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Sometimes the question seems who hasn't written for Metro Times. Former columnist Kenneth Cockrel Jr. serves on Detroit City Council (after serving as interim mayor). Pistons sideline reporter Eli Zaret had his "Sports with Eli" column in Metro Times' maiden issue, and progressive talk radio host Peter Werbe shared his radio interviews with us for years. Counterculture icon John Sinclair has both written for the paper and been written about in our pages. When the prestigious Kresge Arts in Detroit program announced 18 fellows a few weeks ago, at least four of them — Chris Tysh, Lynn Crawford, Vince Carducci and Louis Aguilar — had published in Metro Times over the years. Thumbing through old issues, we came across old reviews by jazz singer Sheila Landis and author Bill Harris, both subjects of recent articles. On it goes. Here we catch up with a handful of edit staffers and contributors from the paper's three decades.
Charles Auringer was the paper's longest-serving design director (1986-2003). After leaving MT he went on to design papers and manage the production staff for the View papers and others in the Lapeer County area. He retired from the newspapers in January. Living in Port Huron, he continues to design Big City Rhythm & Blues magazine and website.
Barbara (Weinberg) Barefield was the founding designer and still works as a freelance photographer and designer in the Detroit area. She and husband, guitarist A. Spencer Barefield, are prime movers in the Palmer Wood Music in Homes series and jazz concerts and recordings with the nonprofit Creative Arts Collective. She also works in ceramic sculpture and with Jewish Voice for Peace.
Mike Betzold was the first film reviewer for the paper, where he invented a 3-D rating system of stars (overall quality), W's (weirdness) and Z's ("slumber quotient"). He later survived 10 years at the Detroit Free Press and the infamous strike and lockout. He is now an editor and writer at the Ann Arbor Observer. Along with freelance journalism and movie reviews, he's recently published Bingo! The Secret to Scrabble Success on iUniverse.
Ric Bohy, editor from 2004-2006, came to MT after stints at The Detroit News and as editor at Hour Detroit, among other career stops. He is currently living "a nearly blissful rural life" in Hickman County, Tenn., where, in addition to tending to crops and bees, he reports doing a little journalism, "a lot of corporate stuff" (ghosting speeches, etc.) and "chipping away" on a novel set in Detroit.
Herb Boyd was an associate editor of Metro Times when it was founded and remained as a masthead contributor until the 2000s. He's written numerous books, including Simeon's Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett Till (Lawrence Hill), a collaboration with Till's cousin Simeon Wright, which was published earlier this year. He recently completed a history of Harlem and a book on the civil rights movement.
Nate Cavalieri, a former listings editor, became a staff writer for SF Weekly, wrote guidebooks for Lonely Planet, became Rock Editor ("best business card ever") at Rhapsody, and bicycled across southern Africa raising money for sustainable transportation NGOs. He's now in California and planning a move to New York City.
Lisa M. Collins, who won the Detroit SPJ's "Young Journalist of the Year" award in 2002 for her work as a staff writer at this paper, eventually became our arts and culture editor before leaving to be a reporter at the Detroit News. These days she lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with her husband and young daughter. She continues to write as a freelancer; her work has appeared in Vanity Fair and New York Magazine.
Desiree Cooper made the move from corporate law to the Metro Times in 1994, when she became the first African-American editor of a paper in the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. She became an editor-at-large in 1997 and left two years later to become a Detroit Free Press columnist. Contributions to National Public Radio's All Things Considered led to a stint as a host on public radio's Weekend America program. She's now a senior analyst for City Connect Detroit, a nonprofit that links Detroit's grassroots initiatives with national funders. She also continues to freelance, focusing on creative writing and maintaining her blog, "Detroit Diary," at www.descooper.com. Her short story, "Night Falling," was published in Best African American Fiction 2010.
Jim Dulzo was managing editor from 1992 to 1993, and a freelance contributor before and after that. For a number of years he's been managing editor of the Traverse City-based Michigan Land Use Institute, overseeing its publications and assisting in the development of its Web site and other media projects.
Hobey Echlin, a contributor to the paper since 1990, was listings editor from 1991 to 1992, when he left to make music with the bands Final Cut and Majesty Crush. He is now in Long Beach, Calif., with a day job and two kids. He is working on two video-book projects, one on Detroit music producer Mike E. Clark, the other "compiling stories from Detroit musicians about what makes the city both a creative hotbed and a sometimes frustratingly limited market, and why that suits everyone just fine."
