He has a radio program on WXOU out of Oakland University
Wild At Heart
Hope everyone enjoyed their Labor Day Weekend despite the influx of breezy and somewhat overcast skies at times. Overall, I thought the weather very well behaved compared to the police in Royal Oak. I told everyone I was protesting the newly moved Arts Beats and Eats after looking at their parking situation. I drove down Friday on the way to Jazzfest to see the vocal mastery of Take 6 and the groove of Tower Of Power and took in some of the parking hell. I found that it seemed like an 8 block radius around the festival was littered with signs about $50 fines for parking on the streets. By the time Sunday came around, I decided to risk seeing Macy Gray, who was playing at 10PM. I got off 696 and drove past the apartments by the highway. There were a lot of cars parked and no signs so I found a place and parked. I then walked the eight blocks, paid my three dollars and enjoyed the show.
The next day, I decided to repeat my performance with Clint Black. However, when I got to the same spot, there were sign all along this same area. I drove around and found another street by CVS with no signs but I did see a parking ticket on a car so I drove into the CVS lot and got a spot. I went inside and got a pop and asked about parking in the lot which they seemed pretty numb about at that point. It seems sales for the store were way down from last year this time because of all the festival people parking there and not allowing placed for customers. I walked outside and saw a parking attendant so I asked him about parking on the street. He told me that unless I had a permit, I would get a ticket. I asked him about lack of signs which are everywhere in some places and he told me that they were having issues with people removing the signs but even with the signs gone, you could still get a ticket. I asked about the CVS lot and he said they couldn't go in unless CVS called them to ticket the cars in the lot. Nervous, I remained parked and found a bench outside the festival and listened to Clint Black from outside. I could see him when standing and not being a huge fan, this was alright by me. Besides, I didn't want to give them money when I'm nervous about where my car is parked and thinking I am probably lucky I didn't get a ticket last night. After a half hour, I got in my car and went for dinner at the Mongolian Barbecue and watched Boise St on the big screen.
While I got lucky Sunday, 1900 parking tickets were issued over the weekend at $50 a pop. That's almost $100,000 profit since the ticket went up to $100 if not paid by Friday. I know the city was trying to keep traffic down in the neighborhoods but having either local residents or hooligans remove signs for unsuspecting visitors is a real shame. Most people didn't want to come to Pontiac for the festival which is only a mere 20 minutes up I-75 and cheaper parking, so this new location, which did bring in 425,000 people, was supposed to be more user friendly but I feel failed in the parking area esp in this economy. I feel that if you pay $15 parking a block away from the festival, you should be paying maybe $5 if you park 8 blocks away. That just seems to make sense but some people are more interested in getting all they can from us instead of putting something more commonsensical in place. I also think they could have left parking meters along Main Street open to help a bit. It is rumored that the parking staff even went outside of their areas to give tickets where they weren't supposed to. I wonder who was in charge of that training. Apparently it wasn't me because I wouldn't have allowed that on my watch. Stupid amateurs!! I hope the court is fair but I have a feeling they might not allow the argument their were no signs posted since they probably expect everyone to have read the fine print on their website about parking which was a tad confusing about some things.
If Royal Oak holds the festival next year, they better get on fixing that parking issue and making spot checks to make sure signs are not taken down and replacing those that are. That would only be fair. I didn't get a chance to see to much of the festival outside of the concert but I did hear conflicting reports about the arts portion of the festival. Some people thought it was down from previous years while others enjoyed what was around. Of course, those might have been the people scared of Pontiac to see the festival in all it's glory. Bastards!!
Speaking of Arts, I went to two art shows this past Friday. I started off with “In Your Dreams: 500 Years of Imaginary Prints” at the DIA which celebrates the imagination. The exhibit has around 120 prints from Europe and the US going back to Albrecht Dürer’s 1497 visionary woodcut series “The Apocalypse” and continues to modern times hitting upon the visions of such legendary artists as Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Goya and Joan Miró. I really enjoyed the works of Piranesi (1761) as he brings to life impossible large and spacious prisons which look right at home in a Hellboy movie set. The exhibit runs through the start of January and should be a must see. I also went to the MOCAD for a performance by Hallogallo who is fronted by Michael Rother of the legendary German electronic band Neu! Which is second only to Kraftwerk in terms of influence in the genre. Rother was joined by Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley and Tall Firs's Aaron Mullen in recreating the music of Neu!. This was one of only 6 US performances for the group which had a decent crowd at the MOCAD. The crowd really seemed into the show but you tell the real fans to those that just support the venue. Klaus Dinger, the other half of Neu!, passed away in 2008 and Michael formed the group as a kind of tribute to their work together after revisiting it the stuff they did in 1985 but never released until recently. Hallogallo is the name of a song on their first album which means “wild partying”. I also took in the new exhibits by Martha Friedman and the exhibit “Spatial City” which includes artwork by a variety of international artists. Like a lot of “contemporary art, I wasn't overly excited by a lot of it and I don't understand what some people consider art nowadays but the exhibit is free and I'll allow you to make your own judgments.
