Kwame, Kurt Vonnegut & Mom 

Chaff:

• Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick possesses rare rhetorical skills. The man is downright Clintonesque as an orator and a flesh-presser. He can be at once sincere, inspiring and disarming, which is difficult for a man of his intimidating size. If he is able to govern as well as he speaks, his potential in politics is limitless.

• If you have suspicions about the pernicious influence of mega-record companies on music production, look no further than the success of bands such as Creed, System of a Down and Staind. Their music is offensive. The ascent of the power-pop geniuses in Jimmy Eat World, however, provides some solace.

• It’s astonishing that Detroit, a city that obsesses over its image, has allowed I-94 to exist in its present Third World state for so long. Almost everyone who flies into Detroit Metro Airport traverses it. Driving on the Gateway to Downtown is like a dip inside a blender. Perhaps we should market it as a thrill ride. A cabbie told me last week that five of his passengers — all first-time visitors to Detroit — had remarked on this colossal pain in asphalt in the past month. First impressions are difficult to alter.

• Suggested in-house slogan for Roman Catholic clergy: “Do Your Best, Don’t Molest!”

• You won’t find a better group of people — or a more comfortable environment — than at the Music Menu on Monroe Street. Great (mostly blues) music, good food, good vibes, a noticeable absence of pretense or malice. Music being the universal language, the venue is refreshingly well-integrated.

• I root for the Tigers. Unfortunately, only four or five players on the 25-man roster would have a shot to be starters for contending major-league clubs. It’s a team whose core is composed of bench players, and that means they must all overachieve simultaneously to have much success. Yet they’ve gone 10-7 since they ended their inaugural losing streak. They can hit a bit, but the pitching is thin gruel, indeed. If they win 70 games, I’ll eat my Braves cap.

• Speaking of the Tigers and Braves, it’s heartening to see Randall Simon spanking the ball with authority. You’ll recall that Simon, a former Brave, was the target of a thinly veiled racial slur uttered by John Rocker, the bigoted rhetorical beanballer, in that infamous Sports Illustrated piece. I’ve pulled for Simon ever since, and his swing is currently a thing of beauty.

• Pistons coach Rick Carlisle reminds me of Jim Carrey on lithium. It’s the Pistons, though, who are laughing hysterically. Ben Wallace is one of the most impressive athletes I’ve ever seen. He’s not just a player, he’s a weather system. When he goes up for a rebound, he seems to blot out half the horizon. If Wallace can polish his offensive game and develop a midrange fall-away shot (a la Karl Malone in his prime), the Pistons would have yet another scoring threat. They’d become more than contenders for years to come.

• Joey Harrington, the Lions’ No. 1 draft pick, will be a star.

• I wince when I see Kurt Vonnegut pimping for an investment bank. It was Vonnegut who validated my cynicism while piquing some intellectual curiosity and passion for the written word. But after seeing Ray Charles shill for Pepsi and B.B. King riffing for Burger King, nothing should surprise me. At a recent show at the Fox, B.B. and Bobby “Blue” Bland actually engaged in some extended repartee in which they waxed prideful about B.B.’s Whopper deal. I gagged. What’s next — Bob Dylan pitching Depends?

• If the city won’t rehabilitate its faded flower of a park, Belle Isle, it should sell it to someone who will. Kilpatrick wants to develop a new park on the riverfront where casinos were once envisioned. Why not sell that land and use the proceeds to spruce up Hog Island? It could be Central Park, but surrounded by water.

• One fascinating aspect of my job is hearing the life stories of a wide range of people. With increasing frequency, I hear accounts of truly wretched childhoods. Such sordid tales make me all the more thankful for the stable, loving environment in which I was reared. And with Mother’s Day imminent, I’ll seize this opportunity to express my gratitude and admiration for Mom. If I attribute supernatural powers to her, it’s only because I’ve seen this mother of seven do the loaves and fishes trick so many times. Living in a sod house during the Depression imbued her with fortitude unimaginable to my pampered generation. Her health gives her fits, but her spirit, faith, intellect and compassion remain an inspiration to all lucky enough to know her. I’d share a foxhole with her any day.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Aren’t you proud this column didn’t contain any curse words?

Jeremy Voas is the editor of Metro Times. Send comments to jvoas@metrotimes.com

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