Tag Archives: Phog

Phog Walks Detroit

I have put out a Facebook invite for an incredible walk taking place in Detroit.
Bob Goldsmith of Detroit Tour Connections is hosting the two-hour tour.
The tour will be in the area of Cass Corridor…a richly interesting space, which will lead us to the Dally in the Alley festival.

Here’s the details of the walk, according to Bob:
“I think we should meet at the main branch of theDetroit Public Library. The address is 5201 Woodward. Let’s meet at the rear (west) entrance, which is on Cass. People can park on Cass, or on Kirby. “Midtown” is a pretty large area of Detroit that includes the Cass Corridor, Brush Park, the Detroit Medical Center, the large campus of WSU, and the Cultural Center area.

We’re mostly going to tour the Cultural Center area. Our two hour tour will include: Hecker mansion and other homes from the late 1800s; the DPL, DIA, Park-Shelton and Maccabees Bldgs from the 1920s; the Historical Museum; the Detroit Science Center; the Charles H. Wright Museum; the Scarab Club; the College for Creative Studies; and a few of the buildings on WSU’s campus.

The Dally has a website — http://www.dallyinthealley.com. It includes a map and directions … but the best bet is probably to mapquest 5201 Woodward if we are going to meet at the main branch of the Detroit Public Library. People can take I-75 north to Warren, and then take Warren west to Woodward or to Cass,
or they can just take Woodward from downtown Detroit to the Cultural Center area.”

We will meet initially at Phog Lounge at 9:45am. We will leave by 10am on our way to the Detroit Public Library. If you want to come, you must e-mail me at phoglounge@gmail.com or message me on Facebook (Tom Lucier). If you can drive…good…if you can’t, we still have room in some cars heading over. And you need your Passport to attend.

THIS SATURDAY!!! We already have over 20 people coming, so there will be tons of opportunities to make friends from Windsor along with the endless opportunities to meet your American reflections during the walk. I think it’s going to be an important first step in creating a very important community that is almost non-existent…the cross-border cultural community.

Personally, I feel that this is a KEY and CRUCIAL event for community leaders to be a part of, in order to initialize, strengthen, and solidify our relationships and understanding of our American brethren.
If you find yourself to be a leader here in Windsor, I really think it’s a good time to start thinking about sharing your strengths with people across the way, who know little or nothing about this community of artists, musicians, and doers.

Musicians Scoring Famous Talks and Speeches (MSFTS)

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Holy geez.
This night was more than special.
Tuesday, January 20th Phog Lounge held a group of musicians willing to put themselves on the line.
They knew they’d be playing to some famous speeches, but they didn’t know which ones.

I thought I knew what I was doing.
I had twelve speeches ready, loaded, prepared to go.
I wish I had done more research into the length of the speeches. I was telling the musicians that the speeches were 8 minutes long, unless they were longer, like, 18 minutes.
Well, the first speech was 25 minutes or longer, and the second was almost 40 minutes long!
The bands were expecting one thing, and then being forced to persevere and give it all they had to last the length of an entire set on one song!

The musicians were:
Martin Schiller and Kyle Marchand of What Seas, What Shores.
Adam Rideout of Yellow Wood
Stephen Hargreaves of Not_Digital
Stefan C. formerly of Oh Vanya
Chad Howson of Another Saturday Knight

The speeches aren’t perfectly represented here…recorded from the bar, there are some interruptions…technical and otherwise, but minor at worst. These speeches are MORE than worth listening to, and I am extremely grateful for the musicians who volunteered themselves to come out an perform in this way…exposed…brutally exposed.

Speaking with some of the people in attendance, it was the icing on the cake for their day, as it was held on the same day as Barack Obama’s inauguration as President of the United States. Others said that, at first listen, Obama’s speech was ordinary and uninspiring. But on the second listen, with a military drum beat and an emotional synthesized landscape of transitions, the speech came to life and was worthy of the praise being given it on the news.

It will happen again. It must.
I just hope the talented musicians (veterans now) come and participate in the next one.

