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  • The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues

    Ypsilanti police are still searching for the person dubbed the “mystery pooper.” Someone has been, as the Associated Press politely puts it today, “soiling slides at an Ypislanti playground over the last six months.” So, of course, someone purchased an electronic billboard along I-94 near Huron St. at exit 183 that delivers multiple calls for action: For instance,”Help us flush the pooper.” The company that purchased the billboard, Adams Outdoor Advertising, knows how to reach the world in the 21st Century, branding each billboard with a hashtag for the public utilize in its efforts: #ypsipooper. WJBK-TV says the billboard also toggles through other rich lines, such as: “Do your civic doody, report the pooper #YPSIPOOPER” “Help us catch the poopetrator #YPSIPOOPER.” You can have the runs, but you can’t hide. They’re still looking for you, Mystery Pooper.

    The post The Ypsilanti mystery pooper saga continues appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co.

    It’s a really, very cool idea. Paxahau, the good people behind the Movement Electronic Music Festival, are hosting a series of warm-up events, or previews, to the big festival which takes place Memorial Day weekend. On Thursday evening, Movement moved into the Urban Coffee Bean on Grand River in Detroit. While Dj AvA and Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp ably worked the decks, the regular coffee shop goings on continued behind them. It made for an interesting and amusing webcast experience – one guy was taking a nap on camera, while others supped coffee and tappd their feet. It should come as no surprise – the Urban Coffee Co. people have always been big supporters of electronic music. The place includes a DJ stand, and co-owner Josh Greenwood encourages customers to bring their own vinyl and spin on the open turntables. Not on Thursday night though. This being a coffee shop, and it not being particularly late at night, the music remained pretty chill throughout. DJ AvA (real name Heather McGuigan) includes Beth Orton, Madonna, the B-52’s, Daftpunk and David Byrne among her list of influences, so you know that she’s capable of both whipping up a storm and also […]

    The post City Slang: DJ AvA, Chuck Flask & Keith Kemp preview Movement at Urban Bean Co. appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County

    CNN has a message to all prospective landlords: Head to Wayne County! Occupancy and rental rates are increasing, the report says, creating an opportunity for serious returns on investments. In fact, after comparing the median sales price of homes to average monthly rents in nearly 1,600 counties, RealtyTrac found that Detroit’s Wayne County offers landlords the best return on their investment in the nation. Investors who buy homes in the metro area can expect a 30% gross annual return from rents. That’s triple the national average of 10%. RealtyTrac, an online real estate information company, says the county offers investors low prices for larger homes — with a median price of $45,000. “We’ve got some steals here,” said Rachel Saltmarshall, a real estate agent and immediate past president of the Detroit Association of Realtors, told CNN. “There’s a six-bedroom, 6,000 square-foot home in a historic district selling for $65,000.” For more, read the entire report here.

    The post Here is why landlords could do well in Wayne County appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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



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The hard sell

Mr. Bow Tie's shine that guides

Photo: Detroitblogger John, License: N/A

Detroitblogger John

Mr. Bow Tie is a go-to man.

Days like these are long and tough.

Mr. Bow Tie stands by the curb along West Seven Mile at Greenfield, wearing bright red pants, a red vest and a crisp white shirt. And, of course, a bow tie.

You can't miss him because he shouts at passing traffic through a megaphone. Or he dances on the grass, whirling a sign in his hands, volunteering his skills. Sometimes he blurs by on his bicycle, pulling a wagon festooned with two banners advertising his work.

He's offering a single service — cleaning dirty headlights. Nothing else. Regardless of how the rest of the car looks.

"Once people understand I'm the go-to man for this service, I believe it's going to take off," says Malcolm Carey, the 43-year-old behind the Mr. Bow Tie persona. "I've got total faith in that."

