Stay inside, Ypsilanti

By all appearances, we’re under martial law right now in Ypsilanti. I’m not sure what’s up, but the roads are all blocked and sirens are blaring. Judging from what I’m reading on social media, and the thumping bass beneath the wail of the sirens, I think we’ve been attacked by the gay. At least that’s what it looks like, based on photos like this one of what appear to be gay activists standing on Ypsilanti’s street corners, aggressively hurling rainbows into the faces of bewildered breeders.

Screen shot 2015-06-27 at 9.40.28 AM

I hate to say it, but it would appear that the Republicans were right. Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision really was the beginning of the end. God help us all.

[In case it’s not clear, the above post is about the Color Run. If the gay have been able to weaponize rainbows, I’m not aware of it. Also, I suspect they’re all still in bed right now, having gay partied late into the night.]

Posted in Observations, Other, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Succumbing to the gay agenda, protecting the Huron River, and drinking Dirty Mooneys… on tomorrow’s Saturday Six Pack


Thanks to today’s decision by the Supreme Court, I’m predicting this this week’s episode of The Saturday Six Pack will be both incredibly gay and alarmingly chaotic… I’ve put the word out to folks that I’ll have champagne at the studio from 7:30 to 8:30 if anyone would like to stop by for a toast and to share a few words about what today’s decision on marriage equality means to them, and I’m not sure what to expect. In addition to others, I’m told we should expect visits from Beth Bashert and Eric Wozniak, as well as calls from folks like performance artist Holly Hughes and Motor Trend’s Frank Marcus. If you have something that you’d like to share on the air, feel free to drop by and take a turn on the mic… Like I said, I think it’ll be super chaotic, as people will be coming and going, but I’m also hoping that it’ll be kind of beautiful. [My hope is that this hour of the show will serve as kind of audio time capsule that can be listened to by later generations interested in knowing what today’s decision meant to people in our little corner of the world.]

But we won’t start out drunk and unstructured.

Our first guest during the 6:00 hour will be Laura Rubin from the Huron River Watershed Council. She and I will be talking about the health of the Huron River, and the ongoing work her organization is doing to both protect and restore the river that runs through our downtown. [The Huron River Watershed Council, southeast Michigan’s oldest environmental organization dedicated to river protection, is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this month.]

And, at 6:30 we’ll welcome our friends Patrick Elkins and Aimee Adams into the studio to perform a 6-minute radio drama, which, as I understand it, will either be about 1) a couple who stumbles into a time portal while vandalizing the Water Street Sculpture Park only to find themselves becoming the prisoners of ottoman-shaped humanoids a million years in the future, 2) the election of a brilliant, lovable pygmy goat as Governor of Michigan, 3) a community theater production of the television series Knight Rider, or 4) a baker who, forced against his will to bake a gay wedding cake, cries into the batter, causing a chemical reaction that gives gay people super powers… Whatever they decide to do, I’m sure The Six Minute Smoke Break with Patrick Elkins and Aimee Adams will be magical. [And, yes, that’s what they’re calling their new radio drama troupe.]

Then, after the radio drama, we’ll be joined by longtime local Hedger Breed, who will be sharing a few stories of his adventures in and around our beloved city.

Oh, and at some point, our favorite local bar manager Brigid Mooney will be dropping by the studio with the fixin’s for her signature drink, The Dirty Mooney.

And all of this is free on AM 1700 come this Saturday evening.

If you’d like to tell your friends and neighbors about the program, feel free to share the Facebook event listing. Or, better yet, print out a few copies of the poster above, glue them to the sides of your children and pets, and set them loose to run around Ypsi Arbor.


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’re doing time in… 734.217.8624… and call us between 6:00 and 8:00 this Saturday evening. If we don’t get at least one call per show, we feel really bad about ourselves.

Posted in The Saturday Six Pack, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Taking on the New York literary establishment with Michael Jackman, celebrating Fathers Day with Jim Roll, and making life better for our most vulnerable neighbors with Keta Cowan… on episode 20 of The Saturday Six Pack


I enjoyed the hell out of last Saturday night’s episode, and I’d like to thank everyone who had a hand in it. If you missed the live broadcast, and you’d like to check it out, you can either download the podcast by way of iTunes or stream it on Soundcloud. Or, if you want, you can just scroll down to end of this post, where you’ll find it embedded. Following are a couple of photos, courtesy of AM 1700 staff historian Kate de Fuccio, along with a few brief notes. Hopefully, when taken together, they’ll give you a pretty good sense of what we covered during this, our 20th broadcast from downtown Ypsilanti… But really, though, you should just listen.

Our first guest was Keta Cowan, the head of Synod Community Services, who came in to talk about the work being done through the Washtenaw ID Project to make government-issued photo identification available to all residents of Washtenaw County regardless of their immigration status, whether they might be homeless, etc., thereby allowing them to do things that many of us take for granted, like check out books from the local library, or open a bank account. Now, just two weeks week since the official launch of the initiative, Cowan told us that 435 IDs had already been issued, far exceeding their expectations. [The County had estimated that they would issue a total of 500 the first year.]

