday to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in an order intended to refocus “efforts to help DWSD customers get and remain current on their water bills,” Orr’s office said today. “This order provides additional clarity to the powers already delegated to the mayor,” Orr said in a statement released Tuesday. “As the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department works to operate more efficiently and communicate more effectively with customers, it is important to ensure there are clear lines of management and accountability.” Duggan will have the authority to manage DWSD and make appointments to the utility’s board, according to a news release. In a statement issued Tuesday, the mayor said he welcomed Orr’s order, adding that officials will develop a plan that “allows those who truly need to access to financial help … to do so with shorter wait times.” “We need to change a number of things in the way we have approached the delinquent payment issues and I expect us to have a new plan shortly,” Duggan said. “There are funds available to support those who cannot afford their bills — we need to do a much better job in […]

    The post Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years

    Rovers Scooter Club, a local gang dedicated to celebrating and riding motor scooters, will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary this week with a very special ride. Motor City Shakedown, the annual birthday party for the club, will commence this Friday, August 1 at New Way Bar. DJ Grover from Cincinnati will be spinning northern soul, reggae, and ska, according to club member Michael Palazzola. Saturday will feature a ride from Ferndale to Detroit, starting at noon at M-Brew. Palazzola says this is where most bikes will congregate before taking the ride to the city and folks will be prepping by getting some grub starting at 10 a.m.  Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host the after party,  a special event that will feature performances by several bands as well as Satori Circus. That portion of the event will commence at 8 p.m. with performances starting at 9 p.m. It’s free to riders, but the public is welcome to join the party with the mere cost of a door charge. Come midnight, the club will raffle off a vintage Lambretta LI 150. Sunday morning will end the weekend of festivities, with brunch taking place at the Bosco in Ferndale.   

    The post Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Surprise party

Booming dance music, flaming barbecue grills, and a stocked food tent for thousands of homeless? Yup!

Photo: , License: N/A

A party breaks out at the Cass Park barbecue.

It was supposed to be big, but nobody expected it to be this fun.

The plan was to throw a down-home, Memorial Day barbecue in Cass Park for the poor and the homeless, where they often gather. The event, organized by several local charities, had a rambler of a name: "Feed the People: Detroit's Red Carpet Backyard Barbecue for the Homeless and Hungry."

There was no conceit among organizers that this event would change lives. There would be no efforts to coax the recipients into programs or churches or shelters. The idea was simply to give struggling Detroiters a holiday meal like everyone else would be eating that day. 

The homeless and hungry are used to coming to this park for food. Church groups and volunteers and social organizations often pull up a truck or a van to hand out meals and clothes.

But none of them expected this. There were few cops, and no security guards. There were no social service agencies. No eager youth from church groups trying to draw them to Sunday services somewhere. None of the usual trappings of a public event for the poor.

Instead there was dance music booming from a stage. Barbecue grills smoking under the weight of thousands of free hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken wings and ears of corn. A red carpet leading to the food tent, befitting honored guests. And a crowd of poor people who suddenly found themselves at an actual holiday barbecue.

When they saw they weren't being watched or pestered or followed, when they realized this was indeed like a real backyard party, a festive mood set in, fed on itself and spread through the crowd. They thought they'd stand in a sedate line at a food tent, but instead they were at the biggest, liveliest celebration in town that day. By afternoon it would bring out thousands of people to be fed.

It brought out Ron Helton, sitting in a motorized scooter, sweating profusely in the rising heat, mopping his head with a cloth. "I'm from here! I'm from the Cass Corridor!" the 52-year-old shouts. He'd spent years volunteering as a barber for Fort Street Presbyterian Church, where hundreds of the homeless sat in his chair after getting a free meal. And most of them seemed to be here now.

"Hey, baby, you all right?" Helton says to a man who comes over to say hi. "I'm the barber down here," he explains. "I'm like the mayor around here. I know everybody." 

He used to live in a now-gone flophouse on Henry Street that catered to transients, then pulled himself up and out. But home, he says, will always be Cass Corridor, where a lot of people still stay in run-down rooms like he once did, and they could use a decent meal sometimes. "You got to remember, in this area a lot of people are still staying in hotels, so they don't have kitchens. This is great." 

The food line snakes through the park from one end to the other and out onto Temple Street, and the wait is over an hour. But when everyone in line is talking and having a good time, hanging out in line isn't so bad. "This is like a family reunion on Belle Isle!" Helton says, as another person reaches to shake the mayor's hand.

The party brought out Mary Weatherspoon too — "That's 'weather' like outside and 'spoon' like you eat with," she says by way of introduction. The grandmother stands quietly in the shade, eyeing her brother, who's standing in that long line, waiting to get meals for the family. Her grandchildren crouch at her feet. 

"Oh, it's so nice here," Weatherspoon says. "I love it. Everybody's getting along, talking." 

She lives near Houston-Whittier in the ravaged east side, and knows some of the people here, if not by name then by circumstance. "Some people don't have transportation, or family members, places to go, so this gives them someplace to go, get out, visit and see people, do something different," she says. "Like we got the wheelchairs, some of them are usually stuck in the house. I think it's wonderful."

The party brought out volunteer Mary Perry, who came over from her apartment on Washington Boulevard to help out when she heard what was planned. "You can see a lot of these people, they're not from Cass Corridor," the 64-year-old says. "These are people that don't have food and came down here because they probably couldn't afford a holiday dinner. I think it's wonderful, but it shows how bad things have gotten for us. People wouldn't be here today otherwise, with their kids. They'd be home barbecuing."

It also brought out Shirley Perryman, 63, a volunteer from Transforming Life Group, which drives around in vans and hands out meals to the homeless on the street, one at a time. Now her clients were all gathered here before her at once. Like everyone else here, she's stunned by the party that erupted. "I see a lot of the people I see on the street on a regular basis, and you can see the downtrodden heads, the way the spirits are just really down, but today it's a very festive spirit. Everybody is really upbeat today." 

And it brought out Mario Davis, who's homeless. "I'm a gypsy!" he corrects. This park is often his home.

He sits at a table with either friends or strangers. It's hard to tell which because he's been throwing his arms around everyone who passed through his airspace, so overjoyed was he about this celebration. There's technically no drinking allowed, but he, like so many here, found that a little beer in the sunshine at a backyard holiday party isn't such a bad idea.

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