Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Wizard

Lately I've been in the process- the long, arduous process- of digitizing my cassette collection. I figure that cassettes don't last forever, and I've been feeling a bit nostalgic I guess. So, don't expect any wild Rhythm Cartel mp3 posts here, but I have run across some very interesting stuff in the process.

Most of the tapes that I've been digitizing to CD (ok, Brandon in my office has been doing the dirty work for me but I've supervised it closely) are either my own old demos and beats or early works of groups or rappers that I've worked with. There is plenty of old Rhythm Cartel stuff (that is the name of the rap group I was in from '89-'93, I'll post the history here at some point) but there is also old Eminem demos, D12 stuff, Proof stuff, and various random and scattered Detroit material that never made it to the public.

What inspired this post though is the unlabeled b-side of a cassette that contained some random 1989 recordings from WJLB, FM 98. The recording from the radio includes a tragically brief portion of a mixshow segment from the best old-school DJ that Detroit has ever seen: The Wizard. The Wizard, a/k/a Jeff Mills, was a groundbreaking Detroit radio mainstay that amazed the city from the mid-eighties to the early nineties. This guy played a seamless blend of techno, house and hip-hop with amazing dexterity and ease. He would go from things like Cybertron to Kraftwerk to Afrika Bambaata to random audio snippets from children storybook records to LL Cool J within 3 minutes. Granted, The Wizard made liberal use of the turntables' pitch-control abilities but somehow his genre mashing style always seemed to work.

Detroit radio in the '80s was generally devoid of hip-hop with the exception of mixshow DJ's and a gentleman named The Electryifying Mojo (he's worthy of an entire separate entry so I'll save the details on Mojo for now). So, me being the rap-hungry youngster that I was, I would dutifully listen to The Wizard for new music as often as possible. I don't remember exactly, but I think The Wizard's show would be from 11pm-1am weekdays. That was too late for a kid in high-school, so at 11 right before I went to sleep my practice was to press record, turn the volume off, and see what I got on tape the next day on the way to school in my 1979 Chrysler Cordoba (super sweet). I wish I had all of those tapes from back then, but I don't know what happened to them. Often I would just record over them to get the latest mixes.

When doing some Google work, I stumbled across an article from Detroit's weekly rag The Metro Times from 2001 that describes The Wizard's history in more detail, which you can check out here http://www.metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=1314. There is another Metro Times article from this year that goes way more in depth at http://www.metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=10535. Also, I found a couple of downloadable mixes that give a good taste of what this man was capable of. You can check a mix from 1988 out here http://mixesdb.com/db/index.php/1988_-_Jeff_Mills_aka_The_Wizard_-_WJLB_Mixshow_Detroit. Any fan of good, old-school music will love this. Trust me its worth the time downloading (for promo-use only, of course).

I don't know what The Wizard is doing these days, although I do know that eventually he became much heavier in the house music scene than hip-hop. Anyway, if you get the chance read the articles and download the mix. Its really great stuff from a legend in my book.

P.S. If anyone has a lead on any old Wizard recordings, please leave a comment and tell us how we can get them. Thanks!

Critical Beatdown

The Detroit Tigers severely beat the New York Yankees at Comerica Park in Detroit last night (8/27/07) 16-0. In fact, this was a record-breaking shutout. It was the most one-sided road shutout loss in the Yankees' history, topping a 15-0 defeat at the Chicago White Sox on July 15, 1907, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Oh, brother. Go Tigers!

