Most Read
  • Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit

    Former American Idol contestant Vonzell Solomon weighs in on twerking, natural hair & CEO status. In 2005, recording artist Vonzell “Baby V” Solomon embarked on a journey that changed her life. At the age of 20, Vonzell made it to the top three on American Idol before she was eliminated. But that was not the beginning nor the end of her journey to stardom. Vonzell is one of more than two dozen artists on tour with YouTube sensation Todrick Hall, who is a former Idol contestant as well. Todrick gained notoriety for his fast food drive-thru songs and also for producing parody videos  —  based on popular Broadway musicals and songs. His tour, uniquely entitled Twerk Du Soleil (translation: twerk of the sun), is a combination of his popular YouTube spoofs. Both Vonzell and her ratchet alter ego,Boonquisha Jenkins, made an appearance in Twerk Du Soleil,which stopped in Detroit July 23 at Saint Andrews Hall. Boonquisha opened the show by facilitating a twerking competition among the audience. Next, Vonzell made a reappearance singing a fan favorite – Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” Later, Boonquisha came on stage screaming “It’s so cold in the D! You gotta be from the D to […]

    The post Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race

    If a poll released this week is any indication of how the August 5 primary election will turn out, current Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano has reason to worry, Fox 2 reports. Ficano, who’s seeking a third term, polled in fourth place — behind former Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans, Westland Mayor Bill Wild and Wayne County Commissioner Phil Cavanaugh, according to Fox 2. The poll by Strategic Solutions LLC, showed 6.7 percent of respondents said they’d vote for Ficano, which isn’t so bad: He finished ahead of County Commissioner Kevin McNamara (who came in at No. 6) and someone literally described as “a candidate not named here” (who polled at No. 5.) If you’re planning to head to the polls — which you should! — and need some input on the candidates and ballot proposals, you can read for our election coverage in this week’s Metro Times.

    The post Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • A Mad Decent Mixtape

    Mad Decent Block Party will roll through town on Saturday, August 16, bringing to town artists like Dillon Francis, Diplo, Flosstradamus, RiFF RAFF, Keys N Krates, and Zeds Dead. Thugli, a Canadian duo, will perform on the Toronto leg of the tour and they put together a 45 minute mix that features songs by some of the tour’s featured artists as well as a host of others.  Listen to it here. 

    The post A Mad Decent Mixtape appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders

    Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host a special event this Saturday, July 26 in hopes of raising money for the local faction of an international nonprofit, Burners without Borders Detroit. Breaking Borders is a one-evening-only event that will feature live music, performance, and art. Satori Circus will perform along with spoken word artist ZakAndWhatArmy. Music by Tartanic, Dixon’s Violin, and Servitor. Fire dancers, hoop performers, and acrobats will provide a certain mysticism to the ambiance as old Victorian steampunk and tribal art is shown in the main gallery. There will also be a runway fashion show and the evening will end with a dubstep rave featuring DJ Forcefeed and Dotty. Truly, there’s something for everyone. Perhaps more importantly, there will be a full service bar. The event is open to those 18 and older and IDs will be checked at the door. Admission is $25 at the door, or $20 with the donation of a canned good. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the party goes until 2 a.m. A 20 percent commission will be taken from all art sold at this event and donated to Burners without Borders. The Tangent Gallery is located at 715 Milwaukee Ave., Detroit; 313-873-2955;

    The post Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project

    By Amanda Mooney There’s a lot that goes into producing a film, and unless you are a filmmaker you really have no idea. Writing, casting, finding a location, shooting, and editing; each step of the process can take days, months, and sometimes years to complete. Can you imagine doing it ALL in just 48 hours? The 48 Hour Film Project is an annual competition that takes place all over the world in various cities. According to Mike Madigan, head of the Detroit 48 Hour chapter, the city is one of the largest participating in terms of the number of teams. The competing teams go in blind as to what kind of film they will be producing, with no creative planning beyond getting a cast and crew together, Madigan explained. “They pick a genre out of a hat, and they get a line, a prop, and a character. And they have to incorporate that within a short film, that’s usually between 4 to 7 minutes long. And they have the timeframe of doing it all within 48 hours,” said Madigan, “So all the creative process of it all has to happen within that 48 hour–writing a script, putting it together, editing–to […]

