Milk and honey on the other side

The big day has come and gone. I had some early worries about the weather, since thunderstorms had been predicted, and part of my performance was to take place outdoors. In the end, the sun stayed shining on into the evening. The skies finally opened with a dramatic show of lightning, rain, and even a rainbow against a dark red sky. But by this time, everyone was safely situated in the Temple Bar with a beer and something to eat.
I was very pleased with how my two-part performance turned out, although I'm not sure if people knew quite what to make of it. The visual arts here appear to be dominated by the art object; in this context, it is perhaps a little difficult to place my own way of working: part theatre, part performance art, part artist's lecture. But I myself at least am satisfied with it, which is as important as what anyone else thinks of it. In due course, the edited video version will appear online.
The performance consisted of two parts, which took place in John K. King's book store and Cass Park respectively. To solve the logistical problem of moving people from one to the other in a reasonably short period of time, I had wanted to hire a bus and driver. Despite extensive efforts by KT to locate one at a reasonable price, this proved to be more difficult and expensive than expected - until finally we were able to secure the services of Jean Wilson and her blue biodiesel monster. Affordable, green, and much more fun!

After the performance, we set about feeding everyone in the Temple with hummus, rice, salad, chips, and various other delicious things. Jonas had turned the Temple into an exhibition space with an extensive collection of drawings and sculptures in his own inimitable style. A nice trick was the separate installations in the gents and ladies toilets - one show for the girls, and a different one for the boys. Afterwards Jonas, a.k.a. DJ Lonely, played a storming DJ set as always.

And so we are reaching the end of our time in Detroit. This week, with the pressures of the end show behind us, we have had time to do some things which need to be done before leaving: including, as we did yesterday, visiting Canada. It's only a bridge crossing away on the other side of the Detroit River, but in other respects it is a long way away. And this isn't Europe - there's a proper border crossing with guards, guns, and (probably) dogs.
We set off in bright sunshine across the Ambassador Bridge, an imposing structure towering over the Detroit River. Curiously, we did not need to present ourselves to US Customs on the way out, only to Canadian Customs on the way in. After a series of pointless questions about what we were doing in the US, why we were coming to Canada, and who's van we were driving, we were allowed to proceed.
At first glance, there are few great differences between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan. The streets are cleaner, there are very few abandoned buildings, and everything just seems to be in a slightly better state of repair. There is also clearly much greater ethnic diversity - which displayed itself not least in the astounding variety of restaurants. It was quite a strange experience to stand on the waterfront and to stare across at downtown Detroit, which has become so familiar and which was now in another country.

In some respects, Canada is a little bit closer to home. Speed limits are in km/h, there's some British influence in the spelling (Honour vs. Honor), and Queen Elizabeth is still on the coins.
And, without too much America-bashing, the evidence is plain to see of the effects of a political system which places greater emphasis on social welfare and solidarity. The United States, if it is possible to talk of the country as one whole (which is questionable), has an almost dogmatic attachment to free market economics and the right and responsibility of every citizen to fend for themselves. This has lead to some startling economic success stories, but also to some horrific economic and social failures. One of these is Detroit.
That said, I want to reiterate the warm feelings that I have already expressed for this city. And after around four hours in Canada - neat, tidy, ever-so-polite - I was surprisingly happy to be back in the grimy old Motor City.

But not before the ordeal of re-entering the United States. In contrast to the superficial enquiries on the Canadian side, we were subjected to more in-depth questioning this time. We were also made to sit in a waiting room while a team of border guards dismantled the internal panels of our Dodge Ram conversion van with the aid of power tools, in the hope presumably of finding something incriminating.
Friendly they were not, but they at least put the van back together, and - more importantly - allowed us back into the country. In two days time, we will be leaving it for good.


"I, European person, solemnly swear..."

"I, European person, solemnly swear" (and so on...).

We are doing our final preparations for the Art & Rave party tomorrow.
Sound check yesterday went well, even though it was hard to get it right.
But I am convinced we can clean the ears of the Detroitians, with the sound we now have...



Why one marshmallow is sometimes enough

I am not able to keep up with Jonas' speed and quantity of writing, but I will try and at least write something meaningful in my own, more compact style...
The work continues. I have finished writing my half-hour, three thousand word performance text, and am now busy memorising it (or since we are in the USA, that should be memorizing). This is a very tedious process, although thankfully one that I am quite experienced with now.
Following my experiments last week with the bicycle wheel, I am now building an more advanced camera dolly. So far the results are great - a small test can be seen below.

