Techno, from Germany to Detroit & black...the race is on!

When I left Bijlmer we had a goodbye party on the rooftops of Kraaiennest.
Coincidentally a Detroit DJ from Antwerpen played...
there was synchronicity in the techno/house.
Techno in Detroit is not like Dancehall in Kingston or Baile Funk in Rio de Janeiro.
The only ones HERE who cares are big eyed Danish tourists and Swedish/Dutch artists in residence. The techno stars of Detroit...Derrick May, Juan Atkins, Carl Craig, Underground Resistance, Jeff Mills, Kevin Saunderson, Drexciya, Aux 88, Detroit Grand Pubah or Richie Hawtin aka Plastikman from really VERY neighbouring Windsor in Canada, really a stones throw away (even a girls throw) can eat their Coney Island? hotdogs in Detroit in cognito.
For them in seems to be impossible to be prophets (one) in their own hometown.
Bob Marley never seemed to have had any problems skanking in Kingston
and there is this old hip hop saying "if you can't rock your own neighbourhood??!!"
"...we'll rock Berlin, Amsterdam and London instead",
seems to have been the techno godfathers answer.
If you listen to mainstream radio in the USA, it is as racially divided as ever.
There is Rock music for the honkies and Hip Hop for the blacks.
How did this happen?
How could Detroit build up such a strong scene with so little local support from its homebase.
So different from other strong musical scenes where truly new inventions are being developed
on a daily, weekly basis.
For example Baile Funk (Rio de Janeiro), Minimal (Berlin), Dubstep (London), Cumbia
(all of South America except Brazil), Kuduro (Angola), Kwaito (South Africa) and so on aso...
In an interview in local magazine BLAC, Carl Craig explains "There is so much more recognition of the contributions Detroit (Techno) has made outside of Detroit, and defenitely outside of the U.S."...Just as Eminem had to work a bit extra hard (or did he) to be accepted in Hip Hop. Race seems to have played a part in Detroit techno too, but more from blacks who didn't consider Techno or House black enough. This month there is "Black music month" on the local radio stations, "celebrating the musical contributions Blacks have given to America".
"turning poverty and misery into swagger and style". And THIS seems to be the point too, not only race confusion but also class. Many of the stars of the Techno scene came from middle class background and weren't slinging crack in the projects. "Black music month" will NOT celebrate the black musical contributions of Techno (too middleclass and white) nor Chicago House (too genderbending and gay). But Techno DOES connect to a long tradition in black music, that of a liberating Afrofuturism..."space is the place" that goes back to George Clinton and P-Funk, Sun Ra and Afrika Bambataataa.
A longing for something else and new that they ironically also shared with
the German post war experimental Kraut movement of the late 60's and early 70's.
To quote the singer of Amun Duul..."we were tired of Nazism and Germany, but we also didn't want to make Anglo Saxon music (The Beatles or Rolling Stones)...we wanted to go somewhere else...so, space seemed to be an option". These ideas brought us the experimental genious of Faust, Can, Amon Duul, Neu, La Dusseldorf AND...Kraftwerk, which later got picked up by Afrika Bambaataa. The legendary DJ in Detroit who infused the local scene with all these new experimental ideas from Germany and Europe and mixed it up with Prince and P-funk , was called "The Electrifying Mojo (Charles Johnson). He had a radio show on a radio station geared towards the African-American market, and here he managed to experiment and break down gengre, racial, class and gender barriers. Not a bad achievement for a little DJ.
So the circle is again round...from Germany to Detroit and black.
This text is dedicated to The Electrifying Mojo and all other barrier breakers!

Goat milk and engine coolant

On Friday morning, we were introduced to the daily routine of the urban farmer. Our host and fairy godmother KT Andresky is both a teacher and volunteer at the Catherine Ferguson Academy, a ground-breaking educational institution for teenage mothers. Amongst other things, the girls who study there learn about farming.
We got to feed the ducks, the rabbits, and the chickens - both the tiny baby ones and the grown-ups - but the highlight of the experience was the milking of the goats.
As soon as the gate of their enclosure was opened and the first lady released, she waddled of her own free will across the field, into the barn, and onto the milking stand. Her reward was a bucket of feed, as well of course as some blessed relief from the pressure of the enormous bulging bag of milk between her back legs.
Milking a goat is quite a strange experience. Its udders are basically small, hairy versions of human breasts; the small amount of familiarity which accompanies the total strangeness of squeezing milk out of the thing is quite disturbing. The technique of doing also takes some getting used to. My fingers were aching before the jar was full, half the time nothing came out, and at the end the goat began to get quite restless and impatient.
At the end of all this we had about five large jars of steaming milk, which the goats in turn seemed glad to be rid of. To a city-dweller like myself, there is something magical about seeing first-hand where food comes from; it makes the world seem a little less cold and systematised.

