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 | 1 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 | 3 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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Making some changes.

01.07.14 | Permalink | 1 Comment

I’m trying to write different stuff more often. I’ve updated lots around here, most of it you won’t see. But I had to reacquaint myself with file transfer protocol because I hadn’t done it in about two years. Done. Links are updated. The about page is modified slightly with more to come. Schoolcraftwax has a new contributor. Ewolf is his name. I’ll leave it up to him to introduce himself in anyway he deems desirable. His ideas are stellar. We’ll both be writing about music in ways that you haven’t seen on this here schoolcraftwax screen. Detroit remains an essential focus, but it is no longer exclusive. We’ll both be writing about all the disparate types of sounds that we go crazy for. It’s vast.

Small Detroit update: there’s good music happening.

January 11 – Robert Hood – Grasshopper Underground

January 12 – Andres – Grasshopper Underground

March 28 – Moodymann – Grasshopper Underground

There’s more than that happening, of course, but I am a temporary curmudgeon who stays in more often than not. No good reason, I just do.

And I’ll leave you with this because it’s something I’ve been enjoying:

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