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Vol. 38 | Issue 37 | June 20-26, 2018

News & Views News..................................... 10 Motor City Blight Busters

Publisher - Chris Keating Associate Publisher - Jim Cohen Editor in Chief - Lee DeVito



Senior Editor - Michael Jackman Staff Writer - Violet Ikonomova Dining Editor - Tom Perkins Music and Listings Editor - Jerilyn Jordan Contributing Editor - Larry Gabriel Copy Editor - Sonia Khaleel Editorial Interns - Mallary Becker, Eleanor Catholico, Alexander Woodliff Contributors - Sean Bieri, Doug Coombe, Kahn Santori Davison, Mike Ferdinande, Cal Garrison, Curt Guyette, Mike Pfeiffer, Dontae Rockymore, Dan Savage, Sara Barron, Jane Slaughter

The return of Comedy


turns 30................................. 12 Stir It Up............................... 16

Central’s Detroiters............. 22 Food Review: Asaysia.................. 26 Bites...................................... 28

Associate Publisher - Jim Cohen Regional Sales Director - Danielle Smith-Elliott Senior Multimedia Account Executive Jeff Nutter Multimedia Account Executive Jessica Frey, Molly Clark Account Manager, Classifieds - Josh Cohen Marketing Assistant - Mallary Becker

BUSINESS/OPERATIONS Business Manager - Holly Rhodes Controller - Kristy Dotson

What’s Going On................ 34 Fast Forward........................ 40

CREATIVE SERVICES Graphic Designers - Paul Martinez, Haimanti Germain

CIRCULATION Circulation Manager - Annie O’Brien


Music Iceage................................... 42

Arts & Culture Black Scroll Network History and Tours............................. 44 Means of Production............ 46 Film: Spanish Language Film Festival................................. 48 Savage Love......................... 50 Horoscopes........................... 58

Chief Executive Officer - Andrew Zelman Chief Operating Officers - Chris Keating, Michael Wagner Creative Director - Tom Carlson Art Director - Eric Millikin VP of Digital Services - Stacy Volhein Digital Operations Coordinator - Jaime Monzon National Advertising - Voice Media Group 1-888-278-9866, Detroit Metro Times 30 E. Canfield St. Detroit, MI 48201 Editorial - 313-202-8011, Advertising - 313-961-4060 Circulation - 313-202-8049 The Detroit Metro Times is published every week by Euclid Media Group Verified Audit Member Detroit Distribution: The Detroit Metro Times is available free of charge, limited to one copy per reader.

On the cover: Photo by Art Streiber.

Printed on recycled paper Printed By

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EUCLID MEDIA • Copyright - The entire contents of the Detroit Metro Times are copyright 2018 by Euclid Media Group LLC. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission of the publisher is prohibited. Publisher does not assume any liability for unsolicited manuscripts, materials, or other content. Any submission must include a stamped, self-addressed envelope. All editorial, advertising, and business correspondence should be mailed to the address listed above. Prior written permission must be granted to Metro Times for additional copies. Metro Times may be distributed only by Metro Times’ authorized distributors and independent contractors. Subscriptions are available by mail inside the U.S. for six months at $80 and a yearly subscription for $150. Include check or money order payable to - Metro Times Subscriptions, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale, MI 48220-1427. (Please note - Third Class subscription copies are usually received 3-5 days after publication date in the Detroit area.) Most back issues obtainable for $5 at Metro Times offices or $7 prepaid by mail.

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8 June 20-26, 2018 |

on sale friday

coming soon

coming soon concert calendar: 6/22 – pouya w/ wifisfuneral, shakewell 6/23 – night riots @ the shelter w/ courtship

6/27 – code orange @ the shelter

w/ nicole dollanganger, twitching tongues, vein, detain

6/29 – nick lowe & los straitjackets w/ pi power trio

sept. 1

the shelter


june 23 led zeppelin 2 s. andrew’s

6/30 – dave lory remembers jeff buckley 7/1 – brooklyn queen @ the shelter 7/7 – anthony green

w/ found wild, good old war

7/10 – silent planet w/ spirit breaker, my epic, comrades

7/13 – slum village

w/ phat kat & guilty simpson

sept. 15 queen extravaganza st. andrew’s

june 26 the wailers st. andrew’s

7/15 – the red jumpsuit apparatus @ the shelter w/ rivals, a war within, young pioneer

7/19 – femi kuti 7/20 – armored saint @ the shelter w/ act of defiance

7/24 – l7 7/26 – attila w/ suicide silence, volumes, rings of saturn, spite, cross your fingers

7/28 – us the duo @ the shelter w/ justin nokouza

oct. 11

the shelter

the frights

june 28

arrested development

w/ clear soul forces, s. andrew’s jahi of pe 2.0

7/29 – ben harper & charlie musselwhite limited tickets available

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NEWS & VIEWS News Hits

Detroit steps up blight enforcement while letting its own properties rot without consequence By Violet Ikonomova

Detroit has been fining resi-

dents for blight violations as small as failing to take a trash bin off the street on pick-up day — even though the city owns properties that look like the one on this page. The house pictured here is owned by the Detroit Land Bank Authority. Despite a number of apparent blight violations, it has not received a ticket since 2008, when it was owned by someone else, according to the city’s open data portal. Meanwhile, thousands of homeowners have been ticketed and fined for blight violations as small as failing to take their trash bin off the street in a timely fashion. Ordinance 22-2-45 says homeowners or occupants must only take their trash bin out to the street after 6 p.m. the night before pick up, and take the bin back up their driveway by 9 p.m. the day the trashed is hauled away. There are also rules on where residents can and can’t keep that trash bin between collections. Ordinance 22-243 says bins must be kept out of street view. Thousands of homeowners have been ticketed for failing to comply with that ordinance as well. Each violation carries a $130 penalty. Enforcement of such petty blight violations has ramped up under Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. According to the city’s open data portal, anywhere from 800 to 1,900 tickets were issued for violations of Ordinance 22-2-45 in each year between 2015 and 2017. By contrast, about 200 tickets went out for the violation in 2013 and in 2014. Tickets for trash bins that aren’t properly stored have been issued 500 to 750 times a year since 2015. By contrast, just 100 such tickets were issued in 2013. According to a city flyer from 2017, “violation of time limit for approved containers to remain at curbside” is one

5741 Field Street is owned by the Detroit Land Bank Authority. It has not received a blight ticket in 10 years.

of the top 10 code violations in Detroit. Others include “excessive weeds and plant growth” and “rodent harborage.” If you have a rotting, city-owned house nearby, you can try submitting a complaint to the city’s property maintenance division at Whether the city will be able to clean up its mess is unclear, however: Detroit owns more than 95,000 properties and has limited funds for upkeep and demolitions. The city was unable to immediately

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provide comment.

Detroit launches new bus loop to boost enrollment at charters, city public schools By Violet Ikonomova Detroit city and school officials have formally launched a controversial bus loop pilot program intended to help boost enrollment at both


charter schools and schools in the Detroit Public Schools Community District. The one-year pilot program will circulate students between 10 schools and after-school programming in northwest Detroit. The idea is that the free aftercare and transport offering — which will cost participating DPSCD schools $1,000 per pupil or $25,000 per school — will help schools in Detroit bring back some of the 32,000 kids who Duggan says

leave the city each day to attend schools elsewhere. Some have criticized the plan for its inclusion of charter schools, with which the Detroit Public Schools Community District competes for students. The proliferation of charter schools helped lead to the undoing of DPSCD’s predecessor district, Detroit Public Schools. DPSCD board member LaMar Lemmons and his wife, Georgia Lemmons, were the only members to vote “no” on the bus loop. At the late May board meeting where the proposal was ultimately approved, Lemmons was quoted by The Detroit Free Press as saying the district is working with the people and entities “that worked to undermine and destroy this district.” In a phone call last week, Lemmons said he and his wife were also against the plan because they believe it can’t be replicated citywide at the cost of $1,000 per student, and that by implementing the system in only the better-off neighborhoods that make up northwest Detroit, “we’re creating a classist support district.” Others criticized the plan as a costly attempt by Duggan to score political points. “We need the money for other purposes,” activist Helen Moore reportedly told the board at the time. Detroit Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, meanwhile, has reportedly argued the plan doesn’t aid charter schools at the expense of the district because each school will pay for how many students utilize the program. Initially, the Duggan administration had proposed that each school pay a flat rate of $25,000 to participate. There are six DPSCD schools on the route and four charter schools. The program would have kids hop on the bus at the participating school closest to their home, then take the bus to their school. After school, they could take the bus back to the school near their home or to the Northwest Activities Center for after-school programming. The DPSCD schools to participate in the program are Vernor Elementary, Bagley Elementary, Schulze Elementary-Middle, Coleman A. Young Elementary, Foreign Language Immersion and Cultural Studies, and John R. King Academic & Performing Arts Academy. The charters involved are Detroit Achievement Academy, Lincoln-King Academy, University YES Academy, and MacDowell Preparatory Academy. Vitti was quoted by the Freep as saying the DPSCD schools were cho-

sen due to their strong leaders and strong programs, “which positions us to compete” for students. Parents can enroll their kids in the program at

Ex-Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick asks Trump for pardon By Violet Ikonomova This is how it begins, folks. On June 6, The Detroit Free Press mused that Donald Trump might want to pardon Kwame Kilpatrick as a fuck you to the Justice Department, former president Barack Obama, and people in general. Last week, Kilpatrick — in the midst of a 28-year prison sentence for racketeering and other crimes — asked for that pardon. Kilpatrick made the public plea on his “official” Facebook page and a new website to which local media outlets, including this one, have devoted a good deal of coverage. The Free Kwame Project is essentially a Kwame truther site aimed to improve perceptions of the ex-mayor, raise money for his legal defense, and give an outlet to his Jesus-laced ramblings. In a blog posted to the site, Kwame says he’s been transformed by the time he’s spent behind bars and that he’s “Ready For the Second-Half.. It’s Time.” “Our country has always been the land of 2nd Chances!” Kwame writes. “I am hoping, confidently expecting, that I will have the opportunity to boldly move into the next season of my life; outside of these prison walls.” “By God’s grace, I have received a pardon from Him, through Christ Jesus. I pray that I will receive the opportunity for Pardon/Clemency from the President of the United States as well.” According to the Free Press, Kilpatrick has also filed a formal request with the Justice Department to have his sentenced commuted. A commutation would shorten the length of Kilpatrick’s sentence rather than wipe his conviction. The request isn’t all that farfetched. Trump has pardoned the likes of former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpiao, conservative author Dinesh D’Souza, and a grandma whose cause was championed by Kim Kardashian. Recently, he has said he’s considering pardons for Martha Stewart and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. @violetikon

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Motor City Blight Busters on a recent Saturday.


Who you gonna call?

As Motor City Blight Busters turns 30, a new chapter begins By Lee DeVito

As far as anniversaries go, Mo-

tor City Blight Busters is enjoying a trifecta: The nonprofit’s founder, John George, was born and raised in the Brightmoor neighborhood not far from his organization’s Old Redford headquarters on June, 24, 1958. He founded Blight Busters 30 years ago in June, and bought the building that houses Artist Village — the sprawling campus that serves as a hub for the group as well as the community and includes a gallery, performance space, outdoor courtyards, and colorful murals — 15 years ago. “Play it in the lotto, 6015,” he says with a chuckle over coffee at Artist Village’s Motor City Java House and Café. “Isn’t that weird how it worked out?” The neighborhood has come a long way since George boarded up his first house three decades ago. Now, what he refers to as Blight Busters’ campus in Old Redford takes up five blocks, and

the stretch of Lahser Road it sits on is positively bustling, with George repeatedly pausing our interview to individually greet visitors who stop in to the coffee shop. (Nearby neighbors include a Meijer grocery store that opened in 2015, the second in the city. The project came as a direct result of Meijer president Mark Murray meeting face to face with George; George surmises the store is “the largest investment in this community in probably a hundred years.”) On the first Saturday in August, the neighborhood’s Sidewalk Festival of the Arts, now in its sixth year, will host some 7,000 visitors. “Our goal is simple,” George says, wearing his typical uniform: a T-shirt with the Blight Busters Ghostbustersesque logo featuring a crossed-out abandoned house, a black blazer, and a baseball hat emblazoned with the Tigers’ old English D. “We want to save the world, starting with Detroit.”