Stewart Francke wrote for Metro Times from 1983-1995. Also a singer, songwriter and performer, his 11th CD is out this fall. Diagnosed with leukemia in 1998, he started a foundation to raise money and awareness about bone marrow-based diseases, and Musician's Outreach of Michigan (MOM), which sees musicians play for cancer patients and their families. Many pieces he wrote for Metro Times were published by Ridgeway Press in Between The Ground & God: Essays, Lyrics & Interviews.
Melissa Giannini, former music writer, is now a freelance copy editor and writer, contributing to the Village Voice, Spin and her own melissagiannini.wordpress.com. She recently started the MFA writing program at Bennington College and lives in New York City with her artist-boyfriend Tom Costa.
Alisa Gordaneer edited the Culture Watch section of the paper and handled special projects from 1997 to 2000, during which time she coined the neologism "cuddletech," which may yet catch on. She edited Monday Magazine in Victoria, British Columbia, she teaches at the University of British Columbia and other area institutions, and she writes an arts column for Victoria's Boulevard Magazine.
Chris Handyside began as an intern at Metro Times in 1994 and worked his way up to music editor before jumping into the dot-com rush in 1999. Author of Fell in Love with a Band about the White Stripes, he continues to freelance for Metro Times and is associate creative director at Digitas, an interactive advertising agency.
Beth Hawkins was an investigative reporter and later a managing editor in the mid-'90s, when she returned to her hometown of Minneapolis to write for that city's alternative paper for 11 years. Now a freelancer, her stories have appeared in Mother Jones, More magazine, Minnesota Monthly and other national and regional publications. She also covers education for the Twin Cities online daily, MinnPost.com, and commercial litigation for Bloomberg news service. She lives in Minneapolis with her two sons, ages 8 and 11.
Geoffrey Jacques, an early MT jazz writer, relocated to New York in the '80s, where he's been a union organizer, labor journalist, art critic, poet and college teacher. His book of criticism, A Change in the Weather: Modernist Imagination, African American Imaginary, was published by the University of Massachusetts Press last year. He tells us he's listening to John Lee Hooker and contemplating a book about Detroit. See geoffreyjacques.com.
Sandy Jurek, then Sandy Jaszczak, was the original MT webmaster and author of the Netropolis column. She's been a technology consultant (webmaster) for Oakland County for the last decade.
Thom Jurek was at Metro Times from 1990 to 1996, beginning as arts editor and later becoming a senior editor. He's now a staff writer for allmusic.com where he writes about sounds from across the globe. He also writes essays and liner notes for CD and vinyl reissue projects and is a contributor to American Songwriter.
Sara Klein, a longtime columnist (culture and nightlife), staff writer and editor, moved to San Francisco in 2006 where she is a senior editor at Penthouse.com and writes a Scary Sextoy Friday column (scarysextoyfriday.com, of course). She performs burlesque with the Hubba Hubba Revue. She is engaged to be married this October.
John Schultz left Metro Times 1992 and started the Mirror Newspapers in southeast Oakland County where he was founding editor and columnist. In 1996 he began working in media relations for American Red Cross and in 2000 went to work for The Detroit News where his assorted titles included Wayne County bureau chief. Laid off last year, he wrote a history of Royal Oak for Arcadia and recently became copy editor for Hour Media’s DBusiness.
Nancy Kaffer, a staff writer, left the paper in 2005 and returned to her native South to work for the Hattiesburg American in Mississippi. For more than two years she has worked at Crain's Detroit Business, covering small business, entrepreneurship, and government and politics in Wayne County and the city of Detroit.
Greg Kaza was a freelancer and then a staff writer for the paper the 1980s. He left to work for the Oakland Press and then the conservative Mackinac Center. He served as a Republican state rep from 1993 to 1998. For the past 10 years, he has been the executive director of the Arkansas Policy Foundation (reformarkansas.org), pushing for, among other things, charter schools.
Ben Lefebvre, a staff writer here during the mid-2000s, left Detroit to cover immigration in suburban Chicago for the Sun-Times papers for a few years "until the paper's finances made layoffs/consolidation a certainty." He now reports on the biofuels industry for a news wire called ICIS, an international company based out of London that covers oil, chemicals and energy.
Rosanne Less wrote hard-hitting investigative pieces and other news stories for the MT during the mid-1980s, then left journalism to become an attorney. With a private practice based in Trenton, she handles, among other matters, divorces and cases involving gays and lesbians seeking to dissolve domestic partnerships. "I'm charging recession prices," she adds.
