Archive for the Detroit Category

Rise to the Top: Exposing the F(l)akers & Being Thankful for the Human Victory Cigar

Posted in Basketball, Detroit, humor, life, Pistons on February 23, 2009 by trapperKeeper


As the Pistons’ season falls into further disarray there is no time better than the present to wax poetically about the past. As William DeVaughn sang, “just be thankful for what you got.” And there were plenty of moments from 2003-2004 to be appreciative for as Joe D realized the same level of success as a GM as he had as a player with a team built similarly to the original Bad Boys. Ferocious defensive intensity, a strong bench, good chemistry, and just enough scoring, made the faithful hopeful for a better chance to reach the finals.

Few had expected the Pistons’ to beat the Nets. A pattern runs through basketball history of champions failing before succeeding. The original Bad Boys had to battle and lose to the Celtics and Showtime Lakers. Jordan’s Bulls took lumps at the hands of the Bad Boys. Likewise, Detroit had to take some lumps before getting over the hump. Still, the way the Pistons lost to the Nets was disheartening. Having home court advantage, it was safe to count on the Pistons stretching the series to five or six games. As I stated previously, the Pistons’ weaknesses, specifically the lack of a small forward and explosive scoring, were exposed by the Nets. Tayshaun had gotten a few starts that series and looked like a potential solution to the small forward problem.  Would he also be the answer to the Pistons’ offensive woes?  Certainly, replacing Michael Curry with Prince would provide an immediate boost to the offense, but how much of one?

Fortunately, the Pistons were in a good position to address their roster issues, having two first round draft picks, including the second overall pick, thanks to Joe D’s skills. Carmelo Anthony was talked about for logical reasons. The Pistons needed to upgrade the SF position.  Even more, they needed a scorer for the moments the offense grew stagnant. Melo would have filled both roles while Prince could have still have gotten significant playing time.


However, Darko, aka “the human victory cigar” was in the draft. Some commentators and fans seem to forget that Darko was the consensus #2 pick. He was an athletic 7-footer, who could run like a deer, showed decent passing, shot blocking, and shooting ability. Certainly, he was raw at age 17, but the potential within his package was too much too pass up. He was projected as the second pick on every team’s draft board. In short, Darko fooled more than just Joe D and the Pistons with his bouncy gait, length and love of Europop.


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Happy Parliafunkadelicment Presidents’ Thangday, Do You Know Where Your Towel Is?

Posted in Detroit, humor, Music, P-Funk on February 16, 2009 by trapperKeeper

Happy Parliafunkadelicment Presidents’ Thangday. In honor of the late, great funky president James Brown, today’s P-Funk post will honor James Brown emphasis on the One. James Brown’s obsession with the one had a major impact on the development of funk.  In 1970, James Brown’s band pulled a sit down strike over wages daring James to blink.  Unfortunately for them, the Funky President flew in the Pacesetters, a band Bootsy had formed in 1968 with his brother, Phelps or “Catfish,” Frank “Cash” Waddy, and Philippe Wynne.  Wynne followed the Pacesetters to James Brown and later  joined up with P-Funk empire in 1979.

Bootsy and his crew grew tired of the rigidity of Brown’s system, so they quit in 1971.  Bootsy was playing in Detroit when he was introduced to George Clinton.  Bootsy loved the freedom George offered, and they formed a partnership.  He brought along Catfish and Frank Waddy.  All three contributed to 1972’s America Eats Its’ Young.  Waddy didn’t stick around for much longer.  Nor did Bootsy and Catfish, who took the horn section with them.  They then began touring as  Funkadelic as well, leading to a legal solution that kind of remedied the situation.  Bootsy and Catfish were back in the P-Funk fold by 1974.  It is no coincidence the golden age of Parliament Funkadelic was to follow.  In 1975, they got Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker and a few other members of James Brown band to join up with P-Funk.  The stage was set for the coming of the Mothership.

