making it happen

Posted in Uncategorized on February 26, 2012 by upsidedownhouse

It is 8:21 pm Jan 31st , yesterday I got home in the afternoon from a week long poetry tour. I went to 5 readings and read at 3. We went to Phili, NYC and Buffalo.

12 minutes ago I was at Kinkos Fed Ex sending my Kresege Fellowship application due tomorrow Feb. 1st, postmarked and received by, as far as I understood.  I spent weeks working on this application prior to my trip and on the last day before it was due I spent the entirety of the day editing my statements, uploading work samples, and arguing with my partner over my writing style.  I spent the last day of January up to 8:09 pm to make it happen.  Now I am at the Old MIAMI, sitting in a lazy boy with a pint of ghetto blaster. “Wow, that was close…”

Rewind.  I am at Kinkos, it’s about 4 pm.  I am printing out the worksheet application and my 9 writing samples, mostly new work from “detroit colors”, 6 copies of everything.  I open the box of copies that just cost $16 and my Work Sample Forms are all fuc@#$%^… they’re not how they’re supposed to be.  “Oh man, I knew this was gonna happen, ohh oh”, I’m instantly in a panic. Back to the help counter, but the employee confirms there’s nothing wrong with the pdf.  “We went over this, why is it not printing? It’s only printing parts of the fields.”  “Ok, maybe we can…I don’t know let’s get help at the AMP office”, i say to my girlfriend, “you have class there anyway soon I say to “, a plan, or something.  SO, in exchange for our friend trying to help figure this problem out (lucky he was even there), I say I’ll do what you were just doing if you don’t mind and I proceed to put some boxes away, climbing up into this little loft using one of those telescoping ladders, (they’re really useful ladders), but he’s not coming up with anything.  Hmmm, let’s go into the computer lab and see if we can try something different.  Long story short, class is starting in the lab, so we go out into the main room and spend another hour, working next to each other both puzzled.  He figures “something” out “sweet man, if I win you are so gonna get paid.” Now what?

I go back to Kinkos to run off my copies from the 4 sheets we fixed, my new masters.   I am not really sure if I can have my hard copies delivered versus mailed, I am imagining this has to be the same thing these days, but I have never applied for anything like this and they seem very particular about everything, so I ask the employee, a total stranger her opinion.  She’s kinda looking at me and I can see thinking something.  Maybe she thinks it’s a strange question or is considering maybe if I get out enough and then tells me something very interesting, the Fed Ex desk closes in half an hour. And like this little blinking cursor I’m standing there looking at her, blinking, blinking, realizing, thinking, I have, messed, up. Same day service probably does not mean that and I have no money and I am still a little concerned about these Work Sample description sheets and I was supposed to go see my nephew since I’ve been gone and haven’t for over a week. OK, ok you can do this, make it happen.

I say, “shit that’s not much time” to the employee and leave. I’m running to the truck, I’m going to the post office main branch open 24 hours, I think, I hope. That will take up approximately 15 minutes driving I am calculating as I am already off, what if there’s a line. Maybe I will just yell and make a scene? No, you can do this. I call Mom, not coming to see Kam. I call and text my partner with this update, she’s in class, but maybe she can help?  Oh yea I need money. No luck there. I’m at the post office and have already broke at least 4 traffic laws, but that’s not so unusual for my city driving.  Second in line, no problem, I can still get back to Kinkos if I need to by 8. I learn at the desk just as I feared, if I wanted my hard copies to get there by tomorrow I missed the deadline, 6 pm, but even that would have been the following day, the 2nd, no good.  I am off,  calling my friend who lives around the corner to see if I can borrow any money. This can work if he’s home and has cash, come on/come on. “Man, I love you. Thank you for answering. Do you have any money I can borrow I am on my way right now. I need to get something in the fed ex..blah blah” “sure man, just knock when you get here, I got $18 on me in cash”, “ I will be right there in a minute and a half”,  hoping he will just come down and meet me outside. I pull up and jump out, then go back and shut the truck off and take my keys with me, ‘this would be the time for that to happen’ I think. “Thanks man I will get it back to you later tonight or tomorrow. Tomorrow is echoing in my head like I was dreaming.

I pull up and somehow I have about 5 minutes before 8, shwooo.  “How much is it gonna be? “Yes. just give me the cheapest as long as it gets there tomorrow”. CRAP!! I am short, I need $6 more. “Can you leave the desk open, can you not close and wait and I will try and get the money, I will be right back.”  He says, it’s up to the  Fed Ex driver and they get here when they get here and they go as fast as they can, sometimes they are 10 minutes late though, but not usually…Alright man I’m gonna do this.

