A local mom says she and her kids have been forced out of their home because of a raw sewage back up. It’s been happening on Walnut Street, near downtown, and it’s been going on for months.
Valencia Thomas’ family had to temporarily move out three months ago because the conditions are so bad. Not only is the ceiling falling in, the bathroom plumbing has been backing up everywhere, even in the kitchen sink. They complained to the landlord, but say he ignored the problem. “I have four children. We have been staying with my mom in a one bedroom home,” Thomas told Call 11 for Action.
The almost $800-a-month rent at her place is government subsidized. But guess what taxpayers are getting for their money? Huge holes have opened up in the ceiling, leaking whenever it rains. And then there’s the plumbing.
“Literally, ‘dookie’ and ‘pee’ and everything comes up through the tub. It comes up through the sinks; the kitchen sink, upstairs sink,” she said.
Every time the toilet flushes, the tub fills up with filthy water. So does the kitchen sink. The sewage has left stains on the floor.
“It stinks. You can’t live like this. It’s terrible,” Thomas said. She claims she’s been contacting her landlord, 19th Century Renewal, but getting no results.
After Call 11 for Action got involved, a plumbing crew came right out and fixed the pipes.
“It took for ya’ll to show up for them to do something. I’m really happy about it,” Tomas said.
The landlord says he’s also hiring a contractor to get the holes in the ceiling repaired. He says he thought his usual maintenance guy was handling the problems, but it turns out that guy was actually in jail, and didn’t tell anybody.
Dan Bumpus is the consumer investigative reporter at WTOL News 11. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Archive for May, 2005
A local mom says she and her kids have been forced out of their home because of a raw sewage back up. It’s been happening on Walnut Street, near downtown, and it’s been going on for months.
Selected child delegates, including a Toledo boy, will testify before Congress in late June on the need for continued funding for research on type 1 diabetes. Jack Meyers, 12, has been selected to speak before Congress by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Meyers will represent Northwest Ohio with
researchers and business and community leaders.
“The day you or your child is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes is a day you will never forget,” JDRF International Chairman Mary Moore said.
Meyers said he tries to live his life as a normal 12 year-old boy. He enjoys football and playing piano.
“It would be hard to take all the stuff I have to do if I didn’t know that they would find a cure,” he said.
Toledo Blade photographer Allan Detrich’s work capturing weather will be shown in his new exhibit, “Storm Chaser” at the National Center for Nature Photography in Secor Metropark.
Art Weber, director of the center, said Detrich’s work is “unusual and extraordinary. He has a very unique eye, his photos are distinctive and people can learn a lot from them.”
The reception will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on May 26 at the center.The exhibit will open during the gallery reception on May 26 and run through July. Detrich will be present during the reception and available to answer questions. The event is free and open to the public.
Toledo Blade photographer Andy Morrison’s work will also be on display.
“Spunk” is about the “laughin’ kind of lovin’ kind of hurtin’ kind of pain that comes from being human.” It’s a theatrical setting, by George C. Wolfe (“The Colored Museum,” “Jelly’s Last Jam”), of three short stories by Harlem Renaissance author Zora Neale Hurston (“Their Eyes Were Watching God”), with music by Chic Street Man.
Detroit’s Plowshares Theatre Company’s production combines blues, gospel, dance, poetic narrative, masks, a life-sized puppet and slang-laced dialogue to bring the tales to vibrant life.
Felicia Taha plays Blues Speak Woman, the principal narrator. She has a lyrical voice and a sly, watchful manner that suits the character’s all-knowing perspective. She’s backed by Michael Turner as Guitar Man and the virtuoso Marvin Thompson, Jr. (who is also the musical director) as Piano Man.
In each of the three acts, Danyé Evonnté Brown embodies the “spunk” of the title. In “Sweat,” she’s a washerwoman abused by her no-account husband until she finally turns the tables on him. In “Story in Harlem Slang,” she’s a self-confident domestic who’s not about to buy the flattery of two dandified hustlers looking for a free meal. In “The Gilded Six Bits,” she’s a happily married young wife taken in by the glitter of fool’s gold.
The men in her life are played by Cornelius Harris, Walter Lindsey and Mateen Stewart. All the actors are strong, and Stewart is especially appealing as a preening pimp and as a rural factory worker poor in everything but love.
Hurston’s language is poignant and pungent by turns and the wonderful one-liners just keep coming: “The heat was meltin’ their civic virtue” is only one example.
Director Janet Cleveland sets a smooth, deliberate pace for her well-matched actors. The lights (Ron Burns) and simple but versatile set design (Christopher Carothers) support the varying moods. The costumes (Mary Copenhagen) are especially good: her zoot suits (one in lipstick red, the other navy with acid-yellow trim) are comic works of art.
