Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Nine Albums My Infant Daughter Enjoyed This Year and One She Hated

Fatherhood has provided me with the greatest excuse to share the things I love. Below is a list, roughly in popular/frequency order, of the albums my daughter Violet has enjoyed most in her first eight months. I don't know what exactly they signify (if anything) but listening to music with her is second only to "making her laugh" for favorite activity that was new to me in 2013.

1. Nick Drake Pink Moon (both the first full song and album she ever heard)

2. Medico Doktor Vibes Liter Thru Dorker Vibes

3. Total Control Henge Beat

4. Led Zeppelin Houses of the Holy

5. Bob Dylan Bringing it all Back Home

6. Duane Pitre Bridges

7. The Dirtbombs Party Store (pitched down minus six so it's nice and chilled out)

8. Peter Walker Has Anybody Seen Our Freedoms?

9. Ella Jenkins Jambo

And one she hated:

Sun Ra The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra (Can't say I really disagree with her on this one)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Things You Should Be Listening To...

First off, the eagerly-anticipated (by me at least) debut LP from Detroit's Growwing Pains. For some reason deep in my ever-expanding gut, I feel this thing getting huge. The jams are solid with guest spots by folks like Chris Campbell (Terrible Twos), Hunter Muldoon (the Muldoons) and Nathan Jerde (The Ponys). I don't think I've liked a band from Detroit this much since Tyvek first popped its nerdy head.

http://urinalcakerecords.com/growwingpains/

Also in the Urinal Cake stable (a label so able it's got legs like Betty Grabel) is Feelings. This seems to be the first legit band by dear friend (and the unofficial mayor of Woodbridge) Dave Buick since the Go. That's saying something. The tunes amply display the holy reverence applied to all things Nirvana by the brothers Mueller, with significant bits and beats of Clean-liness. This may or may not have been recorded using my drums, some of which used to be Ben Swank's drums.

"Missing Time" starts off like I'd think the song would be annoying, but ends up earworming itself into my consciousness. A good sign.

http://urinalcakerecords.com/feelings/

Other things floating around you should check out...

The Pampers s/t (In the Red Records) - I thought this was a bunch of kids in their early twenties. The pic on the insert seems to display otherwise. I'm not sure if that's a compliment or a sleight. Regardless, this is a solid aggressive rock band like a cross between the more-accessible parts of the Oh Sees and the less-forgettable stuff of A-Frames.
Below is a stream of a song off one of their out-of-print singles. If you're into vinyl speculation, I'd track down BOTH of their Jackshack singles and wait about six months to rake in the cash on eBay.



I guess this came out almost a year ago, but with rumors of an impending live LP, there's no better time to remind all about the absolute perfection achieved by the Victims from Australia. The Sleeping Dogs Lie LP (or CD if you're my grandpa) is worth whatever you have to pay for it on Discogs. I promise.



The Medico Doktor Vibes LP Liter Thru Dorker Vibes has been an absolute head-crusher and has been bought by no less than three employees at Third Man. I can't think of a release other than anything by Ty Segall that gets that much love around these parts. 100 copies of this were pressed in 1979 in South Central Los Angeles. Think of it as DIY Guyanese electro psych. A one-of-a-kind vision if there ever was one. First 500 copies of the repress are gone, more expected in December. Mark your calendar if you're not already on-board.




I'm a little behind-the-curve on this one, but "Carpet Rash" by Total Control has been in my head once a week for the past ten months. Sometimes it feels like this song will never end and a lot of times I wish it didn't



And even further behind on jams are the wonderfully rich outtakes and alternate mixes of Spiritualized's Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space. There aren't too many other records I'd declare perfect, but usually anniversary reissues of these titles leave much to be desired. Not so with Ladies. My recent listenings have been nigh-religious experiences. Everything on the two discs of bonus material is earth-shatteringly eye-opening. Here's the one track that almost made me cry.


The upcoming live album by the Gories ain't no slouch either. But you already knew that. Required listening for gourmands the world over.

Monday, September 30, 2013

My Fat Face Talking About Records...

Why didn't these guys warn me that my double-chin would take up the entire screen?

My goal here was to try and not talk about records that I talked about in my Dust & Grooves profile. I didn't manage that, but I still think this came out interestingly. They noticeably cut the part where I talk about the hypothetical possibility of whether or not I, as a record collector, would perform homosexual acts for rare records. I guess the answer to that question will be saved for braver souls. Enjoy.


