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  • Detroit area code 313 may be phased out

    Hey, everybody from the 313, start thinking of new numbers to rally around– the longstanding Detroit area code may be phased out. Our friends over at the Detroit News report that pending a revised estimate next week, the North American Numbering Plan Administration will stop handing out 313 telephone prefixes on new phone numbers. Detroiters with existing cell phone lines would be able to keep their current area codes, while those with land lines would change. via Detroit News: The venerable 313 will ultimately become overtaxed. Even as Detroit’s population has fallen, cellphone usage has accelerated like one of those smoldering SRT Vipers that Dodge has been bolting together at Conner Avenue Assembly — which is, of course, comfortably within the confines of 313. … When the first five dozen area codes were assigned nearly 70 years ago, says NANPA’s Tom Foley, “that was expected basically to last forever.” Instead, somebody invented fax machines, and then somebody else came up with cellphones, and lots of somebody elses decided to give them to 10-year-olds, and meantime the population grew to 300 million. Now every telephone carrier is required to submit twice-yearly forecasts of its needs in each area code, factoring in […]

    The post Detroit area code 313 may be phased out appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council

    Unfortunately, we were unable to attend last night’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, which, in case you were unaware, is a 16-member board established to weigh in on the new Red Wings arena near downtown. About three dozen residents and property owners cast ballots by the 8 p.m. deadline on Wednesday inside the Block at Cass Park, The Detroit News reports. It’s the culmination of a handful of community meetings which began weeks ago. Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez facilitated the meetings, but emphasized at previous meetings that it’s up to the community to conduct business. According to the News, the 12 candidates selected include: Michael Boettcher, Richard Etue, Jason Gapa, Francis Grunow, Steve Guether, Paul Hughes, Ray Litt, Warner Doyle McBryde, Karen McLeod, Delphia Simmons, Melissa Thomas and Anthony Zander. Joel Landy, a land owner in the area, lost his bid. The City Council appointed four candidates last month. As we reported in this week’s issue, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee was negotiated after Olympia Development of Michigan, Detroit Red Wing’s owner Mike Ilitch’s real estate arm, balked on a proposed community benefits agreement.  The committee is charged with the task of offering input on the arena’s design, parking security and more.

    The post Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag

    The Magic Bag in Ferndale will host James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets on Thursday, May 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. A press release reads, “James McMurtry recently signed with the bourgeoning Los Angeles record label Complicated Game. The legendary songwriter will enter the studio later this month to start working on his first album in six years. “I’ve got a new batch of songs, organic and with no added sulfites, aged in oak for several years,” he says. “Francois Moret at Complicated Game seems to like these songs and (producer) C.C. Adcock thinks he can turn them into a record. Good times fixing to roll.” Label head Moret agrees. “In March 2013, when C.C. Adcock told me we were going to see James McMurtry at the Continental Club in Austin, I expected to see a good show,” he says, “but what I saw left me mesmerized! I immediately knew I wanted to sign him. As a European, it is an amazing opportunity to work with one of the most talented American singer-songwriters.” Evidence: McMurtry’s Just Us Kids (2008) and Childish Things (2005). The former earned his highest Billboard 200 chart position in nearly two decades and notched […]

    The post James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit

    The Dead Kennedys, still with local boy Klaus Flouride in the ranks, will play St. Andrew’s Hall on Tuesday, June 24. Alongside Flouride and fellow original members East Bay Ray and DH Peligro, the current lineup includes singer Ron “Skip” Greer, taking the place of Jello Biafra. Downtown Brown will open that show, which starts at 7 p.m., with tickets priced $20-$25. Give Klaus a hero’s hometown welcome. Just over a week before that, strangely enough, Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine will play at the Magic Stick. It’s a weird coincidence, but one that DK fans should be happy to embrace. That show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $17-$19. Local hardcore vets Negative Approach play before Jello, with the Crashdollz opening the show. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain

    The Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck will present a police drama called A Steady Rain May 2 through 24. Planet Ant veterans Ryan Carlson and York Griffith will star in the play, written by House of Cards and Mad Men co-writer Keith Huff. Tickets ($10-$20) are on sale now at PlanetAnt.com. According to the press release, “A Steady Rain by Keith Huff focuses on Joey and Denny, best friends since kindergarten and partners on the police force whose loyalty to each other is tested by domestic affairs, violence and the rough streets of Chicago. Joey helps Denny with his family and Denny helps Joey stay off the bottle. But when a routine disturbance call takes a turn for the worse their loyalty is put to the ultimate test.First produced at Chicago Dramatists, A Steady Rain appeared on Broadway featuring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The Planet Ant production of A Steady Rain is directed by York Griffith featuring Ryan Carlson and Andy Huff. This marks the return of two of Planet Ant’s founding members. Carlson and Griffith. Griffith has served as the theatre’s Artistic Director where he directed the critically-acclaimed productions The Adding Machine and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face

