21 Comments (since 28 Aug 2015)
Thirteen to go. An alternative take on the story of Detroit, as seen through one man's eyes, nearly 40 years after the riots (said to have been the inspiration for the Jammed track from Bowie's 1973 album "Aladdin Sane") took place there in 1967. Ryan Cooper (aka "AlphaRat", from the blog "Kit Burns was framed!", http://alpharat.blogspot.co.uk/) recounts his experience of just one trip downtown in 2005:
"If you've been to downtown Detroit you know what I'm talking about when I mention boarded-up skyscrapers. Detroit has entire sections of downtown that are all but abandoned; Bowie wrote 'Panic in Detroit' about them. The club we went to was in one of these areas. We parked in an alley behind the bar. I was a bit worried about the car being stolen, as there was a cockroach the size of pony on the wall in the alley, and I think he was debating whether or not he could wrestle the keys from me.
"Entering the back door of the bar, we were greeted by the leering face of a madman, screaming 'Drink, you bitches!' This was the owner of the bar.
'He looked a lot like Che Guevara, drove a diesel van
Kept his gun in quiet seclusion, such a humble man'
- David Bowie, Panic In Detroit
At one time, this place was amazing. It had vaulted ceilings, chandeliers, a balcony with seating, and a decent sound system. This was before the owner gave up and stopped cleaning the place.
"The place smelled of mould. The tables on the balcony were buried in beer bottles, and we noted that a newspaper on one of the tables was two weeks old. Trash piled up everywhere, and the phone behind the bar sat off the hook, the receiver half hidden by a pile of paper. The lights on the balcony were out, and half the bulbs on the chandelier were burnt out or missing. For a moment, I wondered if I'd had an allergic reaction ... and was in a coma somewhere.
"There were 10 people in the bar; six were the DJs, one was the owner. He told us to go behind the bar and take what we wanted. We could pay him what we thought we owed at the end of the night. Then he smashed a bottle against the wall.
'He laughed at accidental sirens
that broke the evening gloom
The police had warned of repercussions
They followed none too soon
A trickle of strangers were all that were left alive'
- David Bowie, Panic In Detroit
"The rest of the night proceeded as uneventfully as this place could be; our friend played a surreal set, bouncing from 'James Brown' to 'Iron Maiden' to 'Depeche Mode' to 'Skinny Puppy' to 'Dead or Alive'. It was the perfect soundtrack to this place, where the owner stopped back to chat, turn the music up or down, or throw bottles and light bulbs at the wall or the DJs. Handing me a bottle, he instructed 'the key is to throw it so it drops just in front of the DJs.
"If you throw it too hard, you could hit the window. Trust me, that was expensive'. I, however, declined to chuck a bottle. As we talked to this manic guy, the story began to take shape; he had simply given up on the neighbourhood, the bar, the city; he'd stopped cleaning, and was planning on closing in a month. Until then, it was anything goes. Drink up the bottled beer, the kegs aren't working and I'm not fixing them.
"Nope, you guys drank the last of the Newcastle, how about a Heineken? All in all, it really felt like we had found a bar that was closed, snuck in, and made it our own. Or that we were in some 'Mad Max' movie, living it up in a post-apocalyptic city. It's not a bad place; you should check it out before it's gone, if you can find it, and if your idea of a good night out is to pretend you're in Berlin after the war." Wow. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panic_in_Detroit
Hi Lee. HAven't listened to this for ages and I'd forgotten how good it sounds. A fine Jam.
Great story, great song...
@leejohnson thanks for the info. most interesting, as is your norm
@Fullam @ErnieBilko @hsmagnet @Richie3000 :)
Great song! I hope to see you posting all your jams on Nusiki now -- it's awesome! www.Nusiki.com
@MackWatts oooer @21schizoid
@daved Yep, I got one of those, too. I'll check it out. Read a wee bit, but not enough to get enthused just yet... #newsick
As with much of Mr Jones best work, this can be summed up with one word: "Ronson".
@MackWatts Er, no. Been there, got spooked by five followers in two minutes after signing up, deleted account. Felt like I was pounced on as soon as I entered. Not for me.
@ian38018 Correct. The shy, unassuming guy never got his true accolades. Anywhere much. And by the time he got them, the Big C had claimed him. :(
For me, post-TIMJ, it's "Let's Loop" all the way, in case anyone else is going there. :)
with ya...learnt so much from this site...+ all these new Bowies...:)
@lynn200 Can you get Let's Loop then, Lynn? I thought I read somewhere that you couldn't. It'd be great to see you on there. :)