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Issue of 7/29/2009

Cover Story:

Highway stars
by Travis R. Wright
These bikes are fast, crude, DIY-styled and often beautiful. It's no wonder they're getting huge.


All the young dudes by D'Anne & Laura Witkowski
The Wonder Twins witness the spectacle that was the return of Johnny Headband

Getting up to speed by Travis R. Wright
Ten easy, how-to queries for a café racer

Oh, brother by Hobey Echlin
Three brothers, two bands, one MT writer, and a reunion show that hits home

Rhythm corps by W. Kim Heron
The sounds that changed the beat of America


Comics (Comics)

Food Stuff by Metro Times food staff (Food Stuff)
Downtown to get a wine shop, and Italian goes vegan?

... like a horse by Jim McFarlin (Idiot Boxing)
Wow, HBO's Hung blows its load all over the Motor City

Letters to the Editor by Metro Times readers (Letters to the Editor)
Other thoughts on Michael Jackson and AT&T

Lit Up by Metro Times book reviewers (Lit Up)
Old Joe Kennedy's dirty Hollywood, eagle-eyed tales of trailer-court Michigan and Nazi art thieves

Jeffrey Morgan’s Media Blackout by Jeffrey Morgan (Media Blackout)
A column that's all aboot music

Motor City Rides by Doug Coombe (Motor City Cribs and Rides)
Custom-crazy Len Puch's wild creations

Power up by News Hits staff (News Hits)
Why a green-power boom could fill Michigan's sails

The "B" word by News Hits staff (News Hits)
When Bing talks bankrupcy, is it bull?

Night and Day by Megan O'Neil (Night and Day)

Time to get real by Jack Lessenberry (Politics and Prejudices)
Michigan needs to face facts and find savings

Going nowhere slow by Dan Savage (Savage Love)
What to do when you can't get any

Up all night by Metro Times food staff (Short Order)
A shortlist of places open at all hours

Gates goes to jail by Larry Gabriel (Stir It Up)
When communication breaks down with the po-po



Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work - Matthew B. Crawford Reviewed by Travis R. Wright (Book)

Taxis - Zoos of Berlin Reviewed by Laura Witkowski (Record)

Everett Belcher - Doop & the Inside Outlaws Reviewed by Bill Holdship (Record)


G-Force Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
G-Force just isn’t wacky or fleet-footed enough to deliver on its gleefully idiotic premise. In fact, the five writers credited with overscripting this sporadically engaging but dumber-than-dirt kiddie actioner nearly suffocate the story in dull dramatic arcs, endless exposition and no-fun, overcomplicated spy thriller tropes. Take the guinea pig’s opening 10-minute covert operation. Instead of sending up the genre with a clever wink and a nod, they bog things down with incidents and exchanges that’d fit in any Mission Impossible knock-offs. The writers think the rodent-cum-superspy conceit is joke enough, that no more thought need be given to parody, homage or character. Even Cats vs. Dogs, for all its stupidity, invested more ingenuity in its humor. Here, the wit extends to fart and poop jokes. The voice acting is impressive though. Sam Rockwell, Penelope Cruz, Tracy Morgan, Steve Buscemi, Jon Favreau and a deliriously silly Nicolas Cage bring their A-game. Their human counterparts fare far worse, with Zach Galifianakis and Will Arnett made inexcusably boring and Kelli Garner pared down to a near-wordless nub.

Departures Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
Cellist Daigo (Masahiro Motoki) is a capable but unspectacular artist struggling to find work after his orchestra disbands. Answering an ad for help with “departures,” — which he assumes has something to do with travel (despite the presence of coffins in the office) — he’s immediately hired by a gruff and cuddly old man (Tsutomu Yamazaki). Before you can say, “fish out of water,” Daigo is cleaning, dressing and grooming corpses for grieving families. Worried what his wife will think, Daigo hides his unsavory “casketing” job even as he grows to enjoy it. Obvious metaphors being what they are, we soon see the young musician’s reinvention and renewal. Unfortunately, however, director Yôjirô Takita and screenwriter Kundo Koyama want their movie to mean something, so in the last third of this too-long tale we’re treated to over-the-top instances of cloying sentimentality.

