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Detroit and Michigan

Band of Horses at The Fillmore, Detroit, October 22, 2010

Lisa and I went to see Band of Horses at The Fillmore in Detroit.  It was a fun show to attend together because we've both grown to love their music over the last year or so.  The first opening band was The Besnard Lakes.  They were OK, but I grew tired of the falsetto vocals.  Next came Jenny and Johnny.  It wasn't long before I was missing The Besnard Lakes because at least they were kind of interesting...while Jenny and Johnny seemed boring.  We were paying more attention to updates about the Dow vs. Midland High football game that were coming in via text message and Twitter.  Finally, BOH took the stage.  We were sitting up in the mezzanine, so we were a bit far away.  Lisa wished we had been standing down on the floor, but I was glad to be sitting (because I'm getting old and grouchy). The last couple songs of the Band of Horses set featured The Detroit Party Marching Band.  Here are a few videos from the show courtesy of YouTube:

"Is There A Ghost" (incomplete)

"The Funeral"

"No One's Gonna Love You"

"The First Song"

"The General Specific"

There's a Neo-Nazi Rally Coming to Town on Saturday... what to do?

Last week I saw a news story mentioning a neo-Nazi rally scheduled for Saturday afternoon in downtown Midland:

Randy G. Gray II...will express his views on issues such as free speech, due process and the “illegal invasion” at a rally from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 31, on the steps of the Midland County Courthouse.

Gray made headlines in 2008 when he was elected a Republican precinct delegate but was barred from assuming the post after he appeared in Ku Klux Klan regalia, protesting the election of President Barack Obama, on the streets of Midland.

The rally is sponsored by a group informally known as Citizens Against Out of Control Government, Gray said.

Speakers from the Christian Identity movement ("white Western European people are the only true children of God") and the National Socialist Movement (“fighting for white civil rights") will also participate.

I'd like to think the rally would be a dud due to lack of interest, but it's being promoted on white supremacist web sites and Michigan has a long history of white supremacist activity.  In fact, the National Socialist Movement is based in Detroit and has been organizing rallies across the country (with a focus on illegal immigration).  You might have heard about the event they organized in downtown Los Angeles a few months back that turned violent:

There was a brief flare-up of violence when a man removed his shirt revealing tattoos that featured Nazi lightning bolts, which some in the crowd deemed offensive.

Counter-protestor James Lafferty, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, said he saw the tattooed man punched and kicked as a plainclothes officer dragged him behind police lines. Blood could be seen at the base of his neck, Lafferty said.

As the rally ended, counter-protestors hurled rocks, branches and other items over the police line toward the neo-Nazis.

Thinking about the event coming up Saturday, I realized that I don't know the best way to respond.  Ignore it and avoid downtown on Saturday?  An "in-your-face" counter-demonstration like L.A.?  Neither of those seems right to me.

What's the best way to respond?

Update 2010-07-27:

The consensus of the Facebook is to ignore them:

Unfortunately it is costing the tax payers of the City of Midland and Midland County alot in preparation for what hopefully will be a non event. Hopefully he will be ignored and those in the media and in opposition to his "beliefs" won't give him the satisfaction of attending.

Encourage your newspaper not to print a story about it every day like they did here in Howell about a nazi memoribilia auction in town. If the media had ignored the auction, it would have been a non-event. There will probably be less in attendance than you think, even though it's in Michigan where we have a "history" of white supremists.

The best thing to do is not to go. They are looking for a fight. The ADL should be contacted if they have not been already. The ADL will keep an monitor the people involved.

I think the best thing is not to go. The more attention they get, the more they think they are spreading their message and becoming relevant.

Update 2010-07-30:

There was a follow-up comment on FB that I forgot to add here. It's the kind of thing I was trying to think of...though I was thinking less about diversion and more about something harmless yet annoying to the rally attendees...a Yes-Men- or Improv-Everywhere-style prank or something...:

I have a new, improved idea. What we need to do is create a diversion. Not a counter-rally -- because that would draw more attention to them -- but a crazy, wild diversion that would draw lots of attention away. Something like a huge, naked Zoomba class outside by the Tridge........

Update 2010-07-31:

It sounds like the crowds were small. I haven't heard any reports of naked Zoomba.

White supremacist rally in Midland draws strong opinions, small crowds

First Day of Spring 2010 in Michigan

How Not to Defend Your City's Reputation

Saginaw, MI, was recently named the most violent city per capita in the U.S. (link), keeping alive its 6-year run at the top.  Flint, Detroit, and Pontiac all made the top 11.  The news about Saginaw sparked a couple of local college students to publish the following comic in Delta College’s student newspaper:

Delta Collegiate Cartoon

From the Saginaw News (link):

The comic in question depicts a person making visits to Midland, Bay City and Saginaw. After receiving gifts of art and alcohol in Midland and Bay City, the character travels to Saginaw and is handed a bag of drugs by a man in a black mask.

“Welcome to downtown Saginaw. We have the most violent crimes in the U.S.,” the comic strip reads. “Here’s a bag of drugs to thank you for stopping by.”

In the next frame, the masked man pulls out a knife and says: “OK, now give me all your money ... and drugs.”

Among those outraged by the illustration is Rev. Larry Camel, co-founder of the city outreach group, Parishioners on Patrol.

“It’s very negative,” Camel said. “We’re going to be talking out about it because it’s racist. It’s really a slam on Saginaw.”

Camel said the black bag slung over the cartoon criminal’s head represents black people.

Marchlewski Bachleda pointed out that, while the bag is black, there is no color in the criminal’s skin.

Camel said he and other religious leaders in Saginaw may visit Delta on Thursday to address the issue.

“We want to nip this in the bud,” he said. “We don’t want this reputation.”

Hmmm.  The F.B.I. has named you America's most violent city 6 years in a row, and you're worried a comic in a college newspaper might ruin your rep?  Well then, raise a ruckus.  What do you know?  The story ends up featured in the popular online column of The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto (link) and thousands of readers across the nation read about your dubious honor from the F.B.I.  Yep, your reputation is safe now.

Detroit (Half) Marathon 2009

Last Sunday I ran a half marathon in Detroit for the second time.  I hadn’t trained as much this year and had put on a few extra pounds, so I wasn’t expecting to improve on last year’s snail’s pace.  I was slower and ended up in the bottom 5 % of my age group.  At least improving next year shouldn’t be too hard.

Here’s a collection of video clips (the shaking sound while I’m running is the bag of M&Ms in my pocket that I eventually lost at some point):

And here are some photos:

20091018-005128 waiting for the start

20091018-005138 waiting for the start

20091018-013258 onto the Ambassador Bridge…a nice view as the sun was rising

20091018-014243 off of the Ambassador Bridge

20091018-022755 in the tunnel

20091018-032010 not sure what this guy was doing

20091018-034339 in sight of the finish

20091018-035202 afterwards


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