Here’s the first speech of the night:
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Ronald Reagan- Tear Down This Wall – June 12, 1987 in West Berlin, Germany
performed by Stephen Hargreaves, Chad Howson, and Stefan C.

VIDEO FROM SAMANTHA COOPER!!! JUST ADDED! Thanks Samantha! Jump to 3:00 to get past my mumbo-jumbo…

Phog Speech – Ronald Reagan in Berlin from samantha maryann on Vimeo.

Second speech:
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Richard Nixon – Resignation Speech – August 8, 1974 in Washington, DC
performed by Martin Schiller and Kyle Marchand

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io

Save File: nixons__resignation_speech.m4a

Third speech:
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This one has a little gap, where my batteries died, without warning. I stitched it together as best I could.
Martin Luther King Jr. – I’ve Been To The Mountaintop – April 3, 1968 (the day before his assassination) in Memphis, Tennessee
performed by Adam Rideout and Stefan (electronic)

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io

Save File: ive_been_to_the_mountaintop.m4a

Fourth and final speech:

2009 Inaugural Celebration. Washington D.C. National Mall thanks to Geoeye.com

2009 Inaugural Celebration. Washington D.C. National Mall thanks to Geoeye.com


Again, there was an issue with this speech that the performers played through. The streaming video of the speech was slow, and choppy.
So, there was some overlapping, and I again, did my best to stitch it together.
Barack Obama – Presidential Inauguration Speech – January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC
performed by Stephen Hargreaves and Stefan C.

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io

Save File: obamas_inaugural_presidential_speech.m4a

Creative Minds need help with the internets…

So, as you saw me rant about how too many A) Windsorites and B) creative class inhabitants are clueless about how to maximize their viewership/readership/listenership/sales, I am putting my money where my mouth is…

Tuesday, January 27th, there will be a FREE education night for those artists, musicians, writers, etc. who want to expand their dismal presence online, using free web applications that are being proved to grow webs of connectivity among the tech, education, and corporate communities.

There will be several presenters, who will talk for 7-10 minutes each, about a particular program they are proficient in using, and share their knowlege of these programs. Presenters will SHOW on a projection screen, all the steps from clueless, to daily user of each web application they share. They’ll simply plug into the projector with their computer. Some presentations will be video only, pre-produced, and sent in from around Ontario from some people I know who are very gifted with these apps.

ONE lucky person will be chosen (to stay for the entire thing) and be registered for EVERY web app. (which they can choose to use or lose after the symposium), thus injecting some continuity to the process of registering for these sites. The presentations will ALL consist of a walk-through of how to:

A) register, B) use, and C) manage their existence online with that particular app, and,  D) be taught why this app is usable, important, and pertinent to get ideas to others.

The talks will hopefully inspire a bigger presence on the web, and some more eyes, ears, minds being amazed by our Windsor talents.

It’s going to be awesome.

Oh, by the way, if you think you have something to offer in this regard, a little talk in front of some non-techies…tell me so I can schedule you for a presentation!! COME ONE, COME ALL!!

Living Roof. Green Roof.

Screen capture from virtual tour video of the living roof at Northern Edge Algonquin

Screen capture from virtual tour video of the living roof at Northern Edge Algonquin

Just putting this out there.

I was talking to Frank at Phog about living roofs. My brother Todd and his wife Martha have a business up north (Northern Edge Algonquin – virtual tour here) and they have a building with a living roof. Simply put, you can grow stuff on your roof because you have placed soil there (where the sun has access to it). It takes some know-how, and a “professional” needs to brought in to assess whether or not this can actually be done (load-bearing, structural requirements, installation, pest control, etc.).

The reason Frank and I began chatting about this was because homes and businesses can save an outrageous amount of money by reducing their heating and cooling bills. The living roof acts as a major insulator. AND you can grow stuff on your roof. If you wanted to supply your restaurant with fresh vegetables, you could conceivably grow them fresh, organically, on your roof.

So, in conversation recently, I have been asking people (friends who have worked for ERCA and other environmentalists) and NONE OF THEM have a clue where to go to have this happen! I cannot believe that no one knows anyone in Windsor who can at LEAST come and assess my property to see whether or no a living roof is possible at Phog Lounge.