Orphan Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
Vera Farmiga and sleepy-eyed Peter Saarsgard play the yuppie saps who fall for her act, bringing her into their lush country manse, and into their lives, which are, you’ll note, promptly ruined. They’ve two children already, but a miscarriage convinces them that another will repair the cracks in their marriage. Umm, bad call. Despite icy stares from other kids, there’s something about the little pig-tailed angel in silk ribbons when she sits quietly alone in the orphanage art room. The distracted husband should notice all warning signs, but he’s more interested in Ester’s amazingly advanced paintings skills and deceptively sweet manner. Something’s just ain’t right with this gal, and bad things start happening.

Soul Power Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
The “hardest working man in show business” earned his crown here, with a frenetic, sweat-soaked headline performance that kills in this engrossing, if somewhat spotty, doc. Essentially a companion to the superior Oscar-winner When We Were Kings, Soul Power is culled from 1974 footage shot around the Ali-Foreman heavyweight title fight, set in what was then the Republic of Zaire. A three-day music fest coincided, featuring James Brown, B.B King, the Spinners and Bill Withers, alongside African acts such as singer-activist Miriam Makeba. Unfortunately, Foreman got hurt while sparring, the bout was postponed, and the concert became the star attraction. The fight was a phenomenon, the concert only a footnote, and no amount of editing can rectify that. But the concert footage is great fun, with Brown backed by classically tight deep funk, with Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker throwing down.

(500) Days of Summer Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
Lovelorn Tom (Joseph Gordon Leavitt) is a victim of movies, pop songs and even the greeting cards he cranks out, all of which hard-sell him on the idea of true love. He’s all too ready to fall hard when his gorgeous new co-worker Summer (Zooey Deschanel) corners him in the elevator and tells him she likes the Smiths song on his iPod. And so it goes ...

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
Four karate-leaping, pizza-scarfing, sewer-dwelling and mutated turtle dudes fighting crime with a rat for a mentor and a leggy human gal sidekick? Sure … that could work. What started out in 1984 as a black-and-white comic out of Massachusetts with a microscopic print run grew to become the improbable kiddie phenomenon of the ’80 s and ’90s, and a money-printing juggernaut to this day.

The Hurt Locker Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
The Hurt Locker has 10 times the thrills of Michael Bay’s $200 million Transformers sequel, and on a budget of $11 million. It’s not only the best action movie of the season; it’s one of the best films of the year so far. Fact-based and character-driven, The Hurt Locker, written by journalist Mark Boal, focuses on a three-man squad that specializes in defusing roadside bombs in Iraq. When the team’s leader (Guy Pearce) is lost, the surviving members (Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty) must make it through the remaining 38 days of their tour with a new and far more reckless replacement, hotshot Sgt. William James (Jeremy Renner). Wisely, Bigelow depicts war as intimate and modest, turning the screws on the audience by ratcheting up the tension and playing down combat pyrotechnics. The Hurt Locker is not a conventional approach to wartime heroics but rather a penetrating and harrowing examination of its unrelenting damage on the human psyche.


Pete's Place Reviewed by Mel Small (Restaurant)
Peter Mel has transformed a dreary Coney Island into a hip eatery that's open all day. The theatrical ambience isn't limited to the Broadway posters and show-tune soundtrack, as it spills over onto the menu. And the prices are quite reasonable, with mains averaging around $12 and appetizers and salads around $6. Be certain to ask for the specials of the day, which can include eggplant parmigiana, a near-perfect blend of cheese and tender eggplant slices floating in marinara sauce. Vegetarians will be pleased with the Verdi pasta in a pesto-garlic-oil sauce and the broccoli, rigatoni and pine nuts mélange. Four frittata-style omelets anchor the breakfast menu, and luncheon sandwiches range from corned beef on rye to a sautéed chicken breast with spinach, portabella and Gruyere pesto mayo, to paninis stuffed with sautéed vegetables or mushrooms and goat cheese or turkey and spinach. Another plus is the attentive, friendly, and knowledgeable waitstaff. No smoking.