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  • Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit

    Former American Idol contestant Vonzell Solomon weighs in on twerking, natural hair & CEO status. In 2005, recording artist Vonzell “Baby V” Solomon embarked on a journey that changed her life. At the age of 20, Vonzell made it to the top three on American Idol before she was eliminated. But that was not the beginning nor the end of her journey to stardom. Vonzell is one of more than two dozen artists on tour with YouTube sensation Todrick Hall, who is a former Idol contestant as well. Todrick gained notoriety for his fast food drive-thru songs and also for producing parody videos  —  based on popular Broadway musicals and songs. His tour, uniquely entitled Twerk Du Soleil (translation: twerk of the sun), is a combination of his popular YouTube spoofs. Both Vonzell and her ratchet alter ego,Boonquisha Jenkins, made an appearance in Twerk Du Soleil,which stopped in Detroit July 23 at Saint Andrews Hall. Boonquisha opened the show by facilitating a twerking competition among the audience. Next, Vonzell made a reappearance singing a fan favorite – Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” Later, Boonquisha came on stage screaming “It’s so cold in the D! You gotta be from the D to […]

    The post Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race

    If a poll released this week is any indication of how the August 5 primary election will turn out, current Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano has reason to worry, Fox 2 reports. Ficano, who’s seeking a third term, polled in fourth place — behind former Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans, Westland Mayor Bill Wild and Wayne County Commissioner Phil Cavanaugh, according to Fox 2. The poll by Strategic Solutions LLC, showed 6.7 percent of respondents said they’d vote for Ficano, which isn’t so bad: He finished ahead of County Commissioner Kevin McNamara (who came in at No. 6) and someone literally described as “a candidate not named here” (who polled at No. 5.) If you’re planning to head to the polls — which you should! — and need some input on the candidates and ballot proposals, you can read for our election coverage in this week’s Metro Times.

    The post Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • A Mad Decent Mixtape

    Mad Decent Block Party will roll through town on Saturday, August 16, bringing to town artists like Dillon Francis, Diplo, Flosstradamus, RiFF RAFF, Keys N Krates, and Zeds Dead. Thugli, a Canadian duo, will perform on the Toronto leg of the tour and they put together a 45 minute mix that features songs by some of the tour’s featured artists as well as a host of others.  Listen to it here. 

    The post A Mad Decent Mixtape appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders

    Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host a special event this Saturday, July 26 in hopes of raising money for the local faction of an international nonprofit, Burners without Borders Detroit. Breaking Borders is a one-evening-only event that will feature live music, performance, and art. Satori Circus will perform along with spoken word artist ZakAndWhatArmy. Music by Tartanic, Dixon’s Violin, and Servitor. Fire dancers, hoop performers, and acrobats will provide a certain mysticism to the ambiance as old Victorian steampunk and tribal art is shown in the main gallery. There will also be a runway fashion show and the evening will end with a dubstep rave featuring DJ Forcefeed and Dotty. Truly, there’s something for everyone. Perhaps more importantly, there will be a full service bar. The event is open to those 18 and older and IDs will be checked at the door. Admission is $25 at the door, or $20 with the donation of a canned good. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the party goes until 2 a.m. A 20 percent commission will be taken from all art sold at this event and donated to Burners without Borders. The Tangent Gallery is located at 715 Milwaukee Ave., Detroit; 313-873-2955; tangentgallery.com.

    The post Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project

    By Amanda Mooney There’s a lot that goes into producing a film, and unless you are a filmmaker you really have no idea. Writing, casting, finding a location, shooting, and editing; each step of the process can take days, months, and sometimes years to complete. Can you imagine doing it ALL in just 48 hours? The 48 Hour Film Project is an annual competition that takes place all over the world in various cities. According to Mike Madigan, head of the Detroit 48 Hour chapter, the city is one of the largest participating in terms of the number of teams. The competing teams go in blind as to what kind of film they will be producing, with no creative planning beyond getting a cast and crew together, Madigan explained. “They pick a genre out of a hat, and they get a line, a prop, and a character. And they have to incorporate that within a short film, that’s usually between 4 to 7 minutes long. And they have the timeframe of doing it all within 48 hours,” said Madigan, “So all the creative process of it all has to happen within that 48 hour–writing a script, putting it together, editing–to […]