    The post 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space

    Church: Revival is the new project by local rap duo Passalacqua (aka Bryan Lackner and Brent Smith), but it’s more than just a new Passalacqua release. The rappers teamed up with siblings Jax Anderson (frontwoman of rockers Flint Eastwood) and Seth Anderson, who together form the songwriting team called Syblyng (naturally). The result is a cycle of songs that promises to be darker than Passalacqua’s material so far. The project will make a live debut on Saturday, July 26 at a brand new venue space at the Detroit Bus Co.’s building Eight & Sand, and they will premiere the Right Bros.-directed video for the track “Baptism” as well. Other performances include Tunde Olaniran and Open Mike Eagle, and DJ sets by Nothing Elegant, Dante LaSalle, and Charles Trees. We met up the two duos at Eight & Sand to check out the new space and to talk about the project with all parties involved. Metro Times: How long have you been working together? Jax Anderson: Seth and I are constantly writing songs together. We want to push in the direction of becoming songwriters more frequently. This is our first project that we took on to co-write everything together. We’re basically just a songwriting entity. We won’t play live that […]

    The post Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



Search thousands of events in our database.


Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.


Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

MT on Twitter
MT on Facebook

Print Email

Cover Story

The nerdy playhouse

Here's a crew of creatives — in the truest sense of the word — rising from hackerspace ground zero

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: Rudy Pokorny, License: N/A

Rudy Pokorny

Manoulian and fellow OCD member Ted Sliwinski know a thing or two about mopeds. Manoulian is an affable guy with an easy grin and a thing for combustible engines; he's also into bikes and electronics. He puts down a blowtorch to display what is likely the fastest moped in this city: his mint green '78 Puch Maxi Sport MKII with a souped-up 75-cc cylinder kit. (This is a man who built the engine for his Honda Civic in a former meat locker of the building before that was torn down.)

Sliwinski, a certified welder and a machinist, has worked in the bike industry for about 15 years. He moved to Detroit from New York City a few years ago to work at Mount Elliott Makerspace. Much thanks to his efforts, OCD was officially certified by the League for American Bicyclists, apparently becoming the first official "bike friendly" hackerspace in the world. 

What Manoulian achieves with speed, Sliwinski realizes in originality. He recently built a moped "basically from scratch," demonstrating the fruits of hacker travail. The Velosolex frame is combined with a friend's old Puch engine, and a clothing rack salvaged from the Atlas building makes for a slick rear frame. The gas tank is a converted fire extinguisher. "Critics call it a deathtrap," Sliwinski says, laughing. These are not bikes for the faint of heart; Sliwinski also reminisces about getting literally thrown off a moped by a man who hopped on the bike and sped away with it, just a few blocks from OCD. 

Sliniwnski, who doesn't own a car and relies solely on two-wheeled transport, is an archetype of DIY ethics. Motivated by what he calls "fabrication challenges," he seeks to push his skills by building new things. One such creation is the monstrous "Frankentrike," a 15-foot-long, 5-foot-high trike for two. Sliwinski crafted it from a trio of bike frames that he welded together with parts from an office chair and conduit electrical tubing he recovered from the building's old elevator hookup. He built it in two days, and later took it to the Cass Corridor's rollicking Nain Rouge Parade. You may have seen the Frankentrike barreling down Cass Avenue pulling a little trailer with Sliwinski's hand-wired stereo system and a built-in beer cooler. 



Upstairs is a large black room that's empty, save for a laptop and a host of speakers poised at all angles that pipe in sounds unremittingly. These are the early stages of one of OCD's more abstruse projects now under way: a cavern where sensory perception will be confounded such that light and sound, and vegetation will feel like foreign entities to those inside. Fittingly dubbed the "Cave," the multimedia installation will incorporate plants and humans while sonically surpassing the traditional notion of surround sound. 

