Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Is This Alice Coltrane? Or Dorothy Ashby? Or None of the Above?

This recent find on eBay caught my Cass Tech in Detroit is the only high school I've ever heard of having a harp class, I was intrigued. Never mind the fact it's erroneously listed as "Cash" tech (although that sounds like a badass late 80's rap group name).

Further more, knowing said program produced two world class harpists (Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane), I thought it was interesting that there's a lone African-American student in the class.

Personally, I don't think it's Ashby. The facial features appear too dissimilar. But maybe, just maybe, it could be Alice Coltrane, who at the time would've been known as Alice McLeod. She would've been a student at Cass during the first half of the 1950's. Ashby would've been at Cass in the early/mid 40's.

It's difficult to find in-depth info for Alice's Detroit years and even more so to dig up any photos of that time. I don't have access to any old Cass yearbooks down here in Nashville, so any enterprising sleuths in the 313 are encouraged to explore. Below is a more-detailed view of the student in question. Any insight or light to shed on the situation, let it fly in the comments.

PS. Cass Tech supposedly still has at least one of the harps that both Ashby and Coltrane would've been taught on. Too damn cool.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

More Art to Choke On...

A full Blackwell family collaboration graces the latest "issue" of Bagazine (#6). Order at the link below.


Monday, October 19, 2015

You Say It's Your Birthday...

Last week I celebrated my 33 and 1/3rd birthday with a DJ set at Duke's in East Nashville.

Funnily enough, I focused on 7" 45rpm singles for the occasion. An Elvis impersonator showed up, he gave me a scarf. A good time was had by all.

Below is a list of the songs I played, in order, all on original issue 7" unless otherwise noted

Grounded - Belita Woods
Hook and Sling Part 1 - Eddie Bo
Peace Loving Man - Blossom Toes
She's Lost Control - Grace Jones
Killing an Arab - The Cure
The Way (You Touch My Hand) - The Revelons
The Model - Kraftwerk
Warm Leatherette - The Normal
She Was a Mau-Mau - The's
Big Damn Roach - The Immortal Lee County Killers
Born in '69 - Rocket From the Crypt
You'll Be Mine - Howlin' Wolf
That's Alright - Elvis Presley
Black Man (Too Tough To Die) Part 1 - Cleo Page
Do the Du - A Certain Ratio (Soul Jazz pressing)
Clones (We're All) - Alice Cooper
The Gorilla - The Ideals (Norton pressing)
Cry Girl - The Kandells
Microphone Fiend - Eric B. & Rakim
Spread Your Love - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Highway 61 (Going Back to Memphis) - 20 Miles
Galang - M.I.A.
I Don't Wanna Be No Personal Pizza - Personal and the Pizzas
(I'm) Stranded - The Saints (Sire promo EP)
Born to Wander - Jack Wood (repressing)