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Words of Wisdom

"Ninety-five percent of Detroit is starving and the other five percent are patting themselves on the back"

                  - Patrick Pantano (after a recent visit to Detroit)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Conversation With Steve Miller, Author of "Detroit Rock City"


Miller's book, Detroit Rock City is an unparalleled oral history of rock and roll in Detroit, starting with the genesis of things in the early 1960's with bands like the MC5 and Mitch Ryder, all the way through the Detroit Cobras and White Stripes at the Gold Dollar through the mid-Nineties. Despite his interviews with myself, the book still holds up.

In an effort to turn the tables, I interviewed Miller about the book. All the gory details are below. Enjoy.


B: You chose to do this book in the oral history format. In short, you wrote the intro and nothing else! It's all quotes! What are the advantages of this style?

S: I looked at it from a reader’s perspective.  In my own selfish way, I decided this is how I would want to have this book delivered. So I took myself along for that ride and became more of a chronicler and assembly guy rather than some kind of lofty authority. I was learning right along, which is the way a lot of good journalism gets done. 

B: Did you think of your book at all next in line after Please Kill Me, We Got the Neutron Bomb, and Everybody Loves Our Town? Did you read all of those books? Any praises/criticisms of them?

S: I read and liked all three, as well as The Other Hollywood, Lexicon Devil, Live From New York Gig, and the very dark and depressing classic The Chris Farley Show. It’s a format that cuts the bullshit and while its subject to selective whim, at least you know you’re getting the straight story in some form. I never had an idea of comparing my book to those others.

B: If you could have written one thing, putting your voice into the play, whether to set something straight or get a point across that was otherwise lost...what would it be?

S: If there had been something crying out for context or explanation, I probably would have gone ahead and put myself in there. Again, it’s about the reader.  I didn’t really want to shape a specific opinion, although the subjects sure did.  For example, there was a point where I wanted to talk about why these bands out of the Bookie’s era never made a dent in the U.S. music scene, while bands out of the other cities – LA, NY, SF and even Chicago – did.  Vince Bannon, who was a promoter in Detroit, at Bookie’s.  From the book, he said: The Romantics were the only ones to pull out of Detroit in that era with any kind of substantial deal. You know it’s interesting: Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads told me that all these bands rolled into New York City because there were so many clubs besides CBGBs that they would play. They could actually afford to live in the East Village and build a buzz. So you’re an A&R guy in New York, and this band is playing various buildings, and there’s a big buzz. Same thing in LA. The thing you have to remember is what big bands came out of LA? The first punk rock bands were all signed to independents. It was out of New York where at that time the record capital was, and if you were to make it, you had to go and live in New York and do it. Also, anybody who really made it—from the biggest pop star to the rock-and-roll guy you think is totally underground—their ambition is through the roof. A lot of these guys that were from Detroit, they lived at their parents’ house, they go and play a gig, they come home, and Mom would make them breakfast in the morning.


B: You yourself were active with your band the Fix in the early hardcore scene. Did you consider putting in your own stories, from your perspective? Ultimately why didn't you quote yourself?


S: No. I read American Hardcore and that dispelled from me any notions of self reference. I was part of that early hardcore scene and watched up close as Touch & Go, the label, was handed off.  I saw Negative Approach in its infancy.  I could have told about playing these joints, pre-hardcore, for 5 people on a Wednesday at Nunzios. Red Carpet on a Sunday. No one understood what we were doing in Detroit but for me to say it  would have sounded self-serving.  Big deal, we just loved to play. Or maybe I know the stuff I would say and wanted to keep it fresh for my own reading purposes.


B: To me, it seems like there's very few relevant players with their voices missing from the story. Who was your biggest get? Biggest omission? If you could get a 100% truthful answer from ONE character in the book who's no longer with us, what would that question be?


S: I wanted Bob Seger, and he just wouldn’t do it.  When you’re charging $260 a ticket, maybe a book isn’t very appealing. Maybe he doesn’t have anything to say. But it would have been nice to at least chat for a few minutes. I would have asked him about the gig where he was opening for BTO and got McDonald’s as catering. About hanging at the SRC house in Ann Arbor. About getting famous and how his relationship with Detroit changed as a result. 