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But as George celebrates three decades of blight busting, he’s looking forward to a change in pace, and seems happy to cede that fight to Mayor Mike Duggan’s demolition program. Instead, the organization’s next chapter will focus on fixing up its campus. But there are other factors, too. “My daughter is pregnant with our first grandchild, and I’m looking forward to slowing down a little bit,” he says. “I’ll be a Blight Buster till the day they stuff me in the ground. ... Don’t get me wrong, we’ve saved this neighborhood basically, so I’m not going to say it’s not important, but raising a grandchild is certainly intriguing and I want to give it my best shot.”

It takes a Village George says he remembers visiting the building that is now Artist Village when he was a child, back when it housed Master’s Candies. By the time he acquired the

building, what is now the coffee shop was an abandoned beauty salon, and there was only one tenant left in the whole building — a shoe repair guy. “Everything else was in shambles,” he says. “We had to bust everything out and start all over.” “The front door of the coffee shop was on the sidewalk, there were bars on the window,” he says. “It was on the city’s demolition list when we got it. We started on this side and worked our way over.” George says the group must have spent “somewhere shy of $1 million” acquiring it, paying the back taxes, and doing all the repairs, and must have raised and spent some $20 million on projects in its 30-year history. George has fond memories of growing up in the neighborhood in the ’60s. “It was a great, solid neighborhood,” he says. “We were raised very strict Catholics, we knew all our neighbors. On Christmas Eve we’d all go to midnight Mass,

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NEWS & VIEWS and there’d literally be 300 people in our house at 1 o’clock to about 5 in the morning, it was just crazy. ... The folks were just really good people, good hearts, honest people, hardworking people.” But George says by the late ’60s and early ’70s “everything changed around me, and I just never left.” By the ’80s, he was working in his family’s insurance business when he bought a duplex nearby. That’s when a neighboring abandoned house turned into a crack house. “I called the city, I called the mayor, I called the police, I didn’t want to move,” he says. “I didn’t want my kids growing up around it.” George says one night, he was sitting at the edge of his bed contemplating doing what hundreds of thousands of Detroiters had done before him: move. Instead, he had another idea. The next day, he drove to the hardware store and bought plywood, nails, and paint. “I was in the insurance business, I was driving a Lincoln,” he says. “I didn’t let people smoke in my fucking car, and I got fucking plywood on the roof.” He spent the next four hours cutting the grass and working on boarding up the house. That’s when a car pulled up and two big guys walked out and asked him what he was doing. “I said, ‘Well I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to move and I don’t want my kids living next to this, so you can help me or you can get the hell out of my way,’” George says. To his surprise, they said they wanted to help. “I said, ‘great,’ because they were too big to fight,” he says. It turned out that the men — Felix B. Wright III and Albert E. Mack — were also fathers, and both had young kids. The three men spent another four hours boarding up the house together. George says later that evening, he watched the drug dealers return; when they walked up to the house and noticed it had been boarded up they got back in their car and left. “That was it, that’s how this whole thing started,” George says. “It was just me trying to protect my son, and my wife who was pregnant with my daughter. And we said, ‘Well, that was pretty simple.’” The three men did it again the next week, and the next, and the next. The project soon ballooned in size, recruiting tens of thousands of volunteers annually, from the community and beyond — with companies like the Big Three automakers, Comcast, Home Depot, and Quicken Loans providing bodies as team-building exercises. “We’ve been doing what we had to do, to protect our children, to protect our

John and Alicia George.

women, to protect our property values, and have a city that people actually want to come to and not flee from,” George says. At times, that has included doing things that are technically illegal — like tearing down at least a dozen abandoned houses to make farmland — “no permits, no ownership, no nothing,” he says. “We just did it.” “A lot of the mayors realized early on that what we were doing was for the better of community, so if we tore down a house or boarded up a house, I don’t think they were exactly thrilled, but they didn’t arrest me either,” George says. But in recent years, Blight Busters has backed away from its DIY demolitions as the Duggan administration has ramped up its own demolition efforts — though the Duggan program is now under federal investigation for possible corruption, including bid-rigging and escalating costs. “I just hope that when that boils over they can get back to aggressively fighting blight, because we know if you don’t stop it, it’s like a cancer and it spreads and it kills everything,” George says. “You can’t blame any one person or any one company or any one mayor or any one cop. Overall, we are all responsible for Detroit’s demise. That’s why it’s going to take all of us to redouble our efforts — to build coffee shops, and community centers, and art galleries, and cafes, create that opportunity and create some homeowners, create some business owners, create some hope.”

Growing pains These days, George is working on a number of projects on the campus that

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coincide with the group’s 30th anniversary. He’s moved Blight Busters’ administrative offices from the duplex down the street where he still lives with his wife, Alicia, to the space above the volunteer center in Artists Village. An Art Vansponsored bed and breakfast is under construction. Other changes include an outdoor deck, plans to construct a large circus-tent-like collapsable roof for the courtyard outside, and nearby housing for war veterans. “It goes back to Blight Busters’ core mission of bringing everybody together, almost like a gumbo,” George says. In keeping with the Ghostbusters theme, George drives a 1980s station wagon — the “Blightmobile” — which he uses to give a tour through the neighborhood. He shows off a mural dedicated to the musician Prince, which is the work of Chazz Miller, who founded Artist Village. “That guy is a maniac, I call him the ‘Picasso of Detroit,’” George says. “He’s incredible.” Driving by a nearby Masonic Temple, George gets wistful; Blight Busters had acquired the building for just a dollar and began the long process of rehabbing it, but lost it during the economic downturn a decade ago. “If I ever hit the lotto I promise you I’m buying this building back,” he says. “On the third floor there’s a 350-seat community theater space with a winding staircase, balconies, and columns that I never got to restore. I got halfway through the damn thing and I lost it. It was the one that got away.” As he drives down the neighborhood’s streets, George points out the difference between houses the city boards up versus those done by Blight Busters — Blight

Busters paints the plywood to approximately match the houses, and leaves a sticker with its logo on the door. “We’re not in competition with the city,” he says. “Every one they board up is one I ain’t got to do.” George grimaces as we drive by a house that has fallen into disrepair. “Then you got idiots like this,” he says. The tour continues past a boarded-up school. “This school we helped board up years ago, then the city boarded it up, then someone else boarded it up,” he says. “And now the city issued an RFP, a request for proposal, and I think they got a couple bids back, but I haven’t heard anything since.” George stops the Blightmobile just blocks from the Artist Village — it’s an empty lot where the first crack house he boarded up used to be. “That demo happened last week, and there’s one up here getting ready to happen,” he says. He points to a house nearby. “We did that house years ago, and whoever we sold it to lost it,” he says. Another lot that Blight Busters had previously cleaned has now been turned into a dump again. “We had this all cleaned up, but we’ll get that in the spring,” he says. George sighs. It seems like it’s always one step forward, two steps back. “People ask me all the time, ‘What do you really think?’” he says. “I say running the Blight Busters has been an honor, a pleasure, and a real pain in the ass.” But George doesn’t sound one ounce defeated. “It’s not a job,” he says. “It’s my life.” @leedevito


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Michigan Poor People’s Campaign By Larry Gabriel

The rally sponsored by the Michigan Poor People’s Campaign outside Cobo Center last week aimed at taking the moral higher ground in the fight against the financial and political web of poverty. “Jesus was a poor man,” the Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the national Poor People’s Campaign, told the assembled crowd. Michigan Poor People’s Campaign coupled the rally with Barber’s scheduled address to the UAW Constitutional Convention, which was going on inside Cobo at the time. In a show of solidarity with the campaign, UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada was among those speaking outside at the demonstration. “It will take all of our movements coming together if we want to make real change,” said Estrada. “It’s not just contracts we bargain, but it’s about the world we create.” All those movements are taking on many of the issues the Poor People’s Campaign addresses. Low wages, systemic racism, the war economy, voting restrictions, ecological devastation, access to clean water, access to health care, the war against immigrants, and the “nation’s distorted morality” are treated as part of the same evil dogging poor people and keeping them that way. The national Poor People’s Campaign has been active for a couple of years, and this event was part of an effort to sign on local religious leaders. The campaign is in the midst of 40 days of action that will culminate June 23 with the Stand Against Poverty Mass Rally and Moral Revival in Washington, D.C. It’s a revival of the Poor People’s Campaign that was cut off 50 years ago by the murder of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The campaign builds on the fusion politics that was successful for progressive activists then and is so necessary now. The same day that folks rallied outside Cobo, activists of many stripes were involved in crucial events around the city. The UAW was inside Cobo; the Allied Media Conference was kicking off at Wayne State University, and later 16 June June 20-26, 2018 | | 16 20-26, 2018


in the day a MoveOn-sponsored Families Belong Together Rally was headed to the Detroit Immigration Detention Center. A T-shirt worn by one demonstrator displayed the general ethos of that fusion. In one of the most expansive agendas to be found on a shirt, it declared: “Science is real Black lives matter No human is illegal Love is love Women’s rights are human rights Kindness is everything.” The water issue had a high profile in the crowd, from the Flint crisis to pending shutoffs in Detroit to water problems in communities across the country. Numerous signs addressed water issues and two women from Flint spoke about their personal struggles. Barber pointed out, “You can buy unleaded gas but you can’t buy unleaded water,” while addressing that problem. The underlying issues of the campaign include a long-simmering offensive from the right to reverse

liberal trends that culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Opponents of those laws on the right began their so-called Southern strategy appeal that has successfully gnawed away at those rights with veiled, dog-whistle racist appeals. President Donald Trump has pulled those appeals from the underground to the mainstream with his openly misogynist, racist, and anti-immigrant campaign strategy. Trump may be brazenly trying to finish this takeover, but he did not start it. “Don’t get a Trump addiction high and miss on how he got here,” Barber said. Regarding the presidential election, Barber said that in Wisconsin 250,000 votes were suppressed while Trump won the state by 30,000 votes. That kind of thing is the goal of all the voter purges that are taking place. If you can’t win fairly then don’t let the other side’s supporters vote. Notice that last week the Supreme Court just upheld the Ohio voter purge law along partisan lines. That includes

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NEWS & VIEWS conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was installed by Trump after the Republican-controlled Senate refused to even consider Barack Obama’s nominee over the last 10 months of his presidency. Republicans are getting good payback on that stalling move. Never let anyone tell you the Supreme Court doesn’t matter. This one was built piece by piece over the past few decades. Moving to health care, Barber pointed out that the United States already has the money to help poor people with something such as universal health care, or Medicare for all as it is being referred to. However, the war economy that has taken over the country gobbles up billions and Trump seeks more billions to build a border wall. “We have misguided priorities,” Barber said. “We’re making the decision to build more bombs or give people clean water. ... Politicians get health care just for getting elected. How the hell can you say you don’t want the people that elected you to get the same thing you get.” While Barber spoke on the driveway outside Cobo, he was approached by a uniformed security guard who apparently told the reverend he couldn’t do what he was doing there. “You can arrest me,” said Barber. When the guard came back shortly after, Barber asked if that was his final warning. He went on to point out to the demonstrators that the security guard is a low-wage worker with no health care, and that he should be outside supporting the demonstration for poor people. As the stock market soars, it’s only people who own stocks who profit. The low unemployment rates mask the fact that there are working poor people who don’t earn enough to support a family or pay for health care. A Washington Post headline last week announced that “A minimum-wage worker can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the U.S.” The article goes on to say that the $15-per-hour living wage that many are fighting for would not pay the rent in most states. No wonder we need a Poor People’s Campaign. The living wage that people still can’t get isn’t even enough for people to live on. There were other speakers at the rally, including the Rev. Ed Rowe, an organizer of the event, as well as a couple of other ministers, and the state chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Maureen Taylor. As Barber wound up his speech before going in to the UAW Convention, he gathered the group together for a

Never let anyone tell you the Supreme Court doesn’t matter. This one was built piece by piece over the past few decades. prayer, saying, “If you’ve never prayed before, it doesn’t hurt.” It wasn’t my first time, but I’m not

18 June20-26, 20-26,2018 2018 | | 18 June

really a praying kind of guy. It didn’t hurt. And I’d rather pray with people who are trying to help the poor than

with folks running around quoting biblical verses to justify ripping immigrant families apart, or a televangelist who says God wants him to have a $54 million private jet. A long time ago I thought there was at least some level of morality on the religious right. Not anymore. It’s on our side. @gumbogabe


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Tim Robinson and Sam Richardson are “Detroiters.”