Monday, August 27, 2007

R.I.P. Tori

Lady Victoria of Branchwood Trudell, (aka my wife's family's dog Tori) has passed away from leukemia. She will be missed. June, 1992-August 2007.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Judd Apatow Flicks

If you don't know about Judd Apatow, or just kind of know, then I have some advice: figure out a way and watch everything he has been involved with as either producer, diretor or writer.
I know I'm late on it, but I just got a chance to see Superbad last night. It was as good as I expected, even with all of the hype and folks telling me that I was retarded for not having seen it yet. This film is just the latest in growing line of Apatow-related projects...
I first heard of Judd through the cult-classic and way to short-lived television series Freaks & Geeks and later its little brother, the also ill fated Undeclared. Both of these series are available in their entirety on DVD box sets. They are like a preview of what was to come from Judd and the crew of actors and writers he continues to work with. But it doesn't stop there...
This man produced Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Taladega Nights: The Story of Ricky Bobby, and the recently released Knocked Up. If you haven't seen these films, please do. They are exceptionally funny and original works. A lot of them involve a lot of the same group of actors that rotate in and out, with new ones popping up every once in a while. This crew includes Steve Carrell, Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogan, and the list goes on and on.
Earlier in his producer/writer career, Judd worked on The Cable Guy, The Larry Sanders Show and another cult classic, The Ben Stiller Show. He even worked as a writer and producer on the television cartoon series The Critic starring the voice of Jon Lovitz back in the day (that shit was hilarious). This guy knows how to spot a great property and attach incredible talent to it in the comedy film genre like nobody else at the moment. Its not an easy thing to do- trust me. Anybody who's ever worked in the film industry knows what I mean.
The thing that I like most about the types of TV shows (mainly Undeclared and Freaks) and the films (mainly 40 Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Superbad) that Judd works on is their low-budget, everyman nature. Judd works in a very common and easily relate-able world with low budgets and makes shockingly funny, original and super smart humor out of it. The last producer/writer/director that comes to mind that worked in a similar world and created cultural classic films from a rotating crew of mainly new talent that I can recall was John Hughes (Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller's Day Off). That's good company to be in.
Next on deck for Judd is Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story starring John C. Reilly which looks every bit as good as the recent releases. Consider Judd Apatow like your favorite record label, and go get involved with everything he puts out. Judd did not pay me to write this blog posting. Yet.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Knux in NYC

Myself and Dart Parker at Goliath Artists manage the above-pictured (pardon the clarity it was late) group, The Knux. This photo is from their debut NYC performance at Mark Ronson and Aaron LaCrate's monthly super-hip extravaganza, YoYo! at Love in the village. On the left is Al and the right is Krispy.
These two natives of New Orleans signed to HHH/Interscope late last year and have completed recording and mixing their debut LP, Remind Me In 4 Days... The album should come out early next year, with some singles (not Ringles) coming your way soon. Looks like they will be on the west coast leg of a tour by a popular rapper who just dropped a fantastic album very soon. Its difficult to categorize their music, but I find myself referring to it as retro but progressive hip-hop. Both guys rap, sing choruses, and play some instruments. Its really great stuff.
The performance last night was very entertaining, and its tough to rock that crowd of skeptics with songs they have never heard before. But they did. Knux, stand up and salute yourselves!

Monday, August 20, 2007


The music industry is definitely in a bad spot. The same technology that made untold fortunes from the late eighties through the end of last century came back and bit us in our collective asses. The invention of music in digital form made it too easy for people to file share, burn cd's, stock mp3 players, and one-click download entire catalogs for free.
I firmly believe that once that same digital technology progresses even further and the G4 or maybe even G5 networks are up and blazing that our industry problems will be solved. No more owning music. Forget a CD, forget a hard drive, forget an Ipod (in its current storage form). Music will be streamed to us- whatever we wanna hear, whenever we wanna hear it. Beautiful, clean, convenient, and worth PAYING for. Without a need to own anything but the device that plays it.
BUT, until then, there is some desperate stuff going on out there. My esteemed colleagues have informed me of a new initiative to make people PAY for music- The Ringle. A Ringle consists of a little fun-pack that includes a single, a remix of that single, an album cut or catalog selection, a ringtone, and a wallpaper. For like $5.99.
I hate that shit. What? You wanna charge half the price of an album for a single in multiple forms and a picture of the artists face on your phone that plays the ringtone of the moment through a flat speaker the size of a dime? And you wanna know what's killing the music industry?
Bullshit temporary solutions like this don't help. They hurt the art of the album, and make the consumer want to stay away even more. Let's spend our time and money trying to make a long-term solution. Not on marketing songs for more money a piece than people are already NOT paying.
Where are people supposed to buy Ringles anyway? The record store? Good luck finding one. And what a name- Ringle. Come on...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Cameron Maybin

