Monday, January 23, 2017

Dan Gilbert Doesn't Attack His Critics, Says Dan Gilbert Spokesperson in Article That Included Dan Gilbert Attacking a Critic

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 12:59 PM

  • Wikipedia

The New York Times took a look
at Quicken Loans over the weekend in a semi-lengthy article. The hook here is that the Department of Justice's suit against the mortgage company will be heard this year (in Detroit) and in the wake of the recession, Quicken has emerged as the nation's "second-largest retail mortgage lender, originating $96 billion in mortgages last year — an eightfold increase from 2008."

It wasn't an entirely rosy outlook. As a reader, you might be able to guess, based on Gilbert's social media presence and previous record of letter writing, his reaction to criticism. Reporters, whether they cover the Cavs or any other part of Gilbert's empire, are more acutely aware of the brand of pushback that comes with unflattering portrayals of his work. In this particular instance, the Times reporter had a unique but still typical interaction.
On a more trifling scale, after sending text messages about this article to a reporter at The New York Times but not receiving a response — Mr. Gilbert was texting her landline number by accident — he followed up with an email accusing the reporter of disconnecting her mobile phone to avoid him. The phone “likely is one of your temporary numbers that you deploy for the surreptitious work that you do,” he wrote.

When alerted to the misunderstanding, Mr. Gilbert apologized “for any of it that was caused on my end.”

When Mr. Gilbert was asked in an email if he “often strikes a ‘combative stance’ or ‘frequently attacks his critics,’” a Quicken Loans spokesman responded in an email, “It’s interesting that when someone with as long and successful career as Mr. Gilbert is forced to defend his integrity and honor from old and/or insignificant already rehashed incidents and accusations from a media source as credible as The NY Times, you would imply that doing such is ‘frequently attacking’ his critics.”
For all the nasty missives fired off by Gilbert over the years that landed in the email inboxes and voicemails of reporters, this begs the question: How many more were blasted into the ether, directed to defunct fax lines? Of course, if we, the media, stopped using burner phones and temporary numbers to do surreptitious work, it wouldn't be a problem.
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15,000 Women and Men in Cleveland Peacefully Protest New President in Solidarity with Millions Around U.S.

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 12:51 PM

From grandmothers holding “I can’t believe I still have to protest this shit” signs to toddlers waving rainbow banners, this past Saturday’s Women’s March on Cleveland – part of an international outpouring of female-based political consciousness – was a noisy, rowdy but well-behaved expression of concern from 15,000 Northeast Ohioans (men included) about the direction of the nation under Donald Trump.

The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and pussy hats bobbed through the crowd on Public Square like cheery pink balloons. Judging by the signs, placards and chants, demonstrators’ concerns included reproductive rights, sexism, climate change, freedom of the press, and LGBTQIA freedoms, among many others. “Love Trumps Hate,” was a popular sentiment; “Fuck Trump” placards were also in ample supply.

For those standing at the edges of the pre-march crowd overflowing the square by 10 a.m., the music and speakers were essentially inaudible. But the march itself, which stepped off not long after the scheduled 11 a.m. start time, was an ebullient intergenerational occasion, especially as throngs of observers, gathered along Lakeside Avenue and on the Superior Avenue steps to the Cleveland Public Library, greeted the marchers with cheers, waves and thumbs-up signs.

During the entire event, we saw no vitriol, no counter-protesters, and virtually no security other than a circling helicopter and a few small teams of extremely polite policemen and -women on foot. (Cleveland police reported no arrests.) By 1 p.m., in typical Cleveland fashion, the protesters were wandering off and taking up positions at nearby eateries on Euclid and East Fourth Street. Hey, political action works up an appetite.
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Rod Stewart/Cyndi Lauper Tour Coming to Blossom This Summer

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 12:38 PM

  • Doug Sonders
When rocker Rod “The Mod” Stewart played the Q back in 2012, he displayed loads of energy for someone who had just entered his late sixties.

He got the party started with a cover of “Love Train” and then never let up during a fantastic 90-minute set, delivering hits such as “Some Guys Have All the Luck” and “Forever Young” while occasionally dropping to his knees, shaking his ass and vamping with the band.

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Cleveland Rocks With Standing Rock

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 12:01 PM


Like many folks who grew up in Northeast Ohio, Bob Hughes enjoyed Lake Erie. That enjoyment, born of childhood trips to Mentor Headlands, is part of what made Hughes passionate about water as he got older, something he kept tucked away as he participated in various charitable endeavors over the years.

The two intersected recently after he saw a friend's Facebook post stating that he wished there were more he could do about what was happening at Standing Rock in North Dakota than talking about it on social media. It stuck with Hughes, who figured action could start by forming an organization — Cleveland Rocks With Standing Rock — that would lean on local artists and musicians who wanted to help the protestors on the other side of the country but couldn't get there.

