Totally Awesome Fest 11… on this weekend’s edition of the Saturday Six Pack

    Every time I think about retiring from radio, a new poster comes out featuring my head crudely sewn on to yet another body more interesting than my own, and it occurs to me that I need to keep going, if only to see where my severed head will wind up next. This week, it looks as though the AM 1700 art department has seen fit to graft my noggin onto the trunk of a young and virile Tiny Tim, which I think is pretty fitting, given the weirdo vibe which I’m sure will permeate this week’s show, seeing as how it’s being presented in partnership with Totally Awesome Fest 11.

    So, if you’ve always wanted to attend the Ypsilanti rite of spring known as Totally Awesome Fest, but you’ve always been too afraid of what you might encounter, or perhaps worried that your beard might not be up to snuff, you can tune in from the safety of your home come Saturday and hear about three hours worth.


    I don’t know how well the magical spirit of Totally Awesome Fest will travel over AM, but I like that we’re at least trying. I’m thinking of this episode kind of like the Voyager spacecraft, sent out into the universe to tell hungry aliens everywhere of our planet’s existence, only instead of audio of whales mating and crickets chirping, we’ll be broadcasting the echoes of Rotokiller and Sky Thing into the void.

    In addition to Rotokiller, who I’m told only play songs about organic gardening and skateboarding, and Sky Thing, who are going to be driving in from Indiana to project soundscapes on the spongy grey matter of Ypsilanti’s crazative class, we’ll also be joined by Andrew Mitchell II and his akioke machine, and writer/critic Patrick Dunn, who will be critiquing my performance throughout the night, among other things… Oh, and akioke, if you’re not familiar with the concept, is like karaoke, but different. With akioke, only the singer hears the music, so everyone in the audience just hears the singer’s voice, devoid of context… And, for what it’s worth, I’ve yet to decide whether I’ll be performing Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’, Barry Manillow’s Oh Mandy, or Styx’s Come Sail Away.

    Oh, and feel to come down to the station and sit outside if you’d like to hear any of this live, or take your turn at achieve. We’ll have a PA outside, and it should be fun… Maybe not as fun as that time about half a dozen years ago when This Must Be The Place played the roof above Deja Vu, but still fun. Or at least I imagine it’ll be cool to stand outside the strip club and watch Rototiller tear it up in the station, on the other side of the glass.

    [note: If you should want to check out any of Totally Awesome Fest for yourself, here’s the entire three-day lineup.]


    If you’d like to tell your friends about the show, feel free to share the Facebook event listing. As of right now, it looks as though only a few dozen people are planning to listen, so, if you don’t like crowds, this may be a good one to tune in to.

    Unless you live really close by, I’d recommend streaming the show online, which you can do either on the AM1700 website or by way of

    And for those of you who aren’t yet familiar with the show, and need to get caught up, you can listen to the entire archive on iTunes.

    One last thing. We love phone calls. So please scratch this number into the cinder block wall of the recreation room of whichever facility you’ve been assigned to… 734.217.8624… and call us between 6:00 and 8:00 this Saturday evening.

    Oh, and if you don’t live close enough to the AM 1700 studio to pick us up on the radio, and you don’t have access to a computer, I’m told that, again this week, the folks at 826michigan will be hosting a listening party at their downtown Ann Arbor Robot Supply Store. So, if you can’t hear it any other way, or you’re just curious as to what Annarbourites look like when they listen to the radio together, head over to Liberty Street and pound on the door until they let you in.

    Posted in Art and Culture, The Saturday Six Pack, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

    What does it say about our society when even our priests are proudly declaring that they’re prepared to dispense lethal force?

    Ann Arbor Catholic priest Ed Fride is in the news today for encouraging his parishioners at Christ the King Catholic Church to arm themselves. In a letter sent out this past weekend to his flock, Fride explained why he carried a weapon, and why the church would likely be hosting more CPL classes on their property at 4000 Ave Maria Drive. Pointing to an incident three years ago in which two individuals with a gun were apprehended outside Father Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor, Fride urged his flock to accept that they were no longer living in “Mayberry,” and arm themselves accordingly.

