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    I’m not going to lie to you – this isn’t easy. This week, the final City Slang local music column will be published in the Metro Times (on hardcore band Final Assault), and I have just submitted a cover feature on the women of Detroit hip-hop, to be published next week (8/6). This blog that you’re reading now will be my last one as a regular MT contributor. I have a lot to look forward to. I’m going to be an associate editor at Yellow Scene Magazine in Colorado, a tremendous publication in a beautiful part of the country. But leaving Detroit will be incredibly difficult for me. I love the place. It’s been (amazingly) six and a half years since I arrived, a couple of cases in hand and not much of a plan in mind. I just knew, after three separate research trips for books and a magazine article, that I felt at home here. Metro Times offered me freelance work almost immediately, as did a new website called Metromix (whatever happened to that?) When I arrived here, I had been working as a writer in the UK for nine years, but the help and encouragement I received […]

    The post Thank you, Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers

      We here at MT will be delighted when Mr. Jack White throws out a pitch at Navin Field (at least, we hope he will), but until then, we’ll be happy with his pitch to Santa this evening at Comerica Park.    

    The post Christmas in July, Jack White, and the Tigers appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW)

      Footage from the Gathering of the Juggalos set to clips of Morgan Freeman’s narration from March of the Penguins? Kind of forced, but also kind of beautiful. As the AV Club reports: The oft-sought voiceover champion lends a touch of gravitas to the festival proceedings. Unfortunate scenes of barely clad people having various liquids dumped onto them now carries a quiet dignity as it’s all part of nature’s majestic plan that keeps the world spinning through this elegantly designed and truly wondrous universe. Also, the video is NSFW as there are boobs in it. Watch the clip below:

    The post Watch footage of the Gathering of the Juggalos dubbed with Morgan Freeman narration (NSFW) appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love”

    It seems like the polar vortex will never end: the weather phenomenon that brought us the most brutal winter on record this winter is to blame for this summer’s chillier-than usual temperatures as well. A couple of bands, though, made lemonade out of lemons (or snow cones out of snow?) by using the icy landscape to film music videos. 800beloved shot the video for “Tidal” in some sand dunes near Empire, Mich., and this week Turn to Crime debuted the video for “Can’t Stop,” the title track of their recently-released album. Even more piles of ice and snow might be the last thing Detroiters want to see right now, but the footage makes for some good visuals that mesh well with the song. Watch the video below:

    The post Turn to Crime debut chilly video for “Can’t Love” appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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 appointments 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.



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Halloween 2012

Unmasking Halloween

Is America's second holiday a commercialized travesty, or still a chance to subvert the status quo?

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And the spooks fed to kids seem to grow tamer by the year. Maybe we can blame Tim Burton for that, starting with Beetlejuice and continuing with The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie, among others. Films riding the trend have included Monsters Inc., Monster House, Coraline, ParaNorman and Hotel Transylvania. Add to this the mainstreaming of Día de los Muertos as the Day of the Dead, on which kitsch-addled American consumers buy and display cute little skulls and domesticated skeletons in all their finery.

These factors — the overweening profit motive, the stultifying effects of fundamentalism, overprotective parents, and the rise of consumer cuteness over youthful chaos — all have diluted the joy of what Halloween really is: a national carnival.

Our American carnival

What makes a carnival? It was the Russian critic Mikhail Bakhtin who first coined the term "carnivalesque." To Bakhtin, carnivals were events that subverted and liberated the assumptions of the dominant style or atmosphere through humor and chaos. (Sound familiar?) Though usually associated with Mardi Gras in the United States, Halloween is arguably a time when everybody participates in a ritual, with little or no line between participant and spectator. For a brief moment, social hierarchies are overturned or ignored, as when children boss adults, creating a world upside-down, in which ideas and truths are endlessly contested or made fun of.

Getting away from the theory, this is a reason why Halloween has traditionally been a great day of celebration for the U.S. LGBT community. From 1974 until 1985, one of the biggest gay and lesbian celebrations in New York was the Village Halloween Parade that snaked through the streets of the largely gay West Village, ending in an all-night party in Washington Square. Talk about carnivalesque: In the early years, some observers who didn't know what was happening simply joined the procession. It's no doubt that New York officials must have been uncomfortable with the subversive component of the parade. In 1985, the procession was moved to Sixth Avenue and, by the 1990s, police closed down city parks at midnight and ended the all-night revelries. 

For another example of Halloween's carnivalesque spirit, look no further than a few years into the past at Detroit's Theatre Bizarre. The space behind a row of Detroit homes near the State Fairgrounds had been transformed into a dilapidated amusement park, to celebrate Halloween for one night only in very adult fashion. The artists and designers behind the big show created a convincing dramatic space, taking their battered midway to the limits of technical feasibility while staying true to the do-it-yourself spirit. Live bands heightened the insurrectionary spirit, while the main bar hemorrhaged 10 kegs of beer an hour. 

Though it continues today in city-approved venues, the old space was a sort of autonomous zone where, for years, the city turned a blind eye. Perhaps it worked because the organizers weren't in it for the money, but were trying to create something other than profits. You'd see the carnival spirit in the attendees, who'd often act out their parts in mocking, satirical ways. We remember in particular a participant dressed as a policeman with a pig snout strapped over his nose. Or two hockey players who'd suddenly lock into brawls only to be pulled apart by a man in referee gear tweeting on his whistle. In fact, you wondered if they even came together or just found each other and made it work.

Does that sound too far-fetched? One year, we went as a Christian soldier, carrying a giant shield with a giant gold cross on it and carrying a long sword. Throughout the evening, various Jesuses approached us, often asking, "How many have you killed in my name?"

"Many a heathen's blood has bathed this sword," we'd answer, to their approval and blessing, all in character.

No doubt that subversive spirit of play and fun, in which popular wisdom is tested and contested, made parties at the Theatre Bizarre space not only fun as hell but carnivalesque as well. And as the country becomes more and more authority-based, that spirit is more important than ever.

A safety valve

Or is Halloween a big subversive festival after all? Maybe it's more like what the original carnivals Bakhtin studied were: Chances to let off steam. On Halloween, do we put on disguises to join the masquerade, or do we really unmask ourselves? And if we can do that — remove our masks and show our true selves — why do we only do it once a year in such a formal way?

It's a good question, one that goes to the heart of Halloween. 

As Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedys asked in his 1982 song, "Halloween," the real fear permeates the other 364 days: the fear that enforces conformity.

You go to work today,

You'll go to work tomorrow.

Shitfaced tonight,

You'll brag about it for months:

Remember what I did,

Remember what I was,

Back on Halloween?

But what's in between?

Where are your ideas?

You sit around and dream,

For next Halloween.

Why not every day?

Are you so afraid?

What will people say?

Michael Jackman is senior editor of Metro Times. Send comments to

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