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  • 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.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Higher Ground

What if Cannabis Oil Cured Cancer?

As more stories like Alysa Erwin's become known, maybe medicinal marijuana will finally become formal protocol.

Photo: The Erwin family after Alysa's diognosis, License: N/A

The Erwin family after Alysa's diognosis


IN JANUARY 2011, then-14-year-old Alysa Erwin began having intense, debilitating headaches. By that spring she was diagnosed with Grade 3 Anaplastic Astrocytoma — brain cancer — at University of Michigan Medical Center.

According to information at mdguidelines.com, “Individuals with grade 3 astrocytoma have a median survival time of 18 months with treatment (radiation and chemotherapy). … Even with aggressive treatment, astrocytomas of all types tend to recur, making the prognosis generally poor.”

Alysa’s tumors were spread throughout her brain like ivy or a spider web. There was no local tumor that could be targeted for radiation. The Erwins, including Alysa’s parents Carly and David, returned to their northern Lower Peninsula home with five days worth of Temedor, an oral chemotherapy pill, to begin treatment.

“We were told she could live 18 months to two years on chemo,” says Carly. “We thought that was a death sentence to her.”

Still, seemingly without options, the Erwins figured they would give the chemotherapy a try.

“She was deathly sick,” says Carly of her daughter after taking the Temedor. 

Carly was bedridden with terrible headaches and couldn’t keep food down. The Erwins were devastated. A few days later they got a call from Carly’s father, who lives in southeastern Michigan, saying he’d recently gone to a meeting with the group now known as Michigan Compassion and heard about Rick Simpson Hemp Oil, a cannabis extract that some people are using to treat cancer. The Erwins then watched the videos “What If Cannabis Cured Cancer” and “Run from the Cure,” both available on YouTube.

“This is the end, we thought,” says Carly. “If this is all that chemo can do, at least we can make her comfortable for the months that she had left with us.”

At first, the Erwins couldn’t find cannabis oil. Eventually they met Gersh Avery in the Ann Arbor area, who facilitated the Erwins in finding what they needed. In early August 2011, Alysa had her first dose of oil. Carly mixed about eight milliliters of cannabis oil with about a half-cup of peanut butter. She gave her daughter about a half-teaspoon, once in the morning and again in the evening. After the very first dose there was a miraculous transformation in the sick girl. 

“About 30 minutes after taking cannabis oil she was out of her room eating and smiling,” says Carly. “We knew what we wanted after seeing her, but we wanted to see what she wanted because it was her body. The light was back in her eyes again. She was back to herself. She said she wasn’t doing chemo anymore; she was only doing cannabis oil.”

Starting out, Alysa slept a lot as her body became accustomed to the high levels of cannabinoids in her body. And, as she was able to tolerate it, her mother upped the dosage until Alysa was getting about one-and-a-half milliliters a day for a year, then upped it to three milliliters each day.

At first they didn’t tell Alysa’s doctor. They were afraid and unsure of the legal implications. At her first three-month checkup, the MRI showed that the cancer was not growing. The Erwins told her doctor that Alysa was doing the chemo. The subsequent exam showed the same result, but the doctor had questions because Alysa’s blood work was not showing the indications expected of someone on chemotherapy. The Erwins admitted then that they had stopped the chemo in favor of cannabis oil. The doctor’s response was cautious because cannabis oil is not a condoned treatment. But she said, “Whatever you are doing, keep doing it.”

After a year, the cancer had evolved into five identifiable tumors at the back of Alyssa’s head. One of the tumors was near her brain stem and threatened her ability to breathe and walk. The Erwins agreed to have radiation treatment. 

“After six weeks, I wished we’d never done it,” says Carly. “Her brain started swelling.”

They continued the cannabis oil treatments. In January 2013, two years after the onset of her headaches, Alyssa’s MRI showed no cancer. Subsequent MRIs, the most recent in October, have shown no cancer. Her next scheduled test is in April.

“The doctor looked at the MRI and she just smiled,” says Carly. There were a lot of smiles going around.

During this time it was usually a scramble to get cannabis oil. According to information available on the Internet from Rick Simpson, one pound of high-grade marijuana produces about 60 milliliters of oil; at one-and-a-half milliliters each day, a pound would last only 40 days. And with the cost of a pound of good quality marijuana somewhere north of $3,000, you can see the problems. With help from Carly’s father, the Erwins have spent about $17,000 on cannabis oil medicine. Some of what they got was donated to them. Avery, from Ann Arbor, helped the Erwins find a good strain and advice on how to produce oil.

Today, Alysa lives a pretty much typical teenage life, except she takes cannabis oil. She took driver’s training and passed her licensing test during this period with no problems.

“I didn’t really know anything about it,” says Alysa. “I started watching videos and seeing other people’s stories. I thought I should try it. I was excited to try it. I didn’t want to do that chemo anymore because of the way it was making me feel. I think I would have gave up if I had to keep doing that chemo.”

In the past year, she has started speaking publicly in support of the therapy that saved her life.

“I’m trying to spread the word around what this medicine can do; what it can help,” says Alysa. “The last time I spoke, it was trying to fight for the oil. I’m trying to help people out to get a second chance like I got. I know my family was really scared. I was too. Once I found out about this oil it just gave me hope. That’s what gave me hope for this cancer being gone. I like to let other families know that so they can have that kind of hope.”

In a few weeks, Alysa Erwin will have been officially cancer-free for one year. It will have been more than 36 months since her 18-month death sentence. She continues her cannabis oil treatments.

Need I say more?

Note: A previous version of this article said that Alysa was 4. She was 14.

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