The only flaw in this polished production is the ill-considered sound design (John Woolridge III). The performers, all strong singers, are over-amped for the intimate space, distortion too often grates on the ear and the bulk of a transmitter under a costume is reminiscent of a presidential debate.
“Spunk” runs through June 19 at the General Motors Theatre in the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. Tickets are $10-25 and available at (313) 872-0279 or www.plowshares.org.
The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library announced its line up for the second season of Garage Rock II. A six-week series featuring 18 area bands performing in the parking garage of Main Library, Garage Rock II shows are free and open to all ages.
Area bands scheduled to perform at Garage Rock include: June 9, Stereomod, Vanderbee and Falling Back; June 16, Resonant Soul, Desolation Angels and the Drawers; June 23, Separation Tree, Legion and Leaving Autumn; June 30, Peter’s Cry, Pawn and Phoenix 1; July 7, Catchpole, Texas Pete and the Revolution and 2nd Life; and July 14, Society’s Ugly Son, Burnt Notion and Moonmen.
Concerts are slated to begin at 6:30 p.m., June 9, and continue on a weekly basis through July 14.
Sponsors for the series include Library Legacy Foundation, Peeler Music, RamaLama Records, Sin Klub Entertainment, Toledo Free Press, T-Townmusic.com and WIOT. The Main Library is located at 325 Michigan St., and free parking is available off Adams St. For information, call (419) 259-5381.
Catch some rays and acoustic pop with On the Beach June 1 as the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library begins its 25th season of brown bag concerts.
“The past couple of years we’ve averaged about 300 people per concert,” said Tony Schafer, manager of the popular library and teen department.
The menu for the summer offers blues, jazz, rock, country and Irish folk. Barring a downpour or steady rain, the shows take place from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. Wednesdays through Aug. 3 at the Main Library, 325 Michigan St.
I didn’t get to any shows last weekend — not even to the debauched Houston Bernard gig I was looking forward to. My band, PB Army, played in Muncie, Indiana on Friday. And thanks to an ill-advised attempt to keep up with the hard-partying Maryland band King Valley, Saturday was shot. By the time we limped into Toledo at 9 p.m., all I could handle was a shower and bed.
Name a rock and roll stereotype, and King Valley has lived it. Wanton sex? Drug addiction? Prison time? Living in basements and mowing lawns between tours? All just a day at the office for these lifers. They’re great dudes, but faced with that serious a dedication to the rock and roll lifestyle, mortals like my bandmates and me look like lily-livered wusses. Are we doing something wrong? Are we poseurs?
We’re more likely to be late for soundcheck because we stopped at a thrift store to look for weird old records than because we had to lay in a stock of hallucinogens for the evening. We’re the ones pulling the dusty Atari system out from under the sofa at our hosts’ after-show crash pad while other bands are cutting lines of coke on the coffee table.
But you know what? We have a blast on the road. We bring home weird books and records and board games we found at backwater yard sales 1,000 miles from home. We eat in country diners where our presence makes the regulars whisper. And debauchery or no, we live for that stage time, just like everyone else. Neither approach is “right” (although ours may be more lawful) — the point is to get out and do it your way, and wring every drop of life out of it.
Get off the couch
Speaking of King Valley, they bring their earthy bong-rock to Mickey Finn’s Wednesday, supporting Fate of Apollo and hard-touring instrumental jammers Delicious. This show’s the best excuse in months to call off Thursday.
Conflict of interest alert: my band’s playing Thursday (see page 25). I’ll just say here that the bill is stacked with incredible locals (Evolotto, The Highgears) and two touring bands any rock fan should move mountains to go see, Raging Slab and Solace. You won’t see these two bands in Toledo again any time soon.
Friday, there’s metal at the Underground, blues at Mickey Finn’s, and some local hard rock at the Underground.
Saturday, catch up on your local metal acts at Headliners. The talented OnceOver headline, with support from Thought Hideous, Genocya, Trigger Point and Sound of Urchin. Go early, stay late, and bring your moshing shoes.
Still standing Sunday? The Underground has an indie-rock who’s who, including Thunderbirds Are Now, Stylex, Clive Staples, Drive!, and Ghost Writer. You’re off Monday — why not?
This city’s paper of record is in the midst of another witch hunt. I’ve never met their target and I doubt I’d like him personally. Politically we’re at opposite ends of the spectrum. In fact, when the articles first started appearing I admit to glee at someone from “their side” getting it. But the reports have been so mean spirited and petty, their tone so vindictive, that I’m rooting now for Tom Noe to win.
This change of heart came after reading a Sunday expose, complete with unflattering graphics, which piled on such a heap of insinuation that I tipped. Tipping, as the pop-sociologist/author Malcom Gladwell writes, is what happens when a whole bunch of molehills add up to a mountain and you suddenly find yourself on the other side of it.
