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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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Detroit's vision and revision

Framework for change looks promising, but watch who controls the reins

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

After the “new vision” for Detroit’s future was unveiled amid much fanfare last week, we gave a call to Dan Pitera, one of the many people involved in the two-year-long effort to create what’s been dubbed the “Detroit Future City” plan.


As the reporters invited to an in-depth briefing about the project before its official coming-out party were told, this isn’t a “plan.” It is, instead, “a strategic framework for future decision making.”

So you got that — this is a framework that will help guide future development.

We’re not exactly sure what the difference is, but that’s OK. It is enough to know that this effort is big and important and groundbreaking in some fundamental way.

We’re not being sarcastic when we say that, either. In terms of breadth and depth, it is an unprecedented undertaking. And not just for Detroit. Nowhere is the world, the journalists were told, has anything quite this extensive and multifaceted been attempted.

A big part of the reason for that, unfortunately, is that no other city has endured the level of abandonment Detroit has. The numbers are painfully familiar, but worth repeating nonetheless: At its peak in the 1950s, Detroit’s population topped out at more than 1.8 million people. In April 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau counted just fewer than 714,000 people living here. And now, despite the ongoing resurgence of such neighborhoods as Midtown and Corktown, the overall exodus continues, with the population now almost certainly dipping below 700,000. And the projections are that the number of people living in the city will to continue to fall until it bottoms out at about 600,000.

Declining population means declining tax revenues, which means a continued decrease in public services, leading to even more abandonment. The city’s downward spiral hasn’t yet stopped.

And its not just people who have left. Detroit has become the poster child for what’s now described as the postindustrial city, with once high-paying factory jobs largely a thing of the past. Just this week, on the television program 60 Minutes, there was a piece on the ever-expanding — and now rapidly accelerating — role robotics is playing in the workforce, with machines replacing not just workers on the shop floor, but everywhere from warehouses and grocery stores to call centers to stock trading.

Money is being made — a lot of it. The problem is that many more jobs are being lost than created, and so the wealth being created continues its concentration at the top of the economic ladder. But the machines only produce; they don’t consume. And without workers earning wages to buy things, the prospects of an economy that flourishes on all levels, for those on the bottom and in the middle as well as on top, seems pretty dismal.

Where it all ends, nobody knows.

What’s certain is that Detroit, the former Arsenal of Democracy and onetime “model city” in terms of racial diversity, has long been in the forefront of decline. And now, as a result, it is looking to take the lead when it comes to figuring out how we as a society adjust to this new world we’re facing.

The “Detroit Future City” effort is supposed to be a blueprint for decision-making as Detroit moves forward. As we were watching the presentations last week, however, especially when the discussion turned toward talk of what planners call “green and blue infrastructure,” things like orchards and storm water retention ponds envisioned for mostly abandoned neighborhoods that were once filled with people, we began thinking about another plan, one featured on the cover of this rag more than a decade ago.

In October 2001, we did a story titled “Down a green path.” about an “alternative vision” for what was then an already devastated area on Detroit’s east side.

Called the Adamah Project, it was the result of an effort undertaken by a group of architecture students and their advisers at the University of Detroit Mercy. In place of vacant lots and the charred remains of burned-out homes, they envisioned community vegetable gardens and tree farms that supplied timber for a local lumber mill, tulips growing in hothouses and aquaculture projects producing fish and shrimp.

It was a plan both fomented and embraced by the folks at the Boggs Center, an east side nonprofit that serves as a sort of incubator for grassroots progressive activism.

What was striking at the time, at least to us, was the critique of Detroit’s recovery efforts that was inherent in the Adamah Project.

Here’s what we wrote back then:

“During the ’90s, while the U.S. economy was experiencing unprecedented growth, Detroit capitalized on the surge by directing much of its resources into big-ticket items such as a pair of new sports stadiums and downtown development projects such as casinos.”

The problem with that kind of approach, as we reported back then, is that it was destined to fail in terms of reversing Detroit’s decline if it wasn’t part of some bigger, more comprehensive plan.

“You can have all the stadiums you want,” Stephen Vogel, then dean of UDM’s School of Architecture and a prime force behind Adamah Project, told us then. “If you don’t have housing, if you don’t have livable neighborhoods, you are not going to have a revitalized city.”

“It’s great that you have a company like Compuware coming in here,” Vogel added. “But you should be devoting equal time to making sure that my neighborhood is not declining. And that’s not happening. Small businesses are continuing to leave, and that’s tragic.”

Political philosopher and social activist Grace Lee Boggs, who, along with her late husband Jimmy Boggs provided the intellectual underpinnings of the Boggs Center, offered this observation back then:

“A lot of folks in the bureaucracy know that the approach we’ve been taking up until now has failed.  The city can’t be built from the top down by politicians reacting to crises or by developers seizing opportunities to make megaprofits.”

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