Discoveries in Ypsilanti

05.03.16 | Permalink | Comment?

I took my dog for a walk today after work and discovered that the railroad tracks on the far east side of the township divide streets that were once connected, obvs. Not only that, they have different names on the other side. Over by Lamay and Michigan, one street is called June Street between Michigan and the tracks, and Oregon Street south of the tracks. I also realized that it would be an excellent location for a train stop. The neighborhoods over here are nice on both sides of the tracks and we need some livening up over here.

Many things are stressful in my life right now, work and money and lack of sex, in particular. Maybe you have many of your own stresses. I just said lack of sex online and you know my name and what I look like. I had to take a pause between the time that the thought appeared in my growing brain and on the screen before me. Am I really going to fucking write that shit? But then I did, and I’m pretty sure nobody died. I’m still here and everything’s cool. That’s a normal thing that happens to everybody, a missing sex life. It’s regular. It’s a big fucking bummer, but it’s fine. I’m alive, and pretty mother fucking healthy, and my kids are all my favorites, so that’s good.

ANYWAY, I felt like a tired little bitch after work and feeding the kids and showering (I farm), so I decided to take my dog Bells (I can reveal her identity here, she’s an animal, not a human) for a walk. For nearly the whole year and a half that we have lived in this neighborhood, I have stuck to one primary path down Forest and Cross and the streets in between all the way to Prospect Park. Yesterday, I walked with two of my kids to Kroger to get a few groceries and left the dog in the fenced in yard. She escaped through a space in the fence and was running around the neighborhood. Normally, she runs a bit and then comes when I call her a few times. But last night, that little asshole was darting all over our neighborhood and I was yelling like a moron through the streets after her. Maybe we’ll bring the sun out and bring some life to this neighborhood.

So tonight I decided to follow her path that she set yesterday instead of making all the decisions for her and we walked down Lamay toward Michigan,

Left on Michigan

Right on June

Across the tracks

It’s a very pleasant neighborhood. It smelled fresh. The yards were green and clean. The houses were all unique and interesting. Nice big trees. A very nice neighborhood.  There were some children playing in their yard so I decided to walk until I reached them and then turn around. It was almost 8:30 so I wanted to get back home to chill with my kids before tucking them in to bed. The kids said hello to me and asked if they could pet Bells, which was super smart of them, and I said yes. She’s super sweet. Then, the three of us and Bells stood by their mailbox and chatted about whatever they wanted for a few minutes. They told me about police cars visiting the neighborhood a while ago, which is troublesome to everyone in the neighborhood, and then they told me about things being stolen in the neighborhood.

This is significant, but there was something more significant about the conversation. Just before telling me about how bikes were being stolen and police were coming to their neighborhood, they pointed out the house with the black family.These children were white. They are friends with the boy who lives in the house. They told me his name. They spoke innocently and sweetly about it, like children do. But why were they pointing it out? They hear it in their home, maybe in other people’s homes, or other spaces. White people say terrible things to other white people because they think it’s safe. That shit needs to become the minority.

I spoke to these beautiful, innocent children with love in my voice and pointed north to my street and told them that my lawnmower was stolen last year out of my yard. I do not have a garage or a shed, but I plan to build something soon. But actually, I think it’s going to be a small green house, so never mind. I understood that they were being told in many different ways that increase in crime and blackness are directly linked, even if the people stealing the bikes and bringing the police to the neighborhood are all white, and it’s pretty god damn likely that they are, runonsentence.

That was a terrible sentence, actually, a failure of a paragraph, but I’m leaving it anyway.

