Most Read
  • 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.



Search thousands of events in our database.


Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.


Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

MT on Twitter
MT on Facebook

Print Email

Halloween 2012

Unmasking Halloween

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

Photo: , License: N/A

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

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus