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  • Thank you, Detroit

    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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Review: Gangster Squad

Mobster movies misses the mark

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C+

Though it tries mightily, The Untouchables it ain’t. First of all, screenwriter Will Beall is no David Mamet. And as stylish as director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) can be, he just doesn’t have the cinematic chops to match Brian De Palma. Finally, while Sean Penn’s cartoonish scenery-chewing is good for a chuckle or two, it never comes close to the operatic menace that Robert de Niro brought to Al Capone.

Now, normally I might say that it’s not fair to hold these two films up next to each other. But Fleischer and his team invite the comparisons. Not only does de Niro’s menacing rant, “I want him dead. I want his family dead.” get re-created by Penn as a frothing shriek of, “I want them all dead! … I want their pets dead!” but Gangster Squad’sfinale tries to emulate De Palma’s train station shoot-’em-up (which was borrowed from Sergei Eisenstein’s The Battleship Potemkin, no less) with a hotel grand staircase slow-mo tommy-gun battle that looks like an early ’90s music video. Though adequately entertaining because of its cast, relentless action and setting, Gangster Squad can’t help but play like a third-generation knockoff.

A World War II ex-Special Forces soldier turned cop, John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) is a battering ram of a man, tasked by L.A.’s last honest police chief (Nick Nolte) to put together a secret crew of LAPD outsiders and take down the ruthless gangster Mickey Cohen (Penn) —no easy job when greed and corruption are the rule of the day. In a twist that goes nowhere, O’Mara’s pregnant wife Connie chooses John’s team of incorruptible outsiders and —wouldn’t you know it, they’re a Benetton ad of multiculturism. There’s the grizzled cowboy sharpshooter (Robert Patrick), his trusty Hispanic sidekick (Michael Peña), a geeky communications genius (Giovanni Ribisi), a by-the-book black beat cop (Anthony Mackie), and the oh-so-cool and cocky Ryan Gosling. None are fully-fledged characters, but all look terrific in their period outfits. In case you couldn’t guess, what little personal drama there is involves Gosling falling for Cohen’s dame (Emma Stone).

What might have been Gangster Squad’s most interesting conceit — a WWII vet leading a team of cops to wage military-style warfare against a mobster — ends up being the reason the movie comes across as so incredibly dumb. Not only is O’Mara laughably bad at leading his men into battle, screenwriter Beall often forgets to exploit his own concept. For instance, in a decently staged car chase, it’s Cohen’s goons that think to use grenades on the cops, not the other way around. In another scene, the thugs pull out a military-style machine gun. Meanwhile, Gosling’s character implores O’Mara to get smart about how they fight. It’s advice that goes nowhere. For all the cops’ talk of “The War,” the only lesson the Sarge seems to have learned is “charge that hill!”

Sleek and stylish, it’s clear that Gangster Squad wants to be a brutish, pulpy pastiche. There are plenty of neon lights, perfectly sized fedoras and dames in red dresses. Art-deco is all the rage, shell casings ping off marble floors during gunfights, and the soundtrack boasts a playlist of well-chosen period tunes (the film’s most original touch). But the movie is too glossy to be film noir and too formulaic and shallow to be as hardboiled as, say, L.A. Confidential. Instead, Gangster Squad comes off as the most violent episode of Dragnet ever made —with its jingoistic, might-makes-right flag-waving intact.

Originally slated to be released last summer, the shooting at the Aurora movie theater in Colorado not only pushed Gangster Squad’s release to this January but inspired a reshoot of its biggest action scene —a gunfight in a movie theater (it now occurs in Chinatown). I applaud the filmmakers’ sensitivity to the subject of real-world violence, but can’t help thinking it’s oddly placed in a film that opens with a man being pulled apart by a pair of automobiles.