I grew up in a town where the arrival of a black family to the COUNTY, NOT EVEN THE TOWN, THE FUCKING COUNTY, was a noteworthy event. North Judson, Indiana. Own that shit, bitches. Lots of racism running around there. I don’t know if Starke County is still so fucked up in terms of viewpoints on race, gender, sex, identity, religion, economics, class, work, labor, healthcare (this one time, in college at NYU, a fellow student exclaimed after proofreading my essay, “you like to make lists, don’t you! “), but there is everywhere I look, so it is probably still fucking up white people in North Judson. Children carry the lives and words of their parents, even if we don’t mean for them to. Whatever we do, whatever we say, shapes them into who we are. That does not mean that we should feel shame or guilt or wish to change the past. None of those things help us ever. All we can do is our best. Try and do better. There has never been a time where a person thought, boy, I’m super joyful since I decided to treat myself to all that shame and feel responsible for everything that goes wrong and look backwards all the time. Yeah, dragging the past along in a giant sleeping bag is just excellent for my health. Let’s keep going with that.


Leave it. Leave it behind. All of it, but the racist shit. Leave that shit behind. Let it fucking compost. It will. Stop giving it power. Shut down the white people who perpetuate it. Not the children. Give the children all of the graces, always. Teach them. But the adults should fucking know better and need to be shut down. That’s enough of this bull shit. I’m tired of seeing and hearing and reading it. People of color have fought long enough. They don’t have to. White people need to shut down other white people.

Most of the time, I am very friendly and pleasant toward everyone I meet, but sometimes I am thunderstorm angry, and racism (by white people against other people – that is the accepted definition of racism in my world, there is no reverse) always tips me to that level. I have no time for it. No one should.

I love pop music. Here’s an appropriate song. Maybe I’ll keep including music.



My Life is Changing Because I’m Changing My Life

04.25.16 | Permalink | Comment?


It is spring time, and our awesome town of Ypsilanti is blooming. It’s just gorgeous. All it took was one warm sunny day and the trees exploded with blossoms. I apologize that I have not written here in over two years. It’s good to feel like writing here again. I am not going to be writing about the same topics, although music and Detroit will certainly be top characters in the stories to come. It will be called schoolcraftwax, but the appearance may change. I’m rusty still.

My life is changing into something I love because I have finally let go of past experiences and am making my own path through life. This winter was an intense one. A very nice man who I really liked told me that he didn’t like me as much on Thanksgiving. I decided to take time to incubate. I needed to figure out some shit! I did. And now it’s finally warm enough that I don’t feel like a giant wuss when I try and go outside. There is so much life springing out around this town!

What I write may seem too personal to some readers, but just enjoy the stories and let me focus on what I want to share about myself and what I want to keep private. I have made it a policy to only share personal details about myself. I do not like to put photos of my children on the internet. It is their choice whether or not they want their faces online. And please believe we exchange serious words about internet practices. I may share stories here that reflect reality, but the only identity being revealed in these words is mine.


Detroit Sound Conservancy, Events

Conference on Detroit Sound

01.28.14 | Permalink | Comment?

We are pleased to announce the first annual Detroit Sound Conservancy Conference on Detroit Music.


Friday May 23, 2014 at the Detroit Public Library.

The conference’s goal is to increase knowledge of Detroit’s vast musical legacy through educational presentations and reflective conversation. The presenters and panelists are encouraged to explore a wide range of topics that impact the cultural work of urban sound and the roles of writers and researchers in documenting this city’s sound.

In addition, we also invite sound activists of all stripes to submit proposals for workshops related to advancing the Detroit Sound Conservancy’s goal of conserving Detroit sounds and telling Detroit stories.

Please email questions and proposals to detroitsoundconservancy@gmail.com.



Sue Dise of WCBN

01.20.14 | Permalink | Comment?

Every Monday, from 9AM to Noon on WCBN 88.3 in Ann Arbor, Sue Dise (pronounced Dice) rocks the world that I hear. WCBN is a stellar independent, mostly free form radio station in Ann Arbor, Michigan. You’re bound to hear something interesting on the station any time you turn it on. You’re not guaranteed to like it necessarily, but I expect you’ll find it interesting. I sure do. I wrote a small excited piece about the history of another program on WCBN called Crush Collision on my old blog. Here are a few words:

Crush Collision “was begun in 1987 by Tom Simoyen as a primarily acid jazz program, but also included house 12 inches and remixes of pop bands. Footnote this to Brendan M. Gillen. Then, in the early 1990s, Brendan Gillen of Ectomorph took over the show and transformed it into more of a techno show, but also included lots of types of electronic music. Carlos Souffront began participating in the show in 1995. He has been doing it for a great number of years now. It’s fucking great.