The piece I am working on focusses on some themes related to the reason for our residency here: growth, decay, progress and success (and to what extent these are subjective concepts), and the idea of “enough” - that is to say, the state of being in which you cease to desire more.
As an example of the sort of accepted wisdom which I am attempting to be critical of can be seen in the following quote:
“In one US experiment, researchers put five-year-olds in a room with a marshmallow. The children were told that if it [sic] could wait 15 minutes without touching it, they would be offered a second marshmallow. Despite the inducement, the vast majority of the children ate it before the time limit was up.“ - www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14412025
The point which intrigues me is: why are they assuming that two marshmallows are better than one? Why is more always better? Can they not see that these children - apart from being impatient (although who would really want to spend 15 minutes in a room staring at a marshmallow?) - were perhaps quite satisfied with only one? How strange it is that adults cannot see this.
This may seem like quite an odd thing to be mentioning in relation to this residency in Detroit - but in fact it completely gets to the heart of what has been preoccupying me the whole time here. The life which people are able to carve out here despite the odds, against the grain of what seems rational with respect to accepted values, is clear evidence of the cracks in the system which chooses to condemn Detroit.
“Detroit has to be deprived of its reality so that everyone else can feel better about theirs.” - Herron, J. - AfterCulture: Detroit and the Humiliation of History
Or in other words, it is necessary for the city to be written off as a failure so that inhabitants of more traditional, “successful” cities can go on believing that the old system is working. Recent events are beginning to show that this self-deception cannot continue for long.
No-one can deny that, by all normal measures, Detroit is a total failure as a city. There is no getting away from the fact that life is hard for a great many people here, with many practical difficulties. On a functional level, many things which are normally taken for granted as a part of city life simply do not work.
But people stay here - and new people come here - for a reason. Politicians like to use evocative words like “hope” and “opportunity” to explain the mentality of Detroit, but I would say that the reasons are more concrete and down-to-earth than that: the unique atmosphere of Detroit is proof that another life is possible which does not involve a big-name chain store on every corner, ever-increasing house prices, gentrification, superficial image makeovers (although there have been plenty attempts), or a new car (or back home, bakfiets) in front of every house. There are so many initiatives which I have seen here, and in each case I been painfully aware of the countless reasons why it could not happen back home - lack of space, regulation, real-estate prices, the wagging finger of the law. Who is really the success and who is the failure? That is the nagging question which will be, I think, the lasting reminder of my time in this city.


End performances, exhibition, and party at the Temple Bar!

On Saturday August 13th, Yes Farm residents Chris Meighan and Jonas Ohlsson will say goodbye to Detroit in style. Chris and Jonas have been spending the last two months on the East Side courtesy of the art organization Expodium, from Utrecht in the Netherlands.
The program begins with a once-only performance by Chris at a secret location. Bus will depart for the first part from the Temple Bar on Cass Avenue at 5.30pm. Places are limited, so come on time - the bus won't wait!
If you miss it, don't worry - part II will take place at 6.30pm in Cass Park, with plenty of space for everyone.
After that, we will all return to the Temple Bar for free food at 8pm, drawings by Jonas, and finally a party with DJ Lonely and Lauren Hood rockin' the house till 2am!
B there or B...RnB!!!

The usual DJ Lonely ASS FOOD of...
(good name, I will use that next time for a party)

Baile Funk, Ghetto Tech, Detroit Techno, sleazy Chicago house, Kuduro, Kwaito, Dancehall, Euro trash, Miami Bass, Moombahton, Baltimore Club, Rave, Nu Disco, Indie, Dubstep, Digital Cumbia, Tech House and so on... Until they throw us out!

With thanks to Expodium, the Yes Farm, Mondriaan Stichting, Fonds BKVB, CAID, and all the many interesting and enterprising people we have met in Detroit (and elsewhere) during the last few months, who have been so patient with and helpful to us - we're gonna miss you!


Femke Halsema to the rescue...

There was an interesting article in Volkskrant where Femke Halsema was stepping in for
the usual TV reviewer (don't know his name) and reviewed the TV programs of the day, she apologized for
not being so knowledgeable about TV as him and wrote a nice review of BBC's Top Gear show.
It was a good review, but nothing spectacular.

But what made me think was this apology for not knowing so much about TV as the specialist.
That REALLY opened up my eyes, according to Maurice de Hond Dutch people watch on average
3 hours of TV a day, how come we are not ALL TV specialists.

The reason I remembered this was that I would always tell my art students, that it is VERY
important to create an addiction with your art practice, so that you get soooo sucked into the proccess,
that you automatically go to your studio or laptop or whatever.

