Tag Archives: John Sinclair

Tiger Stadium ► Throwback Thursday

It was on this day 115 years ago the first pitch was thrown out at Detroit’s Tiger Stadium.

The Tigers moved to Comerica Park, and played their last game at Tiger Stadium in September 1999. Ten years later, despite being designated a historic site by the state of Michigan, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Tiger Stadium was demolished after several preservation and redevelopment schemes died on the drafting table. However, the actual playing field of Tiger Stadium is still there and lovingly maintained by a local community group.

Known as “The Corner”, because of its prominent location at Michigan and Trumbull Avenues, with Trumbull’s angle creating a trapezoidal lot. However, it had many names over the years. Originally called Bennett Park in 1895, when it consisted of a playing field surrounded by wooden bleachers and a roofed grandstand in the outfield. It was named Navin Field in 1912, after Frank Navin purchased the team and had a modern stadium constructed out of steel and concrete. Incidentally, opening day was the same for Fenway Park.

After Navin’s death in 1935, it became known as Briggs Stadium, and new owner Walter Briggs embarked on an expansion project that upped the seating to a whopping — for the day — 58,000 seats. According to the WikiWackyWoo, Briggs had a reputation as a racist:

Briggs was noted for fielding a well-paid team that won two American League pennants (1940, 1945) and a World Series championship in 1945 under his ownership.[6] He had a reputation for being somewhat prejudiced against African-Americans, in part because he refused to sign black players (though he allowed blacks to work at his factory)[7] and would not allow black fans to sit in the boxes at Briggs Stadium.[citation needed] The Tigers did not field their first non-white player until 1958, six years after Briggs’ death—making them the second-to-last team in the majors to integrate (ahead of only the Boston Red Sox).

After his death his son Walter Junior tried to hang onto it, but administers for the estate forced the sale after 5 years. The new owners called it simply Tiger Stadium in 1961, one of the classic ballparks from the classic era of ‘Merka’s Pastime.

I remember going to Tiger Stadium as a kid. The Upper Decks were really up there. It seemed like a long climb to get to the cheap seats, but when you looked down, the field was right below you; so close, it almost felt like you were on the field. It was a huge deal when I was 16 and the Tigers won the World Series in 1968. We rode around in cars for days screaming out the windows.

Later, when I was a teenager, sometimes we’d do what we called a Double Header. Plum Street, Detroit’s Hippie Mecca — where I first met John Sinclair — was just around the corner. Some days me and my friends, who were all weekend Hippies, would buy incense and hang out on Plum Street before walking the few blocks to see a weekend Tiger’s game.

The Wiki also notes:

A plan to redevelop the old Tiger Stadium site would retain the historic playing field for youth sports and ring the 10-acre property with new development has received final approval, and funding.[4] Developer Eric Larson of Larson Realty will develop a mixed residential and retail project along the Michigan Ave and Trumbull sides of the property, beginning in late 2016.[4] The Detroit Police Athletic League will begin construction, in early April 2016, on a new headquarters building along Michigan Ave and Cochrane. The L-shaped building would enclose two sides of the field.[4] Together these two projects will completely ring the old site.[4]

But, there will never be another Tiger Stadium.

Paul Is Dead ► Monday Musical Appreciation

Forty-six years ago today occurred one of the craziest events in the annals of Rock and Roll Music History, in which I played a minor role. Here’s how it all came about

According to The Music History Calendar:

1969 : Russ Gibb, a DJ at WKNR in Detroit, takes a call from a listener who tells him that if you play The Beatles song “Revolution 9” backwards, a voice says, “Turn me on, dead man.” Gibb plays the record in reverse on the air, and the phone lines light up with astonished listeners offering more clues as to why Paul McCartney might be dead. For about a week, Gibb entertains a stream of rumors on the show, as ratings explode and the story goes national. Other clues include a voice at the end of “Strawberry Fields Forever” that says “I Buried Paul” (actually John Lennon saying “Cranberry Sauce”) and the cover of the Sgt. Pepper album, where Paul is wearing an armband that says “OPD” – “Officially Pronounced Dead.”

