Category: Top News Written by Steve Holsey
We all know the adage, “You win some, you lose some.”
Nowhere is that more true than in the recording industry. The emphasis is always, of course, on the successes — the hits. But the landscape is also strewn with failures — the flops.
Every recording artist, no matter how big they are, and how many hits in their catalogue, has had their share of misses, some they would forget if they could.
There can be all kinds of reasons for a record not making it. Sometimes quality is lacking. At other times it might come up short in commercial appeal. There may be a lack of promotion. Sometimes people just don’t like the record, or it sounds so much like other records. The possibilities are plentiful. One legendary Motown artist had a reputation for blaming the record promotion man if one of his records stiffed. Ike Turner went so far as to say that if an Ike & Tina Turner record failed, it was Tina’s fault because she “didn’t sing it right.” (Never mind the fact that the record may have been substandard.) Some records have a low chart showing (like No. 85 in the Top 100) while others miss the charts completely. NOT MANY artists have as many hits to their credit as Stevie Wonder, but those who are familiar with, for example, “Treat Myself,” “Tomorrow Robins Will Sing” and “Workout, Stevie, Workout,” are few. Earth, Wind & Fire had so many hits that a threedisc box set was required to showcase them. But raise your hand if you recall “Spread Your Love,” “Moonwalk” and “I Think About Lovin’ You.”
Anybody remember the 5th Dimension’s version of “Love Hangover”? Most likely you don’t and that’s because the better version by Diana Ross crushed it. (They were out at the same time.) Prince was a virtual hit machine, but “The Morning Papers,” “Just As Long As We’re Together” and “7” are just vague memories to a limited number of people.
The Temptations have had numerous greatest hits collections, and many of the songs are classics, but they had poor showings with, among others, “Error of Our Ways,” “More on the Inside” and “How Can You Say That It’s Over?”
And then there’s James Brown. The Godfather of Soul’s box set consisted of four discs. But that doesn’t negate the less than spectacular sales of “Stay With Me,” “Star Generation” and “Oh Baby Don’t You Weep.”
Few female artists are even in the same league as Aretha Franklin when it comes to major hit records, many of which are iconic. So the poor performance of “This Is For Real,” “Someone Else’s Eyes,” “If You Need My Love Tonight” (with Larry Graham) and “Half a Love” had be disappointing. (I thought “Half a Love” was great.)
SHALAMAR is fondly recalled, but people are inclined to scratch their heads at the mention of “I Owe You One,” “You Can Count On Me” and “Don’t Get Stopped in Beverly Hills.”
Sly & the Family Stone was a groundbreaking group, but by a certain point it was clear that Sly’s writing and producing skills had declined to an alarming extent. Hence, such duds as “Le Lo Li,” “If It Were Left Up to Me” and “Family Again.” One of Luther Vandross’ finest recordings and
most beautiful songs was “So Amazing.” Why it only made it to No. 94 on the Billboard magazine Top R&B Singles chart, and never showed up on the Pop chart, is inexplicable.
Mary Wells ranks as one of the foremost songstresses in the history of R&B, but she too came up short a number of times, as with “Strange Love,” “Such a Sweet Thing” and “I’m Learning.”
Parliament/Funkadelic had a boatload of hits that made them a supergroup in that genre, but there was also a “canoe” of misses, including “One of Those Summers,” “Connections and Disconnections,” “Smokey” and “Ride On.”
WHICH BRINGS to mind the legendary Smokey Robinson. Unless you are a hard-core fan, in the most “intense” sense of the word, you probably draw a blank on “Shoe Soul,” “Easy to Love,” “Who’s Sad?” and “Don’t Play Another Love Song.”
The O’Jays totally deserve having been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and they’ve had something like 50 solid hits. But “Let Me Show You (How Much I Love You),” “Heartbreaker,” “Don’t Take Your Love Away” and “Peace” are among the group’s disappointments.
Ashford & Simpson are among the best. However, not every song was “solid as a rock” in terms of chart position. Placing below No. 75 were “Been Found,” “I’m Not That Tough,” and “It’ll Come, It’ll Come, It’ll Come.”
What about the glamorous superdiva, Diana Ross? Well, a very limited number of people remember “If You’re Not Gonna Love Me Right,” “Up Front,” “Sleepin’” and “Take Me Higher.”