    “The fact that two active shooters got within yards of Father Gabriel Richard before they were taken down by SWAT demonstrates that the threat is real,” said Fride in his letter to parishioners. “This druggie couple from Detroit stole a car and it broke down at Plymouth and Dixboro. They went through the woods and had almost reached the high school when they were stopped… There is zero security at the high school. Had the shooters got in, we would have had our own Columbine.”

    Fride then went on to address the concerns of those in the parish who said that they were afraid of carrying weapons. “Several people have said to me, I’m afraid of guns,” said Fride. “My response to one woman was, ‘Well, how do you feel about rape?’”

    Leaving aside for a moment just how offensive and manipulative that is, and how laughably stupid it is to base one’s argument on the fact that two “druggies,” who just happened to have been in the area in 2012 due to the breakdown of a car, might have wanted to enter a high school and pull off a Columbine-type attack, I’m curious to know how this willingness to dole our lethal force jives with the notoriously pro-life church’s stance on the so-called “sanctity of life.” Maybe when they say “all life is precious” they just mean when it’s inside the womb. Or maybe “druggies” aren’t really alive in the same way that you and I are, and therefore deserving of God’s love. Regardless, I think, as a man of the cloth, I’d be particularly sensitive to the risks of playing God, but maybe Fride can differentiate, in a split second, those who are deserving of God’s forgiveness, from those who are better suited for the garbage heap.

    And, for what it’s worth, it’s not just hyperbole when I pain tty picture of the good father gunning down perps. Fride has said in the past that, in the right situation, he would kill. “There were situations in which I would actively intervene,” Fide has said, “even to a lethal level if necessary.”

    [note: Prior to being known as Christ the King, this charismatic Catholic church, long supported by Ypsilanti’s Tom Monaghan, was known as Word of God. The name change happened sometime after the church was investigated for the “cult-like” power it held over its conservative parishioners.]



    If I’m understanding his logic, Fride seems to believe that, with more people arming themselves in Detroit, the criminal element residing there is having to venture further from home in order to find attractive targets, and, as demonstrated by a pair of “druggies” whose car broke down here in 2012, they seem to have settled upon Ann Arbor as their new hunting ground. And we need to be prepared to kill them before they kill us, just like Jesus taught. [He said in his letter that killing people under the right circumstances is not against Biblical doctrine.]

    Here, with more background on Fride is a clip from the Detroit Free Press.

    Fride’s friend, Jay McNally, said the priest is a beloved pastor, a martial arts practitioner whose sermons bring parishioners to tears.

    “It is a rare day that one finds a priest so well-loved by parishioners at every level – the old folks, the young folks,” said McNally, a former editor of the Detroit archdiocese’s Michigan Catholic newspaper and conservative Catholic activist who is the director of the Ypsilanti-based Citizens Alliance for Life and Liberty.

    McNally said Fride has served at the parish for about 20 years, and also was the chaplain for young men considering the priesthood at Ave Maria College, when the college started by Domino’s Pizza founder and traditional Catholic activist Tom Monaghan was located in Ann Arbor. Christ the King Parish has strong ties to traditional, conservative Catholics.

    “He’s a priest factory,” said McNally, describing Fride’s service as an inspiration to many young men considering the priesthood.

    “Father Ed quite frequently travels around the country and to be the chaplain for people in the military who die in service,” said McNally. “He’s in high demand for that.”

    “This whole gun thing is kind of new. He has become very vocal about it,” said McNally. “There isn’t a phony bone in him.

    In his letter, Fride explained how he grew up a Pacifist and was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. He converted to Catholicism. He wrote that he veered away from pacifism when he asked himself questions of “what would Jesus do” were he to come across women and children being harmed.

    “I eventually concluded that I was certainly no longer a pacifist absolutist,” wrote Fride. “There were situations in which I would actively intervene, even to a lethal level if necessary.”

