Thursday, February 28, 2008


On February 6, a tenant of Forest Arms Apartments set what grew into a five alarm fire, resulting in at least 100 people without a home. Among the casualties was Brad Hales' record store, Peoples Records, which wasn't touched by the fire but drowned by the thousands-and-thousands of gallons of water pumped into the building.

Brad sent out a message on Friday, the 22nd, saying he would finally be allowed into Forest Arms on Saturday to salvage what remained and needed help. Around 4pm on the 23rd, Aaron and I split for Detroit in our nastiest duds.

Despite an entire youth spent exploring abandoned houses and burnt out buildings, Forest Arms, and especially Peoples, was nothing like I expected. The effects of the blaze were still fresh: pieces of the building were falling on workers outside, all windows had been boarded up, and water was in EVERYTHING. Still, it didn't occur to me that we'd be working in complete darkness until I walked into the store.

Shortly before we left, I watched a photo slideshow of Peoples' history. Just before the fire, the store was at its best, looking like the warmest, most beautiful spot in the world with immaculate handpainted 45 boxes, records everywhere, and Brad's endlessly positive vibes. Now, it looked like the musty, unoccupied Detroit basement room Brad moved into several years ago.

Along with about ten other fellows, Aaron and I helped to gut Peoples among standing water, black debris, and lots of smells. Half the stock, maybe less, was so damaged it had to be thrown into stacks for later trashing. When we gave up for lack of daylight around 6 or 7pm, we'd almost emptied one of the two main rooms of the store and stacked several thousand soggy or frozen LPs against two walls. Aaron and I followed Brad back to his house where we loaded into his basement everything that had been excavated from the store.

Brad remained incredibly positive throughout the day. Earlier, holding a particularly pathetic water-logged copy of Pharoah Sanders 1977 album Love Will Find A Way, he said "That's ten less copies of this record in the world." When the other workers slagged the album, Brad laughed and said, "Oh, I really like it!" Holding up another sopping record, he said, "Isn't life funny? When this happened, that's all I could think: life is funny."

In other news, my current favorite record label has a myspace page.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


The weekend was looking hectic. That is, to put it lightly. At 1pm, the day after Valentine's, Erin and I were standing in a Kalamazoo courthouse awaiting the short and incredibly sweet ceremony that would wed one of my oldest and closest friends, Jessica, to her man of the last several years. Immediately following the ceremony, we booked back to the married couple's house and imbibed for a few hours with their very nice (and often outright hilarious) families and friends before heading back to Ann Arbor for what would be a sleepless few days.

Back at the house, Brian was hosting a get-together raucous enough to contend with a party made up of four times the attendees. I half-participated in the good times while ripping countless CDs to Erin's laptop as she did some final packing. By 4am, we were the last ones standing and a bit haggard from the events. We snuck in about an hour or two of light sleep alternated with lovemaking, ran some errands after 9am, and left for the airport around 11am. The rest of the details I'll cherish for myself, thanks.

Afterward, I snuck in an hour of sleep and a cup of yogurt before DJing a prohibition-themed 6-hour party with Aaron. The crowd was primarily writers in their late-20s and early-30s, mostly into late-50s and early-60s rock & roll, sipping on Manhattans and gin martinis. A small group spent the last half hour of the night listening to someone's iPod in another space upstairs, which ACL may have taken as more of a "fuck you" than I. We DJed the Monday afterward too. That it was snowing sideways didn't affect the turnout all that much.

It's strange to come home to an empty bed. There is less beauty in this life without Erin. Still, we've been managing, even having fun, writing and chatting online every day. It's more bearable than we expected but I'm dying to see her. Paris seems like it would be nice too. (Sarcasm! - ed.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Erin's departure is about four short days away. We've been revisiting old haunts and going out a lot, reacquainting ourselves with our beginnings, albeit minus the criminal whiskey intake. It's been a dense week of seeing movies, eating out, visiting museums, and taking long drives into rural Michigan. Strangely, I've found myself reminiscing positively about Ypsilanti. It can be said without too hesitation that living in Ypsilanti was the pits until Erin & I started dating. It felt as though I was constantly fighting for air among the people I lived with, whether it was one person or more. [Brendan would be excluded from that last statement as it was enjoyable when just he and I were roommates.] When she and I got together, the world I anxiously dreamed of in my younger days was a reality.
The basement is looking pretty great and moving into it doesn't seem too crazy. It's a relatively large room and the bed, couch, and computers can most likely all fit in there. I'll split rent with the person that moves into the room Erin & I share and pay off my part long before I take off for France myself. To sweeten the pot for the others living in the house, I'll remove the chore system and clean the house every week myself.
In and of itself, change can be evolutionary or revolutionary and I've got a hunger for the former. The latter tends not to stick anyway. Let's hope the next several months yields dividends.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Detroit may be of a beautiful decay but the breaks are rough: Brad Hales' record shop was destroyed days ago when another tenant of the same building chose to barricade and torch his room rather than comply with an eviction. Although People's Records wasn't directly affected by the blaze, it's on the bottom of the building and five departments hosed the place down. The water was about four feet deep when Brad was finally allowed in. About 100 tenants are now homeless and Brad's opening shop in his basement.

Speaking of basements, I just reached my saturation point cleaning ours. The upstairs "living room" Erin and I rent will be sublet (subletted?) to a friend when she leaves for France. A few hours of moving boxes from that room and into an increasingly congested area has me a little overwhelmed. I was considering moving into the basement and subletting our current bedroom in an attempt to save money but have to mull it over a bit more. Discovering the source of a rusty stain creeping across the floor was a little disappointing: the drip that spawned it took a detour through a couple boxes of comic books. Hopefully they can be salvaged and sold for Paris rendezvous money. Selling most of my possessions would be ideal and would help to make a move less encumbered by crap that much more a reality. Still, Erin and I own most of the furniture in the house and will eventually have to do something about that. Then again, by the time we return from Paris, it'll all be trash, I'm sure.

God damn, Ann Arbor. You're killing me.

Saturday, February 09, 2008


The final episode of Twin Peaks debuted the night before the last day of 5th grade. Is it telling that the scene I remember most is of Audrey Horne cuffing herself to the barred door of a bank vault? Hmm.... Paging Dr. Freud! Now we're onto something! Jimmy Scott's strange voice haunted me for years. If I ever found a singer with such prowess, I'd never go near a microphone again.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


I rang in the new year shooting Alligator Gar with a crossbow on a yacht outside of New Orleans with a dildo salesman named Chevy Chase ("We share a name but have never met." Fascinating.). We listened to Herb Alpert, drank awful butt whiskey, and talked about our high school friends. Eventually, I passed out in the ladies' room of the Cat Box after a stirring duet rendition of "Shadow Of Your Smile". By February, I was caught in a game of Lazer Tag with a slave owner. In March, I passed the coiffeur exam in Rinaldo, B.C.