I basically believe that love and passion is something that you can create in yourself for art or music
(maybe not for persons), but if you don't love art it is usually because you have been misinformed or not informed at all
and that is my basic working hypothesis. Because with music and art..."to know me (Art & Music) is to love me"...
I say this because I speak from my OWN experiences, I didn't always love art and music, you WORK on it.
To GET you need to GIVE!!!

But back to the Femke Halsema argument...
I always used to tell my students
"If you can create that addiction to your own practice you will walk around with the energy of a speed freak
and then AUTOMATICALLY you will get good at what you do"... and
I use this argument because it worked for ME...I am not a very discplined person.
If I HAVE to do something I don't like very much, I can keep it up 3 weeks maximum.

BUT...I am a very PASSIONATE person, so if I fall in love with collecting records, I will travel
all over the world to find the record I am looking for, or with art, when I GET INTO something,
you can't drag me out with 4 elephants, from the OUTSIDE, it might look like I am a very disciplined art guy,
but in fact I am totally NOT ( I am generally very lazy),
it's just that I am having the time of my life, thereby SIDESTEPPING discipline.
I guess this story tells more about me, than about my students maybe,
But I can only give them what worked for ME and hope that there are some nuggets
of wisdom in there that someone else also can relate to...

BUT what was missing in this theory was the TV argument....

There are tons of things we do daily...eating, shitting, showering, watching TV, that we just DO NOT get any better at.
It doesn't take much care, passion or involvement from us either, it is done on auto pilot!
We have managed to cultivate a certain addiction, and we spend hours, weeks, years and lives doing it,
but there is just NO learning curve involved, no development or improvement.

Just DOING something is not good enough, if it is not connected to some kind of focus or research.

I would also go so far as to say that this is where depressions can come into our lives, if there is nothing challenging
happening, if it is all just a BIG slur.
If we can live our lives on auto pilot it get's stagnant.

And I guess this is also the reason people take cooking classes or study Spanish (or go to Rietveld in some cases)
or what ever. To wake up the brain from the slur of the everyday life.

In ALL of us there is this cooconing gene, that wants to make life simpler and more controllable,
but if it gets TOO controlled, we get ourselves in trouble again...
But this is another debate!

You can watch tons of TV and still it will remain something that does not take you further, or develops your taste or persona in any way.

Of course THIS is not a revolutionary idea, that TV might make you slow, but it makes me
understand certain principles of the mind , that was missing in my theory before.

I think the key danger here is relaxation. If you use something for relaxation, there is very little development,
of course you also have a lot of people using painting for relaxation, the Bob Ross school of thought,
and I don't want to diss people who uses TV or painting for relaxation.
But there is a time for relaxation and there is a time for ACTION!

But I now see what the problem is with that attitude, also in MY case...I need to be aware.
Often when I sit and play with my synths (or facebook), it is pure relaxation, and again there is nothing wrong with relaxation
But I don't think that that is how you make great art or music.
You need to watch out for the relaxation and make sure the focus is also there,
otherwise it is just a surrogate for watching bad TV.

There is of course also good TV, so I use the idea of TV here in my argument for the more
mind numbing qualities that I think we are all familiar with.

So what I am really talking about here is NOT painting or TV per se (or what ever). It is not TV in itself.
It is the abuse of TV, just like you can enjoy a fine glass of beer OR abuse 23 bottles of wine.

You need to find an art practice that keeps you on your toes and keeps challenging yourself, just being in the studio everyday,
is in that sense not enough, so I thank Femke Halsema for giving me this missing link in my ever expanding theory about how to become more creative...

PS...I totally believe that you CAN become a sophisticated TV specialist (like the Volkskrant reviewer)
who have researched the history of TV and can name
all the BBC presentators and write essays on HBO and so on...But the interesting fact here IS....wait for it...

Just watching TV (or paint) passively 3, 4 even 11 hours a day won't take you there...and THIS fact is very interesting.

Especially in these times of right wing populism and the STRONG winds of anti intellectualism that
are now blowing in our new Holland.

By this I mean the sentiments of people like Halbe Zijlstra "culture should make you feel good"
(not a correct quote word by word, but in spirit).

For non Dutch people...Zijlstra is the new Dutch minister of culture (and science & education)!


Yes I am serious, it is NOT a joke!
He IS the new minister of culture ( we Dutch also laugh...or we chuckle ,
outright laughter is made impossible by the small pieces of shame and BIG chunks of fear in out throats and hearts).

And anti Intellectualism has ALWAYS been the order of the day in America, in Detroit it is no different,
maybe even stronger here.
And it is one of the LEAST attractive features of USA, a country who I otherwise really love and respect.

