Getting to the bottom of the EMU “redface” incident, talking Detroit rock with photographer Doug Coombe, and the music of J.T. Garlfield… on this weekend’s edition of the Saturday Six Pack

For some inexplicable reason, Brian Robb, the station manager at AM 1700, has been telling people that I plan to just lock the studio doors, unplug the phones, and play with my new puppy for the duration of this Saturday’s show, oblivious to my responsibilities as a host. He took to Facebook this morning warning people that, if they were to tune in, they’d likely just hear me “scratching (my) dog’s ears” and saying things like, “Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy? You are. You’re a good boy.” Well, as much as I love the idea, my new dog, Ollie, will not be in the studio with me this weekend, as she’s yet to have all of her shots. [And, no, I do not believe vaccinations cause canine autism.] While Ollie won’t be in the studio, however, I do suspect her name will come up. Or, more to the point, I think I’ll be asking Mr. Robb how it is that he came to know that we’ve got a new puppy living in our house, as I don’t think I mentioned her during last week’s show. So, if you’d like to hear me accuse Mr. Robb of spying on my family, be sure to tune in this Saturday at 6:00 PM. [To see Ollie for yourself, just scroll down to the bottom of this post.]

And, for what it’s worth, I won’t be alone in the studio this Saturday. No, we’ve got a full slate of guests lined up. We’ll be talking with Nathan Phillips, the local man who was just recently in the news after having confronted a group of drunken EMU students in “redface” about their racism, only to be told to “go back to the fucking reservation”. We’ll find out from Nathan, who is Native American, what happened, what kind of response he’s gotten from the community at large in the wake of the media coverage, and what he plans to do next. And, after we talk with Nathan, we’ll be joined by Amber Morseau and Michelle Lietz of EMU’s Native American Student Organization (NASO), who will tell us both about their own personal experiences on the EMU campus, and the conversations they’ve had with University leaders since the off-campus altercation noted above.

And, as if that weren’t enough, we’ll also be joined by legendary Detroit rock photographer Doug Coombe, Ypsilanti historian Matt Siegfried, and musician J.T. Garlfield.

And you can be damn sure that I’ll be scratching all of their ears.

So, if you’re just sitting around your apartment this Saturday night with nothing to do, tune in. Or, better yet, call in and join the conversation. It should be interesting.


[note: I do this show in large part because I don’t get to draw on people’s butts in my real, everyday life. Speaking of which, if you’d like to have your girdle signed, there will be a line forming outside the studio this Saturday night at 8:00 PM. I can’t promise I’ll be able to sign everyone’s ass, but I’ll keep at it until my hand cramps up.]


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.

And, lastly, this is our new dog, Ollie, sleeping alongside our old dog, Freeda. Ollie is a rescue from Detroit who we acquired through the awesome folks at Last Day Dog Rescue. She’s the first puppy we’ve ever had, and she’s a handful, but we already love her to death. And, thankfully, so does Freeda… Oh, and for what it’s worth, I will be bringing the dogs into the station someday soon for an all-canine edition of the show… Stay tuned for details.


Posted in Art and Culture, Civil Liberties, The Saturday Six Pack, Uncategorized, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

OK, let’s talk about the Baltimore riots


Three people have written to me over the past 24 hours requesting that I start a thread on the riots that are currently raging in Baltimore. This post is for them. If not for their notes, I don’t think I would have mentioned it here. It’s not that I don’t care that Freddy Gray was killed in police custody, or that the city has since erupted in violent protest. I do. I just don’t know what I could possibly say that hasn’t already been said… Everyone’s already quoted Martin Luther King about riots being “the language of the unheard.” And everyone’s already drawn the comparison with 1968, when riots last raged in Baltimore. [At that time, as you might recall, President Johnson said, “What did you expect? I don’t know why we’re so surprised. When you put your foot on a man’s neck and hold him down for three hundred years, and then you let him up, what’s he going to do? He’s going to knock your block off.”] From my perspective, there really isn’t much more to say… Violence is terrible, but, in some instances, it’s understandable.