    As an aside, it’s kind of funny how people “veer away from pacifism” when they’re no longer in danger of being drafted to fight in Vietnam, isn’t it?

    And one more thing, if you didn’t already dislike this man for coercing his congregation into arming themselves by pointing to the existence of Detroit “druggies” who want to carry out Columbine-like attacks against their kids, and telling them that they’d likely be raped if they didn’t buy weapons, here’s one more thing to consider. He started his letter to parishioners with the following… “We’re not in Mayberry Anymore, Toto.” As terrible as guns are, I think we can all agree that mixed metaphors are worse, right?

    UPDATE: The following came in from a reader of this site early this morning.

    My family still actively attends Christ the King parish, and father Ed was the priest who baptized me. But I’m fairly certain that he’s cracked, and a lot of the stuff I hear about him is pretty disturbing.

    In his original sermon, before he wrote the mass email, he specifically mentioned the fact that Dearborn was only a few minutes away, and dropped the term “jihadist” as a reason to be armed. His parish is not a territorial parish, it’s like a “satellite” parish, so everyone who goes there makes a conscious decision to do so, rather than just attending because it’s close by. He has a lot of influence over the parishioners there. It is, like you made note of, very cultish. They also have the highest percentage of men of any Catholic church in the US who become priests. They single-handedly keep the diocese of Lansing afloat with clergy. And you probably won’t be surprised that the public school open carry guy Josh Wade is a life-long member of this parish. The news didn’t pick up on that fact. Another interesting tidbit about this story — the cop who is actually teaching these CPL class that fr. Ed is encouraging, well he was in that video of the Detroit man being subdued and beaten by Inkster police. That specifically aggravates me, because that’s the cop who gave him all the stats on crime spilling into Ypsi from Detroit.

    Anyway, the whole story has been upsetting because it’s affected and divided a lot of people I know, so I wanted to put the truth out there. Undoubtedly we’ll be seeing more Josh Wades in the future, ready at a moment’s notice to escalate a situation with deadly force.

    Hopefully folks in the local press do some digging into what’s going on at Christ the King.

    Posted in Ann Arbor, Civil Liberties, Religious Extremism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

      The episode where Pete Larson flies in from Kenya to announce his rebirth as a Mississippi bluesman, we trade a Suzanne Somers “three way” poncho for eight bottles of cheap wine, and one of my guests tells me that she’s posed nude for Playboy… The Saturday Six Pack #13

      I’ve complained recently that we haven’t been getting a lot of calls during the show. Well, apparently all of that complaining has paid off. The phone didn’t stop ringing this episode. The first call came in before Jim Cherewick had even finished singing the opening theme. It was Matt Jones, calling from his basement, where he’s spent the past several months obsessively trying to document the existence of every single musician creating original work in Michigan today. It would seem that he’d arranged to record a track by my old bandmate Pete Larson just before he was scheduled to stop by the AM 1700 studio and have his interview with me. And Matt must have called just as Pete was leaving. I asked him why he didn’t call later in the show, when Pete was actually going to be in the studio, and he said that he didn’t want to be “gushing like a stalker” in front of him. I wouldn’t have thought that, after documenting over 70 musicians, he could still get that excited, but Matt was absolutely giddy… which, I think, speaks to the power of Dr. Pete Larson.

      It was cool way to begin the show. Not only was I happy that my old friend had managed to impress Matt, but it made me feel like something significant was actually happening here in Ypsi. I mean, how cool is it that someone could fly in from Kenya, roll into Ypsi, and, within a few hours, record with Matt Jones for his historic compilation, stop by Chris Stranad’s studio to sit for a photo as part of the Saturday Six Pack Portrait Project, and then do a radio interview with me? Granted, it’s probably an illusion, but I like that Pete got the sense, as he said to me after the show, that interesting things were actually happening here in Ypsilanti. I love the fact that we’re creating a kind of interrelated ecosystem of interesting, overlapping and supportive creative projects that are both feeding off of, and supporting one another… Speaking of the portrait of Pete that was taken by Chris, here it is. One hopes that soon you might be able to see the photo in person during a First Friday’s event somewhere. [Stay tuned for details.]