Will publish another text related to populism vs intellectualism/elitism later...

Clarifications for non Dutch people...
Femke Halsema used to be the leader of the Green Party in Holland.
Maurice de Hond...has an institute that does polling reports on opinions and habits of the Dutch.
Volkskrant is the New York Times of Holland.
Rietveld is the best art academy in the country BA and MA (via Sandberg). where...
unlike some academies in the USA you do NOT pay 36 000 $ a year, but around 4 000 € ( less for EU members).


Kama Sutra theory vs actually FUCKING!!!

I totally agree with this statement and general attitude of my brotherman Chris in his blog below....

"And if you don't make things, you don't understand shit about what life is all about. Well, that's how I see it, at least."

I am also making drawings again, and it feels so GOOD!
Some Rietveld student said that another teacher had said (don't know who)

"There is no art without some kind of craft or skill connected to it"
Even thinking has a system connected to it that you can "get better" at.

But to involve your BODY and sweat into your practise is SOOOO important, there is so much knowledge & wisdom hidden in there.

The Americans talk about "muscle memory", meaning the skills to drive cars or play tennis, or bike around. For you to get good at those things, knowledge HAS to move from the brain to the muscles.

It is something that interests me enormously and is often why I think purely conceptual art is often missing a certain type of (body) wisdom.


By the way...is Arnon Grunberg a good writer, isn't he just a good thinker, or is that something else...I guess it is?
I guess you could be a good speaker (Obama). It doesn't automatically make you a good writer. Can you trust DJs who can't or even worse WON"T dance???!!! I don't think so.

Could you become a good lover by just studying Kama Sutra theory?

"Performing the Social" is a especially apt title to this text!
Is that blues code speak for "the old in & out"?

PS we didn't write these label post tags, they were here when we came...but I like them!

Detroit Techno...The Horses Mouth

Why listen to my childish ramblings...on and on...about Techno when you can go straight to the Pope.
Why indeed?...I give you Dan Sicko's website


"narrating the evolution of Techno music"

He is the guy who wrote the book
Techno Rebels: The Renegades of Electronic Funk

AND he is a Detroit native and a REAL Techno specialist & writer, so what more do you want?

-you want fries with that???!!
-AND a milkshake???!!!

"{"":":":";'P{p[pKKKlklK|\''\'\\|\\++ (=swearwords)

YOU UNGRATEFUL BASTARD....just wait until I can lay my hands on you!!!

DJ Lonely a Chicago Footwork/Juke mix...

DJ Lonely mix of Chicago Footwork by Blodfet & DJ Lonely

You HAVE to check this out...totally insane!!! seriously out there!!!!!!

1.DJ Spinn-2020
3.DJ Rashad-Madnezz
4.Traxman-Movelt Jungletronic
5.DJ Lil Rome-I go Hard
6.Tha Pope-Jungle Juke
7.DJ Diamond-Ready Motherfucka
8.Traxman-Compute Funk
9.DJ Rashad & DJ Spinn-Space Juke
10. Traxman-Get Down Lil Booty
11. DJ Rashad & DJ Spinn-Footcrab Remix
12. DJ Rashad-Jule Dat Juke Dat
13. Chi Boogie-Move Back
14. Dude n Nem-Watch My Feet
15. Chrissy Muderbot ft. DJ Spinn-Bussin Down
16. DJ Pillsbury-Bedrock (Juke Remix)

To buy music ( I still do, to support starving artists ) or get info, check...



Detroit Techno...an overview of the underground

Here is a 62.25 minute mix of classic Detroit Techno hits,mixed on the fly and with panache by
FUCK's finest...DJ Lonely!


1. Electrifying Mojo Intro...
2. Model 500-No UFO's
3. Cybotron-Alleys of Your Mind
4. Plastikman-Plastique
5. Carl Craig-Void 23
6. Aux 88-Electronic Robots
7. DJ Assault-Nigga Music
8. DJ Godfather-OOO Im Tellin
9. Detroit Grand Pubah-After School Special
10.Bileebob-Call Me
11.Underground Resistance-Jupiter Jazz
12.Drexciya-Soul of the Sea

The Electrifying Mojo was a legendary radio DJ in Detroit
who dominated the airwaves in the late 1970's to mid 80's
His experimental, open minded show exposed Detroit to,
Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, George Clinton & P-Funk, Prince,
the B-52's and many others and is credited by many of the Detroit legends
as THE main reason for them getting inspiration to start making Techno...

Prince would grant MOJO interviews when nobody else could get one.
In short a VERY respected and loved DJ by artist nationwide.

