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Motor City is burning: A gorgeous look at the thriving queer vogueing scene in Detroit
09:52 am



Family portrait
The seminal queer documentary Paris is Burning famously captured the underground NYC voguing scene while still keeping an eye on the violence and poverty its subjects endured—a difficult balance to strike. Filmmaker Mollie Mills managed the same delicate storytelling, and captures something really intimate in her little mini-doc, Vogue, Detroit. What’s startling is the similarities between the two documentaries, which have 600 miles and nearly 30 years between them.

It’s encouraging to watch progress like the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage and the mass cultural shift regarding queer people, but the majority of the country is still pretty homophobic, and the voguers Mills found have formed de facto families, just like the NYC voguers of Paris is Burning. Some things have changed, of course—Mills travels to an LGBTQ youth center, who have designated resources specifically for vogueing, but even in a post-Madonna world, vogueing is a thriving scene for a working class queer subculture, an escapist artistic outlet in the midst of urban decline.

And of course, the dancing is amazing.

Via Dazed

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
A NSFW look inside a decaying porn theater that has seen better days
09:46 am


adult entainment
The Park Theater

A look inside the decaying adult theater, The Park in Detroit
A look inside the decaying adult theater, the Park, in Detroit.
Detroit’s Park Theater (also known as the “Lincoln Park Theater”) has had a rather long and diverse history. When it originally opened in 1925 in Lincoln City, Detroit, it was an elegant Art Deco style movie theater. In the late 1960s it was briefly converted into a live music venue where Lincoln Park natives the MC5 often played for next to nothing to large crowds. Then, sometime in the early 1980s, it became an adult theater that operated (much to the displeasure of many Lincoln Park residents) for nearly 30 years.

When the theater closed in 2008, the owners (who wanted to develop the building as a part of a multi-million-dollar strip club operation), donated the Park as part of a settlement agreement. The Park has since been converted into high-end lofts and retail space. However, before it was restored, the once opulent theater fell victim to decay and vandalism. The images that follow are perhaps not for the faint of heart, especially since the intrepid photographer used an infrared camera to pick up some of the “sticky mess” that was left behind after the Park closed its smutty doors. Hopefully he or she was up to date on their tetanus shot. That said, I still feel like it’s necessary to say that the photos you are about to see are NSFW.

If these walls could talk, eh? They’d be screaming “WASH ME!”
UPDATE: A kind commenter has corrected my error noting that this adult theater was not located in Detroit, but in Vancouver. Photo credit: Michael Mann
The Park Theater back in its heyday, sometime in the late 1930s
The once beautiful Park Theater back in its heyday, sometime in the late 1930s.
The projector room at The Park Theater
The projector room at the Park Theater.
The urinals at The Park Theater
More after the jump, including those ‘sticky’ infrared film shots…

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The MC5 kick out the jams next to a busy Detroit highway in 1970
08:40 am



MC5, early 1970s
The MC5, early 1970s
On July 19th, 1970 the MC5 performed at Detroit’s Tartar Field at Wayne State University (alma mater of MC5 bassist Michael Davis, (RIP) and drummer Dennis Thompson), while cars roared by on the I-94 highway behind them, unable to drown out the sonic boom coming from the Michigan natives at the top of their game.
An ad for the MC5's second record, 1970s, Back in the USA
An ad for “Back in the USA”
According to a 2014 interview in Detroit Rock n Roll Magazine with MC5 drummer Dennis Thompson, the band had just returned from a small, rural farming town in Michigan called Hamburg, where they had recorded their second album, 1970’s Back In The USA, produced by Rolling Stone journalist (and future Bruce Springsteen manager) Jon Landau. Thompson was not “into” Landau at all, and would refer to him a “fascist.” He was also deeply concerned that the 23-year-old didn’t have enough industry experience for the job.

But perhaps Thompson’s initial negativity toward Landau had more to do with the fact that he forbid the use of drugs and booze (the band were huge fans of LSD and were avid pot smokers), and even had them on a strict diet and exercise routine while they were in Hamburg. In a nutshell, Landau had the MC5 doing the exact opposite of what every other band (or most young people for that matter) in the 70s were doing. And the result is what many fans consider to be the band’s best outing, despite the fact that it was somewhat of a commercial failure when it was released.
Jon Landau and Wayne Kramer, 1970
Jon Landau (right) and Wayne Kramer

This footage captures the band performing “Looking at You” from Back in the USA, for the very first time live, as well as “Ramblin’ Rose,” (during which Wayne Kramer does a pretty hot imitation of a James Brown-style shuffle), and “Kick Out the Jams” from their first album, Kick Out the Jams. The looks on the faces of the awestruck crowd is one of the many highlights from this ten-minute piece of fuzzed-out rock and roll history.

