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MT nest

Contributors, columnists and camp followers who’ve flown the coop and spread their wings

MT photo: Bruce Giffin
Birds-eye view: The MT staff circa 1992.
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Published 10/19/2005

No one’s ever tallied the scores of editorial staffers who’ve come through the doors of Metro Times, or the enormous number of freelancers; in all, they’ve filled papers that, if you could stack them, would make a pile more than 25 feet tall.

Over the years, the writers and editors associated with papers have scattered across the country and a bit of the globe; they’ve written books, played with bands, started other papers and been elected to office. Some of the names here are former staffers who still contribute, but we thought you might want to know more about what’s become of them. Others are folks that we’d long lost track of ourselves, and were all the more curious to check up on. These are just some of the folks behind the papers you’ve read.

Charles Auringer was the paper’s longest serving design director (1986 to 2003) and an editorial department anchor. He is now the production manager for LA View (in the Lapeer area) and Grand Blanc View, weeklies founded by former Metro Times publisher Jim McCarter. Auringer continues his partnership with Robert Jr Whitall with Big City Blues Magazine, now a decade old.

Barbara (Weinberg) Barefield was the founding designer and still works as a freelance photographer and designer in the Detroit area. She also works in ceramic sculpture and with Health Initiative for Men, a nonprofit organization to fight prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses afflicting men.

Jennifer Bagwell wrote about troubled youths and the travails of women in Michigan prisons while a staff writer. Over the last five years she’s freelanced, dug into music (her projects include “an all-gal bluegrass band”) and has worked at making and, more recently, marketing bread for Avalon Bakery. She’s begun an offbeat monthly food column for Ann Arbor Paper (annarborpaper.com).

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 working on screenplays and short stories.

Herb Boyd was an associate editor of Metro Times when it was founded; he continued as a contributing editor from the time he relocated to New York in 1985 until recently. He’s the managing editor of The Black World Today (tbwt.org) and the author of numerous books on African-American history and culture. His collaboration with Yusef Lateef, The Gentle Giant: The Autobiography of Yusef Lateef, is to be published by Morton Books this fall, and he recently signed a deal for a book on James Baldwin. Boyd co-hosts an Internet radio program at www.caribworldradio.com.

Nate Cavalieri, former listings editor and all-around writer, explains: “After leaving the Metro Times I did some time on the road with the Sights, trying to do my best Garth Hudson. But, alas, I couldn’t grow the beard and the indulgences of life on the road were a bit much for me.” After a stint in San Francisco as staff writer at SF Weekly, he is freelancing, writing poems, contemplating grad school and playing drums with the band Lesser Lights.

Ken Cockrel Jr. wrote a column, The Bottom Line, in the early ’90s, before he got into politics. He’s now up for re-election to the Detroit City Council and is expected to capture the council presidency in November.

Lisa M. Collins was selected as the Michigan Press Association’s Young Journalist of the Year in 2002 while a staff writer at Metro Times. She later became arts editor, then left to freelance earlier this year. She recently went to work covering City Hall for The Detroit News.

Desiree Cooper became the first African-American editor of a paper in the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies when she took over MT’s top editorial post in 1994. She became an editor-at-large in 1997, and left two years later to become a Detroit Free Press columnist. She’s also a frequent contributor to All Things Considered on National Public Radio.

Jim Dulzo was managing editor from 1992 to 1993, and a freelance contributor before and after that. He’s now managing editor of the 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 Final Cut and Majesty Crush. Now in Los Angeles, he teaches yoga and deejays, and writes for a number of publications.

Karen J. Fisher, a former Metro Times Web editor, is a freelance photo researcher (for educational and kids books) and writer in San Diego, after a number of publishing jobs there.

Stewart Francke saw an ad for music writers in Metro Times, which led to an ’80s music column, Word of Mouth, written with Lex Kuhne. Francke later wrote a culture column, Sign Language, before turning his full attention to his musical career. His fight with leukemia led him to found the Stewart Francke Leukemia Foundation. His anthology, Between The Ground & God: Lyrics, Essays & Interviews, 1990-2005 (Ridgeway Press), is available in bookstores and on his Web site, stewartfrancke.com.

Larry Gabriel did three tours of duty in the MT trenches, as listings editor (1985 to 1987), managing editor (1989 until 1991, when he went to work for the Detroit Free Press) and editor (1997 to 2001). He’s now the editor of the United Auto Workers’ Solidarity magazine, and is nearly done writing an inspirational book about the blues.

Alisa Gordaneer, who edited the Culture Watch section of the paper and handled numerous special projects from 1997 to 2000, is now editor-in-chief of Monday Magazine, in Victoria, British Columbia, a 30-year-old alt-weekly. (Take that, Metro Times.) She’s looking for a publisher for two novels and a book of poetry, and has also written career guides for florists and daycare owners. See the online version of this article to link to an award-winning poem by Gordaneer.

Chris Handyside began as an intern at Metro Times in 1994, and worked his way up to music editor before jumping onto the dot-com bubble in 1999. His book about the White Stripes, Fell in Love with a Band, came out last year, and he’s working on a series of books on American roots music for grade-schoolers. He continues to freelance for Metro Times and works as an advertising copywriter.

Beth Hawkins was an investigative reporter and later a managing editor in the mid-’90s. She’s a senior editor at Minneapolis’ City Pages, where she covers the criminal justice system, children’s and family issues, and spearheads the paper’s investigative reporting efforts.