That led to a December event with local musicians performing at the Beachland Ballroom that raised a little over a thousand dollars.

“The unjust way these people have been treated is horrible," Hughes said in a phone interview. "They’re trying to protect their land, their sacred land, from being polluted. To say that they have no rights to their own land and we're going to build the pipeline by any means necessary is awful. This country has treated Native Americans wrong for forever and never said we're sorry, and we see the way they have and been treated and it’s just terrible. I challenge anyone to watch what's happening and not do anything. Where these pipelines are going and what they could pollute, they could eventually affect all of us.”

There are a lot of people to thank for the grassroots effort so far, but Cleveland Rocks With Standing Rock is especially grateful to the local Lenape Sioux Nation for their assistance in the events. Hughes said that without them, they’d be “just a bunch of dumb white people.”

And although Hughes is acting as de facto spokesperson for the group, he made it clear that this is far from a one-man effort. He’s grateful for the help of Cindy Barber at Beachland Ballroom, Leatrice Bard Tolls, Ralph Solinintz, Loren Naji are other group members who have kept momentum going.

“Transparency is important to us," he said. "We don’t want to be pinned as left or right, we have members of both parties. This is human rights and land rights and not about which side of the aisle you lean towards.”

A second event raised even more than the first one, with the funds going towards legal defense for the people who have been incarcerated for “trying to protect their land,” as Hughes puts it. Any leftover funds the group have may go toward fighting the Nexus Pipeline.

That's because he sees connections between what's happening with the DAPL, Lake Erie and the Nexus Pipeline, plans for which have it being built through parts of Northeast Ohio later this year.

As of now, the group has a third event scheduled for February 20th from 7 PM-11 PM at Bop Stop, the live music venue on Detroit Avenue. They’re planning on showing a documentary by John Bolenbaugh, a whistleblower who formerly worked for oil companies, and Bolenbaugh will be streamed via Skype for a question and answer session afterward. They’ll also have a couple of musical acts, of course.

Hughes says the events so far have focused more on awareness as opposed to protest, focusing on what pipelines do to the water and air, but they could do more protests as time goes on.

A fourth event is being planned in Wadsworth, a suburb through which Nexus will pass.

In the meantime, Hughes says that if you can’t make it out to an event, there are other ways to help. “If you’re with Bank of America or Wells Fargo, switch your bank. They support the pipeline in North Dakota. Let the banks know, ‘As a customer, I don’t agree with you supporting this.’ Don’t get gas at Sunoco. They sponsor all of the Energy Transfers.”

While the fight may be an uphill climb, “You have to keep optimism," Hughes said. "I'm a realist. It's a big foe we’re up against. One snowflake can't do much damage, but if you pile enough up, you have a blizzard. We're not the first community to take action but we all build on what others have done. Water is life. Without clean water we can't sustain ourselves."”

You can visit the group’s Facebook page at Cleveland Rocks With Standing Rock.
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Up-and-Coming Rapper D.R.A.M. Draws Inspiration From 'The Good Stuff'

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 7:45 AM

  • Christine Hahn
Back in 2015, D.R.A.M. (an acronym that stands for Does Real Ass Music) went viral with his hit song "Cha Cha." Everyone from Beyonce to Snoop Dogg and Chance the Rapper sang the praises of the infectious jam.

D.R.A.M., who sings, raps and also produces, possesses a love for performance that speaks to his various influences that include both artists of yesteryear and acts still performing today.

"My original source of influence will have to be the Parliament-Funkadelic wave," D.R.A.M. says in a phone conversation. "George Clinton the GOAT, Bootsy Collins, Garry Shider, Catfish Collins and so forth. There's also the other artists that were inspired by them as well like Queen Badu, 3 Stacks, Bilal and D'Angelo. Then there's Curtis Mayfield. I was in love with the SuperFly soundtrack. I just call it the good stuff. "

D.R.A.M.'s personality is warm, friendly and inviting. In fact, his latest album cover features him alongside his golden doodle named Idnit.

"I guess so," he says when asked if he's always been such a fun guy. "To be honest, it's like a love and hate thing. People either love me or hate me. I like it that way. I don't want any in-betweens. The people that rock with me, just rock with me. I like to be likable because I like to be around people that I like. I think by exerting good energy and a good vibe, it comes back to you."

Before his big break, D.R.A.M. worked at Best Buy as a member of the Geek Squad. There were culture clashes between him and the rest of the staff. He recalls a time when his manager gave him an ultimatum which ultimately resulted in him leaving the job behind in search of greener pastures in music.

