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  • 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 appointment’s 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.

  • Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times

    Turns out, our very own Jack Lessenberry knows the Grosse Pointer seeking to ban the MT: Ten years or so ago, a woman named Andrea Lavigne sat in on some media survey classes I was teaching at Wayne State University. She was in her late 30s or early 40s, and seemed to be searching for answers. She wanted to know how the media work, and told me she was a Maoist. This fascinated me, because I thought authentic Maoists were almost as rare as passenger pigeons. Chairman Mao, we now know, starved to death and slaughtered tens of millions of his own citizens, and kept China economically and intellectually backward. Intrigued, I got together one night before class with her and another Maoist, to find out what they were all about. Alas, they spouted a form of primitive, grade-school Marxism. They seemed to have very little historical knowledge of Communism or what it had actually been like. Yes. A Maoist. Read the full story at Michigan Radio here.

    The post Lessenberry on the battle to ban the Metro Times appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’

    A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the owner of Detroit’s municipal solid waste incinerator Monday, accusing the company of nuisance and gross negligence violations According to the complaint filed by Detroit-based Liddle & Dubin P.C., “On occasions too numerous to list, Plaintiffs’ property including Plaintiffs’ neighborhood, residences and yards were physically invaded by noxious odors and contaminants … As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’s’ negligence in operating and/or maintaining the facility, Plaintiffs’ property has been invaded by noxious odors.” The eight-page complaint charges that local property values have dropped due to the incinerator’s presence, “and has interfered with Plaintiffs’ use and enjoyment of their property.” The lawsuit, filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, seeks a financial award in excess of $25,000 and all costs and attorney fees related to the case. In an email, a spokesperson for the company says, “Detroit Renewable Power is reviewing the complaint filed today,” but declined further comment. The suit comes weeks after a Metro Times’ cover story earlier this month found a growing number of odor complaints from nearby residents since Detroit Renewable Power LLC (DRP) took control of the facility in 2010. The investigation found a spike in citations from the Michigan Department […]

    The post Detroit residents sue incinerator owner over ‘noxious odors and contaminants’ appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup

    The High Times Medical Cannabis Cup is more than just a celebration — although with the recent shift in attitudes toward marijuana legalization, there certainly is much to celebrate.  HT‘s Danny Danko described it as “just like any other harvest festival or a county fair where people bring their best produce, their best pigs and horses and cows, and they compete with each other for bragging rights, basically.” Here are a list of winners from this year’s Cannabis Cup, who did indeed walk home with some well-deserved bragging rights — if anyone knows their marijuana it’s High Times: Indica 1ST - Oasis Medical Seeds - Paris OG 2ND - Herbal Solutions - Alien Dawg F2 3RD - Herban Legendz, LLC - Grape OX Sativa 1ST - Arborside Compassion - CATFISH 2ND - Organibliss - Ghost Train Haze #1 3RD - We Grow Education and Collective Centers - MelonGum Hybrid 1ST - Herbal Solutions - Gorilla Glue 2ND - Pure West Compassion Club - Death Star 3RD - Kushman Veganics for Buds & Roses - Veganic Candyland Concentrate 1ST - Mr. B’s Extracts - Raskal’s Lemon 2ND - 710 Savant - Kosher Kush Dewaxed 3RD - Oasis Medical / Vader Extracts / Dab Vader - Candy Jack Shatter Non-Solvent Hash 1ST - NLG - Jedi Kush Ice Wax 2ND - Arborside Compassion - HeadCandy Kush Hash 3RD - New World Seeds Resource […]

    The post Winners announced for the ‘High Times’ Medical Cannabis Cup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative

    So is the title of the press release we received this morning from The Satanic Temple. You may recall our interview with Doug Mesner from earlier this year. The Satanic Temple is, perhaps, best known for trying to build a child-friendly monument to satan in OKC: How Mesner and TST are rocking the Hobby Lobby ruling is interesting: The Satanic Temple Leverages Hobby Lobby Ruling to Claim Exemption From State Mandated ProLife Materials Reads the next line of the press release. And then their website: A number of states require that abortion providers give information to patients that maybe inaccurate or misleading. Demands that members of the Satanic Temple, or those who share our beliefs, be subjected against our will to anything but the best scientific understanding are a violation of our religious beliefs. Thanks to rulings such as Hobby Lobby, we can take a stand against these practices. Mesner points out how the Hobby Lobby ruling bolsters their position: While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact. This was made clear when […]

    The post Satanists Leverage Hobby Lobby Ruling In Support of Pro­Choice Initiative appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Cover Story

The party at the end of the world

From Burning man to Detroit in time for the rapture

Photo: , License: N/A

Photo: Photo: Travis R. Wright, License: N/A

Photo: Travis R. Wright

In the dragon's mouth: Artist Ryan C. Doyle


He'd also spend two months a year working for Burning Man's Department of Public Works.

