Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kick Out The Jams Motherfuckers

So after I posted the Chickenfoot review I did what I always do, read a bunch a reviews to see if I was crazy. And then I got pissed off.

Chickenfoot is Scott Pilgrim all over again. For the record I love Scott Pilgrim, but that's not what this post is about.

When Scott Pilgrim came out people fell into mostly two camps, those who loved it and those who hated the types of people they thought loved it. And so the argument of the movie's merits got waylaid by a "Death to All Hipsters" (See what I did there.) crusade.

And it's the same damn way with Chickenfoot. Yes Chickenfoot plays old school arena rock. Well guess what? I like old school arena rock.

Furthermore that's the type of music that made the members of that group famous. You can't blame them for playing it. I can dig if folks don't like it, but spare me all the condescension, like there is something musically wrong with folks who do.

This ain't a post where I'm going to campaign for the three chords of truth. Hell, these guys definitely transcend those three chords. But damn it, get your heads out your asses people, half the point of rock is to have some fun. If you can't do that well, the cause is lost on ya.

I'll let MC-5 take it from here.

Album Review: Chickenfoot: Chickenfoot III

Chickenfoot III

Kickassitude. That's what this album is, so awesome I had to invent a word for it. It is pure kickassitude. The instrumental-ism is great, and its vibe, its attitude is great. It takes itself seriously when it needs to and has fun when it wants to. Sammy Hagar is one of the greatest rock vocalists and shows it here. Satriani's guitar work is amazing. Hell all these guys are masters of the craft of rock. Everything comes together into an album that represents the zenith of what rock can be. I can't describe it other than say give her a listen.

Album Review: Blink-182: Neighborhoods

3/5 Stars

I used to love Blink-182 growing up. They and guys like them always sounded like they were on the periphery taking the wind out of how seriously everybody took everything else. "I won't be Home for Christmas" is one of the only Christmas songs I can stand. That and X's rendition of "Jingle Bells"

I Won't Be Home For Christmas by Blink 182

This album isn't fun. And that was the real reason I liked them. They were a band that knew how to have fun,.

Don't get me wrong the album sounds good. It just sounds good in the same way that Incubus album sounds good. It sounds beautiful in some places, but not fun. There is a difference between a beautiful album and a kick-ass album and this isn't a kick-ass album.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Getting Meta: Objectivity

Alright so every now and again my Mother will ask me why for the most part I try not to write what I think about the issues at the city council meetings. Rather than write about fiction this time I'll give Mom an incredibly long answer about objectivity.

What is Journalism
Alright so the jury is out on whether I'm a journalist or not. I go to meetings and record them. Is that journalism? Make your call. Regardless journalism is important, and objectivity is a cornerstone to the modern notion of journalism. So I guess I should say what to me is journalism.

When I was trying to get through JRN 300 the roughest class I took at MSU, I boiled down what I was trying to do into two categories, finding interesting and important stuff out, and telling it to people so they would listen in a way that was, honest accurate and efficient. I still believe that at its core journalism is finding stuff out and telling people. Everything else is about the best way to do that.

When people think of journalism they mostly think of the public affairs stuff, but that not all of it. I am a magic nut. I use Evan Erwin's Magic the Gathering Show previews to gauge how much cash I should save for a set. It might not be as important as the debt crisis, but I rely on him to find out info I use. He's a gaming journalist.

Like I said to me it's just finding stuff out and telling folks.

Why is Journalism Important? (Well this part is going to be quick)
There was a time where you could find out all the info you needed to navigate your world from your friends and fam'. Those times are over. They've been over for a while. The world grew. The vast majority of the info I use to just get through the day originates from somebody I don't personally know. How do I know that the Lions are actually doing alright this season? (Yeah really avenge the '08 season. Avenge it I say!) The Free Press. How did I find out Rick Perry was in the presidential race? CNN. How did I find out aliens had landed and decided to make us their slaves? The Earther times. (One of these things is not like the other. Just so there are no misunderstandings that was a joke. Laugh. I said LAUGH!)

What is Objectivity?
In a nutshell objectivity is the idea that reporters should not have bias.

Why do we need Objectivity?
Most of the ideas we have regarding the modern day press's responsibility to the public arose out of the Hutchin's Commission, which is largely responsible for the concept of the fourth estate. in order for democracy to work the electorate needs to be informed. Journalists perform this role.

Now days, everybody and their uncle has a public relations team. Sure you can find out what's going on from a number of places but you always have to keep in mind that most of those places have an interest in affecting what you think. Journalists are suppose to be independent entities that don't. Journalists aren't supposed to care if you vote one way or the other. They're just suppose to care that you have enough info to cast an informed ballot.

Why is it Hard
Sounds simple doesn't it. Until you realize by the time you're in you're in your mid 20's, you're no longer a tabula rasa. You already have your own set experiences and opinions. It's human nature. Once you feel you have enough information to make an informed opinion, chances are you are going to.