Biggest get? Well, we’re talking about human beings here, so I’m not sure I can frame it like that. I had some good conversations and some interviews as well. Conversations are the best and deliver the most.  Jack White was a conversation. He wanted to talk, he was the best of them all, just an interested, engaged guy.  Andrew WK also. Iggy Pop was an interview. Alice Cooper was an ‘I can’t wait till this is over’ episode on both our parts, I think. He wanted to get the fuck over it all, denied some stuff he had ‘written’ in Me, Alice, one of the better rock bios ever done, and sorta shined the whole thing. 

I think the players, from small to large, made the book a whole, so I can’t say the stars make the book. They wouldn’t be anything without the context of the others. The one person who I found myself wanting to know was Fred Smith. I’d look at pics of him and kinda think about what the hell his deal was, how he might respond to questions, if he’d want to have a conversation or just an interview.  That was a deal to me in this, who wanted to talk and who just wanted to do an interview. 

Back to Fred Smith, what an interesting cat. Love to know how he felt about his post-Five years, what the depth of his disappointment in the overall rejection of the Five was. He landed on his feet, actually, by meeting Patti Smith. He had some financial security even when the MC5 records were cutouts. But he could never keep himself together, which is likely the product of his own demons. 



B: As a student of all things Detroit rock and roll, I found myself wide-eyed with the things I learned from this book. What was a significant "learn" for you amongst all the interviews? Was there anything, a story (or maybe even persona) that you learned of being untrue in all this?

S: I liked hearing about these musicians who were not going along with the program of Detroit, like Dan Kroha, who was digging things like obscure British stuff, or John Hentch, who was all about these Crypt sounds. Or Mick Collins, who’s all over the place. They were identifying with something that took imagination, it was like getting into science fiction, another interest that fascinates me. Not science fiction itself, but that someone is really into it. I kept thinking, ‘what spoke to you in that sound?’ ‘what made you identify with that?’ I didn’t ask that because I wanted to keep the story going, the narrative moving. But I liked hearing it.  It was also refreshing to find that there were some really good musicians from Detroit who were not Stooges/MC5 obsessed.  It looks like the younger people were the ones I learned the most with. 

But I loved the story about the Grand Funk roadies with asbestos gloves changing blown amp tubes during a concert.  Or hearing again John Brannon’s tales of urban leisure.


B: I felt like parts one and two of the book were absolutely flawless. But once you started covering a time period where I was vaguely present, my immediate thought was "I'd tell this story differently" I question whether Kid Rock or ICP are really pertinent to the story. How would you respond to both claims? 


S: Having a hard time reading about your own era is exactly what I went through when reports on hardcore started coming out. It was easy to dispel some of the stories, while others, even from players that were part of the era, seemed to have a completely different take on events and context. And we were all there. So I can see that all the way. The longer an era floats into the rear view, the easier it is to digest the various versions of it. As far as Kid Rock, I wanted to get him in and he just wouldn’t have it. Then I started seeing how distant he really was from Detroit anyway, and his music, aside from dropping his Detroit roots in every other tune, really had no Detroit to it. So in hindsight, I’m glad he never agreed to talk.
Insane Clown Posse, on the other hand, are exactly Detroit. They’re irreverent, they don’t take directions well, and they take a standard music form and fuck it up. And it is rock, despite its rap roots.


B: Conversely, how did you feel about Tony Rettman's book Why Be Something Your Not? covering the Detroit hardcore scene that you personally participated in? Would YOU tell that story differently? DID you tell that story differently in your book?


S: I didn’t feel funny at all reading Tony’s book, and that’s when I could tell that the separation was finally in place. I no longer felt I had to guard my own version of those days in any way. He did a really good job. History has a lot of elements to it. The only thing I would have liked in Tony’s book was a bit more length. And lose the damn flyers. 

When I got to the part in my book where I decided that hardcore was significant enough to discuss, I think I took the same route as Tony. Talked to some of the same people only because there were so few of us. So you end up getting these smart players with good memories.  John Brannon, you know, when we were doing some appearances for the Touch & Go book, he went on WFMU and started talking, telling stories that I had never heard. I realized that I wanted him to share some of that for this little book that, at the time, had not sold. I was happy that Corey Rusk, a true gentleman, talked with me and finally got some props for taking a small label to the top of the heap. He is a nice guy who finished first, and he came from our little space in the world.


