Different colors.

“Diversity,” the way it’s used now, is such a damp, earnest word, a good thing promoted into something we need to “celebrate.” Which is why I haven’t made tracks to the Concert of Colors, “Metro Detroit’s Diversity Festival,” in the time we’ve been here. I envisioned a lot of old white men in dreadlocks and young black men in rasta tams, both nodding along to some faux-African world-music thing made with puzzling indigenous instruments.

But a couple years ago I learned that Don Was shows up every year, to lead a cavalcade of Detroit acts in a single show, spanning a wide range of genres and representing almost every corner of the area’s musical heritage — you know, a diverse show — that I started thinking this might be worth my time.

Last year he dug up Question Mark. Huh. Didn’t know he was a local.

And while Saturday was beastly hot, it wasn’t so hot you couldn’t move, and so we headed downtown. The Don Was All-Stars were performing on the main stage of the orchestra hall, free of charge, and it seemed air-conditioning might be involved. It was. And it was quite the show, 15 different performers spanning the range from rock to blues to trip-hop to… I dunno, I get lost in all these genres.

There was this guy, Andre Williams, and be advised that link takes you to a trailer for a recent documentary about him, that the clip autoplays, and the language is NSFW from about the first second. There was also Alberta Adams, who is now 93 years old and performs from a wheelchair. But there was also Ingray, young and loud described as having recently relocated to Detroit from Bosnia (please, hold your witticisms). They played “Immigrant Song.” Doop & the Inside Outlaws brought the country. By the time Kim Weston came out for the finale, in what looked like one of her old Motown gowns, you really couldn’t say you hadn’t been entertained.

As the crowd was filing out, the MC said, “Stop in next door. They’ve got some Punjab house music going.”

Alan said we should. I was dubious. It sounded like everything I’d feared, but it turned out to be the revelation of the night. These guys:

This is Red Baraat, self-described as “bangin’ bhangra and brass funk,” but if that doesn’t help, let me try: If Desi Arnaz left Havana bound for New Orleans, but was detoured through Amritsar, this is the band he would have assembled when he landed. Soprano and baritone saxes, trumpet, trombone and yes, that’s a sousaphone. But the centerpiece is Sunny Jain, the band’s founder, on the Indian dhoul drum. At first I thought we wouldn’t get in, because the crowd was so dense. It turned out there were plenty of seats available because everyone was in the standing-room space in front of the stage, dancing ecstatically. Well, not everyone was ecstatic. One guy was voguing. Some were shaking their bottoms. A couple tried to do a variation on the jitterbug. But most people just moved where the dhoul took them. We saw only three numbers, and left the hall raving, CD-buying fans. A good dhoul player can do that, I guess.

The CD is good, but the show is better. Here’s the tour schedule. If they’re coming to your neighborhood, you are commanded to go.

And that was the weekend, besides the usual pie-baking and a Friday-night movie excursion. Cherry and blueberry, and “I Am Love,” which left me thinking Tilda Swinton is worthy of being the new Meryl Streep (she speaks Italian with a Russian accent, and top that, Ms. Yale School of Drama) and that cherry-pitting is the most tedious job in the summer kitchen. I recommend both, preferably at once — pie and movies.


The Catholic Church is marking the 50th anniversary of the birth-control pill by advocating no birth control other than “natural family planning.” Because birth control is bad, except when it’s their birth control, in which case it’s just fine. I have really fallen far, far away from the church of my baptism, because when I read stuff like this…

“Why does the church do this?” Ponkowski says to about 10 young couples taking a required pre-marriage class. “It wants us to have the best life possible.”

…I sprain my eyeballs, rolling them.

I’ve been catching up with old episodes of “Mad Men” in preparation for the new season. I feared I would be losing Betty Draper, who is not my favorite part of the show, but my God, her clothes. Advance publicity for season one would suggest she’s still a part of the show, and what’s more, she recently bought herself some black opera-length gloves. Oh yah.

Finally, this looks interesting. Haven’t read it. I will, as soon as Wild Monday settles into Somewhat Tamer Tuesday. Have a good week, all.

Photo of Red Baraat by Amy Touchette.

Posted at 10:56 am in Current events, Detroit life |

27 responses to “Different colors.”

  1. Deborah said on July 19, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Well, I missed it, Looking at the schedule you linked to, I noticed that Red Baraat was in Chicago this past weekend too. Sorry I missed the show, but it would have been godawful hot and sweaty so maybe some other time.

    219 chars

  2. alex said on July 19, 2010 at 11:41 am

    The Tea Party disavows Mark Williams:


    Could hell be freezing over next?

    122 chars

  3. MichaelG said on July 19, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Last week the Catholic Church declared that people who advocate the inclusion of women into the priesthood are committing crimes equal in severity to those committed by pedophiliac priests. Their continued intransigence regarding birth control should be no surprise.

    268 chars

  4. Jeff Borden said on July 19, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Red Barat rocked the Folk and Roots Festival. It is a wickedly cool band.

    Mark Williams is just the latest stupid white man to think it’s clever to speak for black people. I am no fan of the teabaggers, but it is good to see they recognize no good will come from coddling racist crackers.