THE ISLEY BROTHERS are all-time favorites all over the world, but some of their records are forgotten, such as “Come My Way,” “All In My Lover’s Eyes,” “You Better Come Home” and “I Once Had Your Love (And I Can’t Let Go).”
The public and radio programmers “walked on by” these Dionne Warwick songs: “I Didn’t Mean to Love You,” “Sure Thing,” “(I’m) Just Being Myself” and “Where My Lips Have Been.”
Did Marvin Gaye have any non-successes? Yes, a few, including “Joy,” “Heavy Love Affair” and “Sandman.”
Al Green is a legend, but even legends have to take a “next time” attitude when a record has a poor showing. A gambling man would wager that songs like “I Can’t Stop,” “Wait Here” and “Your Heart’s In Good Hands” are not remembered by most people.
Fortunately for Al Green, and nearly all of the other artists cited in this story, there were far more hits than non-hits, and that is something to be more than grateful for.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 September 2011 16:14
Category: News Briefs Written by Steve Holsey
She was an original, and did everything with flair and a style that was as unique as her personality.
June Brown Garner, one of the most important figures in the history of the Michigan Chronicle, died on Tuesday, Sept. 13, in New Haven, Michigan, following a lengthy illness, according to her daughter, Sylvia Mustonen. She was 88.
Detroit-born June Brown, who graduated from Northwestern High School and then attended Wayne State University, began her long and illustrious career at the Michigan Chronicle.
For many years she was manager of Classifieds, the department she literally built from scratch. She made an impact that still resonates to this day.
Brown was also known for a gossip column called “Other People’s Business.” Nestled in the middle of the classifieds, the column was must reading for thousands of Detroiters. She never used names, but gave broad, often hilarious hints. In later years the column combined the gossip with important news and opinions designed to benefit the Black community.
The column was so popular that it caught the attention of the Detroit News. She subsequently wrote a column there that ran several times a week. She also had a TV show that aired weekly on WDIV/Channel 4. On the program she interviewed civic leaders, educators, religious figures and others. Prior to that, she hosted a more entertainment oriented show on another station called “June Brown’s Apartment.”
June Brown and her husband, the late realtor Warren C. Garner, owned the G-2 Ranch, located in Holly, Michigan. There was horseback riding, picnics and much more.
She also created an organization called Bachelor Book, through which single adults could meet other singles. That was in addition to teaching a weight loss and weight maintenance class.
After leaving the Detroit News, June Brown Garner began writing a compendium to the Let’s Read book series called “June Brown’s Guide to Let’s Read.”
At one point, she again became a weekly columnist for the Michigan Chronicle.
In 1996, June Brown Garner and Warren C. Garner retired and moved to Tazewell, Virginia. Following her husband’s passing in 1997, she continued to live in Tazewell. In 2003 she returned to Michigan to be close to her family.
June Brown was unflinchingly honest, creative, tenacious, fun, well-informed, fearless, ambitious, a shrewd businesswoman and, yes, sometimes outrageous.
A private memorial service was held.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 September 2011 20:09
Category: Top News Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Mariha Smith, others deserved to grow healthy, wealthy and wise in Detroit
I recently attended the funeral of Mariha Treance Smith at Triumph Church to pay my last respects to a child that I had never met, but a child who, like all children brought into this world, deserved the right to life. The dignified funeral she received could not mitigate the shameful death that abruptly ended her life.
Mariha is the beautiful, adorable five-year-old little girl who went missing from her home and was later found strangled and burned beyond recognition in a vacant building 15 blocks away from where she lived.
Detroit police announced earlier that they are questioning a person in connection with the crime.
Hundreds of people showed up to pay their respects to an innocent little girl who was removed from her home and slaughtered as if her life meant nothing to her parents, the community, the world and God.
As I sat on the back pew in the church observing every sorrowful moment of the service, it dawned on me that what I was witnessing was not only the homegoing of a sweet little girl who was denied a chance to grow up, but also yet another painful reminder of the community’s failure to take back our neighborhoods. Because of that failure, we have become desensitized to violence to the point that it has become a ritual for living in our community. That is unacceptable.
While this cycle of violent crime continues to eat at the heart of our community and take our children from us, we have accepted another damaging rule: Don’t tell on individuals like the one who killed Mariha because snitching is “wrong.”