B: I wanted more depth to the later years...I wanted to know more about Sub Pop shelving the Go's Free Electricity album or Anthony, Steve and Joe quitting the Electric Six. Did folks talk about this at all? What colored your decision to exclude these points?

S: There were edits made – I have a lot more material that some people would dig. I used the stuff that would have the most appeal across the board, and each subsequent version would have less and less popular appeal but probably more music geek jam. The inside battle of Electric Six just didn’t hold up for me, although the story of one guy leaving in a huff and telling them that “I guess it’s going to be the Electric Five now!” is pretty funny. The second Go lp story is great and was included in an early version, but I was more interested in having Jack talk about his tenure in the band and how he almost unknowingly signed away the White Stripes to Sub Pop.  That was, for me, a really good story.

B: Are there any plans for the material that was excised from the book? Like the go Free Electricity story? Rr full transcribed interviews from folks like White or Brannon?


S: I made some in my head when I saw some of the stuff fall in my own edits.  The Brannon transcript is artfully disjointed. Rachel Nagy’s is like that as well. Jack’s is an eloquent essay without the stuffy forethought. Same with Wayne Kramer. Andrew WK’s is exuberant. Same with Mark Farner. Dennis Thompson’s is familiar but good. Jimmy Recca is insanely ADD.
 

B: During your interview with me you mentioned you were the first person to ever give Tom Potter cocaine while you two were in Just Say No together. Can you retell that story?


S: Potter was a green kid when he was in Just Say No, and he was a good guy to have around. We always had a lot of drugs, and he was always talking about doing blow and how he was all into it and we knew he was bulshitting. And he talked so much already, we repeatedly refused to give him any. One night we did a show in Chillicothe, Ohio, everyone had a load of fun and we headed back to our hotel room, the basic six guys in a room, two in each queen bed and two on the floor.  The whole night we’d been getting high, except Potter, as usual. We’re at the room, door open, tunes blaring, drinking, 4 a.m., locals hanging. And we figure it’s time. So we give Tom a line, then another, then another. A couple hours later, we’re pretty knocked out, ready to fall out. Except Potter. The lights are out, everyone’s trying to sleep, and Potter, who of course had to sleep on the floor, is chattering away about some, anything. I think he tried to tell us about his high school talent contest in which he and some other guys dressed up as Kiss. Which wouldn’t be a bad story any other time. A couple of us were telling him he had to shut up, at which point he confessed he’d never done coke before. Then after a few minutes of silence, he scrambles across the floor, grabs the plastic waste basket, and pukes, loudly and repeatedly. I think you could actually hear a couple of us sigh, I’m not sure if that was in sympathy or annoyance. But Tom never said a word. He launched his personal little drug culture that night, which endured for quite a while.


B: You mentioned you learned a lot in the compiling of this book. can you let me know bands you've a newfound appreciation for? Were there any bands or artists that you ended up soured on?

S: I was so impressed with Mick Collins – which was a weird interview done via phone from my hotel in New York when he was within walking distance – that I launched a newfound appreciation of the Dirtbombs. That band had never received a lot of play with me. The Go, I still had that Sub Pop promo cd of the first album, you know, with the black and white cardboard sleeve? So after talking with John and Bobby, I started listening to that again and really got back into it. SRC, the first two albums, I now find vastly underappreciated, despite their comedic drama. They remind me of the Sweet, somehow, perhaps in spirit more than structure. I got a copy of the Ramrods cd, which was surprisingly good despite the complete Dead Boys/Iggy lifts. I had no idea of the Ann Arbor noise scene and Jim Magas gave me a copy of his terrific cd, May I Meet My Accuser?  Doc Dart, er, 26, gave me his cd, The Messiah, which was also good.  

I continue to wonder what anyone sees in Seger, and that misguidedly reeks of dismay over not getting his direct voice in there.  But my wonder goes back a ways. I liked those first few albums, up to Brand New Morning, but after that, man, it was terrible. He was kind of a joke in my little group. I saw Blue Oyster Cult in spring 1975 in Lansing. Openers were Status Quo and Seger, and when Bob hit stage with his cowboy hat on, it was raining boos.  Reminded me of a few months before that when I went to see T Rex open for ZZ Top at the Michigan Palace. When ZZ came out in the hats, we hit the door. 

B: Has any musician from Detroit ever worn a cowboy hat and not pissed you off?