This weekend, Friday and Saturday, some good friends set us up with some great tickets for the Tigers/Yankees games at Yankee Stadium. Let me start off by saying that although I enjoy baseball, I'm not the hugest fan of the sport. Yeah, I played little league back in the day (shout out to the '79 N.F.W.B. Twins), and collected cards like a madman (before you ask, I sold them all in '90 to my freshman roommate for $600 or so and bought a drum machine). But as an adult, I really spend most of my dedication in pro-sports to football and basketball.

That being said, I don't pass up on a great opportunity to see a great game if I can make it- especially when its an important series like this in the Bronx and we have front row seats next to the third base line near the dugout. Also, I'm a 300 pound man and I like beer, hot dogs and peanuts. The extra special part of these 2 games that we got to see was the pro-debut of the Tigers' Cameron Maybin, as well as his first major league homer. Although Cam didn't fair that well against Andy Pettitte, in his second pro game he smacked one out of the park against 45 year old Roger Clemens (20 years his senior, Maybin is only 20 years old). That's quite a way to be induced into the pros- Yankee Stadium against two seasoned veteran pitchers.

Keep an eye out for this guy, an insider told me that the Tigers consider him a big part of their future. Cam can hit, home run, and steal bases. Now, as for the Tigers going 1 for 4 against the Yanks when they needed the wins, that's another story...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Birthday Gift

My good friend, and professional publicist, Dennis Dennehy, is pictured. See, Dennis decided that he was going to grow his hair really long. I didn't really approve.

So at my birthday gathering on August 3rd, Dennis gave me the best gift he could give. He let me cut that long, strandy mane off.

I didn't go overboard, just gave him a nice #4 all-over. I even used a flashlight to make sure I didn't miss any spots. However, Dennis evidently decided that he liked his new short crop. In fact, he liked it so much that he wanted it shorter.

So he cut it all the way off. Leave your comments and let us know what you think of Dennis's new 'do. I think the #4 style was more flattering personally.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

An early blog problem...

I've already encountered one of the problems of having a blog. It seems that people, whether you know them or not really so much, have suggestions about what you should write about. Particularly people like your wife.

So, my wife decided that since I was posting pictures, I should post one of her. That she likes. That she gave me.

So, Allison, here is a picture of you that you like because you selected it, and another picture of you shooting yourself in the mouth with the marshmallow gun that you bought me for my birthday.

The gun really does shoot mini-marshmallows and I was shooting them later at her head so she could try and catch them in her mouth. Who says being married is boring?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

John Can K.M.A.

The usually genius folks at HBO have decided to CANCEL their new series John From Cincinatti after its debut first set.
John can kiss my ass.
I wasted 8 or 9 hours watching that show trying to figure out exactly what the hell was going on. Floating surfers? Gay hotel owners? Christ like alien super healing mimic men? WTF?
We were all sure in the season finale that they were going to explain it all. Sure they were, right? Wrong. Nothin'. Nada. Left us hanging again. Then HBO cancels the whole damned thing.
John can kiss my ass.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


One of my favorite clients (and friend), The Alchemist, is finishing up his sophomore album. He's in the process of mixing it and it is excellent hip-hop. Al's album still might drop this year, we are working on logistics. I took this picture in '04 at Al's crib/home studio.

Hey, what ever happened to...? #1

Doug E. Doug

I was watching Hangin' With the Homeboys (1991) last night on some Showtime mutation and it made me realize that this guy kind of disappeared.

I think that this Brooklyn-based actor first appeared on The Cosby Show in the late '80s and seemed like a promising new hip-hop generation actor. I seem to also remember that he did some stuff with MTV and maybe Yo! MTV Raps back in the day too. Hangin' with the Homeboyz was a good, low budget indie flick especially considering the fact that the genre of hip-hop influenced films not actually about rap music or breakdancing were very few and far between.