Anyone? Anyone?

I was reading an article recently in the Windsor Star, and it was recently discussed on Scale Down’s blog HERE. The Suzuki school being built in Windsor will be the greenest in the country, and we should be BESIDE OURSELVES with pride and joy about this! Finally, Windsor is taking a LEADING role with SOMETHING rather than a reactionary or stalled inaction. If we could wrap our heads around green collar jobs replacing blue collar jobs (manufacturing solar panels, education and training for living roof installation, ecological water collection and filtration system installation, etc., etc.) we might be THE LEADING CITY and an example to the rest of the country. I mean, where better to make an impact with this kind of movement than a city associated with pollution, sickness, and desolation? Suzuki should be bringing his organization’s focus to this town in order to do a sort of…Extreme City Makeover.

I guess I will have to call the people behind this project to get information about who will be installing the living roof on the new Suzuki school. I just don’t think I’ll be finding any living roof installers unless someone reading this has a connection.

Technology, Creative Culture, and the Gap in Between

I spend my working nights around people who have ideas.

They’re always running their mouths about politics, art, music, religion, and regularly reaching an audience of one. Or two or three. Maximum.

“Why don’t you blog this or post this kind of information somewhere?” is what I respond with, pleading. But I know it will not happen, not unless I install computer terminals in the bar, at my cost, and eventually take these brilliant people over to the device, create accounts for them, and maybe even toss their hands at the keyboard. Like trying to start a motor-boat, it might take a couple of tries.

I, for the life of me, can not understand why, in Windsor, there is such a huge disconnect between the creative class and technology. Is it this way in other places?

I’ll give you another example of where I have been faced with hurdles of disbelief when trying to communicate in tech terms.

Bands rumble through Phog Lounge, where I work and book bands. There’s a disproportionate amount of Mac computers accompanying them on their journeys. I can’t even remember the last time I saw a PC brought in by anyone except my business partner Frank. And if he heard I was Twittering, he’d make a pee-joke.

I came to learn that a major reason they have Macs is because they have some fairly fantastic musical applications, allowing bands to do all sorts of things they could not do otherwise. It wasn’t as if they were doing any open source programming, or anything (which I have never and will never do myself). I just assumed that because they had a superior product, they’d be a little more forward thinking technologically, and maybe even be keeping tabs on the web applications being designed monthly to make their lives easier.

When I started reading about Twitter, Pownce (now dead), Digg, Skype, Google Reader, YouTube, Blip.tv, Seesmic, WordPress,  (the list is unending) I clearly saw how those tools could help my business, and possibly even my freelance writing/radio career (whenever that comes). Where did I hear about these tools? My friends and family primarily told me, as they saw the same usage I did. Dan Misener (good friend) has told me about tons of new programs, and my brothers Rodd and Todd have dumped LOADS of web apps on me in the past year alone.

Without discussing the usefulness of these apps, or how quickly they become obsolete, moved out by better apps, there is really no excuse for musicians and promoters, artists, and designers to be so clueless. Aside from Facebook, Myspace, and Flickr, there’s an incredible self-handicapping happening locally on the web and about the knowledge of the web.

“Twitter? What the hell is that?” I have heard countless times, or at least they make crooked, pained faces of confusion.

“Well, let’s put it this way…you sign up under the name of the band, and you then get people you know (that love your band) to join and FOLLOW YOU, much in the same way they do on Facebook and Myspace…and when you send a micro-blog (140 characters or less) everyone who cares…can see it. Soooooo, if you have a show starting, you can let people know that you’re going onstage in 25 minutes. Forgetful fans can make a snap decision and run out to your show. Or you could use it to inform people that you just finished writing a new song, or that you’ve just posted live footage from that concert you played last month in Montreal. It’s another way to connect. You know your Facebook status? Yeah? Well, you can set up your Twitter account to update your Facebook status WITH your Twitter posts so ALL of those people are getting the crucial updates you feel worthy of sharing.”