“Other folks, indirectly involved with the show, but directly involved with WCBN include Erika Sherman, also of Ectomorph, and ethnomusicologist Ben Tausig, possibly known as Data General. You can check him here: Weird Vibrations. Erika started working at the station in 1993. The day after she arrived in Ann Arbor for college, she went over to the radio station and began working there immediately. She worked as the general manager of the radio station, program director, and gave disc jockey training classes. Erika, can you do that again? I’ll be in your class. She also hosted her own free form weekly radio shows, taking on 3 hour time slots at first, and then began to take other time slots so that she began playing 6 to 9 hour sets on the radio. Her time ended at WCBN around 2000, and she devoted all her shining musical brilliance to production, touring, the Interdimensional Transmissions record label, and super party planning, [and now DJing too!]”

Needless to say, WCBN holds court in my heart and between my ears. I have come to adore Sue Dise’s show, Area of Refuge. I think it is perfect. I don’t use that term lightly. It lasts for three hours. The music she selects is brazenly free form. One morning in November she played Cowboy Junkies, Calexico, Camper Van Chadbourne, and then Cab Calloway. It was glorious. The Camper Van Chadbourne song was “Symbols.” You can listen to the intro of it here, but unfortunately, that’s all you get. It’s a wonderful song that I tracked down on CD because it is not available to download. I used it as the inspiration for some mixes I made as a gift.

Here is her playlist from this morning:

11:54 AM Blood Orange Time Will Tell
11:54 AM Riccardo Tesi & Banditaliana Fulmine
11:50 AM Atropolis Adjust
11:47 AM Cibo Matto Working For Vacation
11:43 AM shirelles Mama Said
11:42 AM Big Maybelle So Good to My Baby
11:37 AM Waiphot Phetsuphan Love Life of a Singer
11:22 AM Omar Suleyman Nahy
11:20 AM Stooges Fun House
11:10 AM Nobunny Do the Stooge
11:09 AM Jarvis Cocker Angela
11:09 AM Jake Bugg There’s a Beast & We All Feed It
11:06 AM The Boss Hoss Hey Ya
10:57 AM E.E. Hack String Band Too Tight Rag
10:56 AM The Jam Happy Together
10:52 AM David Johansen Girls
10:48 AM Eydie Gorme Blame It On the Bossa Nova
10:44 AM Los Super Seven Compay Gato
10:40 AM Batida Bazuka
10:37 AM Big Youth Give Praises
10:25 AM Gesaffelstein Obsession
10:23 AM Detroit Grand Pubahs Sandwiches
10:16 AM Godley & Creme           Sandwiches of You
10:16 AM Heaven 17           We Live So Fast
10:06 AM MARRS           Pump Up the Volume
10:02 AM Anorak           Morning Light
9:55 AM Jookabox           Webbin’
9:55 AM Visage           Der Amboss
9:48 AM Herbie Hancock           Rain Dance
9:38 AM Steve Hillage           Searching For the Spark
9:34 AM Gong           Pot Head Pixies
9:30 AM Talking Heads           Tentative Decisions
9:24 AM The Residents           Smack Your LIps, Clap Your Teeth
9:19 AM American Gil           Burning Down the House
9:15 AM Prince Rama           Blade of Austerity
9:13 AM Opium Jukebox           War Pigs
9:09 AM Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan           Who Hata Rahe Hain Pardah

The top song was the last song she played and it descends backward in time. The playlist updates on the WCBN website in real time. The good people at WCBN are wonderful music sharers because they are so exquisitely on it when it comes to sharing playlists of nearly every show 24 hours a day.

