Panic in Detroit Rock City

Today, I was sent a link to probably one of the best articles I have ever read about Detroit. It’s an article in Sports Illustrated written by Mitch Albom. Yes, it’s a little long and schmaltzy…but any Detroiter, former Detroiter or anyone who wonders what the heck it’s like to live in the Detroit area should read it. It certainly has made me ponder. It’s nice to know there are others who feel like I do.

It’s hard to be a Detroiter. I guess I’m a former Detroiter since I don’t live there anymore, but I think it’s kinda like being a recovering Catholic. It will always be in you; no matter how hard you distance your self or try to deny it, it will always be a part of your makeup.

Detroit and its suburbs will always be “home”…in that Hallmark “home is where the heart is place.” I was born there, grew up there, spent my best years in radio there. My family and some great friends are still scattered about all over area. Detroit’s a giant metro region that is very spread out. It can take you an hour or more to drive from the east side to the west side. There’s no such thing as public transportation, something I knew nothing about until I moved to the NYC area. And either you get it or you don’t. I suppose it helps when you’ve spent a long time there.

And you can love it or hate it. I know a lot of people that left and never looked back. I know alot of people who want to leave but can’t. I left 10 years ago and more or less always check behind me. Sometimes I’m embarrassed and frustrated to admit I’m from there and every once in awhile I want everyone I know to just leave already. But most of the time I keep up on what’s going on. I still root for the sports teams, although I really don’t like to own up to the Lions anymore. I love Vernor’s ginger ale (which you can buy in Seattle ironically) and crave Coney Islands, (hot dog’s with chili), Olga’s (sort of a gyro) and Sander’s cream puff hot fudge sundaes (self explanatory ☺). Yes we are a fat bunch, ha ha. But Michigan summers truly are legendary.

Back in town over the New Year holiday, I got used to having to drive everywhere again. The roads are generally a joy to drive on, and they keep ‘em cleared for the most part in the winter. Yes, there are potholes and what not, but you can drive 70 MPH in most places on the freeway!

And despite it all, people are still nice and friendly; as if all they have left to give is a smile and a kind word and they’re gonna flaunt it.It’s funny, because sometimes I tell people I’m from Detroit and they think I’m all tough. But if I say I’m from Michigan they just shrug a bit. It certainly is a sad little city, and the butt of so many jokes as Mitch said in his article.

it’s the place that built my backbone; my foundation my spirit, and I’m realizing you can take the girl out of Detroit, but man that Motown is still flowin’!

“Sooner or later, your legs give way, you hit the ground”


One of my favorite albums of all time is Special Beat Service by the English Beat. I bought it, along with many other fabulous records at Harmony House in Downtown Farmington-the wondrous local music store where I spent many a magical day, and much of my babysitting money on the splendors of recorded music on vinyl.

In my senior year, I would listen to that album over and over …the skip on my copy of the record in the beginning of “I Confess” would prove to be just part of the song to me.

When I heard the CD version years later, I could still “hear” the scratch, chuckling at the memory.

So I was very excited when I found out the English Beat was going to do a show at the Showbox Theater in Seattle. The Showbox is a charming joint, just grimy enough to give it a little character. A few months ago I was fortunate enough to catch Squeeze at the same venue. Squeeze is definitely another of my top fave bands, and although Chris and Glenn or getting old, they still put on a heck of a gig. (See pic at left)

Yes, a pattern is emerging, old 80’s bands, and albums. I’m getting a little ***gasp*** mature.

It’s ironic that I spent half my life immersed in new music, keeping up with all that is hip and hot, but for the last few years, I am less and less into it. I try to stay current, but glancing at a recent top 10 songs list I’m familiar with less than half of the artists. It makes me feel a bit out of touch. But these days, I am extremly comforted by all that is musically aged.

I don’t really know how it started, but I became a big BIG U.K music fan. I would anxiously await “Rock Over London” which came on after “The King Biscuit Flower hour” on 89X a Canadian station in Windsor. Or there was the “Dangerous Exposure” show on WABX Detroit, hosted by the Mike Haloran, who started the best alternative station in it’s day; XTRA in San Diego.

I loved all things musically British so much, I used to dream of moving to London and becoming a DJ there. I had heard they ironically liked American accents as much as I was enchanted by English accents.

So it’s comforting when an old school band comes around. To me sometimes, the 80’s happened just a few years ago. It’s when I go to a show and get a good look at the rest of the audience….
I realize that I’ve become an old fart.

The crowd overall was pushing 50. And Dave Wakeling, the only surviving original member is not aging well. ( see pic below) Despite not coming on until the late hour of 10PM…☺ they played a strong energetic show. I was exhausted when I got home at 12:30, clutching my requisite concert t-shirt and a bit sad because the one song they didn’t play was “I Confess”

I wanted to see if I would still “hear” the scratch in the live version. I’ll have to “Save it for Later”