This Day In Music erroneously writes about this event:

1969, A DJ on Detroit’s WKNR radio station received a phone call telling him that if you play The Beatles ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ backwards, you hear John Lennon say the words “I buried Paul.” This started a worldwide rumour that Paul McCartney was dead.

What does this have to do with your humble correspondent? According to Paul is dead?!?, “introduced and explicated by saki” on the old USENET group rec.music.beatles:

source for clues invention was a popular radio show hosted by
disc-jockey Russell Gibb of WKNR-FM in Detroit was a vital element in
the spread of the hoax. A regular r.m.b. reader, Headly Westerfield, who
was not only a friend of Gibb but was present in-studio that afternoon
(12 October 1969), recalls reading an “underground newspaper” (it may
have been one of the the college papers then carrying the “clues”,
similar to the ones Dartanyan Brown remembers seeing) with a list of
“Paul Is Dead” clues.

Gibb and cohorts were sufficiently inspired
to read them on the air and to improvise new ones on the spot.
Listeners to the show even recall someone calling up Gibb to report that
if you played “Revolution No. 9” backward, you’d hear a secret message.
(Note: radio-show collectors used to offer an aircheck of this show or a
followup show for trade! Anyone have a copy?)

Within days, Gibb
& Co. were astonished when newspapers and reporters took their
on-air joke seriously and spread the tale more widely. Some clues which
have become part of established folklore, Westerfield reports, were
invented that obscure day at WKNR-FM, but have since been accepted as
part of the original hoax. Gibb and friends were not the source of the
hoax, he emphasizes, but played a part in its initial wider

TommyGarcia2’s YouTubery has a 2 part exposé on the Paul Is Dead rumour:

When this rumour broke wide I was shocked and ashamed. From just goofing around in a radio studio, to it becoming a worldwide sensation, freaked me out. I was just 17 years old and unsophisticated in the ways of the world. I was worried that somehow this would all blow back on me in a horrible way. Therefore, I didn’t mention my involvement to anyone for about 20 years. Then I allowed myself to be interview by saki, who got word of my involvement from a mutual friend.

When I saw what was finally printed, I went underground for another 20 years. Recently I told the whole, deeper story to my nephew Adam, one of the subjects of my blog post My Days With John Sinclair. He suggested I just live with it, in essence echoing the advice at the end of the wonderful 1962 John Wayne/James Stewart/Lee Marvin Western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance:

Ransom Stoddard: You’re not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?
Maxwell Scott: No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

I’ll let Sir Paul, with a little help from his friends, have the last word:

The Music of Detroit ► Unpacking My Detroit ► Part Four

The BBC produced a nice little documentary on the music of Detroit, Michigan. Includes contributions from Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, George Clinton, Martha Reeves, John Sinclair and the MC5, among others. This is the music of my youth.

Sadly Part Four of this documentary cannot be embedded. However, it wraps up here.

Previous Entries:

Unpacking My Detroit ► Part One
Unpacking My Detroit ► Part Two
Unpacking My Detroit ► Part Three


Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be ► My Days With John Sinclair

My Days With John Sinclair ► Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be

John Lennon wrote very few songs about REAL people, and when he did he disguised the name of the subject, like “Sexie Sadie,” who was “Maharishi” in the original version.

However, Lennon wrote and recorded a song called “John Sinclair,” about one of Detroit’s a cultural icons. Lennon’s “John Sinclair” was just one protest song on “Some Time in New York City.” a double-record set (filled with political polemic as 3 minute tunes on one LP, and live concert with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention on the other). Lennon was protesting the sentencing of John Sinclair to 10 years of hard time for GIVING an undercover agent two joints. This made the already infamous Sinclair, who only had a regional reputation until then, an international cause célèbre, which is what prompted Lennon to write the song and later appear at a Free John Sinclair concert. However, I knew John Sinclair before he ever became a jailbird.

