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NEWS & VIEWS Deplaned
Duggan team conceals recommendation to keep Detroit City Airport in service By Violet Ikonomova
When Detroit officials last
year commissioned a group of consultants and aviation experts to conduct a study on the financially struggling Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport, it was the first time in years that decommissioning the airport and using the land for something other than aviation was on the table. City Airport is said to be one of Detroit’s largest contiguous land parcels, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said whatever its future, the focus would be on job creation. With City Airport said to be home to only about 200 employees, it would follow that Duggan might not see aviation as the best possible use for the site. But would he and his team go as far as manipulating the findings of the study to ensure the airport is closed? Some say yes. In a 60-page final draft of the first phase of the study prepared in December, the consultants and experts recommended keeping the airport and investing at least $23 million to improve it with the goal of luring commercial airlines, which haven’t had regular service there in more than 15 years. “Airports are unique assets which are difficult to replace, and throughout the country general aviation airports seldom break even, and DET can play an important role in the city’s ongoing revitalization due to its strategic location less than five miles from downtown,” the draft of the study reads. “Many business leaders, real estate professionals, and aviation industry stakeholders agree that the airport could be leveraged to attract investment in the aviation facilities and surrounding area.” But when phase one of the study was published and circulated to local media the following month, it had been
Is Detroit’s mayor trying to put an end to aviation at City Airport?
shortened to 39 pages, omitting the recommendation. Also changed were the number of people who participated in the study — and most of the feedback missing was from the aviation community. The discrepancies were recently highlighted in stories by Crain’s Detroit Business and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), a nonprofit aviation advocacy group. Both obtained the draft report through the Freedom of Information Act. In the AOPA story, titled “Detroit airport study was heavily edited” and subtitled “Case for airfield watered down,” the advocacy group pointed out that the first draft said interviews and focus group conversations had been held with “over 80 people, collectively” — a number reduced to 60 in the version that became public in January. Notably present in the initial draft but absent from the final, the publication said, were the names of participating groups including AOPA, the National Business Aviation Association, Coleman A. Young International Airport Education Association, Tuskegee Airmen, and the “new Civil Air Patrol chapter at DET.” The final report says little about the airport’s value, and emphasizes its cost to Detroiters “with little indication that federal grants could cover most of the cost of needed repairs and upgrades,” AOPA reported. The airport has been operating at an annual loss of more than $1 million for years. Also omitted, as pointed out by Crain’s, was a section suggesting that
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Duggan’s office already has plans to convert the entire airport into an industrial park. “The Mayor’s Office current strategy to redevelop the airport is based upon large auto suppliers requiring 40-acre parcels, allowing for up to six users with another 25 acres for commercial and retail redevelopment of the Historic Executive Terminal at the corner of Conner Avenue and Gratiot Avenue,” GRA’s draft report says. “Taken together, the airport and surrounding land could total in excess of 530 acres for industrial users.” But the draft report noted the city would face numerous hurdles if it were to try and sell all or part of the airport land. It would have to pay back an unknown “large obligation” in grants it has received for the airport, and the State of Michigan has right of first refusal for the land. The exact obligation is expected to be determined in the third phase of the study. The omission of details that point to the benefits of aviation is just part of the story, however. The Duggan administration has also been denying “aviation companies, flight schools, or vendors the ability to sign multi-year leases and invest in the facility” as it commissions the study to examine all possibilities for the airport, Crain’s reported. The group Friends of City Airport tells the publication it sees it as an effort to put the airfield out of business. All of this prompted the editor-inchief of Crain’s to publish this month what might be his first-ever public cri-
tique of the mayor. In a column titled, “The end of transparency in Detroit?” Keith Crain said he was “stunned to learn that our mayor’s office edited out part of the report that they clearly didn’t like or agree with.” “That is simply wrong — very wrong — and something that I would have expected under Coleman Young’s administration, not Duggan’s,” Crain said. The city denies its meddling was motivated by a mayor intent on getting his way. “The agreement and the direction given to the consultant was that first phase of the study would present only the facts as they are today regarding airport usage, capital needs, and the overall small aircraft market in the Detroit area, while subsequent phases would explore options and provide recommendations,” Duggan spokesman John Roach says in an email. “Because the consultant included in the phase one draft information that was outside the scope of that portion of the study, it was appropriately removed in the final phase one report.” But Crain isn’t buying it. “Why go to so much trouble to hide good advice?” he writes. “This would seem to be a simple case of censorship by the mayor’s office to eliminate unfavorable conclusions that they didn’t want made public.” “I had always hoped that this mayor believed in complete transparency, but it would appear that that is not the case,” he adds. firstname.lastname@example.org @violetikon
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| April 11-17, 2018
NEWS & VIEWS
Rendering of International Village.
Big trouble in little China, continued
How a bizarre $300M scandal played out in Ypsilanti, Beijing, and Wayne State By Tom Perkins
Surveillance photos from
a Michigan First Credit Union camera on Wayne State University’s campus reveal the answer to a question that’s at the heart of a scandal that played out over the last seven months: Who paid for four Ypsilanti officials to travel to China for 12 days? The officials — Ypsilanti Mayor Amanda Edmonds, Economic Development Director Beth Ernat, Mayor Pro Tem Nicole Brown, and Police Chief Tony DeGiusti — took the trip after Troy-based, Chinese-American developer Amy Xue Foster pitched a $300 million mixed-use development for land near downtown Ypsilanti that would cater to wealthy Chinese students. She first billed it as a “Chinatown” but later amended that to “International Village.” The trip turned into a scandal after our Sept. 27 report revealed that a WSU student group hadn’t funded the trip, as city officials and Foster claimed. The surveillance photos that show the real funding source are part of a report released on Friday to the city by attorney Ed Plato of Plato Law. The Ypsilanti City Council hired him to conduct an independent investigation and determine who paid for the trip. Metro Times obtained a copy of Plato’s summary through a Freedom of Information Act request. Plato — who city council granted subpoena power — reviewed 1,500 pages of documents, bank records, emails, text messages, and bank surveillance photographs, and gathered approximately 20 hours of sworn testimony from city officials, developers, and WSU students.
A detailed 26-page timeline of events that Plato produced reads like a screenplay to a bad crime movie, and illuminates the lengths to which the scandal’s players — specifically, the developer and Ernat — underwent to cover up the funding source. Between airfare and other expenses, the cost is estimated at around $40,000. The story also spotlights the type of cozy relationships that exist between developers and government officials at all levels, and not just in Ypsilanti. Though the report exposes the city officials’ and developers’ ineptitude, it’s not hard to see this playing out differently in more competent hands, or in the absence of strong local media. Plato’s report also puts economic development director Ernat’s hubris on display; offers definitive proof that she repeatedly lied — including under oath in interviews with investigators and city council; and shows that she misled city officials and the public during the months leading up to the trip. Plato also proves that Ernat drafted four “scholarship” letters that she and the development team pretended came from WSU students, and accepted a jade bracelet from Foster. Though Plato doesn’t provide definitive proof that mayor Edmonds lied about her knowledge of the funding source, he casts serious doubt on her claim that she was unaware that Foster paid for the trip, writing “Mayor Edmonds’ testimony is questionable .... ” He also writes that her motivation in getting to the bottom of the funding question had to do with optics and
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nothing to do with a genuine concern to ensure that she was acting appropriately. “Mayor Edmonds testified that she [attempted to learn the funding source] not because she was concerned about where the funding had come from, but because she anticipated public scrutiny on the issue,” Plato wrote. Throughout the investigation, Foster and her associates tried to prevent students ensnared in their scheme from speaking with Plato’s office. In the wake of the report and scandal, economic development director Ernat is no longer employed by the city, and the career of Edmonds — once a rising political star in Washtenaw County — appears to be seriously damaged. She recently announced she won’t seek reelection, and she isn’t running for state office, as many believed she would. The $300 million International Village plan died a slow death in the final months of 2017, after the Metro Times September report. Foster, as we’ve previously reported, is a real estate agent with no apparent experience with large-scale developments in the U.S. Plato’s report confirms that. It’s worth noting that the idea of dropping a Chinese city in the middle of Ypsilanti was fairly ludicrous in the first place. At multiple levels — from funding it through the shady EB-5 Visa program to simply moving thousands of rich Chinese people into a working class American city with no Chinese ties — International Village appeared to be unfeasible. Ultimately, the project that officials trumpeted as the solution to the city’s
deep financial struggles is now nothing more than an embarrassing spectacle for those who bought into Foster’s plan, pushed it over loud objections from residents, and ultimately wasted the city’s time and resources over the course of a year. Foster informally proposed the project in early 2017 before bringing it to city council on May 23. Council approved a letter of intent to sell 28 acres of cityowned land called Water Street just east of downtown Ypsilanti to Foster’s International Village LLC. As part of that effort, she suggested that she fly city officials to Beijing to learn about Chinese culture and see the architecture that would be replicated in Ypsilanti. When Ypsilanti City Attorney John Barr told city council the next day that it would be “illegal and unethical” for the developer to pay for a trip to China, it appeared that officials wouldn’t go. But on Sept. 11, Ernat and Edmonds told city council that the Wayne State University Chinese Scholar and Student Association would fund the trip. That immediately raised red flags — how could a student group that its members say exists to help students buy groceries afford to fly city officials to China to help close on a $300 million development deal? The Metro Times Sept. 27 article debunked that claim, but gaps in the story remained, and no one knew who really paid for the trip — until now. Photos caught on Sept. 8 at Michigan First Credit Union’s Wayne State University branch and bank records show that a Foster associate named Jingmang
Liang deposited $16,800 into WSU’s Chinese Scholar and Student Association bank account around 2 p.m. About 3:30 p.m., he returned to Michigan First with a former student association treasurer and had her pull a cashier’s check for $16,800. Liang then left with the student group’s check. Among several reasons that’s odd is because, before this day, Liang had no known involvement with the student association. But credit union records show that Liang and the treasurer had the student association’s check made payable to Youngs Travel, the agency that bought airline tickets on Sept. 6 for Ypsilanti officials’ China trip at a cost of $16,800. The investigation reveals Liang was at the credit union because he’s Foster’s neighbor and employee. He and Foster attempted to make it appear that the student association had paid for the airfare. It did not. Foster’s company deposited the cash in the student association’s account, the investigation shows, and she said under oath that her son paid for officials’ other travel expenses. But before diving deeper into the specifics of Plato’s investigation, it helps to first recap how it played out in view of residents and city officials who weren’t part of the scandal.
‘Illegal and unethical’ In a May 24 email obtained by Metro Times as part of its own investigation into the funding source, Ypsilanti City Attorney John Barr wrote his opinion of the trip’s legality. “Members of city council have traveled overseas in the past, but only at their own cost,” Barr wrote. “If a city employee or mayor or council member wanted to go to China, it would be OK if they paid for it themselves, but if the developer paid, it would be unethical and illegal under the city code.” The issue appeared settled, but on Sept. 11, Ernat sent out an email to council members and staff notifying them that WSU’s CSSA would fund the trip. “After talking with other agencies about funding opportunities, staff was contacted by Wayne State’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association asking how they could assist in facilitating travel,” Ernat wrote in the email, obtained by Metro Times. “The CSSA determined that they would provide four full scholarships to the city of Ypsilanti for the purposes of traveling to China.” Mayor Edmonds also repeatedly told other council members and the public that the CSSA was funding the trip. On Sept. 19, council was to vote on a purchase agreement to sell the cityowned property to Foster. With the travel ticket in hand, Edmonds and council
approved the measure by a 4-1 vote. On Sept. 21, the officials left for China. However, on Sept. 20, David Strauss, WSU’s dean of students, told Metro Times that the CSSA had no money in its accounts, and never appeared to have the kind of funds needed to cover such a trip. On Sept. 26, Ypsilanti City Manager Darwin McClary told us that the student group hadn’t funded the trip — the Chinese consulate in Chicago provided the money. That represented the first change in the story of who paid for the funds. It’s worth noting that the consulate later denied Ypsilanti officials’ repeated claims that it funded the trip. “We hereby clarify that the Chinese Consulate General in Chicago knows nothing about and has nothing to do with this trip, and there is no such thing as ‘funding the trip,’” Qiwen Shen, a Consulate spokesperson, wrote in an email to Metro Times. Our story revealing inconsistencies in Ernat’s and Edmond’s stories ran on Sept. 27, while officials were still in Beijing. After the council launched its investigation, Edmonds made her first public statement on Oct. 6, admitting that the funding source was not the student association, as she previously allowed officials and the public to believe. Edmonds wrote in the statement that she knew before the trip that the Chinese Consulate in Chicago funded it. That represented the second major change in the story, but that version was also not true. Emails released by city attorney Barr later in the day on Oct. 6 showed that Ernat received the tickets from Foster, and Edmonds was aware of that fact. Those emails contradicted Ernat’s and Edmond’s earlier claims. Then, on Oct. 10, as part of its investigation, council convened a rare investigative hearing during which it issued subpoenas and questioned under oath the four city officials who traveled to China, along with city manager McClary. At the hearing, Edmonds admitted that she knew before leaving for China that the funds for the trip allegedly came from the Chinese Consulate in Chicago and passed through the developer. The latter detail marks the third major change in the story. When asked why she never told the public or other city officials about her knowledge of who bought her ticket, Edmonds replied that she didn’t have time between learning about it on Sept. 19 and leaving on Sept. 21. During the questioning, Ernat expressed little remorse and appeared a bit defiant. She told council that the CSSA paid for the tickets on Sept. 10 “to the best of my knowledge.” But multiple emails released on Oct. 6 showed that
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NEWS & VIEWS to be untrue. Records show that Ernat received multiple emails revealing that the developer purchased the tickets. The city announced on Friday that it would not renew Ernat’s contract. As the investigations continued through the end of 2017, the project fell apart. Her “development team” abandoned her, and council member Pete Murdock declared in November that the project was in “a death spiral.” It officially died with the expiration of the purchase agreement on Dec. 31. The independent attorney’s investigation Still, even as the project died in late 2017, no one knew who paid for the trip. In his 26-page timeline and six-page summary of the scandal, Plato filled in nearly all the gaps. What follows is a summation of his timeline and synopsis. Segments in quotations have been pulled directly from Plato’s report and other segments are paraphrased.