Seven days a week, for hours at a time, he stands along the road and shouts the same polite, formal sales pitch at traffic:

"I am Mr. Bow Tie of Mr. Bow Tie's headlight restoration. I specialize in making those yellow, faded, ugly headlights look new again. If you know someone with yellow, faded, ugly headlights, tell them to come see me, Mr. Bow Tie, right here, right now. Thank you."

The cars whip by. A bus driver passing close to the curb gives him a thumbs-up. Someone honks, and a driver waves. But so far today, nobody's stopping to get their headlights restored.

The problem is most people don't think headlights need cleaning, or they don't have the time it takes or the $25 it costs.

A car pulls into the Burger King parking lot behind him. A man and a woman get out. Carey springs over.

"What's up, my brother?" he says, animatedly. "I do headlight restoration. Can I clean your headlights?" The man agrees. Then Carey tells him it's a 27-minute process. He knows this because he always times himself. The yes becomes a no.

"We're not even gonna be here that long," the man tells Carey, walking away as he talks. "I thought you was going to be, like, fast quick in a hurry. We's about to order and go."

Some days go this way, Carey says. Long hours and few takers. "But then you have those days that makes up for it, when everything pops."

Mr. Bow Tie is among countless people in the city trying to make a living by offering some unique service or quirky talent to the public on the streets. It takes confidence and persistence and determination. And it's a hard way to earn money.

Carey heads back to the curb, summons his enthusiasm, and begins talking into the megaphone again. "I am Mr. Bow Tie ..."

He was 12 when he fell in love with auto detailing, the thorough cleaning and polishing of a car inside and out. He was breaking bottles in an alley and a collision shop owner called him over and offered to pay him to instead sweep his shop's floors.

Soon after, the owner had just finished a paint job on a car and wasn't looking, and a curious Carey grabbed a buffer, went to work on the car and ruined the paint job. The owner went nuts. "But after he got finished cussing me out he showed me how to do it correctly," he says. Detailing became his career. He still does it on the side.

The Mr. Bow Tie persona developed at the car wash where he last worked. He began dressing up to stand out on the line. "Everything there is about tips, so I'm trying to distinguish myself from all the other car washers in there who are walking around with baggy pants, dirt on all of them. But me, I got clean shoes, a clean outfit, I present a more neater appearance, so they prefer me working on the cars."

His headlight restoration business was born after trouble at work. Carey had so specialized his detailing craft that he eventually confined himself to working only on cars with black paint. The owner wasn't amused by this new policy.

"One day he had a red truck come in, and I refused to do it because he already knew I only do black, so we had a disagreement and he fired me on the spot," Carey says. "But that firing helped me out because then I had the opportunity to pursue my headlights."

A few minutes pass. A truck pulls up. "How's the headlights on your car, bro?" he asks a man who steps out from the driver's side. "They need to be freshened up?"

"You can," the man replies, "but I ain't got no extra bread right now." Another no.

Carey's face shows discouragement. "Of course, I'm not immune to that," he says about his spirits getting down. "When you figure out the secret to that, let me know."

In his first month on the job, Carey did all his cleanings for free, hoping word-of-mouth would lead to paying customers. Slowly, it did.

Some days he still resorts to it. "Normally what happens is, once I get one car, then they'll start coming over," he says. "I get that curiosity factor going. One customer has me on his car, and then they all start coming over."

This is one of those days. Carey starts approaching people in an Auto Zone parking lot, offering to clean headlights for free. First one says no. Then another. But two men pull up in a beat-up pickup truck, and after hearing it's no charge, the driver agrees.

Finally, a yes.

It's an elaborate task. He sands both headlights four times with four different sandpaper grades, then applies a fuzzy buffing pad that's soaked in polish and attached to a cordless drill. Solvents are used to clean away the oils, then a cloth is used to shine it all up. Throughout the long job, he gives an eloquent presentation detailing each step.

He takes photos of his work, transfers them through a cable to a printer he's got hooked up to a battery, and gives each customer a print showing the before-and-after difference of each headlight. After affixing his business sticker to the back, the job is done. Twenty-seven minutes.

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