S: None. Zero. From Detroit or not, bad idea. Cowboy hats remind me of someone who would want to beat the shit out of me for liking the Stooges. I give Tracy Pew a pass of course. But the hat may have been a factor in his early demise. 

Back to Seger, though; I found that his organization is astoundingly fair, even by the band member accounts.  And any operation that is smart enough to keep a gem like Tom Weschler around for all these years is a good one.

B: I did my best to get you Kid Rock and Seger. Really. But I was also trying to get him to reissue the System stuff on TMR. Still waiting on that one. You don't even have a soft spot for 'Get Out of Denver'? Come on!

S: In fact, I think he did ‘Get Out of Denver ‘ first time I saw him. Torture. I appreciate your efforts to reissue that stuff, the good material. Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, the lp and the single,  still sound great.


B: I dug up some awesome photos of Prez Genovese/Don Was while he was with the Traitors that I'm pretty sure you didn't use for the book. what gives? did you ever track down the video footage of the Traitors on The Scene when they "attacked" host Nat Morris?

S: Yea, that’s some good stuff you have, your collection of Detroit rock ephemera is museum-worthy. I got a good photo of Don Was in the Traitors playing at Bookies from Bob Matheu and am happy with that.  Chasing photos is one of my least favorite chores related to a book, especially when folks are convinced I’m making millions and try to extract exotic prices for pics. 

Gary Reichel says he has that footage from The Scene. I asked a few times, as I thought maybe I could get a grab for the photo section, but time moves and he didn’t. I don’t know if he actually has it. I’ve since emailed Nat Morris and – big surprise – no response. I found getting people to do things in the name of history and art in Detroit can be very difficult compared to other regions. There’s a lot of talk about city pride but very little action on that front. I was surprised.

B: Do you think if Nat Morris and/or the Electrifying Mojo had taken to punk rock there would've been more of a celebration (locally at least) of the style? 

S: No way. That was going to be a hard sell in classic rock loving Detroit. In the book it talks about how bands had to do covers to get a gig, and the punks were getting beat down, same as everywhere else. That was a reactionary genre, and for anything remotely connected to the Establishment to embrace or even just play it wouldn’t have moved the needle. The people who liked it were going to be there – people like Mark Norton, who was calling CBGB’s and just asking them to put the phone down so he could listen to the band. That’s one of the coolest things ever, even if it probably isn’t true. Since Norton was the source of the story.

B: Have you ever heard any recording's of John Brannon's band Static?

S: Never. Tapes in a house buried under boxes. I’m sure damn curious. Those are the early days of the guy who shoulda been Kid Rock. He’s the real Kid Rock, actually.

B: Who knew Kevin Munro was actually spelled Monroe?

S: And who knew he wasn’t Larissa’s brother?

B: If you had to distill your entire book down to one sentence...what would that sentence be?

S: Earplugs are for cheaters

B: Which decade/era/chapter was most-effected by illicit drug use? Do you consider it a re-occurring theme in Detroit or just rock music in general? Please expound appropriately on drugs and their importance/detraction from Detroit rock and roll.

S: Each era had its own favorite it seemed. Acid in the 60s, coke came along starting in the 70s. Booze also became more popular in the 70s as well, probably no accident. Heroin rifled through all of the scenes. Drugs can certainly be good for the creative spirit for many people and Detroit, like anywhere else, has a healthy appetite for intoxicants. Detroit musicians were not disproportionately into drugs, although the effect of say, good acid on the Stooges music was to push it harder, to make it more aggressive. Same with the Five. In LA or San Francisco, it doesn’t seem as if the acid was part of thud like that, save for Blue Cheer and the bunches of garage bands, groups that weren’t as integral to the scene there as the Stooges and the Five were here. 

Later on, more people were talking about their interest in blow, which is of course more prevalent and available now. In the pre-cartel 60s, it was a bit more difficult to get. Even as the Dirtys and other bands indulged, you didn’t see any terrible consequence, except for it to be a terrific pain in the ass to others who had no use for it. Users and non-users have little in common once the drugs come out.

B: I've read some online criticism of the book which says, in short, it sounds more like a drug history of Detroit and there's very little talk about the music. How would you respond to that claim?