"It was a staff of 120 people then, and it's probably about 300 now," Doyle says. "They need everything for a week that a city needs, including a metal shop, generators, golf carts, fencing, shade structures." The DPW job also got him gigs building art cars for Burning Man for private individuals.

"It seems mixed-up," Doyle says, "but that's how my life was: traveling, trying to learn as much as I could, and to build as much as I could before I was 30."

By 2004, when he was 25, his work had already been featured on TLC's Junkyard Wars, and he started doing more stuff on his own for Burning Man and Coachella.

But after 10 years of fabricating and globetrotting, dividing his time between the Bay Area and New York, Doyle has decided to put down roots in Detroit. It helps that his wife, Canadian performance artist Zarah Ackerman, has a home base just across the border. The cheap rent and property don't hurt either. And, as Doyle points out, "It made sense to build a really big art car in the Motor City."


'A good crew'

It's a bright, sunny spring day on Moran Street in Detroit, just north of Hamtramck. And 13169 Moran St., the art house Doyle had helped with last October, is a neighborhood oddity, a house artfully plastered with castoffs scavenged from torched houses. The front porch is brightly painted, adorned with, among other things, a bicycle seat, a plastic pony, a whirligig, old boxes, table legs, a drawer or two, antlers, an upside-down nightstand and much, much more. It's the kind of abandoned house that neighborhood people slow down to look at when they drive by. It's mostly quiet at 1 p.m. A cracked water main gurgles a river of city water into puddles under the curb. Starlings alight for a quick bath.

Suddenly, though, the house is the center of ferocious activity. The artists who gave it its makeover are back to turn it into a home for Doyle, his wife and their infant daughter, Dynamite. The upper floor will be a rotating hostel for artists who work at Detroitus. In fact, three entire art houses are to be fenced off in an artists' complex.

There's much to do. Shortly after pulling up in a fully loaded 1-ton Chevy van, a platoon of tattooed, bearded art dudes and resale-chic ladies start trooping into the house with supplies. Doyle roars into the alley with his 1967 International Travelall. A mammoth fallen tree and heaping piles of brush lie behind the building, and Ryan Carmichael, Ryan Oliver and Sarah Sue Simeon quickly build a fire pit of bricks to burn as much as possible. Ackerman is raking up years' worth of dead leaves along a house set near the back.

Canilao and Harrison Bartlett, two of the artists who'd originally decorated the house, have just come in from Canilao's recent art show in Milwaukee. A wiry, agile blond with a breezy, humorous manner, Bartlett is suddenly hopping all over the place, rushing upstairs to pop the plywood out of the windows, downstairs in a flash to cut a gate apart to join the two backyards, or standing on a rickety chair to move a plywood barrier. Soon the fire pit is blazing, and Carmichael is using a chainsaw to prune back an overgrown apple tree. The neighborhood residents are taking notice, aloof for the most part, except for the occasional curious child who strolls down the alley to get a good look. Some friends of the group drop by to donate windows, or to help out with the work, including Miles Michael and Sean Digger.

These folks aren't exactly risk-averse. At one point, a 100-pound branch comes loose from a tree, grazing Carmichael's head as he holds a running chainsaw, and sending Oliver skidding just out of its way. A half-hour later, Carmichael is seen standing atop a rickety-ass fence, chainsawing a mulberry tree bit by bit while trying to free it from the wires streaming down from a utility pole. Doyle walks by, genially muttering something about "not telling them to do that, but not telling them not to." At moments like this, it's clear the crew lives a charmed life and knows it.

Carmichael wants to know if they're going to the weekly barbecue and fire party at Flynn's space north of Detroit's Woodbridge neighborhood. That's the plan. The bearded twentysomething, a native of Kodiak, Alaska, laughs as he heaps more wood on the fire. "That's how we live. We make one fire, then go on to the next."

Carmichael, who'd make a bundle on Alaskan fishing boats some years, had met Doyle after subletting from him in Oakland when he was in Europe. "He moved back and, after a day, he was like, 'Want to work on a dragon with me?' And it's turned into this."

Canilao realized after the fact that there were no real plans for the art house they'd created. "The house was bought originally for $900, and it was in OK condition, as it has been abandoned for two years. And Harrison and I came first and left last, and thought, 'What if we bought it from Powerhouse?' It cost us $2,000, but we also have to pay $6,000 in back taxes."

She says she and Bartlett intend to visit the complex as often as possible and to try to get to know the neighbors. "It's funny — coming here and starting a project and having it stay in your life ... forever," she says, with a laugh.

She and the others meet to discuss plans for the mini-community. They're often fanciful, always interesting. In addition to the garden on the southernmost lot, there's discussion of a greenhouse or solarium, a chicken coop, and even talk of raising perch in the basement. The group's nothing-is-impossible spirit is infectious and fun, enough to make you root for them, if not to want to join their circus.

After a hard day of work, it's off to Flynn's space for grilling, burning wood and celebrating. Last week, Carmichael and Oliver kicked apart palettes of wood with their sneakers, hurling timber toward the fire with a crash in a sheer portrait of exuberance.

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