Show #37: Kalamazoo, Mich.

"I see you are a local Michigan native interested in punk music," I said to a young punk fellow at my show at Kraftbrau in Kalamazoo, Mich. This young punk was enthusiastic about my band's tunes. "Tell me," I said. "How does one occupy oneself in the Great North?"

"How do I occupy myself?" said the punk. "What am I doing? Well, I'm doing my own thing. I mean, just me. I do my own thing. That is, I'm doing my own thing, now. I mean, it's like this solo one-man band thing. I play guitar and some electronic stuff. I also play drums. All at the same time. It's that kind of thing. I've done a few shows now. It's just me. It's a liberating thing. One show was okay. The other show was with these drunk punk kinda dudes. Really, it was not a great scene. So I was doing my thing and the crowd wasn't into it too much, obviously. So I have been in this real Neil Young mode. Doing this real Neil Young stuff, you know? So I had a CD of Heart of Gold. So I brought the boom box onstage, right? So I have the boombox onstage with Heart of Gold in it, and I'm playing to all these drunk punks. So I couldn't deal with them anymore so I just kinda played Heart of Gold, you know? I played it right there on my boombox and I held the mic up to the boombox, and there was Heart of Gold playing into the room, right at all these drunk punks. So the mic starts feeding back, right? So I'm onstage holding this mic up to my boombox and blasting this Heart of Gold feedback at all these drunk punks. So all these drunk punks get really fucking pissed. So they're like, 'Stop! Just stop!' But I won't stop, right? I just keep on blasting them with all this Heart of Gold feedback. The feedback is really wild, really alive in this really cool way. So the drunk punks jump on the stage and get me down on the ground, and start like kicking me. Really fucking like kicking me, being like 'Stop! Stop! Stop!' But I just kept blasting them with this feedback. Fucking Heart of Gold feedback. Let me tell you man, it was painful, but it was punk as fuck."

"Wow," I said. Goddammit, I thought. Michigan always has to be so rough. That's like Michigan's thing—raw, rough, and real. Bluejeans and no underwear. There can't be some fine Michigan afternoon where someone enjoys a milkshake or reads a contemporary novel or hears a chamber quartet. In Michigan, there always has to be some violence or drugs about. That's Michigan's schtick, ever since the MC5 had their revolutionary commune in Ann Arbor and the Stooges drove that truck into that overpass in Ann Arbor during a drug binge. Doesn't anyone in Michigan ever go to the ballet or have tea and krumpets, or visit their grandmothers? Instead of a sunny, pleasant vibe, there's always some speed or coke and something going wrong in a really legendary way. For example—what did I do today in Michigan? I went to an organic market. None too legendary.

"Yeah," said the punk. "I laid on the ground and got kicked. It was fucking punk."

"Wow," I said again.


  1. #1

    I had crumpets recently for the first time. They were kind of good. Like the Thomas "English Muffins" but a little bit more like that bread you get at Ethiopian Resturaunts. And sweet. I had rasberry jelly on mine as recomended on the packaging.

  2. #2

    I am a DC person going to college at the university of michigan. This is a weird state in so many ways. By the way, Justin I've seen you play in supersystem twice and edie sedgwick twice (at fort reno). Actually at my high school we used to jam over the "game over" bass line in instrumental class all the time (I told you this when I met you after the supersystem solo show last year with french toast and ris paul probably don't remember but I was with my best friend who that concert was his first rock show besides my talked to him about chopin who you dubbed as the "polish master.") Anyway your blog is really amusing to read.

  3. #3

    Why you..blinking toerags... Where's my comment about Michingan transplants to DC??? You don't understand satire, do you?

  4. #4

    Thanks for the comment, Ernest---if that is your real name. I deleted your Michigan-themed comment because I deemed it anti-homosexual in an unfunny way. I am not necessarily opposed to race or sexual-orientation-based humor that 1) makes me laugh and 2) seems well-intentioned. Now, Ernest---I do not know much about you, and so cannot judge your intentions. However, your comment did not make me laugh. Thus, I deleted it. I have that authority. In a way, I am the George W. Bush of Iceland.

  5. #5

    Michigan is rough, especially in more recent years. The gritty tradition goes back quite a ways and the bottoming out of the auto industry here and the fact that both Flint and Detroit are more or less in ruins isn't helping to plant any flowers in the general mindset. That being said, I personally enjoy drinking tea and reading books. I enjoy going to films not made in Hollywood. I like walks in the park and I do spend time with my family.I like museums, farmers markets (yes, there is one in Detroit) and puppies. That being said, I also like free ballin' in my jeans, the Stooges, the MC5 and hard drugs. Living in a place like this can really rot your mind, most people who aren't insane move towards greener pastures by the time they are 26.

    Panic in detroit,

  6. #6

    Detroit has been rough for a long time. i remember when one of the dudes from candy machine got kicked in the head by some man on the street when he was using the pay phone. show was cancelled and injured dude had to go to the E.R. and then there was 404 Willis. Many bands had much equipment and money stolen from them when playing that venue. Actually, this occured two summers ago at the D.A.M. A friend's musical equipment was stolen. I then saw all the instruments for sale at a Sunoco on Trumbull and Warren moments later.

  7. #7

    The 404 Willis, the first time I attended a performance there I was greeted by the sound of automatic gunfire and dudes running into a liquor store for cover. My teenage self thought, "This is just like Boys in the 'hood". Now, 13 years latter, this infamous space, which hosted shows for los Crudos, Lungfish, Unwound and in the early '80s as the Freezer Theater, Negative Approach and The Necros, is an organic bakery making artesian beards. Justin, even the forgotten corners of Detroit can change their ways, certainly there is hope for the rest of the state?

  8. #8

    The Kalamazoo show was really great.
    I really appreciate you guys coming out to play.

    Michigan is awesome and probably not nearly as brutal as you think.

    Thanks for the fun.

  9. #9

    I got exhausted reading this one, thinking about all the times you either 1) pressed the button to make HEART OF GOLD italic, or 2) used whatever ITALIC tags wordpress happens to be using.

    But the REMEMBER THIS, that was a very amusing and informitive rhetorical device. And I enjoyed it very much.

  10. #10

    What in blazes are artesian beards?

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