News & Views » Columns

Blowout, blow-off and blowhard



Appropriately enough, last Friday’s Merriam Webster word of the day was as follows: katzenjammer (KAT-sun-jam-er (noun):1: hangover; 2 : distress; 3 : a discordant clamor). This word dovetails perfectly with my penchant for descriptive Loose Lips words o’ the day (see, e.g. schadenfreude), and anybody who attended the Hamtramck Blowout kickoff party at Motor last Wednesday was probably suffering from one helluva katzenjammer when they awoke Thursday morning. The party featured two of my favorite local bands of the moment (the Sights and the Von Bondies) performing searing live sets, while also offering up the pyrotechnical choreography of Fire Fabulon as well as perennial faves Speedball. While it’s virtually impossible to cover the entire Blowout in Hamtronica, as well as the plucky upstart MXMW fest over in Cass Corridoria, the party at Motor made it all so simple, as almost all of the musicians and other assorted hipsteratti converged on one single venue. As such, in a kind of Dickensian moment of reflection, I sat back, chatted and watched the parade of familiar names stroll by from columns past and present (and perhaps future), including those who have reached the rarified status of being singularly named in the Loose Lips lexicon (e.g., Stirling, Hobey, Ko, Vile, Doom, Impaler, esQuire). The Loose Lips camera crew had the usual unavoidable encounter with certified scenester and Majestic Theatre megaplex booking impresario Greg Baise, along with Jason Stollsteimer of the Von Bondies and Jason Schusterbauer of Metro Times. Also strolling before the lens (with an able photographic assist from Hamtramck Citizen Walter Wasacz), was the aforementioned (and overmentioned, at least by me) esQuire, flanked by Blowout-cover shutterbug Angie Baan and Slumber Party guitar-slinger Gretchen Gonzales. Mr. esQuire received the unofficial Blowout-MXMW “good diplomat” award for playing Blowout as well as MXMW. Also singled out for a purple heart in the course of duty was Nate Cavalieri, manning the keyboards for the Sights. During the band’s admittedly sloppy yet rawk-us performance, Cavalieri, whilst balancing both a lit ciggy on his lips and a Miller, continued valiantly to play as his teetering keyboards came crashing down off the side of the stage, sort of a whirling Wurlitzer kind of act. But enough about that, let’s get on to the important stuff, namely: me, me and me.


Back in November of 1998, I resigned my column duties on this here back page (fka “Fly On The Wall”), vowing to never again sully this pristine paper with my opinionated tedium and pseudo-titillating muckraking. Not unlike Don Corleone in Godfather Part 3, I tried to go legit: kids … marriage … home on a tree-lined residential street. (Strains of acutely annoying late ’80s Canadian alt-40 hit “I’m An Adult Now” begin to echo irritatingly in the background.) But no matter what I did, not unlike the reluctant graying Don of Al Pacino fame, something kept (in a gravelly voice) “pulling me back in.” By September of 1999, answering the siren call once again, it was back to the grind, but only on a biweekly basis (and at least I didn’t have to share space with Sofia Coppola). After growing increasingly stale, while stepping on enough toes to put a polygamist podiatrist’s extended family through grad school, I decided that enough was enough. It’s time to get some fresh blood in here. Moreover, in stark contrast to the modus operandi of competing publications and columnists in this town, I have no desire to masquerade as a suck-up PR bugle for advertisers. In any event, this time, it’s the real deal … the piece de resistance, the mother of all swan songs. In writing my farewell, cheerio column, forked tongue thoroughly planted in cheek, I thought back to my previous farewell apologia (not an apology!), and in true coaster-slack fashion, I have unearthed it, finding it to be equally fitting today, with some slight modifications:

For all of you outraged readers who felt maligned, denigrated, slammed or otherwise vilified in this column, please rest assured that I meant every last single word of it, and it was undoubtedly and undeniably true. For all of you bands, managers, artists, club owners, entertainers or other assorted charlatans who felt I ignored your repeated e-mails, faxes and letters requesting complimentary publicity-puffery, please be advised that although I regret the oversight ... well, to tell you the truth, I really don’t care. I just can’t write about everybody (and besides, I have to write about my friends first). For all of those party planners and benefactors who plied me with free beverages and fed me delicious edibles, don’t scratch my name off that list just yet. I’ll still be lurking around from time to time, but just not in this particular space on a biweekly basis. For all of you thin-skinned, knee-jerk alarmist readers who have ever taken me literally, let alone oh-so-seriously, please know that this is just one sarcastic voice in the city. Take it with the proverbial grain of rock salt in your open running wound, unless of course I was critiquing the Detroit city government, the local media, Royal Oak, local (quote-unquote) rock stars, or any other hapless bureaucrats or ever-present local megalomaniacs who are so deserving of a healthy dose of constructive criticism and pointed needling.

It is with some regret that I depart as our larger-than-life, diamond-studded, man-child mayor begins his esteemed career, depriving me of what I can only guess would be a veritable cornucopia of column fodder (at least I was able to work both “Kwame-zaa” and “Kwamarama” into the fold; however I was still hoping for a DePalma-esque opening to use “Carlita’s Way”). Thank you again to Metro Times for the spleen-venting opportunity to biliously babble on a biweekly basis, as well as the relatively restrained use of red ink in the editing department. I certainly won’t miss any of my colleagues at Metro Times, only because, due to the magical wonders of e-mail, I was hardly ever there (and many of them I met for the first time at the Blowout party). Thus, the bonding sessions of colorful newsroom camaraderie and ink-stained bonhomie were effectively eliminated on my end.

Hell, I hardly remember what the editor looks like (oh … he has a column?), except, of course, when I’m trying to pry a paycheck or expense reimbursement out of that cold clenched fist.


What now? Well, I actually have another career unrelated to this column, and life will undoubtedly go on without this obligation looming over my alternate weekends. Rest assured, however, that while I will regret the chance to skewer our parochial social scene on a regular basis, I have no desire to disappear altogether. When I first started this column in 1997, managing editor W. Kim Heron forwarded to me an inspiring essay first published in the Nation by Alexander Cockburn, describing the great San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen. While I would never begin to possess the hubris to equate myself with Caen, I was motivated to at least aspire to his credo. In characterizing the gossip column, Caen himself observed: “It’s got to be a little nasty. Otherwise, what the hell’s the point of it? I try to make it as nasty as possible, within the realms of good taste and the libel laws. There’s a little bit of cobra in all of us.” The result of this was, according to Cockburn, to give the city a sense of itself — “ a sense that might be bitchy, sentimental, facetious, irritated, discursive, knowing, indignant or outraged, depending on his mood. …” Amen. I certainly couldn’t have said it any better, and thanks to everyone at Metro Times for giving me the chance to discover my inner cobra.

Got gossip, essential factoids or party invites? E-mail, or call the tip line at 313-962-5281. Press * then dial

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.