Tuesday, September 27, 2005
WHY I STILL LOVE DETROIT (and why it sometimes embarrasses me!)
I am writing this while listening to the WHITE STRIPES live web concert! If you missed this live, go to NPR.ORG and download it. Incredible! Jack and Meg are just one more thing that is great about metro Detroit. And they have got me thinking about how lucky I am to have grown up there!
I can't imagine a better place to grow up. Seven lakes within a mile of my childhood home. 400 lakes in the county (Oakland) I grew up in. 6 ski resorts within a 20 min drive of the house. Fabulous state and county parks, great recreational rivers. Fantastic fishing. Major league baseball, football, basketball, and hockey. Michigan and Michigan State football, basketball, hockey. A state with more world class universities and colleges than any but California. But most importantly, a music scene no city in the world comes close to.
Starting in 1958, when some skinny kid from Flint named Del Shannon sang about his "Little Runaway", Detroit has been a music machine. The list of singers and groups who hail from or got their start in Detroit is absolutely incredible! From Shannon, through all the great Motown performers, the hard rock revolution, through today's stars like Madonna, Eminem, Kid Rock, and the White Stripes, Detroit has been the most influential city in music.
It was an unbelievable place to be a teenager! Bob Seger, Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes, Grand Funk Railroad, the MC5, Mitch Ryder, Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen, all played dances at my high school. Dick Wagner (front man of Frost and later composer and guitarist for Alice Cooper, and Flo and Eddy, Eta James, Burton Cummings, and many others), not only played our high school, he graduated from there. His family lived about 1/4 mile from us, and his brother Jeff and I were classmates from kindergarten to graduation.
I saw Aretha and Gladys when they were still thin and hot! And incidentally, Diana Ross was homely in person! Every Christmas, all the Motown stars (Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, George Clinton and the Parliaments, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Gladys Knight, Aretha, Mary Wells) would do a special show, two shows a night for seven nights, at the Fox Theatre. There were a couple of little clubs in New Center where Gordon Lightfoot and Joni Mitchell first began performing their works, rather than write for others.
Chances are, if you grew up in metro Detroit, you at least knew someone who knew a celebrity. As a sidelight, I should note that I have the distinction of being the only person at a Stooges concert more drunk than Iggy Pop. My fifteen minutes of fame! At least, that's what they tell me. It's all a bit hazy. Three and a half bottles of Boone's Farm will do that!
Have I mentioned that Detroit also has best pizza in the world? Not to mention best hockey franchise. I've probably never mentioned that several of the Red Wing players lived on the same lake as we did (this was in the days before million dollar contracts) when I was a kid.
So, like I said, it was and is a great place to be grow up.
But occasionally, like that odd ball Uncle nobody wants to admit to, she embarrasses me. And you can bet that most of the time, race is involved. Metro Detroit is about as segregated a place as you can visit. Which breeds intolerance. So sadly, it is not a surprise, although that doesn't make me any less angry, that Detroit is suffering through a rash of cross burnings. Every time I think we have run these Klan types out of town on a rail, they resurface a few years later.
I have no doubts that the good folks of southeast Michigan will again rise to the challenge and threaten, harass, and physically abuse these people into leaving for friendlier pastures (that's the Detroit way). But in the meantime, know that the real Detroit and burbs are the one I described above, not what you see portrayed in the news!
View a partial list of bands that got their start in Detroit here: DETROIT ROCKERS (note that this lists only rock bands and acts, and doesn't include the dozens of Motown, Pop, R&B and Hip Hop artist originating from Detroit)
Strife and conflict is food for poets.
Thanks for helping me understand a place that seems so far away and different from my world. Now it is closer and similar in my mind.
And how about the classic Repub response ... attack the messenger. They accuse him of being partisan when 12 of the 15 people that he has ever charged were Dems. Shameless.
a) that last post was by me
b) I mispoke about Seger playing my high school. I actually saw him at a dance at St. Mike's HS in Pontiac
Laura.. Nugents band, THE AMBOY DUKES. played my hs in the fall of 1969. Their first release "Baby Please Don't Go", was just starting to get radio play. The following spring they would have their first national hit, "Journey To The Center Of The Mind".
Why is it that certain people only comment on "controversial" posts? I mean, if your only purpose on Blogger is to argue, isn't that kind of sad? Do they not have anything to say unless it's trying to cut down other people's opinions? Can't you just stop arguing and have fun for a few minutes? Just an observation...
I have that problem on my blog, too. It's like my sisters only find the time to post comments when it's something to bitch about or disagree with me on; very frustrating because in real time--we get along great.
I see your complaint and I understand.
I'm a wonderful person, a new grandpa, and about as big as the Bear (what's the size of your girth, Bear?). People want to use my back as a billboard. I make a wonderful brother, I'm very protective, and one of the best people to have in your corner if you're in trouble. It was you, dearest, that started in on the religious right wanting back alley abortions. I just told Bear what kind of Democrat I would support. I was being as docile as lion that just finished his meal.
You know, maybe you're right. Let's talk about something that is fun for all and heal the wounds that are between us. I'm game.
So, like I said, it was and is a great place to be grow up.
Okay, GWB. That's a challenge if I ever read one! I think my hometown has the best pizza! How can we make a comparison?
It's great to love and appreciate one's hometown. I lived away from Boston for a while, and that experience made me cherish it all the more.
Like Detroit, Boston has its embarrassing faults and politicians. Mostly politicians.
And we have some bands we can be proud of, too: Aerosmith (Steve Tyler, nee Steven Tallarico), Boston, J.Geils (Peter Wolf used to frequent the restaurants here in Boston's North End), Phish are just a few that come to mind.
And at this time of year, Boston is quite beautiful. Vibrant blue skies, leaves beginning to turn to scarlet and gold and the east wind off the sea always at your back as you walk the historic brick sidewalks of Beacon Hill.
how can we settle the pizza thing? You are just gonna have to come visit and try it!
OK. Yes, I think I'm a great grandpa in my own little world; we'll have to ask Elizabeth a few years down the road for a more objective opinion! :D
I'll convince her!!
Nugent is conservative, which means he's nuts. How can a rock n roller be a NRA gun totin' Bush backin'guitar strummin' right-winger? I thought all rock n rollers sing of nihilism, hedonism, altered states of consciousness, death and suicide, rape, S&M, drugs and alcohol, patricide and matricide, antidisestablishmentarianism, and unrequited love?
Can I call both of you guys, Papa Bear?
When I was in highschool, my best friend's dad used to let me call him Papa Bear. He could give great hugs...