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  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to Ricky Rat’s Tokyo Pop/Glitter People (New Fortune) 7” single highlights all that’s great about the Trash Brats guitarist, but also his limitations. The man can write a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll song to match anyone in the city and most beyond. He’s also a killer guitarist, ripping out one throwaway riff after another with reckless abandon. He’s a machine. On his own though, without Trash Brats frontman Brian McCarty, his voice doesn’t have enough strength to do the songs justice. Not that you need to have the greatest voice in the world to sing this stuff – you don’t need to be able to perform vocal gymnastics – but you do have to be able to wail the tunes out. Both of the songs on this single are great, but you can’t help but wonder how much better they would sound with McCarty or somebody similar talking the mic. Still, as they are the songs are great fun. We’re just being picky. The Paper Sound’s Trajectories is a dense, atypically dark Americana-tinged album, unrelenting and […]

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  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of, a new website launched by the City of Detroit today to auction off city-owned homes to prospective buyers who pledge to fix them up and move in. “We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement today. “There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment.” The website to facilitate the auctions went live this afternoon. The first auction is scheduled to take place Monday, May 5. Officials said in a news release that one home will be auctioned per day, Monday through Friday. Fifteen homes are available for sale on the site, a dozen of which are in the East English Village neighborhood. Any Michigan resident, company, or organization that can do business in the state can bid, according to the website. Properties will be for sale for only one day, with bidding taking place from 8 […]

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  • Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes

    In case you haven’t heard, two of the biggest names in film, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, are collaborating to put on a benefit concert for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this summer. In case you wanted to go- well, you’re too damn late. The DSO says tickets to the June 14 concert were snapped up in a record-breaking 15 minutes after they went on sale at 9 a.m. today. The DSO has since released this statement to fans who didn’t snag seats: Our apologies to everyone who was unable to buy tickets this morning for our historic benefit concert featuring John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Despite increasing our phone and internet system capacity for the day, a surge of hundreds of ticket buyers purchased tickets in a matter of minutes, filling the phone lines and temporarily maxing out our web servers. After a one-hour pre-sale made available to donors and subscribers at 8am, we released additional seats at 9am to the general public, including seats available for as low as $30. All seats sold out immediately. The concert program seems nothing short of top notch: Williams will conduct the orchestra as it performs some of his most iconic tunes, such […]

    The post Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Blowout 2014 schedule available to view now

    The schedule for Blowout 17, taking place Wednesday April 30 to Saturday May 3 in Hamtramck, Detroit and Ferndale, is available to see now. Visit to see the schedule and plan your festival. Follow @City_Slang

    The post Blowout 2014 schedule available to view now appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Trash Brats get sleazy at Small’s

    The Trash Brats hardly ever play live anymore, so each show feels like an event. Wandering around Small’s in Hamtramck late Saturday night, there’s a near-carnival atmosphere in the air. The Brats were never supposed to be taken seriously, but years on-and-off the radar have given the band the gift of respect born out of longevity. We’re not being dismissive at all. In fact, no amount of kooky faces from guitarist Ricky Rat and bassist Toni Romeo can hide the fact that these boys can play and the band writes killer bubblegum sleaze-rock tunes. The fact that the venue was packed compared to, say, a recent show by internationally known punk icons Sylvain Sylvain and Glen Matlock (which you would think would attract a similar audience) is testament to the fact that, in Detroit, the Trash Brats command a certain reverence. Before the Trash Brats took to the stage, local punks The Dives kicked off the night with a set of sincere, energetic and well-performed, if standard, punk rock. No frills (besides frontman Ron McPherson’s dapper suit), the band features members of the Junk Monkeys, the Black Mollies and the Joint Chiefs, and it drives through a set of catchy, […]

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  • Cycle 7 opens at the Red Bull House of Art

    By: Ayana Bryant-Weekes The Red Bull House of Art, a multidisciplinary and collaborative art project, relieves the stress of financial limitation or lack of tools and space so budding artists can manifest their creative dreams right here in Detroit. Six artists are selected for a three-month residency where they are provided individual studio space and materials, allowing their artistic concepts to flow freely. At the end of each residency is an unveiling and public display at the Red Bull House of Art Gallery. As show curator Matt Eaton told us in a 2013 interview, “The selection process for the current crop of artists was just the same as every round. The goal is not to find the hippest, coolest artists (though I think they are all very cool), but to find the people who may not typically have a voice.” This year, for the first time, Red Bull House of Art will showcase more than just Detroit artists. National artists from across the country in a special artist-in-residency program will have the opportunity to showcase their work to a much broader audience, and bring a national art stage to the Motor City. Since opening, 54 Detroit-based artists have been given the […]

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The secret garden

Here's one woman who's considered the neighborhood folk doctor

Photo: , License: N/A

Tamra Meadows in her herb-filled garden

Her wound would not stop bleeding. She'd just had abdominal surgery, was laid up at home, and blood kept dewing up on the incision. She couldn't get back to the hospital right away, so instead she called a friend from down the street, the woman from the neighborhood known for healing people.

