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  • Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well

    By LeeAnn Brown Some people say that hip-hop is dead. Local ban Fderal Ground is proving that is not the case. The seven-member band, consisting of three lead vocalists, a DJ, bass, drums and guitar, plays what they call “living hip-hop.” Their music, peppered with multiple styles, covers all aspects of life from growing up in the D to playing with fire despite knowing you will likely get burned. Their undeniable chemistry and raw lyrics compose a music that is living, breathing, and connecting to their listeners. It has been nearly 11 years since Vinny Mendez and Michael Powers conjured up the basement idea that has flowered into the Detroit funk-hop band Feral Ground. Throughout high school the two wrote and rapped consistently, playing shows here and there. In those years they matched their rap stanzas with the animated, dynamic voice of Ginger Nastase and saw an instant connection. The now trio backed their lyrics with DJ Aldo’s beats on and off for years, making him a permanent member within the last year, along with Andy DaFunk (bass), Joseph Waldecker (drums), and newest member, Craig Ericson (guitar). We sat down with Feral Ground and their manager, Miguel Mira, in their […]

    The post Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law

    Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]

    The post Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week

    Walking with Dinosaurs, a magnificent stage show that features life-sized animatronic creatures from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, will be in town next week. But to preview the show’s run at the Palace, a baby T-Rex will be making an appearance at four area malls to the delight and wonderment of shoppers. Baby T-Rex, as the creature is being affectionately referred to, is seven-feet-tall and 14-feet-long. He’ll only be at each mall for about 15 minutes, so while there will be photo opportunities, they’ll be short. The dino will be at Fairlane Town Center Center Court at 18900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit from 2-2:15 p.m. today, July 30; The Mall at Partridge Creek at 17420 Hall Rd. in Clinton Township from 5-5:15 p.m. today, July 30; Twelve Oaks Mall at the Lord & Taylor Court at 27500 Novi Rd., Novi tomorrow, Thursday July 31 from 1:30-1:45 p.m.; and Great Lakes Crossing Food Court at 4000 Baldwin Rd., Auburn Hills from 5-5:15 p.m., tomorrow Thursday, July 31.  

    The post Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations

    Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.  

    The post Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial

    We don’t know about you, but usually Nancy Whiskey and Long John Silver’s aren’t two concepts we’d place in the same sentence. However, the international fast food fish fry conglomerate made a nod to the Detroit dive in their latest YouTube commercial. LJS is offering free fish fries on Saturday, August 2, which is the promotion the commercial is attempting to deliver. But, we think we’ll just go to Nancy Whiskey instead.

    The post Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women

    We came across an interesting item this week: Apparently, a music festival with the name “Michfest” is quietly oriented as a “Women-Only Festival Exclusively for ‘Women Born Women.’” It seems a strange decision to us. If you wanted to have a women-only music festival, why not simply proclaim loud and clear that it is for all sorts of women? But if you really wanted to become a lightning rod for criticisms about transphobia, organizers have found the perfect way to present their festival. Now, we know that defenders of non-cisgender folks have it tough. The strides made by gays and lesbians (and bisexuals) in the last 20 years have been decisive and dramatic. But the people who put the ‘T’ in LGBT have reason to be especially defensive, facing a hostile culture and even some disdain from people who should be their natural allies. That said, sometimes that defensiveness can cause some activists to go overboard; when we interviewed Dan Savage a couple years ago, he recalled his “glitter bombing” and said it was due to the “the narcissism of small differences,” adding that “if you’re playing the game of who is the most victimized, attacking your real enemies doesn’t prove you’re most victimized, claiming you […]

    The post Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Opening Day Issue

The woman who replaced Hank Aaron

Telling the story of Toni Stone, first female Negro League player

Photo: , License: N/A

2011 Opening Day Issue

Never let it be said that baseball is "just a game," at least as it relates to Toni Stone.

For Stone to step into the batter's box or make a play at second base was to overcome overwhelming racist and sexist obstacles that existed in mid-20th century America — baseball no exception. Jim Crow was a frequent teammate, as she traveled the country during the 1953 and 1954 Negro League seasons.

Born in 1921 in St. Paul, Minn., all Stone ever wanted to do in life was play baseball. Her parents, urging a career as a teacher, nurse or secretary, objected to her sporting ambitions. Eventually they acquiesced and let her play on a church team as a kid.