Sue has excellent taste in music, you can be sure. And the way she selects music and programs her show, it’s clear she’s a giant nerd. I’m one too. It’s cool. She really likes Omar Souleyman. Which I think is just wonderful. She surprised me with this great Cibo Matto song this morning toward the end of her show, and then Blood Orange, who is also strange and great.

She has a distinct voice with a strong Michigan accent. It sounds great on the radio. She doesn’t say um, doesn’t stall, doesn’t get stuck, or at least I can’t tell cause she’s smooth as fuck. She talks just the right amount, not too much so that I get impatient for more music, and just enough so that I can know her on the radio. In November, she discussed the freezing weather, describing the sound of crunchy, frozen leaves being like bits of glass breaking under her feet. It’s a small thing, but I liked it. This morning, she announced ways to listen to the station and ways to get in touch with WCBN folks. She listed the website url and their name on AIM (which is adorable that they still use that at the station). Then she said, “Either way, we will save your life.” Perfect, succinct, and quite true.

The woman herself. Photo by Colin Howells.

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Awesomeness Description, Race

Music That I Want To Like

01.14.14 | Permalink | 2 Comments

Schoolcraftwax is shifting slightly. As you know, I’ve invited Ewolf to write his own pieces here. He and I have had a multitude of exciting conversations about music. Together we’ve got most of Detroit’s music covered. That’s a bold statement to make, I know. And it’s mostly true. Our knowledge of music overlaps just the right amount. We like to talk about music, and we both like to write. Together, we hope to inspire one another to write more regularly. Our conversations are vibrant. I hope that writing in my own singular voice directly to you will be equally great.

Perhaps you can tell by the title of this post that this is about music that I try to like, but ultimately don’t.

I want to like Janelle Monáe. Her ideas are intriguing. She is the kind of feminist musician and performer that I get excited about just for her ideas! She is beautiful, stunning to look at. I like how she dances. Her facial expressions are great when she performs. She is an incredible performer. But she holds back in an odd sort of way. She seems reserved in a way that limits what she communicates in her music. Maybe she’s young still. Maybe there’s a lot more to come from her. I hope so. There’s a spark there that I appreciate. The sound of her music is too reserved. I wondered why I liked what I heard, but only to a mild degree. I didn’t freak out about her the way I freak out about the other sounds that I freak out about. When I feel something from a set of sounds, I want to know why. What is it, technically, about what is happening, sonically, that moves me? Monáe’s recordings sound compressed (thanks Ewolf for that one). It’s like all the pieces of sound, all the patterns, all the recorded tracks that are mixed together into a single song, are mushed into one, clean, pristine sonic layer. I don’t like this. It somehow removes funkiness. It bothers me so much because I like her ideas and I like her presentation of herself. I want to be moved by her music.

I do like this song. I also like some of Miguel’s songs. I have a very large place in my heart for r&b.

And she can really dance. Watch Tightrope. When the dancing’s good, I’m bound to like it. That’s why I can’t stay away from Justin Timberlake for too long. Dude can dance.

I will regretfully say this. On her first EP, she did a cover of DeBarge’s “Time Will Reveal.” It was not good. The beat was limp. It’s DeBarge! Don’t mess with that. Those cats are from Detroit.

Maybe some of you are wondering why I have not mentioned Afrofuturism in reference to Monáe. I find it interesting and important, but other people do it better. I spent so much time on exquisitely careful writing in my dissertation and now in my book; I want this blog to be easy and fun for me. Academic, careful writing can be fun, I’ll admit, but it’s not easy. Afrofuturism is a way of addressing Black peoples’ experiences with alienation on a massive, global scale and their resulting aspirations for a futuristic utopia. This idea is often formulated into cultural expressions, like music, literature, film, and other types of performance. For more on Afrofuturism, I turn your attention to Alondra Nelson. (When she was in grad school at NYU, I was an undergrad student and took some classes from her!!) Please also check out this fellow for some brilliant insights into this concept as it relates to Detroit music: Tobias Van Veen.

It’s a concept that relates beautifully to the music and ideas of the Detroit techno group, Drexciya.

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