Some of us have concluded that snitching is only wrong until we find that we or someone we love has become the latest victim in the ongoing, senseless violence that is stealing the future of our children. We can’t have two standards for snitching.
When a crime of this sort happens we should as a community speak out — loudly and clearly.
Yes, I understand the long and sometimes contentious relationship between law enforcement and the Black community, but we cannot sit back and say the “no snitching rule” cannot be applied when looking for child killers or culprits of other heinous crimes. We are only hurting ourselves and the future of Detroit.
Mariha’s killer should face the letter of the law before another child’s name is written in the soil in letters of blood.
Have we thought for even a moment what Mariha’s last cry was?
What was her last wish when those monster hands took her into the vacant building to bring an end to a life that was just starting to blossom?
Did Mariha feel that we as a community failed to protect her from the cruel hands of her murderer?
Did she leave this world feeling uncared for?
How did Mariha feel about police-community relationships in ensuring a safe environment for her?
What was her future ambition?
How long did she cry before she took her last breath?
Her death and the deaths of other children that have taken place in Detroit tell us that something is wrong in our community.
It it time to make some drastic changes.
If the most vulnerable in our community don’t feel protected, then our talk about a vibrant future is in vain.
Thankfully, Detroit 300, a group of concerned people who want to put a stop to the senseless violence in Detroit are making a statement by patrolling crime scenes and looking for the culprits. To change and build our community will require groups like Detroit 300 whereby committed individuals volunteer their time, disregard the “no snitching rule” and move to ensure that our neighborhoods do not become war zones.
Individuals and organizations with resources need to support Detroit 300 because change has to come from the ground up, not top bottom.
If we support efforts that may not be directly tied to our safety as a community, we can surely put some muscle behind a community organization like Detroit 300 and help them do what law enforcement cannot typically do because they understand the language of the streets.
Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee has commended the group and is working in partnership with the organization.
Because this partnership is the sort that is needed between the community and law enforcement to create an environment conducive to all children living happily, safely.
Anything less is unacceptable.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 September 2011 19:41
Category: Top News Written by Cornelius Fortune
The not-so-subtle shift in temperature suggests the coming fall, and yes, the new fall TV lineup. Favorites will return…other shows might not make it to December. One thing you can say about most of the television networks – they will take creative risks, and often, that’s enough to keep us watching.
– Cornelius A. Fortune, managing editor
FROM SMALL screen, to big screen, and back to the small screen. ABC has a lot riding on its “Charlie’s Angels” reboot.
FOX HAS high expectations for its new sci-fi show, “Terra Nova.”
EDWARD JAMES OLMOS will guest star on Showtime’s “Dexter.”
Idris Elba reprises his role as John Luther, in the new BBC America miniseries.
Wednesday, Sept. 21
CSI, CBS, 10 pm.
“Law & Order: SVU,” NBC, 10 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 22
“The Big Bang Theory,” CBS, 8 p.m.
Charlie’s Angels, ABC, 8 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 25
“Family Guy,” Fox, 9 p.m.
American Dad, Fox, 9:30 p.m.
The Simpsons, Fox, 8 p.m.
Boardwalk Empire, HBO, 9 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 26
“Terra Nova,” Fox, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 28
“Luther,” BBC America, 10 p.m.
“Dexter,” Showtime, 9 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 5
“South Park,” Comedy Central, 10 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 7
“Sanctuary,” SyFy, 10 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 10
“Bored to Death,” HBO, 9 p.m.
Scare Tactics, SyFy, 9 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 16
“The Walking Dead,” AMC, 9 p.m.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 September 2011 19:36
Category: Top News Written by Leland Stein III
In one of the most anticipated Detroit Lions home openers in too many years to recount, the long suffering Lions’ faithful scurried on down to Ford Field all fervent and passionate in believing that 2011 is the year the Lions actually are a competitive NFL team.
After the Lions’ first possession of the game, I immediately felt it was indeed safe to postulate that somebody is watching over the Lions in 2011. How else can you figure quarterback Matthew Stafford throwing an interception to Kansas City safety Jon McGraw on the Chiefs’ 44 yard line?
However, on the ensuring runback by McGraw, he fumbled and Tony Scheffler recovered to keep alive the Lions’ drive. Eventually the Lions concluded that fortuitous drive with a Stafford 15-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson, to make the score 7-0 en route to a rousing 48-3 home opening victory.