    The post 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space

    Church: Revival is the new project by local rap duo Passalacqua (aka Bryan Lackner and Brent Smith), but it’s more than just a new Passalacqua release. The rappers teamed up with siblings Jax Anderson (frontwoman of rockers Flint Eastwood) and Seth Anderson, who together form the songwriting team called Syblyng (naturally). The result is a cycle of songs that promises to be darker than Passalacqua’s material so far. The project will make a live debut on Saturday, July 26 at a brand new venue space at the Detroit Bus Co.’s building Eight & Sand, and they will premiere the Right Bros.-directed video for the track “Baptism” as well. Other performances include Tunde Olaniran and Open Mike Eagle, and DJ sets by Nothing Elegant, Dante LaSalle, and Charles Trees. We met up the two duos at Eight & Sand to check out the new space and to talk about the project with all parties involved. Metro Times: How long have you been working together? Jax Anderson: Seth and I are constantly writing songs together. We want to push in the direction of becoming songwriters more frequently. This is our first project that we took on to co-write everything together. We’re basically just a songwriting entity. We won’t play live that […]

    The post Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Halloween 2012

Sweet skulls

Day of the Dead's lively backstory

Photo: , License: N/A

reinterpreted by Mark Dancey

Photo: , License: N/A

Traditional Day of the Dead imagery is now being reinterpreted by Niagara


Imperial's food, music and art festivities run Thusday-Friday, Nov. 1-2, at the Imperial, 22828 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; facebook.com/imperialwoodward. Artists hand-painting papier-mâché skulls will include Niagara, Glenn Barr, Mark Dancey, Audrey Pongracz, Johnny "Bee" Badanjek, Jerry Vile, Mark Arminski, Kill Taupe, SLAW and Jeremy E. Hansen; 19 mini-skulls are being donated by tattoo artists from Signature Tattoo, Lance Kellar Studios, Big Top Tattoo, Iron Clad Tattoo and Wholeshot Tattoo. The artists' reception runs from 8 to 11 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1; e-bay auction culminates on Saturday. 


Learn to decorate sugar skulls at a Detroit Institute of Arts drop-in workshop, noon-4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27, DIA 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit, 313-833-7900; dia.org. 


If you've ever been inside a Hot Topic, you'll recognize the iconic sugar skull. But the symbol wasn't the product of the geniuses at Hot Topic (shocking, I know). The sugar skull represents the Mexican and Latino holiday of Dia de los Muertos and has become quite common, but it seems that the origins and the meaning behind it are not so widely known.

The sugar skull itself dates back to the birth of El Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) with the rituals of ancient Mayans and Aztecs. The holiday was meant to celebrate the lives of loved ones who had died and to release their spirits. The festivities originally went on during late summer, but the Catholic Spanish conquistadors moved into Mexico and, shocked at the joyous attitude surrounding the dead, pushed the celebrations to All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day to Christianize the rituals. Now, the holiday occupies the two days after the gorier Western tradition of Halloween. All Saints' Day occurs Nov. 1 and celebrates the departing of children's souls. The next day, All Souls' Day, honors deceased adults. 

The sugar skull, as well as skulls made of bread or papier-mâché, come into play with traditional customs. Sugar skulls are often decorated with vibrant colors and included in ofrendas, offerings to those who have passed.

The sugar skull has more recently become strongly associated with punk and goth culture (as skulls always have been); you can find them plastered on sweaters, skateboards and especially bodies. And these groups seem to have a view of death that aligns well with Dia de los Muertos. Like the dark subcultures that find a strange joy in death, the celebration is not about fearing death, but accepting it as a part of the cycle of life (though the holiday takes a much more colorful approach than, say, the Misfits). More recently, the iconography of the sugar skull and Dia de los Muertos has meshed more into arts and music culture. And this year, the Imperial, a lounge in Ferndale, even plans to tie all that in with a benefit for education.

Nov. 1-2, the Imperial plans to bring food, music and art together for a Day of the Dead celebration with the clever acronym DEAD (Dedication to Education & Arts Day). Local artists such as Niagara, Glenn Barr and Jerry Vile have been commissioned to paint papier-mâché skulls. Other skulls have been donated by local tattoo artists for auction. 

The proceeds from the event will go to programs at Roosevelt Primary School in Ferndale and the Eagles Pledge's Scholarship Program. 

Sharon LaVoisne, an owner of the Imperial, explains their theme of choice: "Imperial is a marriage of Detroit working-class with L.A. subculture. There is an amazing event in L.A. at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery that celebrates Dia de los Muertos that we go to every year. It's an event for all, celebrated by the diverse community of L.A. through food, music and community. Imperial embraces communal activity." 

The Imperial is all about involvement in the community and in that way Dia de los Muertos ties in well. The holiday is about choosing to view the loss of loved ones as a chance to celebrate their lives. In Mexico, it is often celebrated with elaborate parades; it's not a gloomy private mourning, but a joyous community

 event.

With spirit like that, it's not hard to catch on anywhere, even metro Detroit.

Emily Riopelle is a Metro Times editorial intern. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com. 

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