Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock and Roll in America’s Loudest City– Steve Miller (Da Capo Press)

detroit rock city bookCall me biased and armed with far too much hindsight for my own good, but for a brief time in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Detroit was the lesser-known but undeniable epicentre of genuine rock and roll. The music industry, as it was, might have had its moneyed roots deeply planted on America’s East and West Coasts, but the real action was occurring deep in the US Midwest.

Sure, there was Motown and its over-ground success that eventually shifted to L.A. to mutate and die but we’re talking a parallel universe here that was populated by a different cast of characters plying a blue-collar strain of music. It’s an eternal truism that musical scenes never last. The Motor City’s rock and roll had its moment but succumbed to fashion, drugs, shifting attention spans – whatever factors play to your own historical biases – and has never recovered.

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World (Rezolution Pictures)

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“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” ― Upton Sinclair

Some chipper go-getter types, reportedly, have had wonderfully gratifying early educational experiences, they seem to remember fondly. They are most often, obedient Ken & Barbie yearbook committee types with prominent last names, from bigass two storey homes nestled behind many old trees, and have nice cursive handwriting and strong math skills, own a lot of golf shirts in at least 31 various shades of Baskin Robbins, dutifully participate in sports, roller-skate, cheer-lead, earned many merit badges, and have already memorized the entire big bamboozle bullshit whitewash Murkkkan history that photo-shops all the hard and painful facts about this violent blood soaked empire settler colony that was built on the genocide of natives with the labor of slaves.

Back Behind The Kit - TV4 documentary

back behind the kit

So as a person with an extremely limited disposable income, I am unaccustomed to experiencing so much high quality entertainment in a short period of time.

A family member tripped across some kind of free trial TV subscription service and I keep binge-watching music flicks-witnessing one marvelous show after the next, kind of glimpsing how so many of my former peers are able to stay apolitical, apathetic, suitably sedated in their consumer hypno-spells.

Mad Marc Rude: Blood, Ink & Needles. Directed by Carl Schneider

mad marc rude"He was a cocked pistol." -Robert Williams.

Mad Marc Rude grew up in ‘60s New York, the son of an abuser cop and negligent mom, who frequently expelled both him and his sister from the family home. He attended Woodstock the year I was busy being born. 

I think I first became aware of him as a teenager, when I read an article about the Hollywood punk underground in the pages of Rolling Stone. I already published a shitty fanzine and was the rowdy front man for a defiantly outcast Midwestern garage band that performed covers of Dead Boys, Misfits, Cramps, and Gun Club songs, as well as some sucky Dead Kennedys influenced originals with cartoonishly banal titles like, "Victims Of The System". 

Scenesters: Music, Mayhem & Melrose Ave (1985-90)

scenestersBy the time me and a flamehaired stripper with a sports car arrived in Hollywood, to look for the pot of gold at the end of the Rainbow Bar And Grill, it was mostly all over.

We were snorting up the last hours of sequins and vulgarity, mascara and laughter before the bad trip buzzkill of Cobain. We were squinting in the last blinding, big sprays of Aqua Net and final drunken caterwauls at Thursday night cattle calls, where a rogues' gallery of various whiskey sodden, speed freaky, Stars From Mars and Seaweed Eaters and Raw Flowers and Glamour Punks and Dawg Mafia and Queeny Blast Pop diehard, teased haired, Motley-Babies played their hopeless gutter-punk defiantly, even while Seattle was exploding into the mainstream.

It was the sad, last gasps of a cool and androgynous underground scene, as grunge and gangsta-rap and capitalist lifestyle unreality-tv programming were coming into vogue and all the faded  spandex stars of the strip had mostly got rich and sold-out, died, or gone straight.

Descent Into The Maelstrom: Brilliant documentary of a time, place and people

rob and denizWho's for popcorn? Rob Younger and Deniz Tek at the World Premiere.   Bruce Tindale photo 

It’s been pissing down in Sydney for morer than 24 hours.  I wait in a corner window at the Imperial Hotel, watching the steady torrent of streaming cars, my eye on the entrance to the Chauvel Cinema, tucked away inside Paddington Town Hall. A homecoming of sorts, 40 years on.

Fortry years. No longer is Radio Birdman a part of the zeitgeist, no longer are they merely an immediately cognisable legend. The weaves of history, misinformation and untruth, as well as the shedding of members and other things, like time moving on … all these things have taken place, as with many bands of yore.

"Gimme Danger" is neither a success or a failure

GimmeDangerPressConferenceIggy and Jim Jarmusch at a media conferecde in Cannes.

“Gimme Danger” is not a great movie. It is flawed.

That said, no-one expected the Citizen Kane of rock documentaries. This was a cut about the MTV Iggy doco that you can see online for free, but was mixed in with arty pretensions.

“Gimme Danger” is screening at major film festivals around the world. Tonight (June 17) it is the turn of the State Theatre and the Sydney International Film Festival. The audience is evenly split between film people who might not have heard of the Stooges and are there to judge a film on its filmmaking merits, or hardcore rock pigs who want be blasted with Stooges music.