Sunday, February 28, 2010

RBMA Lectures 2010

This is what I'll be watching over the next day or so...

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Thanks to my ethnomusicologist friend Fredara, I have a new book to read.

Post-Black: How a New Generation Is Redefining African American Identity
By Ytasha L. Womack

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lost Landscapes of Detroit

I went out to the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) last night to see a film by the Prelinger Archives titled Lost Landscapes of Detroit. The following is a blurb by archivist Rick Prelinger:

For the past four years I've been putting together bits of archival footage (especially amateur and home movies) that show vanished places, people and events in San Francisco. The past two compilations, sponsored by Long Now Foundation, are free to view here.

Now I've been given the chance to do the show I've always wanted to do: Lost Landscapes of Detroit. It's happening February 10 at Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit.

This isn't going to be a narrative of urban decline or the "ruins porn" that's become fashionable. Rather, it's a collection of amazing and almost-all-lost footage that celebrates a vibrant, busy and productive Detroit from 1917 through the 1970s. The idea is to bring these images back to Detroiters for their contemplation and use as they rebuild their city for the future.

In that spirit, at the screening I'm going to give out copies of the show so people in Detroit can reshow and remix it, and it'll be online at the Internet Archive after the screening.

Lost Landscapes of Detroit: an eclectic montage of rediscovered and rarely-seen archival film clips exhibiting life; cityscapes, labor and leisure from 'vanishing Detroit', as captured by amateurs, newsreel cameramen and industrial filmmakers from the 1920's to the 1960's. Lost Landscapes aims to offer Detroiters imagery of Detroit's past, free from any sense of nostalgia, in an attempt to provide subject for contemplation as the people of the city build towards a new future. Unlike most film screenings, Lost Landscapes relies on audience participation for the soundtrack - interaction with the films is encouraged, as questions are shouted out, observations are shared and mysterious locations are identified. "How we remember and record the past reveals much about how we address the future" points out archivist Rick Prelinger, who will be on hand to preface the screening with a brief talk on the value of ephemeral films, on the changing nature of historical memory, and what consequences will arise from the emerging massive matrix of personal records. Prelinger began collecting ephemeral films -- advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur works -- in 1983. In 2002, his collection of over 200,000 items was acquired by the Library of Congress; many key films are available online at the Internet Archive. In 2004 Rick and spouse Megan opened the Prelinger Library in downtown San Francisco, which includes over 60,000 pieces of print ephemera, books, periodicals, maps and zines and is open to the public.

This film was fascinating and really wonderful to watch, to experience. I got there just in time, running a bit late as always. They cut off the crowd just one person behind me, it was way more packed than expected, I guess. The museum is a relatively small space, it's kind of like a large gallery.

Pleased to not be missing any of the film yet, I gradually managed to work my way up to the front of the space filled with a large seated audience, a large standing audience, and a smaller crowd seated on black mats at the base of the wall where the film was being projected. Score for me, I got to sit right in front, otherwise shorty me would have been a bit frustrated trying to stand!

Rick Prelinger presented the film with a brief talk introducing himself, his archives, and the film. The Prelinger Archives is in San Francisco. They have a huge library filled with thousands of different materials. Photocopying, scanning, sharing is encouraged with all of their materials, including the films, which are available online at the Internet Archive! Something he mentioned in his talk that stuck with me is the idea that this collection of ephemeral films is neither ruin's porn nor sentimental nostalgia, rather it is a "complex visual history." Prelinger spoke this phrase and it brought to mind precisely what I want to do with my documentation and analysis of Detroit techno and house music. A complex sonic history, or a complex auditory history. But also, I intend to acknowledge complexity in terms of identity, culture, experience, musical production, musical performance, etc. There's certainly not one single picture or perspective of Detroit or of electronic music of Detroit. And central to my entire research project here is emphasizing the importance of that concept of complexity, and diversity, in Detroit techno.

Two disclaimers that he mentioned in his introduction to the film are that there is not enough footage of African Americans nor of working Detroit. He's still searching for footage of Detroit, still collecting. I suppose one reason for the lack of African American's and working class people on film from home movies, industrial films, etc. is money. People with free time and excess money would have been much more likely to own video cameras.

All the footage was so interesting. There was some footage of an African American church procession in Detroit, I missed what denomination it was. Rick Prelinger mentioned it while the film was playing. Some film of Vietnam war protests - large groups of people, Black and white, walking down Woodward Avenue. A Detroit News reporter was interviewing protesters and people watching the protest. An older white man complained to the reporter about the protesters using foul language. The reporter asked him if he thought people shouldn't be allowed to protest. He replied that of course people should be allowed to protest, as long as they know what they are protesting. There was really interesting footage from 1944 of housing developments going up in Detroit - barren land, no grass yet even, just houses, sidewalks and people. This is one year before the end of World War II when the GI bill gave soldiers coming back from the war the opportunity to buy new homes, find new jobs, and start families.

The audience was super vocal and knowledgeable as well. The idea was for the crowd to provide a spoken spontaneous soundtrack for the film, and they did! It was so great because I certainly didn't recognize most of the places in the films, but once I heard someone else shout out what the location was, or what the building was, or might have been, or when it was torn down, or what it is now, I felt like I could really recognize more than I thought I would. It was a wonderful experience seeing this collection of films in Detroit with an active, local audience. There are plans for future films featuring Detroit from the Prelinger Archives. I'll be waiting.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sweet Shit

I haven't posted any Detroit events in a long time, so here you go...