White Horse - Laid Back
I Fought a Crocodile - Jacuzzi Boys
See Me Mariona - Brian Olive
Electric Feel - MGMT
Dog on Wheels - Belle & Sebastian
Hanging on the Telephone - The Nerves
Human Fly - The Cramps
Ode to Clarissa - Queens of the Stone Age
The End of the Night - The Greenhornes
Wasted - Black Flag (white/red sleeve)
Idol with the Golden Head - The Coasters
Baby Go! - Fireworks
Stranded in the Jungle - The Jayhawks
Primitive - The Groupies
Gloves - The Horrors
No Love Lost - Joy Division/Warsaw (bootleg pressing)
Riot in Cell Block #10 - The Upholsterers
Born to Cry - The Hives
I Heard it Through the Grapevine - The Slits
Moody - E.S.G.
Tainted Love - Gloria Jones (bootleg pressing)
Wanna Be Startin' Something - Michael Jackson
Rock Lobster - The B-52's
Jiggle City - Noot D' Noot
You Dropped a Bomb on Me - The Gap Band
Me Quieres - Chica Vas
The Funky Sixteen Corners - The Highlighters (Stones Throw Pressing)
Psychotic Reaction - Senor Soul
Shack Up - Banbarra
I Want Some - Make-Up
Single Again - The Fiery Furnaces
Cellphone's Dead - Beck
Rapture - Blondie
You Don't Look So Good - Dead Combo
Killing Flaw - Benjamin Prosser & the Tap Collective
It's My Life - Crushed Butler (Windian pressing...did this ever come out on 45 originally?)
Who Was in My Room Last Night? - Butthole Surfers
Moist Vagina - Nirvana
Keep a Knockin' - Little Richard
Snake Pit - Gunga Din
The Public Hanging of a Movie Star - Jonathan Fire Eater
Then He Kissed Me - The Crystals
Baby - Donnie & Joe Emerson (Light in the Attic single)
Journey in Satchidananda (part two) - Alice Coltrane
Chick Habit - April March
Son of Sam - Chain Gang
Bullet - The Misfits
Circle One - The Germs
Politicians in My Eyes - Death
It's Lame - Figures of Lights
To Find Out - The Keggs
(I'm) Chewin Gum - Creme Soda
Agitated - Electric Eels
Love Buzz - Shocking Blue (Music of Vinyl pressing...did this ever come out on 45 originally?)
Complication - The Monks
Mama's Mad Cos I Fried My Brains - Turbo Fruits
Just Like An Aborigine - The Up
Ghost Rider - Suicide
Little Johnny Jewel Part One - Television
2+2=? - Bob Seger System
You Burn Me Up and Down - We The People
Monkey Wrench - Foo Fighters
It Fit When I Was a Kid - Liars
Camel Walk (live) - Southern Culture on the Skids
Orgasm Addict - Buzzcocks
October Fires - Wolf People
Don't Shake Me Down - Ronnie Putirka
The Search for Cherry Red - The Kills
Love Missile F1-11 - Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Hot for Preacher - The Starlite Desperation
100% - Sonic Youth
Pablo Picasso - The Modern Lovers
The Letter - PJ Harvey
A Girl Named Sandoz - Eric Burdon and the Animals
Think About It - The Yardbirds
The Wizard - Black Sabbath
Tired of Waiting for You - The Kinks
Looking at You - MC5 (A2 version)
Ich-i-Bon #1 - Nick and the Jaguars
Hotwire My Heart - Crime
(Ben, Elvis and Sun 209)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Afterword for the Orbit Magazine Anthology...

