Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Thank you, Detroit

Posted By on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 11:41 PM

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I’m not going to lie to you – this isn’t easy. This week, the final City Slang local music column will be published in the Metro Times (on hardcore band Final Assault), and I have just submitted a cover feature on the women of Detroit hip-hop, to be published next week (8/6). This blog that you’re reading now will be my last one as a regular MT contributor.

I have a lot to look forward to. I’m going to be an associate editor at Yellow Scene Magazine in Colorado, a tremendous publication in a beautiful part of the country. But leaving Detroit will be incredibly difficult for me. I love the place.

It’s been (amazingly) six and a half years since I arrived, a couple of cases in hand and not much of a plan in mind. I just knew, after three separate research trips for books and a magazine article, that I felt at home here. Metro Times offered me freelance work almost immediately, as did a new website called Metromix (whatever happened to that?)

When I arrived here, I had been working as a writer in the UK for nine years, but the help and encouragement I received from the likes of Bill Holdship and Brian Smith at the MT, BJ Hammerstein and Rachel May at Metromix/Free Press and Jerry Vile of (then) Essential Detroit and the Dirty Show (Jerry sponsored me for that first work visa) was invaluable and I’ll be forever grateful.

Over the six years that I spent in Detroit, I worked at Crain’s Detroit Business, an ad agency in Ferndale called Driven, and a financial website called Benzinga. All three provided me with some excellent experience, and I’m grateful to the superb people that I met along the way. I left all of those places with my head held high and, in some cases, awards to add to my resume.

But a full time job at Metro Times was always my ambition (I had been writing the weekly City Slang column for a couple of years already), and I was finally able to jump onboard in October 2012. There wasn’t a position open in editorial, so I initially worked in the business department (thanks Tara Yenglin), and then kinda slid over during the course of a year.

It was much-maligned former editor Bryan Gottlieb plus former publisher Chris Sexson who smoothed over my transfer from business to editorial, so I’m grateful to those guys too. The way that my stint in the job ended does nothing to dirty the fact that I had a wonderful time as a staff writer and then music editor with the newspaper. The fact that I got to learn from people like Michael Jackman (an inspiration and all-round bad ass), Vince Grzegorek, Curt Guyette (briefly, but importantly), and Valerie Vande Panne is something that I’ll always hold dear. I didn’t get to work full time for Kim Heron but he was always a cool editor for me, and I loved working with Lee DeVito, Ryan Felton, Dave Mesrey, Alysa Offman and Katherine Montalto while I was there. People outside of edit too, like Jim Cohen, Robert Nixon, Holly Rhodes and Laura Czupinski. No offense if I missed anybody. I also worked with a lot of great interns and freelancers.

And then there are the many people that I wrote about. I can’t even begin to list them all, but I want to thank all of the bands, musicians, artists, comedians, film-makers and actors, etc, in Detroit that I interviewed and/or reviewed over the past six and a half years. You all contributed to what has been a wonderful time in my life. I said when I arrived that the sheer volume of artistic talent in metro Detroit is incredible, and that remains so. It’s been an honor to write for and about you.

When I told Steve Neavling of the Motor City Muckraker last month that “I still believe in this wonderful newspaper,” I meant it. It was also true that I intended to stay on as a regular contributor at the time, but this full time opportunity in Colorado is too good to turn down, and the fact that they snapped me up within two weeks of my departure from MT was important.

I won a couple of SPJ awards while at the MT, and that’s nice. But as I drive out of Michigan in a loaded U-Haul next week, it’s the many bar meetings with bands and musicians, the countless live shows, and the editorial meetings with those talented people that will be swimming through my mind. My two favorite things born in Detroit, my wife and my son, I’m taking with me. The rest of you – you just won’t fit in my truck because of all of the CDs.

I’m going to miss Detroit immensely, but I’m a better writer, editor and man because of it. You guys might not have liked everything I ever wrote, but that’s ok. It comes with the gig. But I always loved writing in Detroit, and especially for the MT. I’ll miss it, but I have new challenges ahead of me. Keep reading me on Facebook and, of course, keep reading the Metro Times.

Thanks for everything, Detroit.


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