    I’ve been embarrassed by the One True before. Now, I’m becoming ashamed. The church is enormously wealthy and, of course, quite powerful, but I wonder if a tipping point has been reached. Perhaps it is time for someone to nail a few new manifestos to Pope Ratzi’s door.

    Finally, in the midst of all the stupidity over the weekend, SheWho is comparing herself to William Shakespeare. I am going to pound my head into a brick wall as soon as I post this in an effort to dispel that thought from my mind.

    827 chars

  5. coozledad said on July 19, 2010 at 11:55 am

    The response to 9/11 was ludicrous. The country collectively lost its fucking mind. If we’d have had any other administration in place, it wouldn’t have happened, and because we had the one we did, the assholes who flew the planes succeeded beyond their wildest expectations. They put us squarely on the path of a self-immolating paranoid state. And you won’t hear the right complaining about spending on this bullshit, because they’re the ones slurping it up. Apparently “freedom” refers being able to shit your pants all the time and still be regarded as a functioning adult.
    I knew when they gave Bush the presidency that he had a hardon to trash civil liberties, but what’s remarkable is his educational retardation and balls-out ineptitude inadvertently provided him the clawhammer to do it.

    799 chars

  6. Barbara said on July 19, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Thanks for the link to Red Baraat! I love this kind of exuberance-with-orchestral-instruments music.

    100 chars

  7. Jeff Borden said on July 19, 2010 at 12:14 pm


    You echo many of my thoughts. Osama bin Laden got everything he wanted –and more– from the 9/11 attacks. He spent less than $1 million on the plot but was able to induce the richest and most powerful nation on earth to spend hundreds of billions, probably into trillions by now, yet we are no safer from terrorist attacks than we were on 9/10. The overreach by the Bushies and their neoconservative lotion boys will haunt us for a generation, maybe longer. And still, no one has paid any price for our headlong plunge into unlawful war, abrogation of constitutional rights or the incredible waste of the so-called War on Terror.

    And the same cheerleaders for all this want to see a Republican resurgence this fall? God help us.

    741 chars

  8. basset said on July 19, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    They’re on the schedule for Lotus Fest in Bloomington… had a similar what-the-hell-is-that-it’s-wonderful experience there a couple of years ago with this band:

    193 chars

  9. moe99 said on July 19, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Posted this on Nancy’s FB site, but I think Grace Potter and the Nocturnals is a great group. New discovery for me.


    161 chars

  10. MarkH said on July 19, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    moe (and prospero), we were treated to Grace and the Nocturnals this past weekend at the Grand Targhee Music Fest. She comes this way once a year, it seems and it is a fantastic show. Here’s a look at what else was here:


    291 chars

  11. Rana said on July 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Nancy – have you seen Project Rungay’s analysis of the clothing worn by the various characters? It’s brilliant: http://projectrungay.blogspot.com/search/label/Mad%20Style

    172 chars

  12. Connie said on July 19, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Ah, diversity. At the family reunion this weekend my 88 year old mother in law talked about how she felt compelled to call out her church group and senior center friends on their expressed bigotry. She says, It makes me sad that I didn’t hardly notice it before I gained a wonderful African-American grandson in law, and a mixed race great grandchild. I just tell them that I have a mixed race family and their comments are out of line. Good for her.

    I love northern Michigan and fresh fruit season makes it even better. We pigged out on blueberries, raspberries and black sweet cherries. Peach season any day.

    617 chars

  13. Sue said on July 19, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Rana, haven’t visited Rungay in awhile, thanks for the refresher. New and improved!

    84 chars

  14. beb said on July 19, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    As Avedon Carol and Digby have frequently said, the people opposed to abortion aren’t just opposed to abortion, they’re also opposed to all types of birth control, family planning and sex education. These are truly people who want to keep women barefoot asnd pregnant.

    268 chars

  15. Jeff Borden said on July 19, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Beb, I would go further. They are anti-sex. If you strip people of contraceptives, you strip them of the ability to enjoy sex for its own sake. These are people who truly see sex as dirty. Of course, as Woody Allen –before he became the perv of today– once replied when asked if sex was dirty, “It is if you do it right.”

    323 chars

  16. Ann said on July 19, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Off topic, but I’d hate for you to miss anything about the incomparable Mitch Albom. http://sportsjournalism.org/sports-media-news/raising-a-little-hell-about-this-years-red-smith-award-winner/

    194 chars

  17. nancy said on July 19, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Jeff, I’d walk that back a bit. So-called orthodox Catholics may well fuck for pleasure, but they insist that the sex act is God’s way of bringing new life into the world, and hence has to always be open to the possibility of reproduction.

    The problem is, like libertarians and a lot of other idealogues, they don’t live in a world where another baby is frequently a cause for grief and pain or, if they do, they see a simple answer: Don’t have sex. If Mrs. Murphy has a heart ailment that makes a seventh pregnancy life-threatening, then Mr. and Mrs. Murphy are out of the sex business, permanently. Have you considered separate bedrooms, Mrs. Murphy?