As long as we’ve broached the subject, though, here’s another interesting perspective to consider. Baltimore Oriels COO John Angelos just recently took to Twitter to provide context for the riots. Over the past four decades, Angelos said, “(the) American political elite have shipped middle class and working class jobs away from Baltimore and cities and towns around the U.S. to third-world dictatorships like China and others, plunged tens of millions of good, hard-working Americans into economic devastation, and then followed that action around the nation by diminishing every American’s civil rights protections in order to control an unfairly impoverished population living under an ever-declining standard of living and suffering at the butt end of an ever-more militarized and aggressive surveillance state.” It may be something of a oversimplification, as it doesn’t touch at all on race, or, for that matter, the culture of violence within the Baltimore police department that set off these most recent riots, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that events like these are more likely to happen in places where the middle class is more quickly disappearing, and where the opportunities to escape poverty are becoming more scarce by the day.

As for whether or not rioting is a legitimate and effective strategy for bringing about societal change, I’m somewhat conflicted. On one hand, I would agree that riots can be an efficient means of bringing attention to an issue and forcing dialogue. Furthermore, I don’t disagree that such outbursts can in fact healthy for our democracy. On the other hand, however, I believe it’s also true that riots can be used to discredit movements, divert attention away from the problems at hand, and justify the use of even more brutal police tactics. I suspect, as is often the case, the truth is somewhere in between these two extremes. [Limited property destruction without loss of life.] I also think, for what it’s worth, that it’s probably time for these current riots to end, or at least gravitate back toward non-violent protest, before more people get hurt. [If there was a time that rioting made strategic sense, I suspect that time has now passed in Baltimore.]

Here, with a local appeal to Baltimore’s rioters, is David Simon, creator of The Wire, and outspoken critic of an America that has been “disassembling (its) middle class slowly by degrees”.

“But now — in this moment — the anger and the selfishness and the brutality of those claiming the right to violence in Freddie Gray’s name needs to cease,” Simon said yesterday on his website. “There was real power and potential in the peaceful protests that spoke in Mr. Gray’s name initially, and there was real unity at his homegoing today. But this, now, in the streets, is an affront to that man’s memory and a [diminution] of the absolute moral lesson that underlies his unnecessary death. If you can’t seek redress and demand reform without a brick in your hand, you risk losing this moment for all of us in Baltimore. Turn around. Go home. Please.”

As for where we go from here, I’m not sure…

I just know that, if something meaningful isn’t done to curb police violence, increase educational opportunities for the poor, and give people hope, it’s going to be a hot and violent summer. And powder kegs will continue to ignite.

[This post was brought to you by Baltimore’s Michael Jackson.]

update: Closer to home, there will be a March for Justice in Ann Arbor on May 1, followed by a benefit show at the Neutral Zone for the family of Aura Rosser, who was shot and killed by the Ann Arbor Police on November 9, 2014.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Other, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

The episode where Totally Awesome Fest totally takes over… The Saturday Six Pack #14

Every year, in late April, a free, all-ages, multi-venue festival of weirdness called Totally Awesome Fest descends upon the sleepy little midwestern hamlet of Ypsilanti. There’s no escape from it. No one is immune. Like it or not, you will experience beauty and magic. It permeates every element of village life. Walking through town, one might encounter anything, from a magical cart appearing out of nowhere to dispense fee hot dogs, to an inter-species basketball game at a local park. Bands, it seems, are playing in every backyard. And weirdness lurks around every corner. And, if you were listening to the last episode of the Saturday Six Pack, you would have heard a tiny little fragment of that beautiful weirdness.

It wasn’t easy to capture and broadcast the essence of Totally Awesome Fest. We had to set a trap. We took the door of the station off its hinges, removed all signs of human existence… with the exception of a ten-pound pile of sugar… and waited. We obscured the tables and chairs behind heaps of twigs and leaves. We draped moss over our microphones. We created a magical glade. And we waited. I dressed like a fawn and pranced quietly in a corner. Brian, our engineer, played audio of small woodland creatures frolicking. And we settled in for what we thought might be a long wait. Within minutes, though, bearded men and young women with flowers in their hair began tentatively sticking their noses into the studio and sniffing around. And, within twenty minutes, they were fully in the room, surrounding the pile of sugar, and licking at it greedily. Within another ten minutes, some of them began dragging in instruments.