S: Drugs came up in conversations and they’re part of the events. You read in there how MC5 defined its sound in accordance with the drugs they took and it moves from there.  I’m satisfied with the diversity of the material. I remember reading a criticism of Please Kill Me that there was too much social and scene chatter and not enough music. Ok, but it was social shit I hadn’t read before and I was entertained. Read the stories, listen to the bands. Pretty simple. When I read this book back, one night early in the process, a rough draft, I did it all in one night and thought, ‘cool, I finally got to read it.’ The book I had always wanted to read and had waited for someone else to write. I thought at the time I could just stop, no reason to hand it in. That would either be selfish or a blessing, depending on the individual. Then I thought, ‘well, if I liked it, maybe a few dozen others will.’ So that’s who it’s for, like minded people who dig a good story and fucked up music.
 


Friday, June 28, 2013

Who's on First? An Internal Conversation on Baseball and Beck

I wrote this in 2005 for Creem Magazine online. Since that website is currently one step above a phishing scam, I thought the piece deserved a permanent home here.
Beck is as close as I will designate to a “cultural institution” in my lifetime.  From the quintessential quality of “Loser” to the seminal sissynecking of Odelay the man has never misfired. With all of his genius, I never thought Beck could take a backseat to anybody.  That was until I went upstairs at the State Theater.
Right before Beck took the stage last night my lovely girlfriend Malissa asked if we could sit down for Beck’s set.  I ache at the slightest spell of standing up, so I was happy to oblige.  As we scouted seats and finally sat down on the mezzanine level, section D, I was dumbstruck at whom we were sitting behind.
In front of us, in all his bald-headed glory was Kirk Gibson. 
Now some of you may not know this name, but to those of you who are not faithful Detroiters or above-average baseball fans, Kirk Gibson was a quintessential member of the Detroit Tigers in the 1980’s. This may seem as no big deal, but as a young chap baseball was my passion, only to be replaced with music around the age of twelve. 
I spent 90% of my childhood summers playing baseball and the rest stuck on I-94 in between games of baseball.  I read box scores, kept my own personal statistics and bought packs of baseball cards like it was all that was keeping me alive. For all I know, it was.
You see, my dad was a baseball coach…still is in fact.  Morris Blackwell is a fixture on Detroit baseball diamonds for the past five decades.  He used to work at Tiger Stadium when he was in college.  He claims he was the one who wheeled 3007 silver dollars onto the field as the club awarded Al Kaline one for each hit of his career.
My father’s labor stint at the stadium meant he would never resort to buying tickets for a game at the Corner.  Instead, we’d go to the crew entrance and wait for someone he knew to walk by and get them to sneak us in.  This enraged my mother to no end, but she never came to games with us anyways.
But back to the point, my father’s love of the game was faithfully instilled in me at a young age, a love that I was proud to live and carry on every time I recited the infield fly-rule.  I, sometimes to my chagrin, played on his teams and he, much to the test of his temper, coached me.  It is by far the most precious time a father and son can spend together.
Little things about baseball just take me back…the gravel dust smell of your bat bag, a cheekful of watermelon-flavored Big League Chew, the fresh cut grass on the fields you played (Clark Park’s small diamond, almost exclusively) to the hassle of stirrups that never stayed up over your calves.  Looking back at these memories, Kirk Gibson seems to magically appear as if he was always there. 
So as I sat there, awaiting the Guero himself to take the stage, I couldn’t help but be distracted.  For chrissakes it was Kirk Gibson in front of me! The rest of the show would find me racking my brain and realizing that Gibby and Beck shared a lot of similarities in relation to my life.
-Kirk Gibson was the first famous person I ever met.  On December 23, 1988, my brother and I walked the two blocks from our home to Jim Saros Realtors where Gibby, Dave Rozema, Dan Petry and Dave Bergman were signing autographs and posing for photos.  We were given a Polaroid of the meeting.  It stood on my bedroom dresser for a few years.