This is usually followed by a body-posture that tells me this is WAY too much work to engage fans. And within a week of this chat, they will be back in front of me, bitching that the turnout for their show was less-than-desired. I just say, “Twitter? No? Oh.”

I’m no tech-freak either. I just use the stuff that’s useful. And with my arcane knowledge, I remember telling musicians about Flickr a couple of years ago, WAY after it was a regularly used web app, and these wonderfully gifted photographers were looking at me like I had two noses. How does the arts community live in a vacuum related to tech? Shouldn’t they be pioneers? Early adopters? Shouldn’t they be gentrifying these programs like they do with low-rent, start-up communities? Aren’t the creative class a grassroots movement, known for doing things BEFORE everyone else? Aren’t the creative classes of other cities kicking our technologically-atrophied asses!

I would think that connectivity would be the rule, THE RULE, for someone trying to share their talents, gifts, and ideas for change. I mean…Obama’s people were on Twitter before my underground-ers. And it isn’t like it’s a secret that Obama’s web presence was a huge factor in reaching undecided (independent) voters. But then again, if my customers aren’t hearing about Twitter, I have a feeling they aren’t hearing about (or tuning out) when the news shares info of Obama’s tech prowess.

Anyone have ideas of how I could be helping these bands increase their profile, even if it’s just to connect to its current fans, without trying to become “the next thing”?

I see so much opportunity for the unique, clever, useful, and brilliant ideas, art, and concepts to get into the masses, but I am having the toughest time bending anyone’s ear toward tech.

Should I have a technology night at Phog? Should I get a presenter for each of these ultra-useful web apps to come in and walk people through registration, use, and upkeep on the projection screen? Would people come to get informed? Maybe they would. Then they could weed out all of the superfluous apps they have no current need for, and go home and get going on the ones they could actually use!

Yes.

This is going to happen.

Stay tuned for dates.

CBC Radio 3…wow.

Do you know what it’s like to be a radio-hopeful like me when you get an e-mail, unsolicited, from a CBC radio producer?

It’s pretty much the best thing that can happen, professionally. Period.

That’s what happened to me the other day when Chris Kelly sent me a message asking me if I’d like to be a guest (interviewed) on Grant Lawrence’s internet Radio 3 show. I nearly imploded.

Grant Lawrence has been the host of Canada’s most downloaded music podcast. So, you may understand that his internet radio show gets a nice collection of live listeners. I can’t blame people for tuning into web radio with the options slimming more and more on commercial radio. Not everyone is as lucky as Windsor/Detroit to have a community station like CJAM to bring good music to your life.

Chris told me that the show was focusing on beer. And, I kind of deal with the stuff, a lot. So I was totally geeked for this interview, ran a hundred errands the day of the interview, and when I got home there was a message from Chris, wondering if I was ready for the interview!

“Did I screw this whole thing up or what?”

I was panicking. I called back, left a message, and waited.

Minutes later the call came, and I was slotted into the show to discuss beer with Grant during a music break.

You see, I’ve been a huge fan of Radio 3 because of what they do for Canadian music. I’ve sent several messages (audio and e-mail) to Grant and Craig Norris (the host of CBC Radio 3’s R3-30 podcast). These guys, along with their team of producers, are the exact people I wish to be working with, in that medium I love…radio.

The interview was fun, fast-paced, and concise. These are the kinds of things I could do every day until I cease to be. So when this interview was done, I was short of breath, gasping (I guess) on the inside, for more opportunities like this.

I have decided to give you the recording I made (a crude one) of the audio I collected with my Zoom H4, laying it next to my computer speaker. It’s a little noisy in the background, but if you focus, it’s fun.

CLICK HERE FOR RADIO 3 WEB RADIO WITH GRANT LAWRENCE

Get Lit Up

Big cities are home to lots of people.

More people, more ideas. Simple math, I think.

I like keeping an eye on the “ist” sites of big cities. Torontoist.com, LAist.com, SFist.com, Bostonist.com, etc. These sites go out of their way to tell readers about the happenings of the cities, the news, the events, profiles of prominent inhabitants, festival profiles, TV schedules for the region, restaurant reviews, public transit news, architectural news, music listings, etc.