As a teen and young adult, working odd jobs to pay the bills, Stone joined several loosely organized, semi-professional teams in Minnesota and in California after she moved there 1943. She was often viewed by fans as a novelty, but that got ballpark seats filled, and that meant revenue to league organizers.

After Jackie Robinson broke the major league color barrier in 1947, African-American players trickled out of the storied Negro Leagues and into the majors. That meant openings for more players, including Stone.

She signed first with the Indianapolis Clowns, where she replaced Henry Aaron at second base when he went to the majors. Her second, and last, Negro League season, she played for the Kansas City Monarchs.

Stone's life and career — from neighborhood pickup game to cross-country barnstorming to obscurity in retirement — are aptly recounted in Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone, the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League (Lawrence Hill Books, 274 pp., $24.95), written by Martha Ackmann, a senior lecturer in gender studies at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.

The author spoke with Metro Times about Toni Stone, the Negro Leagues and what they mean to America.

Metro Times: Your first book, Mercury 13 was about women who secretly trained as astronauts in the early days of the U.S. space program. How does Curveball follow that?

Martha Ackmann: I write books about women who have changed America. When I went about searching for a topic for my next book, I knew I wanted to write about sports because I think sports are a great window for looking at American culture.

MT: How much of researching and writing the book was contextualizing the Negro League?

Ackmann: Because the book is both about Toni Stone and the times in which she lived, the other story besides her own I was trying to tell is the story of Jim Crow America, specifically through the lens of Negro League baseball. For example, I wanted to talk about Jim Crow conditions that Negro League players faced when they traveled around the country. Certainly there were Jim Crow restrictions all over the country but particularly in the South. So I talked about what would happen when players tried to get a meal in Washington, D.C. Henry Aaron reported that one thing he would never forget was the sound of dinner plates crashing. Some restaurants would serve black players but then they wouldn't wash the dishes; they would be so disgusted in their racism with black men coming to eat in their restaurant that they would break them instead.

MT: Did one detail hit you more deeply than others?

Ackmann: I was familiar with Jim Crow, eating conditions and lodging and traveling across the country, but when I read that black fans in New Orleans had to sit behind chicken wire, that was an indignity that was very, very disturbing to encounter.

MT: What kind of Jim Crow conditions but also sexism did Toni Stone face?

Ackmann: Sometimes when she pulled up to a boarding house or a hotel in the South, the 28 guys would get off the bus and she would be the only woman. The proprietor would look and say, "You must be a hustler or a prostitute," and direct her to the nearest brothel. Toni eventually had no other choice. She would have to stay there. She said, in her words, "These were good girls." I think she saw something of the outcast in them that she felt herself as a marginalized figure. Surprisingly to her, the good girls gave her a place to stay and laundered her uniform and sewed padding into the chest of her uniform so she could take hard throws to the chest, and eventually she built up a network of brothels where the girls would meet her sometimes in a car and take her to the brothel and show her the respect that she didn't find elsewhere.

MT: Did you find inspiring as well as disturbing stories?

Ackmann: I tried to get at the truth, and sometimes the truth cuts that way to be both disturbing and fascinating in the same way. I think it's very important to get down that kind of documentary evidence to try to be a witness to history — especially a history that not a lot of people know about a woman who wanted to play America's game.

MT: What were her Detroit experiences?

Ackmann: She played in Briggs Field [later known as Tiger Stadium], that was one of the many big, big stadiums, like Yankee Stadium and Comiskey Park in Chicago. I think she always really loved playing in the big stadiums, and it wasn't too far from her hometown. She was very familiar with the upper Midwest, coming from St. Paul. I think Detroit in the late '40s and the early '50s was a pretty great place to be playing Negro League ball. There was a lot of support and they were always packed games where she felt she got a lot of exposure.

MT: Did Toni Stone always play second base?

Ackmann: As a kid she played every single position. She was such a phenomenal athlete. I remember interviewing people, players who played against Babe Didrikson Zaharias [a noteworthy female athlete who was best known as a golfer but also played semi-pro baseball in the 1930s], they said, "Babe was a good player, and Toni Stone was a really good player." As a kid she played everything. She got knocked out once when she was catching and she said, "OK, I've had enough of that." She played a lot of outfield but by the time she was in her late teens to early 20s she ended up on second base.

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