The win over Kansas City pushed the Lions’ record to 2-0 as they now prepare to go on the road to combat Minnesota. This stat may mean nothing at all, but with the 2010 season ending with four straight wins, the 4-0 preseason and now the 2-0 start to their 2011 campaign, the Motor City Lions have actually won, for them, an amazing 10-0 consecutive games.
Sure I understand last season and this preseason mean squat, but the players and coaches know that they have not lost a game in a while. No one in the Lions’ camp is saying anything about it, but it is evident that there is a winning attitude in the Detroit locker room.
“We have a lot of talent on this team and we are off to a good start,” said Johnson, “but we all know we have not accomplished anything yet. We made a lot of big plays, but we have to clean up our overall execution.”
There may be a number of technique things the Lions need to improve on, but what we have seen so far with Stafford coupled with the Lions’ three receivers, Johnson, Nate Burleson and rookie Titus Young, are indeed a formidable collective.
Against Kansas City Stafford tossed four touchdown passes and completed 23 of 39 for 294 yards. He also avoided being sacked by a solid Chiefs’ defensive line.
Said head coach Jim Schwartz: “We’ve got good players around Stafford, but you have to be able to make accurate passes. He knows where to go with the football. We have guys that can make plays, but you have to make accurate passes and that’s what he can do.”
Sure it is early in the season, but others and I are drawing comparisons to this 2011 receivers’ crew to the best trio of receivers the Lions have had since Herman Moore, Brett Perriman and Johnnie Morton more than a decade ago.
The rookie, Young, latched onto five passes for 89 yards, Burleson snatched seven balls for 93 yards and Johnson snatched two touchdowns on only three receptions.
“What makes a quarterback special is putting the ball in the right place in tight coverage,” Burleson said. “That’s one of Matt’s specialties. He has the arm and the confidence to squeeze the ball into tight places.
“Yeah it is starting to look like we complement each other perfectly. The organization did a good job of putting us all together. We are all a little different type of receiver and that is what gives us the potential to have a special year.”
Said Young: “Matthew’s such a competitor. Sometimes he doesn’t even care about the look. He trusts us receivers so much. His confidence and competitiveness just leads to making plays.”
When the Lions drafted Young I was like, “Who is this guy?” Then he missed almost all of training camp with a hamstring injury, but he showed me Sunday why the Lions used the first of their two second-round picks in last April’s NFL Draft to select the former Boise State standout.
The Lions’ win over the Chiefs was their largest margin of victory (45 points) in the history of the franchise for regular and postseason games. The record was set in the 1957 NFL Championship where the Lions beat the Cleveland Browns 59-14. Even so, coach Jim Schwartz was cautious and somewhat guarded.
“We can still play better,” Schwartrz said. “We didn’t start this game very well. We gave up a lot of yards rushing in the first quarter. Again, we haven’t played our best football.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 September 2011 19:28
Category: Top News Written by Steve Holsey
If something you are watching on television (or in a movie) makes you laugh out loud, that is special.
For the past couple of weeks I have been watching, and thoroughly enjoying, the first four of the five seasons of “In Living Color,” the sketch comedy show that ran from April 15, 1990 to May 19, 1994 on the Fox Network.
I say “the first four” because the fifth season was a dud due to the fact that the people responsible for the show’s existence and who played such key roles in making it all work, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Damon Wayans, Kim Wayans, etc. — from the first family of comedy — had left and the void was “unfillable.”
Younger brothers Shawn and Marlon had also been part of the fun, and later had a hit TV show of their own. They also starred in movies.
Keenen Ivory Wayans and Damon Wayans created “In Living Color,” produced by Ivory Way Productions in associaion with 20th Century Fox Television, and wrote for it and were among its stars.
Granted, this was not the first ensemble comedy sketch show. There had been, for example, the great, highly influential and equally groundbreaking — and still funny — “Laugh In” in the 1960s.
But in keeping with this being in another time and place, “In Living Color” was different. It had an urban flavor — even though the cast was not 100 percent Black — and there was the belief that more was possible than had been done on television previously.
And we can’t forget the show’s hip-hop elements. Heavy D & the Boyz were the perfect choice to rap the intro in seasons one and two.
Not since “Laugh In” had one show introduced so many performers who became major stars, including Keenen Ivory Wayans, Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans, Jamie Foxx (an Academy Award winner for “Ray”), Tommy Davidson, Kim Wayans, David Alan Grier and Kim Coles.