We hear him open this set...doing an live introduction at a techno concert of "the Detroit Underground" to a ROAAAARING reception of his many, many thankful fans!
Finishing off with his radio signature classic!

"If you're nearing the end of your rope, remember to hold on...
tie a knot...and don't let go!
Just keep hanging...cause there ain't nobody bad, like you bad!

May the Funk be with you for always!!!

DJ Lonely (
Jonas Ohlsson)


The hour of judgement approaches

At last, things are coming together! Following from my last post, I now have permission to hold a performance at John K. King's store. This will form the first part of a two-part piece, the second of which will (probably) take place in Cass Park, also on the West Side of Detroit. Watch this space for more details...

Unfortunately, it will only be possible for a small number of people to be present during the performance, due to lack of space. Because of this, and because I want to make something which lasts somewhat longer than the remaining period of our time in Detroit, I also intend making a video work - of which the performance will form a small part.

This work is provisionally entitled Michigan left, after the the strange traffic arrangement of that name which is (almost) unique to this state. The basis of it is: to go left, you gotta keep going, turn left twice, go back the way you came, and then finally right. For me, this over-complicated and mixed up way of doing something simple spoke right to the heart. And of course, like most over-complicated and mixed up things, there's a good reason for it in the end (as usual, Wikipedia will tell you more). And it agrees to a great extent with how I have felt about my (almost) eight weeks in Detroit.

So I've been busy with two things - preparing the performance, and filming as many shots as I can for the film - since it will not be so easy to fill in any missing ones when I return to the Netherlands.
And to satisfy my desire to get busy with tools and bits of metal, I've been building the thing below - it's a sort of bricolage camera dolly (thanks for the photo Ben!).
I can't tell you how good it feels to be doing something practical, after all the weeks of meeting, thinking, drinking, and absorbing. In the end, artists are supposed to make things. And if you don't make things, you don't understand shit about what life is all about. Well, that's how I see it, at least.

But all this doesn't mean that I've stopped thinking about what it means to be here. Continuing from what I have written earlier about what exactly the point is of our being here, I would like to turn to the issues faced once you have accepted that you are here for a good reason.

There are practical difficulties, analytical difficulties, as well as moral difficulties. The first of these needs no explanation - anyone who has spent any time in a foreign country will know what I mean.
The second, the problems of analysis and observation, stem from the fact of your own otherness and newness, and that also of the place in which you find yourself. In the first instance, there is the difficulty of distinguishing that which is typical from that which is special - for if you are seeing everything for the first time, how are you supposed to know what happens every day and what is unusual? Whilst cycling in Poland a few years ago, I wrote about this too. Time will eventually erase this difficulty, which is in part the advantage of us spending an entire summer here. But of course, who is to say that this season is typical, or this year? All the time, I find myself making guesses and piecing together clues about what is really happening, what is really characteristic, and what are in fact ephemeral aberrations.
There are other problems, too. As I stand in line at the gas station, or waiting for the lights to change, I am torn between finding everything around me endlessly fascinating, or else so banal that I feel nothing but despair. What am I to think of the packet of Twinkies before me, or the traffic light swinging in the breeze? Are these things iconic, immortal, telling, poetic in the extreme, shining examples of what it is to be human, American, alive, and finite? Or are they simply objects, commodities, as meaningless as words in a dead language? I don't know, I really don't, and this constant switching between one and the other, right before my eyes, makes it harder than it already was to form any sort of concrete opinion about what I see.
And to the moral difficulties - these at least are easier to explain. How long must you reside somewhere before you have the right to criticise it? I have dealt with this question before in the Netherlands - where, incidentally, I feel totally within my rights to say anything I feel like (and where, incidentally, I must pay the same taxes as everyone else, behave as a responsible citizen, and respect the law, but may not vote).
But here, it still seems too new, too recent a development in my life. There's stuff here I just don't get, where I want to scream “why can't you just be like us?”, however much I know that I cannot and I should not do so. Other things I can be much more positive about. And of course, two months since leaving home, I am doubtless forgetting a bunch of annoying Dutch/Scottish/European habits too. I've also mentioned this point before, shortly before returning from China. And oh, that was a hard one.


The Political Techno of Underground Resistance (Detroit Techno part 3).

Hello People!

The Detroit techno research is going great. I have seen a lot of concerts,Juan Atkins (twice),
Moodyman (twice) Underground Resistance, DJ Al Ester, Matthew Dear and a bunch of small unknown acts at a 2 day picnic that UR organized for the benefits of "backpacks for school children" and another festival they organized in Highland park.
I have been to a sleazy after party in an industrial warehouse
(wasn't as good as it might sound, some straight 4 to the floor DJs from the suburbs).
But it all adds up to greater knowledge of the situation in the city and the history of techno.