(yeah, my brother was into Groucho Marx when he was 9 years old and I was down with vintage MASH t-shirts before vintage was even cool)

-I met Beck in Ann Arbor in 2002 after he played an emotionally stirring acoustic show. He didn’t have much to say, (I guess Gibby didn’t either).  There are no photos of us together. I would meet Beck a few more times in later years and even go to a party at his house, where his wife served delicious snickerdoodles.
-Beck wrote “Loser” a song that supposedly defines my generation.  After you hear a claim like that enough, people begin to believe it whether or not it is anywhere near the truth. I say screw that… I think that Odelay is the most important album of the Nineties, a free-spirited and ambitious response to his being tagged a “slacker” that produced arguably the best music videos and best album artwork of the decade. The fact that he turned down a six-figure offer from Pepsi to license “Where It’s At” only makes it all the sweeter.  The fact that “Where It’s At” the first single off the album and arguably the best song on the disc is track 6 makes it that much cooler. Odelay has better (and more legal) sampling than Paul’s Boutique and explores far more musical genres successfully than anything else in recent memory. And I think Beck himself knows this, as his latest album Guero is, in regards to Beck albums, essentially Odelay 2.
-Gibby hit two home runs to clinch the title for the Tigers in Game 5 of the 1984 World Series. He was immortalized on the front page of the Detroit Free Press with his fists in the air with the headline “Gr-r-reat!”
This broadsheet would later be canonized in the form of a glossy poster.  Somehow a stack of 50 ended up at my house (my dad could work miracles).  It would be on my bedroom wall for quite some time. The moment itself would be considered one of the only bright spots for Detroit in the 1980s (next to crack cocaine, the emergence of Japanese automobiles and Devil’s Night) and even though I was too young to remember 1984, I definitely longed for its days, even if it was only for a winning baseball team. Within Detroit, 1984 was viewed as a pinnacle, a time within recent memory (not necessarily mine) where things seemed to be alright. 
(Bubba Helms and what's possibly the first national championship riot in US history)
And this is still evident today in Detroit.  You’re not a true hipster in town if you don’t have a vintage ’84 Tigers t-shirt.  I found a suitcase full of ‘em at a flea market three years ago. Never worn.  Three bucks a piece.  It was heaven.  I began handing them out to friends “Can’t be in the scene without a Tigers t-shirt, they may think you’re from Toledo.”  It’s one of the few vintage t-shirts that seems to transcend irony, where people can agree “Yeah, the ’84 Tigers…they were badass!”  And there’s never been a better professional baseball logo then the old Tiger with those hypnotizing eyes.  That shit is scary.
(Kevin Peyok, Greg Siemasz both wearing vintage Tiger's t-shirts White Stripes/Von Bondies/Waxwings tour July 2001)
The way this city pined for 1984 was truly hilarious.  My brother’s kindergarten class composite photo included a board that read “Stay Alive in ’85.”  The next season hadn’t even started and all we were asking was for the team to merely not die.
(I cherish this photo beyond words)
-Kirk Gibson was never a fan favorite on the Tigers.  That spot was always reserved for Alan Trammell. Gibby refused to sing autographs and was often rude to the media. But you couldn’t deny the guy on the field, he consistently delivered.  Gibby was Fonzie while Tram was Richie Cunningham. No more proof is needed when you see Tram was picked to manage the Tigers while Gibby barely made it as a hitting coach.
-No matter how long he’s around, Beck will always be slightly overshadowed (in my mind at least) by Kurt Cobain.  Kurt had the biggest influence on the 1990’s, even if he was dead for more than half the decade.  Nevertheless, Beck could kill a hooker and hijack a plane to Cuba and he’ll still always be seen as not as badass as Kurt Cobain.
-My best friend in grade school, Rob Topolewski, is by far the biggest Kirk Gibson fan in the world.  He had numerous items in his bedroom autographed by Gibby (always the same too, “To Rob, my best, Kirk Gibson”). At the same Jim Saros signing my brother and I attended, Rob showed up too. But he showed up with a Los Angeles Dodgers jersey. 
You see, this is considered “quirky” for a first grader because in one of the tragedies of free agency Gibby went to the Dodgers in 1988.  Rob, being a loyal fan, simply showed his support for Kirk by getting the jersey for Gibby’s new team.  I understood it wholeheartedly (especially as a 6-year-old) and probably would have done the same thing if I were his biggest fan.  But adults don’t seem to get that…Rob’s picture with Gibby made it into the Detroit Free Press the next day.
(Robby's birthday is the day after mine. He would later be nicknamed Bobear. He's the only person from kindergarten I'm even vaguely in-touch with)


-My good friends the Whirldwind Heat are all rabid Beck fans, moreso than I could ever be.  They covered his obscure b-side “Fume” as the b-side to one of their own singles and almost got Beck to play on their debut album (apparently his major label contract made the possibility messy on the legal end). First impression on seei