Trending
Most Read
  • Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well

    By LeeAnn Brown Some people say that hip-hop is dead. Local ban Fderal Ground is proving that is not the case. The seven-member band, consisting of three lead vocalists, a DJ, bass, drums and guitar, plays what they call “living hip-hop.” Their music, peppered with multiple styles, covers all aspects of life from growing up in the D to playing with fire despite knowing you will likely get burned. Their undeniable chemistry and raw lyrics compose a music that is living, breathing, and connecting to their listeners. It has been nearly 11 years since Vinny Mendez and Michael Powers conjured up the basement idea that has flowered into the Detroit funk-hop band Feral Ground. Throughout high school the two wrote and rapped consistently, playing shows here and there. In those years they matched their rap stanzas with the animated, dynamic voice of Ginger Nastase and saw an instant connection. The now trio backed their lyrics with DJ Aldo’s beats on and off for years, making him a permanent member within the last year, along with Andy DaFunk (bass), Joseph Waldecker (drums), and newest member, Craig Ericson (guitar). We sat down with Feral Ground and their manager, Miguel Mira, in their […]

    The post Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law

    Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]

    The post Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week

    Walking with Dinosaurs, a magnificent stage show that features life-sized animatronic creatures from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, will be in town next week. But to preview the show’s run at the Palace, a baby T-Rex will be making an appearance at four area malls to the delight and wonderment of shoppers. Baby T-Rex, as the creature is being affectionately referred to, is seven-feet-tall and 14-feet-long. He’ll only be at each mall for about 15 minutes, so while there will be photo opportunities, they’ll be short. The dino will be at Fairlane Town Center Center Court at 18900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit from 2-2:15 p.m. today, July 30; The Mall at Partridge Creek at 17420 Hall Rd. in Clinton Township from 5-5:15 p.m. today, July 30; Twelve Oaks Mall at the Lord & Taylor Court at 27500 Novi Rd., Novi tomorrow, Thursday July 31 from 1:30-1:45 p.m.; and Great Lakes Crossing Food Court at 4000 Baldwin Rd., Auburn Hills from 5-5:15 p.m., tomorrow Thursday, July 31.  

    The post Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations

    Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through BuildingDetroit.com, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.  

    The post Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial

    We don’t know about you, but usually Nancy Whiskey and Long John Silver’s aren’t two concepts we’d place in the same sentence. However, the international fast food fish fry conglomerate made a nod to the Detroit dive in their latest YouTube commercial. LJS is offering free fish fries on Saturday, August 2, which is the promotion the commercial is attempting to deliver. But, we think we’ll just go to Nancy Whiskey instead.

    The post Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women

    We came across an interesting item this week: Apparently, a music festival with the name “Michfest” is quietly oriented as a “Women-Only Festival Exclusively for ‘Women Born Women.’” It seems a strange decision to us. If you wanted to have a women-only music festival, why not simply proclaim loud and clear that it is for all sorts of women? But if you really wanted to become a lightning rod for criticisms about transphobia, organizers have found the perfect way to present their festival. Now, we know that defenders of non-cisgender folks have it tough. The strides made by gays and lesbians (and bisexuals) in the last 20 years have been decisive and dramatic. But the people who put the ‘T’ in LGBT have reason to be especially defensive, facing a hostile culture and even some disdain from people who should be their natural allies. That said, sometimes that defensiveness can cause some activists to go overboard; when we interviewed Dan Savage a couple years ago, he recalled his “glitter bombing” and said it was due to the “the narcissism of small differences,” adding that “if you’re playing the game of who is the most victimized, attacking your real enemies doesn’t prove you’re most victimized, claiming you […]

    The post Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

Calendar

Calendar

Search thousands of events in our database.

Restaurants

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Nightlife

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

MT on Twitter
MT on Facebook

Print Email

Higher Ground

Seeds of change

Legalization efforts grow from the bottom up

Photo: N/A, License: N/A


Peeling back the layersof cannabis prohibition is like playing a game of three-card Monte. Now you see it, now you don’t. That seems to be the case with decriminalization efforts that won handily in five Michigan cities in November and energized activists. Now local officials are throwing up roadblocks along the route to instituting change.


In Grand Rapids, Proposal 2 amended the city charter to make possession of marijuana a civil infraction punishable by a $25 fine for a first offense. But in December Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth, whose jurisdiction includes Grand Rapids, filed a lawsuit against the city to stop implementation of the law. His argument, in part, is that the amendment is contrary to state law. (I guess he should talk to the folks in Ann Arbor, who have had a similar ordinance in place for a few decades.) Last week, Kent County Circuit Court Judge Paul Sullivan began hearing arguments on whether to allow Grand Rapids to implement the law or not until the lawsuit is settled. No one knows when that will be. No matter which side wins in county court, the other side is expected to appeal the decision. So who knows when this will be settled?