Furthermore how far do you want to take it. My general line is that I try to be aware of my biases and write around them, admit them to both myself and my readership, try to at least be fair to anybody I don't particularly agree with and try to touch upon the best of their arguments.

Then there are those who believe that being objective means you shouldn't show any bias in anything ever. It's not uncommon for editors to strongly discourage their reporters from voting. That's a school of thought I find somewhat extreme, though understandable. Journalism is all about trust and bias ruins trust.

Also bias doesn't just affect what you report but how you report and what you don't. This can subtle affect what the news cycle looks like.

This is especially true when journalists don't know what their biases are.

Criticisms of Objectivity
Before I get a bunch shoes thrown at me, most of these don't have to do with the basic concept of objectivity, but how it's practiced.

First off, objectivity can sometimes be a used as a tool to project authority, which sucks because in my mind the entire point of objectivity is that the journalist is no wiser than any other citizen. People confuse being objective with being reasonable, close but no cigar. They're related no doubt but they are not the same thing, and the semantics of objectivity can be used to manipulate the public in the wrong hands.

Secondly, as previously mentioned we are an opinionated species. If we delude ourselves into believing we aren't and that we are completely impartial, not only are we swayed by our biases, but we are swayed by them without realizing it. If you're aware of your bias you can autocorrect, but if you are too stubborn to admit you have them you can't.

Thirdly when you are too overly (Note the word too there. it's important. Just in case you don't get my meaning, I'll also say overly, though it's redundant) concerned with being objective it gets harder to know when to stand up and say the emperor is naked. It gets harder to know when the public is deliberately being misled and when, yes, you should put your foot down, and call someone out.

Fourthly, and this is just me being petty and whiney, the writing tools of an objective tone are just plain boring. If you let it, J-school will beat the prose right out of you. Hell, that's half of their job.

The Interwebs
Many of the notions involving objectivity came about at a time when peoples sources of news were far more limited. Our grandparents had the big three networks, a local newspaper and a handful of radio channels that were probably owned and operated by the other two. That's not the case today. If I hear something interesting I'll probably read 4 or 5 different stories from different sources about it.

My point is this. Objectivity arose partially because the news industry wanted to take responsibility knowing that what they said was more or less what people had to go on. The environment has changed. For the most part the Free Press is no longer the only source of news people will look at in their day. That does not mean the they should abdicate any sort of journalistic responsibility, but it does mean that the power a single news source had to change the world, and potential for abuse of that power is somewhat diminished.

There are those that would argue because of that diminished potential for wrongdoing, the concept of objectivity is not as important as it once was.

All that said this objectivity thing is still personally important to me because I have to believe people aren't morons.
I am a flag waver. Sure I rip on America a lot, but that's only because I think we seldom live up to our ideals. When I was a kid in my history classes a chapter after reading about the Bill of Rights I was reading about the Sedition Act.

Despite all that I believe in the American ideal, self governance, due process, free market, freedom of speech and all that good stuff. What allows me to believe all that is an even deeper core belief that people aren't morons, or to put it in more of a Lockeian way.

If people are well informed they can be trusted to make reasonable decisions.

If I stop believing that I'll end up having a nervous breakdown and emerge from it not as Greg Miles the guy who believes that as long as people don't hurt anyone, they should be allowed to do and believe whatever the hell they want, but Lord Krieg an evil sadistic fascist dictator who believes that anyone who doesn't see things his way should be repeatedly shot until they see reason or stop breathing, whichever happens first.

I don't know if you're getting this but I don't like Lord Krieg. I think he's kind of a dick.

Evil me scares me.
Joking aside, on my bad days I think the world consists only of cruel, shortsighted selfish idiots who would shot each other in the face if they thought there were three bucks in it.

And that anything to restrict our baser instincts to keep us from that anarchy is a necessary evil.

Lord of the Flies
didn't have to try that hard to win me over.

I don't want to be that guy, the cold stone misanthropic cynic, who feels he must forcibly impose his will upon others, so I choose to believe that people, if given enough information to make a reasonable choice, will. I have to believe that if given free will we will not devolve into a bunch of apes bashing each other in the head. I have to believe that freedom is worth fighting and dying for.

If someone is being a jackass I have to trust that people will see jackass in their words and actions without me pointing and screaming at the top of my lungs "Jackass!" I have to believe that we are intelligent enough to see truth, justice and reason without it being forced upon us by some totalitarian entity. I have to believe that democracy can and does work.

Ultimately I want to be a man who believes that intellect and romanticism can triumph over brute force and cynicism.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Southfield City Council Meeting: September 26, 2011

City Council meeting held in Southfield, Michigan September 26, 2011

Topics Include:
  • The Building of a New Golden Corral
  • Smart Meters
  • Lawrence Tech University Building a New Dormitory
  • A New Police Firing Range
  • A police officer not receiving his retirement badge and ID
You can obtain an agenda and related documents here.
You can obtain an audio file of this meeting here.