I'm still flabbergasted that my writing actually made it into this book. Orbit was instrumental in shaping my outlook on the world and I feel privileged to play even a small part in this collection. To this day, an oversized decal of the timeless Orby head logo sits perched high in my office, hopefully instilling even the tiniest bit of inspiration on my daily work.

For all things Orbit book-related, visit 

Don't just be a freeloader, buy one!


Nigh-on twenty years later, it's impossible to relay just how difficult it seemed to access and truly connect with media as a teenager in the mid-Nineties.  Without a car, one was left grasping in the dark at any tiny countercultural crumb that might accidentally end up in the daily newspapers or television.
One issue of Orbit Magazine would serve as an instant and invaluable cornucopia of wide-ranging peculiarities while never kowtowing to anyone or pulling any punches. Orbit always gave off the impression that they were doing exactly what the fuck they wanted to and that is decidedly difficult.
No sacred cows. No untouchables. Nothing off-limits. Everyone and everything is fair game for skewering. When your rules are the cliché "no rules" it truly gives a clean slate for something unique, fresh, important and artful to happen. While in other hands such free reign would quickly descend into mindless jibber-jabber, with Jerry Peterson and Orbit it evolved into a finely honed craft…never too childish yet never too serious. Orbit struck a wonderful balance between the absurd and the insightful without ever sacrificing a laugh.
Orbit operated as my own personal internet…a concentrated hub of all that seemed interesting and odd and funny and subversive and informative…a full decade before the Internet truly became what it is today. It explicitly informed me of what was cool and what was lame. To accomplish what Orbit did in the terribly reactionary format of a monthly tabloid-size newsprint? That is no easy feat. To be free on top of that? How did this thing ever exist for even one issue, let alone nine years?
I got my copies mainly from Hong Kong Chop Suey, the carry-out Chinese restaurant from a forgotten era a mere 15-second sprint from the house I grew-up in. If the usually spot-on first of the month delivery was late, I'd get testy. If delivery was while the restaurant was closed (and thus just a pile of zip-tied pile copies sitting in front of their door) I'd cut the tie myself and slip out a copy, clearly unable to wait.
Every new issue was a gateway into a world of excitement. One never knew what to expect and I can't say I was ever disappointed. It was the embodiment of cool culture wrapped with eye-catching graphics and whip-smart design.
In all my years I will never encounter a more-memorable specimen of journalism than the final issue of Orbit. While most folks' nature is to make goodbye an amiable, saccharine affair there was no such intention from Jerry and Orbit. What'd he use his bully-pulpit to accomplish? To call out every deadbeat advertiser they'd ever dealt with and rip on them mercilessly while doing so. If that's not enough, the claim that they'd set an unstated number of ads for that final issue and that if they'd reached it, the magazine would remain in print. The kicker was that they missed their supposed goal by one ad. Who do they lay the blame on? YOU! The lazy sod who didn't place an ad. Your favorite publication could've been saved. Too bad. You lose. We all lose.
As bummed as I was when they closed up shop, I'm glad it did. I don't think Orbit would've been able to compete or be as fresh as it was much longer. They went out on their own terms.
Reading this back to my wife, Malissa, a fellow Orbit devotee, her initial comment is "That's all great…but it sounds like adult Ben talking." True, I am now nearly twice the age I was when Orby ceased publication. Something that'd likely come from 15-year-old me…
Holy shit! This book is hilarious! And it has facts!

I’m lucky, you’re lucky, we’re all lucky to have all these morsels here in one place for our reminiscence and enjoyment. Back in the 90’s, I was ecstatic with one issue a month.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Guess I Turned Out a Punk...

Can't remember anyone ever asking me about the Lost Kids in an interview before. Hell...I don't think anyone's asked me about that band outside of this interview. Good times with Damian. Dig it.

Friday, July 31, 2015

So You Want Me To Throw Out Your Demo CD?

The folks in the Grammy world gave me an inspiring writing prompt and the end result is something that's nice to have in writing after using the message as a verbal crutch for years in response to randos calling the office trying to get "signed." Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Earliest Known Press About Death...

My current obsession has been old zines from Detroit and Michigan. Ballroom Blitz always seems to be a cut above the rest, but I still found myself surprised when Mike McDowell's Classics Revisited column in the March 1977 issue #19 included this little blurb about Death.

In underground punk collecting world, it was always presented that NO ONE knew anything about this band while they were together. The A Band Called Death documentary seems to echo this assumption as well. So to see it reviewed, within months of its release, feels special. The fact that McDowell 100% gets where the record is coming from is just a bonus. Nevermind that it erroneously attributes the label to Frank Freed in Chicago...this just goes to show you that some folks were hip to Death at the moment. Keep on rockin'.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

When I Was Young and Booty Shakin Shit...

Pretty old interview excerpt where I talk so slow it sounds like I've never spoken before. Also, I'm twenty years old here and my face is fat.

Billboard ran a blurb asking me of my favorite album covers and here's what they printed...

Apparently the "Tasty" album cover was too racy so they only ran that online and then asked me to include two more choices (I included the Sonic Youth and Liars titles because I couldn't come up with two more Detroit titles that I loved)

Here's the album art they outright would not acknowledge and my write-up

Shortcut - Booty Shakin' Shit

Kid Rock’s hype-man Joe C (RIP) with his hands on the backsides of two local Detroit strippers. Apparently this was investigated as child pornography because authorities thought Joe C, who suffered from dwarfism, was actually a child.

Additionally, the LP version of this title, which was never officially released, does not have the golden scratch-off underwear.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Earliest Known Press About the Gories...

Was written by a member of the Gories. According to Mick, the last line in this article is something he really said. Enjoy.