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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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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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