Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Dialogue with Non-Music...

 A while back, Jesus Christine said this about Jeff Milo:

In twenty years, the future music scene of Detroit and the world (barring any apocalypse that may be in store) will look upon the musical culture creations seething from the sidewalk cracks in this city with nostalgia, curiosity and reverence. I'm serious. Be as cynical as you want (we are notoriously cynical about everything), but it's true: the art we make here is incomparable to any other place on Earth. And when the music nerds of the future geek out on our yet-to-be-named era of Detroit music (post-garage? I'm working on it) like us kids look upon the New York post-punk no-wave scene of the late 80s, they will turn to the key figure in the documentation of this time, these venues, these crazy people and the things they do.

That key figure will be undoubtably Jeff Milo.

They will pore through digital stacks of Jeff's writing, his interviews, flourished depictions of guitarists' demeanors, moments at shows described as spiritual experiences (with a monk's inspiration!), and the strange quirks of the keyboardists who can't stay on stage. 3am interviews at Dunkin' Donuts with scruffy, wild-eyed thirty-somethings will become richly romantic scenes to the musicians of the future. Because of Jeff's equal and unfettered love of both music and words, the misplaced underbelly of this town will be forever remembered in the most fantastic way; the most honest and glorious way, through his eyes.

I must say that I agree with some of the stuff she says. I believe that some of Milo's writings will be used as source material at some point in the future. However, I think the researcher(s) will be trying to answer questions that Christine isn't anticipating. The question is more likely to be "Why didn't (insert band name) get more recognition when they were active?", or "Why didn't (insert musician/songwriter's name) previous band become as successful as his/her current band?". If that researcher is lucky, they'll come across one of Milo's interviews or articles, because he does a great job capturing as much of the story as possible. By reading between the lines, and taking in what isn't said or asked, the conclusions will probably often be that the musicians and bands in Detroit during this time just couldn't get out of their own way.

This doesn't mean that I'm taking back what I said about his music reviews. I still can't read his descriptions of music without rolling my eyes. Take "forever burning itself into the eyes of my ears...". What the fuck? If someone said "forever burning itself into the eyes of my ears" to you in a conversation, wouldn't you have an uncontrollable fit of laughter?

I hope that Milo's semi-hiatus isn't permanent, our overly long. I hope that one day he'll find the answer to the question he keeps asking, "what does it all mean?". His dream of one day creating a Unified Detroit Scene Theory is truly his holy grail.

I like to think of him as the Superman to my Bizarro. He writes about musical content, and either doesn't have negative opinions, or withholds them from his writings. I never write about musical content, and I leave you to believe that I either don't have any positive opinions (well, most of the time), or that I withhold them from my blog.

His writing serves a noble purpose. His words, past, present, and future, will always burn itself into the anus of my navel.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Brush Your Shoulders Off

John Galt, the hero of Atlas Shrugged, throws off the shackles of society, and creates an all new society at Galt's Gulch, where creativity and intelligence (also inherited wealth) can't be leeched off by the freeloaders. In a seminal moment, he delivers a stirring speech:
"Dudes, I'm totally sick of all of you freeloaders. You smoke my stash, you drink my Mountain Dew, and you eat all of my Funions. Me and all of the other creative types are going to go live somewhere you can't find us. You'll be deprived of all the cool shit we think up and create. It'll be like we went on strike, and then you'll be totally sorry. Although none of us have any experience actually assembling the stuff we design, or even mowing our own lawns, we'll eventually figure out how to repair our own houses and cars when they break. I'm sure it'll all work out."
(I might have paraphrased a bit)

John Galt's philosophy didn't die out. Sean Shea is sick of all you Eddie Willers staying at home, and not venturing out to find his, and all the other Detroit bands. He's tired of waiting for the uncultured simpletons to appreciate all of Detroit's creativity. He outlined a new Detroit Scene Objectivism as the new Galt's Gulch got underway:
"Our music and art community," said Shea, "is developing into it's own self-sustaining society that is supported by its members. It is with the help of the individuals and groups that make up the music community that brings things together, running like a strong motor..."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

All Good(?) Things

From a Detroit News article/blog:

Darren Grow, owner and managing partner of the Belmont Bar in Hamtramck, announced today that the bar will be closing on Monday, June 13.

In a statement released today Grow said he has "maintained this labor of love for almost nine years, and it is, unfortunately, time to move on."

When asked what will happen with the bar after June 13, Grow said that it will probably remain the Belmont but the format will change drastically and will not include live music.

A goodbye and "Grand Closing" party is planned for Saturday, June 11. Local rock bands Almost Free, Bison Machine, the Handgrenades and River Spirit were scheduled to play, but today Grow said the entertainment would be provided by various DJs. Grow also said drink specials will be abundant to deplete what is left of the inventory. The last days the Belmont will be open for business are tonight-Sunday and June 9-12.

Another source cites the reason as being "restructuring due to financial reasons". The euphemism "moving on" has been used so many times, we now just assume it to mean failure.

Since the combined capacity of venues creates a supply that outstrips demand (under the current scene's management style anyway), seeing a another venue close or cut out live music altogether isn't too surprising. When 313 Jac, or whatever the fuck they called that thing happening on the second floor of Jacoby's closed, most of us just considered it a necessary sacrifice that would give some of the other small venues a better chance at surviving. The Belmont however, wasn't some fringe player putting on a few token shows a month like Corktown Tavern, The Loving Touch, or Paycheck's Lounge, and cluttering up event listings. The Belmont had shows going on several nights a week, so this closing will have a more noticeable effect.

No one seems to be discussing whether The Belmont's unwritten policy of having a long list of people who never pay to get in played any role in this recent action. It certainly played a role in bands not getting paid under the 30 attendee minimum for payment policy. How often would a band look out over the crowd, and think they must have easily cleared the minimum, only to be told later that they didn't? I swear on all that is holy on the internet, I heard people say about The Belmont that they didn't want to be the only one paying to get in, more than any other place around. This kind of business model is bound to create animosity amongst bands and show goers.

Don't take any of this to mean that I'm taking part in schadenfreude. I would have preferred that The Belmont would have looked at some other business's failure, shit their pants in fear, and changed course in order to survive. When faced between the choice of keeping live music and not feeding the ego of the douchetards, or cutting out live music altogether, they chose the latter.