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  • 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 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.

  • Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor

    Detroit home-girl Lily Tomlin will perform at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, June 14. A press release reads, “Get together with Lily Tomlin for an unforgettable night of fun and sidesplitting laughter. “Tomlin is amazing” The NY Times and “as always a revelation.” The New Yorker This unique comic artist takes her audience on what the Washington Post calls a “wise and howlingly funny” trip with more than a dozen of her timeless characters—from Ernestine to Mrs. Beasley to Edith Ann.” “With astounding skill and energy, Tomlin zaps through the channels like a human remote control. Using a fantastic range of voices, gestures and movements, she conjures up the cast of characters with all the apparent ease of a magician pulling a whole menagerie of animals from a single hat.” NY Daily News “Her gentle touch is as comforting as it is edifying.” NY Time Out She has “made the one-person show the daring, irreverent art form it is today.” Newsweek Her long list of awards includes: a Grammy; two Tonys; six Emmys; an Oscar nomination; two Peabodys; and the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Find more info here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Lily Tomlin coming to Ann Arbor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor

    The Detroit Metro Times, Detroit’s award-winning alternative weekly media company, is proud to announce the recent hire of Valerie Vande Panne as Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning independent journalist and Michigan native, Vande Panne’s work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Daily Beast, and Salon, among other publications. Previously, Vande Panne attended Harvard University and was a regular contributor to The Boston Phoenix, and a news editor of High Times magazine. She has spent years covering drug policy among other subjects, including the environment, culture, lifestyle, extreme sports, and academia. “Valerie understands our business and what we expect to accomplish in Detroit. She has an excellent sense for stories that will move our readers, as well as experience with balancing print and digital content. I’m excited to have her at the paper and trust her leadership as we move forward,” said Detroit Metro Times publisher Chris Keating.

    The post Welcome Valerie Vande Panne, the new Detroit Metro Times editor appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’

    She welcomes you when you enter Detroit, from every direction, with the one word that might just be Detroit’s biggest philosophical question: Injured? Joumana Kayrouz is deeper than the inflated image watching over Detroit, peddling justice to the poor and broken of the city. This Wednesday, Drew Philp takes us behind the billboard and into the heart of the Kayrouz quest. (And all of Brian Rozman’s photos of Kayrouz have not been retouched.) Check out MT‘s cover story, on newsstands Wednesday!

    The post Joumana Kayrouz to cover ‘Metro Times’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt

    There was a fire in an upstairs apartment at PJ’s Lager House on Monday evening. No people were hurt, although three cats belonging to the tenants died after CPR. The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. during a show featuring Zombie Jesus & the Chocolate Sunshine Band, Curtin, and Jeffrey Jablonsky. “We just smelled smoke and someone yelled everyone has to get out,” 33-year-old Nick Leu told MLive. On the Lager House Facebook page in the early hours of the morning, a post said, “We at PJ’s lager House would like to thank everyone for their care and concern. Also, a very big THANK YOU to all who stepped up to do what they could this evening. The fire was contained to the upstairs but due to water damage in the bar, we will be closed until it can be assessed. Everyone is safe and we will keep you updated.” A later update read, “Update from the big boss. Since there was no damage to the stage side of the bar, the show will go on tomorrow! You may have to enter through the back door and there may not be a large selection of booze but we are going […]

    The post Fire at PJ’s Lager House, no people hurt appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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The black market

City's sole African-American grocer becomes an icon

Photo: , License: N/A

James Hooks inside his store, Metro Foodland.

The grocery store owner mentioned one day to a customer that sales were down, and said his business might not be around much longer. 

That customer decided something needed to be done. She made phone calls, spread the word and organized a big tailgate party on a spring afternoon in Metro Foodland's parking lot on Grand River near Fenkell. Not just to draw more customers, but also to celebrate the store's 27 years in the community, a word that in Detroit refers to more than geography.

Meat smoked on the barbecue grills. A wine tasting took place. The Cass Tech marching band played loud on the blacktop lot. African-themed products were sold from fold-out tables. There were speeches by local pastors and politicians, and there was a voter registration drive. 

Though many small businesses in the city are struggling right now, hundreds of supporters came out for this one. Because this isn't just any grocery store. It's the last black-owned supermarket in Detroit.

Local media stopped by. Jet magazine called. How is it possible, they all wanted to know, that in a city whose population is mostly black, there is just one black-owned supermarket? 

The store's founder wonders that himself. "Eighty-five percent of the people living in the city are African-American — I'm being conservative — and one store? It doesn't make sense to me," says James Hooks, Metro Foodland's 58-year-old owner. "You have Koreans providing us with hair care and beauty supplies, and you have cleaners that are run by Asians, and Chaldeans are providing groceries, and what's left? Hair salons and nail shops. And that's all we own?"

To some, a store owner's race might seem like it should be an irrelevant factor, but in a city where there are stores that still have decades-old "Black Owned and Proud to Serve You" signs in their windows, race matters.

The customer Hooks confided in, Lila Cabill, is a community activist, the kind who won't shop at your store if you don't say "thank you" when she buys something from you, the kind who visits grocery and liquor stores in the city to check expiration dates on food and complain to owners. She belongs to groups with names like the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network and Undoing Racism in the Detroit Food System, and once ran the Rosa and Raymond Parks Foundation. 

One reason why shopping at a black-owned store is important, she says, is that many grocers in the inner city treat customers poorly — serving expired food, operating filthy stores, treating their black shoppers like thieves. And since many residents don't have cars to get to better grocery stores in the suburbs, they're sometimes at the mercy of indifferent or hostile merchants.

"See, I won't spend my money at a dirty store. I'm not spending my money if they can't greet me as a customer," Cabill says. "But these people don't have the options I have. I can get in my car and go somewhere else. They have to walk to these places in the neighborhood."

Yet, she thought, here is Metro Foodland, the last black-owned grocery store in the city, and the community can't keep it afloat? At least here, customers from the blocks around it get treated with respect. That should be enough reason to shop here. "There's such a huge difference in terms of the Arab store owners and how they treat customers, and how the lack of respect is ingrained in our social fabric," Cabill says.

So she started an effort called Metro Foodland Loyalty Appreciation Campaign 27, named for the number of years this store's been here. It calls on neighbors to shop at the store 27 times this year, spend $27 each time and ask 27 people to do the same. They hold a drawing every month on the 27th for a $27 gift card to the store. The goal, she says, is to show Detroiters they don't have to drive to the suburbs for good food, that this store is as good as any north or west of the city limits, where many nearby residents prefer to shop.

But it's been a frustratingly hard sell. "The neighborhood's pretty cool, we get the support, but we don't get as much as we need," says Charles Clark, the store's 60-year-old produce manager. "I don't know why that is."

Cabbil thinks she knows. Even black shoppers, she says, have bought into stereotypes about black-owned stores.

"Detroiters typically are not necessarily loyal to Detroit," she says. "The African-American community has a history of not supporting its businesses. When you look at it, it's a racist thing. There's assumptions that are made and stereotypes that are made about businesses. For instance, with Mr. Hooks' business, many people will say, 'Oh, I didn't know it was a black-owned business. This store is so clean.'"

As if things weren't already hard enough for Metro Foodland, news spread that Meijer was thinking of opening a store about a mile down the road. Despite the frequent complaint from Detroiters that national retail chains are unwilling to open within city limits, this news didn't sit well with some people in the neighborhood.

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