He had a lot of promise, but the downfall seemed to be his role in Cool Runnings (1993) as Sanka Coffee. Yep...

Monday, August 13, 2007


Men can wear jewelry. I'm even down with the occasional pinky ring. Watches. Bracelets. Earrings. Those are all passable in my book.
I draw the line though. Everyone should. A thumbrings.
The mere wearing of one means that you are a mighty douche.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

One Up!

Everyone has a blog. So what will make mine different? I think I figured it out... My blog will contain photos taken only by myself, or at least with my camera or blackberry. At least that's the plan for now. That way at least you can be sure I know what I'm talking about. I took the photos above after the Mickey Avalon show at The Shelter on 8/9/07.

So this one is special. This place- no wait- institution- is someplace very special to me and to the City of Detroit. When I was a kid, my father used to take me to this little super old school Coney Island restaurant, and the place still stands strong as ever. LAFAYETTE CONEY ISLAND.

For those of you not from The D, or not familiar with it anyway, you are probably scratching your heads. "I thought Coney Island was that place in BK where they have the roller coaster and the Zoltar thing from the Tom Hanks flick". Well, it is. But follow me... There is a world famous hot dog establishment on Brooklyn's Coney Island called Nathan's. Nathan's, as you may know, developed into a nationwide hot dog chain. They are also the home of the annual hot dog eating competition where that Japanese kid always wins. It is also said that Coney Island is the birthplace of the hot dog. So, Detroit decided that all restaurants where they serve chili dogs as a specialty are going to be called Coney Island restaurants. I know its a logical leap, but that's the way it is. And we have TONS of them. People in Detroit are fat, and they love chili dogs (and fried food- right Sheck?). Also for some reason, a lot of these establishments are owned and operated by Greek folks. I don't know why.

So, as far as I'm concerned, Lafayette Coney Island, probably one of the oldest, is THE BEST hands down. For late night grease satisfaction, there is no place finer. Its open late (I think until like 4 am on the weekends) and they serve very few things- chili dogs, loose chili dogs (a hot dog bun with ground hamburger and chili on top), french fries, a bowl of chili, sodas (they call them "pop" in Michigan), beer, and some assorted pies. That's it. Don't go there and order sauerkraut. They don't have it and they probably will just shrug their shoulders and walk away.

I stole some history on the place from a different blog:

Gust Keros immigrated to Detroit from Greece in 1910 and opened American Coney Island in 1929 on Lafayette Avenue. His nickel dogs were so successful that he sent for his brother William and trained him in the business. When the storefront next door became available, William started Lafayette Coney Island. The two have remained side by side for the past 70 years and are still owned by third generation family members.

Now, American Coney Island, right next door to Lafayette, is nowhere near as good. In fact, it sucks compared to Lafayette. When we I first started going to Lafayette with my father, up until around 1990, they didn't serve french fries, only potato chips. American stole business from them by serving fries way before Lafayette. However, I have such loyalty to Lafayette that I only ate at American a few times, and it was only when Lafayette was closed (American seems to stay open later). Proof used to like American better, and made me go there with him once late night with Mark Hicks. He argued with me all the time that it was better. I miss you P, but you were wrong on this one.
Lafayette Coney Island, 118 W Lafayette Blvd. Detroit, MI 48226 (313) 964-8198

It's called an addiction, folks...

Ok well this is my first post on my first blog. Ever.

So I'm not sure what really made me start to do this, other than the fact that RIMM finally put a camera on a blackberry (The Curve). What the hell were they waiting for? Oh, right, the Iphone (don't even get me started on that...)

So that being the case, I'm in a unique position to frequently photograph cool stuff. So I do. This, I think, isnt as cool as it is shocking, and perhaps irritating. It's a small portion of my storage locker at Manhattan Mini-Storage. Thats right... unworn sneakers. I annoy myself with it, so I know others find it obnoxious. BUT- I can't stop.