Album Review: Viveca Hawkins: Chips

Viveca Hawkins

I like The Memorials. Hell I love The Memorials. I think their debut album is one the best of the year. When I say one of the best I don't mean one of the best debut albums I mean of the best albums period of the year. Viveca Hawkins is the lead singer of The Memorials so I expect a lot.

It doesn't disappoint. I don't really know why, but I really dig this album. She sounds a lot like Erykah Badu on Baduizm, but not quite. Hawkins shows her influences but makes her sound her own. Furthermore, it's interesting to hear her vocal style as pure funky R&B. The Memorials is a great rock album, but while keeping her core vocal style Hawkins managed to make Chips a good R&B album.

You can listen to and purchase her album on bandcamp.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Southfield Useful Links Week of 9/26/2011

Citizen Observer Crime Report September 12 to September 18

City Council Agenda for September 26, Meeting

Audio From City Council September 19, Meeting

Background on Smart Meter Controversy

Updates on Smart Meter and Lawrence Tech Controversies

Background on Lawrence Tech Controversy

Controversial Stuff That's Going Down in Town: Updates to Smart Meters and Lawrence Tech Housing 9/26/2011

Last week I posted some stuff about Lawrence Tech and Smart Meters. At the September 19, 2011 Southfield City Council meeting both of those issues came up here are some updates.

At the September 19 meeting DTE Energy was asked to return and answer some questions the council had.

Gregory Keeler one of the residents being affected by the new Lawrence Tech University dormitory appeared before council to discuss it.

Controversial Stuff That's Going Down in Town: Golden Corral 9/26/2011

Over roughly they past three months a Golden Corral Restaurant has been attempting to work with the Southfield Michigan Planning Commission and City Council to open a new franchise, however many of the residents have concerns about how the restaurant would affect their neighborhood.

Among their concerns were, traffic, noise, and the possibility of late night activity.

View Larger Map

Note: One of the buildings on the Google map caught fire and burnt down.

The restaurant and residents appeared before the Southfield Planning Commission on July 6 and July 13, 2011. Unfortunately I was not at those meetings meeting and do not have audio from it. However a public hearing took place on July 20, regarding the restaurant.

Here is audio from that public hearing.

In order to further determine how traffic would impact the neighborhood the planning commission ordered a traffic analysis be performed. According to the traffic analysis the traffic around the neighborhood would not be significantly impacted by the restaurant.

However afterwards there were still a few questions. The numbers that were being compared took place when a local school was in session and when the school was not. The commission asked the firm that did the analysis to return the next meeting with more information.

Not long after the restaurant's advocates went before city council.

Tonight, September 26, 2011 two public hearings regarding the restaurant are scheduled to go before city council.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Southfield City Council Meeting: September 19, 2011

City Council Meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on September 19, 2011.

Topics Include
  • DTE Smart Meters
  • Lawrence Tech University's desire to build a new dormitory
  • The building of a Golden Corral Restaurant

You can find an agenda and other documents related to the meeting here.
You can download an audio file of the meeting at here.
You can listen to other audio relating to DTE's smart meter program here.

I Fucking Hate The Noble Savage

Alright so I'm lying in bed going over the last few days and something clicks the real reason why I hate Avatar. The noble savage.

The problem that any allegory regarding imperialism has is that it loses it's credibility the moment it starts talking about the noble savage. While the main allegory of the movie regards Native Americans, I'm not one. So let me say this from an African American perspective. Alright allow me to adjust my writing style to angry black guy. Haven't done it in a while.

Alright I'm ready.

I hate to admit it, but the Europeans were technologically more advanced than my ancestors. I can't get around it. I can't negotiate with it. It is what it is. That however did not give slave traders and European governments the right to do what they did. Setting up the noble savage says, "genocide, rape, slavery and murder are wrong not because they're universal evils, but because the savage's culture is in someway superior to our own". Cultural inferiority or superiority shouldn't matter. Culture is not like technology. There isn't a best . When I get a new computer I stop using the old because the new one is just better. Culture with some exceptions isn't like that. My Monday shirt isn't better than my Tuesday shirt; It's just different.

Furthermore the notion of the noble savage ignores several poignant realities that are important even today when talking about race and foreign relations.

Technology can make people's lives better. No matter what culture you are from somebody in that culture will realize this. People perceive technological superiority as cultural superiority, even though they aren't the same fuckin' thing. (I'm sorry. As is usually the case I get a little heated when talking about racism.)

A children's book painted the picture better than Cameron did. (Animorphs taught me so much about life. It should be required reading for every young sci-fi nerd.)
"Marco must have read my mind. He drifted up beside me and whispered in my ear, 'We give in now, they own us.'