Motor City ad men

How Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson made a TV comedy about Detroit, for Detroit By Jack Roskopp

Sister, Sister. Home Improve-

ment. Martin. Freaks and Geeks. All of these sitcoms were set in metro Detroit, but you might not even know it had it not been for an aerial shot of downtown after the opening credits rolled, or small plot points like Tia and Tamera Mowry’s characters on Sister, Sister attending col-

lege at the University of Michigan. And while Detroit is well represented in other areas of pop culture, it is a bit lacking when it comes to television. Up until recently, the only semi-popular TV shows set in Detroit in the last 10 years were Detroit 1-8-7, a cop show that only furthered the narrative that Detroit is just

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a city full of homicides and crime, and Undateable, a half-hour comedy on NBC that could have been set in any U.S. city. That all changed with Detroiters — created by Tim Robinson and Sam Richardson, two veterans of the Detroit comedy scene, along with comedy writers Zach Kanin and Joe Kelly. The show

debuted in February of last year, and was renewed for a second season, which premieres this week.

Second City Detroiters The germ of what would become Detroiters goes back to the now-defunct Second City Detroit (the venue closed in


2004; it’s now City Theatre), long before comedy titans Lorne Michaels and Jason Sudeikis agreed to executive produce the show. That’s where Richardson, then an aspiring comedian, took classes from Robinson. Little did they know that they would forge a friendship that would last years and inspire their own TV show. “Tim and mine’s stories are basically the same,” Richardson says in a phone call with the duo. Richardson graduated from the city’s University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy in 2002. Meanwhile, Robinson graduated from high school in the suburbs, from Clarkston High. The two went on to perform at Hamtramck’s Planet Ant Theatre,

and eventually wound up at Chicago’s Second City around the same time. The bromance continued, even after the two found national success. Robinson spent time as a featured cast member and writer on Saturday Night Live, while Richardson joined the cast of Veep as a delightful yet socially awkward White House staffer named Richard, where he worked alongside Julia Louis-Dreyfus — a dream job for most comics. With their own personal success steadily climbing, the two say they wanted to shine the spotlight on their hometown. “I can remember being backstage with Sam before shows in Chicago and just

thinking how cool it would be to have our own TV show and how much we wanted to bring it back to Detroit,” Robinson says. “But that was always [a] pipe dream. Then the actual opportunity came up and we were just like, ‘Shit, let’s do it.’” The show follows Sam Duvet and Tim Cramblin, two ad agency guys that are basically just heightened versions of Richardson and Robinson. In the show, Sam and Tim are best friends, brotherin-laws, and neighbors who do literally everything together. Their ad agency, handed down from Tim’s father, specializes in corny, low-budget yet memorable local TV commercials — inspired by real-life commercials from the Detroit

area in the ’80s and ‘90s, like Mel Farr “your superstar dealer,” Dittrich Furs, and D.O.C.’s “Sexy Specs” campaign. “I mean, how can you not forget some of those commercials?” says Robinson. “They are classics.” “Because we shoot the show in Detroit, some people on our crew were crew members and shot those commercials from back in the day,” adds Richardson. If New York City was the fifth cast member of Sex and the City, the Motor City is the third cast member of Detroiters. In the first season alone you’ll recognize the People Mover, the DIA, London Chop House, and countless more Detroit landmarks. In the show, Sam and Tim drink Vernors religiously, they eat coney dogs for breakfast, and even come up with their own Detroit-themed T-shirt a la “Detroit vs. Everybody” and “Detroit Hustles Harder.” Other situations or references are so Detroit-specific that they’ll likely be missed by people who have never lived here. In one episode in season one, Sam is hilariously mistaken as a prostitute by a high-powered woman modeled after former City Council member Monica Conyers. “We were a little worried that some Detroit-specific jokes were going to go over people’s heads,” Richardson admits. As one example of them toning it down, coney dogs are only referred to simply as “hot dogs” in the show. There’s other Motor City-centric gags, too. Every time Sam or Tim watches the news, former WDIV newscaster Mort Crim shows up to read the fake headlines in his signature baritone. People watching the show anywhere that is not Detroit might just assume that it’s an actor playing a newscaster, but Detroiters know that Crim is a real person and a living legend. That’s what makes watching Detroiters so much fun — we’re in on the joke. And the show can get topical. In one season one episode, Sam and Tim discover while using the bathroom on the vacant floor below them in their office that a super-hip tech company from out of state is taking over the space, with the clichéd attitude that they’re going to “save Detroit” simply by moving there. This causes Sam and Tim to spiral into a gentrification-induced anxiety attack, as they soon realize that their beloved Detroit is being taken over by millennials and rolling peddle bars filled with people from the suburbs. The story arc mirrors the real Detroit, which has changed rapidly in recent years since Dan Gilbert relocated Quicken Loans’ headquarters downtown in 2010. “We really didn’t mean to make an episode like that, but every time that we would come home and visit, something about the city had changed,” Robinson says. “Whether it was a new restaurant or

| June 20-26, 2018




a new business, something is different.” Of course, you don’t need to be a Detroiter to appreciate the show. Beyond poking fun at Detroit, Robinson and Richardson flex plenty of other comedic muscles. The two are fantastic physical comedians, as seen in the first episode, where they take a ton of diet pills from the ’60s that they find in an old desk at the office that basically work on them like speed. What results is a Don Draper-level brainstorm session where Sam and Tim start throwing objects at a thick piece of glass in the office, determined to make it shatter. The trailer for season two features not one but two vomit jokes.

A crash course on the Motor City If one wanted to learn about Detroit pop culture, they could do worse than binge-watch the first season of Detroiters. At least that’s the position comedian and podcaster Seth Resler found himself in when he started the Detroit vs. Detroiters Podcast, where he recapped each episode alongside fellow comedian Mike Geeter. “The show’s a big love letter to Detroit,” says Resler, who moved to Detroit three years ago from the California Bay Area. “I’m not entirely sure how much sense

the show makes if you’re not from Detroit, because there are a lot of Detroit references. And that’s what our podcast essentially became, and we didn’t even know that when we started. It became this decoder ring where I would play the new guy and Mike would play the guy who grew up here and he would explain all the references to me that I didn’t get.” Resler notes that the show signals its relationship to the city it’s set in to a much higher degree than most other shows. “Cheers was pretty Boston, but not the way this is,” he says. “I don’t know that Frasier was ever really Seattle the way this is.” He says he also noticed that Detroiters represented Detroit differently than other films set in Detroit. “When you compare it to movies — it’s 8 Mile, The Crow, RoboCop. They’re all pretty bleak depictions of Detroit. So this is much more positive.” In the end, Resler says the show helped him appreciate his new home. “It honestly made me like the city a lot more,” he says. “I learned an insane amount about the city of Detroit in a short period of time because these guys crammed so much of Detroit into the show.”

Back again Creating a TV show so deeply

24 June 20-26, 2018 |

rooted in the city where it takes place is a daunting task, and Robinson and Richardson say they felt like they had an obligation to the people of Detroit to get it right. “One of the most important things for us was to show how Detroit isn’t shown typically,” Richardson says. “So many TV shows show it in this negative light, and we just wanted to show the Detroit that we know. There’s so much ruin porn.” It helps that plenty of the show’s cast and crew call Detroit home themselves, and Richardson and Robinson have used it to invite ex-pats back to the city. That includes fellow metro Detroit native and Second City alum Keegan Michael-Key, who shows up as a prospective client for Sam and Tim. “A lot of the people on the cast are like our friends from back in the day, or they are actors who lived here and now live in L.A.,” Robinson says. “It’s really fun for them to come home and shoot the show because they get to visit family that they may not have seen in a while, or just see how the city has changed so much,” adds Richardson. Other locals include actress Lailani Ledesma (who plays the character Lea) and Christopher Powell

(who plays a security guard). By all accounts, it appears Richardson and Robinson are set to cram even more references into season two — Detroit locales set to be featured include showing Sam and Tim spending the day at Belle Isle, throwing some footballs at the fowling warehouse in Hamtramck (which will surely deeply confuse the rest of America), and pitching to executives inside the offices of Little Caesars. “We are so lucky that we got to shoot a second season, and we really just wanted to tell these characters’ stories and show again how cool of a place Detroit is,” Richardson says. “It’s a dream come true that we get to make this show in our hometown, about our hometown,” adds Robinson. “Not many other comedians get to do that.” Detroiters premieres Thursday, June 21 on Comedy Central, with back-toback episodes at 10 and 10:30 p.m. The following week, the show will move to its regular time at 10:30 p.m. on Thursdays. @metrotimes


| June 20-26, 2018


FOOD What kind of dream is this? By Tom Perkins

Asaysia Wine and Dine gives

you a lot to digest before you ever take a bite. From the vision statement on its website: “The Vision behind Asaysia is to bring the exquisite class, decor, and elegance of New York, Dubai, and Paris France to Downtown Detroit. In order to do this we created a make-believe world, a fantasy within a dream, where people can take pause, step away, and get away for a short stay, from the clutches of reality. By creating a fantasy of what a perfect Restaurant should look like, we have created a dream within a fantasy. An upscale Plates to Share Restaurant that has no rival in service, quality, food, and ambiance. Cheers & Bon Voyage…” Dang. Just try to find another Detroit restaurant on that mission. With that in mind, the Asaysia dream feels a bit like a recurring one, as a lot of the formula here is familiar. Asaysia Wine and Dine is also known as Asyasia Plates to Share, and the nation’s love for shared plates stretches back a couple decades. The menu is also that “new American” fare that pops up with regularity, often on small or shared plates, while the craft cocktail menu offers the barkeeps’ take on old classics and a few originals. But Asaysia also created its own style — someone clearly spent a lot of money building out the Brush Street restaurant just north of Greektown. It’s also worth noting there’s more to come — additions to the Asaysia brand include a sports bar that will open upstairs later this year. Diving into the menu, the first thing you’ll realize is shared plates doesn’t necessarily mean the small plates that seem to be implied. What would usually qualify as small plates that one would share is mixed in with the large plates, and vegetable dishes get their own section. In other words, “plates to share” is a suggestion and seems to be a part of the “good food, good times, good

St. Louis-style pork ribs with pickled fennel slaw.

friends” Asaysia calls for with the phrase on its wall. Far and away, the menu’s best option are the cast-iron-seared pork chops, which at $25 arrive under roasted Brussels sprouts and apples, and atop a creamy sage polenta. The textures and deep flavors in each of the plates’ components work well together. The beef sirloin and arugula salad packed a bit less flavor. A mix of grilled cipollini, arugula, gorgonzola, fingerling potatoes, and balsamic that accompany the meat is lively, but the meat needs to be the kind of fresh, high-end, flavorful beef that can carry a dish, or it should be adequately seasoned. The medallions didn’t seem to be either in this $16 plate. The crab cakes served with a cilantrokale pesto suffered from the same issue — there was a lot of ocean in the tiny cakes, with meat that’s a little stringier and tougher (perhaps because it’s claw meat?) than the rich, luxurious variety I hope for in a $26 plate. A high note was the roasted beet salad with salty feta and golden and red beets, but the side of asparagus was a bit bland. Similarly, one of our pizzas lacked the flavor that the description implied. The Brush Street Market comes with four cheeses, Italian sausage, basil, caramel-

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Asaysia 1452 Brush St., Detroit 313-656-4550 Dinner served 2 p.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday $6 for sides to $28 for meals

ized onions, tomatoes, and garlic olive oil. It sounds like a solid mix, but the crumbled Italian sausage was flavorless and the whole package could have benefited from more garlic olive oil — though a co-diner who is also a pizza chef thought it needed a tomato-based sauce. A better option is the vegetable pizza, but both pies came with a layer of flour on the bottom crust that didn’t help boost the flavor. On the other hand, the rubs Asaysia uses to enliven its jerk chicken wings and St. Louis-style ribs really pop. But while the chicken wings — four small wings for $14 — were flavorful, they were too dry. The dry-rubbed St. Louis-style ribs were tasty, but for some reason the plate came with a barbecue sauce that lacked any real life, and the accompanying fennel slaw that seemed exciting on paper turned out to be grainy and bland. There were other issues at Asaysia.

