Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Kramer" vs Kramer

As you are probably aware, Huffington Post has started a Detroit section, featuring opinion pieces from every variety of Detroiter, and because we are ultimately a small town it has of course become a little bit of a shitstorm already.

Toby Barlow wrote a piece called "Detroit," Meet Detroit which was a strong argument for the idea that as much as people from the 'burbs want to say they are Detroit, they really are ultimately still the suburbs. Maybe not his strongest idea piece ever - this is the man who broke the $100 house story (much to Ryan  Cooley's chagrin) and who proposed the idea that became Dan Gilbert's business model - but a strong assertion to actually make in public. Naturally, a strongly worded response arrived from the Northwest Territories saying "Hey!  Whose money is fixing up your damn town anyway??"  It's a tale as old as time, revisiting itself in a new iteration: City vs. Suburb: the Blog Wars.

I'm not going to belabor this in a lengthy way, and I'm going to paint in relatively broad strokes, so take this all with a grain of salt.  But the fact is, if you don't live in the city, if you don't put up with the bullshit along with the glory, then you ARE a suburbanite.  The biggest lesson I learned when I moved to Detroit was that living in Detroit was a completely different experience than just hanging out in Detroit.  And you can't fake it and you can't learn it from the outside and it is almost impossible to create authentic, meaningful, non-douchebaggy change unless you live here.

I was having a drink with an old acquaintance a while back. someone who knew me from my store back in the Ann Arbor days and who now lives in Royal Oak.  He was doing what I call the Suburban Shuffle ... getting in on the street cred of Detroit while trying to rationalize staying in the 'burbs.  The old, "I'd move to Detroit except ..." And I said listen, nobody who lives in Detroit has any superpowers.  But they did make that leap, and they take the bad with the good.  So don't expect a pat on the back because you tool down I-75 for the fun stuff and then tsk-tsk from the comfort of your fake loft when the latest calamity strikes.

There's a lot of cool stuff going on in Detroit right now, and it hasn't always been this way.  And suddenly it's cool to say you're a Detroiter.  I do believe there are Detroiters "in spirit," but at the end of the day you don't get to use Detroit to validate yourself without fully committing.

So what IS the status of the suburbanite who loves Detroit but won't or can't move to the city?  Or who just loves where they live (because frankly our suburbs are pretty great if you're into that kind of thing)? Well, I think you are "A Suburbanite Who Loves Detroit."  Or a "Detroiter in Spirit." It's not an aspersion, it's just a fact. I know a TON of people who fit that description. Please, do stuff in the city, work to make it better if that's what you believe in, say good things about it.  And be honest and unapologetic about your level of involvement.  I think you'll find everyone appreciates that.

Or, why don't you move to Detroit?  THAT is how you really make a difference, and you can finally be a Detroiter!  Now wouldn't that be awesome?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sit. Stay. Roll Over.

Hey!  It's a holiday week for Doggy Style, and that always means extra fun.  Especially if you have Wednesday off!

Doggy Style is off to a great start for its fifth season, but maybe you haven't been yet.  "What can I expect?" you may be wondering.  Well here's the deal:  there is an awesome (if I do say so myself) mix of videos from the sixties to now, with a bit of an emphasis on the golden age of music videos, the 80s.  There is gay music and new wave music and electronic music and not an insignificant amount of euro-pop.  There are the occasional clips from musicals, television shows and viral videos.  And sometimes I make my own videos because I still am occasionally inspired and have a little free time.

The crowd is always mixed - straight people like Doggy Style too!  But the vibe is gay and there is generally a good assortment of the city-oriented homosexualists I created Doggy Style to appeal to in the first place.  How many?  A good week might have fifty.  An off-week might have a dozen.  It's really a crapshoot, but everyone is friendly and sometimes there's even a love connection (although honestly, not that often).

Overall, if you are looking to change it up from the usual gay bar thing and meet some clever and inspiring folks while watching clever and inspiring music videos, then Doggy Style is for you.  See you this week, maybe, for the good times of Doggy Style and the great taste of booze at the Park Bar!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

No Stars

Man, I love a Doggy Style night, especially when it follows an Open City.  Open City, if you are not familiar, is a kind of grassroots small business incubator/support group/networking opportunity that's been going on for several years.  It's a good resource if you are thinking about embarking on your own independent retail adventure in Detroit.  Tonight's topic was "Localism" - ways to support and cultivate local business.

Of course I didn't make it despite my best efforts.  I was delayed by an extended meetup with some writing co-horts elsewhere, but I got to talk to a lot of the Open City folks at the Park Bar before Doggy Style.  So I had "Localism" on my mind all night.

Fortunately, I had a little local in the video mix for the evening.  It probably depends a lot on your age, whether or not you remember these guys, but Figures on a Beach were kind of a big deal in the 80s in Detroit.  They were signed to Sire records (in the Depeche Mode heydey) and were included on the first Sire compilation CD "Just Say Yes" with their song "No Stars."

Naturally they faded away, a bit of a one-hit wonder, although I still have their EP "Swimming" which is pretty great.  And man, did I have a new wave crush on the lead singer.

Anyway, "No Stars" made an appearance at Doggy Style tonight and in the spirit of "Localism," let's celebrate one of Detroit's few New Wave breakout bands, Figures on a Beach.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Late Night

Once upon a time, this would have been prime blogging time for me. 1:30am, after a night out with my favorite Detroit people. Lots of discussions about things on the horizon, and challenges that need meeting. Maybe not a typical Monday night, but a typical something night.

Instead, life has just been weird. I think about all the changes I've been though in the past year and a half - trying to develop new revenue streams; applying for abysmal jobs that you HOPE can make a difference, at least in your bank account; and wondering how did it all go so awry. I mean, once upon a time I bought art!

And that has been the full blog killer. I used to feel inspired, but lately I've just been tired. I can't believe how much I underestimated how much a lack of television and the killer view in my Lafayette Towers apartment inspired me. Sitting down and looking at the city evey night while I put on some old vinyl or listened to jazz was (it turns out) the perfect storm for blogging magic.

But now, Supergay Detroit has got to pull it together.

I've said about all I've had to say about the need for a more visible gay scene in Detroit. We are in desperate need for social outlet, this downtown-oriented crowd, and that hasn't changed too much in five years. What *has* changed is the fact we actually have a few more outlets now. It ebbs and flows, but the startup of Doggy Style again this year made me realize what a big difference even one night a week makes in connecting with gay people in the city.

Things aren't all doom and gloom though.  That Hatch Detroit competition I wrote about? I ended up winning. So within a year I'll be back doing what I love.

When Facebook became such a big thing, I decided I needed to make Supergay Detroit posts reasonably worthwhile, not just promos for gay events.. But I think I built it up too much in my head, and stopped writing because I couldn't do my goals justice. That will change. I think I can write and be a little frivolous and still produce reasonable content. Because ultimately, the internet is kind of lame. I can rise to that level!

This is a long kind of drunk way of saying hopefully, I'm back. There are still gay stories to tell in Detroit, and I want to get back to telling them.

Happy Tuesday.

Monday, November 7, 2011

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