As often was the case, Marco was seeing things I'd overlooked. He was right; The human race had just opened their first negotiations with an alien species with far superior technology. If this relationship started from an acceptance of Andalite superiority and human weakness, it would always be that way. We'd end up being second-class citizens on our own planet."

Jake from K.A. Applegate's Animorphs #54 The beginning.

In a situation like that it generally would be considered advantageous to have access to that technology, but unless you're very careful it will be construed as accepting social inferiority.

(Which is also why Detroit is the butt of every joke. You have one more time Stewart. One more time.)

Most developing countries want access to medicines and education that can greatly improve quality of life, but want to adapt those technologies into their own cultures, governments and legal systems as well as be accepted as equals on the world stage.

In short the histories of Africa and Native America, show what happens when they fail and technological superiority is mistaken as cultural superiority and cultural superiority is taken as license to do whatever the hell you want, no matter how morally reprehensible.

P.S. Negotiations should always come from a position of strength, which is regrettably the reason for a hell of a lot of war. People want to force the other side to come to the table on their terms. Conquest hasn't been the cause for most of the war of the in the later half 20th century. It was getting the other guy to talk to you and give you favorable terms. Which in reality was the tactic the Soviets were trying in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Album Review: Anthrax: Worship Music

Worship Music

Okay so this is a review and I guess I should keep it tied to the album but... hot damn the thrash arms race is back!

It all started back in '08 when Metallica finally got the message and sped the fuck up in Death Magnetic.

Not long after Dave Mustaine and Megadeth answered the call of metal with Endgame.

Note: I know it's a sin against metal but I haven't listened to Slayer's World Painted Blood or Christ Illusion, which in all fairness is really what kicked this bad boy off, yet.

And now 8 years after their last studio album Anthrax throws metal up my ass. It's back. I'm so happy. I'm so happy. Long live the metal!

And that doesn't even include the Big 4 tour.

Now that I have that out of my system, on to the album itself. First off the guitar work is superb, but it somehow doesn't seem as heavy as the other albums I just listed. Not that it's not heavy. It's pretty damn heavy. It's just well these bands have a legacy that's tied together and well I'm going to compare them. All in all I think Endgame is a better album. Again that's not to say that this is a bad album. It's just that out of the big four I always felt Megadeth had the best musicianship, and after the last slew of albums my opinion on that hasn't changed.

But really that doesn't matter. I'm just glad that all these bands are doing their thing and that metal is back. Hell did it even go anywhere?

Avatar Criticism (There will be Spoilers)

Okay I'm late to the party. It was the movie to watch in'09 and I skipped it. For shame. I finally sat down and watched it on HBO. I liked the first half of the movie but the third act has some real problems. What's worse is that their easy problems to fix. How do I know? I've seen the third act done better.

Yeah I feel Spoony's rage after watching his reaction, but it's not because allegory is bad. It's because the allegory is done so badly.

I get it. It's an allegory about imperialism, but for an allegory to work it has to be comparable to a real world situation and there are too many subtle differences.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee does this so much better.

There is no way in hell the United States at least, would loan out a private army to a business man and let said business man have ultimate authority over said army?
“The American soldier is a proud one and he demands professional competence in his leaders. In battle, he wants to know that the job is going to be done right, with no unnecessary casualties. The noncommissioned officer wearing the chevron is supposed to be the best soldier in the platoon and he is supposed to know how to perform all the duties expected of The American soldier expects his sergeant to be able to teach him how to do his job. And he expects even more from his officers.”

The first thing is that this schmuck is ultimately the guy who calls go.

You think this guy is the one in charge.

Not so fast muchaco. He's not the top of the command chain. The military is big on chain of command.

I can buy, hell I expect for the government to be in some slimy shit, but Selfridge is not the government he is a private entity. He cannot, independent of whatever future government we have, command the space marines around.

Black Water, now Xe is a real problem, but at the end of the day even Black Water, now Xe is still at least somewhat accountable to the government. Black Water, now Xe, couldn't for instance say," Hey just to make out lives easier we are going to airstrike all Sunni Muslims on sight," without some sort of consequences.

What The Hell Happened to Diplomacy?

"I come in peace. I didn't bring artillery. But I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I'll kill you all."

Again I can get into the idea of aggressive negotiations and a break down in diplomacy. It's not so much that it happened, but how. This fucker right here forgot about his standing orders.

Learn their language and see if you can get them to move peacefully. Then after he more or less caused the war through his ineptitude he turns out to be the goddamned smurf messiah.


Okay I'll give you that it happened with George Washington, but he was goddamned George Washington.

Jake Sully is no George Washington.

Again Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee did it better. The diplomat fails. No buts, ifs, ands about it. The diplomat fails. He understands his job, to a point at least. Tries his job. Fucks up his job. Death happens.

Giant Death Robot Beats Stone Arrow
"You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth — right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail." (Talking about the confederacy)

You know how Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee makes the point that blind imperialism and western supremacy as an ideal is bad? Rocks fall and everybody dies.