I twice tried to order the smoked pork belly trio, but they were out both times. We shared a meal with fruit flies, and an hour-and-45-minute-meal for two pizzas and ribs is too long, especially when there are three other tables at the restaurant. The garganelli with tomato, broccoli, artichoke, caper berries, roasted garlic cream, and romano cheese deserves some praise, but it arrived with capers instead of caper berries, and $19 is a lot to ask. And that price point is worth a mention. Myself and two co-diners topped $200 on one visit. That includes cocktails, which were mostly solid, but it’s a lot to pay for ordering caper berries and receiving capers, or finding a lot of sea in your cab cakes. Overall, Asaysia was a little bit of an odd case because nothing was terrible, but there seemed to be a minor issue with each of the plates. It’s all correctable, of course, and there’s a lot of potential here. So hopefully the threemonth old restaurant improves with time, because we don’t like to see anyone fail in their dream. @metrotimes


| June 20-26, 2018



Nadia Nijimbere and Hamissi Mamba.


Two refugees are opening a restaurant on one of Detroit’s best blocks By Tom Perkins

In new Detroit terms, there are

few better blocks in the city to be getting ready to open a restaurant than that on Woodward Avenue between East Grand Boulevard and Milwaukee Avenue. Much of it is now owned by Midtown Inc., the nonprofit that helped redevelop Midtown. It’s where Selden Standard’s owners are building out a new concept and several other of Detroit’s favorite restaurateurs are considering new locations. It’s also where Hamissi Mamba and Nadia Nijimbere will later this year open a new East African restaurant in a space where a former Rose’s Fine Foods co-owner scrapped plans for her new restaurant. What’s notable about Mamba and Nijimbre is they aren’t hip, local restaurateurs looking for their next project. They’re in the process of building a new life after fleeing violence in their native Burundi a few years ago and arriving in the U.S. with next to nothing. Upon moving here, they lived at the Freedom House, a temporary home in Detroit that supports refugees who are victims of political violence. Now they’re carving out a new 60-seat restaurant at the corner of Woodward and East Grand Boulevard called Baobab

Fare. It will be the first around downtown Detroit to offer a menu devoted to Burundian and East African cuisine. And if the response to their 2017 popups (where they sold out of food) is any indicator, it should do well. Mamba tells Metro Times he thinks that the restaurant, which he says will open by December at the latest, has a lot going for it, and they’re committed to the cause. “It’s a very good location. Woodward — that’s Detroit,” he says. “And another thing, I think what we are bringing in Detroit is something that is new and unique ... and I believe in our cuisine and our services, and it’s a high responsibility — we have to show people who are supporting us that we are able to do this.” When Nijimbere arrived at Freedom House in 2013, she learned she was pregnant with twins. Mamba joined her in 2015, and in the following years they began working with Southwest Solution’s ProsperUS to develop a businesses idea. After hosting several successful pop-ups in 2017, the duo won $50,000 in the Hatch Detroit contest, then began focusing on a brick and mortar location. Earlier this year, the space at Woodward and East Grand Boulevard

28 June 20-26, 2018 |

became available. “We have been working hard to be where we are, but we couldn’t be there without support from Freedom House,” Mamba says. “They opened this door for us, and ProsperUS Detroit gave us the knowledge to know and open the restaurant. After winning the Hatch contest, that was like the key of opening a business. We [had] nothing — no house, we didn’t have a credit card, so to open the business with the $50,000 — that was something we can bring to the table, to the lenders in Detroit, and say, ‘Hey, we don’t have enough, but we have this, and that’s something.’” When Baobab Fare opens, it’ll offer dishes that are heavy on vegetables like green pepper, onion, tomatoes, garlic, and celery, cooked with lemon and spices like white pepper, black pepper, curry, cumin, oregano, and garam masala. Since there isn’t a lot of money to buy oils and ingredients for cooking in Burundi, a lot of the simple dishes rely on spices grown on families’ land. Mamba describes them as flavorful spices, but not hot. More specifically, the menu will include pilao (spiced rice, beef, and veggies), wali wa nazi (rice cooked with

coconut water, brochette beef, and chicken), African vegetable (spinach with peanut), and kuku (marinated chicken and onion). Mamba says Baobab Fare will also import Burundian fruits never previously sold in Detroit, like the tamarillo (aka the tree tomato) and will make fresh juices from them. The pair has also been roasting Burundian coffee beans at Germack under the Baobab Fare name, and will offer the coffee at the restaurant. It will also hold what Mamba describes as a small bodega filled with East African products that are hard to find here. “Our mission is to share our culture and what we have there that people don’t have here,” Mamba says. “The very, very important thing is that people in Detroit have been excited — brother and sister, black and white — everyone is excited and everyone is helping us,” he adds. “What we are doing here, we can’t get it in Burundi. This is amazing. This is why we have the responsibility and want to make a big contribution in the city to the people and community who are supporting what we are doing.” @metrotimes


| June 20-26, 2018



Sandwiches from Rocco’s.


Cass Corridor deli Rocco’s is an Italian sandwich paradise By Tom Perkins

For all the range you’ll find in

Midtown’s menus, the neighborhood lacks much in the way of delis. And with the exception of La Pecora Nera near downtown’s Capitol Park, Detroit proper is pretty much deficient in Italian delis — the kind that stacks mortadella, salami, capicola, and prosciutto on crusty, rustic Italian bread — and that’s not a good thing. But that changes on Tuesday when Rocco’s Italian Deli opens in the Cass Corridor. Owners Gabe Guido, Jeff Guido, and Kyle Mrkva grew up in Dearborn eating at Alcamo’s Market and other old Italian delis, and they tell Metro Times they’re creating a similar experience. “The concept was sort of borne out of a love of specialty Italian foods, and a lack of a specialty Italian deli around here,” Gabe Guido says. “After growing up in a big Italian family in close proximity to one, I moved [to Detroit] and found that there isn’t access to that Italian deli experience.” “Those neighborhood joints kind of inspired us to set up something here that’s similar,” Mrkva adds. Gabe Guido and Mrkva, who have lived in Corktown and Cass Corri-

dor for several years, are opening the 2,000-square-foot shop with Jeff Guido, who recently moved back to Detroit from Philadelphia. They say Rocco’s will be “approachable and affordable,” which means sandwiches mostly under $10. Among the short but tight list is the Il Rocco (hot sopressata, mortadella, fontina, spicy red pepper relish, and garlic-lemon aioli on ciabatta) or A Love Letter to the Corner Deli (Genoa salami, capicola, mortadella, sharp provolone, tomato, onion, shredded lettuce, housemade vinaigrette on a sub bun). Rocco’s offers a fennel sausage laid on an Italian “football” bun with sautéed onions, sautéed red and yellow bell peppers, garlic, and olive oil. There’s the requisite prosciutto sandwich, and as any good Italian should, Rocco’s has an awesome beef and giardiniera sandwich, Tio Freddo’s Got Serious (slow-cooked Italian beef, sharp provolone, and a house-made, quick-pickled giardiniera on a sub bun). Aside from the sandwiches, you’ll find four salads like the Whenever You’re Feeling Blue (crisp pear, crumbled gorgonzola, mixed greens, red onions, honey almonds, and house vinaigrette). The deli case will be stocked

30 June 20-26, 2018 |

with pre-prepared items like blistered tomato pasta salad made with fresh basil, parmesan, and garlic; quick pickle giardiniera; and Italian potato salad with caramelized onion and red peppers. Desserts like a carrot cake cupcake and lemon bars are also made in house. All Rocco’s breads come from Michigan Bakery, while meats are sourced from the Eastern Market’s Ernst Meats. On the drink menu, the restaurant will offer San Pellegrino, coffee and espresso, a selection of craft cocktails and beers, and wines. “We’re going to try to get our customers to branch out a bit into the Italian wine world and try Sangiovese blends, Montepulciano, Nero D’Avola, and Trebbiano wines which all go really well with our cured meats and cheeses,” Mrkva says. The idea for Rocco’s started as all the best ideas do — at home in the kitchen over sandwiches. Notably, none of the crew has any real previous restaurant experience. Jeff Guido says they simply learned through osmosis growing up in a big Italian family, while Mrkva says he started cooking after watching shows like Iron Chef. But you wouldn’t be able

to tell that they don’t come from a culinary background. Gabe Guido says they spent the last few years experimenting, hosting popups, and taking on catering gigs to gauge people’s interest levels. The sandwiches got a positive response, and a $50,000 Motor City Match grant followed. That helped make the 25-seat brick-and-mortar restaurant that gleams with white subway tiles, marble, stainless steel, and natural wood possible. “We really wanted to pick materials that help highlight the food,” Mrkva says. The restaurant also includes a small bar and 25-seat patio, along with a huge mural on the outside wall. As for the name, Rocco is Gabe Guido’s greatgrandfather. He moved to Detroit in the early 1900s before opening up a gas station at Lafayette and Fourth Street in the 1960s, and at some point operated a Delray bar called Il Rocco. “[Rocco] came to America like millions of others expecting nothing more than a square deal. That meant working hard but getting a fair payback in return. No place offered a better chance than Detroit. The city gave my family its start. And Rocco’s gives us an opportunity to pay some of that back, on their behalf,” Gabe Guido says. More information is available at @metrotimes


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| June 20-26, 2018



What’s Going On

A week’s worth of things to do and places to do them By MT staff Big Sean’s Detroit's On Now Weekend, Thurs., June 21 through Mon., June 25.

THURSDAY, 6/21 No Body @ El Club

THU., 6/21 - MON., 6/25 “Detroit’s On Now” Weekend


THU., 6/21 - SAT., 6/23

FRI., 6/22 - SUN., 6/29

Fuzz Fest 5

GM River Days 2018

@ Blind Pig

@ Detroit Riverfront

MUSIC Fuck fuzzy math. The only numbers you need to know when it comes to the fifth annual Fuzz Fest is 33 bands, three nights, and two stages. From doom rock, neo-psychedelia, surf punk, post-punk, and trip metal, Fuzz Fest aims to stamp your passport to the island of musical misfits and some of metro Detroit’s most cutting-edge acts. We’re talking reverb, scorching guitar overtures, a kaleidoscope of FX pedals, black lights, paper mache alien heads, and eardrum rupturing rock. Tart, Timmy’s Organism, Red Stone Souls, Ladyship Warship, Krillin, and the Lucid Furs are a few of the beautiful weirdos slated to shred.

