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  • Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well

    By LeeAnn Brown Some people say that hip-hop is dead. Local ban Fderal Ground is proving that is not the case. The seven-member band, consisting of three lead vocalists, a DJ, bass, drums and guitar, plays what they call “living hip-hop.” Their music, peppered with multiple styles, covers all aspects of life from growing up in the D to playing with fire despite knowing you will likely get burned. Their undeniable chemistry and raw lyrics compose a music that is living, breathing, and connecting to their listeners. It has been nearly 11 years since Vinny Mendez and Michael Powers conjured up the basement idea that has flowered into the Detroit funk-hop band Feral Ground. Throughout high school the two wrote and rapped consistently, playing shows here and there. In those years they matched their rap stanzas with the animated, dynamic voice of Ginger Nastase and saw an instant connection. The now trio backed their lyrics with DJ Aldo’s beats on and off for years, making him a permanent member within the last year, along with Andy DaFunk (bass), Joseph Waldecker (drums), and newest member, Craig Ericson (guitar). We sat down with Feral Ground and their manager, Miguel Mira, in their […]

    The post Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law

    Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]

    The post Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week

    Walking with Dinosaurs, a magnificent stage show that features life-sized animatronic creatures from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, will be in town next week. But to preview the show’s run at the Palace, a baby T-Rex will be making an appearance at four area malls to the delight and wonderment of shoppers. Baby T-Rex, as the creature is being affectionately referred to, is seven-feet-tall and 14-feet-long. He’ll only be at each mall for about 15 minutes, so while there will be photo opportunities, they’ll be short. The dino will be at Fairlane Town Center Center Court at 18900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit from 2-2:15 p.m. today, July 30; The Mall at Partridge Creek at 17420 Hall Rd. in Clinton Township from 5-5:15 p.m. today, July 30; Twelve Oaks Mall at the Lord & Taylor Court at 27500 Novi Rd., Novi tomorrow, Thursday July 31 from 1:30-1:45 p.m.; and Great Lakes Crossing Food Court at 4000 Baldwin Rd., Auburn Hills from 5-5:15 p.m., tomorrow Thursday, July 31.  

    The post Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations

    Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.  

    The post Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial

    We don’t know about you, but usually Nancy Whiskey and Long John Silver’s aren’t two concepts we’d place in the same sentence. However, the international fast food fish fry conglomerate made a nod to the Detroit dive in their latest YouTube commercial. LJS is offering free fish fries on Saturday, August 2, which is the promotion the commercial is attempting to deliver. But, we think we’ll just go to Nancy Whiskey instead.

    The post Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women

    We came across an interesting item this week: Apparently, a music festival with the name “Michfest” is quietly oriented as a “Women-Only Festival Exclusively for ‘Women Born Women.’” It seems a strange decision to us. If you wanted to have a women-only music festival, why not simply proclaim loud and clear that it is for all sorts of women? But if you really wanted to become a lightning rod for criticisms about transphobia, organizers have found the perfect way to present their festival. Now, we know that defenders of non-cisgender folks have it tough. The strides made by gays and lesbians (and bisexuals) in the last 20 years have been decisive and dramatic. But the people who put the ‘T’ in LGBT have reason to be especially defensive, facing a hostile culture and even some disdain from people who should be their natural allies. That said, sometimes that defensiveness can cause some activists to go overboard; when we interviewed Dan Savage a couple years ago, he recalled his “glitter bombing” and said it was due to the “the narcissism of small differences,” adding that “if you’re playing the game of who is the most victimized, attacking your real enemies doesn’t prove you’re most victimized, claiming you […]

    The post Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women 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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