Who lives around here?  Ok ok, they’re not home.  Who else?  I’m in front of her house as she’s picking up the call, “ sorry, I don’t have any cash, let me ask my sister”, neither of them, ahhh!  “You can make this happen, she encourages me”.  “Do it!”   Ok, back to the AMP office I think, that’s close.   I will get my girlfriend out of the Future Cities Media class, that’s that, I will just have to.   Knocking on the door… now a little pounding, and a little more.   Yes, “hey man, what’s up?”   It’s our friend who helped make the new masters, who in actuality I don’t really know that well.  I come in, sorta barge in, mumbling about I need money and he’s looking at me a little strange like maybe,  “is he,  on something“, am I?   I can’t even tell.

“Pssst, psst, come here”, and wave her over, of course getting most of the whole class’s unwanted attention.  I need some cash, please tell me you have money!”   Yea, sure. YES.    I’m just in the truck driving again, like I got the money and am teleported back into the drivers seat.  I can’t believe this, but then again, I guess shit like this does happen to me.

It’s definitely after 8, god I hope he was late. I get back, pull up into two spots on accident, fuck it.  It says Fed Ex two minute parking in both spots, 4 minutes sounds perfect. I go in and the employee is impressed. “Nice job” he says, and hands me the form. Yes!!! I think I did it. I’m filling out the form and I mess up, “can I have another one, I’m sorry”. Employee number one, from earlier, says “Fed Ex just pulled up”. OMG, what if they won’t wait, I think, I haven’t given them any money yet…

The last thing I heard as the driver was walking in “there you are,  all set”.  “It will be there before 4 tomorrow.”

And    here     he     is.

I think I need a drink.


our music

Posted in Uncategorized on December 2, 2011 by upsidedownhouse

The following post may or may not have been written by yours truly.  This comes from my heart regardless of any certainty if I am indeed the original author.  I found this on a scrap of transparency in my things some years back and can not explain if  I did not write it, probably 10 plus years ago, how it came to me?  It is a strange  little passage, but I think reveals quite a lot and would like it to have a new life of its own, so to speak.

CRASS said to reject theirs, so “yours” could stand on its own, but sometimes theirs is so enticing.  Really ours is best.

What we create is more powerful than freezing rain.

Holidays can be times for poetry and this designation is something I did not create, but am using to come up with ideas that are risking my place and understanding..

This is what I most want others to take from being around me.  Fight the fear and try to continue to grow tall and wide and distant like the past periods when we were all indigenous, then colonialists then vicitims then just people again, people who love music.

Where are we going if not into the future where it is an amalgam of different shit.  Ha. Depression will never have me again.

Listening to a beautiful project that my friend completed on a disc, writing and realizing what not to say as much what to- my inclination always falls toward the music.  I  can stop and it will pick me up and I will take that next step toward love.  I let the music take me, but I am not a musician and that is not profitable in our dominate culture.  I wonder if it is as simple as all the musicians coming out into the street to make their sound for us to get the world’s attention.  What would I say?  What would you say?

The spirit is for our relief, that is what we get living here in Detroit.  I actually benefit from the city as a whole and to you who all leave before you were able to feel that lift your life up and engage your creativity and imagination, I can only offer  you best of luck  elsewhere.

Thnx Liz

Posted in Uncategorized on November 19, 2011 by upsidedownhouse

I got a message the other day to moderate a comment on my blog,   wo…(dramatic pause) I totally forgot I had a blog.

I think my last post was at least 3 and a half years ago!  So, Mr. Forgetful where the hell you been?  Well, actually thinking back I have at least a couple of really good excuses that do involve hell.

In the midst of counseling a close friend who was losing  a battle with her self, over and over; she felt like she had to have someone else love her or there was no reason to exist in this hell she inherited (at least in part because of an abusive childhood) and I didn’t want to see her suffer or die- my other best friend suddenly had a breakdown and ended up in  a mental hospital, on drugs, then sent home never the same again.  So he went to a firing range and shot himself in the head, later I would come to find this is what some in my community refer to as a “peace out”.  Despite what they say one out of two is bad.

She is doing a lot better, but I loved that man a lot and still think about him all the time.  I wished I could have done more.

What a terrible mess back then, running through the streets with no shoes, breaking things, the police and hospitals, interventions and assaults, and I was the sane one!  SO much!!  While I went through my own hell, trying to be strong and not let this thing snow ball any more, because there were others who died during this time also, I eventually turned to writing a book of poetry to try and write my way out of my head and the pain literally screaming at my door.  I forgot about this project,  the documenting of a life whilst rebuilding this super destroyed house in Detroit, so the blog just went to sleep for a long time.