FUN What do ziplining, sand sculptures, and Morris Day and the Time have in common? They are among the dozens of featured events at this year’s GM River Days. Entering its twelfth year, the festival has become a staple of summertime in Detroit. The event leads up to the 2018 Ford Fireworks display, set for Monday, June 25. Kool and the Gang, Beatlemania Live!, Morris Day and the Time, and Donell Jones are among some of the festival headliners. Returning this year are the kid’s zone and a bevy of street performers and an air show provided by Tuskegee Airmen National Historical Museum.

@ Various

MUSIC Sean Lynch has lived many lives. Hell, he’s died a few times, too. The former funeral director is perhaps known best as the founder and frontman of the poetically deceased dream pop outfit 800beloved. Most recently, Lynch was possessed by an alter ego, Lyle Lynch, for 2017’s The Elephant in the Room EP. But it might be his solo work as No Body that is most telling of Lynch’s complicated inner workings. To better demonstrate, Lynch will perform solo, using live looping and processing effects without software or a computer. No Body shares a bill with Serration Pulse, Milliken Chamber, and Something Cold.

Doors open at 8 p.m.; 4114 W. Vernor Hwy., Detroit; 313-2797382;; Tickets are $5-$8.

COMMUNITY Detroit is blessed to have Big Sean in our corner. Enter the first annual Detroit’s on Now Weekend — a celebration of life in the neighborhoods and a tribute to Detroiters. The “Blessings” rapper will host a series of youth engagement events as well as the celebration kickoff with a private fundraiser for the Motown Museum, followed by a two-day fashion mogul challenge presented by Puma at the Charles H. Wright Museum. On Saturday, the Ford Resource and Engagement Center will host a block party.

Event times vary, Saturday’s block party begins at noon; Locations vary, see for full schedule; Events are free and open to the public.

34 June 20-26, 2018 |

Doors at 8 p.m.; 208 S. First St., Ann Arbor; 734-996-8555;; Tickets are $10-$12 per day, three-day passes available for $20.

Event begins at 11 a.m.; 400 Renaissance Ctr., Detroit; riverdays. com 313-566-8206; Admission is free between 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Friday, June 22, $3 before 3 p.m., and $5 after 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Erykah Badu, Chene Park, Saturday, June 23.

SATURDAY, 6/23 Three Stacks Music Festival




Erykah Badu and Nas

Xeriscape: Public Matter

@ Chene Park

@ Library Collective

MUSIC The last time we heard from Erykah Badu, it was 2010 when she released New Amerykah Part Two. This is not to assume that Badu is irrelevant — in fact quite the contrary. She is a far cry from a one-trick “Bag Lady” or a passive figure (see her controversial interview with Vulture earlier this year). For her latest tour, she has teamed up with rapper Nas on the heels of his new Kanye West-produced record. While most shit is uncertain, one thing is promised of this pairing: Two of the most influential names in the game will serve up a poetic and sensual power-dose of hip-hop.

ART The best of both worlds absolutely pertains to Xeriscape, this year’s iteration of Public Matter. Library Street Collective will transform the Belt Alley by bringing large-scale artworks outside and incorporating natural outdoor elements with the interior space. Nina Chanel, Abney, Rosson Crow, Beverly Fishman, Tschabalala, and Wendy White are among the featured contemporary visual artists while Adult., Bevlove, and Mother Cyborg will elevate the experience with their sonic output. What is most unique about this particular showcase is the varied perspectives on gender, race, identity, materiality, space, and form.

@ Reo Town

MUSIC New to the Michigan festival scene, Fusion Shows presents the Three Stacks Music Festival set in the heart of Lansing’s revitalized REO Town neighborhood. Punk rock favorites Against Me! will headline the hardcore music lineup alongside Murder by Death, MeWithoutYou, Pup, and more. The outdoor street fair will sprawl through the 1100 block of South Washington Ave., and will include pop-up performances, culinary vendors (Saddleback Barbecue, Good Truckin’ Diner, and Blue Owl Coffee, to name a few), as well as a marketplace featuring local artists and crafters.

Doors open at 2 p.m.; 1100 block of S. Washington Ave., Lansing; 248-858-9333;; 810-7729447; Tickets are $30.

Doors open at 8 p.m.; 2600 Atwater St., Detroit; 313-3937128;; Tickets start at $56.

Event begins at 6 p.m.; 1260 Library St., Detroit; 313-600-7443;; Event is free.

June 20-26, 20-26, 2018 2018 || June






THIS WEEK MUSIC Wednesday, June 20 Blac Rabbit, Ohio Wild 8 p.m.; PJ’s Lager House, 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit; $10-12. Center Stage Strings Faculty Recital 7 p.m.; Earl V. Moore Building, 1100 Baits Dr., Ann Arbor; free. Conference of the Birds: The Music of Eric Dolphy featuring the Tony Holland Ensemble 6 p.m.; Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit; free. David Ramirez 8 p.m.; The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 20$. Homesafe 7 p.m.; The Loving Touch, 22634 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; $13. The Jellies 8 p.m.; Trixie’s, 2656 Carpenter St., Hamtramck; $6.


Jody Watley 7:30 p.m.; Chene Park, 2600 Atwater St., Detroit; $15.


STR8 Jazz No Chaser 9 p.m.; Northern Lights Lounge, 660 W. Baltimore St., Detroit;


The Old Miami

3930 Cass • Cass Corridor • 313-831-3830

36 June June 20-26, 20-26, 2018 2018 ||

Sloan 7 p.m.; Saint Andrew’s Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit; $20.

Walter Cano and Vowels 8 p.m.; Cliff Bell’s, 2030 Park Ave., Detroit; $10.

Thursday Jun 21 Aaron Berofsky 3:30 p.m.; Earl V. Moore Building, 1100 Baits Dr., Ann Arbor; free. Bobby Selvaggio Quartet 8 p.m.; Cliff Bell’s, 2030 Park Ave., Detroit; 10$. Catl 8 p.m.; PJ’s Lager House, 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit. Future Generations, The Lagoons 8 p.m.; Marble Bar, 1501 Holden St., Detroit; $10+. Fuzz Fest 5 8 p.m.; Blind Pig, 208 S. First St., Ann Arbor; $10-$12, $20 3-day pass. Imagine Dragons 7 p.m.; DTE Energy Music Theatre, 7774 Sashabaw Rd., Clarkston; $35+. Rebirth Brass Band 8 p.m.; Otus Supply, 345 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; $20+. Richard Marx wsg. Matt Scannell 8 p.m.; Sound Board, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit; $45, $48 and $58. Shawn Mullins 8 p.m.; The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; $25. Supersuckers 8 p.m.; Small’s Bar, 10339 Conant St., Hamtramck; $16-18.

Friday, June 22 Big Fun: Miles Davis Tribute 8:30 p.m.; Otus Supply, 345 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; $7+.. Chromeo 8 p.m.; Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak; $28.50+. DAS ISCH 8 p.m.; Small’s Bar, 10339 Conant St., Hamtramck; $16-$20. Far From Fiction 7 p.m.; The Pike Room, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac; $10-$12. Fuzz Fest 5 8 p.m.; Blind Pig, 208 S. First St., Ann Arbor; $10-$12, $20 3-day pass. Gorgon City 9:30 p.m.; Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; $20-$25. Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival: Music Beyond Words 7 p.m.; Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Iceage 8 p.m.; El Club, 4114 W. Vernor Hwy., Detroit; $13-$15. The Iron Maidens 7 p.m.; Token Lounge, 28949 Joy Rd., Westland; $20. Jeecy & the Jungle, Heartthrob Chassis 8 p.m.; PJ’s Lager House, 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit. Jeff Cuny Trio 5:30 p.m.; Cliff Bell’s, 2030 Park Ave., Detroit; no cover. Keith Urban 7:30 p.m.; DTE Energy,

Against Me!, Three Stacks Music Festival, Saturday, June 23.

One Energy Plaza, Detroit; $30+. Paul Keller at Sundown Quintet 9 p.m.; Cliff Bell’s, 2030 Park Ave., Detroit; $10. The Posies 8 p.m.; Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; $20. Poptone 7 p.m.; The Loving Touch, 22634 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; $25. Pouya 7 p.m.; Saint Andrew’s Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit; $25. Ry Cooder 7:30 p.m.; Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; $29.50-$75. Summer Takeover Part 2 9:30 p.m.; The Crofoot Ballroom, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac; 20$. Tribute Night 7 p.m.; Harpos, 14238 Harper Ave., Detroit; $15.

Saturday, June 23 Center Stage Strings Saturday Night Student Recital Series 7 p.m.; Earl V. Moore Building, 1100 Baits Dr., Ann Arbor; free. Erykah Badu and Nas 8 p.m.; Chene Park, 2600 Atwater St., Detroit; $56+. Fuzz Fest 5 8 p.m.; Blind Pig, 208 S. First St., Ann Arbor; $10-$12, $20 threeday pass. JD Wilkes with the Legendary

Shack Shakers 8 p.m.; Otus Supply, 345 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; $18-$20. Led Zeppelin 2 9 p.m.; Saint Andrew’s Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit; $10. Matthew Sweet 8 p.m.; The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; $30. Night Riots 6 p.m.; The Shelter, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit; $15. Profanatica and Sadistic Intent 8 p.m.; Small’s Bar, 10339 Conant St., Hamtramck; $25. Re-Cure a tribute to The Cure 8 p.m.; Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; $12. See Dick Run 8 p.m.; The Loving Touch, 22634 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; $10. Three Stacks Music Festival 2 p.m.; REO Town, 1100 South Washington Ave., Lansing; $30-$35. Tribute to Sassy Sarah Vaughan featuring Naima Shamborguer 6 p.m.; Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit; free. You Rest, You Joy Life Old Miami, 3930 Cass Ave., Detroit.

Sunday, June 24


Deaf Poets, Temple of the Fuzz Witch, The Idiot Kids, Mooses 8 p.m.; PJ’s Lager House, 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit; $8. Dirty Black Summer Ceremony 7 p.m.; Small’s Bar, 10339 Conant St., Hamtramck; free. Jill Scott 8 p.m.; Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; $49.50+. Michael McDermott 7:30 p.m.; The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; $15. Outlaw Music Festival 4 p.m.; DTE Energy Music Theatre, 7774 Sashabaw Rd., Clarkston; $29.50+. Stephen Shipps 3 p.m.; Earl V. Moore Building, 1100 Baits Dr., Ann Arbor; free. To Live and Shave in LA 8 p.m.; Outer Limits Lounge, 5507 Caniff St., Hamtramck; $8. Tracyanne & Danny 8 p.m.; El Club, 4114 W. Vernor Hwy., Detroit; $18-$20. Young Rising Sons 7 p.m.; The Loving Touch, 22634 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; $12.

Monday, June 25 Baggage, Animal Flag, Jelani Set, Mover Shaker 8 p.m.; PJ’s Lager House, 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit; $8-$10.

| June 20-26, 2018


THIS WEEK thursday 6/21

rebirth brass band saturday 6/23

j.d. wilkes & legendary shack shakers wsg chuck mead tuesday 6/26

melvin seals & terrapin flyer wednesday 6/27

big sam’s funky nation wsg pho thursday 6/28

suzanne santo from honey honey friday 6/29


wsg holly bernt band saturday 7/21

maggie koerner from galactic thursday 7/26

rayland baxter wsg okie dokey friday 7/27

brother elsey

wsg joshua powell & the great train robbery thursday 8/23

sarah shook & the disamers monday 8/27

GM’s River Days 2018, Friday, June 22 through Monday, June 25.

Joe & Joe with John Wiese 7 p.m.; Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, 4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit; free.

Oak; $33.75-$49.25.

Institute of Arts, Detroit; Free.

Melvin Seals and Terrapin Flyer 7 p.m.; Otus Supply, 345 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; $20.