In this case it was the reams of unsubstantiated claims and insinuations of possible-but-not-proved that initiated my 180. This was further powered by the three-page-piece’s holier-than-thou irrelevances.
Truth be told, I know neither the financial nor legal details of the coin and contribution stories — though my gut is the news sharks covering it might not either. I’m assuming Mr. Noe has done a few things that if not illegal, are probably less than upstanding. But this is America where we wink-wink, nod-nod at white-collar corner cutting when it works in our favor. This is America where there is always a way around the system if you have the right connections.
Which is one of the accusations being hurled at the prominent GOPer: That his business benefited from his political connections. That wine-and-dining Columbus leaders and shakers — sacre bleu! — led to contracts for his company. Mr. Noe is rumored to have spent up to $19 on appetizers at a Columbus steakhouse where he left large tips. As a former waitperson that nugget alone would have softened my feelings for him.
The Blade also tries to make a connection between evil and owning pricey real estate. Golfing with “powerful” people — senators, a governor — also makes Mr. Noe suspect. But isn’t this what virtually all of America aspires to? Isn’t this the country that worships Donald Trump and vies for his apprenticeships? Why doesn’t The Blade go after real big wigs like him? I’d bet my life he’s spent up to $39 on appetizers for political fat calves. And anyone who’s shocked, just shocked, at a half million dollar condo on the Maumee hasn’t shopped Upper East Side co-ops recently.
But no. Power on a celebrity scale is sexy and unapproachable. Power when it’s yielded by somebody you can bully-or at least convict before being tried-is something else. In the case of the Blade vs. Tom Noe it reads more like a grade school slam book than a news story.
The Blade is not alone in iffy reporting. Much of the media is quick to offer a J’accuse for easy targets. (Look at both the before and after of the Newsweek Koran brouhaha.) The problem is that while allegations are often made in oversized headlines, they are retracted, if at all, in six point type. But particularly as America becomes so us versus them, Republican versus Democrat, conservative versus liberal, we generally forgive the snark — hell, we want it piled on heavier — when it’s leveled at members of the opposing tribe. But dare I suggest how easily tables turn.
In its quest to cast aspersions, The Blade article even implies that because Mr. Noe attended BGSU for only two semesters, he’s a hypocrite for attending its sporting events. And that because he was born into a Democratic family, realigning with the Republicans is similarly suspect.
Well, this left-leaner is about to spin contrarian and give him the benefit of the doubt. America’s legal system is still based on innocent until proven guilty.
And not just the appearance of guilt. Or even more, a trumped up version of it. Barbara Goodman Shovers is a Contributing Editor to Toledo Free Press. She may be contacted at email@example.com.
In a music scene dominated by mean-spirited rap, empty-headed metal and assembly-line divas, Scissor Sisters have delivered one of the most rollicking and entertaining records of the half-decade. Infused with a ’70s and ’80s aesthetic that blends the attitude and sounds of Elton John, Billy Joel, George Michael, David Bowie, Roxy Music and a can-you-guess-the-influence stream of singable, danceable music, the self-titled debut has spawned a VH-1 hit with “Take Your Mama” and has topped the Billboard Heatseaker and Electronica charts.
They have been rewarded with appearances on “Saturday Night Live” and “The Tonight Show,” and a Grammy nomination for best dance recording (they lost to Britney Spears).
The core of the band is singer/songwriter Jake Shears and multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Babydaddy. They are surrounded by top-notch musicians: drummer Paddy Boom, guitarist Del Marquis and singer/performer/den mother Ana Matronic. As studio-oriented as their music is, it is shocking to see the Sisters live and discover what a tight, powerful band they are. Jake’s frenetic singing and the Swiss-watch precise rhythm section are as powerful and dexterous as an Olympic swimmer.
From the opening cut, the piano-driven “Laura,” through the Elton-flavored “Take Your Mama,” a Bee Gees-meets-Pink Floyd cover of “Comfortably Numb,” the Toto pastiche “Mary,” and such high points as “On the Radio,” “Filthy/Gorgeous,” “Music Is the Victim,” “Better Luck,” “It Can’t Come Quickly Enough” and “Return to Oz,” the CD inspires compulsive spins, until the hooks permanently etch themselves on the brain.
Fred Bronson, editor of the weekly Chart Beat column for Billboard Magazine, told Toledo Free Press that while the Sisters have yet to make a huge impact on the mainstream Billboard Top album chart (they peaked at 101), “Hopefully they still have a chance; their music is a lot of fun,” he said. “They took a lot of retro elements and came up with a new sound. With a hit single or a song played on a soundtrack to a feature film or television show, they could still break here.”
Who’s your daddy?