May 2017 Plato notes that Edmonds knew early on that Foster owned Global Capital Group, a company that also was involved with developing International Village. Edmonds concedes in interviews that she received emails from Foster with a signature block showing Global Capital. That’s important because a student later tells Edmonds that Global Capital paid for the trip.
May 23 Council approves a letter of intent to sell the property to International Village LLC, and Foster suggests a trip to China. Plato writes that city manager Darwin McClary immediately found Foster’s offer of a trip inappropriate, which prompted him to seek an opinion from city attorney Barr.
May 24 Barr sends an email to city personnel and city council explaining that it is illegal and unethical for a developer to pay for the China trip.
June 22 “[Builder Spence Brothers’] Wayne Hofmann tells Ernat that he had ‘looked into all the entities’ associated with Amy Foster and did not find much on her, except unpaid credit card debt for $20,000 and a related action in the Oakland County Circuit Court, case no. 11-122906-CK.”
Aug. 4 “Foster transferred $20,000 from the
April11-17, 11-17,2018 2018 | | metrotimes.com metrotimes.com 14 April
International Village bank account to Global Capital Group. On this same day, she wrote to Ernat that she ‘got 4 visa with passport today, Monday will get one more.’” This is notable because it shows the trip was being planned before a student group ever allegedly stepped forward to pay for it.
Around Aug. 21 to 23 “Edmonds and Ernat exchanged several text messages regarding the mayor’s [visa] and the dates the mayor was able to travel. At this time the mayor also exchanged text messages with Foster discussing the delay of receipt of the mayor’s passport and visa. These exchanges were all, of course, before anyone had come forward with an offer to pay for the trip.” “Shanrong Chou, owner of Young’s Travel, testified that Foster paid for the visas for the trip. According to Ms. Chou, the visas cost $180 per person. Because Foster did not want the visas to get lost in the mail, she picked them up from Youngs Travel and personally delivered them to Ms. Ernat, with the exception of the mayor’s which was delayed.”
Aug. 28 “According to Beth Ernat, around Aug. 28, she was contacted by Jinpeng Xue of the WSU CSSA asking her how many people were going to China and what the cost would be. Ernat claims Xue also asked for help in preparing the CSSA scholarship letter at this time.”
Sept. 6 However, it is revealed that Ernat drafted the scholarship letters herself, and Plato appears to catch Ernat lying under oath about who wrote the letters. “On Sept. 6, Ernat sent an email to Foster and [International Village LLC associate] Hal Edwards, attaching a form scholarship award letter, which she drafted, to be used by whichever student group was ultimately going to fund this trip to China. Notably, Ernat did not produce this email or her draft scholarship letter to us or the city council as a part of this investigation. However, this Sept. 6 email and form letter from Ernat seriously calls into question Ernat’s testimony that she was working with Jinpeng Xue of the CSSA to draft this letter because Ernat’s draft letter nowhere mentions the WSU CSSA and was not sent to Jinpeng Xue, but only to Amy Foster and Hal Edwards.” “It also seems to contradict Ernat’s sworn testimony that she could not ex-
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NEWS & VIEWS plain why she would have received the WSU CSSA’s scholarship letter through Foster and [builder] Wayne Hofmann, rather than directly and only from the CSSA.” “Ernat also sent a text message to the mayor to let her know that a ‘U of M student union’ was going to give the city scholarships for the trip. The mayor responded, asking how much and “where does that $$ come from?” Again, this written statement by Ernat calls into question Ernat’s testimony that she worked with Jinpeng Xue of the WSU CSSA to draft their offer letter beginning in August. As of this date, Sept. 6, Ernat apparently believed that the funds were coming from a University of Michigan group rather than the WSU CSSA.”
Also on Sept. 6 International Village issues a check to Youngs Travel, the travel agency that booked the flights, for $16,800. But Youngs owner Chou said under oath that Foster asked the travel agent not to deposit the Sept. 6 check, and wait for a second check. That’s because the second check would come from the CSSA. Chou tells Plato under oath that the $16,800 covered the flights, but not lodging or other expenses. “Foster would not admit paying for the lodging directly, saying, ‘My son paid, not I.’ However, she later conceded that International Village is a ‘family run’ business, although she claims her son does not get paid for his work.”
Sept. 7 Plato further explains how Ernat falsified “scholarship” letters, and how Edmonds should’ve known that the developer paid for the trip. “Edmonds received an email from Ernat attaching the scholarship letter from WSU’s CSSA. Notably, Ernat received the scholarship letter through Wayne Hofmann of Spence Brothers, via an email that explained he received it from Foster. It would seem that this should have alerted both Edmonds and Ernat to an issue as to the origin of the funding.” Plato then explains how Ernat lied under oath. “Ernat explained that the CSSA was aware of Foster’s involvement with this trip and was in communication with her to understand the ‘cultural nature of the trip.’ Ernat testified she now sees how this email from Hoffman and Foster attaching the letter from the CSSA should have been a ‘red flag.’” “However, Ernat’s entire explana-
tion of this issue is questionable as she failed to mention that she drafted the scholarship letter during either of her sworn interviews or her testimony before the city council.”
Sept. 8 Plato introduces Bingwen Wang, the person whose name is on the cashier’s check that is used to pay for the airfare. She’s a former student association treasurer who quit the organization in 2015. She gets roped into Foster’s scheme because even though she’s no longer the treasurer, her name is still on the CSSA’s debit card and bank account. Student association members Peifeng Li and Jiingpen Xue first contact Bingwen Wang about using the CSSA’s account to fund the trip to China, although Bingwen Wang claims she didn’t know the check’s purpose until learning from Plato’s investigation. After an initial call from Peifeng Li, Jiingpen Xue contacts Bingwen Wang to set up a time when they could go to Michigan First together. That was before Sept. 8, and Bingwen Wang assumed she would meet Jinpeng Xue or Peifeng Li at the credit union. But neither show up at the credit union. Instead, Foster associate Jingming Liang, whom Bingwen Wang has never met, contacts her on the WeChat app, and lets her know he’ll be at the credit union. Unbeknownst to Bingwen Wang, Liang would be at the credit union depositing money into the CSSA account 1.5 hours before meeting her. Plato then explains how Liang deposited money in the student association’s account before returning 1.5 hours later to withdraw it with Bingwen Liang. Plato also explains how he knows the money came from Foster’s two companies, International Village and Global Capital Group. Foolishly, Foster made it clear in the notations that she was cutting checks for the CSSA. “The records received from Huntington Bank regarding the accounts for International Village LLC and Global Capital Group LLC demonstrate that the $16,800 cash deposited into the CSSA’s account on Sept. 8 came directly from International Village LLC.” “Amy Foster withdrew $1,500 from the International Village account on Sept. 7. Then, on Sept. 8, Foster wrote the following checks from the account: 1. One check for $8,888 made out to “Cash” with the notation “cover check # 8001 WSU-CSSA”. Exhibit HH. 2. One check for $6,200 made out to Jingming Liang with the notation “cover check #8001 WSU-CSSA”. Exhibit II. In addition to
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The site of the proposed International Village.
these clear references to the WSU CSSA on these checks, these transfers ($1500, $8888, and $6200) total $16,588.” “Therefore, there can be little question that the funds for the cash deposited into the CSSA’s bank account on Sept. 8, originated from Amy Foster and her International Village LLC.” Later that day, Ernat gets a copy of the cashier’s check, and she asks no questions. “Beth Ernat received a text message from the CSSA with a copy of the cashier’s check for the trip. Ernat does not know where the funds came from for the cashier’s check, does not know who Bingwen Wang is (although her name appears on the check) and did not question the fact that the check was a cashier’s check and not from a WSU CSSA account.”
Sept. 11 Ernat informs city council that the CSSA was providing four full scholarships for the China trip.
Plato shows how Ernat attempted to deceive city manager McClary about who paid for the trip. “Beth Ernat emailed [city manager McClary] explaining that she contacted a number of state and local agencies about funding for the trip, but that the WSU student group contacted her first, rather than city personnel reaching out to them.” “This fact should have raised suspicions as to how the CSSA learned of the trip and the need for funding.” “Ernat also forwarded an email from Spence Brothers to [McClary] that attached the WSU CSSA scholarship/ invite letter. As she had in the past, Ernat deleted the note that the email had originally come from Foster before forwarding the message.”
“Peifeng Li replied to Edmonds’ LinkedIn message that the funding for the trip came from Global Capital Group, LLC, a group that Edmonds already knows is run by Foster.” The mayor would claim that she never saw the LinkedIn message before leaving for China, but Plato points out why that’s unlikely. “Edmonds’ testimony is questionable because on Sept. 13 she emailed Jennifer Healy, the city’s FOIA coordinator, indicating that no response had yet been received from the CSSA or Peifeng. However, Edmonds should have been searching for the response from the CSSA when gathering the documents to respond to the FOIA request.” “In any event, Edmonds should have been expecting and looking for a response to this inquiry before leaving for China on Sept. 21. On Sept.18 to 20, the city’s purchase agreement with International Village was approved and signed. Notably, the mayor testified that — just before this city council meeting — she learned … that CSSA groups often receive funds from the Chinese consulate. “The mayor stated in her written response to the council’s questions that she ‘learned that they (the Chinese consulate) were funding the trip through (her) directly asking Foster and Hal Edwards from International Village on Sept. 19.” “However, Foster has testified that the Chinese consulate did not provide any funding for this China trip.”
“Edmonds sent an email and a LinkedIn message to the CSSA asking where the funds for the trip ‘scholarships’ originated. Edmonds testified that she sent these emails not because she was concerned about where the funding had come from, but because she anticipated public scrutiny on the issue.”
“According to emails produced by Foster and Foster’s testimony, Foster and Ernat met in February 2018 to discuss this investigation in preparation for a meeting with a Chinese investor who was coming into town.”
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NEWS & VIEWS Politics & Prejudices
You do know we are falling apart, yes? By Jack Lessenberry
Phil Power established a
chain of suburban newspapers half a century ago, buying some, starting others, and he eventually had dozens of them in Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky. But then things changed. He shrewdly outfoxed Gannett, selling his papers to them in 2004, just before the internet destroyed the economic model of local newspapers by offering classified ads online for free. His move wasn’t personally great for me; I was his last vice president of editorial operations. But Power used some of the money he made to do something good for this state: He founded the nonprofit Center for Michigan, which he calls a “think and do tank.” Its purpose is to help make this state better, and one of the best things they’ve done is start the online magazine Bridge, which publishes some of the best in-depth statewide journalism in Michigan. That includes Power’s column. A couple of weeks ago, one of his columns contained this stunning sentence: “Michigan is in the process of becoming the worst state educationally in the nation.” Well, of course it is. We are, in fact, becoming the worst state in the nation in many ways, and have already achieved that when it comes to roads. The roads are a particularly important symbol of the deeper problem, which frankly is a total failure of government. Government, and democracy. Both have broken down — and I am not sure that even Phil Power realizes how complete and frightening this is. Consider what’s been happening with our roads: The state that once put the world on wheels now has the worst roads in the nation, largely because we’ve been spending less per capita on them than has any other state. That’s appalling. Even more appalling is that the legislature flatly refuses to appropriate the new money to fix them, even though there is a vast statewide consensus that we need to raise taxes to get this done. But they won’t do it, and here’s why: Thanks to outrageous gerrymandering, Republicans control every branch of state government, and most districts are not competitive. That means that no matter what they do, the only threat to their reelection can come in the August GOP primary, where they
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might be defeated by a right-wing candidate even crazier than they. Many of the sitting senators and representatives have signed Grover Norquist’s “taxpayer protection pledge” under which they’ve agreed never to vote to raise taxes for any reason. They know, of course, that the wear and tear damaged roads are now inflicting on our cars costs us more than any tax increase to fix the roads would. But they are afraid to do the right thing. So to protect themselves, they’ve been doing insanely stupid things to pretend to fix the roads: For example, agreeing to take $600 million a year out of the cash-strapped general fund, every year. That will be totally inadequate to do much for the roads, but if this stands, will do great damage to things like education and foster care, which come out of the general fund. They don’t care about that, of course. They also won’t be around to be held accountable. Which is another big problem; most of the Republican state senators who signed off on this won’t be around next year because of term limits. Lots of house members will be gone too. Term limits, together with gerrymandering, have essentially ruined democracy in Michigan. Politicians pick their voters, rather than the other way around, and term limits mean they never have to be responsible for anything they can kick down the road for six or eight years, by which time they are gone forever. People may not understand this completely — but they do understand that the roads and schools have gone to hell, and that the politicians aren’t fixing it. Polls show that only a small minority
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NEWS & VIEWS of Michigan residents have much faith in state government. “Trust in state government deteriorated badly about a decade ago and has never recovered,” Charley Ballard, former chair of Michigan State University’s economics department, told me a couple years ago. “It used to be that a lot more people said they could mostly trust the state government.” “But now that relationship is reversed.” He told me that before the full effects of what state government had done to the water in Flint were known. The percentage that trusts Lansing is probably less now. Any democracy that is held in indifference or contempt by four-fifths of its citizens has a problem that’s likely to eventually face massive protests — and maybe guillotines. We need to find solutions. Doing everything we can to make sure the Voters Not Politicians group’s anti-gerrymandering state constitutional amendment stays on the ballot is the first thing we can do. Those who like our corrupt status quo just fine are doing everything they can to knock it off. There’s a lot more to be done, but we’ll stop there for now. Except for this: It’s way past time to reclaim our democracy. So let’s start.