By ending at the massacre at Wounded Knee, which is one of America's worse atrocities, you really see the consequences of that attitude. You're not weeping over a sacred CGI tree. You're weeping at all the characters who you spent the entire movie getting to know that died. You're weeping at the sickness and death on the reservations. You're weeping at knowing that even a score years earlier some these characters were living far better lives than their children probably will.

By having that happy little ending of his, where Gaea saves the day James Cameron dropped the ball. (Prepare for Controversial Sentence) The great tragedy of western expansion wasn't the loss of nature. It was the near genocide of the Native Americans, and their relative powerlessness to stop it. In short people will always care and should care about people more than nature. And there is nothing wrong with that.

The Navi had that obvious stake, but Cameron almost never mentioned it. The movie could have easily set this up as a war of the worlds, where if a peace wasn't negotiated the Navi as a people would cease to be. But no! The great call to arms isn't because almost an entire clan was killed, and it could happen to any other on that moon. No it's because the sacred tree was torn down.

Cameron this is important. PEOPLE MATTER MORE THAN SYMBOLISM!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Southfield Useful Links Week of 9/19/2011

Citizen Observer Crime Report September 5 to September 9

City Council Agenda for September 19, Meeting

Audio From City Council Special September 12 Meeting

Audio From City Council Regular September 12 Meeting

Audio From Planning Commission Meeting September 14

Audio From Community Forum: The Bridge Between Detroit and Southfield Resolving the Economic Crisis in Michigan

Background on Smart Meter Controversy

Background on Lawrence Tech Controversy

Controversial Stuff That's Goin' Down in Town 9/18/2011 Part 2: Lawrence Tech Dorms

The next big issue involves Lawrence Technological University. The University wants to add housing, but the residents are wary. They are concerned about how the added student housing will affect their neighborhood.

Lawrence Tech has stated that due to a declining regional population in order for the university to remain relevant it must attract students from outside of the local area and in order to do that it needs increased student housing.

The residents feel that a student housing facility (a dorm) would change the nature of the neighborhood. As evidence they point to current conditions within houses in the area that Lawrence tech owns.

Lawrence Tech rebutted those points by saying that there is a buffer zone between the resident's houses, the dorm is only two stories tall rather than 4, and entrance and egress is generally orientated in a direction away from the residents.

I have to be honest here. I snooched the pooch on this one. Some of the planning commission meetings where it was discussed I wasn't at, but here is what I do have.

This issue was discussed in a series of planning commission public hearings. The July 20, hearings were to, change the master plan which sets the tone of what the city's public officials want it to look like in the future, rezone the area so Lawrence Tech could build a dorm on the land it owned, and specifically approve Lawrence Tech's site plan.

A series of city council public hearings on August 22,

and a committee of the whole city council meeting on September 12.

Related Links

Documents agenda and related from September 12, and August 22, City Council Meetings, which include documents regarding this issue.

Controversial Stuff That's Goin' Down in Town 9/18/2011 Part 1: Smart Meters

The reason why I generally only post audio of City Council meetings is because I really don't trust myself enough to write objectively and accurately about some of the issues. That's what I like about the tape. It is a fairer and more accurate record of what was said than I can give if I were just to blather on about it. I still don't think this will be better but I think I owe it to folks who come to my blog to find out what the hell is going on to at least give an overview and point them to relevant tapes.

Smart Meters
The first one involves DTE Smart meters. Again I really don't want to talk about this one because for a brief time I worked at DTE. They gave me my first internship and I don't trust myself enough to talk about it without that coloring my opinion, but it's my blog and I don't have the cash to tell someone else to write about it.

A few months ago, April 4 to be precise, DTE provided city council with a presentation about smart meters, (again in full disclosure I knew the presenter from my time with DTE) this was mostly just to provide some facts and make sure everyone felt comfortable with it.

Then, on August 15 Richard Meltzer came to city council with some concerns about the meters. Among them were health, privacy, and lack of an opt out program.

Council then asked Meltzer to speak at the August 22, 2011 televised meeting.

The Council agreed to look into it and sent the issue to the legislative committee. Over the past few weeks the issue has been cropping up again and again.

In the last city council meeting a group campaigning to get the meters banned attended, spoke and gave the council DVDs about the issue.

Relevant Links
An article from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Detailing the history of Smart Meters in Michigan

A New York Times article about a similar campaign in California

Album Review: Staind: Staind



I really want to like this album. I really do, but it has serious problems. There are times when it sounds really cool but most of the time it falls short.

The first obvious problem is that most of the songs sound incredibly similar. The sound of the album would be good, heck, great even if it were constricted to a 4 or 5 minute song, but for an entire album, it gets old quick.

