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    Turns out, our very own Jack Lessenberry knows the Grosse Pointer seeking to ban the MT: Ten years or so ago, a woman named Andrea Lavigne sat in on some media survey classes I was teaching at Wayne State University. She was in her late 30s or early 40s, and seemed to be searching for answers. She wanted to know how the media work, and told me she was a Maoist. This fascinated me, because I thought authentic Maoists were almost as rare as passenger pigeons. Chairman Mao, we now know, starved to death and slaughtered tens of millions of his own citizens, and kept China economically and intellectually backward. Intrigued, I got together one night before class with her and another Maoist, to find out what they were all about. Alas, they spouted a form of primitive, grade-school Marxism. They seemed to have very little historical knowledge of Communism or what it had actually been like. Yes. A Maoist. Read the full story at Michigan Radio here.

    The post Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’

    A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the owner of Detroit’s municipal solid waste incinerator Monday, accusing the company of nuisance and gross negligence violations According to the complaint filed by Detroit-based Lidle & Dubin P.C., “On occasions too numerous to list, Plaintiffs’ property including Plaintiffs’ neighborhood, residences and yards were physically invaded by noxious odors and contaminants … As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’s’ negligence in operating and/or maintaining the facility, Plaintiffs’ property has been invaded by noxious odors.” The eight-page complaint charges that local property values have dropped due to the incinerator’s presence, “and has interfered with Plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of their property.” The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, seeks a financial award in excess of $25,000 and all costs and attorney fees related to the case. In an email, a spokesperson for the company says, “Detroit Renewable Power is reviewing the complaint filed today,” but declined further comment. The suit follow a Metro Times’ cover story earlier this month on the growing number of odor complaints from nearby residents since Detroit Renewable Power LLC (DRP) took control of the facility in 2010. The story found a spike in citations from the Michigan Department […]

    The post Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup

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    The post Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative

    So is the title of the press release we received this morning from The Satanic Temple. You may recall our interview with Doug Mesner from earlier this year. The Satanic Temple is, perhaps, best known for trying to build a child-friendly monument to satan in OKC: How Mesner and TST are rocking the Hobby Lobby ruling is interesting: The Satanic Temple Leverages Hobby Lobby Ruling to Claim Exemption From State Mandated ProLife Materials Reads the next line of the press release. And then their website: A number of states require that abortion providers give information to patients that maybe inaccurate or misleading. Demands that members of the Satanic Temple, or those who share our beliefs, be subjected against our will to anything but the best scientific understanding are a violation of our religious beliefs. Thanks to rulings such as Hobby Lobby, we can take a stand against these practices. Mesner points out how the Hobby Lobby ruling bolsters their position: While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact. This was made clear when […]

    The post Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio

    On Saturday we set out to check out the High Times Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio, Mich. — High Times did hold a Cannabis Cup in the Motor City back in 2011, but Detroit police flexing their muscles and making arrests at that event may have been to blame, at least partially, for the choice of a new host city. The event was held this year at the Auto City Speedway, (also known as “B.F.E.” to Detroiters). Nevertheless, the prospect of stopping at the Torch for the best burger in the Genessee County was compelling — and anyway, this was the Cannabis Cup we were talking about. Was it really going to be “work?” It turned out, just a little bit. An inexplicable lack of an on-site ATM meant hiking quite a ways up the road to the nearest gas station, and then waiting for an attendant to restock the ATM with cash. We spoke with plenty of Cannabis Cup attendees at the gas station — everybody knows that the local gas station is a stoner’s best-friend. The two-day festival, for which one-day tickets were sold for $40, was divided into two sections — a general area and a medicating […]

    The post Reports from the ‘High Times’ Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • ICYMI: Forbes rates Detroit #9 on its “America’s Most Creative Cities” list

    Yes, it’s true. Forbes says Detroit is one of America’s most creative cities: “We ranked these places based on four metrics: activity per capita on project-funding platforms Kickstarter and Indiegogo and music sites Bandcamp and ReverbNation. The goal was to capture organic creativity, since many artistic and musical types have “day jobs” outside of creative pursuits.” The Forbes list sandwiches #9 Detroit between #8 Seattle and #10 Oakland, Calif. If you are watching the art and culture explosion happening right now in Detroit, you probably think we should rank higher than #2 Boston and #1 San Francisco, if only for the fact that it’s actually affordable to create here and there is space for everyone to be creative. But hey, those metrics weren’t part of the equation. And there’s always next year.

    The post ICYMI: Forbes rates Detroit #9 on its “America’s Most Creative Cities” list appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Taking the bait

A smelly little place becomes one determined man's life

Photo: , License: N/A

Michael Freeman inside his bait shop.