I love seeing what’s going on in the cities where the numbers are up above Windsor’s. Why? Because in those towns, when you float a crazy idea, you are not the only one standing there looking around, listening to crickets. In big cities, there are others who share the taste for flair.

In particular, I like taking these ideas and using them.

I did just that yesterday evening. I saw a night of book-appreciation in San Francisco and Toronto, where authors come in to discuss books, or the topic of their book, but NOT TO DO A READING. At Phog, we have had plenty of readings, and we’ve had good results. The idea of a book discussion spoke to me because it was more than the same old praise for the ACTUAL words being spoken. I wanted to know more about what these authors had to say about books.

In connection to this, I cleaned out my house. Began at least. The books were the first thing to be culled. Then what? What was I going to do with them? I decided to build the event around the sharing, and ridding of books into the hands of more appreciative readers. From there, I thought about getting some local authors to give their take on books on a panel at the front of the bar, on stage. Thirdly, I compiled a short list of people who read every time I see them, and I asked them to list their top five books. I then printed these out to give to the attendees of the event, so they had something to take with them as a referral to new, influential books.

What happened?

I was nervous as hell, and I figured the turnout might be slim, but to my surprise, there were about 35 people in all who attended, maybe more, plus the hundreds of books brought by the literati attendees. While I expected a book trade and sale, it turned out that people were more willing to give them away en masse. There was a free-for-all after the discussion period where people grabbed books they wanted, didn’t know they wanted, and books they knew someone else wanted.

The pride of the evening, aside from the awesome people who brought books, was the discussion. My guests were mentors of mine from days past and present. Here’s who spoke:

Paul Vasey, author of several fiction and non-fiction, ex longtime host of CBC Windsor’s morning show, and ex-columnist for the Windsor Star. He, alone, shaped my writing to be exactly what it is today. He told me to write the way I talk. I tell stories well with my voice, but it needed to be translated to paper. Ever since then, I think of him when I finish writing anything.

Bob Monks, who has had two books published about how to make art, or about his journey into his life as an artist. Monks was also the editorial cartoonist for The Windsor Star for YEARS, and he was a TV personality with CBC News. He’s a total pro, and is now 81 years old (you’d never know it). He was a mentor in my cartooning career between the ages of 16 and 20 (another story). He taught me composition, editing, humility, and honour.

Mary Ann Mulhern is a very successful narrative poet, who admits her attachment to the dark imagery in her stories, and she taught me once a week in a “special class” when I was in grade 7. She’s extremely artistic with her view on books, writing, and expression. She’s a great inspiration.

Scotty Hughes is graphic designer who has helped lay out and produce MANY local nature books, reference books, children’s books, etc. He is a hugely gifted guitar player, idea guy, inspirational presence. I love having him stroll through the door, because it means I will be having meaninful conversation before the night is through.

The panel took off and never looked back. Paul Vasey, co-moderated the discussion, with me, but not out of request but out of habit. He saw gaps where I was not pushing people to express a little more in their answers, and he made the discussion SO MUCH better because of it. It was a lesson in interviewing and moderation for which I will forever be grateful. All the panelist answers were intelligent, true-to-themselves, expressive, un-rushed, un-forced, free-flowing, and fun. Monks had quick, perfect answers that left people laughing, while the others had reflective stories that put the life of a writer and book lover into perspective.

An hour and a half later, I needed to end the discussion, and try to properly thank the panelists. Still, I do not know how to properly appreciate their contribution.

Good news for those who could not go and wanted to go; I recorded the entire thing.

This link will take you to where you can download the file for free! You may want to skip all the parts where I talk, it really doesn’t help. Also, some people are reporting some trouble with this link. If it doesn’t work, check back again later. I will try to fix it.

This night was a huge success, shedding some light on the under-appreciated literary arts in Windsor. I am proud, and I am anticipating the next Get Lit Up event…but I need to focus the discussion. That’s not going to be an easy thing to decide.