the board to do its job in exercising due diligence over the way the university was being run. Governor Rick Snyder has more reason than ever to remove all eight trustees, and replace them with an appointed board consisting of four Democrats and four Republicans, Sadly, he’s unlikely to do that. The main person responsible for the board’s inaction is Lansing developer Joel Ferguson, who skillfully manipulated a controlling faction
More mess at MSU: Last month, The Wall Street Journal estimated that the fallout and the lawsuits filed by former Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar’s victims could cost the school half a billion dollars when all the dust settled. Then, things suddenly got worse. Nassar’s boss — Dr. William Strampel, the former dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine — was arrested and thrown in jail, charged with a raft of felonies and misdemeanors of his own. Police said they found on his computer, in addition to child porn and dirty pictures, images of what appear to be female MSU students in sexual poses. Women then began coming forward to say what he had said and done to them. Like any other defendant, Strampel is entitled to be presumed innocent unless convicted, of course. But if he is convicted of any of these charges, you can expect MSU to be hit with a whole new set of lawsuits. Even interim President John Engler has indicated the eventual costs may be passed on to students in the form of a tuition hike. (Mommas, you can’t afford to let your babies grow up to be Spartans.) In any event, this is even further proof of the utter failure of the administration of Lou Anna K. Simon — possibly the worst president in MSU history — and of 20 April 11-17, 2018 | metrotimes.com 20
on the board, cared for nothing except athletics, and shielded the teams from cuts or criticism. Want to know what will happen to him now? Well, instead of being kicked off the board in disgrace, Ferguson, as Metro Times reporter Violet Ikonomova brilliantly reported on March 22, gets to buy 16 acres of the old state fairgrounds at a bargain price. Technically it is a group called Magic Plus, LLC, but Ferguson calls the shots.
There are those who say that then-Governor Jennifer Granholm killed the state fair a decade ago in large part to give her good friend, Joel Ferguson, a chance for some prime land. After all, why should poor kids get to see farm animals when there is money to be made? email@example.com @metrotimes
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NEWS & VIEWS Stir It Up
Toward a sustainable city By Larry Gabriel
The developments we
see around Detroit — from the community gardens to the Midtown economic explosion — don’t really mean a thing unless they are sustainable and can serve as foundations for even bigger steps to be taken. People and organizations across the city have been struggling in their communities just to hang on and make a difference. And they have, from folks who walk the streets picking up trash to church volunteers who help seniors get meals or a trip to the grocery store. Unfortunately, all too often those efforts are just enough to survive when we really want to thrive. As encouraging as community gardens are, many need to grow into niche market farms. Food entrepreneurs need to find their products and connect with customers. There are recycling stations here and there, along with a couple of neighborhoods that have curbside service. But recycling needs to go citywide, and it would help if someone around here could get a handle on processing the trash and creating new products out of it. One strategy to create sustainability and thrive is to create synchronicity between the many disparate efforts in order to effect a more unified whole rather than scattered islands in a sea of woe. It would help if there were more synchronicity between city departments and the efforts of this church or that community group in terms of planning and resource management. About a year ago, the city of Detroit took a step in that direction in creating the Office of Sustainability with the mission “guide the city’s efforts to strengthen the economic, social, and environmental well-being of the city’s residents, neighborhoods and businesses.” Now the Office of Sustainability and its director, Joel Howrani Heeres, are taking a substantial step into the community with the Sustainability Action Agenda process to gather input from residents and organizations to identify what people want in their
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communities, and strategies to help achieve those goals. “The idea is to have an ongoing dialogue across the city to help that agency come up with something that is actionable and will have short- and long-term impacts,” says Guy O. Williams, president and CEO of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice (DWEJ). DWEJ, along with longtime nonprofit EcoWorks Detroit, will be joined by companies including AECOM and SAGA Marketing to make up the Office of Sustainability’s consulting team. That’s a lot of acronyms to keep track of, but it’s nothing next to the number of groups and individuals they intend to engage. “We are responsible at the end of the day that people all over the city have an opportunity to participate,” says Williams. “We must make sure that people are heard and that it’s demonstrative that they are heard in the evolution of the project. ... We’re starting with a blank slate, nothing is already predetermined about this.” That means folks should actually see that their ideas have an impact on what happens. The process is taking off now. The Office of Sustainability is taking applications for “sustainability ambassadors,” a temporary job for citizens to boost the city, and to seek ideas from people in their neighborhoods. The plan is that ambassadors will organize sessions with community organizations, schools, businesses, block clubs, faith communities, and
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NEWS & VIEWS Five years is a long time, but at that point it would be the success of a nearly 40-year battle against the pollution machine. other neighborhood groups. Applications can be made at tinyurl.com/ ycl8yrge and the deadline is 3 p.m. on Wednesday April 18. Be ready to go if you apply. Notification of acceptance is scheduled for April 20 and a mandatory all-day training session is on April 29. That’s just in time for the April 30 kick-off date. In addition, Williams says that there will be opportunities for people to drop in at the DWEJ office to share your thoughts with them. Or you can email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. A March 27 announcement from Heeres says, “The Action Agenda process works to create an overarching strategy and framework for sustainability actions in Detroit that aligns city and community actors around a common set of outcomes and goals.” This sustainability initiative is an attempt to get more people on the same page around issues such as access to healthy food, transportation, affordable housing, lower utility bills, and clean and healthy neighborhoods. Waste treatment is one topic that has been a particularly thorny issue in Detroit since the trash incinerator began operating in the 1980s. At the time, it was the largest municipal incinerator in the world. It became known for spewing pollutants and bad smells, and contributing to the high asthma rate of Detroit children. (See this week’s cover story for a closer look at all this.) Since then, efforts to shut the thing down by community and environmental groups have fallen on unresponsive ears. But Williams sees ways to curtail the incinerator that do not involve a direct assault against the facility — now, ironically renamed Detroit Renewable Energy. “There could be strategies around that to starve that machine to death,” he says. “That’s why recycling is so important. … Make it not profitable to operate. That’s a likely scenario in the next five years.” Five years is a long time when
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you’re breathing non-respirable gases and particles, but at that point it would be the success of a nearly 40-year battle against the pollution machine. Looking at the history of the incinerator illustrates some things that this new sustainability perspective is supposed to work. The incinerator may have seemed like a good idea and a moneymaker for the city leaders. It really didn’t pan out, and real harm was done to citizens. Among the considerations for a given project, Williams says the process will consider, “What could be the downside of implementing this idea? Who could be adversely affected? … Any major decision needs to balance community, economic, and environmental concerns.” That sound like the triple bottom line touted in the ranks of progressive entrepreneurs in Detroit. Now it seems to be resonating into the halls of officialdom. Maybe the listening skills of folks downtown are getting better. “I want to emphasize that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason,” says Williams. “There is some proportionality there.” The whole thing sounds good. The idea of cars sounded pretty good too. The automotive industry made Detroit a technological wonder and made fortunes for some. However, a century later we know that cars have been among the biggest contributors to spreading pollution across the Earth. Could it have been foreseen? I doubt that anyone was asking those kind of questions at that time. The idea of sustainability has its roots in the social justice movement of the 1980s. It’s most basic sense is that development meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. If that’s how the city of Detroit is approaching things now, it means the noise outside is finally filtering into the mainstream. email@example.com @gumbogabe
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Detroit’s big burner, the waste-to-energy plant of Detroit Renewable Power.
PHOTOS BY JAY JURMA
Why the Detroit incinerator is costly, dirty, smelly, dangerous — and unnecessary By Michael Jackman
Detroit’s Farnsworth Street neighborhood presents a stark contrast with much of the surrounding area. While disinvestment and decline have taken their toll on much of the east side, Farnsworth, especially one block of it, remains thickly planted with houses, backyard gardens, and neighborhood gathering spaces. Many of the households are families, and gaggles of children playing on the sidewalk add to the neighborhood’s vitality. Despite the lively street scene, the residents of Farnsworth, like an estimated 7,280 other Detroiters, all live within one mile of a major qualityof-life issue — Detroit’s big burner,
the waste-to-energy plant of Detroit Renewable Power. The facility burns garbage to generate steam and electricity. In terms of tons-per-day capacity, it’s probably the largest facility in the country. It’s also often the source of a horrible stench, as rotting garbage waits to be burned. Residents say the noise it generates can be loud enough to rattle windows a mile away. And its stack is the source of health-threatening pollution, including particulates and sulfur dioxide. A decade ago, the ZIP codes near the facility had the highest rates of asthma hospitalization in Detroit — where the asthma hospitalization rate
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is already triple the state average. Melissa Cooper Sargent, 44, is a mother of four who has lived within a mile of the incinerator for almost eight years. So far, her own children have avoided health problems, but she can quickly name several neighbors whose children have developed asthma or other health issues. “Once you become a parent,” she says, “you become hyper-aware of children being exposed to effects. It can affect their development. Their immune systems are not as strong as ours. They breathe more air and eat more food pound for pound, so they’re ingesting more.” Her neighbor Lori Cataldo, 43, also a
mother with a child at home, has a list of complaints about the incinerator, especially the smell of garbage waiting to be burned and the noise of the facility. “There are times when — oh, man — you’ve got to go inside for a little bit and wait for this to blow over,” she says. “It seems like it’s at its worst on Sundays, when people are having their family gatherings in their gardens or kids are out playing. We have a meditation booth on the corner of Frederick and Elmwood, and every Sunday morning we sit for about an hour. But, depending on which way the wind’s blowing, we’ll have to get up and go sit in a greenhouse, or just get up and go. And
we call DEQ [the state’s Department of Environmental Quality] every time. Everyone’s got the number.” And the noise bothers Cataldo day and night. “I feel like that’s a fairly new thing,” Cataldo says, “like, within the past couple years? It hasn’t always been there. I have to close our windows some days. When the machines’ on it’s like there’s a jet or a helicopter or some engine right over your house, just whoosh-whoosh-whoosh. It’s so loud, and sometimes it’s at 3 a.m.”
How did a greenhouse-gas-emitting big burner end up in the middle of a densely populated Detroit neighborhood? For the answer, we have to go back to the 1970s, a time when — believe it or not — the idea didn’t seem as outrageous as it does today. Of course, almost 50 years ago, Detroit was a different world. The background level of pollution was higher. The Environmental Protection Agency was newly created. The energy crisis was in full swing. Leaded gasoline was only beginning to be phased down. And anxieties about population growth and other concerns had city officials worried about available space for landfills. The solution, some experts said, was to build incinerators to burn trash, produce energy, and use state-of-theart technology to reduce pollution to negligible levels. In 1975, with the approval of then-Mayor Coleman A. Young, planning began in Detroit for one of the largest waste-to-energy facilities in the country. The incinerator’s supporters envisioned the plant as a revenue-generator for Detroit: Suburban communities would clamor for the right to send their garbage to Detroit’s cheaper-than-landfilling burner, which would then provide inexpensive energy to heat and power downtown’s office buildings, with almost no pollution. But almost as soon as the plant began being built, it became clear that environmental controls wouldn’t be as stringent as originally envisioned. For instance, it was revealed that a burner planned for San Francisco by the same company contracted to build Detroit’s would have more effective pollution controls. During test burns of Detroit’s incinerator in 1988, workers grew ill, suffering blisters and rashes, nosebleeds, and swollen throats. At one point, employees were warned not to wear their work clothes home to protect their families. By the time the plant was opened in 1989, amid turbulent public protests, the costs had become enormous. The city issued $478 million in bonds to construct the facility, and then, in 1990,
package deal bought last year by Basalt Infrastructure Partners II LP and DCO Energy. As the world changes around it — with the rise of recycling, the affordability of landfills, growing awareness of environmental justice, a culture that increasingly frowns on pollution, anxiety over climate change — the facility at the intersection of I-75 and I-94 continues to sputter, smell, and smoke, all while draining money from the city it helped bankrupt. Why is that? We asked the people who have opposed it, some of them for decades, for an answer.