Others were just as outstanding and should have become bigger stars, such as T’Keyah Crystal Keymah and Kelly Coffield.
Jennifer Lopez is a magastar today, not to mention an “Amerian Idol” judge, but back in those days, starting with the third season, she was one of the fast-stepping “Fly Girl” dancers.
The “In Living Color” sketches and characters were priceless.
Who could ever forgetKeenen Ivory Wayans as Arsenio Hall, Mike Tyson or Billy Dee Williams? Jamie Foxx as the unattractive but full of confidence Wanda? (And the very talented Tommy Davidson was the perfect “victim.”)
Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans as corrupt preachers Rev. Dr. Carl Pathos and Rev. Ed Cash? David Alan Grier as Calhoun Tubbs, the old blues singer who insulted people in his songs? Kelly Coffield as Andrea Dice Clay, a “feminized” send-up of foul-mouthed comedian Andrew Dice Clay?
Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier as Blaine Edwards and Antoine Merriweather, the over-the-top effeminate, and naughty, arts critics? Kim Wayans as the well-meaning but often unsanitary waitress? Jim Carrey as the steroid-addicted female bodybuilter Vera de Milo?
Keenen Ivory Wayans as the obnoxious but fun-loving, Jheri curl-wearing Frenchie, wearing clothes as outdated as the dances he liked to do? Damon Wayans as Anton Jackson, the filty, potty-mouthed drunk, homeless man? Kim Coles as Downtown Julie Brown?
T’Keyah Crystal Keymah as the stereotypical, rude tour guide LaShawn? Kim Wayans as the gossipy Benita Buttrell? (“I’m not one to gossip so you didn’t get it from me.”) Kim Wayans and David Alan Grier as Mr. and Mrs. Brooks, the old couple who were “still together” after many years but were always insulting, and trying to kill, each other?
Damon Wayans, Kim Coles, T’Keyah Crystal Keymah and Tommy Davidson as the hard-working Jamaican Headley family? Kelly Coffied as Magenta Thompson, th acting school teacher who got insulted and slapped around in every scene? Or Damon Wayans as the mean Homey the Clown, who was working as a clown as part of his work release program?
“In Living Color” also featured an array of popular recording artists of the day, including En Vogue, Jodeci, Kris Kross, MC Lyte, Mary J. Blige, Public Enemy and Arrested Development.
Not surprisingly, “In Living Color” ran into a lot of problems with the censors.
The series is available on home video and has been in syndication via various sources.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 September 2011 19:24
Category: News Briefs Written by Patrick Keating, Chronicle Staff Writer
On Aug. 29, WXYZ’s Detroit 2020 program coordinated a bus tour of the city with Inside Detroit. Approximately 15 people from the metro area participated, and many of them learned new things about Detroit.
As the tour bus pulled out of the WXYZ TV 7 parking lot, Marc Barringer of St. Clair Shores said he went on the tour because he was looking to find parts of Detroit he didn’t know about. He said he knew a few things related to entertainment and things of that nature, but not much else.
He wanted to know what’s going on in the neighborhoods, and that he was also interested in how urban gardens and urban farming are developing.
An urban farm was on the tour, the Earthworks Urban Farm, run by Capuchin Soup Kitchen. Tour guide Jenette Pierce said it was started in 1997 by a monk who wanted to be able to get fresh fruits and vegetables to people in the soup kitchen.
The farm backs up to the Gleaners Food Bank.
She noted that urban farming has engaged the neighborhood.
The tour also included Corktown, the oldest and one of the most active neighborhoods in the city.
The neighborhood also includes Hostel Detroit, a nonprofit founded last November, and coordinated by Emily Doerr. It opened this past spring.
Visitors who stay at Hostel Detroit not only have an affordable place to stay, but also get connected to what’s going on in the community.
At one point during the tour, Pierce also pointed out a Honeybee Market, and said the city has 111 full-service grocery stores.
In Mexicantown, she cited “beautiful, amazing murals” and the Matrix Theatre, which offers classes for children of all ages
“It’s really about community development through art and theatre,” Pierce said.
Southwest Detroit is a neighborhood that’s been growing continuously.