Set your speakers to stun!

The MC5 performing songs from 1969’s “Kick Out the Jams”, and their 1970 album “Back in The USA” at Wayne State University’s Tartar Field, July 19th, 1970

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘Motor City’s Burning’: The incendiary 60’s Detroit music scene from Motown to the Stooges

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Did Black Sabbath lift the opening riff from ‘Paranoid’?
09:18 am


Black Sabbath
Half Life

Black Sabbath circa 1970
Half-Life? Never heard of ‘em.

A friend recently shared some vintage garage-rock goodness with me from the Saginaw, Michigan band, Half-Life and man, it knocked me for a loop. On June 27, 1969 Half-Life recorded the track “Get Down” at GM Studios in East Detroit (the same studio that the MC5 recorded Back in the USA).

The minute I hit the play button, I was immediately floored by the opening riff in “Get Down” and its remarkable resemblance to Tony Iommi’s fuzzed-out riff on “Paranoid.” Even the opening percussion is eerily similar to the Sabbath classic. Recorded in only one take, when the band started shopping “Get Down” around to local Detroit radio stations they were told it had no commercial viability. Half-Life would later drop the song from its
Half Life, Saginaw, Michigan. Circa 1969
Half-Life, a garage band from Saginaw, Michigan. Circa 1969

So this could mean one of two things. Either Half-Life are actually time bandits of the most awesome kind or Black Sabbath somehow caught wind of “Get Down” from 3,652 miles away (the approximate distance between Detroit, Michigan and Birmingham UK), allowing Iommi to claim the sweet lick for his own. Not only do both scenarios bear the markings of a lunatic conspiracy theorist, the first one has no real basis in reality. No matter much I wish that it did. Another interesting fact to add to this weird mix is that “Paranoid” almost didn’t make it onto the record and the track came came to be in a somewhat similar way that “Get Down” did—according to Sabbath bassist, Geezer Butler:

The whole story of how we created that song is funny. It became the most popular song from the album, but it wasn’t something we thought much of when we wrote it. In fact, we finished the record and then the producer told us we needed one more song to finish up the album, so we just came up with “Paranoid” on the spot. Tony [Iommi] just played this riff and we all went along with it. We didn’t think anything of it.

In all seriousness, the riffy similarities between “Get Down” and “Paranoid” are rather uncanny, but I’ll leave you to judge that with your own ears. Just press play below. Now do I believe that Tony Iommi, one of the most influential guitarists of all time lifted the epic riff for “Paranoid” from a little known garage-band from Saginaw? Of course not, and neither do you. However, if you dig “Get Down” (and I strongly suspect you will), I recommend that you pick up the compilation A-Square (Of Course): The Story of Michigan’s Legendary A-Square Records which features “Get Down” and other rare recordings from the Ann Arbor-based label from bands like the legendary MC5 and The SRC (The Scot Richard Case).

“Get Down” by Half-Life (1969)

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘New’ footage of Black Sabbath on German TV, 1970

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
SATAN! Amazing trove of outsider art found in Detroit
11:22 am


Clifton Harvey

A very Henry Darger-ish story has begun to unfold in Detroit, USA—an asbestos inspector (what a thankless job THAT must be in Detroit) found several drawings in a house slated for demolition, and gave them to that city’s alt-weekly, the Metro Times.

Reader Joseph Goeddeke found these drawings in an abandoned Detroit house that he was inspecting for asbestos while working for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The house was scheduled to be demolished later that day, and Goeddeke (who says he’s “not an art guy” but thinks “they are great drawings”) decided to save the art and send it to us. We’re glad he did.

We don’t know anything about the artist other than that one of the pages is signed “Clifton Harvey” and dated “12/79.”

The Metro Times’ Lee DeVito has asked that anyone knowing who Clifton Harvey is or was contact the paper at

The drawings are not entirely unlike editorial cartoons, some depicting Satan leading humans into hateful acts. Harvey seems to have had a very specific loathing for racism.


Some, unsurprisingly, depict eschatological themes, especially Satan’s ultimate demise.


Oh great and powerful Satan, King of all kings, the coming of the other Lord has drawn very near. Most of your people have gone into hiding and say they will not fight by your side against such a great and powerful force. More and more people on the Earth’s surface are starting to turn toward the Bible and worship this enemy. They say they can no longer fear a king who can take only the body, but the one who can take both body and sole great Lord.



Behold Satan, Lord of all evil, your last day has come. Death to you and all like you. No longer shall your wickedness be tolerated. I shall [indecipherable] you and yours from all the rest. As of this day never again will you bother anyone.

A great big, sloppy, wet Ave Satanas to Taylor Rick for this find.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Detroit protopunk pioneers Death release a new single (and it sounds like… Death!)
10:21 am



If you’ve not yet familiarized yourself with the 1970s Detroit proto-punk band Death, I highly suggest you get on it, starting with the fantastic 2012 documentary, A Band Called Death. The anomalous three-man group—comprised of of brothers Bobby, David and Dannis Hackney, switched from funk to rock ‘n, roll after seeing a Who concert, and they created some absolutely amazing music that was rarely heard by all but the most dedicated rock historians, until the doc.

Now brothers Bobby, Dannis and new guitarist Bobbie Duncan are promising a new album (literally titled N.E.W.), on their own label in April—even featuring some previously unrecorded songs written with the original lineup. You can hear the first single below, “Look at Your Life,” and honestly, it sounds like Death—heavy, erratic and wild, with the sort of nasty Motor City sound that pulses through Detroit peers like The MC5 and The Stooges. “Look at Your Life” is not however the first single in 40 years—as every outlet seems to be reporting. Two years ago, the same line-up put out a song called “Relief”—also worth a listen.

You can pre-order N.E.W. here.

Via Monster Children

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Holy relic of Detroit high energy rock: Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith & the mysterious lyrics of ‘City Slang’

“City Slang,” the punk single Sonic’s Rendezvous Band released in 1978, is every bit as good as “Search and Destroy,” “Kick out the Jams” and “Sonic Reducer.” A summer day that doesn’t end with the cops confiscating your wading pool and scratching the needle across your priceless copy of “City Slang” is a summer day wasted. We’re all going to need a lot more priceless copies of “City Slang” around here.

Around 1975, after the breakup of the MC5, guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith put together a supergroup with former members of bands from the MC5’s Detroit scene. Sonic’s Rendezvous Band comprised Smith, Stooges drummer Scott Asheton (a/k/a “Rock Action”), Rationals guitarist and singer Scott Morgan, and Up bassist Gary Rasmussen. The “City Slang” single (“City Slang” in mono on one side, stereo on the other) was the only thing the band released before breaking up, though there are now several compilations and live records, including a (mostly live) six-CD box set.

Fred “Sonic” Smith in his spacesuit, onstage with the MC5
The words to the song have always been a mystery. Seven or eight years ago, I wrote Rasmussen through the Sonic’s Rendezvous Band MySpace page to ask for the lyrics to “City Slang.” He replied: What lyrics? In the live version of the song on Sweet Nothing, Smith does seem to be giving voice to pure glossolalia:

On the other hand, there’s this interpretation posted on Yahoo! Answers, where it is (perhaps dubiously) attributed to Scott Morgan himself:

Some dirt in my hand
A part of the land
Slip and slide communication
Downtown on the street
They measure the beat
To understand the situation
A taste on the tongue
And no place to run
With all the chances to be taken
The stranger he buys
The angel she flies
My heart is cold just like the nation
Like a dog they kick at night
Gypsy laughin’ but that’s alright
Momma’s cryin’ sister thinkin’
Well you know it’s just city slang

We rode in the car
Slept in the car
All the way to the citadel
Slept on the floor
Surfed on the floor
All the way to the Coronet
Rock was pissed in Paris
Mad in Madrid
Took the sonic European way
Gary and Rock
Sonic and Scott
Meet again up in Ishpeming
When you hear that hammer fallin’
Ain’t no reason to feel left out
Ain’t no reason to call any names
Well you know it’s just city slang

With Funky and Dog
To Minni and Mad
All the way to the Aragon
Cleveland and Chi
Ann Arbor, Detroit
All the way back to the Second Chance
Je suis un son
Un autre son
Qui n’entend qu’une cloche n’entend qu’un son
Je suis le son
Je suis son son

Hey what kind of fool do you think I am
Keep a-talkin’ those city dreams
Well you know alright you know what I mean
Detroit, Chicago now New York to L.A.
They all been talkin’ bout city slang

The first verse matches the single very closely, but the second and third don’t match at all aside from a few lines and phrases. These lyrics don’t match any live recording I’ve heard, either, and yet they seem credible enough. They mention a number of contemporary Midwestern landmarks—the Aragon Ballroom in Cleveland, the Second Chance club in Ann Arbor, the tiny township of Ishpeming, Michigan—and the passage in French, which consists of a proverb bookended by puns on the French word for “sound,” seems like the sort of thing Patti Smith’s husband might sing. Or am I the naive victim of a cruel hoax perpetrated by a teenager? You be the judge.


Face-damaging footage of SRB playing “City Slang”

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Gorgeous psychedelic handbills and posters from Detroit’s Grande Ballroom, circa 1967-68

Simply stunning vintage handbills for Detroit’s historic live music venue The Grande Ballroom. The majority of these trippy handbills and postcards were designed by Gary Grimshaw (who died in January of this year) and Carl Lundgren. Historically significant, yes, but from a design perspective, these are just jaw-droppingly, face-melting goodness, aren’t they?





More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The RAPID deterioration of Detroit according to Google Street View is both shocking and sad
02:50 pm

Current Events


The Tumblr GooBing Detroit shows the utterly jaw-dropping deterioration of neighborhoods in Detroit using Google Street View and Bing Street View. What’s shocking is how rapidly the decline happened! A lot of these examples only span five years!

Eastside Detroit: Arndt between Elmwood and Ellery: 2009, 2011, 2013

Northeast Detroit: Boulder between Liberal and Novara: 2009, 2011, 2013

Northeast Detroit: Hoyt between Liberal and Pinewood: 2008, 2011, 2013

Northeast Detroit: Hazelridge between Celestine and Macray: 2009, 2011, 2013
Below, Google Street View video of apartments on Houston Whittier in northeast Detroit:

More images after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Bad Graffiti’: Vulgar, juvenile, misspelled & ignorant wall scrawlings from Detroit (NSFW-ish)
02:02 pm



The book Bad Graffiti by Scott Hocking is a celebration of craptastic graffiti spotted in and around abandoned properties in Detroit, Michigan.

“Bad graffiti can be vulgar, juvenile, poorly scrawled, misspelled, ignorant, sexist, racist and ridiculous,” Hocking writes in the prologue from the book. “Yet, it can also be… so bad, it’s good.”



More photos after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
All that scratchin is making me itch: Awesome mid 80s DJ sets by The Wizard, Jeff Mills
11:27 am


The Wizard
Jeff Mills

In celebration of Detroit-based DJ Jeff Mills aka The Wizard’s 50th birthday today, Nerdcore lovingly posted his groundbreaking DJ sets from “The Electrifying Mojo” radio show on WJLB from the mid 1980s.  When it came to beat juggling and scratching, Mills was in a class by himself. He was also an early member of the “militant” Detroit techno outfit, Underground Resistance at the end of that decade.

When Mills DJs, he most often uses three turntables (or now CD players), a Roland TR-909 drum-machine and utilizes (I guess “plays” is the wrong word) up to seventy records an hour.

If this doesn’t make you wanna get up and shake yer ass, nothing will!

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Haunting images of Detroit’s decline through past and present photos
01:42 pm

Current Events


Once what was full of life and thriving, is now forgotten, abandoned and graffitied. These haunting images of a Detroit high school from when there were still students in the classrooms are composited with what the abandoned, decaying building looks like today.

The unions know what they’re fighting for in Michigan: their lives.

Images by Detroiturbex.
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Bang The Box’ mix: 44 808 & 909 tracks in 52 minutes

This mix is a bit of a departure in my djing style, featuring as it does hardly any disco (gasp!) and instead quick cuts and layered mixes of drum-machine based tracks. NOLA Bounce, Miami Bass, Chicago House, Detroit Electro… you know, that kind of thing. Mixed fast and constantly moving, this is like aural caffeine. So if you are just waking up, hit play and get energised.

Oh, and can we start the hip-house revival now?

Tracklist [yes, some of these tracks are NSFW]:

BIG FREEDIA - Azz Everywhere
PRINCE - 1999 (New Orleans Bounce Edit)
SOUL SONIC FORCE - Looking For The Perfect Beat
KRAFTWERK - The Man Machine (live)
DEREK B - Rock The Beat (Bonus Beat)
RUFUS & CHAKA KHAN - Ain’t Nobody
FUNKADELIC (Not Just ) Knee Deep
SNOOP DOGG Who Am I? (Acapella)
THE NIALLIST Dance Club (Haunted Edit)
THE NIALLIST Dance Club (acapella)
SISSY NOBBY Lay Me Down (DJ Sega Mix)
ADONIS Two The Max
JJ FAD Supersonic
HANNAH HOLLAND Transexual Bass
LONE Pineapple Crush
THE 2 BEARS Bear Hug (acapella)
T-TOTAL & FERAL Phearsome Bitch
MASTER AT WORK The Ha Dance (KenLou Mix)
CUNT TRAX Beats Werkin’
THE 2 BEARS Bear Hug (Niallist Acid Mixx)
ELECTROSEXUAL Discolition (Niallist RoboVogue Edit)
STEVE POINDEXTER Work That Motherfucker
CHERIE LILY Werk (Nita’s Battle Ready Mix)
SPANK ROCK Put That Pussy On Me (Diplo Mix)
2 LIVE CREW Throw That D
MURK If You Really Love Someone (Murk Groove)
CAJMERE Percolator
LIPPS INC Funkytown
THE NIALLIST Work It (acapella)
SEX BAND I Have Got The Answer

BANG THE BOX Mix by Theniallist on Mixcloud

As Soundcloud seems to be cracking down on dj mixes and non-creator owned content, I am migrating all my mixes over onto Mixcloud - including the previously DM’d Skool Of Rock, Disco Argento and Disco Argento 2 mixes, and my ‘Best of 2011’ mixtape. You can follow me, The Niallist on Mixcloud, here

If you like 808s going boom and some funky dancing in a fly late-80s fashion, then check out Detroit’s The New Dance Show, clips of which have been uploaded to YouTube by the excellent Caprice87. This one is a particular fave, featuring Jesse The Body and some slick mixing (you can see more of these via Shallow Rave.)


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Download the new album by Detroit techno legend Moodymann for free

In the worlds of deep house and techno, artists don’t come more revered than Detroit’s Kenny Dixon Jr, aka Moodymann. Releasing records for almost two decades now, his music has attracted a devoted, almost cult-like fan base.

This is due largely to his unique sound, a blend of minimalist Detroit soul with spaced out disco, jazz and abstract electronics, not to mention the lashings of found sound, disembodied voices and crowd noise he weaves in and out of his hypnotic and, yes, moody tracks.

But it also has a lot to do with Moodymann the character. Staying true to his Detroit techno roots, Dixon tends to shy away from the press and the music industry at large, and on the rare occasions he does make a pronouncement, his Afro-centric and iconoclastic views can draw criticism. His releases follow the same ideological path, with regular 12"s and albums coming out independently through his umbrella organisation Mahogani Music. Often the only marking to distinguish these releases from an anonymous white label is the recognisable afro-and-shades Moodymann logo.

So it’s a surprise to see him releasing a new 8 track album digitally and for free through the website Scion A/V. Not that these guys don’t know their shit, with past free releases from the likes of Dam Funk, Skream & Benga and The Melvins, but more that Dixon has decided to persue this avenue of free digital releasing at all. Well, the times they are a’changin’. 

If you are new to Moodymann and his work, this might not be the best place to start (I would recommend starting by checking out the sinlge “Joy Pt II” and the album A Silent Introduction) but at the very least this release gives you a taste of his work, and you can always ask for your money back. For the Moodymann fan who has not yet downloaded Picture This, well, what are you waiting for? The download widget for the free release is below, and here is the video for the album’s opening track:

Moodymann “9 Nites 2 Nowhere”




Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘Detroit: City On The Move’

The 1965 promotional video Detroit: City On The Move captures the city before everything went to shit.

Since this film was made, Detroit’s population has dropped by more than 60% and the future couldn’t look bleaker. There are some glimmerings of hope though. Artists and entrepreneurs are heading to the city to take advantage of cheap real estate and an atmosphere that is conducive to new ideas and energies. When you’ve got nothing left to lose, people and places will embrace anything that offers even the slenderest thread of hope. Creative people thrive in such conditions. I’d thought about moving to Detroit and buying a house for $8,000. But, it’s just too damn cold.

The film is narrated by then-mayor Jerome P. Cavanaugh with the enthusiasm of a man who has been taking bong hits of carbon monoxide. Maybe he saw what was coming.

Art can save neighborhoods. The Heidelberg Project is an example of the restorative energy that artists and the creative spirit can bring to a community. Detroit is at the crossroads of an absolutely ugly death or a beautiful re-imagining. It’s time to take the money spent on wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, drugs) and use it to resurrect America’s dying cities. There are people ready and waiting with ideas and dreams to make things happen - people like Tyree Guyton.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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