"Yeah man, they told me either I quit or they were going to fire me," he recalls. "Basically, they were trying to dick me out of my severance pay, but I don't need that shit now. I had to leave anyway because I had to go to CMJ [Music Marathon] 2014. So they were going to have to let me go anyway."

D.R.A.M. has released three commercial works to date. A sample used on the original version of "Cha Cha" couldn't be cleared, so that song was altered some for #1EpicEP. He speaks proudly about his projects with an appreciation for the importance of each of them.

"#1Epic EP was a consolidation of the #1Epic Summer mixtape which was literally like none other," D.R.A.M. says. "It was like the brainchild that started all of this. It was me and my boy Gabe just making music at will, and we were just inspired by so many things. Gahdamn! was more polished, but it also had a sound that was like one flowing thing because it was produced entirely by the Social Experiment, Gabe Niles and myself. It was more like a joint project or a collaborative effort. Big Baby D.R.A.M. is literally my life from the point when "Cha Cha" took off up until now and the shit I've been dealing with in between. There's little flashes of when I was in love. That's why you get the love songs at the end. It's kinda like Tarantino-style, where there's not a real timeline for the project, and it just feels like it all kind of flows that way. "

This past summer, D.R.A.M. struck gold with his massive hit song "Broccoli," which eventually peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Top 100 and was certified double platinum. The success sent D.R.A.M. into overdrive to get his latest album out.

"That's kinda what happened," D.R.A.M. admits. "People were like 'Bruh, you gotta drop an album to attach to this monster record.' We ended up having other bangers as well, but 'Broccoli' is clear as day like out of-fucking-here. Middle America is onto it, like everywhere I go and perform it, everyone knows all the words. It's like a festival anytime we do it. I'm so thankful. I thank the Lord, and I thank the people that this has happened."

The Lil Yachty-assisted "Broccoli" wound up garnering a Grammy nomination for Best Rap/Sung Performance, and D.R.A.M. is ever grateful for the honor.

"That was like a lifetime achievement," D.R.A.M. says. "Ever since I could remember I've been wanting to do this music. All my life I've been watching the Grammys, especially the hip-hop and soul categories and to see who wins Album of the Year and all that. So to even be considered this early into my career, to have such an honor — it's incredible because I can say 'Grammy-nominated D.R.A.M.' like people say 'Dr.' or something like that. It's a blessing. To win would be even more lit, but I feel like this won't be my last nomination because we're gonna keep these wheels turning."

The song even resulted in a short promotional clip for PETA that played around with the broccoli metaphor — in the video, D.R.A.M. hooks up his homies with some pounds of greens that he got from his latest connect who just happens to be a white-haired old lady at the market.

"My manager Tunde already had a connection with the PETA offices," he says. "His other client, Raury, is all about the vegan life, and he does things with them. Even though I'm not vegan, they asked how I would feel about doing the campaign. I said, 'Of course.' It was a no-brainer. I thought it would be cute, and it turned out really well. People from PETA were at my Norfolk show where their headquarters is at, and it was lit. I love to love. They're a massive organization, and the fact that they were rocking with me is incredible. "

The Big Baby D.R.A.M. Tour comes to Grog Shop on Wednesday. As for the future, D.R.A.M. just plans to keep the pedal to the metal.

"Just keeping this Big Baby D.R.A.M. show on the road," he says. "The American tour ends on Valentine's Day. Then, a few days later, we go straight into Europe until the beginning of March. Then maybe we'll have some time to record."
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Friday, January 20, 2017

Hard Rockers Breaking Benjamin Reap Musical Dividends with Retooled Lineup

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 3:56 PM

  • Nicole Napier
When Breaking Benjamin singer Ben Burnley founded the hard rock band back in Wilkes-Barre back in 1999, he probably didn’t imagine the group would sustain such a lengthy career.

Having weathered the rise and fall of nu-metal, a movement with which the group was loosely associated, the band continues to top the charts even as many of its musical peers have faded into obscurity.

The band’s 2015 album, Dark Before Dawn, which was recently certified gold, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart. The album’s first two singles, “Failure” and “Angels Fall,” both became No. 1 rock radio hits; “Failure” was the most-played song at rock radio in 2015.

The group continues to tour in support of the release and plays at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28, at House of Blues.

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Local R&B Singer MAZ Preps for Her First Official Release

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 3:23 PM

  • Baylee Badawy
Local R&B singer MAZ says that she's been creating since birth. Her mother was a portrait artist and her father a producer, so it would seem almost predestined that she would always follow a creative path in her life. She was always auditioning — mimicking her favorite artists at the time, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.

"It wasn't until high school when I started to try and carve my own aural footprint," she says. "I didn't release anything as MAZ until my 21st birthday."

MAZ credits her father for constantly exposing her to music at such a young age.

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