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Issue of 10/22/2008

Cover Story:

Oakland County throwdown
by Sandra Svoboda
As metro Detroit's richest county looks more and more like America, close observers sense change coming


'She' is the landscape by Glen Mannisto
... and more: 30 years of photo experiments from Michele Tarailo

'This man is still the bomb' by Charles L. Latimer
Larry Smith, keeper of the bebop flame, is lighting up the stage again

Marsalis does Brazil by W. Kim Heron
Brother Branford hits town with the Philharmonia Brasileira

Obama's moment by Metro Times editorial staff
What they offer, what's at stake

Rock 'n' roll rebirth by Michael Hurtt
One year after assuming ownership, PJ's version of the Lager House has proved the naysayers wrong

Saturday still looks fine by Aaron Shaul
Local indie popsters' solo 7-inchers


Service with a smile by Detroitblogger John
How this guy fixes broken dentures and assists inner-city folk

Comics (Comics)

Couch Trip by Metro Times film writers (Couch Trip)
A comic creator on ugly media, a dispatch to Linda Blair, a cool triple-D triple-X, and a good ol' American protest

Like motor oil for chocolate by Jim McFarlin (Idiot Boxing)
David Alan Grier: 'The 'N' word just will not go away'

Letters to the Editor by Metro Times readers (Letters to the Editor)

Jeffrey Morgan’s Media Blackout by Jeffrey Morgan (Media Blackout)
Great music criticism, without all the heavy reading

Motor City Cribs by Doug Coombe (Motor City Cribs and Rides)
Matt Jones' Ypsi digs

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

On the Download by Chris Handyside (On the Download)
Three Sides Now

Betrayal of our fathers by Jack Lessenberry (Politics and Prejudices)
McCain sinks low in his quest to win at any cost

Pay to play by Dan Savage (Savage Love)
More answers for generous readers

Get loose by Larry Gabriel (Stir It Up)
Pop culture has long been prepared for a black commander-in-chief



Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down - Noah & the Whale Reviewed by Tim Grierson (Record)

Acid Tongue - Jenny Lewis Reviewed by Dan Weiss (Record)


Sex Drive Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
Fresh-faced Josh Zuckerman is Ian, the sweetly hapless virginal teen who makes what appears to be a love connection online and conspires to “borrow” his jerky older brother’s cherry ’69 GTO Judge and head to Knoxville for some nookie. His efforts are goaded by hyper-cocky pal Lance, played with breakout chutzpah by newcomer Clark Duke. The road trip is filled out by tough, Hot Topic refugee Felicia (Amanda Crew), whom Ian secretly has the major hots for but is too much of a weenie to “spoil the friendship.” Wanna bet that wacky open road high jinks ensue? Yup.

What Just Happened Reviewed by Corey Hall (Movie)
Based on producer Art Linson’s insider memoir, "What Just Happened" features one of Robert De Niro's more interesting recent turns, playing a high-powered but slowly sinking producer Ben, a guy overwhelmed by diva directors, petulant actors, heartless corporate masters, tasteless foreign financiers and an ex-wife who can’t forgive him his excesses in the light of all this. The film follows Ben on a particularly harried week. With a Bluetooth attached, he’s driving around Los Angeles in his SUV, juggling multiple projects that are verging on collapse while his home life’s in total ruin. He’s got a gritty indie crime drama that stars Sean Penn (who plays himself here) and is directed by childishly temperamental Jeremy (Michael Wincott), who refuses to re-cut the film’s downer ending. When the ball-busting studio chief (Catherine Keener) demands that violent bits get trimmed, Jeremy throws a table-pounding tantrum, but Ben’s the one who gets hammered. Worse, he’s got a big-budget action flick ready to roll, except that its star Bruce Willis (also as himself) angrily refuses to shave off his ZZ Top-thick beard, citing “artistic integrity.” Ultimately the weight of the movie rests on De Niro’s broad, sagging shoulders. But his gloomy presence drags scenes down and you can’t believe he’d ever take this kind of crap from anyone.

The Secret Life of Bees Reviewed by Serena Donadoni (Movie)
On the eve of her 14th birthday, Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning) is watching President Lyndon Johnson on television with her family’s housekeeper Rosaleen Daise (Jennifer Hudson) as he announces the signing of the Civil Rights Act. For that moment, it feels like institutionalized oppression might be lifted overnight, but that euphoria will be short-lived. As much as Secret Life is about individual bravery, Kidd’s tale swiftly punishes anyone who dares openly challenge the powers that be. The film opens with Lily’s unhappy life at a peach farm with her loutish father T. Ray (Paul Bettany), the bond she’s formed with Rosaleen, and her longing for a mother whose death she feels responsible for. When Rosaleen is beaten by a group of white men for trying to register to vote, the overlooked, undervalued Lily takes action, fleeing Georgia with her best friend and heading for Tiburon, S.C. There, they find an Eden in the soothing hot pink residence of the Boatwright sisters, surrounded by 28 acres of sun-drenched woodland where an apiary is situated. The coolly commanding August (Queen Latifah) runs the honey business and takes in these two strays — to the chagrin of the strident June (Alicia Keys), a cellist and music teacher. The childlike May (Sophie Okonedo) eagerly accepts these new companions, and her immense empathy makes her aware that they may be traveling light, but they carry heavy baggage.

W Reviewed by Jeff Meyers (Movie)
By any yardstick, our soon-to-leave-office leader has been an unmitigated disaster. How then does Stone neglect to include his Air National Guard years (or all of Vietnam, for that matter), the 2000 election fight, the 9/11 attacks, the failures during hurricane Katrina, the 2004 election, or even Terry Schiavo’s right-to-die battle? Amazingly, Stone misses the moments that matter. Part of the problem is screenwriter Stanley Weiser’s decision to end the film before W’s second term begins. To meet the upcoming presidential election deadline, the choice makes sense but dramatically it’s unsupportable, robbing the film of any meaningful conclusion. It’s a blatant triumph of commerce over art. Sure, if Stone had focused the story on specific character-defining moments to make some deeper point about Bush’s evolution, the approach could be justified. Unfortunately, the film really has no point. It’s a sketchy biography filled with simplistic Freudian psychology, a few subtly satirical flourishes and an over-reliance on knowledge of current history. Viewed 50 years from now and knowing little of his presidency, it would be hard to contextualize W in any meaningful way. Despite these shortcomings, the cast is a very good at evoking their real-world counterparts. But it’s Josh Brolin as W who demonstrates his range by sidestepping simple mimicry of Bush’s mannerisms to create a flesh-and-blood character. You could quibble that he misses W’s entitled sense of smugness, but everything else’s right and true. It’s a terrific performance that holds the disjointed picture together.


Black Lotus Brewing Company Reviewed by Mel Small (Restaurant)
The cool ambience, smoke-free environment and wi-fi suggest attract a laid-back, eclectic crowd to the airy high-ceilinged space, with wooden tables and couches scattered about, dominated by a horseshoe-shaped fieldstone bar. The open “kitchen” at one end of the bar is so tiny that it precludes elaborate culinary preparations. The generously proportioned starters that average around $5 include crunchy and succulent hot or honey barbecued chicken wings, and nine sandwiches ($4.99-$7.49) are constructed with organic bread from Avalon, range from veggie or grilled chicken paninis to several Reubens and a vegetarian “tofurkey lurkey” with tofu, swiss cheese, tomato and honey mustard. The highlight of the simple menu is the array of juicy beef, turkey, buffalo and vegetarian burgers ($4.49). As for liquid refreshment, many beers go for $4.50 a pint. Monday through Thursday during the 4-6 p.m. happy hour, they are marked down to $2.50.