Today’s post will focus on one of my favorite Parliament albums, The Motor Booty Affair.  Released in 1978, Bootsy, Catfish, and the Horny horns were all involved and the One is heavily emphasized sonically and lyrically.  One of Parliament’s best albums, George and the boys take the Mothership underwater.  It lacks the grime, but makes up for it with liquid funk provided by Bootsy and Bernie.  Bootsy’s bass takes the bottom while Bernie fills everywhere with stylings.  Mr. Wiggles are Rumpofsteelskin are introduced, while Sir Nose D’ Void of Funk and the Clones make appearances.  Rumpofsteelskin is an ally of Sir Nose.  Haters, coming to wreck the party.  Thankfully, Starchild shows up to save the day.

An immense cast of funkateers contributed to this album.  Check below to see who was credited with what.  A huge addition to the P-Funk army for Motor Booty was Rodney “Skeet” Curtis, a bassist who brought the jazz stylings.  Junie, Bootsy, and Bernie’s footprints are massive as well.


Opening the album, we are introduced to”Mr. Wiggles,” a disc jockey, capable of “molecules of wetness like an eel through seeweed,” taking us on a fantastic voyage.  This song has a killer jazz bass line. Listen closely to the opening spoken words, they are beautiful and full of wisdom even if they appear to be gibberish.  George as Mr. Wiggles, and his ladies, bionic slithering idiots, drop in.  Like royalty, they are welcomed with horns.  The rhythm guitar is killer.  Bernie and the Horny Horns come in shortly after and the underwater marathon is on.

The Worm

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Lucid Memories of the Piston’s Past Decade, Pt. 1: The Building of a Champion

Posted in Basketball, Detroit, humor, Pistons on February 14, 2009 by trapperKeeper

Don't Mess w/ the Fro

The shorter abstract has become a much longer entity, so it is being broken up into parts. Here is part one, which focuses on the the rise of the new Bad Boys. They weren’t as dirty as the originals, but both versions were an unconventionally built teams who stressed a commitment to rugged defense.

Entering the new millennium, the Pistons were coming off a semi-successful, strike-shortened, season. Finishing at 29-21, good for 3rd place in the Central, they received a 5th seed and match-up against Mt. Mutumbo’s Atlanta Hawks. Taking them to a do or-die 5th game in the first round was as far as the talent-challenged Pistons could go. The team was appeared to be solid, coming in at 10th and 9th respectively at offensive and defensive efficiency. However, the roster had a few good players, and was atrocious if you look twelve deep.

Lacking a real post presence, point guard, and bench, the Pistons were a limited team. If it weren’t for the skill of Grant Hill, I can’t imagine the carnage in the loss column. Explosive, rounded, gentlemanly, and extremely gifted, Grant only lacked a consistent outside jump shot, which was something he was working on. Unfortunately, injuries had to prematurely limit his abilities. One of the better players in the league, he was surrounded by a soon to retire Joe Dumars, Bison Dele, Jerry Stackhouse, and not much else. Jerome “Junk Yard Dog” Williams was a scrappy, energetic bench player who could rebound well came off the bench and is worth a mention, but otherwise most of the bench consisted of never beens.

The 1999-2000 season, under coach Alvin Gentry and then interim George Gervin, saw the return of Detroit-area native and one of my favorite Piston players, Terry “T-Three” Mills, who made the second most amount of threes while shooting a respectable 39% from long range during the season. This was during a time where it was less common for big men to shoot threes. The impact of European migration had not yet approached full realization. I remember Sam Perkins and Bill Laimbeer being other big men long range shooters, although in a different way than Dirk.

The lack of a true big man, especially on the defensive end, was again a problem. This situation wasn’t really remedied until Ben Wallace came in. Brian Williams, aka Bison Dele, was a solid offensive player, but even he was gone after the 1998-1999 season. Becoming a swingman dominated team, Hill and Stackhouse put up numbers; however, the lack of big men contributed glaringly to the porous defense and rebounding. Ending the season at 42-40, they earned a 7th round playoff seed against the Heat, whose big men were too much, and were promptly swept.

Who picked out this color scheme?

Who picked out this color scheme?