William Copeland is the climate justice director for the East Michigan Environmental Action Council, and is active with the Breathe Free Detroit campaign.
after Lansing demanded upgraded air pollution control equipment for the plant, the city had to take on another $179 million in debt. Before the plant was even paid off, the city sold it to a private owner in 1991 for a mere $54 million. Only in 2009, 20 years after the facility opened, did Detroit pay off the tab, which, including interest, amounted to at least $1 billion. According to analysis by the Ecology Center in 2008, the city’s total spending reflected a cost of $172 a ton to burn its trash and then send the remaining toxic ash to a dump. Meanwhile, a coalition of a dozen southern Oakland County communities paid $18.75 a ton to send garbage to a landfill. In 2010, the opportunity to renew the city’s contract with the incinerator was put before the Bing administration’s appointees on the Greater Detroit Resources Recovery Authority, or GDRRA (often pronounced Ghidorah, for the three-
headed flying monster of the Godzilla movies). Despite the glut of affordable landfill space in Michigan, the quasipublic entity responsible for Detroit’s waste stream locked Detroit into another long-term deal with the burner. Even as the economy turned south and Detroit faced bankruptcy, the giveaways kept coming. In 2008, the state had redefined waste-to-energy power as “renewable,” making the facility eligible for valuable green energy credits. In 2011, the facility’s new owners came to Detroit City Council seeking $4.1 million in brownfield credits. The request was granted. In 2013, the owners completed a deal with the Michigan Strategic Fund for $55 million in tax-exempt bonds. It would seem that the incinerator lives something of a charmed life in a changing world. The burner has passed from owner to owner, now under the same corporate umbrella as the century-old downtown steam system, a
One of the most obvious annoyances of the incinerator is apparent to anybody driving down the freeway on a muggy, hot, summer day. In the still summer air, all the trash that waits for incineration does exactly what trash does in warm temperatures: It rots. As it rots, it sends up a rancid stink that can spread out for more than a mile in every direction. This is the problem activists have had the most success complaining about. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has been responsive to these grievances, and the facility entered into a consent judgment with the state’s attorney general in 2014. But William Copeland, the climate justice director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council, points out that the odor is just as easy to misinterpret as it is to register. “I remember, as a kid, we would drive on the freeway, and it would just stink,” he says. “We’d be like, ‘It stinks. Ugh, Detroit stinks.’” “For a lot of people, that’s all they know. They don’t know where the smell is coming from, much less that that smell is a violation, or that they can do something about it.” “That sort of messaging is the first part of the public campaign, to let people know that there’s something that’s not right here,” Copeland says. “So we say, ‘No, that’s an incinerator, and they’re violating their permit. And if it stinks, call this number and report them, and somebody will come and check on them, which actually has a tangential effect of costing the facility money.’ That’s very different than, ‘Ugh, Detroit stinks.’” It’s the kind of educated response Copeland helps spread with Breathe Free Detroit, a campaign he and other environmental activist groups joined forces in 2016 to create. “We wanted to create a separate vehicle to bring this issue of incineration to a new generation, to make it a live issue so that people know what’s going on,” Copeland says. “We’ve been successful touching the 20-year-olds, whether they’re the young activists or just people who’ve moved to Detroit, some combination of young Detroiters. A whole new
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FEATURE group of people has come in.” “The reason why we get on the smell is because, legally, that’s what’s moving MDEQ,” he says. “We don’t have a legal arm to grasp on the emissions right now, though we’re definitely concerned about it, but the smell is a nuisance violation. And MDEQ is more responsive to that.”
But the incinerator does more than smell: It releases allowable amounts of toxic chemicals and particulate emissions. According to the analysis by Community Action to Promote Healthy Environments, emissions from the DRP facility can be linked to premature deaths, hospitalizations, childhood asthma, and more. But the big burner often blows over the limit, and when it does, it’s fair to say MDEQ gives it the benefit of the doubt. The department’s mission was outlined for it by its creator Gov. Rick Snyder. According to its website, one of the DEQ’s three “guiding principles” is to be “partners in economic development.” As a regulatory body, it often resorts to discretion when dealing with those who break the rules again and again. When those negotiations are complete, sometimes several violation are bundled into one, sometimes an isolated exceedance will not be alleged, and sometimes even when it is there may be no penalty attached to it. As Nick Leonard of Great Lakes Environmental Law Center puts it, “Our problem with MDEQ is, they entered an administrative consent order with the facility but they didn’t include allegations for many of the exceedances of air emissions standards that have occurred. MDEQ is free to exercise their enforcement discretion so they can say, ‘We’re going to assess a penalty for this violation and not for this one.’ And so we basically did a FOIA request to figure out just how many times the facility had exceeded air quality standards.” Leonard and his group have found that, since the start of 2013 until the third quarter of 2017, the incinerator has exceeded air emissions standards 700 times. “But a lot of those were basically exceedances that MDEQ decided not to pursue enforcement action on for whatever reason,” he says. But the fact that the incinerator regularly exceeds emission limits of harmful gases doesn’t touch upon the facility’s particulate emissions. Particulate matter is made up of tiny pieces of solid exhaust that come out of the incinerator’s stack. They are often classified as PM10 — the
Galen Hardy sometimes educates the public by setting up shop on a corner in the neighborhoods: “We try to explain to residents the trash never ‘goes away,’ because once you dump it in a black container, it all gets burned up and it comes back to us by way of air pollution.”
coarser matter around 10 microns across — and PM2.5 — particles 2.5 microns across and smaller. Leonard says the incinerator doesn’t test for the smaller matter, which can actually pass into the bloodstream via the lungs, contributing to respiratory and cardiovascular. “They basically use the coarse particulates — the PM10 — as basically just an indicator of what those fine particulates might be,” Leonard says. But while researching the facility, Leonard and others discovered that,
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around late 2015 and early 2016, for a period of at least 64 days, one boiler released exhaust monitored without operational pollution control technology for particulate matter. “There was a sustained violation of the particulate matter standard. There was a corroded hole in their pollution control technology that allowed particulate matter to essentially bypass it and to escape into the stack and then go out into the surrounding environment,” Leonard says. “So what we know is that that corroded
hole was there for at least 64 days when that specific boiler was in operation. What we don’t know is how long it was there before they conducted that test.” The emissions, a known cause and trigger of asthma, may have gone on longer. The outcry about these air pollution exceedances came to a climax last year, after the MDEQ drew up a draft consent order that considered penalizing the facility $149,000 over a mere handful of the 379 violations involving sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and par-
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FEATURE As the world changes around it, the facility continues to sputter, smell, and smoke, all while draining money from the city it helped bankrupt. ticulate matter. The department held a public hearing to allow the incinerator’s neighbors a chance to squawk. Activist Will Copeland remembers: “We did great as far as education and turnout. I don’t think they expected so many people to be at this meeting, and to hear about dozens of messages saying that they should fine them more. If you break it down by fine by period of time covered, they turn out to be very minuscule per violation. That hearing was all these people saying this one thing and two people saying this other thing.” That meeting also drew Farnsworth street moms Lori Cataldo and Melissa Cooper Sargent. Cooper Sargent recalls how she, her neighbors, and about 50plus people in total testified for two or three hours about how the incinerator negatively impacted their lives. She and others forcefully demanded that, for violating clean air laws, they should be fined appropriately, not slapped on the wrist. “And then the MDEQ takes all that testimony,” she says, “and comes back months later saying, ‘We looked at all of the testimony and we’re not changing anything.’” “So I’m left asking why? Why did we go there and talk to them and spend all that time? Also, what really boggles my mind is, they have a consent agreement, so when the facility violates clean air laws, the facility has negotiating power about what they’re going to pay as a result of their violations. It’s just mind-boggling how much power the facility has — even though they’ve broken the law.” Ultimately, the facility paid fines of $149,000 for a half-dozen violations. The nine continuous weeks of excess particulate emissions were counted as one single violation. More than 300 violations of carbon monoxide releases were excused because they occurred during startup, shut-down, or due to a malfunction. Many others, however, were not alleged as violations solely at the discretion of MDEQ. Leonard and others insist the resulting fines are not enough to change the
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company’s behavior. After spending some time looking over the incinerator’s records from 2017, Leonard says he doesn’t see practices that are all that different from the past. Little to nothing has changed. Many of the activists we spoke with insist, however, that MDEQ, as a department, is full of good people trying to do a job in a tough environment. The department itself has been a political football almost since its inception. In the last year, Democratic lawmakers have proposed giving citizens more oversight, and Republican legislators have proposed giving industry groups final say over its decisions. In the end, the department is compelled to engage in a process. While many staffers understand citizens would like to see polluters socked in the pocketbook, the law dictates a formal, gradual approach. Malcolm Mead-O’Brien, who works in environmental enforcement with MDEQ’s Air Quality Division, even goes as far as saying he’s sympathetic to the perspectives of frustrated citizens, but that the negotiation process, though imperfect, gives the department a better chance to bring the facility into compliance. “We have a legal obligation to go to a facility that is in noncompliance and give them an opportunity to discuss it, present their facts, and to enter into an administrative settlement,” he says. “If they don’t want an administrative solution and we still believe there’s a violation, then we may refer that to the Department of the Attorney General. If it’s a repeat violation … we may very quickly end up at the Attorney General’s office.” And even then, settlements would still be part of a process where a jury or a judge would negotiate penalties. Given these realities it’s easy to see why enforcement officers believe it’s better to have a facility’s operators sitting at the same table than across from them in court. Ultimately, the place where the rubber really meets the road is in the political decisions that govern a department, its processes, and its guiding principles. Or to quote MDEQ head Heidi Grether regarding another controver-
Melissa Cooper Sargent (left) and Lori Cataldo are two mothers raising children within about a mile of the incinerator.
sial matter, the department’s decision to OK Nestlé’s water takings in Osceola County — even though almost 90,000 Michiganders contacted the department urging the permit be rejected — Grether said “but most of them related to issues of public policy which are not, and should not be, part of an administrative permit decision.”
Over the last decade, as recycling programs have made headway in the suburbs and slowly expanded in the city, activists have come to a realization: One of the main obstacles to local recycling programs is the appetite of a giant garbage-to-energy plant built to service a population of 1 million people. Margaret Weber, convener of the group Zero Waste Detroit, says, “Having that great big thing that needs to be fed has meant that any culture of waste reduction or minimization was moot. What it does is it drives the imperative to feed it.” Since the garbage that produces the most BTUs in an incinerator are typically the easiest to recycle, the facility presents an obstacle to recycling. So much so that part of the deal Detroit made to get the plant included an ob-
ligation that the city send its trash to the incinerator. Only recently have activists begun to chip away at that obligation. Weber and her colleagues, Sandra Turner-Handy and Galen Hardy, work tirelessly to help point the city away from incineration and toward recycling, from advising members of City Council to educating individual Detroiters on the street. The group worked with Councilwoman JoAnne Watson’s task force on environmental justice and emerged as the primary advocates pushing the city to do recycling. Thanks to their consistent advocacy, the city started a pilot program, expanded it, and finally established provisions in city contracts with waste haulers that they must offer recycling. In 2009, the group declared a victory of sorts when the city was no longer contractually bound to send trash to the incinerator anymore. “That was a great thing,” TurnerHandy says. “You know, Detroit could send one bag and we would meet our obligation.” That set the stage for the group to educate Detroiters, which then ramped up recycling and saved trash from being burned. Hardy,
April 11-17, 11-17, 2018 2018 || April
FEATURE who sometimes educates the public by setting up shop on a corner in the neighborhoods, says, “We try to explain to residents the trash never ‘goes away,’ because once you dump it in a black container, it all gets burned up and it comes back to us by way of air pollution. So it’s important that residents make informed choices, that they can say, “Hey, I’m not going to participate and keep throwing my trash in this black container so it can be burned up. What I’m going to do is make a conscious effort to recycle and hopefully remove that from the waste stream.’” If it were up to Detroiters, there might no longer be enough trash to keep the burner fired up. And given the shrinking city and expanding recycling efforts, the incinerator’s future would be in doubt. Except for one thing: As Hardy puts it, “They could always bring in more trash to replace our trash.” “Even though we have more and more residents learning to recycle, which is reducing the amount of trash for incineration,” Turner-Handy says, “they are able to replace it with trash from the surrounding suburbs.” Just how much incinerator-bound trash comes from Detroit and how much comes from its suburbs is a hotly contested matter. Turner-Handy says that reports from the incinerator and the city of Detroit to Wayne County for 2015 and 2016 showed only 19 or 20 percent coming from the city, and an astonishing 67 percent coming from Oakland County. “When we said that at the public hearing,” Weber says, “they turned around and adjusted their reports.” Weber says Detroit Renewable Power’s adjusted numbers almost doubled the amount of trash they said was sourced from Detroit. And yet when a lawyer examined the invoices submitted by the facility to GDRRA in 2016, his findings supported the original filings: The invoices showed that Detroit sent 200,110 tons of solid waste to the incinerator in 2016, representing 22 percent of the waste received by the burner that year. Weber and company are still waiting for an explanation from Wayne County, which still hasn’t resolved the matter to their satisfaction. The very thought that the city’s trash is replaced by trash from the suburbs creates another problem for street-level activists trying to steer Detroiters toward recycling. TurnerHandy says, “Even though we’re push-
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ing to change the culture of residents in the city of Detroit, to reduce the impact of the incinerator on the health of the residents — you know, because whatever we’re recycling they’re making up for with someone else’s trash, I feel sometimes that I’m really not telling the truth because the impact is the same. And that’s discouraging to people who truly believe that this is an environmental justice issue because the trash is coming from wealthier communities.” Activists also point out that Detroit is contractually bound to pay more to burn its trash than surrounding communities — $25 a ton, versus the $15 a ton paid by Warren or the Grosse Pointes, for instance — at least until 2021.