As the bus circled Campus Martius Park. Pierce said that despite naysaers, it’s been hugely successful, and that last year it was voted number one transformative park in the United States.
Campus Martius was originally a military training ground. The Soldiers and Sailors Monument, erected in 1872, was one of the first Civil War monuments.
Campus Martius Park also marks the point of origin of Judge Augustus Woodward’s original street plan for Detroit.
“Due north is Eight Mile and Dequindre, where all three counties come together,” Pierce said.
As the tour group got out to visit the Guardian Building, Barringer said he didn’t realize that Southwest Detroit is still growing.
Built in 1929 by architect Wirt Rowland as a bank’s headquarters, a “cathedral to finance”, the Guardian Building features a five story mural, a Tiffany clock, Rookwood tiles, and local Pewabic tiles.
Pierce said the majority of people in the metro Detroit region surprisingly have never even heard of the Guardian Building, while people will come from all over the world to see it.
The group got out again at Rivard Plaza, which Pierce described as “the home of the RiverWalk.”
Susan Lough of Canton said she hadn’t expected to see the nicer areas; or that there’s a hostel, or that there is an interest in people who want to come down here.
Lough was pleasantly surprised, saying, “I’d always heard of the RiverWalk and didn’t know that it was actually here,” she said. “It’s really beautiful.”
Becky Lough, her daughter, generally has only come to Detroit for sporting events. She said some of what she’s seen on the tour might prompt her to come down more often.
Jeffrey Lindahl of Redford said he probably went by the Guardian Building many times without noticing it.
Krista Mazzeo of Livonia said, “I’m getting a more positive vibe about the city that counteracts my previous negative feeling.”
Other stops included Indian Village, where the average house is 6,000 square feet, and each is unique, and the Heidelberg Project on Heidelberg Street.
Pierce said people from more than 100 countries have visited the Heidelberg Project, and that it’s the third most visited cultural attraction in the city.
Artist Tyree Guyton, who started the Heidelberg Project, grew up on Heidelberg. His mother still lives there.
The group also visited a 10th floor model loft in the Lofts of Merchants Row, which consists of multiple buildings over two different blocks.
Pierce, who lives a few blocks away, said she can walk to 137 bars and restaurants; to Lions, Tigers and Red Wings games; and the second largest theatre district in the country.
“You have that big city stuff, but it really is that small town community,” she said.
Chris Meller said that even though he was born and raised in Detroit, he had no idea so much was worth going to in the city.
Jane Tate, who grew up in the Brightmoor neighborhood and currently lives in Royal Oak, said she really liked the Guardian Building.
“I knew there was some really cool stuff down there, but I’d never really been in any of those buildings,” she said.
“I really liked the RiverWalk and the park that was down there.”
Inside Detroit’s website is www.insidedetroit.org.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 September 2011 17:56
Category: Top News Written by Bankole Thompson, Chronicle Senior Editor
Don’t let Monday night’s CNN/Tea Party Express sponsored Republican candidates debate make you believe that Democrats have it all together for 2012.
Don’t go to sleep thinking that because Texas Gov. Rick Perry called Social Security a Ponzi scheme during the NBC/Politico debate, and then modified his description of it on Monday to reforming Social Security, the GOP cannot make gains in 2012.
And If you think President Obama’s visit on Labor Day to Detroit was enough to be the 2012 energizer to get the vote out, think again. You might be making a bet too soon that could bring you the same surprises that we saw last year in November which catapulted Republicans to congressional leadership in the House.
The bare facts are that Democrats and voter advocates are very concerned about the lackluster attitude from the leadership of their party, some labor groups and the organizing group attached to the Obama campaign in Michigan.
They are concerned that the UAW is calling too many shots in the party, which in turn is handicapping the issues the party needs to trumpet for their battleground campaigns. Labor has always and continues to play an important role in the party as its bedrock to help the working class. But the question that remains is whether labor has really delivered through the party when it comes to issues dealing with African Americans and other minority voters. Has the interest of labor always been the interest of African American voters?
Do they share a common agenda or just some agenda?
For example, during last year’s election neither the Michigan Democratic Party nor the financially strong UAW made congressional redistricting a major campaign issue to get the vote out. Now Detroit stands to lose one congressional seat. Who do you blame?
One party insider told me that the only reason Mark Brewer is still head of the Michigan Democratic Party after last year’s election losses is that the powerful UAW is opposed to any change at the top of the party.