Tamra Meadows came over, examined the wound under the dressing, and sent for the one remedy she knew would help fast. Was it some magical elixir? A secret homeopathic blend?

It was cayenne pepper from the kitchen.

Meadows, 53, practices folk medicine, the use of herbs and simple household items to treat illnesses the way they were treated years ago, before people had access to much modern medicine, or before medicine was even very modern.

She used cayenne because it's known to stop bleeding, sometimes within seconds. Most people probably have it on a kitchen shelf. Few know what it can do besides spicing up food. The same goes for any number of herbs and spices and plants in their houses or yards. And such knowledge is what makes Meadows so respected in her community.

A lot of inner-city folks don't have much money, don't have any health insurance, and have little trust for the run-down clinics that cater to the poor. So if their illness isn't too serious, many will rely on folk treatments or natural remedies passed down through families for years. 

And they rely on people like Meadows. Her reputation in the neighborhood has even earned her the nickname "The Witch Doctor."

"They say, 'I know you got something over in the yard. I need you to fix me something up,'" Meadows says of her neighbors. She's learned much of what she knows from books she's studied, but a lot of it, she says, just comes to her. "I pray about it," she says. "And I tell them, 'It's not me. It's a power.' Sometimes I tell God, 'Leave me alone.'"


The comfrey grows in bunches. The horehound's stems point to the sun. And the lemon balm sure smells like the real thing.

They're among the herbs that grow in Meadows' lush backyard garden. She knows which are for colds and which are for fevers, the ones that aid digestion or the ones that give you energy or calm you down. She knows which go in you, and which go on you.

Meadows lives in an east side neighborhood on the downswing. Along her street, several homes have boards covering the windows. Others have tall lawns overrun with crabgrass. Some houses just need paint, others need renovations, a few just need to be torn down.

And in the middle of all this neglect, this indifference to beauty, Meadows has nurtured an oasis in her yard.

Thick bouquets of purple flowers bloom in scattered clusters. Wide-leafed hostas spread their leaves along a walkway. Fish swim in a pond that's fed by a trickling hose. A towering tree arches over the yard and spreads its branches wide.

"Oh my God I love outdoors," Meadows says, sitting outside on a late summer day. "I spend hours out here. Sometimes I used to come out from sunup to sundown."

For years she was a Wayne County Sheriff's deputy, until it finally got to her and she just quit one day, several years shy of retirement and its benefits. Something about seeing prisoners mistreated, she says. A few odd jobs later and now she's unemployed, which grants her the luxury of long days in her serene sanctuary.

Her yard's also a gallery of found objects. An antique sleigh. A wood rocking chair. A cast-iron tub she sometimes uses for outdoor baths. All decoratively placed, peeking out of shrubs or leaning against a fence. An out-of-context sign on the swinging gate warns of no hunting at this private club. She found that somewhere too. And a white flag flies in surrender from a tall pole near the yard's edge. "It means I surrender to God," the churchgoer says.

A painted archway leads to the pond beyond the pebble-covered walkway, declaring it "The Lovers Garden" after the place where her mom went in Jamaica to spend her last few weeks of life.

Her Eden is such a peaceful contrast to the shabby standard of the area that it draws the neighbors here, sometimes to hang out, sometimes for advice, sometimes when she's not even home.

"I've had neighbors tell me, 'I was feeling real sad one day and I just went over there and sat in your yard.'"

Not everyone has such reverence for it. Neighbors have come by when she's gone and fished the perch out of her pond. For a while she sold candy and organic food out of her old garage, but someone kept walking off with the Jamaican and African artifacts she sold there too. 

But most people, even the local drug dealers, find themselves drawn here just for its tranquility.

"This neighborhood is infested with drugs, and I used to allow, and it's not that I don't allow them now, but when they come I have to give them instructions — you can't be in here cussing people out, and clean yourself before you come in, just mentally. This is my place of peace."


She doesn't heal people so much anymore. After the cayenne stopped her friend's bleeding, the friend went to a doctor, Meadows says. "And when they went to clean it off they said, 'What is in here?' 'She said, 'My neighbor brought some cayenne.' I said, 'You snitch! You're trying to get me arrested!"

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