Later in the afternoon, we were driving in the centre of the city. Suddenly I noticed a red light on the dashboard which had not been illuminated before. The reason quickly became clear: the engine temperature was rising rapidly, and was soon off the scale. By the time I had found a space to park, there was smoke streaming out from under the engine cap.
Having left the engine to cool down for a while, we drove around for about ten minutes in search of a garage or at least a petrol station. But before long the temperature was once again off the scale. It was clear that we would have to fix the problem ourselves.
When we opened the engine cap, the problem seemed quite clear; there was no coolant in the reservoir. Around the next corner was a convenience store, where we were able to buy a large bottle of the stuff. With the tank topped up, we set off again, hoping that the problem had been solved.
It had not. After around ten minutes, the temperature once again began rising rapidly. By now, we were out of ideas.
Finally, we came across a petrol station. My reasoning for stopping there was that, surely, someone there would know some basic stuff about cars? This is the Motor City, for crying out loud.
But of course, the guy behind the plexiglass screen inside had no idea. With no further plan, I began reading the section “Troubleshooting: Overheating” in the Haynes manual tucked in the pocket behind the driver's seat. Nothing seemed like a likely cause.
Since we were at a petrol station anyway, we filled the van up - $80 of fuel and barely over half-full. While I was doing so, a homeless man asked me if I could given him a few dollars. I told him that this really wasn't the right time to be asking.
As we now stood staring at the engine, he approached us once again. “You got engine trouble?” he asked. Uh-huh. “I worked fifteen years in the auto industry. Lemme have a look at it.” he said. It didn't seem like the time to say no.
Turned out that it is not sufficient to fill the coolant reservoir: if the cooling system is really empty, you must also fill the radiator directly. Obvious perhaps if you know it, not at all if you don't.
So, about a quarter of an hour and maybe ten litres of water later, and the engine was running like a dream. I thanked our saviour heartily, and asked him if I could give him some money for his troubles - after first apologising for the knock-back the first time. He was happy to accept a donation.
His name is John. I asked him why he was homeless when he clearly has some useful skills. The reason he gave me was unsettling: he has developed arthritis, and so can no longer do heavy manual work - such as work in the motor trade. End of career, no safety net - and no medical insurance. He could be talking bullshit, but I had no reason to disbelieve him.
He pointed to the cross on the roof of a church a little further up on the other side of the road.
“See that cross?” he said, “that cross is for me.”
This is a hard place if you are unlucky.

I guess that these two experiences illustrate my impressions of this place so far: it is on the one hand a place of endless space, endless possibilities, and hands-on, practical solutions. On the other, it seems tragically dysfunctional, unable to implement the simplest things. Every day is fascinating.


US example

As we all know by now, Dutch parliament want the market to steer society.
'For your convenience we are providing the following gratuity calculations'
For the culture policy the State secretary of the Netherlands uses the American system as example. In the near future this is what we need to write down first in everything that is written about and through art.


Two short lists

Some of the ideas I had are not true.

People don't seem any louder and more assertive than back home. Perhaps it's just a survival method employed by Americans overseas. Or perhaps I am already used to it and am doing the same.
Not everyone is overweight. Although a few are.

Some of the ideas I had are true.

I don't think I've ever walked - or otherwise moved around under my own power - so little in my adult life as during this last week. The car is the star.
Everything is bigger here, but perhaps not quite as big as I had expected. I guess people will tend to talk in hyperbole when describing visits to faraway places, as a form to amplification to counteract the attenuation of distance and time. But you'll need to remember to cancel it out when visiting these places for yourself.
There sure are a lot of American flags around. I generally don't like flag-flying (or any display of nationalistic pride), although from an aesthetic point of view there is something quite beautiful about them, especially since the seem to fit so well with the landscape, as indispensable to the scene as the road signs, fast food joints, liquor stores and pick-up trucks. It's no accident that so many countries have chosen flags of red, white, and blue; my own has only the last two, which means our flag tends to get lost against the sky. The American sky is big, but the stars and stripes can deal with it.
I have been struck in some other parts of the world by the feeling that everything is new, as if history is in general an inconvenience. In Detroit, there's very little that isn't old: cars, buildings, roads, furniture, and a good deal of people seem to have been slowly aged, like cheese or whisky, so that all the new paint and sharp edges are gone. It gives the place a soft feeling, something very analogue, a cracked old recording which resists all forms of digitisation. And no-one moves around very fast in these parts.


back to reality

Theatre Bizarre tells the story of the possibilities in Detroit; have a idea, do it, act, realize it end some of the time you end up with a great initiative. This one ended up being a great Halloween theme park that is only used once a year, 2200 people show up and it is as big as a small inner city park....... Since we are coming here in Detroit the atmosphere is developing and changing and it seems it is starting to get more realistic and down to earth. "The honeymoon is over" as they say over here.


boy band photo II

We arrived back in Detroit!!!!
Jonas Ohlsson and Chris Meighan are the two new artists we are injecting in our network (which is well extended after Nikos and Joao stay last summer, thanks guys!!!).
We immediately had our 'boy band' photo taken. This to illustrate and put a picture next to the event announcement of thursday evening 16.06.2011 @ 2:1 Gallery in which we will introduce ourselves once more and give Jonas and Chris the change to introduce themselves and gain info from the audience in understanding the detroit situation