I have gone to a lecture given by the label manager of UR, Cornelius Harris and had a good talk with him afterwards. And I have gotten a guided tour of Underground Resistance's HQ.
I have seen the very cute little Techno museum above their record store Submerge.

Cornelius Harris, label manager of Underground Resistance, tells the history of Detroit Techno in their own little
"Techno Museum" above their record store Submerge.

In the glass display Box containing "inspirations" there was of course a bunch of Kraftwerk stuff, as expected...
but just as much Yellow Magic Orchestra records, (Kraftwerk but with MORE humour from Tokyo),
which was interesting.

They also had another glass box with all their old drummachines and samplers.
Yet another with posters & memorabilia from their first tours abroad to Europe.
Holland was on the list.

I got some signed UR 12 inches and bought a T-shirt, and basically lived out all my girly
little Justin Bieber fan dreams (but with Underground Resistance).
I was also asked to sign the names of Baba Electronica and DJ Lonely on the walls of Submerge...next to Richie Hawtin, Sven Väth and DJ Hell and many others.
A proud moment for the DJs of FUCK!

Submerge is a closed record store and you only get in by making appointments in advance, they say that the people who really WANTS to come to Submerge will find it anyway.
It is an interesting approach to business, but maybe understandable if you know that they sell 70% of their records overseas, Europe and Asia mainly, and some to South America.

Shook hands with "Mad" Mike Banks of UR, (an imposing figure for sure with a very natural charisma) who with his booming moral anger and political awareness has made UR the Public Enemy of Techno and while we were there Juan Atkins!!!???
(the originator and founding father of Techno in the Early 80's)
knocked on the office door while Cornelius Harris was showing us videos of police violence in Holland (By the way Underground Resistance is boycotting NL for the moment, since one of their friends in Holland, who helps organize their tours, got beaten up by the police in Den Haag during the culture cut demonstrations). Juan Atkins knocked on the door and came in and sat down. A very gentle, almost shy person, with tiny skinny legs sticking out under his shorts. Very polite and unassuming. Outside URs HQ his silver Hummer was parked, which was kind of a contrast to his very shy, introspective, quiet persona.


"Mad" Mike Banks OF Underground Resistance is pissed off at the European Techno world and feels that some of the enormous amounts of money circulating in Europe
(think Sensation white and black in Arena for instance) should somehow trickle back to Detroit in the form of Technological help for Detroit's inner city kids, the next generation of Techno stars. He feels that Europe took Techno and ran with it and nothing trickles back to "the motherland", I don't know how realistic that is.

One of the questions I had for myself concerning Underground Resistance
(who in Europe (I sometimes get the feeling) sells more T-shirts than records).
Was...just HOW political can you GET with instrumental techno music?
But they heroically built their own ideal world thru their record label, networks,
studios, record shop aso...
And in the often sleazy world of dance and the music industry as a whole they
have managed to set their OWN standards and lived by their own rules.
And when you see their commitment to their community, they sponsor little leagues baseball teams for inner city kids (just like Snoop Dogg by the way), and how they get all their mega stars DJ buddies to play for free in Detroit (Both Juan Atkins, UR and Moodyman could get paid much more playing in Europe, or moving to Europe). Also the faceless appraoch of UR, who usually DJs with masks, makes sense in a Techno world more and more focused on Star DJs, like Sven Väth, Richie Hawtin and Ricardo Villalobos who cruise from Ibiza to Miami to London fetching HUGE fees along the way. The local dedication of UR and their dedication to their own city makes them something else. There is also something very endearing about certain levels of their amateurism, for example in their cute little UR Techno Museum. It is NOT the high tech madness of Richie Hawtin or even Jeff Mills (founder of Underground Resistance together with Mad Mike Banks). It is something else. Their political involvement also stretches to Indian tribes in the amazonas who they support with video cameras to film and document the abuse they get from lumber companies there.

So behind the cool look of UR, there is something very genuinely angry, commited, aware and dedicated. I am attracted to the realness & grimness of their message (and image I have to admit) plus the fact that their "from the roots up" approach is so refreshing, which takes them into a league of their own and sets them apart from much of the so called political art of the vanilla left, that I ridiculed in my other blog
"My (THE) problem of community art...and why William Burroughs eat Superflex any day of the week". (see blog below).

All in all it has been a great period for me and for my increased understanding of this city...
Also I have spent a lot of time researching what there is to research on the internet about Detroit Techno and the city of Detroit....See the links in my other blog below.