I first encountered John Sinclair way back in the ’60s. I grew up in Detroit on Gilchrist Street (we called it Gilchrist Avenue because that was classier), one block and three houses south of the infamous 8 Mile (aka M-102) and five houses south of David Palmer, the original drummer for the Amboy Dukes. We were all in our middle teens then, but Dave was a year or two older which made all the difference back then. He wasn’t part of our clique, just a few doors down. His clique was far more exciting to us. We thought he was really cool because he was in a real rock and roll band who played real concerts and made real records. However, for some of us there was a more important reason for admiring David Palmer: When the administration threw him out of Coffey Junior High School because his hair was well-below his collar, he responded with a lawyer who argued that this was how Palmer made his living and he would be affected adversely if he had to cut his hair. Those of us who were still fighting the Hair Wars — and still being kicked out for having long hair — knew that it was only a matter of time before the rule fell, because David Palmer had already blown right through it.  The school was forced to make an accommodation with Dave: He had to wear his hair tucked in his shirt collar the entire day so that it was no longer than his shirt collar.
From then on Dave wore wild paisley shirts, with even wilder ties to hold all the hair in. It was always a bit of a thrill to follow Dave out the door at the end of the school day, see him scoop his hair out of his collar, and watch it cascade down his back. When the Amboy Dukes rehearsed in Dave’s garage, all us neighbourhood kids would hang out at the end of the driveway to listen. They were my first garage band.
I was only 15 and most weekends  and would head to Plum Street—Detroit’s Haight-Ashbury—on weekends, where I’d occasionally get a glimpse of John Sinclair holding forth. He was Detroit’s Top Hippie and I was a weekend wannabe.  On more than one occasion I’d work up the nerve to talk to him. Despite the age difference, and his massive height, he never talked down to me and all these years later I never forgot that kindness. Sinclair seemed to be everywhere: He helped launch the The Fifth Estate (one of ‘Merka’s oldest alternative/underground newspapers) manager of the MC5, and head of the White Panther Party.
Skip ahead many years—through many twists and turns that no one could have predicted at the time. In the new century my nephew became John Sinclair’s merchandising manager. What a thrill it was to learn that.
That’s merely all background to the real story.

It’s Labor Day weekend, 2006 and I’m excited. I am going to the Detroit International Jazz Fest where I am going to see John Sinclair for the first time in about 40 years. More importantly, my nephew is going to officially introduce us, even though we met way back when. John is at the Jazz Fest performing with his band The Blues Messengers.
We get there early because my nephew has lots to do before the show and I’m directed to a little table in the VIP area to wait. I need to describe this VIP section so the story makes more sense. There are 8 stages around the downtown area and each has a VIP section. It’s not backstage; it’s off to one side or another in front of the stages. It’s for audience, but special audience. Like me. The regular audience sits on fold-up chairs or the ground. We get real chairs and small cabaret tables to sit at. How civilized.
I’m killing time and I see John Sinclair arrive and sit at a table a few away from me. When my nephew comes back he says, “So, didja say ‘Hi!’ yet?” I reply, ” No, he’s going to do a show soon and I don’t want to bother him now.” I said that because I saw someone approach him only to be told, “I’m going to do a show soon. Don’t bother me now. I need to concentrate. I’ll gladly talk to you after.”
My nephew doesn’t care about such niceties and drags me over and makes introductions.
John Sinclair says to me, “I’ve heard so much about you I feel like I know you. Your nephew talks about you all the time.”
After I come back to earth I say, “John, I just want to thank you for treating me with respect way back when, instead of the snot-nosed Hippie weekend-wannabe that I was.”
With that my nephew starts cackling, “I hear people come up to you all the time and say pretty much the same thing, John. But this time it’s my uncle.”
It turns out that for all our own reasons, the three of us are all thrilled at the meeting.
Introductions over, I go back to my table. Eventually Sinclair performs. We talk a bit after the set and then head off in separate directions, John to meet up with some musician friends and me to go see a 24-piece Big Band playing all Zappa music with Big Band arrangements. (!)
A few hours later I find myself at the same VIP table alone, rocking out to the Regal Brass Band of New Orleans, which I had seen earlier in the year during Mardi Gras, the first one after Katrina.  I didn’t see anyone sit down next to me, but suddenly I was nudged from someone on the left. It was John Sinclair passing me a joint. I have to say that again: JOHN SINCLAIR PASSING ME A JOINT!!!
And, I do inhale.
As I begin to pas sit back he nods, as if to say, “Now pass it to the guy on the other side of you,” so I nudge that guy and he turns towards me. That’s when Dr. John says to me, in his gravely voice, “No man, I gotta do a show soon,” so I pass it back to John Sinclair.
So now me, John Sinclair and Dr. John are all dancing in our seats to a New Orleans Jazz band. Amazingly, as we talk and smoke, I learn that Sinclair was also at that very same Mardi Gras I attended—on the other side of the street from where I was watching the parade. Exactly on the other side of the street. I’m amazed I didn’t see him.
Eventually Dr. John gets up and leaves because his set’s on soon and the joint goes out. Sinclair rips it open and puts the shreds on the table. Then he starts fishing in his pockets. He pulls out several roaches and starts ripping them apart. He’s determined to get one more joint out of this mess on the table and, believe me, I’m rooting for him.
While I’m watching John do his thing I vaguely become aware that the guy on stage has been talking longer than usual. I focus on what he’s saying:
“…a really dear friend of ours. We’d like to have him stand up and say “Hello.” He’s a Detroit native, but now he’s a citizen of the world, living part time in New Orleans and part time in Amsterdam. Please, a warm hand for Detroit’s own, John Sinclair!”
John is in his own world. He’s on a mission. He doesn’t realize the applause is for him.
I nudge him.
“Stand up, John.”
He looks around a minute, sees that everyone is looking at him (at us!!!) and clapping, so he stands up and takes a small bow and then sits back down laughing. “Why did he have to introduce me then? Look at this table.”
“John, there was no other time to introduce you. What are you known for?”

