Beat Diaspora: Beats, Buses, Bricks

an omnivorous take on music of the beat-based variety and the urban spaces that nurture it

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Put Your Hands Up for Detroit

No, I don't have any Detroit roots. But with my AL and NL faves having sputtered well before Fall Classic season settled in, a baseball fan has to root for somebody -- especially somebody who gives the Yankees a good thrashing.

Fedde Le Grand - Put Your Hands Up for Detroit

I heard this track on a Dev79 mix for Discobelle and then again in a men's underwear shop in the Marais (the Marais being Paris's burgeoning gay neighborhood, so . . . you can imagine). I wanted to exclaim to the salesman, "The Tigers are going to the World Series!", but then realized his association with the song doubtless didn't extend far outside of the gay club circuit, or at least certainly not to the hard-luck Tigers.

Of course, this character Fedde Le Grand wasn't exactly reared on the shores of the Great Lakes. But I'm not surprised by the fact that a Dutchman would be putting his hands up for Detroit much more eagerly than most stateside, for whom the city remains an industrial black sheep left in the cold, even to its poets -- find Levine's "Henry Ford Sonnets" if you want a more vitriolic take. (Although others certainly want to rehabilitate the shrinking landscape.) The general American attitude toward Detroit reminds me of what I read in Modulations (under film-->book) about the frustration of Detroit techno's originators. While eagerly embraced by Europeans, techno never became a part of Detroit's musical legacy, or even a type of resilient "black music" on par with hip-hop, like they had hoped. Success across the pond is better than no success at all, and I have a feeling old KISS songs will be trotted out in Detroit's sports bars across the next week sooner than Cybotron 12"s.

Although the gushing Motor City fans at Gorilla vs. Bear have been digging up old rallying songs for the Tigers that range from Broadway big band to an '80s motown throwback -- the video for that one is priceless -- to ersatz-Timberlake trash. The latter recalls a video that circulated among Washington Redskins fans when they improbably made the playoffs last season, with pro-Skins lyrics recorded to the tune of "Lean Back", the chorus running "My Skins can't lose they just batter and bruise." The video, naturally, has been taken down -- nothing left to get riled up about as the bitter taste of 2-4 settles in. Of course, I'm not sure why anyone would want to trifle with "Hail to the Redskins." In today's hyper-commercialized pro-sports environment, it's hard enough to find a stadium that doesn't have a corporate sponsor, much less a fight song with a pedigree most college sports teams can hardly claim. The move to "fight for old D.C." over "fight for old Dixie", however, was definitely a good call.

[I'll leaves arguments against racist mascots for another day. My experience with Nationals games these last two seasons saw a large majority of white faces in the stands -- in a large majority black city -- which, high ticket prices notwithstanding, isn't as much the case when it comes to Redskins fandom. Although sports aren't quite as strong a glue in sedating social conflict in the U.S. as they are in Brasil, where many lamented the quarterfinal loss to Les Bleus not only as a matter of national pride, but also because it meant there wouldn't be the typical honeymoon period of relative peace that follows a World Cup victory. (Unrelated find: more fut├ębol-as-agent-of-social-change.) Then again, who wants social rage sedated? Sports as opiate of the masses redux, etc. My cheeky Marxist history teacher in high school speculated that professional sports is Marxism-consistent: The proletariat actually come out on top financially. Dead Prez would disagree.]

At any rate, Motown needs all the love it can get, so put your hands up for Detroit, like I'll hopefully be doing this weekend in Belgium. I love techno, don't you too? Hopefully a post-Carl Craig party report will coincide with more reason for Tigers celebration.

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At 10/17/2006 2:54 PM, Anonymous Fluffy said...

There's actually an academic mini-conference in my town (Bloomington, IN) this weekend called "Roots of Techno: Black DJs and the Detroit Scene" for which I won't be in town and really wish I was going to be around for. The music's not exactly my thing but it's close enough that I'd love to hear some heads who were involved in its origins.. eh well.

Great stuff on here; a lot of other stuff in my news reader I skim through at most but I read through your posts just about every time.

At 10/18/2006 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/19/2006 9:13 AM, Blogger scruggs said...

thanks for the kind words!

sounds like a good conference, though the title is pretty much a foregone conclusion . . . the roots of techno ARE black DJs from Detroit. But I'm sure an acacdemic or two has come up with something new & interesting to say.

At 10/22/2006 12:56 PM, Blogger sink sink socks said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10/28/2006 1:17 PM, Blogger LMGM said...

Ah, I'm finally catching up on your bloggy stuff. I totally want to hear/read what happened @ I Love Techno! If I wasn't chaperoning a bunch of students through the Loire, I would've been there with bells on.

At 12/02/2006 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this song^^


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