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 and college teacher. He’ll soon be in town to promote a major book of poetry, Just for a Thrill, being published by Wayne State University Press. His Web site, geoffreyjacques.com, is to go online soon.

Sandy Jaszczak, the original MT webmaster, went on to work on Web projects for WTVS and a series of Web ventures that “all went bankrupt.” She’s been a technology consultant (webmaster) for Oakland County for the past four years.

Thom Jurek was at Metro Times from 1990 to 1996, beginning as arts editor and later becoming a senior editor. He’s now a senior staff writer for All Music Guide, where his specialties including pissing off conservative jazz fans. He has freelanced for numerous music magazines and is currently a contributor to Paste.

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 five years, he has been the executive director of the Arkansas Policy Foundation (reformarkansas.org). He writes for a number of outlets, including the conservative National Review Online. (See the online version of this article to link to his NRO archive.)

Rosanne Less was the paper’s first managing editor and investigative reporter. She’s now a lawyer in private practice, and returning to freelance writing.

Jan Loveland, a founding associate editor, runs Cranesbill Books in downtown Chelsea. She’s completing the dissertation for her doctorate in English-film studies at Wayne State.

Laura Markham and Ron Williams, the founding publishers of Metro Times, oversaw the paper’s success, 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 now is president and executive editor, and Markham is board chair and chief executive officer, of Dragonfly Media, which encompasses Web sites (including dragonflymedia.com) and monthly magazines in Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Vancouver, British Columbia. Billed as “The Next Generation of the Alternative Press,” Dragonfly’s “value” statement on the Web touts political concerns (democracy, sustainability, fair trade, etc.) and spiritual ones (“a future of harmony, compassion and respect for all living things”). Williams now lives in Vancouver; Markham in New York.

Ann Mullen was a staff writer for Metro Times from 1997 until 2004. Her reporting on a 13-year-old’s coerced confession in a murder case — the conviction was later overturned — won first place in the 2005 competition by the national Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. She’s now an investigative producer for WXYZ-TV, working with chief investigative reporter Steve Wilson.

Monte Paulsen was ahead of the curve in writing about the relationship of the environment and breast cancer when he was an investigative reporter for us from 1992 to 1993. He left to work at The State, a South Carolina daily, then returned as national correspondent for MT and its sister papers in the late ’90s. He is the co-author of the 2002 book Beyond the Deep: The Deadly Descent into the World’s Most Treacherous Cave, and now a freelancer living in Vancouver.

Sadiq, aka Sadiq Mohammed and Sadiq Bey, was a first-issue arts writer. A former member of Detroit bands, including Griot Galaxy, he now splits his time between Rome and Berlin, and works in a number of media. He’s writing a book on a cops-and-radicals saga that rocked Detroit in the 1970s, and his take on Othello, an operatic collaboration with pianist Uri Caine, is to be released on Winter & Winter later this year.

Leni Sinclair, the paper’s founding art director, was living in New Orleans at the time of the paper’s 20th anniversary, but has since re-relocated to Detroit. Well-known for her documentation of the MC5 and other facets of the music and cultural scene since the ’60s, Sinclair shows her work at lenisinclair.com.

Mel Small, a Wayne State University prof, dined, read and wrote about both experiences in reviews for Metro Times in the early years. He’s now distinguished professor of history at Wayne. His most recent book, At the Water’s Edge: American Politics and the Vietnam War, was published earlier this year.

Toni Swanger was the paper’s first typesetter and, as the paper grew, moved up to columnist and managing editor. Last year, she and her husband, John McCormick, took up full-time residence in a log home near Hillsdale that they’ve been working on for several years. Also an MT associate, McCormick contributed quirky cartoons when the paper was young.

Khary Kimani Turner, who left as a staff writer a year ago, runs a hip-hop program for schools. “Sounds all smarty-art and whatnot, but hip hop ought to be taking steps into academia. It’s 30 years old,” Turner says. His Black Bottom Collective released the CD People Mover last year, and upcoming gigs include Marygrove College’s Spirit Week on Oct. 28. He continues to freelance for Metro Times.

George Tysh, arts editor from 1997 to 2003, teaches 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 is working on a new collection of poetry.

Jeremy Voas, former editor who left in a well-publicized company clash last year, is back in his longtime hometown of Phoenix, Ariz. He’s worked there for a public investigator, been a producer for a TV news program and is now an investigator for the public defender’s office working on the appeals of death row inmates.

Peter Werbe’s interviews — usually transcribed from his radio work — were a regular feature during the 1990s. He hosted a national talk program on the i.e. America radio network from 2000 to 2003, and continues to host Nightcall Sunday nights on WRIF-FM — 35 years and running — and interview shows on WCSX-FM and WMGC-FM. His Web site is peterwerbe.com.

Daniel D. Zarazua, aka DJ Chino and Domingo Yu, was a listings editor in the late ’90s, and has since worked on intergroup relations and other issues for the University of Michigan. With other stops between, he’s begun his second year on the staff of Unity High School in Oakland, Calif., where he teaches world history and ethnic studies with a hip-hop edge. He’s toured internationally as a DJ, works with Underground Resistance Records in Detroit, and can be reached at domingoyu.com.

Helen Zia, an early freelance contributor, became executive editor of Ms. Magazine. She’s the author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, and more recently the co-author with Wen Ho Lee of My Country Versus Me: The First-Hand Account by the Los Alamos Scientist Who Was Falsely Accused.

W. Kim Heron is Metro Times managing editor. Send comments to wkheron@metrotimes.com.

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