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    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.

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    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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Higher Ground

Ann Arbor Didn’t Go to Pot

A place that marijuana activists look to with a gleam in their eyes

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If Michigan has a “city upon a hill,” a beaming locale that is a showplace for the state, a place where the economy seems to roll along with hardly a glitch, a place “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average,” to borrow the description of Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, it would be Ann Arbor.

With the University of Michigan, the U-M hospital, the annual art fair, a popping downtown and plenty of people walking the neighborhoods, an abundance of jobs and a low crime rate, Ann Arbor is the kind of place that lots of cities would like to be.

It’s also been a place that marijuana activists look to with a gleam in their eyes — and a bit of envy. In 1974, Ann Arbor voters passed a revision to the city charter decriminalizing marijuana and making possession of less than 2 ounces a civil infraction, punishable by a $5 fine for the first offense. In 1990, citizens voted to raise the penalty to $25 despite Republican Mayor Gerald D. Jerrigan’s claim that the lenient law was an “embarrassment” to the city.

Now, as activists across Michigan force municipalities to consider decriminalizing marijuana, people must seriously consider the effect of that policy in their towns. Five cities in Michigan voted last fall to soften penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana; Ferndale, Jackson and Lansing have petition initiatives in place to put the question to voters this fall.

In recent years, every time Michigan voters get to choose they have voted to soften the marijuana laws. This has become so prevalent that anti-marijuana forces, feeling threatened, have begun to push back. A “Mobilizing Michigan: Protecting Our Kids from Marijuana” campaign kicked off in Macomb County a few weeks ago. Rep. Sander Levin stood with them and promised to bring more federal anti-drug money to the state for combating drugs. Many of these people are truly afraid of what might happen if marijuana was legalized.

As arguments are made, pro and con, maybe it’s a good idea to look at the city with the state’s longest-lived decriminalization policy. (That would be Ann Arbor.) Apparently the place has not gone to hell since sanctions against the evil weed were lowered.

“The nightlife is above average for a city of our size [pop. 114,000], we’ve got great schools, great parks and the lowest unemployment rate in the state,” says state Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, and who recently introduced a bill to decriminalize marijuana statewide. “There are a lot of things going for Ann Arbor. The decriminalization that the community enacted decades ago, I think is a good example of how a local community can address these issues in a more reasonable and successful way. Marijuana is in communities all over Michigan and governments are completely impotent in addressing that. … We need to educate young people about making smart choices. Prohibition doesn’t result in the outcome we’re looking for.”

Ann Arbor also showed atop a listing of Michigan “Hot Spots” on the Pure Michigan website last week, with the notation that it’s “where the pulse of a big city comes with the handshake of a small town … A place that embraces the unique and unusual.”

Maybe there’s something in trying to embrace Ann Arbor’s “uniqueness.” On May 1, Grand Rapids authorized implementation of a decriminalization statute, six months after it was voted in — although the city manager is calling it a “pilot program.” Maybe the city needs to see how things go there, but Ann Arbor’s been piloting that program for four decades.

Charmie Gholson, co-founder of Michigan Mothers Against Prohibition and an Ann Arbor resident, points to another example of what happens when “War on Drugs” laws are rescinded: Portugal — that small country on the Iberian peninsula — decriminalized all drugs 12 years ago. Gholson heard the Portuguese health minister speak in Buffalo, N.Y., at a recent Drug Policy Alliance event.

“When police there catch people using or possessing any illegal drugs, they now refer them to a doctor. They discuss their drug use with a doctor,” says Gholson. “Drug use has not gone up, but the HIV and AIDS rates have gone down.”

The bottom line is, there are plenty of examples to dispute the doomsayers when they say marijuana is going to “destroy our community.” There are 17 states, including our neighbor Ohio, that have already decriminalized possession of small amounts of the substance. And in Michigan you can almost play a game of “what city am I in” with the mosaic of laws that are popping up.

Let’s see, I’m in Detroit: It’s legal to have as much as 1 ounce. I’m in Grand Rapids: it a civil offense, with a $100 fine. It’s like the dry county-wet county issue you sometimes run into when traveling (hello, Indiana). You can’t have it here, but you can have it there. Maybe it would help to make a map of the state denoting what the laws are in order to keep it straight. The problem is, you’d have to amend it often since things seem to be changing so fast.

The Lansing initiative has the support of Mayor Virg Bernero. Marijuana is getting so popular in Michigan it seems like he would have done better had he run on a pro-marijuana ticket during his failed 2010 bid for governor.

“Marijuana is available all over Michigan,” Irwin says. “We need to stop pretending that marijuana prohibition is working. It’s stale. It’s not working to keep marijuana out of the hands of anyone. In order to protect children we have to give them information to make the right choices. We need to have a more honest policy.”

Even conservative Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, whose home is in Ann Arbor, has shown no interest in fighting the tide of marijuana reform ⎯ although he has signed a slew of conservative legislation into law. Maybe he has seen the impact on Ann Arbor and it’s not as bad as some think.

“We don’t have roving bands of teenagers trying to offer people pot,” Gholson says.

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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.
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