I  didn’t stop working on the house though and have made major progress but things have changed, I mean really changed.  It’s kinda like a RIP Van Winkle feeling, anyway… 2: roommates, girlfriends, woodstoves, collectives, published books, dogs (actually I had BOB for about a week before these current 2) and 2 other dead friends later, approaching a 4 year hiatus, I’m back! …  and I think it’s gonna be good.


repost 1: it’s about time

Posted in Uncategorized on February 28, 2008 by upsidedownhouse

I figured it out. Things are really all about time (including how long it takes to get your electricity turned on)! I used to believe it’s about work or vision, or even love, but now I know that those things are incidental to this…thing, this concept- please realize, time matters most.

Of course, I am just being a wee bit silly so what the ___ am I talking about really? Well, I am here to announce that I have electricity! After months of rewiring and 4 months of calling and waiting and moving the meter can and removing this and adding that and mostly just not knowing what they (DTE) wanted from me, two days ago something that took them probably 10 minutes tops to hook up finally happened.

Did I ever tell you about the time that I called the main operator system for DTE to try and trick them into coming out. Oh yes, I was desperate. I figured if you have a downed wire that they would come out right away. I never looked forward to calling and going through all the choices on their automated menu (though I was starting to get pretty good at it), but I felt like I had to and this time would be different. I was feeling like this was gonna do something, this attempt would matter. I admit was a little worried that maybe I could actually make the situation worse if I just straight out said there was a downed wire and sparks were flying or something, so I said “you know I am trying to get my power on and there are some downed wires in the alley (which is really just my driveway at this point) and am not sure how safe that is…” ok sir can you give me your address (or sometimes it’s social security number, phone number or name) so I can look up the record on your account?” I think, maybe… ‘nope, doesn’t look like she’s buying it’.

Turns out that she is actually really interested in figuring out why I do not have electricity yet and begins to ask me about the situation. I tell her that I finally got a meter installed and that I had to move the meter can and add a ground wire beforehand, but at this point “my electricians” (read-friends) say everything looks ok and we should be good to go AND I have this reference number for a DTE inspector to come out to see if there is a problem, but the problem there, is every time I call I eventually get an answering machine that is full, so it just hangs up on me. To this she assures, seriously, that she is going to help me, and she seems so genuine so I believe her. How I feel about this person matters to me, but that’s a whole other story about one of my phone calls to a different DTE operator. That was a bad one for sure.

She says, “if you hold I will call their office for you and then connect you. See, they are moving their offices and I hear things are a little busy over there right now.” Of course I say, “sounds good, please do”. “Please hold sir”. So, the downed wire thing didn’t work and I hold and I hold and I walk around my yard, rake a few leaves and then just before it gets bad here she is. “OK sir, I got someone on the line and they should be able to help you out.” “Wow, thank you I really appreciate it”. “No problem, just stay on the line and I’ll patch you through.” It rings and guess what happens! It’s that same fucking answering machine and the same thing that always happens happened. It would not even allow me to leave a message and hung up on me. And, in all my excitement I forgot to get her name which means I had no way of getting back in touch with this operator, ever. Doomed, I must be doomed.

It wasn’t long after that that I gave up and seriously started thinking about just saving up for an alternative power source and for now making sure I was stocked with batteries, candles, wood and psychologically ready to go ahead and face the winter without electric lights or a space heater. Around that time the weather was not so bad; I think we had just went through that really warm spell, so I had a short reprieve and it wasn’t too bad yet. I bought a cheap chainsaw, started scoping out places to get wood and rearranged my furniture again ( I do this about once a week, and again that’s another story), but low and behold last Tuesday or was it Wednesday, as I was pulling up, this guy with a clipboard starts to walk up to the upsidedown house, using the sidewalk! ‘This must be official’, I think, but rather than drive off worried that they were coming after me for something, I jumped out and said “hey, how’s it going?” HE says he’s from DTE and he is the inspector and just needs to look on the outside. PLEASE.

As I suspected there were no issues and he apologizes and shows me with his thumb and first finger the size of the stack of orders he has to check on and says he really wishes they would hire other people, which sounded like to me that he was the only one who had this job. I did not envy him nor did I give him a hard time. I simply told him that I was surprised to see him because I had given up. He said that he would put “live in” and actually showed me that he wrote this down in large letters on the order form and also said that should help a little bit and hopefully they would get to me soon. Hell yea hopefully, but yes soon enough, 3 days later, whala!