Another wrinkle of this story is the revelation that the trash reportedly doesn’t even need to be burned to furnish customers with steam. “They can burn natural gas,” Weber says. “We’ve seen it happen,” TurnerHandy adds. About eight years ago, Detroit Thermal, owners of the steam grid, and Covanta, owners of the incinerator, could not come to an agreement on the price of steam. And the incinerator shut down. “For a few days,” Weber says, “Detroit Thermal bought their energy. They used natural gas and provided the steam that was needed. So we know it can be done with natural gas. We actually were in the plant watching this. The then-president of Detroit Thermal told us to our faces, ‘No, we aren’t shutting down. We have to service our customers. We’re using natural gas. It’s not a problem.” Weber and Turner-Handy don’t mean to say they’re proponents of fracked natural gas, but they note it produces fewer greenhouse gases and fewer particulate emissions than trying to burn garbage.
As the end of Detroit’s contract with the incinerator in 2021 approaches, a chorus of voices ask whether the charmed life of the big burner will finally come to an end. Many of the forces that have been kind to the facility over the years are in retreat. Detroit’s “comeback” offers a kind of counterweight to the dealmaking that brought the plant into existence. With thousands more people work-
Sandra Turner-Handy is community engagement director for the Michigan Environmental Council and has been a tireless advocate of curbside recycling.
ing, living, and playing in the mid-city area, people of means will now offer resistance to the smells, noises, and pollution produced at the facility. The plant was built at a time people were making vows to never go south of Eight Mile Road again. Now there are four professional sports teams playing within a few miles of the smokestack, not to mention new housing across the expressway and potentially a new justice campus a kilometer away. Recycling is ascendant. If the wasteto-energy plant were to be replaced by a materials recovery facility, or MeRF, it could provide dozens more jobs and help the region recover some of the hundreds of millions of dollars in recyclable materials it landfills or burns every year. Coming out of a winter when parts of the Arctic Sea have been open water only underscores the importance of tackling greenhouse gases and climate change. High-profile cases from Flint to the
Detroit riverfront have galvanized the environmental justice movement. Changing perceptions of Detroit make it look less promising as a dumping ground for airborne pollution. These days, state and local government have actual personnel working on these issues. The state of Michigan has environmental task forces and environmental justice work groups. Detroit has an Office of Sustainability, and the most recent Detroit city charter names recovery and recycling as a priority. Mayor Mike Duggan has signed Detroit onto the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, which includes a commitment to reduce the city’s carbon emissions to below 1990 levels. As anti-incinerator activists note, shutting down the burner could help Duggan make good on that promise. Meanwhile, other key players are charting different directions. DTE Energy once had a strong interest in
the incinerator, buying its renewable energy credits every year. In 2008, they represented the majority of DTE’s renewables; 10 years later, they add up to just 4 percent of the company’s portfolio. Even the corporations that buy and sell the plant have come and gone so often you wonder if the plant is being squeezed for its last penny. Then there’s the lifespan of the plant itself to consider. Weber, Hardy, and Turner-Handy say that the question isn’t whether the facility will close, but when — and you get the sense that, for them, tomorrow wouldn’t be soon enough. “These facilities close,” says environmental lawyer Leonard. “It’s not like there haven’t been incinerators that have closed before. And it usually happens because there’s a groundswell of energy that says, ‘We don’t want this anymore.’ Eventually that groundswell reaches people with political power.” Leonard sees some hope on the
horizon. “At the end of the day, he says, “Detroit still has some say in how Wayne County handles its trash. The city still has some leverage. The city still owns property the incinerator is on. The city leases that property to GDRRA. The sublease between GDRRA and the facility expires in 2035.” But will some smooth political fixers step in to try to re-up the agreement? And, given the lack of any actual regional solution to metro Detroit’s solid waste problem, will the authorities just try kicking the can down the road? “I don’t doubt it,” Leonard says. “I don’t doubt that there are people involved with that facility that have the ears of important people downtown.” “Otherwise … how could it operate right now?”
| April 11-17, 2018
Roast duck noodle soup.
Expanding metro Detroit’s Chinese noodle conversation By Tom Perkins
It’s no secret that John R and
Dequindre roads in Madison Heights are some of the best stretches for eating in metro Detroit. The sea of strip malls that comprise the suburb are stocked with excellent Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese restaurants, where you can go for everything from bahn gio to squirrelshaped fish. And, man, Madison Heights just keeps getting better, even if the deserving restaurants here will never get the consistent media attention that those in downtown Detroit or hipper suburbs receive. Exhibit A includes two new Chinese noodle spots, Noodletopia — which Metro Times recently visited — and Kung Fu Noodle House. What sets apart their bowls is that they make and hand-stretch their own noodles in house, thus the fresh noodles take center stage. But it’s a crowded stage, as much of what you’ll eat here is busy with flavor. The seafood noodle bowl is Kung Fu’s banger, with a relatively subtle-but-deep broth flavored by ginger, soy, and garlic. It’s stocked with plenty of mussels, whole shrimp, scallops, and bok choy, and is so good that I’ll even give it a pass for using imitation crab meat sticks (the hot dog of the sea). Kung Fu fills the bowl with wheat flour noodles — mien — that are
around 10 inches and slightly doughy. The Taiwanese beef noodle soup and the spicy beef brisket noodle soup are solid, if not quite stand-and-point delicious. Kung Fu stocks its Taiwanese bowl with well-marbled hunks of beef and a broth spiked with chilis, garlic, chili bean sauce, ginger, bok choy, and mien. The spicy beef brisket is similar but with shredded beef and fat, and is made a little more electric with a heavy dose of Sichuan peppercorns. For those who like Peking duck, the roast duck noodle is a good starting point. It arrives with pieces of roasted duck bobbing in a deep, salty, warm broth. Though the broth in the fried pork chop noodle bowl was a little mild and thin for my liking, the breaded pork chop that’s served on the side with some barbecue sauce makes it a worthwhile dish if a Chinese schnitzel is your thing. Kung Fu’s red curry vermicelli soup is a take on a Thai dish and filled with large hunks of fried chicken, cauliflower, greens, and a generous portion of clear, chewy mung bean noodles — or cellophane noodles. The broth is also slightly thick and bites a bit, and, like most other soups here, it reached a certain threshold. Kung Fu also offers a line of barbecue
34 April 11-17, 2018 | metrotimes.com
skewers that’s a different game from what you’ll find in some of the nearby Chinese barbecue houses. Each option arrives with the same rub, which is salty, slightly sweet, and radiates a bit of heat. It’s uniformly applied to all options, which is a good or bad thing, depending on how you feel about the seasoning. We tried the beef, chicken, lamb, fish tofu, shrimp, mini sausage, and whole quail sticks. Of those, the standouts were the shrimp, which arrives with a skewer through two whole large orange crustaceans; the fish tofu, which is something like a different version of the aforementioned sea hot dogs; and the mini sausages, which will remind you of cocktail sausage. Though it was good, it would be nice to see different spices applied to the different vessels. Surely there’s something in the spice rack that works better with quail than sausage, and vice versa. Of Kung Fu’s appetizers, the salted crispy chicken is a pass as it arrived with too much thick breading that hides the bird. The cold sesame seaweed salad isn’t what you’re expecting if you order similar dishes at local sushi restaurants — these are long, noodle-like strands of seaweed in which you can still taste the sea. The best option is the spicy cold chicken which comes submerged in a mean-
Kung Fu Noodle House 31151 Dequindre Rd., Madison Heights 248-268-2171 Handicap accessible $1.50 for a barbecue stick up to $12 for an entree 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
looking, gravely, crunchy mix of scarlet chili oil, chili peppers, mouth numbing Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, and green onions. That mixture flavors hunks of light and dark meat roasted chicken, and it offers some of Kung Fu’s best bites. As for the ambiance, expect a straightforward, clean room with about 50 seats that nearly fills up during peak hours — and the service is always excellent. Since two restaurants trading in very similar cuisine opened around the same time just down the street from one another, the question that one hears in conversation is, “To which of Madison Heights’ Chinese noodlemakers do you pledge allegiance?” It’s tough to argue with Noodletopia’s repertoire, noodles, and approach, but the seafood bowl at Kung Fu can hang with just about any plate in metro Detroit. Perhaps this town is big enough for the both of them, and it’s likely that there’s more to come.
| April 11-17, 2018
What’s Going On
A week’s worth of things to do and places to do them By MT staff Stormy Daniels, Wednesday, April 11, Truth Detroit.
WEDNESDAY, 4/11 Stormy Daniels’ ‘Make America Horny Again’ tour @ Truth Detroit
WTF Who would have thought a porn star would be more poised than the Secretary of Education while being grilled on 60 Minutes? In the wake of revelations of an alleged affair and cover-up with President Donald Trump, Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) will take to the pole as part of the “Make America Horny Again Tour,” where the actress is expected to strip alongside a Trump impersonator and sign autographs. Daniels had postponed her Detroit appearance last month due to strep-throat and we couldn’t be more excited to see her in tip-topless shape.
Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m., 10 p.m., and 1 a.m.; 6200 E. Eight Mile Rd., Detroit; 313-7334598; truth-detroit.com; Tickets are $20.
THURSDAY, 4/12 Jo Koy @ Royal Oak Music Theatre
COMEDY It takes a special person to be able to rag on their own battle with sleep apnea. And you know what? That special person is Jo Koy, the FilipinoAmerican stand-up comic who is far from coy when it comes to calling out his mother for using Vicks Vaporub as a cure for pneumonia when he was a kid, and also speaks candidly about his own parental misadventures. You’ve likely seen him make appearances on Chelsea Lately and the late night circuit; he also appears regularly on The Adam Carolla Show and hosts his own weekly podcast, The Koy Pond, as well.
Performance begins at 10 p.m.; 318 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak; 248399-2980; royaloakmusictheatre. com; Tickets start at $37.
36 April 11-17, 2018 | metrotimes.com
6th Annual Venus Rising Art Show
No Body, Krillin, and Minihorse
@ Tangent Gallery
@ Russell Industrial Center
ART To hell with the boys club. Tangent Gallery’s Annual Venus Rising Art Show is celebrating its sixth year and is more dynamic than ever. The show features dozens of women exploring an array of artistic mediums, including performance art, music, live painting, and body painting. Twenty-five percent of the event’s proceeds will support Alternatives for Girls — an organization that supports homeless and high-risk youth with the necessary opportunities and resources to succeed.
MUSIC What in reincarnation! We feel like we’ve jumped into a black hole and we never want to leave. No Body is Sean Lynch — the same somebody who founded and fronted dreamy doom-wave shoegazing Milford-based outfit 800beloved. Both Ben Collins of Minihorse and Krillin’s own Leyline Slime, er, Anastasiya Metesheva, played alongside Lynch in 800beloved, whose final performance/funeral took place in the summer of 2016. With support from Exposure Therapy, this lineup is straight out of the afterlife. No Body will tour the Uncanny Valley, Minihorse will drink us dry, and psychedelic-fiction rockers (or “psy-fi”) Krillin will likely get arrested by the space police.
Event runs from 7 p.m.- 11 p.m.; 715 E. Milwaukee St., Detroit; 313-873-2955; tangentgallery.com; Tickets are $10.
Doors open at 7:30 p.m.; 1600 Clay St., Detroit; facebook.com/ krillinband; Tickets start at $5.
george porter jr from the meters friday 4/13
ben miller band
w/ ryan dilaha and the miracle men saturday 4/14
broccoli samurai wsg: chirp friday 4/20
roots of creation (grateful dub tour) wsg: genetics + leaving lifted saturday 4/21
trout steak revival
wsg: wire in the wood tuesday 4/24 Krillin, Russell Industrial Center, Saturday, April 14.
@ Meadow Brook Amphitheatre
@ Magic Bag
MUSIC Wait, is Nick the hot one? Or is it Joe? Or maybe Kevin? The thing is, there is no wrong answer when it comes to the hotness of any of the three Jonas Brothers. But, yes, Nick is hot and he is guaranteed to make us sweat. Since disbanding from his sexy brethren, Nick Jonas has flown solo with a double platinum self-titled debut in 2014. His follow-up to 2016’s Last Year Was Complicated is slated for release this year. Oh, and he’s an actor, too. He starred in the 2017 reboot of Jumanji, which was actually surprisingly good, so there’s that.
MUSIC Few things are as endearing as a married couple in a folk band. And even fewer things are as delightful as 2008’s Hideaway — the duo’s third and breakthrough record. To celebrate the album’s 10-year anniversary, Deb Talan and Steve Tannen will bring Hideway to life. After marrying in 2007 and having three children, the Weepies rarely tour, despite having quietly sold over a million records and nearly 90 million Spotify streams. Plus, well, they never got to tour this record before. That being said, second chances are pretty damn endearing, too.