Keith A. Owens, the author of the Free Your Mind column, penned other noteworthy work including an award-winning two-part history of the blues in Detroit in 2001. He became director of communications for the Office of the Wayne County Treasurer in the fall of 2006. He's also a member of the band Freedom Underground and is hoping to find a publisher for his semi-autobiographical novel Fire and Wanda.
Laura Markham and Ron Williams, the founding publishers of Metro Times, built a mini-chain with the addition of two other alternative newsweeklies (in Orlando and San Antonio), and negotiated the sale of the papers in 1999 to Times-Shamrock, the Pennsylvania-based media company that already owned City Paper in Baltimore. Williams went on to become is president and executive editor — with Markham as board chair and chief executive officer — of Dragonfly Media, which ran websites and monthly magazines in a number of U.S. cities and Vancouver, British Columbia. After a number of years in Vancouver, Williams and his wife, Rebecca Ephraim, are relocating to Detroit ("one of the most exciting cities in the world right now"). Markham is a clinical psychologist in New York who edits Aha! Parenting (AhaParenting.com), "a website dedicated to changing the world, one family at a time."
Rebecca Mazzei, arts editor 2004-2008, and a listings editor in the late '90s, is assistant dean at the College for Creative Studies. Along with musician Joel Peterson, she recently formed a non-profit organization to present performances and public art projects in Detroit.
Ann Mullen began working as a staff writer for MT in the mid 1990s, often focusing her attention on issues involving the courts and social justice. She won a number of awards for the paper, and was a finalist in the 2004 "Journalist of the Year" competition held by the metro Detroit chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. She now produces outstanding work as an investigative reporter with Detroit television station WXYZ.
Monte Paulsen helped set the standard for MT investigative reporting during the early 1990s. Later he headed a national news desk for this paper and its sister publications. These days he's in Vancouver, B.C., where he writes for The Tyee.ca, an online daily newsmagazine that reports on politics and culture in British Columbia.
Sadiq, aka Sadiq Mohammed and Sadiq Bey, a first-issue arts writer, was also a member of numerous Detroit bands, including Griot Galaxy. He recently formed Sadiq Bey and the Muses Boyfriend with Detroiter Kelvin Sholar in Berlin. You can follow his numerous writing, performance and music projects at myspace.com/schwartzegeist.
Keith Schneider produced some outstanding freelance pieces for MT between 1999 and 2006, especially around the issues of transportation and land use. That's no surprise, considering that the two-time recipient of the George Polk Award for environmental reporting founded the nonprofit Michigan Land Use Institute after a long stint as a national correspondent for the New York Times. These days he's media and communications director of the U.S. Climate Action Network, and senior editor of Circle of Blue, which provide online reporting about the global freshwater crisis. And he continues to write for the Times.
Leni Sinclair, the paper's founding art director, is well-known for her documentation of the MC5 and other facets of the music and cultural scene since the '60s. A major display of her photography opened at the Charles H. Wright Museum last year. Sinclair shows her work at lenisinclair.com. She is seeking contributions to defray publishing costs on a pictorial history of Detroit rock with Gary Grimshaw.
Khary Kimani Turner was a longtime freelancer before a stint as a staff writer that ended in 2004 and then a freelancer again (although he distanced himself from MT for a time in protest of the "Kwame-Man" comic issue). Turner is an admissions officer at University of Phoenix and recently finished a masters degree.
George Tysh, arts editor from 1997 to 2003, recently retired from fulltime teaching English, film studies and creative writing at Roeper Upper School in Birmingham. Long active in the Detroit arts scene — going back to the days of the Cass Corridor's Detroit Artists' Workshop — Tysh published a new collection of poetry, The Imperfect, earlier this year (United Artists Books).
Jeremy Voas, editor from 2001 to 2004, is back in his longtime hometown of Phoenix, Ariz., where he works as an investigator for the Capital Habeas Unit of the Federal Public Defender.
Daniel D. Zarazua, aka DJ Chino and Domingo Yu, was a listings editor in the late '90s. He's been a teacher and schools administrator in Oakland, Calif., in recent years, and maintains his ties with Detroit's Underground Resistance/Red Planet Records. Follow him at domingoyu.com.
Helen Zia, an early freelance contributor, became executive editor of Ms. Magazine and authored books including Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People. Earlier this year, she testified in the suit challenging the constitutionality of Prop. 8 in California. The website AfterEllen gave her in the No. 1 spot — ahead of Margaret Cho — on the list "Top 5 queer Asian-American women in entertainment and media."
A growing number of current and former MT staffers from all departments can be found in the Facebook group I Used to (or still do) Work at Metro Times.
Did you work at Metro Times in the past? Let us know what you've been up to in the comments below.