At one point during the season, Grant Hill was out for a bit and Jud Buechler actually started five games at SF. Grant was going to be a free agent after the season, so he was traded after the playoff loss to Miami to Orlando for Chucky Atkins and Ben Wallace. Unfortunately for Grant, and the Magic, the ankle injury he had sustained and played through during the playoffs was more serious than initially thought. The trade, engineered by Joe Dumars, worked out well for the Pistons though. Ben Wallace blossomed into a dominant defensive player and leader. Joe had been brought in as the President of Basketball Operations right after the postseason. He wasted no time building a team in his image.

George Gervin, who had replaced Gentry as head coach during the previous season, retained the position for the 2000-2001. He did not fare well as the team finished 30-52. Sporting the not so fearsome PG trio of Chucky Atkins, Dana Baros, and local hero Mateen Cleaves, the team lacked a game plan capable of masking the limitations of the roster. Cleaves was Joe Dumars first first-round pick. To be fair the team needed a PG, although it was clear Cleaves was not going to the be answer and was a hometown hero. Joe grabbed another Big Ten player, Brian “The Janitor” Cardinal, who turned out to be a serviceable, albeit extremely overpaid, bench player, in the second round.

“Big Nasty” Corliss Williamson was brought over from Toronto for Jerome Williams. I remember Corliss and Scotty Thurman running Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” defense to the Final Four. He was a pretty efficient low-post scorer off the bench, who would bang and could draw some fouls. Although, he was too small to guard most players he was matched up against in the post.  He would win the Sixth Man of the Year, being an important member of the dynamic bench unit, dubbed the “Alternatorz” by Jon Barry.

Jerry Stackhouse really went off, averaging 29.8 ppg, with the extra shots provided by Grant Hill’s departure. Sadly, he also led the team in assists with 5.1 ppg. Free throws and offense were never Ben Wallace’s professional forte, but his rebounding and defensive provided an encouraging piece to build around. Averaging over 13 rebounds, 1 steal and 2 blocks a game, he was able to change the game dramatically while doing almost nothing on offense.

During the off-season, Mateen Cleaves, drafted more as a publicity move, was traded for Jon Barry, who provided some long-range shooting and fire. Joe was fashioning a scrappy, defensive minded ball-club built on the model of the original Bad Boys. Jud Buechler was exchanged for Cliff Robinson. Buechler was a solid athlete, and a real good volleyball player apparently, but didn’t bring many skills to the basketball court. “Uncle” Cliffy was known for his headband, perimeter offensive game, and solid defense.


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Detroit Soul, Pt. 3 (The Horror!)

Posted in Detroit, Music, P-Funk on October 6, 2008 by trapperKeeper

I am really missing the D right now even with the masquerading professional team and the down season in Ann Arbor.  I am about as broke and struggling here as I was there, but in Seattle I am far away from the spirit, people, and culture of Detroit.  Seattle is really wearing on my nerves.  The vibe is not the same as the D or the Midwest.  And being broke and struggling would be easier around a bunch of other broke and struggling people.

The Lions’ game today deserves a two word description, wretched suckitude.  No more.

In honor of my pining for the D, here are some scrumtralescent performances by some of Detroit’s finest.

Recently, I was reminded of a group I wanted to do some digging on, the Dirtbombs, while reading from the consistently deliverin’ Wax Poetics.  I believe they played out in Seattle this past fall but I did not attend due to being poor.  The seasons may change but situations often stay the same.  Rain hasten away give me the drizzles another day.  Fortunately the Dirtbombs lived up to the hype.

Hailing from the home of Robocop, the Dirtbombs feature two drummers and two bass players and a guitar player creating a fuzzed out, raw, osmium funkiness that would make early funkadelic proud.  They have the same spirit Ween exhibits, which incidentally P-Funk also displayed. Next time I have the opportunity to witness them live, it will be seized.