This year two Democratic heavyweights, Mark Gaffney, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO, and Tina Abbott, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, will retire during the organization’s state convention Oct. 3-4. Their exit marks a significant changing of the guard because the two have been effective in delivering for their constituents.
But will the same happen at the Michigan Democratic Party?
The bigger picture in this is the future operation of the Obama campaign in Michigan, and whether it can really get disappointed and economically depressed voters out to the polls.
Organizing for America, the grassroots arm of the Obama campaign in Michigan, according to some Democratic voter advocates, is doing little or nothing to galvanize a broad-based coalition for the Obama campaign in places like Detroit, which votes 90 percent Democratic.
They described what they call a skeleton crew in Detroit charged with reading the pulse of voters, when the “Yes We Can” campaign in 2008 was won by a multi-coalition of support city-wide and across the state.
If Organizing for America is sleeping in Michigan, it needs to wake up and read the tea leaves because the campaign will have to work ten times harder this time around to get the vote out.
The campaign will need to weave its message into the political fabric of the city, more than just setting up shop in Detroit to please voters.
Most people I’ve talked to so far don’t even know that there is an Obama street presence in Michigan called Organizing for America.
Unless this grassroots organization has decided that President Obama will lose Michigan, it should be pounding the pavement and offering alternative to what the Republican candidates are saying on television.
But we’ve read this kind of bureaucratic and lethargic script before during last year’s midterm election when the White House made President Obama only available to African American journalists three weeks before the election, after absentee votes had been mailed in.
Maybe Organizing for America is following the same script that comes out of the aged Democratic playbook that African Americans and other minority voters have nowhere else to go anyway. So why engage them early or even talk to them because they will vote Democrat at the end of the day?
However, if that’s the thinking that’s guiding Democrats in Michigan, they will be greeted with a rude awakening: a dangerous high number of their voters will likely stay at home on Election Day.
Lavonia Perryman, who has worked on presidential and statewide campaigns, said Obama’s new low in polls gives Michigan Democrats work to do.
“The economy is so dismal that the Michigan Democratic leadership will have to rewrite history if we are to reelect President Obama. The party and organizations charged with getting voters out will have to change their strategy,” Perryman said. “They will need to use all the vehicles available to them to encourage and excite not only Democrats but the masses in Michigan.”
Perryman believes the campaign needs to send the message that the livelihoods of people depend on who is in the White House.
“That’s the mindset they need to instill in voters,” Perryman said. “That means putting together a precinct delegate program where they build their own team of 100 or more voters, and make a commitment to getting them out to the polls.”
Perryman said a major part of building the campaign is building relationships with local groups, community organizations and people in the neighborhood.
A Democratic campaign contributor at a lunch meeting recently complained about the lack of a sense of urgency in the party leadership nationally, and the inability to articulate a message that resonates with voters.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 September 2011 17:13
Category: Top News Written by Michigan Chronicle
Fifth Third Bank just completed its 2011 eBus Tour that lasted from August 10th through Sept. 3. Having outreached to more than 3,000 area residents, the 2011 tour was an overwhelming success. The bus visited 17 area communities and provided information and resources that included free credit reports, credit counseling, information on how to sign up for a free energy audit and, access to free legal services. The tour also included free dental exams and preventative care for children under 18 years of age and free health screenings.
We thank everyone who visited the bus and took advantage of the resources provided local area profit and nonprofit organizations, credit counseling agencies and the following community partners who teamed up with Fifth Third Bank for the 2011 eBus Tour. The dedication, hard work and ‘boots on the ground’ attitude of the partner organizations and our Fifth Third Bank volunteers that provided their expertise made it possible to extend our outreach efforts to so many people.
The Bank would also like to express its gratitude and special thank you to City of Detroit Councilwoman Joann Watson and the Bank on Detroit staff for their energy and partnership for the unveiling of our new eBus at Hart Plaza.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 September 2011 17:06
Category: Top News Written by Steve Holsey
When one has been doing entertainment and column writing for several decades, there is a myriad of memories and a seemingly infinite number of photographs.
The documentation is priceless, and sharing the journey with readers is the right thing to do. It’s also fun.
So, as been said on records and at clubs, “Let’s get this party started!” Hope there is as much pleasure in the viewing as there was in the assembling.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 September 2011 16:31
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