      Peter Larson

      [If you would like to listen to the episode in its entirety, you can find it on both iTunes and Soundcloud. Or, if you want, you can just scroll down to end of this post, where you’ll find it embedded.]

      We started the show by opening a few Miller High Life tallboys with Yen Azzaro, co-owner of Ypsilanti’s Chin-Azzaro studio. Our conversation, which touched on everything from the willingness of local folks to pay for art, to the threat of gentrification that looms over Ypsilanti, took an odd and unexpected turn a few minutes in, when Yen, responding to a question about how she met her husband, mentioned that, as a University of Michigan undergrad, she’d posed for a Playboy “Girls of the Big 10″ edition. As you might expect, it was difficult to steer things back once that cat was out of the bag, but we somehow managed to right the ship and keep moving forward.

      stancoverDuring our discussion, accomplished fashion photographer Stan Malinowski called in. Stan, a friend of Yen’s, called in from Chicago to say that he was enjoying the show, and relate a few of his own experiences at Playboy, where he’d shot for a good portion of his career. [Stan currently has a show up at the Chin-Azzaro gallery space.] While he denied any knowledge of the intricate tunnel network used to smuggle “playmates” and celebrities to and from the Playboy mansion, he did tell us what a challenge it was to get good photos of people on Hefner’s large, round, rotating bed. As his call caught me a bit off-guard, I wasn’t prepared to go into any level of depth with him, but he did offer to stop in if he’s ever in Michigan, so maybe we’ll have an opportunity sometime soon to talk with him about the devolution of erotic photography, which, over the past several decades, has become significantly less artistic and more clinical in nature… Oh, and we can also ask him about shooting the cover for the Ohio Players record Fire. [right: A 1963 Playboy cover of Nancy Perry shot by Stan Malinowski]

      At this point, Jim Cherewick sang a lovely song called Better Days, and then he and our mutual friend Chris Sandon shared stories from their recent tour down south, where, according to them, they played music for very few people. In Columbus, they told us, they played a show for one woman at a yoga studio that doubled as an art space. [They offered her a free CD after the show, and she refused it.] We also talked about Jim’s snoring problem, and how, at one point during the tour, it got so bad that they had to tape him to a Red Roof Inn luggage rack to keep him from rolling over in bed, in hopes that it might help. They also shared a minute of audio from the set of a comedian who preceded them at one of their poorly attended gigs. I was thinking that it would be terrible, but it wasn’t. [It was kind of a PSA for condom use set in the Star Wars universe.]

      The man who we refer to as The Who Guy, because he calls in every week and hijacks the show by playing tapes of the Who over the phone, called in and tried something new. This time, he and a friend sang a Who song acapella. And the response in the studio was surprisingly positive… We apparently like trolls who don’t rest of their laurels, but keep pushing forward, breaking new ground.

      Then, we attempted our first ever Ypsilanti on-air swap meet. Kurt Anschuetz came by the studio with two items… a Suzanne Somers “three way” poncho, and a twenty-some year old edition of the local Monopoly rip-off Ypsiopoly. And, surprisingly, both were successfully traded away to callers. The mint-condition Ypsi-centric board game went to a woman from Ann Arbor who offered “eight bottles of cheap wine” in trade. And the poncho went to a local Ypsi man after a few tense minutes outside the studio… The caller had offered a free pass to Deja Vu and a box of cookies in exchange for the poncho. When he arrived, though, instead of cookies, he had a single beer. Station manager Brian Robb began frantically yelling “no deal” and “bait and switch” through the AM 1700 window, but Kurt went ahead and took the deal, not wanting to break the young man’s heart. [below: The three-way poncho]