Doors open at 7 p.m.; 160 Festival Dr., Rochester Hills; 248-3770100; 313presents.com; Tickets start at $25.
Doors open at 8 p.m.; 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248544-1991; themagicbag.com; Tickets are $27.
NOAH ELLIOTT MORRISON.
WEDNESDAY, 4/18 Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends @ The Fillmore
MUSIC + LIT When he’s not acting, Bill Murray is exploring the vast and many worlds found in the pages of Twain, Whitman, and Hemingway. And yes, he wants to read to you, too. The beloved actor will team up with German cellist and creative partner Jan Vogler to bring their latest project, New Worlds, to the stage. The project celebrates classical music and classic literature, and finds Murray reading various passages against the orchestral theatrics of a classical trio lead by Vogler.
Doors open at 7 p.m.; 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313961-5451; thefillmoredetroit.com; Tickets start at $45. firstname.lastname@example.org @metrotimes
singers in the round (songwriter showcase) friday 4/27
allman brothers band tribute w/ brett lucas & kris kurzawa saturday 4/28
wsg: sektor z
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| April April11-17, 11-17,2018 2018
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38 April April11-17, 11-17,2018 2018 | |metrotimes.com metrotimes.com
THIS WEEK MUSIC Wednesday, April 11 Alex Harding and Lucian Ban 8-11 p.m.; Cliff Bell’s, 2030 Park Ave., Detroit; $10.
Guided by Voices 8 p.m.; Blind Pig, 208 S. First St., Ann Arbor; $29.50. Intocable 7 p.m.; The Fillmore, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit; $39+. Jeff Cuny Trio 5:30 p.m.; Cliff Bell’s, 2030 Park Ave., Detroit; no cover.
Cigarettes After Sex 7 p.m.; Majestic Theatre, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; $20-$25.
KICK: A Tribute to INXS 8 p.m.; Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; $15.
A Deer A Horse 8 p.m.; PJ’s Lager House, 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit; $8-$10.
My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult 7 p.m.; Token Lounge, 28949 Joy Rd., Westland; $20.
The Lawrence Arms 8 p.m.; Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; $20-$22.
The Philter 8 p.m.; Trixie’s, 2656 Carpenter St., Hamtramck; $5.
Thursday, April 12 Cradle of Filth 6:30 p.m.; Saint Andrew’s Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit; $35. Cuervocuervo 9 p.m.; Trixie’s, 2656 Carpenter St., Hamtramck; $5. George Porter, Jr. 8 p.m.; Otus Supply, 345 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; $20-$25. Houndmouth 8 p.m.; El Club, 4114 W. Vernor Hwy., Detroit; $25. JB Smoove 8 p.m.; Sound Board, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit; $30+. Marcus Alan Ward 8 p.m.; The Loving Touch, 22634 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; $8. Scott Gwinnell Jazz Orchestra 7 p.m.; Cliff Bell’s, 2030 Park Ave., Detroit; $10. The Slackers 8 p.m.; Blind Pig, 208 S. First St., Ann Arbor; $15-18. Willie Nile 8 p.m.; The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; $25.
Friday, April 13 Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya ; Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; $26-$66. Ben Miller Band 8 p.m.; Otus Supply, 345 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; $10-$15. Boston Manor 6 p.m.; The Loving Touch, 22634 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; $15. Cameron Carpenter 8 p.m.; Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, 350 Madison St., Detroit; $30-$50. The Darkness 7 p.m.; Majestic Theatre, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; $25. Emo Nite 9 p.m.; The Crofoot Ballroom, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac; $10-$15. The Garden 6 p.m.; The Shelter, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit; $15.
Punk & Hip Hop Show 9 p.m.; Kelly’s Bar, 2403 Holbrook Ave., Hamtramck; $5. Screaming Females 8 p.m.; El Club, 4114 W. Vernor Hwy., Detroit; $15-$17. The Jazz Epistles featuring Abdullah Ibrahim and Hugh Masekela 8 p.m.; Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; $26+. Wayne Kramer and the Kollaborators 7:30 p.m.; Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; $25.
Saturday, April 14 Bobaflex 7 p.m.; Harpos, 14238 Harper Ave., Detroit; $15-$20. Bonny Doon 7 p.m.; Third Man Records, 441 W. Canfield St., Detroit; $10-$12. Brian Culbertson 7 p.m.; Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak; $39.50-$69.50. Broccoli Samurai 8 p.m.; Otus Supply, 345 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; $10-$12. Cactus 7 p.m.; Token Lounge, 28949 Joy Rd., Westland; $30-$50. Colin Stetson 8 p.m.; Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; $20-$44. Cory Wong of Vulfpeck 9 p.m.; Blind Pig, 208 S. First St., Ann Arbor; $15-$20. Detroit X Detroit VIII 8 p.m.; The Loving Touch, 22634 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; $10. Durand Jones & The Indications 7 p.m.; Detroit Institute of Music Education, 1265 Griswold St,, Detroit; $14-$16. Eisenhower Dance Presents Arc 8 p.m.; The Music Hall, 350 Madison Ave., Detroit; $20-$40+. Fruit Bats (solo) 8 p.m.; The Ark,
Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends, The Fillmore, Wednesday, April 18.
316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; $20.
Haggathorn 9 p.m.; Trixie’s, 2656 Carpenter St., Hamtramck; $7.
Awakening 4 p.m.; Varner Recital Hall, 2200 N. Squirrel Rd., Rochester; $8-$14.
Moon Taxi 7 p.m.; Majestic Theatre, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; $20-$25. Moose Blood 7 p.m.; Saint Andrew’s Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit; $20. Nick Jonas 7 p.m.; Meadow Brook Amphitheater, 3554 Walton Blvd., Rochester Hills; $25+. Wyclef Jean 7 p.m.; Emerald Theatre, 31 N. Walnut St., Mount Clemens; $25-$30.
Bettye LaVette 8 p.m.; The Jazz Cafe, 350 Madison Street, Detroit; $30. Cheapshow 7:30 p.m.; PJ’s Lager House, 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit; $5. The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra; Hill Auditorium, 825 N. University, Ann Arbor; $14+.
p.m.; The Crofoot Ballroom, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac; $17-20. TAUK 9:30 p.m.; The Shelter, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit; $15. Timber Timbre 7 p.m.; The Loving Touch, 22634 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; $15. WSU Jazz Night 6 p.m.; Cliff Bell’s, 2030 Park Ave., Detroit; free.
Monday, April 16
Sunday, April 15
Jarrod Champion 11:30 am-2:30 p.m.; Cliff Bell’s, 2030 Park Ave., Detroit; no cover.
Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso UFO 8 p.m.; Marble Bar, 1501 Holden St., Detroit; $13-$15.
AJJ 8 p.m.; Blind Pig, 208 S. First St., Ann Arbor; $15-$17.
Rodney Crowell 7:30 p.m.; The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; $40.
Asleep at the Wheel 8 p.m.; The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; $35.
AJR: The Click Tour 6:30 p.m.; Saint Andrew’s Hall, 431 E. Congress St.,
Social Club Misfits with Riley Clemmons and James Gardin 7
Ike Willis & Micki Free 7 p.m.; Token Lounge, 28949 Joy Rd., West-
|| April April11-17, 11-17,2018 2018
Wyclef Jean, Emerald Theatre, Saturday, April 14.
land; $15. Sirius XM Presents Alt Nation’s Advanced Placement Tour 6:30 p.m.; The Shelter, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit; $15.
Tuesday, April 17 Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness 6:30 p.m.; Saint Andrew’s Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit; $35.50. Bubble Guppies Live! “Ready to Rock” 6 p.m.; Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; $20, $35 and $65 VIP. Darlingside 8 p.m.; The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; $35. Dennis Coffey 8-11 p.m.; Northern Lights Lounge, 660 W. Baltimore St., Detroit; no cover. Good Tiger 8 p.m.; The Loving Touch, 22634 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; $12. Margo Price 7 p.m.; El Club, 4114 W. Vernor Hwy., Detroit; $22-$119. The Rain Within and Hexheart 8 p.m.; Small’s Bar, 10339 Conant St., Hamtramck; $12 advance, $15 day of show.
April11-17, 11-17,2018 2018 | |metrotimes.com metrotimes.com 40 April
Rainbow Kitten Surprise 7 p.m.; Majestic Theatre, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; $20 advance, $25 day of show. Skizzy Mars 7 p.m.; Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; $20 ADV/$25 DOS. Why Don’t We 6 p.m.; Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak; $29.50 ADV/$35 DOS.
THEATER School of Rock Tuesdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m., Saturdays, 2 p.m. and Sundays, 1 & 6:30 p.m.; Fisher Theatre, 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit; $30+; 313-8721000. Sister Act: The Musical Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; Bonstelle Theatre, 3424 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-577-2960; $27. Tosca Wednesday 7:30 p.m., Saturday 7:30 p.m. and Sunday 2:30 p.m.; Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway St., Detroit; $30-$160; 313-961-3500.
COMEDY All-Star Showdown Fridays, Saturdays, 8 & 10 p.m.; Go Comedy! Improv Theater, 261 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale;
$18; 248-327-0575. Sam Morril Thursday 7:30 p.m., Friday 7:15 & 9:45 p.m. and Saturday 7 & 9:30 p.m.; Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle, 310 S. Troy St., Royal Oak; $20; 248-542-9900. Character Fondue Friday 8 p.m.; Go Comedy! Improv Theater, 261 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; $15; 248-3270575. Family-Friendly Showdown Saturday 4 p.m.; Go Comedy! Improv Theater, 261 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; $5; 248-327-0575. Female Hysteria Wednesday 9 p.m.; Go Comedy! Improv Theater, 261 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; $10; 248-3270575. Jo Koy Thursday 10 p.m.; Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak; $37-$112; 248-399-2980. Pandemonia Fridays, 10 p.m.; Go Comedy! Improv Theater, 261 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; $15; 248-327-0575.
| April 11-17, 2018
Fast Forward Jill Scott Fox Theatre, June 24
Modest Mouse The Fillmore, May 2 and 3, 6:30 p.m., $42.50+
Harry Styles Little Caesars Arena, June 26, 8 p.m., $29.50+
Dr. Dog Majestic Theatre, May 4, 8 p.m., $30
Paramore and Foster the People DTE Energy Music Theatre, June 29, 7 p.m., $25.50+
Daryl Hall & John Oates Little Caesars Arena, May 20, 7 p.m., $49.50+ Vance Joy Fox Theatre, May 22, 7:30 p.m., $25.50+ Dave Matthews Band DTE Energy Music Theatre, June 6, 8 p.m., $41.50+ Paul Simon DTE Energy Music Theatre, June 10, 8 p.m., $31+ Thirty Seconds to Mars DTE Energy Music Theatre, June 12, 6 p.m.; $25.50+ Kendrick Lamar with SZA DTE Energy Music Theatre, June 13, 7:30 p.m., $81+ Okkervil River El Club, June 13, 8 p.m., $20
Jethro Tull Freedom Hill, July 1, 7:30 p.m., $26+ STYX, Joan Jett, and Tesla DTE Energy Music Theatre, July 6, 7 p.m., $25.50+ Beck Fox Theatre, July 6, 8 p.m., $35+ Arcade Fire DTE Energy Music Theatre, July 7, 6:30 p.m., $26.50+ Evanescence and Lindsey Stirling DTE Energy Music Theatre, July 9, 7 p.m., $21+ Rob Zombie and Marilyn Manson DTE Energy Music Theatre, July 11, 7 p.m., $25.50+ Pixies & Weezer DTE Energy Music Theatre, July 13, 7:30 p.m., $21+
Shania Twain Little Caesars Arena, June 15, 7:30 p.m., $49.95+
Barenaked Ladies DTE Energy Music Theatre, July 14, 7 p.m., $21+
Whoopi Goldberg Sound Board, June 15, 8 p.m., $57+
Panic! at the Disco Little Caesars Arena, July 14, 7 p.m., $30.75+
Jack Johnson DTE Energy Music Theatre, June 15, 7:30 p.m.; $31+
Foreigner DTE Energy Music Theatre, July 15, 7 p.m., $21+
Sam Smith Little Caesars Arena, June 22, 8 p.m., $35+
Kesha & Macklemore DTE Energy Music Theatre, July 18, 7 p.m., $26.50+
Jill Scott Fox Theatre, June 24, 8 p.m., $49.50+
Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, and the Cult Freedom Hill, July 24, 6:30 p.m., $21+
Outlaw Music Festival with Willie Nelson DTE Energy Music Theatre, June 24, 6 p.m.; $25.50+
42 April 11-17, 2018 | metrotimes.com
Jim Gaffigan DTE Energy Music Theatre, July 28, 8 p.m., $25.50+
| April 11-17, 2018
MUSIC Detroit country rock city
Detroit’s Bonny Doon preps for Third Man Records show, Band of Horses tour By Anthony Spak
Public school teaching was a fine gig for Bobby Colombo until he met Bill Lennox. Once the two Detroit musicians began playing together and formed Bonny Doon, everything else was pushed to the side. “I brought him over to the dark side,” Lennox says. Now, free of his teaching job, Colombo has devoted more time to the band, which just released its latest record, Longwave, on March 23 on Woodsist Records. On standout track “Saved,” Colombo sings with conviction about the savior narratives assigned to Detroit’s rebirth: “Are you a believer/ Are you a believer or not?” It’s the record’s only political moment, but it points to a deeper message from Longwave — do you have enough faith in yourself to commit to what you love? The band is clearly ready to take the plunge, recently announcing separate spring and summer tours with Band of Horses and Snail Mail. They’ll play their earnest brand of warm and dreamy sundown country rock on stages all over the nation for two very different audiences: Snail Mail’s younger, cheap-beerdrinking crowd and Band of Horses’ older craft-beer-drinking crowd. Over pizza and a pitcher, Bonny Doon — Colombo and Lennox (who both handle guitars and vocals), Joshua Brooks (bass), and Jake Kmiecik (drums) — took a few minutes to discuss its new record a few days after its release, the band’s upcoming tours, and the newfound cosmic country vibes.