The next problem is that a lot of the lyrics don't make sense. I might have forgiven the monotonous melodies had I been able to simply figure out what the heck the album was about, but I can't. The closest I got was "Wannabe" but other than that I can't figure out what the heck the album is about.

Overall "Wannabe" is the stand out track. If you are going to listen to only one song and with this album you probably are that's the one you should listen to. That or "Eyes Wide Open"

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 14, 2011 Southfield Planning Commission Meeting

Planning Commission Meeting Held in Southfield, Michigan on September 14, 2011

Topics Include
  • A Traffic Analysis Predicting How a Golden Corral Would Affect The Intersection of Southfield Road and Edwards Avenue
  • The Possible Rezoning of a Residential Area on Garner Street

Community Forum: The Bridge Between Detroit and Southfield Resolving the Economic Crisis in Michigan

A Panel held by The South East Michigan Entrepreneurs Association (SEMEA) at the Southfield Public Library on September 13, 2011

Topics Included
  • The Need Education in Detroit
  • An explanation of Detroit Library Closings
  • Advocacy for Government Programs
  • Encouragement for Entrepreneurs
  • Encouragement for Black Business Patronage and Ownership

Panelists Included

  • Chris Terry- Co-founder of SEMEA
  • ZaLonya Allen - Executive Director of SEMEA
  • Coleman A. Young II - Michigan State Senator
  • Sylvia Jordan - Business Owner, Member of Faith Based Community and Former President of the Southfield City Council
  • Nancy Quarles - Oakland County Commissioner
  • Shanelle Jackson - State Representative
  • Ken Harris - President/CEO of the Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce
  • Debra Nance - Attorney at Law

An audio file of the discussion can be found here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Southfield City Council Regular Meeting September 12, 2011

Regular City Council Meeting Held in Southfield, Michigan at 7:00 September 12, 2011

Topics Include:

  • The Building of New Student Housing for Lawrence Tech University
  • Controversies over DTE Smart Meters
  • A Vietnam Veterans Monument
  • Repairing The Southfield Police Firing Range
  • The Local Government Investment Pool
  • Road Issues
  • Our Emergency Services and the Media

An agenda and related documents can be found here.
An audio file of the meeting can be downloaded here.

Southfield Special City Council Meeting September 12, 2011

City Council Meeting Held in Southfield, Michigan at 5:00 on September 12, 2011

Topics Include:

  • Various Employee Wage and Benefit Adjustments
  • Household Hazardous Waste Agreement with the Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County

Southfield Special City Council Meeting September 12, 2011 from Greg Miles on Vimeo.

You can find an agenda and related documents here.

You can download an audio file of this meeting here.

Note: The first portion of this meeting was a closed session regarding police and fire labor contracts, as a result the first hour and a half of this meeting is not included.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Getting Meta: The Definitive Version

Okay so I just got done reviewing a cover album and the first thing I did was write a disclaimer saying that I kind of like good covers.

Then I stopped to think about it. Why do I have to put up that disclaimer? For some reason we have this notion of a definitive version of a piece of media, a version that is somehow more valid than any other. I strongly disagree with that notion. At some point in this article I'll get around to arguing why, but for now I want to examine why that notion exists.

Before the existence of recoding technology people had mostly accessed media through well covers. You were some lucky sod if you actually got to hear Mozart, Liszt or Puccini in action. Nobody even today, is idiot enough believe they are listening to the original when they hear a CD of Beethoven . Nope. You're listening to somebody's interpretation, a cover. Same goes for anybody watching Shakespeare.

But that's because you have to. There is no definitive audio version of Beethoven's 5th.

But for today's music and movies. Nope. So and so already recoded it and therefore it's the definitive version.

The classic example is "Johnny B. Goode". Because it's one of the first songs guitar players learn, everybody and their uncle records a cover of it. But nobody is stupid enough to say anyone of them is better than Chucky B.'s (I am. I say Phish's sounds the best.)

Then of course there are those rare upsets when cover becomes more iconic than the original like Jimi Hendrix's version of "All Along the Watch Tower", and before I get a bunch of hate comments Bob Dylan even admitted that he preferred Jimi's version to his own.

So far I've of course only talked about music. It sort of makes sense. If a song is good an artist should expect some kid goofing around to try to play it, and those kids never stop even when they are artists. But what the heck about movies.

Every time a remake is about to be made a million tiny voices scream in terror and then ... continue screaming in terror.

But then again movies are different. They take a huge amount of resources. Now days almost anybody can record a song, but making a movie takes millions of dollars, heck sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars. If a there is a failed song big whoop. A failed movie makes you think of all the other stuff that didn't get made.

But here is the problem. A remake doesn't necessarily mean a failed movie. Scarface, Little Shop of Horrors, Lord of the Rings, Fistful of Dollars, these are movies that the world would be a little darker for not having.

But again that's not the point of this post. Where does the modern idea that there can only be one true version of a song or story comes from?