It is interesting that Grand Rapids City Attorney Catherine Mish cited Proposal M’s route to the ballot in Detroit during her argument in favor of implementing the new law. The Detroit Election Commission refused to put Proposal M on the ballot in 2010, arguing that it was contrary to state law. Subsequently the state Court of Appeals ruled that the city had to put Proposal M on the ballot. It passed overwhelmingly in November.


Last week, a Detroit Free Press article reported that Detroit elected officials are “foot-dragging” about implementing Proposal M, which decriminalized possession of as much as 1 ounce of marijuana by an adult on private property. The article quoted City Council President Charles Pugh, who in December said, “I don’t think we can have a local law that is incongruous with state law.”


“The only way the city of Detroit wouldn’t be implementing the law is if they are charging adults who are on private property,” says attorney Matt Abel, executive director of the Michigan Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “If they are charging them on the city ordinance they can be beaten. I would handle that case pro bono. If they arrest someone under city law I think the city would get sued and lose. That is a false arrest. It is not a crime as long as all the conditions of Proposal M are met. They’re just woofing. They have nothing positive to say about it, and so they think they can get away with bullshitting the public with those kinds of statements.”


Regardless of negative reactions from authorities, activists are moving forward. They plan to introduce proposals in another handful of cities for this fall’s elections, including Highland Park and Jackson. It seems like their strategy is to chip away at opposition city by city until they believe they have enough support to make another statewide run. (A statewide petition to put the question on the ballot in 2012 garnered only about a third of the required number of signatures.) Allowing skeptics to see that legalization in one town or another actually works seems like a good way to eventually get statewide reform, although it makes for a convoluted mishmash of laws.


That is sort of what’s happening nationally as state after state legalizes medical marijuana, and now two states have legalized recreational use of the plant. An uneven patchwork of decriminalization has settled over the nation and there is an upward pressure on the federal government to make sense of it all. But we are getting mixed messages on that too. Last week Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske — aka drug czar — released a statement that said, in part, “it is clear that we’re in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana.”


What’s not clear is the nature of the conversation from the federal point of view, so it could be a very rude exchange. And Kerlikowske didn’t say anything substantive other than circulate a transcript of President Obama’s recent interview with Barbara Walters in which the president said, “It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that’s legal.” He went on to talk about reconciling federal law with state laws.


All of this is very vague and noncommittal. However, in the past, Kerlikowske was not vague at all. He has said on a number of occasions that, “legalization is not in my vocabulary and it’s not in the president’s.” We still don’t know what new words they may have recently learned at the drug czar’s office, but the change in rhetoric makes me think that the feds are discussing some positive change in light of the public opinion that has swung more in favor of marijuana legalization.


“It’s a pretty stark shift,” says Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit focused on the message that support for marijuana legalization is a mainstream position. “Of course, what really matters is to what extent the administration actually shifts enforcement priorities and budgets, but I sure do like hearing the U.S. drug czar acknowledge the fact that marijuana legalization is a mainstream discussion that is happening whether he likes it or not.”


Hopefully that discussion leads to some well-defined policy that relaxes prohibition, because right now it’s hard to tell what is going on at many levels. For instance, Obama has said his administration would not go after medical marijuana facilities in states where those laws were in place. In 2009, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that there wouldn’t be any federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries unless they were breaking state and federal law. Yet there have been raids on large operations in California and Montana. Just last Wednesday, Jan. 9, there were federal raids on three Los Angeles area dispensaries. That same day Aaron Sandusky, who ran three southern California medical marijuana dispensaries known as G3 Holistics, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for operating the facilities.


So what is the deal here? Some activists have suggested that some Republican U.S. attorneys (held over from the previous administration) have gone rogue and are operating outside of Obama’s guidelines because the president does not have the political capital to stop them.


“Obama didn’t want to remove U.S. attorneys because Bush got into trouble for removing attorneys in such a political way, but they aren’t following his administration’s policy,” Abel says.


If that’s the case, it’s time to get everybody on the same page. We’ve got states where recreational use of marijuana is legal. Is some attorney in Washington or Colorado going to start arresting people? It’s getting to the point where people are playing municipal laws against state laws, and state laws against federal laws. It’s to the point where strong guidelines need to be defined. People’s lives are at stake. If people are operating in good faith within the provisions of local statutes, it’s neither fair nor just for another authority to swoop in and arrest them.


I’m hoping that this national conversation gets loud and clear very quickly.

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