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  • The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues

    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editors twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday night. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories, our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now, […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards 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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