<breathing air> And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my
John Sinclair Story. However, I invite you to tune in to listen to
John Sinclair
at Radio Free
, one of the oldest regular online podcasts going and just another
one of the cultural touchstones John Sinclair helped create in his long and creative
career. And, if you are in Ireland
later this month, check out the BREATHIN’ AIR
– Irish Tour 2012
With Howard Marks.

Mark Koldys-Johnny Dollar Comment of the Day

This one’s almost too easy, folks. If this isn’t the most supremely hypocritical thing Johnny Dollar-Mark Koldys has ever said, you’ll have to prove it to me.

Ain’t that rich? Proving that J$ is a fucking hypocrite is like shooting fish in a barrel.

When I wrote “Johnny Dollar Has Proven Himself To Be A Very Dangerous Person”  I made the point:

However, why is Johnny Dollar dangerous?  Under the guise of his rubric of “CABLE NEWS TRUTH” he published GrayHammy’s long character assassination on his website, which exposed my alternative lifestyle.  Reprehensible.  Disgusting.  Beyond the pale.  And, we must ask: Why was this done?  Simply because I write for NewsHounds.  If it’s something that could potentially hurt NewsHounds, then why not destroy Headly Westerfield personally by all means necessary?  I’m merely the collateral damage in the years long war J$ has dishonestly fought against NewsHounds.  There was no other reason to expose things about me that have no relevance to my writing for NewHounds and there is nothing in that article that has any relevance to NewsHounds.  Johnny Dollar has proven himself to be a very dangerous person.  

Not only was I collateral damage, but in the Johnny Dollar-Mark Koldys tradition, he will stop at NOTHING to defend Fox News, because he’s a Cable News Truther. What my sex life had to do with Cable News Truth is a question you’ll have to ask of him.

While you’re at it, please ask him why he is now contacting other people from my past to ask whether they know me or not. Seriously. This MoFo is psychotic. Next thing you know he’ll be asking Ted Nugent if he remembers this goofy kid on Gilchrist Avenue 45 years ago standing at the end of the driveway.

Neither Bob Marley nor George Harrison are alive. Therefore, Johnny Dollar-Mark Koldys will just have to take my word that I spent time with both. Or, in the case of Harrison, plenty of video footage exists. I can let J$ know how he can order up B-Roll. Marley? Plenty of people saw us together. Pictures? Probably. I can point him at people who were there. I just want to be helpful.

Oh, maybe this’ll help: John Sinclair still visits Detroit. Maybe Johnny Two Cents will want to interview him next. There’s a very public story on the innertubes about me and my friend John Sinclair and Dr. John.

Johnny Dollar? Mark Koldys? GreyHammy? Ashley Graham? Go fetch!!! You sick fucks!!!