    There is no easy answer to the question regarding what should be done with Detroit’s abandoned homes. However, an Eastern Market company has a solution that could reflect Detroit’s possibly bright future. Homes Eyewear has set out to make the city a little more stylish, and do their part in cleaning it up by repurposing select woods from neglected homes for sunglasses. All of the wood that Homes uses is harvested from vacant houses with the assistance of Reclaim Detroit. A lot of work goes into prepping the wood to be cut and shaped into frames. Homes goes through each piece to remove nails, paint or anything else detrimental to their production (it’s a bit strange to think that your wooden sunglasses could have had family portraits nailed to them). In order to produce more durable eyewear, they salvage only hardwoods like maple or beech, which are difficult to come by as most of the blighted homes were built with softer woods like Douglas fir and pine. If you’re worried about looking goofy, or shudder at the thought of salvaged wood resting on your nose, you can rest easy. Homes currently offers frames in the popular wayfarer style and are developing their unique spin on the classic aviators. For as […]

    The post You can wear Detroit’s blight on your face appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Cover Story

Tapping the brakes

Younger people and the shift away from driving

Photo: Justin Rose, License: N/A

Justin Rose

Photo: Elise Shively, License: N/A

Elise Shively

Alexander Wojcik: "I don't see the point in owning a car. I survive without it."


Jimmy Schroeder has been seeking adventures since graduating high school five years ago. That's why when the chance came to move into a friend's apartment in the New Center area of Detroit, the 23-year-old Battle Creek native didn't think twice. He gathered his belongings, rented a moving truck, and headed eastbound on I-94.

 

He's been living in the city since March. And, like a growing number of young people, Schroeder is pursuing his urban adventure without an automobile. 

Part of the reason is economics: His car broke down, and purchasing a new vehicle and then covering the associated costs — keeping it filled with gas, paying for insurance and oil changes, etc. — were expenses he figured he'd be better off avoiding. 

There's more to it than just that, though. Not having a car, he says, "makes you appreciate more of the little things. It's a good way to get around."

Living in the city is key to making things work.

"I have pretty much everything I need close by," he says, "That's the big thing missing from suburbs. In suburban areas you're just kinda there."

Although he says it took him three months to visit his parents, Schroeder now frequently makes the trip via Amtrak, whose Detroit station is conveniently located two blocks from his apartment. A one-way ticket runs him $24.

To make the trip to Battle Creek from Detroit in his old 1998 Mercury Sable would've cost about as much.

Schroeder is far from alone when it comes to scaling back automobile use. 

A recent study by the Frontier Group, an environmental think tank, and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund found that, in 2009, people between the ages of 16 and 34 had cut the number of miles driven by 23 percent when compared to 2001. Decreases for Gen X and Baby Boomers were more modest.

More notably, they are waiting longer to get their driver's licenses ... if at all. 

New data from the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Census including a study conducted by Michael Sivak and Brandon Scolette of the University of Michigan showed that 87 percent of 19-year-olds in 1983 had a driver's license; by 2010 that number had fallen to about 70 percent. For 18-year-olds, it dropped from 80 percent to 60 percent, for 17-year-olds from 69 percent to 45 percent. For drivers in their 20s, it dropped about 10 percent.

The findings, as Sivak described them in an e-mail, should be of interest to governmental regulators and automakers because the trend has "widespread consequences."

"Government regulators have interest in these trends because driver age has a strong effect on crash rates with the youngest drivers having the highest crash rates per mile driven," Sivak says.

Sivak and Scolette's study found four probable reasons young people are more likely now to put getting a driver's license on the backburner:

 

• The Internet and virtual contact have reduced the need for actual contact.

• Tough economic times.

• Young people are migrating to cities with reliable public transportation.

• Environmental concerns. 

 

The effect of the Internet on driving is significant, Sivak says. The study he and Scolette conducted found a definite correlation between use of the Web and a desire to drive in various countries; where Internet use is up (in terms of the number of people accessing it), licensure rates are down.

The Internet, Sivak explains, has two effects: "The Internet has the potential to find things more efficiently, without having to drive around. Furthermore, some young people feel that driving interferes with texting." 

That's not just speculation. A study recently conducted by Zipcar, a car-sharing rental service, and KRC Research, a market research firm, found that 54 percent of younger people polled preferred to spend time on the Internet talking to friends rather than driving to meet up with them. 

One might also argue that the rising costs of maintaining a car, coupled with college tuition costs that are continuing to rise, has created a shift among millennials, who might not be in a hurry to settle down. The ceremonial age of 16 is, in a sense, being demoted to simply another year gone by.

A Department of Transportation study showed the number of 16-year-olds in the United States who obtained a driver's license dropped from 50 percent to 30 percent between 1978 and 2008. 

"There are some economic-cycle factors involved as well, such as the current unemployment rate and cost of ownership of a car versus disposable income today," observes Mark Wakefield, director of AlixPartners LLP, a consulting firm based in Southfield. "And, on the longer-term trend side, continued urbanization is having an impact, making it less fun to drive and driving less of an 'event' for city-dwelling Gen N's." (That's Gen N meaning "neutral about driving.") 

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