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  • Thank you, Detroit

    I’m not going to lie to you – this isn’t easy. This week, the final City Slang local music column will be published in the Metro Times (on hardcore band Final Assault), and I have just submitted a cover feature on the women of Detroit hip-hop, to be published next week (8/6). This blog that you’re reading now will be my last one as a regular MT contributor. I have a lot to look forward to. I’m going to be an associate editor at Yellow Scene Magazine in Colorado, a tremendous publication in a beautiful part of the country. But leaving Detroit will be incredibly difficult for me. I love the place. It’s been (amazingly) six and a half years since I arrived, a couple of cases in hand and not much of a plan in mind. I just knew, after three separate research trips for books and a magazine article, that I felt at home here. Metro Times offered me freelance work almost immediately, as did a new website called Metromix (whatever happened to that?) When I arrived here, I had been working as a writer in the UK for nine years, but the help and encouragement I received […]

    The post Thank you, Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers

      We here at MT will be delighted when Mr. Jack White throws out a pitch at Navin Field (at least, we hope he will), but until then, we’ll be happy with his pitch to Santa this evening at Comerica Park.    

    The post Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW)

      Footage from the Gathering of the Juggalos set to clips of Morgan Freeman’s narration from March of the Penguins? Kind of forced, but also kind of beautiful. As the AV Club reports: The oft-sought voiceover champion lends a touch of gravitas to the festival proceedings. Unfortunate scenes of barely clad people having various liquids dumped onto them now carries a quiet dignity as it’s all part of nature’s majestic plan that keeps the world spinning through this elegantly designed and truly wondrous universe. Also, the video is NSFW as there are boobs in it. Watch the clip below:

    The post Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW) appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love”

    It seems like the polar vortex will never end: the weather phenomenon that brought us the most brutal winter on record this winter is to blame for this summer’s chillier-than usual temperatures as well. A couple of bands, though, made lemonade out of lemons (or snow cones out of snow?) by using the icy landscape to film music videos. 800beloved shot the video for “Tidal” in some sand dunes near Empire, Mich., and this week Turn to Crime debuted the video for “Can’t Stop,” the title track of their recently-released album. Even more piles of ice and snow might be the last thing Detroiters want to see right now, but the footage makes for some good visuals that mesh well with the song. Watch the video below:

    The post Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love” appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed

    Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr transferred oversight of the the city’s water department Tuesday to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan in an order intended to refocus “efforts to help DWSD customers get and remain current on their water bills,” Orr’s office said today. “This order provides additional clarity to the powers already delegated to the mayor,” Orr said in a statement released Tuesday. “As the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department works to operate more efficiently and communicate more effectively with customers, it is important to ensure there are clear lines of management and accountability.” Duggan will have the authority to manage DWSD and make appointments to the utility’s board, according to a news release. In a statement issued Tuesday, the mayor said he welcomed Orr’s order, adding that officials will develop a plan that “allows those who truly need to access to financial help … to do so with shorter wait times.” “We need to change a number of things in the way we have approached the delinquent payment issues and I expect us to have a new plan shortly,” Duggan said. “There are funds available to support those who cannot afford their bills — we need to do a much better job in […]

    The post Duggan takes control of Detroit water department; says changes to approach on ‘delinquent payment issues’ needed appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years

    Rovers Scooter Club, a local gang dedicated to celebrating and riding motor scooters, will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary this week with a very special ride. Motor City Shakedown, the annual birthday party for the club, will commence this Friday, August 1 at New Way Bar. DJ Grover from Cincinnati will be spinning northern soul, reggae, and ska, according to club member Michael Palazzola. Saturday will feature a ride from Ferndale to Detroit, starting at noon at M-Brew. Palazzola says this is where most bikes will congregate before taking the ride to the city and folks will be prepping by getting some grub starting at 10 a.m.  Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host the after party,  a special event that will feature performances by several bands as well as Satori Circus. That portion of the event will commence at 8 p.m. with performances starting at 9 p.m. It’s free to riders, but the public is welcome to join the party with the mere cost of a door charge. Come midnight, the club will raffle off a vintage Lambretta LI 150. Sunday morning will end the weekend of festivities, with brunch taking place at the Bosco in Ferndale.   

    The post Rovers Scooter Club Celebrates 10 Years 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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