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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

The depths of debt

Is higher ed worth the cost?

Photo: , License: N/A

The way we think about college has changed a lot in the last few decades. Instead of graduation denoting entry into a bright world of new possibilities, today's graduation marks the time to begin paying back an insurmountable, suffocating debt of student loans.

College debt and the long-lasting role it plays in so many lives today isn't something that can be summed up easily, but the numbers are staggering. Last year, student loan debt surpassed $1 trillion, outstripping our nation's credit card debt for the first time in history.

Also, some aren't just swimming in thousands of dollars of debt — they're barely treading water as they struggle with loans of $100,000 or more.

Consider this: Since 1978, the price of tuition at U.S. colleges increased more than 900 percent, an astonishing 650 points above inflation, the literary magazine n+1 reported last year. Furthermore, in 2009 the Project on Student Debt found that, on average, college seniors left with $24,000 in outstanding loans upon receiving their diplomas.

Consider that the college grads of the baby boomer generation were often able to put themselves through school, and graduated with the then-reasonable possibilities of settling down, buying a home, a car, or even saving money before going for the aforementioned. 

Compare that to today's students, who not only graduate in debt, but often show surprising disregard for the enormous price tag of a degree as they sign loan after loan. 

What's more, today's graduates face a much different environment than a generation ago. The New York Times reported that, in May, researchers from Rutgers University released a study on recent graduates that found 40 percent of the study's participants had delayed in making a major purchase (house, car, etc.) because of debt from college. Nearly one-quarter said they stopped attending school or moved in with relatives to save money. Only half of those interviewed for the study reported they had full-time jobs.

In other words, The American Dream is becoming more a relic of the past than an attainable future goal.

The number of unemployed graduates mentioned in the Times article is consistent with data culled from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and the U.S. Department of Labor, the Associated Press reported this May. Of Americans 25 or younger with bachelor's degrees, roughly 53 percent, or 1.5 million, were either unemployed or underemployed.

Nothing encapsulates the overarching frustrations and concerns more pointedly than the comment Chelsea Grove, a Bowling Green State University student forced to drop out due to overwhelming loans, made in the New York Times report:

"I'll be paying this forever."

Grove, the story continued, accumulated $70,000 of debt in her tenure at Bowling Green and currently works three jobs to meet her $510 monthly obligation. She added, in regard to the possibility of finishing school one day:

"For me to finish it would mean borrowing more money. ... It makes me puke to think about borrowing more money."

Those who choose to buckle down and march on toward graduation with debt to the extent of Grove's face a heavy toll. A study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank in New York found nearly 2 million people at least 60 years old are still paying student loans, arguably throwing all possibilities of retirement out the window. One-third, the study found, is represented by those 40 and older.

Even if a student accumulates the average debt-load of $24,000, the repercussions are still grim.

One of my friends, who has roughly $14,000 in debt, is currently making a $220 payment each month — about the equivalent of a car payment — and will do so over the next decade, meaning the load will be paid off in his mid-30s. The list of potential woes goes on and on when you consider the consumer activity lost to loan payments won't help stimulate a flagging economy. 

Furthermore, with a generation of graduates facing formidable debts, where will the baby boomer generation find prospective owners looking to purchase their homes?

The question for young people now is whether pursuing higher education to improve employment prospects later on in life — something that has been documented as being entirely true — is really worth the risk.

Ryan Felton is a Metro Times editorial intern. He is a recent graduate of Wayne State University. You can reach him at

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