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  • Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark

    Oh, the irony — initially criticized as Marxist propaganda when Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted them for the Detroit Institute of Arts in the early 1930s, Detroit Industry has now been designated as a a national landmark. The announcement was made Wednesday, according to the Detroit News by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis as part of National Park Week. The designation does not change the ownership status of the murals or grant any new protections or rights, leaving its place among the rest of the DIA’s art in possible bankruptcy negotiations in question. The work is considered the best of Rivera’s work in the United States (another mural Rivera had done in New York was destroyed by orders of Nelson Rockefeller). Rivera himself regarded Detroit Industries paintings as his finest work. In the midst of the McCarthy era, the DIA posted this sign outside the court: Rivera’s politics and his publicity seeking are detestable. But let’s get the record straight on what he did here. He came from Mexico to Detroit, thought our mass production industries and our technology wonderful and very exciting, painted them as one of the great achievements of the twentieth century. This came […]

    The post Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit area code 313 may be phased out

    Hey, everybody from the 313, start thinking of new numbers to rally around– the longstanding Detroit area code may be phased out. Our friends over at the Detroit News report that pending a revised estimate next week, the North American Numbering Plan Administration will stop handing out 313 telephone prefixes on new phone numbers. Detroiters with existing cell phone lines would be able to keep their current area codes, while those with land lines would change. via Detroit News: The venerable 313 will ultimately become overtaxed. Even as Detroit’s population has fallen, cellphone usage has accelerated like one of those smoldering SRT Vipers that Dodge has been bolting together at Conner Avenue Assembly — which is, of course, comfortably within the confines of 313. … When the first five dozen area codes were assigned nearly 70 years ago, says NANPA’s Tom Foley, “that was expected basically to last forever.” Instead, somebody invented fax machines, and then somebody else came up with cellphones, and lots of somebody elses decided to give them to 10-year-olds, and meantime the population grew to 300 million. Now every telephone carrier is required to submit twice-yearly forecasts of its needs in each area code, factoring in […]

    The post Detroit area code 313 may be phased out appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council

    Unfortunately, we were unable to attend last night’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, which, in case you were unaware, is a 16-member board established to weigh in on the new Red Wings arena near downtown. About three dozen residents and property owners cast ballots by the 8 p.m. deadline on Wednesday inside the Block at Cass Park, The Detroit News reports. It’s the culmination of a handful of community meetings which began weeks ago. Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez facilitated the meetings, but emphasized at previous meetings that it’s up to the community to conduct business. According to the News, the 12 candidates selected include: Michael Boettcher, Richard Etue, Jason Gapa, Francis Grunow, Steve Guether, Paul Hughes, Ray Litt, Warner Doyle McBryde, Karen McLeod, Delphia Simmons, Melissa Thomas and Anthony Zander. Joel Landy, a land owner in the area, lost his bid. The City Council appointed four candidates last month. As we reported in this week’s issue, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee was negotiated after Olympia Development of Michigan, Detroit Red Wing’s owner Mike Ilitch’s real estate arm, balked on a proposed community benefits agreement.  The committee is charged with the task of offering input on the arena’s design, parking security and more.

    The post Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag

    The Magic Bag in Ferndale will host James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets on Thursday, May 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. A press release reads, “James McMurtry recently signed with the bourgeoning Los Angeles record label Complicated Game. The legendary songwriter will enter the studio later this month to start working on his first album in six years. “I’ve got a new batch of songs, organic and with no added sulfites, aged in oak for several years,” he says. “Francois Moret at Complicated Game seems to like these songs and (producer) C.C. Adcock thinks he can turn them into a record. Good times fixing to roll.” Label head Moret agrees. “In March 2013, when C.C. Adcock told me we were going to see James McMurtry at the Continental Club in Austin, I expected to see a good show,” he says, “but what I saw left me mesmerized! I immediately knew I wanted to sign him. As a European, it is an amazing opportunity to work with one of the most talented American singer-songwriters.” Evidence: McMurtry’s Just Us Kids (2008) and Childish Things (2005). The former earned his highest Billboard 200 chart position in nearly two decades and notched […]

    The post James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit

    The Dead Kennedys, still with local boy Klaus Flouride in the ranks, will play St. Andrew’s Hall on Tuesday, June 24. Alongside Flouride and fellow original members East Bay Ray and DH Peligro, the current lineup includes singer Ron “Skip” Greer, taking the place of Jello Biafra. Downtown Brown will open that show, which starts at 7 p.m., with tickets priced $20-$25. Give Klaus a hero’s hometown welcome. Just over a week before that, strangely enough, Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine will play at the Magic Stick. It’s a weird coincidence, but one that DK fans should be happy to embrace. That show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $17-$19. Local hardcore vets Negative Approach play before Jello, with the Crashdollz opening the show. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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? […]

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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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