Cowan and I talked about the impetus behind the initiative, the hard-fought campaign to make it a reality, and the work now being done to convince local banks to accept the Washtenaw ID as a primary form of identification. We talked about how critical it is that people be treated with dignity, and made to feel as though they are valued members of our community, regardless of their visa status. We talked about the fact that, to date, there has been no significant pushback against the initiative, and how, to some extent, that can be attributed to the work done by the likes of of Synod, the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights, the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County, the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners and the Washtenaw Country Sheriff’s Department to take their time and build a strong coalition over three year’s time. And we discussed what the next steps might be, now that we’ve successfully become the first county in the country to successfully offer an ID.

Here’s Cowan explaining that the new ID isn’t just for undocumented workers, but for anyone in the community. [According to a study done recently in New York, 11% of people in the United States with lawful visa status still do not have valid identification for any number of reasons.]


[The Washtenaw ID is available to all citizens of Washtenaw County who can demonstrate residence by providing multiple forms of documentation, each of which is assigned a certain number of points. The objective is to accumulate 300 points, at which time you can purchase an ID for $25. Individuals who agree to take a short survey, however, are refunded $10 immediately. Financial aid is also available for those who cannot afford the $15 cost thanks for a grant from the Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation.]

At the 32-minute mark, we played a new song from Dr. Peter Larson, our only listener in Kenya. This week’s song, if I’m mistaken, is an electric version of an acoustic song Dr. Larson submitted earlier this year called Starin’ out the Window. I believe this version was recorded in a studio somewhere in Japan.

At the 35-minute mark, we welcomed Michael Jackman into the studio. Jackman, the longest serving member of the Detroit Metro Times editorial staff, came in to talk about his favorite Hamtramck bars, his history as a founding member of the Underground Literary Alliance (ULA), and the recent death of Detroit radio host Alan Almond, among other things.

We started with a discussion of his early life in Detroit, drawing comics for the zine Beef Rag at 15, and helping produce punk segments for the syndicated music program Back Porch Video.

Here’s Jackman telling us how, after graduating from high school, he made the decision to leave Michigan and head to New York, where he fell in with a bunch of other literary lowlifes more interested in living interesting, authentic lives than kissing ass, and created the ULA, an organization dedicated to subverting the literary status quo. [A 2001 Village Voice article about the ULA describes Jackman as “a reluctant hipster (lives in Williamsburg, yet professes nerdiness).” It would take a bit of research, but I’m wondering if it might be possible that that Jackman was the first person identified as a Williamsburg hipster by the Village Voice.]


[The first wave of Brooklyn hipsters, says Jackman, lived cheap because they didn’t have money. Those who followed them, though, just adopted the aesthetic as a lifestyle.]

We talked about Jackman’s travel zine Inspector 18, and the role he played at Zine World, the zine review magazine launched by Pathetic Life publisher Doug Holland in the wake of the announcement that Factsheet Five planned to cease operation. We talked at length about Holland and what we both knew of the man, who, despite his relatively high profile within the world of the underground press, somehow successfully managed to keep his true identity a secret. Jackman and I talked about the possibility of a documentary about the man we knew as Doug Holland, the efforts he took to keep his true identity a secret, and his abrupt disappearance from the world he inhabited. [Jackman joined Zine World in 1996, and took over as the magazine’s news editor in 1997.]

Through the ULA, Jackman and his associates drew attention to what they saw as the hollow, inauthentic work of celebrated writers like Rick Moody and Dave Eggers. They disrupted their readings. They called out the foundations that funded them. They made demands. “Put populists on funding panels,” they said. “Publish about real life; support our starving real writers; admit that today’s system ruins art.” [Jackman would tell us that Moody lives on a private island off the coast of Connecticut.]

So, we talked about the war that had been waged by the ULA, and what members of the group had thought about the fact that McSweeney’s – the journal published by Dave Eggars – had received a “best zine” award. “Dave Eggers and his little publishing empire pretend to offer an alternative,” Jackman said at the time, “but what they really offer is the same old literary insiders repackaged as outsiders. It’s mostly irrelevance and irreverence with some of the trappings of zine style.”

We talked a lot about authenticity.

Speaking of having lived a full and authentic life, Jackman told us about how he was kicked out of the Army for refusing to get out of his pajamas and comply with orders. If it had happened during war time, he was told, he could have been shot. As it wasn’t during war time, though, he was put on a bus back to Detroit. We also talked about his dropping out of film school, and the film school loans which he’s still paying 22 years later. That, he said, was the true education.

And we talked about recently deceased Detroit DJ Alan Almond and the surreal, sexy jazz patter he churned out nightly on his program Pillow Talk. Jackman, who had called into the show and talked with Almond as a 12 year old, even did an impression for us.

