Sunday, April 08, 2007

Fear, Compromise, Capitalism, and WDET -Pt.2

Fed to the wolves.

I know I am not the only one upset by what's happening at WDET lately, and it might appear of little consequence compared to what's happening in the city as a whole:more school closures, the constant stories of violence(and my own encounters), more suspicious fires and the continued destruction of green space. All that has got me down lately, but I consider this a serious blow. I've said it before, music is what keeps me going, it's the thing nearest to my heart's beat, so with local dj's music programming so seriously attacked last week, I took it hard. Listening to CJAM now, that is when I can get it in, makes me want to move to Canada, seriously.

I am not even sure what it's about since no notice or information was provided on the DET website last week, when it mattered, and I have yet to check out the MT to see if they have the scoop. It appears obvious enough though, the music(locals) goes and national programming stays. Whatever the station has done, it has certainly validated those who protested a year or so ago when our only Detroit NPR station fired so many dj's and apparently left the other half til now. To me WDET's turning it's back on the community, again, and the attack on the music is akin to the developers who bulldoze the green spaces so the can build-they take from us irrespective of what we need, because they can and that is how they will survive. Acres of old dense trees stands, the ones bordering Rosa Parks from MLK to Grand River I am specifically thinking of, will never be ridden through again, just like I will not hear Liz Copeland, W. Kim Heron, Mick Collins, Ralph Valdez, Michael Julian, Chuck Horn, nor Robert Jones again. Though, to be accurate Reverend Jones has survived this round of cutbacks, but I'll not be hearing him either; his new slot is Sundays 6 am to 8 am as of today. Happy Easter Reverend Jones...

Fucked over.

Up until February when I got electricity in my place, especially alone at night, it was the local DET dj's on my shitty battery powered radio that kept me company. There was no listening to cd's, old tapes, and vinyl and reading by candle light was too much, so it was just the radio and my thoughts on long dark and often bitter cold nights, and I was thankful. SO, just like when I rode through, even drove by those stands of trees feeling like there is hope and this is what makes Detroit a healthy place to live, sometimes I would listen to a show and know that the culture and history of our city's music is still alive. Of course it was not perfect, but I listened and gave it props because the dj's gave me hope.

Getting rid of most of the local dj's reminds me of what's been happening somewhere else too, in NOLA lately. In Detroit we said it, (acknowledging the differences too), but Detroit has had our Katrina happening for decades now. I can not see any other explanation other than they want us out. The people who are trying to rebuild and survive in the neighborhoods are a problem when it comes to making large profits. The things that are good for the long time residents and the ones who have a sense of what we need to feel whole must go. IF you believe me wrong, PLEASE respond, because I am happy to state my case.

Offered scraps and told it's the only thing, while you see the lavish meal layed out before your very eyes.

The other reason this pisses me off so much is not that a station challenged financially has chosen to go the way of more national programming as it is supposedly less expensive, but the way they have upped their spots to give them money ahead of the upcoming fundraiser. They knew we would be pissed and are trying to manipulate us with spots that talk about how much we learn on WDET and should value this...service. Excuse me, I need to appreciate what? Never owning up to what they have done. It's so obvious. It's so devious and manipulative. It's so...corporate.

I got an idea. How about rather than give everyone the boot there is some discussion in the community as to what some of the possible solutions to the problems are? It's advertised as a community station right? Why not go the way of a volunteer army of local DJ's (even if just from WSU) that are not paid, and slim down on the paid management while you're at it. Too late. And, PLEASE, just to mention regarding some of the new programming, take that new money and finance show off before someone gets hurt, seriously. It's local, but it will not touch the issue of class with a ten foot poll, so I'd call that one a program for the new Detroiters and an insult to boot.

"one fine day, when i'm strong enough, i'll stand up out of this chair and walk away"nomeansno

While the weather last week indicated that it is indeed Spring, regardless of cold nights, how quickly the tables turn. I shaved my beard and head ready to meet the change head on (no pun intended)rather than wait for it to get to me first, ah burned again. I was so wrong, and now so confused. Am I less ready for changes this drastic than I previously had been? I feel like I used to be ready to adapt and flex like a long piece of bamboo. One piece in a clump of bamboo born to grow like grass and be more useful, inspiring and full of mystery than most humans will ever realize. Regardless of all that, as the song goes "if you ain't ready, you betta git ready", but i'm thinkin', no,how about a change of scenery and weather altogether...

My last blog entry ended with a cry to stay in Detroit and build a good life here, but just like the weather's harsh return, lately I have rather suddenly felt like the opposite and more like quitting Detroit. Quitting my collective projects, quitting this city, quitting the life I have been living for nearly 10 years here and beyond that. When I lived in Arcata it was really just to prepare myself for what I wanted to do here. I apologize for this fit, but I am dumbfounded at the amount of harsh reality that is hurled somewhere in my general direction lately, but seems to always end up right on my lap. Indeed it seems to be saying "it's going to get worse before it gets better". All I know is I need a break.

