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  • 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 editor twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday evening. 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.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May

    Margaret Doll Rod will celebrate the release of her new EP, Margaret, with a show at PJ’s Lager House on Saturday, May 10. A statement reads, “The EP contains 3 new original songs and one Chrome Cranks cover with Italian actress Asia Argento singing background vocals. Margaret moved to Italy after the end of the Demolition Doll Rods where she still lives touring and performing festivals in Europe. The Dollrods were a Garage Rock force for over 20 years, opening for Iggy, Jon Spencer, The Scientist, The Monks and The Cramps. Margaret was the front person and principal songwriter for The Dollrods. Her chief musical foil was Danny Kroha, who joined the Demolition Doll Rods after the now legendary Gories called it quits. Margaret’s sister, Christine, on drums, rounded out the legendary trio. Margaret will do a special performance in the round that night with a 360 degree revolving stage and special guest DJ Adam Stanfel.” The bill will also feature the Stomp Rockets and the Volcanos. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May 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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