Langhorne Slim 8 p.m.; The Loving Touch, 22634 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; $15.

Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers 7:30 p.m.; DTE Energy Music Theatre, 7774 Sashabaw Rd., Clarkston; $21+.

I Married a Monster from Outer Space Thursday 3 p.m.; Detroit Film Theatre, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit; Free.

Priests 8 p.m.; El Club, 4114 W. Vernor Hwy., Detroit; $10-$12. Summer Sings Beethoven’s Mass in C 7 p.m.; Hill Auditorium, 825 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor; Wei Yu 7 p.m.; Earl V. Moore Building, 1100 Baits Dr., Ann Arbor; free.

Tuesday, June 26 Al Di Meola 8 p.m.; Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor; $40. Alterbeast 7 p.m.; The Pike Room, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac; $12-$15.

here lies man

Center Stage Strings Tuesday Afternoon Student Recital Series 3 p.m.; Earl V. Moore Building, 1100 Baits Dr., Ann Arbor; free.


Dennis Coffey 8-11 p.m.; Northern Lights Lounge, 660 W. Baltimore St., Detroit; no cover.

wsg the octopus + seminole hills


Frisson 8 p.m.; Cliff Bell’s, 2030 Park Ave., Detroit; $10.

345 E 9 MILE RD



The Wailers 8 p.m.; Saint Andrew’s Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit; $20. Wright Life Series: A Musical Experience 7 p.m.; Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit; no cover.

FILM Alphaville Friday 7 p.m.; Detroit Film Theatre, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit; $7.50-$9.50. Attack the Block Thursday 7 p.m.; Detroit Film Theatre, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit; $7.50-$9.50. Big Man Japan Saturday 7 p.m.; Detroit Film Theatre, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit; $7.50-$9.50. Brazil (European Cut) Friday midnight and Saturday midnight; Main Art Theatre, 118 N. Main St., Royal Oak; $7.

Kevin Krauter 8 p.m.; El Club, 4114 W. Vernor Hwy., Detroit; $10-$12.

Colossus, The Forbin Project Sunday 3 p.m.; Detroit Film Theatre, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit.

Lake Street Drive 7 p.m.; Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St., Royal

Fiend Without A Face Saturday 3 p.m.; Detroit Film Theatre, Detroit

38 38 June June 20-26, 20-26, 2018 2018 ||

Last Days of Chinatown Thursday 7 p.m.; Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), 4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit; Free-$5. Minority Report Wednesday 10 p.m.; Top of the Park, 915 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor; Free. Planet of the Apes Friday 3 p.m.; Detroit Film Theatre, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit; Free. Remember the Titans Sunday 10 p.m.; Top of the Park, 915 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor; Free. Some Like it Hot Tuesday 10 p.m.; Top of the Park, 915 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor; Free. The Big Sick Thursday 10 p.m.; Top of the Park, 915 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor; Free. The Sea Hawk Tuesday 3 p.m.; Detroit Film Theatre, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit; Free. This Island Earth Wednesday 3 p.m.; Detroit Film Theatre, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit; Free. @metrotimes


| June 20-26, 2018


Fast Forward Nicki Minaj and Future Little Caesars Arena, Sept., 26

Paramore and Foster the People DTE Energy Music Theatre, June 29, 7 p.m., $25.50+ Princess Nokia MOCAD, Friday, June 29, $25 Jethro Tull Michigan Lottery Amphitheater at Freedom Hill, July 1, 7:30 p.m., $26+

Jim Gaffigan DTE Energy Music Theatre, July 28, 8 p.m., $25.50+ Jason Mraz Meadow Brook Music Festival, July 28, 8 p.m., $49.50+

STYX, Joan Jett, and Tesla DTE Energy Music Theatre, July 6, 7 p.m., $25.50+

Mo Pop Festival West Riverfront Park, July 28-29, noon, $75+

Evanescence and Lindsey Stirling DTE Energy Music Theatre, July 9, 7 p.m., $21+ Janelle Monáe Fox Theatre, July 9, 7:30 p.m., $39.50+ 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., $31+ Barenaked Ladies DTE Energy Music Theatre, July 14, 7 p.m., $21+ Panic! at the Disco Little Caesars Arena, July 14, 7 p.m., $40.75+ Foreigner DTE Energy Music Theatre, July 15, 7 p.m., $21+

40 June June20-26, 20-26,2018 2018 | | 40

Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, and the Cult Michigan Lottery Amphitheater at Freedom Hill, July 24, 6:30 p.m., $21+

Neil Young Fox Theatre, July 3, 8 p.m.; $99.50+

Arcade Fire DTE Energy Music Theatre, July 7, 6:30 p.m., $25.50+

Amphitheater at Freedom Hill, July 20, 6 p.m., $25+

Kesha & Macklemore DTE Energy Music Theatre, July 18, 7 p.m., $66.50+ Ms. Lauryn Hill Michigan Lottery

Lynyrd Skynyrd DTE Energy Music Theatre, Aug. 10, 6 p.m., $35.50+ Smashing Pumpkins Little Caesars Arena, Aug. 5, 7 p.m., $29+ REO Speedwagon and Chicago DTE Energy Music Theatre, Aug. 12, $25.50+ David Byrne Fox Theatre, Aug. 10, 8 p.m., $40+ Beyoncé and Jay Z Ford Field, Aug. 13, 7:30 p.m.; $20-$320 311 and the Offspring Michigan Lottery Amphitheater at Freedom Hill, Aug. 14, 7 p.m., $27.50+ Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town DTE Energy Music Theatre, Aug. 24, 7 p.m., $25+ Deep Purple and Judas Priest Michigan Lottery Ampitheater at Freedom Hill, Aug. 24, 7 p.m., $30+ Jeff Lynne’s ELO Little Caesars Arena, Aug. 26, 8 p.m., $49.50+

| June 20-26, 2018


MUSIC The sound of silence Chilling with Iceage frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt By Jerilyn Jordan

Iceage’s Elias Bender Røn-

nenfelt has been labeled “rock’s most difficult frontman” by several outlets who have attempted to interview him, and by attempt we mean just that. He’s walked out, shit-talked, and shrugged his way through many press obligations spanning his 10-year career. When Fader followed the band in 2014 after the release of Plowing into the Field of Love, writer Patrick D. McDermott referred to the experience as being “cheerless” and painted an ungrateful portrait of the band’s collective attitude toward being a band. As the contentious leader of the Danish punk outfit, Rønnenfelt’s reputation for shutting down, in many ways, precedes him. By deduction, one could assume that he has little to say — when in fact, the opposite is true. Just listen to Beyondless, Iceage’s fourth record. The album centers around what could be a mix of childhood memories and the heartbreak and cruelty of the adult world, one where music itself can wither and die. Recorded completely in analogue, Beyondless is driven by its poetic inflection. It is almost as though Shakespeare had one too many at the local pub after learning that time is not linear — only to smash his glass against the bar top with his hand pressed against the shards. What Iceage accomplishes is complicated, which might explain why a conversation with Rønnenfelt requires patience and the ability to read between the lines, or in this case, the many pauses and moments of silence. Rønnenfelt reminds us that the music speaks for itself, without ever saying as much.

Metro Times: Iceage is so com-

monly referred to as a punk band. Is there a pressure to wield a strong message with that label?


Elias Bender Rønnenfelt:

We never cared about whether we were a punk band or not. We don’t want to be the best of a musical genre. We just sort of stand on our own. That seems more interesting than lumped into a category with a bunch of other bands. Outside of that, no, I don’t think there’s pressure to have any message. It’s about expressing yourselves. If there are things that we can change with music whether it be internal or external things in the world, nobody’s pressuring me to do anything, to take what I do — I express myself the way that I want to.

MT: So much of your writing feels


ing what comes from where.

MT: You have been friends with

your bandmates long before you had a proper band. Has the dynamic between you and the band changed?

Rønnenfelt: Yeah, it’s like a very

brotherly bond. We have this ridiculous ability to feed off each other and spend so much time together, it’s hard to understand almost and still remain the best of friends. When we get back from a tour, usually not more than a day or two passes before we see each other again.

MT: You have said that with each al-

Rønnenfelt: I don’t know what

I thought it would be. I didn’t plan on becoming a musician. it just sort of happened. I didn’t end up making plans when we started this band. I had no dream. Making it as a band means to play around the world. I don’t think we have any plans about anything other than trying to finish an album. I don’t know, we just sort of fell right into it. Fortunately it shows itself as something that is extremely interesting because it became our life’s pursuit by chance.

MT: Do you think much in terms of the future of Iceage?

very abstract and influenced heavily by literature, especially on Beyondless. Do you write from specific experiences?

bum you try and push yourselves to do something different as not to get stuck. How did you approach Beyondless with that philosophy in mind?

Rønnenfelt: I rarely think more

Rønnenfelt: Yeah. A lot of it

Rønnenfelt: It’s just kind of what

MT: Do you prefer to stay busy?

draws from general living.

MT: Your latest record is considerably more tapered and focused than 2014’s Plowing the Field of Love. What were you guys listening to while you recorded Beyondless?

Rønnenfelt: I don’t think we

were listening to anything when we were touring. Generally we all have very eclectic musical tastes and a lot of general cultural understanding gets into the music and is influenced by a lot of things. It’s also hard distinguish-

42 June 20-26, 2018 |

draws you in, what ideas that you attach to and which things that we’re sort of adapting. We’re not really interested in something unless it holds a sort of unshattered territory for us. It’s not so much a conscious thing, it’s just getting led by your instincts. There’s not an accepted amount of time to dwell on what you’re making.

MT: You have a reputation for be-

ing resistant to press, interviews, and the non-creative aspect of a career in music. Is being a professional musician what you thought it would be?

than one step ahead. There’s ideas that we are working on... It’s just more albums and more shows.

Rønnenfelt: Yeah, I prefer to have

ideas to work on and it can get quite frustrating and a bit scary when your mind wanders off, when you don’t have certain ideas that you can center thoughts around. You can get lost a little bit. Iceage will perform on June 22 at 8 p.m. at El Club; 4114 W. Vernor Hwy., Detroit; 313-279-7382;; Tickets are $13-$15. @metrotimes


| June 20-26, 2018


CULTURE This history tour shows Detroit’s pivotal role as a battleground for racial justice By Michael Jackman

We at Metro Times were recently

introduced to the work of Jamon Jordan, who runs his own business called Black Scroll Network History & Tours. Born and raised in Highland Park and Detroit, Jordan attended public schools in both cities, graduating from Highland Park High School and completing his triple major of sociology, American history, and AfricanAmerican studies at Western Michigan University. He spent 20 years teaching, mainly classes in social studies to middle-school students at public and charter schools in Detroit. But he noticed a lot of missed opportunities to show how the forces of history coursed through our city, especially on matters of race. “A lot of that history deals with issues that are specific to the history of Detroit, but the curriculum and the textbooks didn’t do that,” Jordan says. “Detroit plays a part in all these historical eras in American history, but it doesn’t show up that much in the history books until you get to Henry Ford. And when it comes to African-American history, Detroit doesn’t really figure prominently in any lesson plans until you get to Motown.” So Jordan got creative. He began taking his students on field trips to historical sites in and around the city of Detroit. “And, of course, that’s what I do now as a business full time,” Jordan says, “lectures and presentations dealing with AfricanAmerican history mainly in and around the city of Detroit.” We spoke with Jordan to learn more.

Metro Times: Some people, white and black, may say black history isn’t for them. What would you say to them to whet their appetites for the subject?