DISKO-RAW at Vain with Dr. Disko Dust and DJ RAW-WAVE (aka Joe Gize)

Bi-weekly Thursdays at Vain 1500 Woodward Ave., Detroit

Click here to see the flyer. IT'S SO WORTH IT.

And next...

I'm excited about everyone in that lineup, but Judy Adams!? I didn't know who Judy Adams was before seeing this flyer and hearing word of this event. This is why I love Detroit. So many people with so many great creative ideas about how to make worlds collide.

Here's more on the party:

The Blank Artists Five Year Anniversary
February 5th, 2009

with Bands:
Agents of Woe - Memphis/NYC
Madis One

and DJs:

Josh Dahlberg
Drew Pompa
Matt Abbott - between sets

With an extended set from Detroit radio icon Judy Adams
Catch the Judy Adams' Show 9:00a-10:30a Every Tuesday on 99.1fm CJAM

Park Bar
2040 Park Ave. Detroit, MI
$8 before midnight / 21+

And you can read more about Blank Artists in this Metro Times article by Walter Wasacz.


Gary Springs Hunting Club USA presents...WET DREAM February 6 at the Bankle

Here's the info from Facebook - and I just have to say this, because it made me laugh; the event "type" on Facebook is "Group Trip." Oh, and, the Gary Springs Hunting Club website is a dot org. You'd better laugh chuckles cause that's fucking funny. I'm still smiling.

OK, info:




EDDIE MARS + STEGS + MALCOLM LASALLE + CHARLES D + RUSSELL FRAZE + JARED SPAFFORD (lazers, lighting & fog machine. seriously) splooge!

hot lunch!

man butter!

baby batter!



get there early. we will hit capacity.



I think I'll end with Acid for Antelopes.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Butterflies Twice in One Day…who knew

Two wonderful things happened today. The first is sort of an update to you on what I've been doing. I can't believe this is my first post of 2010. I've really missed writing on this blog, but my silence here does not mean my keyboard and pen have been neglected. I've been busy writing in other ways. Anyway, this morning, I was gathering up dirty laundry to put in the wash, and as I walked down the stairs I thought about my interview with Marcellus Pittman that I just finished transcribing. It was such a great interview, I thought fondly to myself. He had really great things to say about DJ style, production philosophy, genre, and history. In the split second that all this passed through my head, I felt butterflies float up from my belly to my throat. I felt excited because I knew that I am nearing the end of this phase, nearing the end of the whole research phase and about a month away from entering the…swagger…serious writing stage! I'm really fucking excited to get this thing going. I know it's been a long while since I started and you might be wondering if I'll ever finish. I assure you that I will; there is no question. I decided before moving to Detroit that this is what I was going to do and it will happen. If I was a single woman and not a mother and had no other work to attend to other than my dissertation, I could knock it out real quick. But that's not what I've got going on, so just bear with me and trust that we will see this through. So that's butterflies number one.

The second wonderful thing happened later this evening after the kids were in bed and I was getting ready to do some cleaning up and then some more transcribing. I put on a record that I had been listening to earlier in the day with my boys. It's Ectomorph Destroy Your Power Centers (12", 1999, IT 13). It's not the green vinyl, sorry.

Here are the notes from discogs:

Black vinyl pressing.
There is also a limited pressing on green vinyl

"ectomorph have come to destroy your powercenters. the inequities of this system must be leveled. the power balance in your universe is wrong. we have come to right your many millenia of corrupt behavior. our robots will destroy your way of life."
Subversion/Subversion Dub pressed as double concentric grooves.
Mastered with NSC-X2 Groove Technology at National Sound Corporation, Detroit.

So I played it this afternoon not realizing that there are two tracks pressed onto side A with concentric grooves. I had listened to this record before, but either hadn't heard both "Subversion" and "Subversion (dub)," or I just wasn't paying attention. So the needle got caught into "Subversion" first this afternoon and the beautiful tones of the track's introduction really caught my ears and I said a gentle "oh shit" in my head. I listened to "Subversion" and "(We have come to) Destroy Your Powercenters (beats)" and then flipped to side B. Later in the evening, record still sitting snug on the platter, I started up side A again expecting to hear the melodic tones and sparse bleeps of the introduction. Instead, the needle caught "Subversion (dub)" and I did a sonic double take, wondering if, yet again, I was being a space cadet and hadn't really heard what I heard when I listened to what I had heard…when I heard it. So I took the record off the platter and turned on the ceiling light to get a good look at the grooves. Of course, I couldn't really see anything out of the ordinary; I just thought I'd take a look. I put the record back on with a hopeful suspicion that something awesome was about to be realized (by me). I carefully chose the needle's location so that after I heard the intro, I could consciously place the needle 180 degrees around the record. And I caught both tracks that way and had a delightful freak out! This was the first time I had heard or seen something like this. I mean, I know that there are wonderful things you can do with vinyl, and I've written about some of that here. And this link has got some pretty interesting stuff as well:

After I realized that the concentric groove tracks are both listed on the label of the record, I felt a little bit lame for not noticing this before. But that's okay, sometimes you've got to be new so that you can learn and grow and become not new. These tracks are just so beautiful and moving, literally moving! I'll be listening to this record again tomorrow for sure.