On 2001’s Ultraglide in Black, the Dirtbombs took on the challenge of covering classic soul songs, including “Living in the City,” “Got To Give It Up,” and George Clinton-penned “I’ll Wait.”  A cover album can spectacularly succeed or horribly fail.  Displaying the trait of being able to put their stamp on whatever material they cover while maintaining the originals joyful spirit, the Dirtbombs delivered some gems.

The dub beginning of “Kung Fu” leads into a wicked groove.  The drum part reminds me a lot of bossa nova rhythms.

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Detroit Soul, Pt. 2

Posted in Detroit, life, Music on August 28, 2008 by trapperKeeper

The original Detroit Soul post was spawned with the intent of showcasing Detroit music and how the environment of Detroit influenced the sounds of the city. My mind wandered while writing, and finding a way to jump back to the original theme was unfeasible. I will attempt to rectify the situation with this post.

Detroit has played a prominent part in the development of modern music. Motown was only the peak of the musical scene in the late 1960s. Always exuding a rawness befitting of an industrial city, in-your-face rock existed alongside the bourgeoisie aspirations of Motown. George Clinton moved Parliament Funkadelic to Detroit during an attempt to become a Motown songwriter. This led to playing shows with MC5, and other rock bands, where Funkadelic discovered what could be accomplished through loud amps. The blues tradition made its’ way up to Detroit with the migration of southern blacks. A fertile jazz, soul, and funk scene existed alongside the rock-n-roll of the 1960-1970s.

Detroit would not make mainstream musical attention until Kid Rock and Eninem blew up, but musical innovation had continued on in Detroit even after the departure of Motown in 1972. Techno was created in Detroit in the 1980s during its’ RoboCop days. Before techno was mainstreamed by Fatboy Slim and Moby, it existed as music of the electronauts of Detroit. Developing alongside Chicago house, Detroit techno was music of the marginalized. Couched in the sounds of assembly line and industrial revolution, techno exemplified the coming technological age and increasing robotization/alienation of humans from work. Detroit has a spirit that cannot be conquered. And the spirit spreads further and further as more and more sons of the D move across the landscape. Just visit and see for yourself. Detroit is a great summertime destination. It is no coincident that so much S.O.U.L. has come out of the D. The atmosphere is soaked in the Funk.

To celebrate my love of the D, which I miss everyday, this will be the first of many posts exposing music of Detroit. I am unsure if anyone not from the D would live in the D, but I will never forget the time I spent there and will be sure to cherish anytime in the future I spend there. Seattle has nothing on the D.

Here are some tracks off of Detroit Soul.

J. Dilla’s “Brazilian Groove”

Detroit Soul

Posted in Detroit, life, Music, P-Funk on August 28, 2008 by trapperKeeper

There is more to physical places and spaces than the natural features of the land and the buildings built upon terra firma. Energy . People are able to detect energy fields , although this ability seems to realized in fewer and fewer of the population. Once a hunter and gatherer, man lived a nomadic lifestyle reliant on whatever was provided by the immediate environment. As man’s tools for taming nature and producing food have evolved, energy and time were freed to pursue other activities. While science fiction predictions of time travel, teleportation, mass space travel, or even flying cars have not yet been realized, technology has altered the world in a way to make it incomprehensible to our past ancestors. Internet, virtual reality, flying in outer space. These are all ideas that would be utter nonsense to the inventor of fire or the wheel.

Nowadays, humans are more connected and plugged in than ever. Humans are also more disconnected to the nature. Children of today spend less and less time outside for many reasons, including video games, the nanny state, and overprotective parents.

Before technology advanced to the point of making mass communication, and therefore mass culture, possible, culture was much more localized. A global culture existed in the sense that people everywhere tried to explain the natural world. Nowadays, the people of the earth are connected in a much greater immediate way through the import and export of physical and cultural goods. While up-n-coming nations race towards first-world luxuries, the earth is drowning in our shit. Funkadelic summed it up nicely on “Biological Speculation.”

Oh, if and when the system
Creates hunger and hate
Then the laws of nature will come and do her thing
Oh, yes, oh!

She does not think
She works by instinct
Survival is her thing

There is a tipping point and it is getting closer everyday.