[If you still want more Jackman, check out The Block that Blight Forgot and River of Release in the Detroit Metro Times. The first is a story about one man’s crusade to save his block of Detroit from the fate of those around it. The second is about those people who, every year, choose to end their lives in the Detroit River.]

At 1:20, local historian Matt Siegfried , joined up to pick up the People’s History of Ypsilanti where we left off during his last visit, at the beginning of the 1850s. We discussed the Fugitive Slave Act, the growth of Ypsilanti’s black population, and the way the underground railroad actually worked in practice. [There weren’t fixed routes. It was more a network of sympathetic individuals who assisted as necessary.] Here’s Matt telling us the story of Isaac Berry, a runaway slave on his way to the Canadian border, who had the good fortune to encounter Ypsilanti’s black population, who gave him money, outfitted him with carpet slippers, and told him how to get across the border.


And, of course, we talked about recent events in South Carolina and fact that the Confederate flag still flies over their statehouse. [Siegfried wanted everyone to consider the fact that the stain of slavery goes deeper than just the Confederate flag. As he said, slavery is part of our landscape. Our streets are named after slaveholders.]

At 1:36, I ask our engineer, Brian Robb, to play a song by the group Television. He told me that he would, and then, in a blatant display of disrespect, he played the Pixies instead. [If this had happened during war time, by the way, he could have been killed.]

At 1:39, Jim Roll, the owner of Backseat Productions, came in to talk about the current state of the music business, his love of bicycles and lycra, and his thoughts about Fathers Day. We talked about his early years as a celebrated quarterback in Chicago, and how, after signing on to play in college, he decided that he didn’t want to do it. Here’s Roll telling us how he didn’t go to a single football practice after having been recruited by a Chicago college.


We marked the fifth anniversary of the closing of the Elbow Room with a beer, and discussed the pros and cons of no longer having a formal space dedicated to live music. [Jim persuaded me that house shows are more important to a scene than a dedicated, for-profit bar.] And we talked about the fact that, several years ago, he collaborated with a few of the men singled out by the ULA as enemies of meaningful literature. [He worked on a record with Rick Moody and Dennis Johnson and released it through McSweeney’s.] He even played a song that he wrote with Dennis Johnson. [Thankfully Jackman was out of the studio by then.] Oh, and we also talked about his irrational dislike of Donald Sutherland.


Thanks, as always, to AM 1700 for hosting the show, Brian Robb for running the board and keeping the bills paid, and Kate de Fuccio for documenting everything that happens. [All the photos above come courtesy of Kate.]

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 Awesome Foundation, The Saturday Six Pack, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Why does Jerry Seinfeld want bad drivers relocated to Ypsilanti?

While I don’t dislike Jerry Seinfeld, I’m not exactly a fan of his web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. I feel, however, as though I need to at least mention that, on an upcoming episode, he apparently mentions Ypsilanti by name, thereby joining a short list of celebrities including Elvis Costello, who, for whatever inexplicable reason, have felt compelled to namecheck our odd, little city over the past several years. [And, yes, he mispronounces it.] If you should happen to know how it came to pass that Seinfeld mentioned Ypsilanti instead of, say, Embarrass, Minnesota, or Hygiene, Colorado, please let me know… Here’s the clip in question.

“I do not like the way you are driving. Please give me your license and move to Ypsilanti, Michigan.” – Jerry Seinfeld

My hope is that he just chose to single us out because our city has an interesting sounding name, or that it was the result of one last, desperate Pure Michigan ad campaign buy, but you never know. Maybe something happened to him at some point in his life to make him really believe that all bad drivers should be banished to Ypsilanti. Or, worse yet, maybe this is all part of the Jade Helm rollout. Maybe Ypsilanti has been designated as the location of the federal Bad Driver Detention Facility, and this is how they’ve chosen to break the news to us. Maybe, over the course of the next several weeks, we’ll see other pop culture icons jokingly suggesting that bad drivers be sent to Ypsilanti, that people who slow down grocery store lines be sent to Embarrass, Minnesota, that people who wear too much makeup be sent to Hygiene, Colorado, etc. Maybe, my friends, this is how the real world Hunger Games begin.

Posted in Art and Culture, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

He was a big freak

One of the best things about Fathers Day each year is that Linette invariably breaks out a mixed tape that she made for me several years ago that contains the Betty Davis song He was a Big Freak. It’s the only time I ever hear the song, and it always makes me incredibly happy. I’m tempted to listen to it more often, but I really love the fact that, every year, it just comes out of nowhere and catches me completely by surprise.

Here, for those of you who have never heard the album They Say I’m Different, is Davis’s unintended the Fathers Day anthem.

One last thing… If you’re looking for a good Fathers Day tradition, you’re welcome to borrow this one. There’s nothing better than being served overdone scrambled eggs by your kids while Betty Davis screams “He was a big freak… I used to beat him with a turquoise chain” in the background. Trust me on this… It may not be the most traditional of Fathers Day anthems, but it beats Cats in the Cradle.

Posted in Mark's Life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments


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