Jamon Jordan: Well, history is

the foundation of where we are. I think most people have an innate feeling they need to know it. The problem is history

Jamon Jordan.

is often presented in a formulaic, boring way, Without the intrigue and drama, people fall asleep. On top of that, one of the things that I have to do, particularly in the city of Detroit, is acknowledge the fact that Detroit’s history is largely a history of race. To talk about Detroit’s history is often to talk around race, and so we talk about all these other things: the history of the auto manufacturers, the history of music, the history of falling down and being reborn again. So there are all these different narratives about the city of Detroit, and all of it is really just talking around the key aspect of the conversation, the issue that’s most central in Detroit’s history: the history of race and racism. You cannot understand much of Detroit’s history without understanding the history of race and racism in the city. When people go on my tours and we talk about those things, people say, “This helps to explain a lot of what I didn’t understand about the city of Detroit.” And that’s both good and bad. It’s not all negative. Detroit’s African-American population coming into Detroit during the Great Migration changed the city of Detroit, and was able to transform Detroit from what would have been a small Rust Belt city to the fourth-largest city in the country.

MT: What are some of the things that

wow people on your tours when they hear them for the first time?

Jordan: Detroit’s radical history in the days of the Underground Railroad makes a powerful statement about the history of the city of Detroit. Detroit’s Underground Railroad activists were even more radical than the majority of the other Underground Railroad activists, so that’s an eye-opener for a lot of people.

MT: A lot of actual sites of black history are so precious because they are so likely to have been bulldozed in the name of

44 June 20-26, 2018 |

civic improvement. You must find that it’s hard to find existing buildings and even streets that are important to black history.

Jordan: That’s right, Detroit has

gone through a number of declines and rebirths and removals and renewals. They affected the African-American community, of course, with the largest and most significant being the destruction of Black Bottom and Paradise Valley in the 1950s and 1960s. With the removal of the whole community, a lot of history went along with that community. But there are smaller versions of that that have happened throughout Detroit’s history. History gets forgotten because it’s no longer visible. And so part of what I like to do in my tours and presentations is resurrect that history.

MT: Plus, you don’t need any mythol-

ogy when the facts of Detroit’s story are already so mythic. It’s the incredible story of a place where people from all over the world and all over America are thrown together and have to figure it out themselves. It produced a lot of great things and a lot of horrible things, and that’s at the center of one of the tours you give, called “The Two Detroits,” right?

Jordan: Right, and the next one will

be in July. Arguably, all of my tours present a little bit about the two Detroits, but the tour that’s actually called “The Two Detroits” takes place downtown and it talks about this early history in Detroit of Europeans arriving, building the fort, building a settlement, and how that played out, first, with Native American communities, and later, with Africans brought in by French people as slaves. “Two Detroits” is a reality — and people have begun to voice that narrative in response to the development that’s going on in Detroit right now, a lot of what Gilbert


and the Ilitches and some of the other developers are doing downtown right now. The discussion around gentrification and new residents and some neighborhoods being built up a certain way and other neighborhoods being neglected, that talks about two Detroits. What we’re really talking about is the continuation of an ongoing issue in the city of Detroit. This is not something new, these two realities in the same city, where one group of people tend to have more resources and more power, tend to have control over the narrative about their development, versus another group of people who tend to have less resources and less power, and tend to not be able to control the narrative around them. The narrative of African-Americans in Detroit is one of ruins, destruction, deviance, dysfunctionality, and danger, while the narrative of whites coming to Detroit is really about saviors. Henry Ford was the old savior and Dan Gilbert is the new savior, and Detroit wouldn’t have been Detroit without Henry Ford, but the new Detroit wouldn’t be the new Detroit without Dan Gilbert, the Ilitches, or Mike Duggan. And so it’s really a continuation of this “two Detroits” theme. I hope that, as people learn more about history, we’ll be able to get rid of this idea that there should be two Detroits. Maybe we’ll come to the conclusion that we are to do something to dissolve these two Detroits that seem to be reborn every generation. An extended version of this interview is available at For more information about Black Scroll Network History & Tours, see the company’s Facebook page, “The Two Detroits” tour is scheduled for July. @ michaeljackman


| June 20-26, 2018


CULTURE Power to the people

These Detroit filmmakers are helping promote progressive candidates around the country By Violet Ikonomova

Nick Hayes says it was the

reek of plastic chemicals that first made him question what he was doing with his life. It was three years ago, and the scent had permeated a Lansing area plant where Hayes was shooting a commercial. “I remember thinking that I only had to be there for a few hours but the workers had to come every day and work in those conditions,” he says. “I thought, ‘Why am I spending any time trying to help them sell more styrofoam?’” Then there was last summer’s commercial shoot for a beer company. A Los Angeles director had “parachuted” into Detroit, rounded up some local artists, and used their stories to portray an authentic, cool city on the come up, in an effort, ultimately, to align the beer brand with those traits. “Using people’s personal stories to sell alcohol felt like a low,” he recalls. Soon after, Hayes, a socialist and member of the Greater Detroit Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, quit doing work he found morally objectionable and started pursuing projects that could help spur the change he wished to see in the world. His partner, Naomi Burton, would soon take a similar leap. Burton, also a socialist and DSA member, had spent years working in corporate communications, but quit her high-paying job after going through what she’s described as a political awakening. “When you come to that moment of clarity when you just see capitalism as oppressing everything and everyone, standing around the water cooler feels

Nick Hayes and Naomi Burton, the duo behind the production company, Means of Production.

and is kind of devoid of meaning,” Burton told us for a February cover story on the Greater Detroit DSA. Since March, the young, idealistic Detroiters have been working fulltime to promote progressive causes and candidates through Means of Production, a company they created last year. Their goal is to create high-quality, reasonably priced videos for carefully vetted clients whose views they can accurately portray. “Working with candidates who genuinely know what it’s like to be working class is crucial,” says Hayes. “We’re here because communicating those values simply can’t be done well through a commercial, inequitably structured production company or consulting firm, period. As a cooperatively run production company, that explicitly works for labor and progressive campaigns, we’re in a position where we speak the language that working people do and can create dignified videos that touch on problems we all face under a capitalist mode of production.” Burton and Hayes hope to benefit from a progressive shift in Democratic politics that has put campaign ethics front and center. It’s become common for leftist candidates to refuse to take corporate contributions, and now, Burton and Hayes say they’re seeing some candidates extend their principles

46 June 20-26, 2018 |

to messaging. Bronx activist Alexandria OcasioCortez, a former Bernie Sanders surrogate running for Congress in New York against Wall Street-backed incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley, was the big first progressive candidate to hire Means of Production. In the recently released web video the pair produced for the campaign, Ocasio-Cortez is portrayed as a typical working-class person in New York: She gets ready for the day in a modest apartment, rides the subway, and hangs out on neighborhood streets. “After 20 years of the same representation, we have to ask, who has New York been changing for?” OcasioCortez says in the scripted voiceover. “Every day gets harder for working families like mine to get by. The rent gets higher, health care covers less, and our income stays the same. It’s clear that these changes haven’t been for us and we deserve a champion. It’s time to fight for a New York that working families can afford.” “It’s time we acknowledge that not all Democrats are the same,” Ocasio-Cortez says. “That a Democrat who takes corporate money, profits off foreclosure, doesn’t live here, doesn’t send his kids to our schools, doesn’t drink our water, doesn’t breathe our air, cannot


possibly represent us.” The now-viral video has helped raise the profile of not only the candidate, but of Means of Production as well. A recent piece in The Intercept described the video as “tightly produced, crafting a narrative about an organizer-candidate who has the same sort of workingclass background that is representative of the majority of New York’s 14th Congressional District — the median income in the district is $53,512.” The article also zeroed in on the less than $10,000 production budget, which was likely critical for a candidate like Cortez, who, according to Intercept, has raised just $200,000 to Crowley’s $1.6 million. Since the release of the ad and the subsequent media attention, Hayes and Burton have been inundated with calls and emails from people requesting their services, and filmmakers hoping to help their cause. Though the two are tight-lipped about what’s next, they say they’re working with several candidates across the country, in Congressional and gubernatorial races. They also plan to launch a leftist entertainment-focused streaming service later this year. @violetikon


| June 20-26, 2018


CULTURE The reign of Spain

Spanish Language Film Festival heads to Detroit By George Elkind

For more than a year now, some

of the best and richest movies playing here have been screening outside multiplexes. That’s thanks to Cinema Lamont, a small, lean nonprofit dedicated to world cinema, hosting international releases in venues ranging from Ann Arbor to Detroit’s Eastern Market. This Friday sees one of their biggest projects, its first-ever Spanish Language Film Festival, opening at Southwest Detroit’s Senate Theater. We spoke with the group’s founder and president, Josh Gardner, about what’s playing and why — and the importance of bringing this kind of work to Detroit.

Metro Times: There aren’t too many Spanish-language movies that play around Detroit. What made you want to put this event together?

Josh Gardner: At Cinema

Lamont, our goal is to foster crosscultural understanding through the power of world cinema. Throughout our first year of programming, we tried to engage local communities and create inclusive spaces and events to showcase a diverse range of films from all over the globe, most that would never have the chance to play in the Detroit area. We hosted the first edition of Cine Mexico Now, a festival of contemporary Mexican cinema, last fall to a really positive reception. But the world of Spanish-language cinema goes so much further than just Mexico. There are great films coming from all corners of Latin America and Spain that often get overlooked, so we wanted to highlight that work.

MT: The Senate Theater’s right in

the heart of Southwest Detroit. Did that play into your decision to hold the festival there?

Gardner: Yes, when I first pitched

the Senate Theater on this series it was always part of the plan to engage the

Penelope Cruz in The Queen of Spain.

immediate Latinx and Spanish-speaking community in Southwest Detroit. The Senate focuses mostly on classic Hollywood cinema and silent films accompanied by their incredible organ. This series provides an opportunity for them to enhance connections with their neighbors and to bring foreign language programming to their regular crowd. We were really lucky that the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs along with the National Endowment for the Arts and Culture Source shared our vision and helped to make this showcase possible.

MT: You’ve got a wide range of work

screening at the festival. What guided your choices as far as what to show?

Gardner: We had several goals

in mind when putting together this program. First, we wanted to create an inclusive series that would offer films for moviegoers of all ages and interests, as well as those less familiar with Spanish-language films and families. For example, I’m excited for audiences to discover Anina, a charming animated film from Uruguay that follows a little girl as she discovers the meaning of friendship. We also wanted to honor the historic Senate Theater and select several films that tie into the theater’s regular programming. Thus, we’re kick-

48 June 20-26, 2018 |


ing off the weekend with The Queen of Spain, which pays homage to 1950s Hollywood, and stars one of the most well-known Spanish-speaking actresses in the U.S., Penelope Cruz. This also influenced our decision to include Time to Die, a 1966 film written by Latin American literary giants Gabriel García Marquez and Carlos Fuentes; a brand new digital restoration of the film was released this year. Finally, as we knew that the series would take place during the World Cup, we decided to celebrate with a fantastic documentary about the biggest soccer star in the world, Lionel Messi.

MT: It’s a pretty difficult time now

for Latino communities across the U.S. Does that contribute to a sense of urgency for you in programming this festival, or in creating spaces for world cinema more generally?

Gardner: I think this goes di-

rectly back to our mission of fostering cross-cultural understanding. In a time when politics can be divisive and there is a lot of othering happening, I think the arts can play an important role in reminding us about the universality of our experiences. We hope that the films we play can make a small difference in bringing people together and expose our local community to cultures and

peoples from around the world.

MT: You’ve mentioned engaging the local community in a few different ways. What do you hope to see audiences take away from these films?