Metro Times: You have a new
record out. What has been the reception to Longwave been so far?
Detroit’s Bonny Doon… and a cat.
Bill Lennox: Our friends really
like it a lot — people we like and trust their judgment. That’s really what’s most important to me. I don’t pay that much attention to the other stuff. My mom loves it.
MT: The record has received cover-
age from music publications like Paste, Pitchfork, Stereogum, Brooklyn Vegan, Noisey, and Aquarium Drunkard. Why do you think Longwave has grabbed their attention?
Bobby Colombo: Our first
record got some good press. Woodsist is a really respected label. I don’t know if its a sign of anything or if it’s just the way things go.
MT: When you see those names cover your music it has to feel good, right?
Jake Kmiecik: Yeah, it feels great. Josh Brooks: That’s not what
we’re making records for though. We’re not making records to get a press cycle.
Colombo: It’s cool, but ultimately
you can only put so much stock in those things. Those sites also cover a lot of bad music. When you wake up to a text from your friend that they sent in the middle of the night saying, “I’m listening to your record right now and it’s really speaking to me,” that means so much more.
MT: So if you’re not making records for the bloggers, who are you making them for?
Colombo: We’ve got a shared vision
for the art that we want to make and we’ve been lucky enough to be doing that for four years. The whole thing about Bonny Doon is that we’re chasing this feeling we’ve had sometimes. We don’t always attain it, but the transcendence that
44 April 11-17, 2018 | metrotimes.com
we feel like when we play together… we’re always trying to recreate that. Sometimes we do, sometimes, we don’t. But that’s the best feeling we’ve ever felt.
special show. Anna Burch and [her] band are great. We’re huge fans of Soft Location. We’re playing as an eightpiece band.
MT: You’re all from Detroit but the
MT: The Bonny Doon Orchestra?
record has a country vibe. Where does that come from?
Brooks: A shared love of cosmic
American music. When we started as a band, we were all playing in more aggressive, faster bands. Playing slower, folkier songs was new and exciting to me. It was an outlet for a lot of music I’ve always liked but never tried to create myself.
Colombo: We’re hippies at heart. I don’t know how much city life I have left in me.
MT: Much of the material from Long-
Colombo: Not yet [laughs]. We
invited the Traveling Light Band to play with us to make it more of a family band-style thing.
Colombo: The show’s going to
become a live record and the first to be recorded to acetate at the Third Man Detroit location.
MT: Bonny Doon is touring in the
coming months with Band of Horses and Snail Mail, separately. We were surprised to see you on with Band of Horses.
wave came from a weeklong session at a cabin in Mystic Lake in northern Michigan. From there you recorded at Key Club Recording Company in Benton Harbor. What was that like?
Lennox: So were we [laughs]. We’re
Brooks: There are great studios in
Detroit. But a disadvantage for a band from Detroit is that you go home and you can’t remove yourself as easily from your day to day and really focus.
be really cool too. Their first full-length is coming out on Matador right before that. Both those bands have really different audiences so it will be a privilege to play for a whole spectrum of people.
Colombo: It’s in a historic down-
MT: You will fit in with the Band
town building that they’ve converted. Our friends in Protomartyr had recorded a few records there, and Tyvek, a band some of us used to be in, had recorded there before we were in the band. We asked [Key Club engineer] Bill Skibbe about it and he seemed really on board.
going to be playing outdoor amphitheatres in the middle of summer. It will be fun.
Colombo: The Snail Mail tour will
of Horses crowd — 40-year-old guys drinking craft beer.
Lennox: Those guys buy records.
MT: Your next show is Saturday, April
Bonny Doon will play on Saturday, April 14 at Third Man Records; 441 W. Canfield St., Detroit; 313-209-5205; thirdmanrecords.com; Doors at 7 p.m., Tickets are $10 advance, $12 at the door.
Colombo: That’s gonna be a really
14 at Third Man Records with Anna Burch and Soft Location.
| April 11-17, 2018
Appetite for destruction
Underground punk icon Wreckless Eric shoots the shit By Jerilyn Jordan
If the name Wreckless Eric
doesn’t ring a bell, then underground punk icon Eric Goulden has done his job. After dropping out of art school, Goulden topped the charts in 1977 with his single “Whole Wide World” — the same year fellow Brits, the Sex Pistols, released Never Mind The Bollocks. Goulden’s brand of angst was stocked with more rhythm and less mosh-worthy angst than his spikey-haired contemporaries. Nevertheless, Wreckless Eric’s “Whole Wide World” challenged the punk norms by being unexpectedly romantic, and with only two chords Goulden dismantled the mechanics of what it meant to be a rock ’n’ roll star — mostly because he had always dreamed of being in a pop band. When we catch up with Goulden he is days away from the release of Construction, Time & Demolition, his seventh studio record and the followup to 2015’s AmERICa. As he battles bronchitis, he is more than eager to chat about his love of Detroit’s UFO
Factory, volcanic honey, and why artists should embrace their breakout hits.
Metro Times: How are you going to kick this bronchitis in the next 24 hours?
Eric Goulden: I don’t think I
will, really, I think I’ll rise above it. My new thing is this manuka honey, have you heard of it?
MT: No. What is it? Goulden: It’s some honey grown
from flowers on a volcanic island. And it costs short of $40 a jar. It is the elixir of life itself. My god, there’s something so decadent about it. You have this jar and this spoon, and you take a big spoonful of it, that costs a fortune. I think I might put it on my rider.
MT: What was on your rider 40 years ago?
Goulden: I remember when I
46 April 11-17, 2018 | metrotimes.com
took a bottle of vodka off of it. I took it off for good reason. I think it was too catastrophic in those days. I tried to get cigarettes on there but I gave up smoking a very, very long time ago. Now it’s just six bottles of mineral water and a hot dinner.
MT: Congratulations. I quit smoking
MT: I’m glad you said that. I really do. It was romantic and dangerous.
Goulden: It’s like bad sex: The
reality of it is terrible. But the thought of it is so great. I used to sing fucking backup vocals with a cigarette. I was good at smoking.
seven months ago and I have my moments. Is it hard being in rock ’n’ roll without a cigarette?
MT: Speaking of tour, you head out
Goulden: Not anymore. It’s
Goulden: You know, I used to do
fantastic. In the old days of doing it, every night you would struggle out of this fucking wet with sweaty clothes that stunk of cigarette smoke. In the morning you would be drying them out in the hotel room. God. Sometimes it’s too clean, now.
MT: And now you have volcano honey!
Goulden: Yes but… God, don’t you miss smoking in some ways?
in a couple of days. In 40 years, has tour gotten easier?
it with a band and we had a road crew and a tour manager. I liked touring, I still like it. It’s just me now. That was the best thing I ever did was figure out a way where I could just be on my own. I do things with bands sometimes but I find it holds me back. I find that they subtract more than they add quite often because as soon as you get the drummer involved it sounds normal. It takes it out of the cosmos and into somewhere like Macy’s or somewhere. When you’re in a band, you have to go everywhere in a
herd, and it is like herding kittens.
MT: Have you been to Detroit before? Goulden: I’ve been to Detroit twice, I think. Three times. I went in 1979 and I remember driving in November. MT: Do you remember what venue
Goulden: It was always like that, though, for me. I had looked at charts in the very early days when my first three albums all charted but I felt I had let everyone down because I didn’t have any hit singles. I didn’t have a major No. 1 hit single. I came out feeling like a failure.
MT: That’s not fair to yourself.
Goulden: Bookies. And then I played somewhere, something Stick? MT: The Magic Stick?
Goulden: No, but its your young life and it stops you moving forward. You’re just stuck in this morass of failure.
Goulden: Yeah! I played there a
MT: Did you ever try to quit?
few years ago.
MT: How the hell do you remember all this?
Goulden: I sort of walk into a supermarket and forget why I’m there, but I remember quite a lot of gigs. The last time I was in Detroit I played at UFO Factory. That was one of my favorite shows on the tour. MT: I would me remiss to not men-
tion your breakout song, “Whole Wide World” from 1977. Is it still the cornerstone of your career?
Goulden: Well, I didn’t build a career around it. Have you ever heard of Robert Christgau? He’s an asshole, but he gave my album an “A.” He said all this smarty stuff about it and said I’d ridden “Whole Wide World” for decades and that was my career. I’m proud of “Whole Wide World.” It would be very sad if I said, “I’m much better than that. I’m doing this new stuff that is much better than that.” It would be a terribly sad thing. I’ve got other songs that live in the shadow of “Whole Wide World,” but Christ, other people haven’t got a shadow. MT: I’ve talked to some people that
have a breakout song and they resent it so much they refuse to play it or even talk about it.
Goulden: But they shouldn’t! It’s
a thrill. People say, “Are you bored of playing it?” And I say, “Well, if I just played it in a vacuum, if every day I went into an empty room and played that song, I’d be incredibly bored.” But I play it for people and the effect that song has on people will keep me interested.
MT: We’re so privy to the numbers
in terms of success now, and the likes and streaming hits. Has that had any impact on you?
Goulden: I tried to but I didn’t really want to. Then I got to the point where I thought, “Fuck, I fucked up. I can’t get a job now.” I probably could, but it would be a lot of effort. I just want to do what I do. I can’t help it. I don’t know if it’s a terrible addiction or something like that. MT: Being a musician becomes sort of a compulsion at some point. Or an unchangeable DNA component.
Goulden: Right! But I love getting home and suddenly realizing that I’m at home and can do anything I’d like. I can do some recording. Sometimes I record when there’s nothing to record, just keeping practice at it because something might happen. Then I have to get ready to go out and play again. All of this stuff is terribly exciting to me. I actually got the vinyl delivery in this morning. MT: That has to feel pretty good before you head out.
Goulden: It’s thrilling! It’s just over 41 years since my first record came out. I remember holding a copy of that in my hand and just being absolutely shocked. MT: It feels similar today? Goulden: Yeah. It still does. I’m still like “Wow, here I am. I’ve got a box of records. Let’s go to the cafe and give one to the lady in the cafe who runs the coffee shop.” Wreckless Eric will perform on Thursday, April 12 at Third Man Records, 441 W. Canfield St., Detroit; 313-209-5205; thirdmanstore.com; Doors at 8:30 p.m.; Tickets are $7.
metrotimes.com metrotimes.com | | April April11-17, 11-17,2018 2018
The scrappy heroes of Isle of Dogs.
PHOTO COURTESY OF FOX SEARCHLIGHT
Old dog, new tricks, and blind spots By Jerilyn Jordan
If you Google “does Wes An-
derson hate dogs?” you will find several cinematic examples that might suggest the answer is a resounding “yes.” In The Royal Tenenbaums, the family dog Buckley is killed by a coked-out Owen Wilson. Snoopy meets his demise by means of bow and arrow in Moonrise Kingdom. And Jeff Goldblum’s character in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou strikes a threelegged dog with a newspaper, who is later abandoned on an island. However, if you say the name of his latest film Isle of Dogs out loud you will find yourself saying what sounds like, “I Love Dogs.” One could assume Anderson is marking new-ish territory. In Isle of Dogs, his second stop-motion animated feature (following 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox), Anderson hardly strays from the meticulous stylistic packaging that has become a hallmark of his films. All of Anderson’s favorite tricks are in play here, from structuring the film into theatrical acts, to compulsive rectangular symmetry, deadpan dialogue, and Bill Murray. Mostly, Isle of Dogs is a stunning technical and storytelling achievement and could rival Anderson’s best work… well, almost. Isle of Dogs is set against the fictional Japanese city of Megasaki, a not-so-distant future dystopia run by corrupt Mayor Kobayashi (voiced by Kunichi Nomura).