      Thankfully, the woman in Ann Arbor who wanted Ypsiopoly, drove out and made the exchange in person, so we didn’t have to figure out how to make the exchange at a later date. By the time she got to the studio, though, the eight bottles of wine that she’d promised had somehow become seven. Kurt took the deal anyway, though, and then proceeded to open a bottle or two for us, as the beer was pretty much gone by that point. [below: Folks hanging around, making trades, and drinking wine in the studio]


      I can’t remember the exact order of things, but I seem to recall that our friend Cre Fuller called in from a bachelor party in New Orleans to piss us off by telling us about all of the great food he was eating. [Cre said he’d come in sometime soon to share his vacation photos over the air.] And our friend Brigid Mooney walked down from the Wurst Bar to tell us about the paradise on earth that is Kellys Island, and introduce us to her friend Malcolm, who she asked us not to give any more beer to. He and I talked restaurant jobs and motorcycle helmets. And, at some point, Patrick Elkins came in and proceeded to call us from inside the studio to discuss Totally Awesome Fest, which begins this coming Friday in Ypsilanti.

      And then it was time to introduce the legendary co-founder of Bulb Records Pete Larson, who talked at length not only about the early ’90s music scene in Ann Arbor, but his current life as a PhD in Kenya, studying the transmission of viruses between domesticated animals by day, and singing at an African blues club by night. We also talked about his formative years in Mississippi, how he’d stolen his uncle’s bass to start his first band at 14, and why it was, at 19, he decided to convince his friends to move with him to Ann Arbor. [He got them to come with him by promising that $5-an-hour dishwashing jobs could be found here.]

      We played a two old songs from our band Prehensile Monkeytailed Skink, and Pete performed a few new songs live… songs which regular listeners of The Saturday Six Pack will recognize as ones he’s sent in from Kenya to have us play on previous Saturday nights. [Pete wakes up every Saturday morning that he’s in Africa, and writes and records a song, which he then sends in to have us play on that day’s show. If I’m not mistaken, he’s now submitted 11 such songs.]


      [above: Pete Larson playing a song while Jim Cherewick texts his friends, “OMG… Pete Larson”]

      As we probably talked for about an hour, a lot of stuff was covered. So, if you’re interested, you should just listen. Among other things, we debated the merits Beatles, and Pete confessed to pressing the first Bulb records using temporary emergency grants awarded by the University of Michigan to students in need. [Typically, students would use these $300 loans to pay heating bills and the like, but Pete built an empire on them, pressing 500 singles every time he could secure one.]

      For what it’s worth, my favorite part of the interview began at the 1:45 mark, where we began talking about Pete’s newfound appreciation of Mississippi hill country blues, and how it is that, now in his mid-40s, he feels as though he’s finally finding his authentic voice as a recording artist. Having known Pete for more than half my life, it made me happy to hear.


      Thanks, as always, to AM 1700 for hosting the show, and to Brian Robb for running the board.

      [If you like this episode, check out our archive of past shows at iTunes. And do please leave a review if you have the time, OK? It’s nice to know that people are listening, and, unless you call in, that’s pretty much the only way we know.]

      Posted in Art and Culture, The Saturday Six Pack, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

      Totally Awesome Fest 11 lineup announced. 56 hours of free, all-ages springtime fun to begin this Friday in Ypsilanti.

      Walking through the Water Street sculpture park yesterday, I discovered what appears to the official lineup of Totally Awesome Fest 11 nailed to our beloved art hut. As I don’t imagine that all of you can find your way out there by this weekend to copy everything down yourselves, I thought that I’d repost the contents of the declaration here.


      Assuming this isn’t a prank of some kind, everything kicks off in Ypsilanti with a history walk led by our friend Matt Siegfried. The walk begins at 4:00 PM on Water Street Commons and ends at VG Kids, where the likes of Jim Cherewick and Sex Police will be performing… And, from there, in accordance with Totally Awesome Fest custom, things get progressively more surreal. [There’s an inter-species basketball game at some point.]