We had them.

If you missed the live broadcast, you can now hear the episode in its entirety 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.

The first folks you’ll hear in these field recordings of ours are the sound artists known as Sky Thing, who had traveled all the way from Indiana. [If you’d like to jump right ahead to the beginning of their 20-minute soundscape, it starts at the 39-minute mark.] Here are photos of the two men, oblivious to our presence, twisting knobs and coaxing sound from twisted bits of metal and the like.



And, once the young men of Sky Think had curled up and fallen off to sleep, we were lucky enough to capture the band Rotokiller, who came in to perform an intense collection of songs about organic gardening and skateboarding. [The Rototiller set, which begins at the the 1:10-mark, includes their hits Cult Evader, Skate Fast or Die Trying, O.P.C. (Oil Power Control), Food, Half Pipe, Skate Punk, Sex, Keep it Goin’ and Chat Conversation End.] Here they are in their natural element.





And, then, once the smoke of burning metal had cleared, Andrew Mitchell II came along to trick his fellow Totally Awesome Fest-goers into putting on headphones, and singing along with their favorite songs, to the amusement of everyone within earshot. Here’s Andy discussing his invention – akioke – and why it is that he felt the world needed something more mortifying than karaoke. [If you just want to listen to akioke, jump to 1:27.]


And, before all for that… before we threw our doors open to the insanity of Totally Awesome Fest… we talked for a while with writer/critic Patrick Dunn, who had, just days earlier, been given the task of writing a story about the Saturday Six Pack for Concentrate Media. Here he is telling us why, in his opinion, the Saturday Six Pack is the most important cultural development in Michigan since the birth of the White Panther Party.


It was a weird show, but there was a lot to like about it. In addition to all of the stuff noted above, Pete Larson, who was just on the show last week, sent in what could possibly be his best song yet from Kenya. And, at some point, our favorite neighborhood troll called in to accuse the men of Sky Thing of copyright infringement. And, I didn’t mention it earlier, but my favorite moment of the entire show happened when, during my interview with Rotokiller, I mentioned that I just happened to have kale seeds in my pocket, which really made them happy. [note: The show ends at 2:06, but I guess we forgot to stop recording, because this podcast is over two and a half hours long. So, if you don’t like Totally Awesome Fest, or my voice, just stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with some great songs by the likes of Sonic Youth.]


Thanks, as always, to AM 1700 for hosting the show, Brian Robb for running the board, and Kate de Fuccio for taking photos. Thanks also to Dave Menzo, who appeared on the show as a guest a few weeks ago, for bring the PA so that all the folks hanging around outside the studio could hear what was happening inside… And, here, to give you a sense of what the scene was like, are some of the folks who were outside.


[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 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Having proven to the Koch brothers of the world that he can be trusted to do their bidding, Rick Snyder sets his sights on the Presidency

At the end of Rick Snyder’s first term as Governor of Michigan, it was announced that Mike Finney would be stepping down as president and CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and taking a new role within the Snyder administration. His new title, according to Snyder, would be Senior Adviser for Economic Growth, and, in that role, Finney would be focusing more on initiatives with “social impact.” Behind the scenes, though, it was rumored in Ann Arbor that Finney, in this new position, would be spending more time traveling the country, testing the waters for a Snyder presidential bid. While Snyder played down any presidential aspirations that he might have, saying that he was more interested in fixing Michigan’s roads than running for higher office, it was pretty much common knowledge that, through Finney and others, he was trying to determine whether or not he could expect to compete for campaign dollars against the likes of Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush. And, according to news coming out of Las Vegas this weekend, it would seem the answer might be yes.

According to a report earlier today in The Guardian, Snyder spent this last Friday mingling with conservative donors in Las Vegas at a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, where he gave many the impression that he had already made the decision to run. Former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, who was at the meeting, told reporters, “I met with Rick Snyder yesterday. He’s running. He’s running.”


Snyder, for what it’s worth, has yet to come out and say definitively that he’s made a decision one way or the other. Here’s a clip from The Guardian:

…Snyder, who was recently re-elected for a second term, is a business-oriented and comparatively socially moderate Republican. A former president and chairman of the board of the computer company Gateway, he won a Republican state primary in 2010 as a first-time candidate and underdog who ran as “One Tough Nerd”. He now uses the phrase as his Twitter handle.