    What bugs me is that natural family planning is birth control without the pills and devices. Why is it OK to time your intercourse to avoid pregnancy, but not use a diaphragm? Well, presumably you’ve prayed on it. And the lack of any sort of artificial barrier always leaves room for God’s chosen tiny swimmer to let you know you’re praying for the wrong thing. There was a clinic in Ann Arbor run by far-right Catholics who practiced this sort of OB-GYN care. The director said, “We don’t consider a pregnancy conceived during practice of natural family planning a failure,” she said. Stuck with me.

    1261 chars

  18. Deborah said on July 19, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    You know what they call couples who use the rhythm method don’t you? *pause* – Parents.

    89 chars

  19. MichaelG said on July 19, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    That’s an oldie but goodie, Deborah, and so true. It’s playing sexual roulette.

    Nance mentioned “diversity” at the beginning. Diversity is one of those made up do gooder concepts that drives me nuts.

    The fact is that diversity (and I mean the real thing – all racial and cultural groups, bowlers, Moonies, rattlesnake reverends and polka dancers included) is a neutral condition. It is neither good nor bad. It exists in varying degrees in varying locations. Some people like it in big doses, some people are comfortable with a more homogenized existence. There’s nothing right or wrong with either. Some places like New York and San Francisco have large, very diverse populations, some cities have smaller, less variegated populations. So what? Are the people who live in Duluth less valuable and less worthy because they don’t have Thai and Ethiopian restaurants on every corner? Are they to be condemned because the local college isn’t 50% populated with people of whatever? Diversity is something that simply is, it just happens, it’s not something to create as a theme park or a nod to current fashion.

    1127 chars

  20. Jason T. said on July 19, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    I went to Catholic high school. Our health teacher openly disavowed the rhythm method.

    “You ever heard that old song?” she’d say. “‘I got rhythm, I got children’?”

    I don’t remember her ever explicitly discussing contraception methods, but there was definitely a nudge, nudge, wink, wink quality to what she taught us, and her implied message was, “Use protection.”

    Of course, that was 20 years ago, AIDS was very much in the news every day, and the Catholic church was arguably more liberal then. Nowadays, they’d excommunicate her and probably send us all to re-education camp.

    Abstinence, kids! Also unicorns and leprechauns!

    654 chars

  21. Rana said on July 19, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    Natural family planning and the rhythm method aren’t the same thing, though. One works with the particular signs and patterns of the individual woman – signs which can be read and used to either avoid pregnancy or to encourage it – and the other is just playing the law of averages.

    I don’t have a problem with natural family planning or abstinence. I have a problem with one group of people insisting that everyone follow their particular religious beliefs, even if they are not believers – especially if doing so causes harm.

    534 chars

  22. alex said on July 19, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    And I thought Catholics’ idea of natural contraception was doing it anal or oral, or so I was told by a Filipina who says that girls in her native country become well-practiced in those arts for the sake of being virgins *where it counts* on the wedding day.

    258 chars

  23. joodyb said on July 19, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    Cherry-pitting, latke-making, spring-rolling. this is why we put tvs in our kitchens.

    85 chars

  24. Denice B. said on July 19, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    The Catholic Church does not believe in birth control. They believe in total Woman control. Women have to do all the work to avoid a pregnancy. They are the sinners. They are the filthy temptation. They must be subjugated and controlled down to their very actions. Sad.

    269 chars

  25. coozledad said on July 19, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Alex: It’s the same with protestants. The cult of virginity must be a backhanded way to inspire creative disingenuousness among the young.
    I had a classics professor who said the ancient Romans were pretty slipshod on the matter of taboos, and as an illustration, he talked about the ritual slaughter of Sejanus’ family when he was brought up for treason. It was illegal to kill virgins, so his daughters were cherry-pitted by the executioner first.
    The people who promote the idea of the sanctity of the hymen are generally looking to auction their kids off to whichever twisted fuck has enough cash, and actually likes the idea of banging an eardrum.* Doesn’t really mean anything else.
    *My wife reminds me I have no personal experience in this regard.
    EDIT: There was only one daughter, Junilla. She was deflowered with the rope around her neck.

    853 chars

  26. Joe Kobiela said on July 19, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Compleatly off topic, but this past weekend the special olympics started in Lincoln Nebraska. Anyone know how most of the athletes arrived? Cessna jet owners donated their planes and crews and Cessna aircraft donated the fuel, I think there were over 170 jets in the airlift including Harrison Ford. They return this weekend and take them all home,again all donated. Some friends of mine have flown this in the past and told me it was one of the best things they did, and put a huge lump in their throats. As much as jet owners are bad mouthed for being unfeeling rich fat cats, I thought this was a good example of how corprate America does have a heart.
    Blue Sky’s to you all
    Pilot Joe

    689 chars

  27. Christy S. said on July 20, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    January Jones should be thanking her lucky stars for her success on Mad Men because she is a horrible actress. I thought perhaps it was on purpose — sort of a ditz-brain characterization — until she did SNL. Girl can’t act. I get that she has “the look” but I’m pretty sure there had to be at least one more blonde in Hollywood who could actually deliver a line with some feeling. I get the same feeling of dread when she comes on the screen as I did with Lorraine Bracco on The Sopranos.

    490 chars