Now days people have a sense of ownership over art. I'm not going to point back to the days of yore and say that wasn't the case. Copyright has existed for a while, and serves several purposes. But in some ways a piece of media belongs to a person more than to society. Ultimately the reason why people go with Jimi's version of "All Along the Watch Tower" is because Dylan gave the okay. In the old days someone would print up a song and then everyone else would perform it the best they could.

The same went for plays the analogue for well movies though I know my theatre friends will want to shoot me at that. A script would be printed up and people would perform it. Heck they still do. How many colleges and high schools perform Rent?

It just seems to me like this idea of there being one definitive version is new and weird.

Album Review : Puddle of Mudd: Re:(Disc)overed

Puddle of Mudd

Alright, if you didn't realize it when I reviewed the George Thorogood Album, I don't mind covers. Heck sometimes I even like them when they are old enough or when I like both artists enough that I want to see both interpretations of a song. (Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix,Richie Havens) (David Bowie,Nirvana) (Barrett Strong, The Beatles), ( The Beatles,Pearl Jam, Sexperience )(Bob Dylan,Guns 'n' Roses)(Soulsonic Force, Rage Against the Machine)(Sound Garden, The Memorials)

It also helps me to get into older artist I didn't know. I first heard about Led Belly by listening to Nirvana's cover of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" on their Unplugged album and of course finding out about the weird history of "Black Betty".

Today I'm reviewing Puddle of Mudd's Re:(Disc)overed which is well a cover album. I am writing this as I'm listening so it's going to be a bit odder than my usual reviews. Most of the songs on the album I've heard and I like.

The Stone's "Gimme Shelter" is a personal favorite, and I would totally love it no matter what, unless they totally wrecked it. For reference Judas Priest's version of "Johnny B. Goode" is not "Johnny B. Goode". They don't, which is going to be one of the problems I have as I review this thing.

_judas-priest-johnny-b-goode by stefgag

Listening to "Old Man" I'm realizing that it's one of those songs that I've heard a lot, but never realized I've heard. I know a bit how the original song sounds, but I like Puddle of Mudd's spin on it.

Their version of AC/DC's "TNT" is next, which is good because I always had a hard time finding digital versions of AC/DC songs. I know it may be lame to say, but for some of the younger generation covers like this might be the only way they get to hear songs like this, at least legally. That is another article. At least the Beatles are on iTunes now.

Now we get into the weird. A song I haven't heard. I wasn't much of a Stevie Nicks fan so I I'm going into this one blind. I kind of like "Stop Dragging My Heart Around" though.

Oh God. The Joker. For both versions, when life needs to just slow down and good times need to be had that song can't help but make me crack a grin. You do what you in the hopes that the serenity this songs promises can fill the world. And forever will I play my music in the sun, cause I sure don't want to hurt no one.

Next one is another I don't know, "Everyone Wants You." I dig it though.

"Rocket Man" covers are always weird, because for the most part nobody does it the same way ever since Shatner did it. It's seems the boys are doing it in the style of Elton John. They did him proud I think.

"All Right now" is another one of those songs that I've heard a billion times, thanks to commercials, but didn't know who sung it or wrote it. That said I really dig it.

God Damn it will never look at The White Stripes "You Don't Know What Love is" the same way after listening to "Shooting Star". Damn you Jack White.

Again another song that I've heard, but didn't know I've heard before in "D'yner Maker". That said it sounds only vaguely familiar so I can't make a comparison. It sort of goes into this pattern of happy begging then darkly pleading.

As tired as I am of saying it, the same goes for "Funk #49". It's a song I recognize, but didn't know I liked. That said I do like it in its '70s classic rock goodness.

So what's up over all? The songs these guys picked are good songs. How much you like or dislike the album is probably going to depend on your attitude towards covers and how much good will you have towards Puddle of Mudd.

Since I've liked them for a while and like hearing different versions of songs I like, I dig it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Southfield Useful Links Week of 9/12/2011

Hi. I thought it might be a good idea if once a week I posted links I thought were relevant to what is going on in Southfield. Here is my first go.

The Usual Bits

Citizen Observer Crime Report 8/29-9/4/2011

Recorded City Planning Commission Meeting 9/7/2011

Southfield City Council 9/12 Meeting Agenda

Southfield City Council 9/12 Special Meeting Agenda

Note: There should be a school board meeting coming up soon, but I am not sure when it will be. There may also be a planning commission meeting Wednesday, but I am not sure.

Special Events

Southfield Community Forum: The Bridge Between Detroit and Southfield Resolving the Economic Crisis in Michigan - Tuesday September 13, 2011 6:30-8:30PM at The Southfield Public Library

Short Sale and Foreclosure Prevention Seminar - Thursday September 15, 2011 6:30PM at Southfield Public Library

Album Review: Lenny Kravitz: Black and White America

Lenny Kravitz
Black and White America
3/5 Stars

I kind of see where Kravitz was trying to go with this album. His style has always been knee deep (Yes that George Clinton reference) in the retro '70s vibe. Here he gets really funky and I commend him on it. When the album is really good it is really good, but there are a lot of times when it is just free falling.