It's a quiet summer afternoon, the sun shines in a soft haze through the shop windows, the traffic outside is sounding a sleepy whoosh, so who could blame the shopkeeper for dozing off in a chair in the middle of the day?

"That'll be $5.70," says a bleary-eyed Michael Freeman to the customer who'd just come in and roused him from his slumber. The purchase was important enough to wake him for — two-dozen worms were urgently needed. The fish in the river are biting today.

Freeman owns Michael T's Bait on the corner of Van Dyke and Jefferson, a place where the pace of the day is languid no matter how busy it gets. He named the shop after himself when he took over two years ago, using his first name and middle initial. "I tell guys the 'T' stands for trouble. I tell women 'T' is for terrific," he says, instead of just saying that it's Tyrone.

He falls asleep in here quite frequently, he admits, often in front of the little TV in the corner with the digital tuner and rabbit ears on top. It's hard to stay awake when the liveliest thing in the room is the crayfish tank.

"I just sit around when it's so slow like this, and I'll nod out," says the 60-year-old in a Southern accent so drawly it makes him seem even drowsier. "The hours will wear you down." He's here from 4 in the morning until 8 at night, just about every single day.

It's usually slow like this, since most customers pop in and out after buying a single thing, and today's no different. Worms. Hooks. Minnows. Worms. Lures. Worms. It's not a high-intensity occupation.

It's slow like this because many of his customers stopped coming around a few years back, when the previous owner got seriously ill and opened the shop less and less frequently. Once a place like this gets a reputation among the riverfront anglers for being closed at crucial times, it's hard for it to recover. 

Then the owner died, and the shop's survival was in question. Freeman had worked here for more than two decades, and it had simply become what he does in life. He was determined to save it. 

But it wouldn't be easy.

From the outside you'd never know it's a bait shop. The only indicators are a couple of hand-painted boards propped against the plain walls outside, announcing "Live Bait." It's located inside a former flower store, and nobody's ever bothered taking the old signage down, so people seeking worms walk into a place whose delicate fabric awnings declare it to be Ashley's Flowers in a feminine script. 

Inside though, there's little doubt. The place smells like the inside of a dead fish. It might be from the tank of minnows that sell as cheap bait, or the crawfish water, or years of fishy customers passing through. Freeman says he can't even smell it anymore.

Before this it was called Dick's Fishing Hole, named after its owner, Dick Brousseau. He lived just up the street in one of those towering old brick apartment high-rises along the river, and would spend his spare time standing on the shore behind it, with a line in the water. He loved fishing, knew fishing and figured he might as well make money off fishing. So he opened a bait shop just down the street from his home, though he never got around to putting his name on the door, or removing the soft awnings that served only to say what this place once was.

Freeman had moved to Detroit from Tennessee, and got a place to live and a security guard job in the same building where Brousseau lived. He never fished until he was in his 30s, and started only because his apartment was right along the river. "I figured, might as well fish," he says. He'd run into Brousseau along the banks, they became friends, and when the security guard job suddenly wasn't his anymore, the old bait salesman offered him work in his bare-bones shop.

After Brousseau got lung cancer, and as the disease wore on him, he began opening the shop later and later in the morning. The anglers needing bait at the first hint of dawn eventually found other shops to give their loyalty to, and the business slowly withered. A couple of years ago, in his mid-70s, Brousseau died.

He passed the business down to Freeman, as he'd promised to do if he ever retired. But a tenant in the building who was entrusted to watch over things while Brousseau was ill instead sold nearly all the store's product at a clearance-price pace and pocketed the money, and the landlord finished the job of killing the shop by throwing away all the cabinets, the fish tanks, even the kitschy plaques and mounted fish that decorated the walls.

That left Freeman with the choice of either giving up, or leasing a gutted room and starting over on his own. But after 20 years of this being his world, he asked himself — is there really a choice?

He started with some wood and glass and fashioned new display cabinets despite having little carpentry experience other than a woodworking class in the seventh grade. He got a new refrigerator to keep the worms cool, bought new tubs and tanks to hold the minnows and crayfish, and made wall stands to house the new rods and reels, to make it a real fishing supply store. He had to make it stand out because the gas station next door also sells night crawlers, as does the liquor store down the street. 

Despite the competition, he gets a steady trickle of anglers throughout the day, who come maybe for the genuine atmosphere and the foul smell that traditionally marks the beginning of a day of fishing, or maybe because no liquor store is going to fix your broken fishing pole, let alone for less than $4, as Freeman does. 

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