A BOOK.....

Dan Sicko's book
"Techno Rebels...the renegades of electronic funk"
is a must read for anyone interested in Techno and
the city of Detroit in general. Very well written.
Dan is a Detroit native who in his book remembers the high school parties that nurtured the scene and gives enormous insights. He is a huge fan of Italo/Euro disco and connects Detroit Techno to this often forgotten source of inspiration.

According to Dan Sicko's book, there was an absolute craze in Detroit about Europe
(much like our whigger fascination with gangsta Rap, but reversed).
All the clubs had Italian names, and everyone was wearing fake Italian suits and trying to look suave, cosmopolitan and European.
Some of the HUGE Euro/Italo hits in Detroits early highschool parties were.
Kano-I'm ready
Telex-Moskow Diskow
Alexander Robotnick-Problemes D'amour
As well as Kraftwerk and YMO of course, that the lyrics were often in French or German
(that none of them could understand) was seen as a chic, cosmopolitan bonus!

The Detroit Techno scene has become so big now worldwide and the influx of money and attention creates a lot of tensions locally.
There is jealousy and infighting between the various scenes and generations.

The Ghetto Tech people (DJ Assault, Starsky & Clutch & DJ Godfather among others), feels that they don't get the respect they deserve from the old school garde, who often helps programme the annual Movement festival which is Detroits one and only festival with a large international audience. They also feel that their sleazy brand of Techno is more working class and bluecolor than the more intellectual approach of the legends, and that THAT in itself is seen as a problem.
A bit the same debate as you have on Jamaica, roots reggae vs. dancehall.

Daft Punk's favorite DJ, DJ Funk (left) from Chicago, next to Detroit's finest Ghetto Tech DJ...DJ ASSault

Usually the Ghetto Tech DJs perform mid day,and the late night spots are reserved for the legends, and even the legends fight among each other who should finish the night off.
Derrick May or Juan Atkins? Carl Craig, Kevin Saunderson or Blake Baxter? Plastikman, Eddie "Flashin" Fowlkes or Jeff Mills?
and with Underground Resistance, Suburban Knight, Stacey Pullen, Moodyman, Kenny Larkin
on the reserve bench you have a DEEEEEP team.
So of course tensions may arise, as the picking order and hierarchy has to be settled.

There is nothing minimal about Ghetto Tech!!!

There is also some resentment towards "white boy" Plastikman,
aka Richie Hawtin's world wide success.
Is Richie the Elvis or Eminem of Techno, coming to steal a culture from the black Techno Detroitians to make buckloads of money? Of course, releasing a record called "the future sound of Detroit" when you live in Windsor, Canada doesn't help your cause much.
Even though it is only a 5 minute bridge ride away.
But probably one bridge too far in the eyes of many local Detroit Techno purists.

And there is a sense that Richie was given chances and opportunities that the others did not get. On the other hand, just as with Eminem, there is no one, black or white, young or old in the Detroit Techno scene doubting Richie Hawtin's qualities. His stuff IS amazing and you could maybe argue that he injected much needed innovation and depth into a somewhat stagnant scene.
If you listen to Plastikmans early records you realize, this is something else! This is a totally brand new chapter, MILES above and ahead the (at times) overly Kraftwerk inspired sounds of Aux 88 for instance.

I myself had a somewhat complicated relationship with Detroit Techno.
Since I grew up listening to Human League, Heaven 17, OMD, Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, YMO, Cabaret Voltaire, Clock DVA and so on...
I at first failed to understand what was NEW with this so called "Techno music".

But as time grew I could see the developments and innovations.
That much of it was instrumental for instance, was new...NO lyrics?!
It had a more direct link to black funk, Cabaret Voltaire, and others would sometimes be called "white electro funk" and Detroit Techno had a very direct relationship to the dancefloor, whereas with Industrial or Synth music, that was more a happy bi effect in some cases, but in most cases totally not. It was not "made for the dancefloor" in the same sense, even though you could sometimes consider dancing to it.
Techno was also born out of a DJ culture. Most Detroit acts has at one time or another DJ'd, either before they started making their own music or afterwards.
Depeche Mode and Cabaret Voltaire were BANDS and none of them even thought of DJing as a culture in itself.
That most Detroit Techno artists are NOT in bands, but do things on their own, as DJs and/or artists are also a difference.

Techno is also interesting because the mental idea traffic between USA and Europe (and to some extent Japan) has been so heavy...back and forth, back and forth.
Maybe you could argue that Rock and the Rolling Stones who also borrowed from the blues had some inter atlantic traffic, but probably not as much back and forth as Techno.
Of course also aided by MP3 culture, internet and cheaper air tickets (relatively speaking).