During his Mayorship, Kobayashi has passed an executive order to exile all dogs, both domestic and stray, to “Trash Island” after a pandemic referred to as “snout fever” spreads rapidly. Having made unfounded claims that the disease will spread to humans, Kobayashi, who is up for re-election, faces opposition from “the Science party,” made up of a group of scientists who have developed the cure to the doggy disease. “Whatever happened to man’s best friend?” This question is posed early on by candidate Professor Watanabe during a debate. Enter antagonist and tenacious 12-yearold ward to the Mayor, Atari Kobayashi (Koyu Rankin) who ventures to Trash Island in search of his bodyguard dog, Spots (Liev Schreiber). When his miniturbo plane makes a crash landing on the doggy-dumping ground, he is befriended by a pack of mutts — Boss (Bill Murray), King (Bob Balaban), Rex (Edward Norton), Duke (Jeff Goldblum), and Chief, voiced by Anderson newbie Bryan Cranston — who embark on a journey to aid Atari in his search for his lost companion — and overthrow the system in the process. “I wish somebody spoke his language,” Duke says after meeting Atari, or Little Pilot, as the dogs refer to him. See, the dogs in Isle of Dogs speak
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English. Atari speaks Japanese, and like all of the Japanese characters in the film, is voiced by a Japanese actor. However, subtitles are not provided for these characters, unless Interpreter Nelson (voiced by Frances McDormand) translates breaking news or details during campaign debates, and futuristic technology is used sparingly to translate Japanese dialogue (most notably in the headsets worn by Atari and Spots). We, the English-speaking viewers, are forced to assume what the Japanese characters are saying, relying only on tone, volume, and facial expressions. Because the Japanese characters are essentially rendered foreigners in their own country in the film, some critics, like The Los Angeles Times’ Justin Chang, have accused Anderson of whitewashing Japanese culture. Isle of Dogs is not the first time Anderson has fictionalized a real, geographical place and doused it in his brand of whimsical melancholy. And this isn’t the first time Anderson has faced criticism for whitewashing, either. (The Darjeeling Limited, set in India, faced similar backlash.) It’s hard to overlook things as glaring as the film’s suggested appropriation of Japanese culture, as well as the sexism, as evidenced by the only two female canine characters — the prim former show dog Nutmeg (Scarlett Johansson) and Peppermint, whose only
Isle of Dogs Run-time: 101 minutes Rated: PG-13 role is to breed pups for one of the leads. Perhaps the most problematic character is Tracy Walker (voiced by Greta Gerwig), a blonde-haired American exchange student and editor of Megasaki Senior High’s Daily Manifesto who leads the pro-dog student resistance against the Kobayashi agenda with a subtle “white savior complex.” But Isle of Dogs is — dare we say — the ultimate underdog tale. A migrant story packaged as a Wes Anderson film, Dogs explores deportation, rigged elections, and fake news with compassion, and in doing so has probed a nuanced conversation about cultural admiration vs. tourism, and the ongoing polarization of Anderson worship. For those looking at the big picture, Isle of Dogs will likely feel like a reward. For those looking at the smaller one, well, the film may leave you out in the cold. Aside from the gorgeously transfixing puppetry, animation, and textural details, the film’s most universal, inarguable takeaway is that sometimes it pays to be a bad dog. email@example.com @metrotimes
| April 11-17, 2018
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I’m a 36-year-old straight woman. I was sexually and physically abused as a kid, and raped in my early 20s. I have been seeing a great therapist for the last five years, and I am processing things and feeling better than I ever have. I was in a long-term relationship that ended about two years ago. I started dating this past year, but I’m not really clicking with anyone. I’ve had a lot of first dates, but nothing beyond that. My problem is that I’d really love to get laid. The idea of casual sex and one-night stands sounds great — but in reality, moving that quickly with someone I don’t know or trust freaks me ouwt, causes me to shut down, and prevents me from enjoying anything. Even thinking about going home with someone causes me to panic. When I was in a relationship, the sex was great. But now that I’m single, it seems like this big, scary thing. Is it possible to get laid without feeling freaked out? —Sexual Comfort And Reassurance Eludes Dame
It is possible for you to get laid without feeling freaked out. The answer — how you go home with someone without panicking — is so obvious, SCARED, that I’m guessing your therapist has already suggested it: Have sex with someone you know and trust. You didn’t have any issues having sex with your ex because you knew and trusted him. For your own emotional safety, and to avoid recovery setbacks, you’re going to have to find someone willing to get to know you — someone willing to make an emotional investment in you — before you can have sex again. You’ve probably thought to yourself, “But everyone else is just jumping into bed with strangers and having amazing sexual experiences!” And while it is true that many people are capable of doing just that, at least as many or more are incapable of having impulsive onenight stands because they too have a history of trauma, or because they have other psychological, physical, or logistical issues that make one-night stands impossible. (Some folks, of course, have no interest in one-night stands.) Your trauma
left you with this added burden, SCARED, and I don’t want to minimize your legitimate frustration or your anger. It sucks, and I fucking hate the people who victimized you. But it may help you feel a little better about having to make an investment in someone before becoming intimate — which really isn’t the worst thing in the world — if you can remind yourself that you aren’t alone. Demisexuals, other victims of trauma, people with body-image issues, people whose sexual interests are so stigmatized they don’t feel comfortable disclosing them to people they’ve just met — lots of people face the same challenge you do. Something else to bear in mind: It’s not unheard of for someone reentering the dating scene to have some difficulty making new connections at first. The trick is to keep going on dates until you finally click with someone. In other words, SCARED, give yourself a break and take your time. Also, don’t hesitate to tell the men you date that you need to get to know a person before jumping into bed with him. That will scare some guys off, but only those guys who weren’t willing to get to know you — and those aren’t guys you would have felt safe fucking anyway, right? So be open and honest, keep going on those first dates, and eventually you’ll find yourself on a fifth date with a guy you can think about taking home without feeling panicked. Good luck.
This is about a girl, of course. Pros: She cannot hide her true feelings. Cons: Criminal, irascible, grandiose sense of self, racist, abstemious, self-centered, anxious, moralist, monogamous, biased, denial as a defense mechanism, manipulative, liar, envious, and ungrateful. She is also anthropologically and historically allocated in another temporal space continuum. And last but not least: She runs less quickly than me despite eight years age difference and her having the lungs of a 26-year-old nonsmoker. Thoughts? —Desperate Erotic Situation If someone is criminal, racist, and dishonest — to say nothing of being
‘My boyfriend and I love each other deeply, and the thought of breaking up devastates me. We also live together. I deeply regret it and am full of shame, but I impulsively went through his texts for the first time.’ allocated in another temporal space continuum (whatever the fuck that means) — I don’t see how “cannot hide her true feelings” lands on the “pro” side of the pro/con ledger. You shouldn’t want to be with a dishonest, moralizing bigot, DES, so the fact that this particular dishonest, moralizing bigot is incapable of hiding her truly repulsive feelings isn’t a reason to consider seeing her. Not being able to mask hateful feelings isn’t a redeeming quality — it’s the opposite.
My boyfriend and I love each other deeply, and the thought of breaking up devastates me. We also live together. I deeply regret it and am full of shame, but I impulsively went through his texts for the first time. I found out that for the past few months he has been sexting and almost definitely hooking up with someone who I said I was not comfortable with. After our initial conversation about her (during which I expressed my discomfort), he never brought her up again. Had I known that he needed her in his life this badly, I would have taken some time to sit with my feelings and figure out where my discomfort with her was coming from and tried to move through it. We are in an open relationship, but his relationship with her crosses what we determined as our “cheating” boundary: hiding a relationship. How do I confess to what I did and confront him about what I found without it blowing up into a major mess? — Upset Girl Hopes Relationship Survives
Snooping is always wrong, of course, except when the snooper discovers something they had a right to know. While there are definitely less ambiguous examples (cases where the snoopee was engaged in activities that put the snooper at risk), your boyfriend violating the boundaries of your
open relationship rises to the level of “right to know.” This is a major mess, UGHRS, and there’s no way to confront your boyfriend without risking a blowup. So tell him what you know and how you found out. You’ll be in a better position to assess whether you want this relationship to survive after you confess and confront.
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CULTURE ARIES: March 21 – April 20
The usual tricks don’t seem to be working. To keep relying on them makes no sense at all. If you haven’t already, it’s time to revamp your take on what makes you happy; because you can’t expect to keep drinking from the same well. Those of you who understand that inner peace is what you’re really after, know that it doesn’t take much to get there — but if you’re still looking for answers outside of yourself, you’re probably ready to snap. A good reality check will show you that you’ve got to undo a few things — or at least find a more satisfying way to make them happen. TAURUS: April 21 – May 20
By Cal Garrison
LEO: July 21 – Aug. 20
You need a chance to regroup. The cosmic 2x4 has whacked you with a series of setbacks that have forced you to review everything about yourself. Just when you thought you had it together, life came along and showed you what happens when you overlook, overspend, or lose sight of what works in “real time.” Adjusting to setbacks is never as bad as it looks or seems; any crisis is a signal that you’re on your way to healing whatever the problem is. You might as well use this part of your journey to get grounded and meditate on what you really want to do with your life. VIRGO: Aug. 21 – Sept. 20
You want to know how long it will take for things to gel? Get out of here! You are on a roll, and the only thing that can screw things up is your need to question it. Any fears of what might come back to haunt you, along with the idea that you could be wasting your time, need to be closely monitored. Whatever happens from here on out comes down to the basics of reaping what you sow; this is obviously a different story for each of you. Your success in any endeavor, be it in love, or with money, will be your reward for remaining true to yourself and hanging in there no matter what.
The sky just opened up and brought rain. Something has lifted and your survival no longer depends on resigning yourself to restrictions that have been eclipsed by things that have shown you otherwise. Now that anything is possible, it’s time to expand your consciousness, and every other possibility. If you feel overwhelmed by the raft of choices that lie at your feet, don’t get too hung up on which one you decide upon. In these moments, it’s the heart that directs us 100 perfect. Remain connected to things that keep it open, and avoid situations and people that drag you down.
GEMINI: May 21 – June 20
LIBRA: Sept. 21 – Oct. 20
You’ve come to the conclusion that you have to rearrange your perspective on things that have gotten to be too much about money. This about face has brought you back to a simpler place. It has also reminded you so much of some “long-ago” stuff and rekindled a desire for love, and truth, and simplicity. I have a feeling you’re about to get reacquainted with more than just your memories. Keep a candle burning in the window; old ghosts, flames, and partners in crime will be back to remind you that it’s what money can’t buy that keeps us real and gets us through the night. CANCER: June 21 – July 20
Extended periods of tension are always challenging us to wonder why we have to grin and bear it. Even if you’ve made peace with this aspect of your experience, in cycles you have to face the fact that it doesn’t have to be this hard. Stepping back far enough, you will see that it is less about your situation than it is about beliefs that have orphaned you to certain things. Out here in the cold, a deep, spiritual connection is what’s needed now. Other forms of closeness might do the trick but only if the people involved love you enough to hear you out and let you be yourself.
62 62 April April 11-17, 11-17, 2018 2018 || metrotimes.com metrotimes.com
Lots of old garbage has gotten stirred up. You’re at the point where you’re starting to wonder what to do about it. On some level this is akin to what happens to a load of wash; when it hits the rinse cycle all the soil has to be washed away before everything comes clean. The beginning of the rest of your life starts here. Being born again will feel strange until you realize that whoever you were before your soul got heaped with garbage is ready to come alive. Lots of things will emerge. Don’t let anything about the past limit your willingness to embrace your true and total self. SCORPIO: Oct. 21 – Nov. 20
You’re on your way somewhere. It could be out of town, or you could be on your way up. This change is the end result of a series of choices that have altered you to the core. As you shift from one mode to another don’t be surprised if older issues flare up. This is always the case whenever we decide to move on. Don’t let the weight of the past derail your sense of hope, or let any of these challenges draw you back into things that no longer need your input. The dead wood will disappear eventually, and the old story will release you when you decide to put the past to rest.
SAGITTARIUS: Nov. 21 – Dec. 20
You weren’t expecting this. It’s such a far cry from what you had in mind, even with your amazing ability to let go, this particular state of affairs has you flummoxed. So much is being triggered by other people’s choices and their actions, at a time when all of your deepest wounds are being dredged up, the usual remedies won’t apply. It’s hard to say how you’re going to play this. For some it will be much easier to keep shoving things under the rug. For others? It’s time to get out on the tip of your arrow and aim for solutions that have something to do with the truth. CAPRICORN: Dec. 21 - Jan. 20
The opportunities are beating the door down, and you are feeling like a deer in the headlights. Those who see you as a commodity know that you’re not 100% clear about what you want right now. Whether you realize it or not, you are coming to terms with a huge amount of old baggage. People will show up to remind you that you can only listen to the voice that speaks to you from within. Give it about six months and be conscious enough to see that these things will be cleared once you are willing to reckon with the part of your being that knows where your purpose lies. AQUARIUS: Jan.21 – Feb. 20
It’s time to put the pedal to the metal. Thank God you’re in the mood. The next few weeks will be intense. Whatever this applies to, and it could be in the personal realm or have more to do with your career, you’ve got to get in touch with your guts and stay centered enough to manage what for anyone else would be impossible. You’ve been here before, so no need to worry about whether you’ll pass or fail. Within a wealth of difficulty there will be lights, in the form of people who care, and surprise inspirations that serve to empower your spirit with strength and optimism. PISCES: Feb. 21 – March 20
You’re in a situation that’s going up and down. It’s hard to tell where you’re at with it. If the need to draw boundaries has become an issue it’s because you don’t have any! For now, you need to do whatever it takes to draw a line between where you stop and other people begin — because the tendency to lose yourself in a situation that has too much of someone else and their stuff in it doesn’t leave much room for you. You’ve been around the barn enough times to know what this pattern is all about. Pull yourself together. This will work if you can reclaim yourself.
| April 11-17, 2018