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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."


An annual study conducted by AlixPartners, which analyzes multiple automakers and auto suppliers, offered gloomy figures for automakers, showing there are 5 million fewer potential car buyers than there were just five years ago.

"Younger people have so many alternatives today with the Web," says Tim Yost, also of AlixPartners. "Cars don't seem as interesting" to them. 

 

Ferndale resident Alexander Wojcik, 24, got rid of his vehicle three years ago. He says he has no intentions of getting back behind the wheel. Instead, he gets to work and school by bicycle.

"I don't see the point in owning a car," Wojcik says. "I survive without it. Both of my jobs are within a mile from my house, and school is close as well, so anything I need is within reach."

The KRC Research and Zipcar survey also found that 45 percent of younger people have made a conscious effort to reduce driving. 

"The last time I bought gas it didn't cost as much as it does now," Wojcik says. "Why would I go back to that?"

The way he sees it, when a young person is deciding how best to spend limited resources, cars come up short.

"You can have an amazingly functional, stylish, well-built bicycle for a thousand dollars," Wojcik says. "You spend a thousand dollars on a car, it's going to go to shit in a year."

Wojcik adds that the environmental consequences of owning an auto are also a concern.

"I think, globally, bicycles are better and more popular than ever because their [environmental] impact is zero," Wojcik says. "You're not causing any harm. When you drive a car it impacts a million things. That aspect of it, as we're becoming a more educated society, is becoming more prevalent — the idea that it's a good thing to the environment, the world, even to small communities."

By its very nature, a decrease in driving creates higher demand for reliable, efficient public transportation — the dearth of which has long been an issue in metro Detroit. 

Andy Didorosi, 25, is trying to help change that. His recent start-up, the Detroit Bus Company, is providing a new way to get around town. The $5 per-ride service covers nearby suburbs and downtown Detroit neighborhoods. An iPhone app allows customers to track the buses they're waiting for. 

Didorosi says he created the company because he felt the city needs more reliable transportation in order to grow. The ridership of his fleet of eclectically painted buses generally is a mix of young and old, with the average age hovering around 35 to 40.

"These are people who saw the city crumble and are still venturing downtown, still fighting for it and spending their dollars down there," Didorosi says via e-mail. "It's very motivating." 

The selling point to Detroit's resurging neighborhoods (such as downtown, Corktown and Midtown) for the younger crowd is their transformation in recent years into smart growth communities — neighborhoods with apartments, stores, restaurants, entertainment, schools and access to public transportation nearby. 

A National Association of Realtors survey from March 2011 found 62 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds would prefer to live in smart growth communities. 

Given that, Didorosi sees the potential for young people providing a boost to public transit in Detroit, if the money for vast improvements is made available. 

The ways he sees it, young people are gravitating to places with the best public transit, be it San Francisco or Copenhagen. Detroit, he says, would be wise to follow that lead if it wants to become a magnet for youth.

Better public transit, he contends, will "create its own demands and bring commerce to the corridors [in which] it operates."

The finding of Sivak and Scholette's study, which correlated lower licensure rate with higher Internet usage, seems absolutely reasonable to Didorosi.

"The fact is, social activities across the board are in decline, and public transit and cycling are among the very few places where you can meet new people and branch out. Transit is a crucial crossroads where you can have the conversations and build the relationships that really matter," he says. "We've been imprisoned in our cars-of-one for far too long here in Detroit. It's time to reconnect." 

In response, more cities have begun to adapt to the increased interest in cycling, although sometimes grudgingly. Schroeder says he's seen that with the residents of his hometown Battle Creek. There, he says that "people are hesitant with change, even if it's putting a new line on the road" for bike lanes.

While older folks might be resistant to such change, many younger people are becoming a non-driving force behind it.

"As a younger person, I moved to the city because I can't stand the suburbs," says Jason Fiedler, communications and programming director at the Hub of Detroit/Back Alley Bikes. "Strip malls and McMansions don't ignite anything within me."

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