"Stand" (Track 7) is a track that just seems bland, but there are other tracks like "Rock Star City Life" that are really fun and catchy. Then there are tracks like "Liquid Jesus" and "Looking Back on Love" that are really cool and really funky. There are a lot parts are like but the album is uneven as hell. There a chunks where I was almost falling asleep.

By the way. Lenny don't repackage "Always On The Run" as another song ("Come on and Get It"). You're better than that.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fear Itself

It was on a rainy afternoon I took to my desk and set myself to the task of writing a new tale. My days of blissful adventure had long past and on this occasion I decided the purpose of the prose should be not to bring forth the naive excitement a child craves, but the terror of men who know of all the great evils of the world.

Toward the evening hours I was believing myself to be making good progress when I heard a knocking upon my door. Outside of my windowpane I saw my good friend Robert's face. As of late it was not as jovial as it had been in his youth for he had returned home from foreign wars a changed man. Me and my kin felt a duty to watch over him as he had his countrymen. Sometimes Robert would see things that were not there, cry out in his sleep and suddenly become afraid.

On this night he came to my desk to ask me to reassure him. He knew that on this soil he was safe, that the monsters of war had not followed him yet he all of a sudden would be overtaken by an all encompassing fear of those monsters. He tells me that this day has been worse than most and he wants me to watch over him, his wife, and his house.

Because I enjoy his company, I thought that his monsters might become inspiration for mine, and his wife tends to keep his cupboards well stocked I did not mind watching over him this night. I gathered a few belongings, most notably a pen and my journal and rode with him.

Upon opening the door I was greeted by his wife, Elizabeth and his youngest son Alexander. While I sometimes envied Robert in his good fortune of finding someone I was still undeniably in those wild years men have in their youths. Elizabeth was a good woman and Alex, from my eyes at least, was all a man could ask for in a son.

Going over to his ice chest, Robert asked me if I wanted a drink. He mostly asked for himself, knowing I was a teetotaler. I politely declined while he pored himself a glass of vodka.

"I wish he wouldn't do that." Elizabeth said.

"One shot shouldn't hurt him too much." I replied.

"Yes, but it sets a bad example for the boy."

Laying a hand on top of Alexander's crown I asked how the boy was doing. Was he getting good marks? Did he get into the usual scrapes and troubles a young lad of his age does? The general consensus among his parents was that he was quieter than his father and I had been as boys. Rather than strolling streets and the legends they hold for children he preferred the legends of books. It worried his father a bit, but his mother remembering Robert's stories was content.

Not long after Robert left the salon to see Alex and his younger daughter off to bed. I used the time to ask his wife about the troubles Robert came to see me about.

"We all have things we see out the corner of our eye, sounds we hear in the back of our heads. You and I, we can ignore them, because we know that if we do much ill will not occur. Robert can't. For him every sound and every shadow may mean his death. He tries. He really does, but there are times when he looks at me and I know he loves me, but at the same time he is afraid of even me. What's worse is he fears himself, what this fear might make him do. I trust him. I trust him with my heart and with my children, but he trusts not himself."

"Ah, It will be alright Liz. Has he seen a doctor?"
"Twice a week, he seems to get a bit better immediately afterwards but beyond that he still fears, but masks it."

We turned our heads to see Robert, walking back down his staircase.

"Talking about me I suppose."

"I'm sorry but it seemed it would be easier this way," I said.

"I don't mind. She's right. I fear. The doctors tell me there is no quick fix, but time and life. To just live every day the best I can."

After that conversation we all retired for the night. Robert and his wife went up the stairs to prepare for bed. I was going to sleep in the parlor we were talking in. I decided to leave the lamp on and continue my writings. Unaware I fell asleep pen in hand.

I was awoken by a loud scream and a bang. Running up the stairs a heard a crying Elizabeth and Robert dead. She was reading a note he had written over and over again. After that it had become apparent that he had indeed asked me over to look over his family and house, it would just be a bit longer than expected.

Note: Okay I know the ending is cheap, but everyone yells at me that I don't finish stories and it seemed like the quickest way to end it after I got tired of writing. I'll expand or retcon the story later but right now it's tied in a way where my mom won't say she won't read it.

Southfield September 7, 2011 Planning Commission Meeting

Planning Commision Meeting Held In Southfield, Michigan on September 7, 2011

Topics Include

  • How Traffic might be affected by the building of a Golden Corral
  • Neighborhood issues caused by Bradford Academy
An agenda can be found here.

Note: Due to technical difficulties about 15 minutes are missing at about 1 hour and 38 minutes.

Southfield September 7, 2011 Planning Commission Meeting from Greg Miles on Vimeo.

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