      The entire entire lineup of the free, three-day, all-ages, multi-venue festival can be found below. First, though, for the uninitiated, here’s a little documentary footage shot during last year’s Totally Awesome Fest by Adam Wright and Ian Sargent… I think it should give you a pretty good sense of the vibe, dress code, quality of beardage you should expect to come in contact with, etc.

      A Totally Awesome Film from Adam Wright on Vimeo.

      And here’s the ambitious, action-packed lineup.

      FRIDAY 4/24

      4:00 p.m. MATT SIEGFRIED HISTORY OF THE RIVER WALK ending at VG Kids

      @ VG KIDS (884 RAILROAD ST.)
      5:00 p.m. DJ HEE HAW
      6:00 JIM CHEREWICK
      6:30 TANAGER
      7:30 TOTAL THEATER
      8:00 p.m. SEX POLICE

      9:00 p.m. DUANE THE BRAND NEW DOG
      9:45 MINUS 9
      10:30 VAN HOUTEN
      11:15 FANGS N TWANG
      1:30 a.m. BATTLESHAGS

      2:00 a.m. – 7:00 a.m.

      SATURDAY 4/25

      @ THE UGLY MUG (310 W. CROSS ST.)
      8:00 a.m. BEN HENDERSON
      10:00 a.m. RUSSELL DAVIS

      12:00 LISA
      12:30 BRIAN TUCKER
      1:00 LAS DROGAS
      1:30 CLARA BALMER
      3:30 MAGIC
      4:00 LADY & THE CHAMP

      @ AM1700 (PEARL ST. & WASHINGTON ST.)
      6:30 SKY THING
      7:00 ROTOKILLER

      8:00 p.m. DJ HEE HAW
      8:30 THANKS USA
      9:30 ROTOKILLER
      10:45 PRUDE BOYS
      11:30 EXHUMED CORPSE
      12:00 CREODE
      12:30 SPELLING
      1:00 a.m. DJ ONDEMAND

      2:00 a.m. – 7:00 a.m.

      SUNDAY 4/26


      @ HOUSE OF MOLE (310 MAPLE ST.)
      12:00 STRANGE BREW
      12:30 JEREMY WAUN
      1:00 IZZY JOHNSON
      1:30 BEST EXES
      2:00 SOPHIE TULIP
      2:45 DEADBEAT BEAT
      3:30 UNPHAIR
      4:30 ANNA BURCH
      6:00 RIVER SPIRIT

      @ 96 BRONCO HOUSE (416 OLIVE ST.)
      8:00 p.m. BONEHEAD
      10:15 SALT CITY
      11:45 p.m. BOBBI PALACE

      Posted in Art and Culture, The Saturday Six Pack, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

      Local Native American man alleges drunken EMU students in “redface,” calling themselves Hurons, told him to “go back to the fucking reservation”

      Earlier this past week, I received a note from a reader informing me that a local Native American man by the name of Nathan had been involved in an altercation with a number of drunk and shirtless college-aged men dressed up in “redface” and imitation Native American headdresses. When the man asked why they felt it acceptable to mock his culture, the young men, according to what I heard, told him to “go back to the fucking reservation.” They also said something to the effect of, “We’re the Hurons, not the Eagles,” referencing the fact that, several years ago, the administration of Eastern Michigan University, in response to requests by members of the Native American community, made the decision to stop referring to their sports teams as the Hurons, opting instead for the less offensive Eagles.

      While I was able to confirm with the police that an altercation between a Native American man and a number of college students did in fact take place last Saturday, I was not able to locate the man in question, despite having several people out on the street looking for him. [I didn’t want to post the story without first being able to confirm it with the man in question and identify the house/frat involved.] It looks, however, as though Detroit’s ABC affiliate was able to track the man down and find out which house was involved. Here’s their report.

      According to their interview with the man, identified by Channel 7 as Nathan Phillips, the house in question is somewhere in the vicinity of Ballard street.

      Posted in Civil Liberties, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments


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