Thought that was the end of the story did you? Hell no. Did I ever tell you about the time that I got a bill from DTE, as a matter of fact two (turns out all I ever get in the mail at this point is bills for utitilities I do not have). Yea, that’s right they started billing me before I even had service. At first I thought, “what the…” then I realized, maybe they will come out to turn my electricity off and I can get them to actually turn it on? Ridiculous huh? Yea, but not as ridiculous for how long it took to get my electricity on so I can start paying them money?? OR, did I ever tell you how I had to decipher a note they left that read “meter can must be no more than 17 inches from meter can”, which was them trying to say that we needed to move the meter can down before they would insert the actual meter because they wanted it in a better position for shutting the power off if I ever don’t pay my bill, for a service I had yet to even begin to receive…

Now, so not to forget that they are evil and I should try and minimize my usage and keep on working toward having the choice to be off the grid I recall how long a time it took. For now, it was so good to hook up my stereo system today and listen to XTC’s Drums and Wires, especially the 2nd song.

Power to the People!

the equilibrium of the whole rests in all it’s parts

Posted in Uncategorized on July 15, 2007 by upsidedownhouse

So where you been upsidedownhouse?

After the June work day… I’ve been too tired. The baby goats at the farm next door ate my notebook. I became an etymologist, specializing in blue-eyed sicatas. It’s my car, my girlfriend, my nephew, it’s been too hot, I was lost in a dream of music, I’ve only been writing poems, I was was picking berries out in the yard, I’ve been drunk, I had to cut the grass! Dick Cheney made me stop. I swear, I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to give up blogging!!

Anyway, trying to be funny because humor in hard times is healthy and that is where I’ve been, “curling up like smoke above my shoulder” -Cohen. Blogger, ” target=”_blank”>The Signal on CBC radio 2, for me replacing Liz Copeland’s WDET late night show. It’s really good radio, and has helped me feel inspired again, check it out. Also, Leave a comment »

It’s On! WORK DAY June 3rd

Posted in Uncategorized on May 8, 2007 by upsidedownhouse

calling all cars, no. comrades….no. Comanchees? no.
friends! pleaz come over Sunday June 3rdto a workday & bbq @ the “upsidedown house”. I could use your help and will repay with food and booze the day of & the night before!! RSVP
Saturday night partay
Sunday get down and dirty 10-6

I’ve had a month to consider the changes at WDET and the state of the city, and currently I say, fuck it. IT’s stupid and not what I am fighting for, and I’m certainly not going to give up what “I am for” to fight against right now. Be it the the city nor the Wayne State board of governors. It truly is not the end of the world, at least not immediately.

I will not worry so much. There is good and there is not so good and sometimes one is acutely aware of how stupid people are and that is usually bad. I just have to feed my drive and keep going. If you leave our city, please be well. I think I can handle it again. If you stay, pace yourself, but commit, so not to be a distraction. There is a lot of fun but also work to be done! Having said that after years of invovlment I quit my collective projects for an indefinite period, am going to the woods for 2 weeks(Porcupine mountains)and upon return recommitting to the house and my love of life! I feel excited again, even though I still see the city as crazy ruins and the same old top down decision making strong as ever, as ever.

How can one live stuck in a rut though, that’s more like survival (if that)and I still want to live. Who knows what this new time will allow for, beyond making sure I am consistently working on the house. I know I have many street art ideas, miss playing music like mad and would like to help here and there with booking shows, so it will no doubt be a challenge to really focus on the house, but that is the plan. I hope to be a better writer, which means I have to write more and in the future I plan on reworking this blog and maybe moving the site plus dividing it into 3 categories: poetry, politics, the project (the house). Maybe by the time I have been writing here for a year I will assess and make the necessary changes and shift my priority to writing? Who knows? That is what I will leave you with…who knows?

Fear, Compromise, Capitalism, and WDET -Pt.2

Posted in Uncategorized on April 9, 2007 by upsidedownhouse

Fed to the wolves.

I know I am not the only one upset by what’s happening at WDET lately, and it might appear of little consequence compared to what’s happening in the city as a whole:more school closures, the constant stories of violence(and my own encounters), more suspicious fires and the continued destruction of green space. All that has got me down lately, but I consider this a serious blow. I’ve said it before, music is what keeps me going, it’s the thing nearest to my heart’s beat, so with local dj’s music programming so seriously attacked last week, I took it hard. Listening to CJAM now, that is when I can get it in, makes me want to move to Canada, seriously.