If we compare it to Hip Hop or Reggae, the idea traffic has been VERY dense indeed,to the extent that you have no idea anymore what or where is the centre of the Techno universe.
So it's an extremely international movement. Helped of course by the fact that it is mainly instrumental, so you bypass the debate "should we rap in Dutch or broken English".
It is freed from the language hierarchy...Techno as the esperanto of music.

And even though Detroit has been a place that has had is heavy, heavy share of race riots and racism, and there might be some resentment towards Richie Hawtin from less fortunate (and in some cases, just less talented) Detroit Techno acts. Techno (and House) is unique in its relative color blindness when it comes to race and music. Especially compared to Hip Hop, Country, Soul, Funk, Reggae or Punk music, Maybe Ska music could be an equally racially mixed music style, but I don't know enough about it.

You could argue that Hip Hop is ASLO very international and racially mixed, but then we sidestep the fact that everyone knows who's the boss and originator in Hip Hop.
African Americans acts like KRS One, Public Enemy or NWA! And I know from up close in East L.A. how hard the Chicano rap scene had to work to get (a tiny little bit of respect) and no matter how good and talented the Bijlmer rappers will get, it will take some time before they can outdo their American buddies in influence and respect worldwide. From an Amercian rap perspective it will never be more than a curiosity what their French compatriots can do with "their" music, rap.
So the hierarchy in Hip Hop is much more set. Even people in the UK (who speak decent English) could not get much influence or respect in Hip Hop until they just gave up and invented their own version of it and called it Dubstep, Drum n Bass or Jungle.

Last weekend Underground Resistance organized a small 2 day Techno picnic for the benefit of "backpacks for school children". The Picnic culture is an event that I don't think we even have in Europe, everyone brings there own food and drink and set up their little tents to protect them from the sun, people BBQ and sit in their fold out chairs, it is free and there is nothing to buy??!! As I noticed in Chicago at the House music picnic there, no beer!!??
It is a mixture of a family picnic (which we DO have in Europe) and dancevalley.It was a small intimate event no more than 80 people and everyone hangs around and dances to each others DJ sets, Juan Atkins in the background nodding his royal approval to Moodyman's housy set. Juan Atkins (the originator of Techno) DJ'd on Saturday and did a really good set, MUCH better than two weeks ago in Highland Park. Even squeezed in some obsure Michael Jackson track, if I 'm not totally mistaken (didn't recognize the song, but for the voice). Juan also came out on day two to check out the competition. Moodyman is the better DJ to be frank, and so is DJ Al Ester (who is phenomenal!!!). But of course if Juan DJs, the younger DJs stand behind him in awe, trying to check out his LPs and giving him high fives. At Moodymans concert I counted 45 dancing people, and at Juan Atkins Saturday gig there was not many more and this is of course mindblowing for us Europeans, imagine a free Underground Resistance, Juan Atkins, Moodyman, Suburban Knights and Al Ester concert on a warm summer night in Vondelpark, I think more than 45 people would show up, some of the other "family" picnics in the park had more people. But this is of course the charm of seeing Techno in its birthplace, Detroit, the intimacy. DJ Al Ester swinging like a madman to Juan's set, while Underground Resistance gives their approval from from the sideline, and while Detroit Techno Militia is watching from the back. It is a cosy event, for free...

( Juan Atkins aka "the originator", Cybertron, Model 500 and Infiniti DJ's on Underground Resistance "Backpacks for school children benefit" picnic event on Belle Isle in Detroit, July 30 2011).

Detroit is a very warm place!

PS...I post a lot of links to Detroit Techno music on youtube on my facebook page.
Befriend me and you have access to a pretty vast library of handpicked, filtered diamonds.

you will find me, Jonas Ohlsson here...


BLUES PICNIC every sunday in our hood

PMS...here are some photos from our neighbourhood Blues picnic that happens every Sunday.
All the black motorcycle gangs show up and it is always very cozy, as with almost every event in Downtown Detroit, we are one of the very few white people showing up.

What is nice with this event, is to see all the old people getting down, I think the average age of this Blues picnic audience is around 60, but no bingo for these mo'fo's!!! It's songs about sex and rock n roll, sung in VERY badly disguised code, (rock n roll of course being one code word used for "the old in and out") And the old grand Mamas get up (out of their wheelchairs) and GET DOWN....
Griiiiiiiiinding the old Grandpa's!!!

From Detroit, Jonas Ohlsson reporting thanks to Expodium in Utrecht...