The space was envisioned months ago, when several members met up to discuss a mélange of their own projects. Designer and educator Nina Bianchi had been toying with indoor gardens and ideas of how to manipulate living surfaces. Another member expressed interest in adding multiple video projections that could be triggered with motion. Brandon Richards, a senior processing engineer with a propensity for sound, was seeking to create a 3-D sound system. Richards explains, "After each of us got more and more excited about each other's ideas, someone pointed out [that] we should just put it all together in one place."

The discussions continued, and a small cadre of members moved forward with plans for a long-term, multi-part installation. Ultimately, human interaction in the Cave will trigger shifts in visuals and noise: like the plant lamp in the OCD kitchen, fingering a leaf on the wall, for instance, would dim the lights. Movement inside, or even smell, could also signal changes in the lights or sound.

For the moment, plans for the visuals have taken a back seat to the creation of an intricate sound system. Instead of panning noise from front-to-back, or side-to-side, the Cave will operate with an additional dimension such that sound will be emitted from top-to-bottom, or from the upper right corner to the bottom left corner (or to and from any other direction). The speakers have been installed and a basic software program built. Even in these stages — and despite the still-bare walls — the result is gripping; as Richards moves his fingers along the laptop's touchpad, a pendulous sound sweeps through the room, much like the oscillating path of an insect. Down the line, live input (such as a DJ performances) will be introduced.

Even as Richards and collaborator Aaron Blendowski fiddle with the system and talk about their plans for the Cave, new ideas arise and kinks are resolved, a testament to the organic nature of a project that at times seems to baffle even those involved. At this point, Krenke has taken a break from his moped and come upstairs to check out the impromptu meeting that has converged in the Cave. As Krenke marvels at the plans scrawled on walls, a sort of symbiotic respect is apparent between the bike mechanics and the musicians, artists and inventors concurrently toiling away. 

There are interminable plans for the Cave's future, with vegetation a likely focal point. Nina and fellow member Martha Obringer are exploring the use of plants as interfaces, while drawing from the human body's capacitance (meaning its capacity to store energy) through touch. "My vision is to create a modular architectural element ... that can be used to build structures, like a cave," Nina explains. These modular elements, which she loosely describes as large-scale Legos, or "living bricks," will house the plants, whose energy could then be harnessed by microcontrollers for the purpose of altering the output of the Cave.

Ideally, the system will also be controlled remotely, so that the stroke of an iPhone could turn the lights on or off, feed a sample through the speakers, or even water the plants. 

Richards also envisions connecting the Cave to a network of other (future or already existing) analogous spaces, such that hackers in a sister Cave could communicate and control aspects of each other's spaces. "We want it to grow as a project that other people and groups can get involved in," he says. "We are really excited to blend all sorts of expertise and experience for a very open, interdisciplinary, and synergistic process."

Richards sees the Cave as an experimental platform for future endeavors, and he feels the objective is not for the installation to be "completed." He and Nina both emphasize that the Cave will continue to evolve over time. In the meantime, Open Hack Nights offer an opportunity to track the Cave's progress. 

Nights at OCD are long, and it's time for a beer. The OCD pop machine dispenses Pabst and strange treasures. Like a bizarre twist on the secret prize of an arcade game, if you press the machine's mystery button and feed it a buck, you may win a something most unexpected, like a bottle filled with colored tinsel. And it's not the prize that matters; it's that some grown-up hacked this thing to dispense hilarious junk that other grown-ups made, probably just to make each other laugh. This is the credo steeped through OCD: hilarious, whimsical, handmade genius. It's stuff that both confuses and illuminates, that incites discussion, and calls us to wonder how it is that things are made. 


Open Hack Nights happen 8-10 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of each month, open to all. OmniCorpDetroit is at 1501 E. Division in Detroit's Eastern Market. For more information, or to find out what synergy means, see

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus