City Slang: Detroit Land



I’m gonna keep this short because it’s Sunday and I haven’t slept in a week. But I have to advise all City Slang readers to read Richard Bak’s fantastic recent book, Detroit Land, out via Wayne State Press (who also published my own MC5 and Stooges books, if you’ll pardon the shameless self-reference.

The book is essentially a collection of some of Bak’s favorite journalistic articles from over the years, featuring fascinating, crazy and unhinged characters from Detroit’s history. The Purple Gang, “Potato Patch” Pingree, and Detroit’s own version of the Ku Klux Klan are all covered here.

Of relevance to us are the chapters in which he delves into some of Motown’s forgotten artists, including Shorty Long, Brenda Holloway and the Velvelettes.

Bak has a real gift for witty, sharp, informative and always entertaining story-telling. This book has all of that. Enjoy.

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