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They Might be in Detroit

I'll admit I'm a huge They Might Be Giants fan (both as an adult and as a parent) so I was caught by surprise when local online news rag Model D linked to this blog post from the band.

They Might Be Giants recently played in Detroit and singer John Linnell had this to say:

Some places we revisit, like Madison, Wisconsin, are like pleasant old friends who throw an arm around us and press cups of hot cider into our grateful, chilly hands. Some towns, like Detroit, are like unstable, chain-smoking former roommates who behave unpredictably each time we reunite. They may suddenly explode with long-standing resentments, or they may surprise us with an insightful witticism. Detroit, indeed, is a place that even hardened New Yorkers approach with trepidation.

There was nothing unpleasant, however, about the crowd that greeted us at St. Andrews Hall this recent visit. The club has existed in Detroit's blighted center for as long as we've been touring, but the mood inside was warm and friendly. Our guitarist Dan Miller felt comfortable enough after the show to walk the half mile back to our hotel. Afterward, he was informed that he had miraculously cheated being stabbed to death.

I find myself drawn to the eerie specter of the abandoned, boarded up skyscrapers next to where we are staying. The giant ailanthus trees growing like weeds on their upper stories evoke a post-apocalyptic trope.

While not terribly pleasant, it was interesting to read. The band is from Brooklyn, so they know of what they speak, I suppose. But I find the jab (ha ha Detroit humor) about the guitarist not getting stabbed kind of stale. He must believe in that old T-shirt slogan -- Detroit: Where the weak are killed and eaten.

Read it all here.

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  • 1

    If John Linnell is into making comparisons, Ann Arbor is demographically, a far more accurate comparison to Madison than Detroit is. Comparing Madison, Wisconsin, a college town, to Detroit, an industrial city with 4 times the population of Madison and twice the area, is like comparing feather pillows to engine blocks - not in the same category and certainly not remotely close to a fair comparison.

    • 1.1

      So true, you can't compare the two. As far as the "unstable" comment, I don't know, there are more than a few bands Detroit loves and are loyal to no matter how long it's been since the band has played here. Maybe the Giants haven't developed rabid enough fans (I have to admit I've never heard of them).

      Speaking of t-shirts, my favorite one had a picture of a smoking gun and read "Come back to Detroit.....we missed you the first time".

  • 2

    Half mile from St. Andrews and across from an abandoned building with trees growing in it...sounds like they were at the Book Cadillac, and that bldg was the Lafayette building?

    Jeff, I don't think he was making comparisons of the city's demographics or land area, I think it was more a comparison of their personalities, and in that, every city is certainly different. I love the analogy of cities as people, and I think you could definitely characterize Detroit as unstable...but given to surprise you on occasion. And I mean, in his analogy, you're still friends with the roommate.

    I'm glad they came, liked it, and didn't even get stabbed!

  • 3

    I am a 62 year old white woman and the area around St. Andrews is not scary or dangerous. That is a myth pure and simple.

    I worked for Detroit Parks and Rec in the 60's and in Detroit Public Schools from 69-74. I was born in Detroit and graduated from Detroit Public Schools. My first husband was a roadie for the MC5 for about a year. Detroit is wonderful, the people of Detroit are great. It is the media that distorts the reality because it takes a long time to know a place not a month or a year.

    I lived in Colorado, Sunrise Ranch in Eden Valley the oldest alternative community in the United States. I live all over New York, Upstate the Catskills, Long Island, Wantaugh, Westchester and I rank Detroit as a equal to those places equal but different. The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, Orchestra Hall, Bakers Keyboard Lounge the oldest Jazz Club in the United States, the incredible Detroit Jazz Festival where I have seen McCoy Tyner, Amad Jamal, Chick Korea, Tah Mahal, Aretha, Dave Brubeck, Herbie Hancock just to name a few all free and wonderful friendly atmosphere. Yes Detroit is a secret jewel and we like it like that! I am never afraid to walk around Detroit. I know it like the back of my hand and I am not afraid to straighten out a bum or 2 when necessary they can get pushy! Most crime and violence (as has been long known) happens between people who know each other not usually strangers that is a fact. When unemployment goes up so does crime. Don't own a gun and you won't be tempted to use it when you get in an argument! Common sense. Fear is a tremendous tool used by the media and the right wing and left wing to control and manipulate and create a disorted drama that does not benefit anyone but the exploiter! So don't contribute to the fear mongering just to get attention in the long run it will not work because anything that violates the Truth always ends in distruction!

    • 3.1

      "My first husband was a roadie for the MC5 for about a year"

      Awesome. The MC5 is one of the greatest bands ever.
      It's fascinating to hear comments from those who have lived in other places and are able to compare their experiences. Thanks for posting.

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