During a recent break between shows, Scissor Sisters songwriter and producer Babydaddy talked with Toledo Free Press from a California beach. Openly marveling at his band’s success, he talked about the past year with amazement.
“We’re spoiled,” he said. “There has been an incredible response to the album; people really seem to enjoy it. A week after it came out, people at concerts were singing along with every song.”
Babydaddy said the band’s blender of influences is a synergy of his songwriting and production collaboration with Shears.
“We work in an organic fashion, writing and recording at same time,” he said. “We weren’t trying to emulate anyone’s sound as much as we were trying to capture their attitude.
We’d say, ‘Hey, remember that guitar sound from that Bowie track, or those snare drums from that Ace of Base record?’ We were just throwing in all the sounds we love.”
The band has often cited Elton John and Billy Joel as influences.
“I love Billy Joel, and his sound is there, an appreciation of his sound and ethos,” he said.
“I used to sit at a piano with a songbook and play his songs.”
Now, major artists are flocking to see and work with the Sisters. They have produced remixes for Pet Shop Boys, Blondie and Kylie Minogue, and Elton John and U2’s Bono have publicly professed their love for the Sisters. There were late summer reports that the Sisters might open for U2 on their fall tour.
“That’s a complete fabrication,” Babydaddy said. “Bono came to two of our shows, and the rumors started. It’s been surreal; we’ll play a show and then we’ll find Elton John or George Michael or Bono waiting for us backstage, the musicians we worship, coming to see us. It’s surreal to hear Bono saying he is a fan of ours.”
The Sisters have also heard from Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and David Gilmour, who responded to the group’s dance-crazed version of “Comfortably Numb.”
Babydaddy said trying to emulate the band’s chart-topping U.K. success in America is daunting, but he believes their music stands out.
“We want to inspire people to live every emotion in life, to enjoy themselves,” he said. “In America, there aren’t many fun, light-hearted artists right now. Americans are in love with art that makes them angry for an hour or so.”
The Sisters won’t be in the studio to create a new album until next month, but to tide fans over, a concert DVD (“We Are Scissor Sisters, and So Are You”) and a remix album (“Scissor Sisters Remixed!”) have been released.
As the sounds of the beach called him away from the phone, Babydaddy sounded optimistic about the band’s future. “We’re going to keep plugging away here and do everything we can,” he said. “We’ll make every show and cheesy TV appearance we can, and hope to be in the right place at the right time.”
Adrienne Lewandowski’s elementary school did not have a library. Like so many of her classmates and neighbors, when the time came for a book report or a need to access global information, she would turn to the Lagrange Branch Library. And while Adrienne is now an adult, the young and old of the Lagrange community still look to their library as a vital resource.
“The Lagrange Library plays a key role, especially with our school children,” said Beth Lewandowski, Adrienne’s mother and president of the Lagrange Village Council, a community-based organization that serves the social, economic, and political interests of the area.
“Unfortunately, it just doesn’t compare to other libraries in the system — it’s fairly small and the hours of operation are inconvenient,” said Lewandowski.
All of that will change this week when the Lagrange Branch Library reopens in its new home at 3422 Lagrange Street, a $1.5 million facility incorporating plasma screen televisions, 12 free public access computers and a 50-person public meeting room into 9,000 square feet of space. Funding for the effort came from a 10-year bond levy passed by Lucas County voters in 1995.
“The new library will serve as a landmark, an entry point to the community,” said Terry Glazer, executive director and 16-year veteran of Lagrange Development Corporation, which brings together residents and business owners to focus on the area’s economic and ethnic diversity.
“It will be important not only in serving the needs of the community, but in preserving its unique cultural heritage — it really honors the neighborhood. We’ve anticipated this for a while now and it will be great to see it come to pass.”
Those closely involved with the planning and construction of the new branch credit the administration of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library system for adapting to the shifting needs of the community while at the same time respecting its history.
“Without a doubt, our thinking and planning have focused on reflecting cultural trends and evolving our material,” said Faith Hairston, branch supervisor for the Lagrange Branch Library. Local residents were able to offer their input in the development of the new branch brick by brick — even the material that makes up the building’s exterior was researched to ensure that it visually meshes with other structures in the neighborhood. This will also be the first time in the 71-year history of the Lagrange Branch Library that its home has been planned and built exclusively as a library facility.
“The new branch will be adaptive by design,” said Hairston. “It is being built not just for today, but for 50 years from now. The opportunity for growth is built-in — from the welcoming, open atmosphere of the branch to its technology, which will really benefit the families of this community.”
Ultimately, it may be the library’s diversity that helps ensure its long-term success. The branch will continue creating customized categories of material that are specific to neighborhood tastes, and will now feature original collections from local artists and expanded areas for children and teenagers.