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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 music man

There’s magic where children learn to make sweet sounds for $5 a lesson

Photo: , License: N/A

Mark Lamonte waiting for students at his store.

The little girl struggles to hold the heavy clarinet in her hands.

Amira Chambers, all of 5 years old, sits inside the cold air of the Metro Music store, with her winter coat still on, and blows out one unsteady note after another as she learns her new instrument. 

Her teacher, wearing a knit hat and winter coat, points to a sheet of music and instructs her note by note. "F," he says. She blows F. "F again," he says. She does F again. "Now an open G. OK, another one. Again. Again. Now play F. Good! Good! Good!" he exclaims.

Sometimes her notes slip a little into sharps or flats, but each time they do, Mark Lamonte, the store's 64-year-old owner, gently prods her back on track, without a trace of impatience in his voice, always with the same gentle, steady tone of a good teacher. He charges only $5 for a half-hour lesson in any instrument you want to play. He knows how to play them all.

George Cunningham, her grandpa, who's winter-bundled like the others, sits and watches as he does every Saturday with two other little children, one a grandchild and one his own, who fidget as they wait for their own lessons. He marvels at the teacher's tenderness. "The music man here, the way that he takes time with the kids, the way that he reaches them — not everybody's got that kind of patience with kids," the 66-year-old minister says.

Children, the reverend thinks, should learn to play a musical instrument. Doesn't matter which one. Not only does it give them something constructive to do, not only is it a skill that will benefit them in other ways, but there's just something that's good for the soul about creating music out of nothing. That's why they're sitting here now, in a cold, unlit room, with this likable, slightly eccentric teacher.

"Everybody love music," Cunningham says, as the clarinet behind him honks out one note at a time. "Show me somebody that don't love music. I don't know nobody that don't."


You can see the tall, brick Metro Music building from the freeway that runs below it. Faded lettering up high announces it with a name that says not only are instruments sold here, but that the ability to make your own music is taught here.

Lamonte's father, Fred, started the store back in 1952. He'd been a steel guitarist in a touring Hawaiian band, and for years had his own music store called the Aloha National Conservatory of Music on 14th Street near Grand River Avenue, where he taught how to play what was then still a popular genre. But he and his business partner had a falling out, so Fred purchased a plot of west side land that now overlooks the sunken Southfield Freeway near Joy Road and had the Metro Music store custom built.

Lamonte has loved music his whole life. "I used to sit and listen to the record player when I was a kid," he says. "Man, I would sit there for hours, trying to figure out the chords and the song." He played saxophone in elementary school and at Mackenzie High in Detroit, then got a music education degree from Eastern Michigan University. After graduating, he joined his dad at the store. 

Back then, just about every school had band and music classes, and customers poured into the store for lessons and instruments for their kids. It also drew local stars like members of the Four Tops and the Temptations, and dozens of backup and bit-part Motown musicians. The giant store carried just about any instrument anyone requested. 

It still does. Besides guitars and amps and drums and horns, you can get a cowbell or a tambourine, bongos or an Ozark harp, maracas or cabasas. There's even a box of metal kazoos under the glass counter, which Lamonte gives free to each of his students, just because it's yet another way they can make music.

Business was so good for a while the family opened a second store on Grand River at Lahser, then a third out in Chesterfield Township. But the ups and downs of the economy in the past few decades whittled business away, as did local budget-strapped schools cutting music and arts programs, particularly in Detroit. "Business just fell right apart," Lamonte says. First one store closed, then the other, and Lamonte dragged the stock of both back to the original store, where he planned to start over. The idea was to unpack all the instruments, the amplifiers, the drumsticks and strings, and go back to having a single grand store, just like it was when his dad first ran the place. 

It's been 12 years now, and still the store is full of unpacked boxes stacked halfway to the ceiling. Maybe it's because there's just so much to sort through, so much to unpack, that it's hard to know where to begin. Maybe it's because his mom and dad died not long ago, barely a year apart, and going through all this stuff is an emotionally draining task. But he pledges he's going to get to it someday.

"I'm trying to start over again, but as you can see the place is really a mess because I have all of this leftover from the other stores," says Lamonte, who lives in the apartment upstairs. "I kind of have to sort it all out. It really looks terrible now, but we still have a small business here. Things dropped off, but it will pick up again. It's just a matter of time."


The dim winter sun spills into the room, casting angular shadows in the natural light. Lamonte sits in a chair, by a portable heater, strumming an acoustic guitar, waiting by the door in case a student shows up. He centered in the one open space he's left himself to teach music, next to the front window, surrounded by his stacks of boxes. 

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