I would also like to give kudos out to the exceptional performance by the legendary English alternative folk singer Billy Bragg who played at the Ark in Ann Arbor in what may be the best show I have seen this year. He played for 2 hours and 15 minutes and never let up between playing great tunes and making social commentary. Esp fun was relating a story about being in Chicago and signing a poster for someone who wanted it personalized for the Lions Den and then driving to Ann Arbor passing the Adult Bookstore of that name and thinking “only in America”. It's little things like that that can elevate a show esp after making fun of American football and then having a fan telling Bragg that the home team is the Lions which set him off again in a fit of laughter as images flooded his brain. The main message I got from his show was political. He grew up on the famous Clash concerts that tried to inspired the youth of England to get involved in the political process. He kept drilling into us that cynicism is the worse thing that can happen to us since it will paralyze us into not taking action against what matters. We need to try to prevent that from getting into us and making sure we arm ourselves with the knowledge to put those in power that will help us the most. While he admits that certain politicians, mentioning Blair and Obama, might not be perfect in what we expect from them, they are better in terms of hope from what came before despite the fact that we, collectively, have short term memory and want instant gratification. A very thought provoking and entertaining concert which is kind of rare to have. Came back soon Billy.
In 2008, actor Joaquin Phoenix announced his retirement from acting where he was best known for his roles as the emperor Commonus in “Gladiator” and Johnny Cash in “Walk The Line”. His desire was to start a career in music. As a Grammy winner for his work on the soundtrack for “Walk The Line”, that might not seem so far fetched, but he was talking about going into hip hop. As most people never really took this announcement seriously, I guess Phoenix with the directorial help of Casey Affleck decided to film his journey to get his rap album produced and we do see some scenes with Sean Combs which either means he is serious or that him and Sean are trying to pull the wool over our eyes. The documentary (or mockumentary to some think) “I'm Still Here” takes us on an uncomfortable journey of a celebrity who seems to need to go back to rehab. I found the movie a bit disjointed and mostly boring. If taken for real, I think Phoenix is following the same path as Lindsey Lohan and needs help quick. If fake, there is not enough punch to compete with a Spinal Tap as the best scenes are because of guests like Ben Still, Sean Combs and David Letterman. The film ends with Phoenix walking through a stream in a scene that reminds me of Herzog's “Aquirre, the Wrath Of God” (coincidentally, Herzog once helped Phoenix out of a car accident) and at the end he dips his head under the water. That is the fate I would like this film to have. Just disappear beneath the surface of the movie industry. Unless you love watched celebrities fall apart, this might be a movie you should avoid. My grade is a D.
Here are some concert highlights for those looking for some shows to check out:
Wednesday (9/15) – Toad The Wet Spocket @ the Ark (also Thurs), Persephone's Bees @ Vernors Lounge (free show)
Thursday (9/16) – zydeco man CJ Chenier @ Callahans, Jason Mraz @ EMU Convocation Center
Friday (9/17) – jazz great Al Jarreau @ Motor City Soundboard, Alice In Chains w/Mastodon @ Pine Knob, Jamey Johnson @ Fillmore, bluesman Eric Sardinas @ Callahans
Saturday (9/18) – Sugarland and Little Big Town @ Pine Knob, Jackson Browne @ Fox Theatre, Matt & Kim w/Silverghost @ the Majestic, Nickelback w/Saving Abel @ Joe Louis Arena, School of Rock tribute to Nirvana and Green Day @ Eagle Theatre, Windsor's Ashes Of Soma @ New York New York (Chesterfield Twp)
Sunday (9/19) – Brandi Carlile @ Michigan Theatre, Third Day @ Pine Knob, Toadies @ Magic Stick, the School of Rock does 2 shows (honoring Beatles and Live Aid) @ Eagle Theatre
Monday (9/20) – Of Montreal w/Janelle Monae @ Royal Oak Music Theatre
As part of my getting ready to leave Michigan, I took a road trip to the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, MI. I have talked to members of the Museum at the Meadowbrook Concours and found out that the museum ranks as one of the Top 5 car museums in the country so I had to go there before I left. I took a nice drive to the museum, only stopping for some homemade ice cream at Moo-ville (http://moo-ville.com/) which you can tour and take your kids through their petting zoo. I had some chocolate chip ice cream that was very good and then drove off to the Gilmore. Mr Gilmore got into cars after his wife gave him an antique car to restore and the rest is history. Set up on a nice piece of land, the museum is a series of eight historic barns, a re-created 1930s Shell service station and a small town train station which serves to house it's extensive hood ornament collection. Starting in the gift shop, you can see the one-of-a-kind Gnome Mobile movie set from the 1967 Walt Disney movie (Disney gave it too him as a gift and it is the only oversized set to leave Disney property) along with the car from the film. From their, you can see some of the nicest cars including building dedicated to the Pierce Arrow, Cadillac and the Franklin. The museum has a 1948 Tucker (my favorite car), some early Checker Cabs (they were made in Kalamazoo) and a racing car exhibit. With the exceptions of some of the race cars, most of the cars are pre-1970 and go back to some of the first cars ever built. The grounds also have a 1940's style diner (the Blue Moon) which serves some wonderful homemade pie (I loved the mixed berry) soups and sandwiches and is perfect for lunch. With admission to the Gilmore, you also car get into the Miniatures Museum located near the entrance. If you love antique cars, this is the best museum for that in the area (sorry Henry Ford or ACD) and you won't regret going.
I'm getting ready to go to Mackinaw this week so I'll see you all when I get back. Have a good week.