This city gets fucked over and over and in turn the people end up learning that's the way it's done and do it to others, how American. A bunch of sweet talk and than nothing but abuse. No, how just like the USA, not America. The Americas are not the home to Capitalism, but this country is, no matter how global it gets. The gears of the machine continue to turn, cycle after cycle. Detroit, the true "American" city, then and now. When will it end?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Fear, Compromise,Capitalism, WDET-Pt . I

My ability to endure is being tested, and though it feels good to reflect here, it seems like a Sisyphian task to contain myself and present a coherent rant even. The sun is bright today, but to leave now is to favor illusion rather than confront the darkness I feel. In the end that only begets a greater unhappiness. There are many
issues that have me feeling so, but most of all in no uncertain terms, I am especially upset at Detroit.

I feel like I am only human and to reveal so much calamity is too much for me to bear.

Backing up a bit. See, I espouse an idea distilled from anarchism which somewhat insists on a "no compromise" notion of how I, and to some degree, others should live. A good example is "you don't bomb the people", period. Personally, I insist on living for a culture of togetherness that actually works for community, ie. the public... and I do not feel this is a radical or even utopian notion, but it is very different than the notion of what our NPR affiliate apparently feels about the P in it's acronym. We'll get to that little jab later on, for they are the true inspiration behind this rant.

Some days I wish to close my eyes and go away, while previously that has not been my disposition.

Even though, to advocate folks be open minded and willing to explore our creative ability to transform our own lives and the institutions (in the face of capitalism) is considered unrealistic, it is a rather sane viewpoint. To me, it appears in the world as a whole-fear is kicking the crap out of love and the dominant capitalist institutions of our times bears the brunt of the blame for this violence. How is it not seen that it is a failure and that the fear that it promotes is no way to go on in life. Perhaps I am wrong, but I think our survival actually depends on fighting this aspect of what is. Though I have issue with his ideas of power, for sure Che said it best when he said "revolution, i act out of love", or something like that.

"Sometimes I dream about reality, sometimes I feel so down" Mr. Bobby by Manu Chao

So, what is all this mean Mr. Upsidedown? It means the changes that have been announced lately in this city have made me question my loyalty to it and all I am involved with. I feel like my ability to survive here is wearing thin and that's not good, because you need a good thick skin to endure the truth of what it means to live here. Not the 'I live in newly developed areas with security or in close proximity to areas where the police protect me' truth, but the truth that it's a desperate place to grow up in and perhaps even harder for some to try to stay here as an adult. Even having said that, how it is now I think is better than how it is going to be.

I have been considering leaving the city I love because of what is going on, and that would indeed be a huge compromise.

This place as of late makes me sick with fear, which is something I usually deal pretty well with. I fear the city will survive and transform itself, but it will be unrecognizable as a a place of potential and hope for something better, and recognizable as another terrible version of a place that converts the energy to believe in change, for the passive acceptance of what products are here for you; the lie that builds off the idea that if you want to go anywhere in life you better get in line. I thought we were better than that, but I am beginning to doubt that is what Detroit spirit is/was about. It feels like capitalism is being reembraced and the once suspicious face of privelege that is by and large white, is fading from our memory. "Embraced", perhaps not, more like we're on our knees and begging to appease the master.

Idealism has it's ups, but when you get depressed at the state of things, look out.

In general, I am involved with people who are engaged and doing and that helps, usually. And right now, while I feel my hope and excitement is being ripped from me, I am on the cusp of realizing that Detroit potential with two projects I have been involved with for years. They are of great inspiration to many, one regarding the intersection of urban land use in education and the other using popular education in creating new media models, both for raising up the voices of our youth, our future. With Detroit Summer, collective members embarked just yesterday on a tour of 5 cities with 10 passionate youth, who seem to have the vision and courage to take on the problems we face. I feel like I am betraying them writing like this, but I am wondering what new problems will we all face and why would we put that on them?

"New York City, maybe you remind me of myself"- Gil Scott Heron

It's madness, destroying green space here to build and building for the sake of building so that the economic imperative is satisfied. It's certainly not helping to keep me here. It's like human sacrifice and I can only bear witness so long before the upsurge in hope I felt just 2 weeks ago is stricken down by the forces that manage our affairs. So, if my hope turns to a callous pessimism and then disregard for my word, and words like "no compromise" for my vision, like working with youth turns to hoping that this place burns finally and for good, please escort me out of this city because I will be of no help any longer.