Gardner: As you noted, Spanish-

language films are not often screened in the Detroit area. Yet, it is important for people of all backgrounds to see themselves represented in the media and on the screen. With this program, we want Spanish-speaking audiences to feel that they’re included in the Detroit art scene and we want general audiences to walk away with a greater appreciation for Spanish-language cinema. Film is something that brings us all together. Going to the movies is about enjoying a shared experience with friends and strangers alike. Ultimately, we hope this series fosters positive vibes among and across the greater Detroit community. The Spanish Language Film Festival runs from Friday, June 22 to Sunday, June 24 at the Senate Theater; 424 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-894-0850;; Tickets and more information available at cinemalamont. com/spanish-language-film-fest. @metrotimes


| June 20-26, 2018



I am a 24-year-old straight guy who recently broke up with my girlfriend of more than four years. One of the reasons we broke up was a general lack of sexual compatibility. She had a particular aversion to oral sex — both giving and receiving. I didn’t get a blowjob the whole time we were together. Which brings me to why I am writing: One of my closest friends, “Sam,” is a gay guy. Shortly after breaking up with my girlfriend, I was discussing my lack of oral sex with Sam and he said he’d be willing to “help me out.” I agreed, and Sam gave me an earth-shattering blowjob. I was glad to get some and had no hang-ups about a guy sucking me. Since then, Sam has blown me three more times. My problem is I am starting to feel guilty and worry I am using Sam.

He’s a very good buddy, and I’m concerned this lopsided sexual arrangement might be bad for our friendship. Sam knows I am not into guys and I’m never going to reciprocate, and I feel like this is probably not really fair to him. But these are literally the only blowjobs I’ve received since I was a teenager. What should I do? —Totally Have Reservations Over Advantage Taking


Only one person knows how Sam feels about this “lopsided sexual arrangement,” THROAT, and it isn’t me — it’s Sam. Zooming out for a second: People constantly ask me how the person they’re fucking or fisting or flogging feels about all the fucking or fisting or flogging they’re doing. Guys ask me why a woman ghosted them, and women ask me if their boyfriend is secretly gay. And while I’m perfectly happy to speculate, I’m not a mind reader. Which means I have no way of knowing for sure why that woman ghosted you or if your boyfriend is gay — or in your case, THROAT, how Sam feels about the four norecip blowjobs he’s given you. Only Sam knows. And that’s why I wrote you back, THROAT, and asked you for Sam’s contact information. Since you were clearly too



50 June June20-26, 20-26,2018 2018 | | 50

Savage Love By Dan Savage

afraid to ask Sam yourself (most likely for fear the blowjobs would stop), I offered to ask Sam on your behalf. I wasn’t serious — it was my way of saying, “You should really ask Sam.” But you sent me Sam’s contact info, and a few minutes later I was chatting with Sam. “Yes, I have been sucking my straight friend’s cock,” Sam says to me. “And I am flattered he told you I was good at it. That’s an ego booster!” Sam, like THROAT, is 24 years old. He grew up in Virginia and met THROAT early in his first year at college. Sam came out at the end of his freshman year, to THROAT and his other friends, and he now lives in a big city where he works in marketing when he isn’t sucking off THROAT. My first question for Sam: Is he one of those gay guys who gets off on “servicing” straight guys? “I’ve never done anything with a straight guy before this,” says Sam. “So, no, I’m not someone who is ‘into servicing straight guys.’ I have only ever dated and hooked up with gay guys before!” So why offer to blow THROAT? “I didn’t know until after he broke up with his girlfriend that he hadn’t gotten a blowjob the whole time they were together — four years!” Sam says. “When I told him I’d be happy to help him out, I was joking. I swear I wasn’t making a pass at my straight friend! But there was this long pause, and then he got serious and said he’d be into it. I wondered for a minute if it would be weird for me to blow my friend, and there was definitely a bit of convincing each other that we were serious. When he started taking his clothes off, I thought, ‘So this is going to happen.’ It was not awkward after. We even started joking about it right away. I have sucked him off four more times since then.” For those of you keeping score at home: Either THROAT lost count of the number of times Sam has blown him — THROAT said Sam has blown him three more times after that first blowjob — or THROAT got a fifth blowjob in the short amount of time that elapsed between sending me his letter and putting me in touch with Sam. So does this lopsided sexual arrangement — blowing a straight boy who’s never going to blow him — bother Sam? “I suppose it is a ‘lopsided sexual arrangement,’” says Sam. “But I don’t mind. I really like sucking dick and I’m really enjoying sucking his dick. He has a really nice dick! And from my perspective, we’re both having fun. And, yes, I’ve jacked off thinking about it after each time I sucked him. I know — now — that he thinks it is a bit unfair to me. But I don’t feel that way at all.” So there is something in it for Sam. You

get the blowjobs, THROAT, and Sam gets the spank-bankable memories. And Sam assumes that at some point, memories are all he’ll have. “I assume he will eventually get into a relationship with a woman again, and our arrangement will end,” says Sam. “I only hope nothing is weird between us in the future because of what has happened in the past few weeks.” I had one last question: Sam is really good at sucking cock — he gives “earthshattering” blowjobs — but is THROAT any good at getting his cock sucked? As all experienced cocksuckers know, a person can suck at getting their cock sucked: They can just lay there, giving you no feedback. “That’s a really good question,” Sam says. “I have to say, he is very good at it. He really gets into it, he moans, he talks about how good it feels, and he lasts a long time. That’s part of what makes sucking his cock so much fun.”


I’m a straight guy in a LTR with a bi woman. We recently had a threesome with a bi male acquaintance. We made it clear that I’m not into guys and that she was going to be the center of attention. He said he was fine with this. A little bit into us hooking up, he said he wanted to suck my dick. I wasn’t sure about it at first, but my girlfriend encouraged it because she thought it was hot. I ended up saying yes, but I stated that I didn’t want to reciprocate. A bit later, while my girlfriend was sucking his dick, he said he wanted me to join her. I said no, he kept badgering me to do it, I kept saying no, and then he physically tried to shove my head down toward his crotch. My girlfriend and I both got pissed and said he had to leave. Now he’s bitching to our mutual friends about how I had an insecure straight-boy freak-out, he didn’t get to come after we both got ours, we’re shitty selfish fetishists, and so on. Is oral reciprocation so necessary that it doesn’t matter that we agreed in advance that I would not be blowing him? —Not One To Be Inconsiderate


You did nothing wrong. And if after hearing your side of the story, NOTBI, your mutual friends side with a person who pressured you to do something you were clear about not wanting to do and then, after you restated your opposition to performing said act, pressured you to perform the act — by physically forcing your head down to his cock — you can solve the “mutual friends” problem by cutting these so-called friends out of your life. @fakedansavage


| June 20-26, 2018


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| June 20-26, 2018




By Cal Garrison

ARIES: March 21 – April 20

LEO: July 21 – August 20

No one has a magic wand big enough to make this turn out the way you want it to. Even the psychics know, experiences don’t happen to people — people happen to experiences. And what you bring to your current situation will make it or break it. At the moment you’re too freaked out to be here for this in the way that you need to be here for it. Snapping out of it — and reclaiming yourself in the wake of whatever has fallen apart — is what you’re being called to do. Nothing needs to make sense. You need to take this lesson by the horns and wring the truth out of it.

Things have shifted, to the point where it’s hard for you to believe that you were so down about this a few months ago. Now that you’ve turned a corner, what was black and blue is suddenly filled with light and the promise of infinite possibilities. What happens when we are down in the dumps is what transforms us at the end of the day. With a renewed sense of what you’re here for, a whole new framework for the future is filling up the screen with people and options that weren’t there before. Enjoy this time, and make the most of what looks like the portal to your future.

TAURUS: April 21 – May 20

VIRGO: Aug. 21 – Sept. 20

You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone, give me a break! Don’t worry about whether or not they’re pleased with you and your performance. Even on your worst day you outshine everyone else! At this point it comes down to standing in your truth and letting everyone else figure out how to get in touch with theirs. The need to be 100 percent honest is about to heat up your discussions. Whoever’s on the other end will give you a run for your money. Don’t let them fool you into thinking that you need to bow down, or adjust your needs, or apologize for your responses, to anything.

The last thing you expected showed up on your doorstep a couple of weeks ago and now here you sit, marveling about the fact that everything comes full circle. If we live long enough, all of our karma meets us head on at the end of the day. With what you always thought you wanted about to march in the door, the question is: Are you ready for this, or have time and experience altered you to the point where it doesn’t matter anymore? The answer to that question will differ for each of you. At the moment all you can do is show up with bells on and be open to anything.

GEMINI: May 21 – June 20

LIBRA: Sept. 21 – Oct. 20

You’ve got a lot of pressure to perform and put on a happy face, at a time when you’d just as soon tell everyone where to go. If you thought getting back to your old self would be easy, you now see that the way home is not what we take it to be. Life has changed too much for you to think that you can forge ahead without a new handbook and a clearer set of instructions. The opening to what’s next could arrive in the form of a move or an unusual business opportunity. Keep your mind open and be flexible about the ways in which life moves you from A to B.

You can’t figure out where the ones you thought you knew decided to take this story, but you’ve just about had it with things that started wearing you out a long time ago. What to do next is more interesting to you, and that question has more than one answer. Whoever’s in charge, and/or anyone who will be affected by your decisions, is reluctant to see things your way. Don’t let their hesitance do anything but serve as a regulating mechanism. While you let the chips fall where they may, review your motives, stay clear, and find a way to make this work for everyone.

CANCER: June 21 – July 20

You’re so busy thinking that you have to micromanage all of this into a tight little nutshell you keep missing the point. Sitting here in limbo wondering what it will take to get things rolling has you borrowing all kinds of trouble where there is none. What you are less aware of is the fact that everything happens when the time is right and all of that relies upon the extent to which your demons and your primary issues have been wrestled to the ground. As soon as you get in touch with those blocks, this seeming impasse with be dissolved and the rest of your life will begin.

58 June 20-26, 2018 |

SCORPIO: Oct. 21 – Nove. 20

Be patient with people who need more time to figure out where they’re at with things. You may have it all clear in your mind but you can’t assume that others are on the same page. This could also translate as they can’t handle and won’t be ready to handle whatever you’ve got on your agenda for quite some time. The deeper part of you believes that you have the power to push the river. Your thoughts on “manifestation” may work on paper, but here in the real world nothing comes into being if it isn’t in everyone’s highest good. This isn’t just about you — keep that in mind.

SAGITTARIUS: Nov.21 – Dec. 20

If things are changing don’t get hung up wondering why. What is shifting around or falling away is about to make room for events that are going to amp up everything that you are involved in. If it feels a little shaky, try to see this as an opportunity to edit a number of extraneous influences and issues out of your life before the clutter interferes with your next move. Clear the decks. It’s time to focus. Start beaming in on where things need to go from here. This may involve finally dealing with worn out relationship issues that have blocked your fulfillment for far too long. CAPRICORN: Dec. 21 - Jan. 20

Who can say which way all of this will play out? You guys come in so many shapes and sizes there is no way to generalize. Those of you who are still hung up on money and things need to get clear about where your abundance comes from before you can expect to move on. It doesn’t work to say ,“It comes from within,” if you’re chewing your fingernails over your 401K, your salary, and your assets. Getting real about the gap between lip service and the truth is where it’s at right now. Like the rest of us, it’s time for you to cut the hypocrisy and start living from the hip. AQUARIUS: Jan. 21 – Feb. 20

Recent adjustments have loosened up your perceptions just enough for you to get over needing to be so uptight about your current situation. As you open up to the idea that your purpose involves moving on to things that are totally out of the box, it should be easier for you to start breaking a few rules. The next few months are pivotal. What comes into being depends entirely on your willingness to hear what your inner voice has been saying. If there are fears around the idea that you might not survive if you follow your bliss, consider what might happen if you choose not to. PISCES: Feb. 21 – March 20

The business of coming back to center and putting things in order is being supported by the gods, who seem to want you to have everything work out to your advantage. With no need to fret about things that until now seemed to hinge too much on the wool that lesser mortals were pulling over your eyes, you are in the clear. As the next few weeks unfold, give yourself all the time in the world to realign your sights. What happens next, and the relative success of your current affairs, depends entirely on the level of integrity that fuels your choices and actions in the present.

| June 20-26, 2018


Metro Times 062018  
Metro Times 062018