In office, Snyder has pushed legislation to put Detroit under emergency bankruptcy management and signed a controversial “right to work” bill that greatly restricted the ability of unions in Michigan to collect dues from members.

Jarrod Agen, a spokesman for Snyder, told the Guardian in an email: “Governor Snyder is traveling the country to tell the remarkable Michigan comeback story. The country can learn from the historic reinvention of Michigan and the governor is helping change the perception of the state nationally.”

Agen went on to say that “the feedback to Gov[ernor] Snyder at the RJC was excellent and created a lot of buzz. The governor indicated that he’s watching the presidential race closely and hoping a common sense problem solver emerges, but he has not made any decisions about entering the field at this time.”

A Republican consultant familiar with Michigan politics told the Guardian: “If he does run for president, Snyder has a record with serious appeal. He’s an effective governor and excellent campaigner.”

The operative pointed to Snyder’s 2010 win in a crowded primary field as proof of the appeal of a man not known for his charisma…

It’s possible that Snyder has no intention to run. Maybe he just enjoys having people write about him in the national press, wondering whether or not he might throw his “tough nerd” hat into the ring. And, why not? What have you got to lose if you’re Rick Snyder? It’s nice to be fawned over. And it doesn’t cost much to travel around the United States and flirt with rich Republicans, making their old mouths water as you tell them how you crippled unions, built more for-profit charter schools than any other governor, and passed some of the most restrictive reproductive health care laws in the country. “If I could pass right-to-work in the state where unions were born,” I can imagine him saying, “just think of what I could do as President.”

Personally, I think that he wants to run. I think he’d like the adulation, and the prospect of people referring to him as “the savior of Michigan,” even if that wouldn’t be the least bit accurate. With that said, though, I think there are two big things standing in his way. First, I don’t get the sense that his wife is the kind of person who would want to be out there, shaking hands on the campaign trail, which is kind of expected these days. And, second, I don’t think he probably has the stomach for it. I just can’t see him accepting the level of scrutiny that comes along with a serious presidential bid… It’s one thing to have a few Detroit Free Press reporters calling on your former Gateway employees, and asking about the outsourcing of jobs to China. It’s another, though, to have the New York Times and Washington Post up your ass 24/7, questioning every decision you’ve ever made… Furthermore, I can’t picture him willingly walking out onto a stage to debate the finer points of foreign policy. [Do you remember how hard he fought to keep from debating during his gubernatorial races?]

With all of that said, though, I think that he might actually do it. Aside from the fact that Michigan is an abysmal mess, he’s well positioned for it. [Today’s Washington Post refers to him both as an “anti-politician,” and “a former businessman who plays by unusual rules”, which, one would think, would poll extremely well with the Republican electorate.] And I can see how big donors like the Koch brothers might gravitate toward him, given that he was able to pass so-called “right to work” legislation in Michigan, where others, like Scott Walker, had failed. [Snyder did more to further the conservative agenda as a faux-moderate, than even the party’s most radical operatives.] I hate to say it, but I think that he could be the perfect Republican stealth candidate. While I’m sure that the men who fund the Republican party would rather have an ideologue in office, I think they know that a Tea Party candidate won’t win the general election. And, given that, I can see them embracing a man like Snyder who, although he calls himself a moderate, is easily led and willing to do what he has to in order to get tax cuts passed for the wealthy, which is what truly motivates him. Sure, there’s the issue of him not having any charisma, but maybe they can get people to accept it as part of the “tough nerd” package. And, with enough money, they can work miracles. [I can picture the Kid Rock video announcing the campaign now.]

Here’s the bottom line. If he runs, and if he can raise enough money to stay competitive, I think it could come down to him and Jeb Bush, and, at that point, I think that he’ll probably try to strike a deal to become VP, which is probably what he’s really after. It’ll get him in the White House without subjecting him and his family to too much scrutiny, and it’ll put him in position to run at a later date, if he chooses to.

God help us.

Posted in Michigan, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

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


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