I am not even sure what it’s about since no notice or information was provided on the DET website last week, when it mattered, and I have yet to check out the MT to see if they have the scoop. It appears obvious enough though, the music(locals) goes and national programming stays. Whatever the station has done, it has certainly validated those who protested a year or so ago when our only Detroit NPR station fired so many dj’s and apparently left the other half til now. To me WDET’s turning it’s back on the community, again, and the attack on the music is akin to the developers who bulldoze the green spaces so the can build-they take from us irrespective of what we need, because they can and that is how they will survive. Acres of old dense trees stands, the ones bordering Rosa Parks from MLK to Grand River I am specifically thinking of, will never be ridden through again, just like I will not hear Liz Copeland, W. Kim Heron, Mick Collins, Ralph Valdez, Michael Julian, Chuck Horn, nor Robert Jones again. Though, to be accurate Reverend Jones has survived this round of cutbacks, but I’ll not be hearing him either; his new slot is Sundays 6 am to 8 am as of today. Happy Easter Reverend Jones…

Fucked over.

Up until February when I got electricity in my place, especially alone at night, it was the local DET dj’s on my shitty battery powered radio that kept me company. There was no listening to cd’s, old tapes, and vinyl and reading by candle light was too much, so it was just the radio and my thoughts on long dark and often bitter cold nights, and I was thankful. SO, just like when I rode through, even drove by those stands of trees feeling like there is hope and this is what makes Detroit a healthy place to live, sometimes I would listen to a show and know that the culture and history of our city’s music is still alive. Of course it was not perfect, but I listened and gave it props because the dj’s gave me hope.

Getting rid of most of the local dj’s reminds me of what’s been happening somewhere else too, in NOLA lately. In Detroit we said it, (acknowledging the differences too), but Detroit has had our Katrina happening for decades now. I can not see any other explanation other than they want us out. The people who are trying to rebuild and survive in the neighborhoods are a problem when it comes to making large profits. The things that are good for the long time residents and the ones who have a sense of what we need to feel whole must go. IF you believe me wrong, PLEASE respond, because I am happy to state my case.

Offered scraps and told it’s the only thing, while you see the lavish meal layed out before your very eyes.

The other reason this pisses me off so much is not that a station challenged financially has chosen to go the way of more national programming as it is supposedly less expensive, but the way they have upped their spots to give them money ahead of the upcoming fundraiser. They knew we would be pissed and are trying to manipulate us with spots that talk about how much we learn on WDET and should value this…service. Excuse me, I need to appreciate what? Never owning up to what they have done. It’s so obvious. It’s so devious and manipulative. It’s so…corporate.

I got an idea. How about rather than give everyone the boot there is some discussion in the community as to what some of the possible solutions to the problems are? It’s advertised as a community station right? Why not go the way of a volunteer army of local DJ’s (even if just from WSU) that are not paid, and slim down on the paid management while you’re at it. Too late. And, PLEASE, just to mention regarding some of the new programming, take that new money and finance show off before someone gets hurt, seriously. It’s local, but it will not touch the issue of class with a ten foot poll, so I’d call that one a program for the new Detroiters and an insult to boot.

“one fine day, when i’m strong enough, i’ll stand up out of this chair and walk away”nomeansno

While the weather last week indicated that it is indeed Spring, regardless of cold nights, how quickly the tables turn. I shaved my beard and head ready to meet the change head on (no pun intended)rather than wait for it to get to me first, ah burned again. I was so wrong, and now so confused. Am I less ready for changes this drastic than I previously had been? I feel like I used to be ready to adapt and flex like a long piece of bamboo. One piece in a clump of bamboo born to grow like grass and be more useful, inspiring and full of mystery than most humans will ever realize. Regardless of all that, as the song goes “if you ain’t ready, you betta git ready”, but i’m thinkin’, no,how about a change of scenery and weather altogether…

My last blog entry ended with a cry to stay in Detroit and build a good life here, but just like the weather’s harsh return, lately I have rather suddenly felt like the opposite and more like quitting Detroit. Quitting my collective projects, quitting this city, quitting the life I have been living for nearly 10 years here and beyond that. When I lived in Arcata it was really just to prepare myself for what I wanted to do here. I apologize for this fit, but I am dumbfounded at the amount of harsh reality that is hurled somewhere in my general direction lately, but seems to always end up right on my lap. Indeed it seems to be saying “it’s going to get worse before it gets better”. All I know is I need a break.

This city gets fucked over and over and in turn the people end up learning that’s the way it’s done and do it to others, how American. A bunch of sweet talk and than nothing but abuse. No, how just like the USA, not America. The Americas are not the home to Capitalism, but this country is, no matter how global it gets. The gears of the machine continue to turn, cycle after cycle. Detroit, the true “American” city, then and now. When will it end?