Third Man Information’ Ben Blackwell helps the Metro Occasions Press Membership, although he has a bone to select with us

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  • Courtesy of Third Man Information
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  • Ben Blackwell.

When Metro Occasions editor Lee DeVito emailed me lately asking if I would take part on this Press Club multilevel advertising scheme, I checked out my storage stuffed with unsellable Amway and Get together Lite castoffs and thought “THIS will make me entire once more.”

No, severely, when Lee informed me to jot down one thing concerning the magazine and my relationship, I jumped on the alternative. It was the primary time in virtually 17 years of on and-off writing right here that I used to be informed I might write with no restrict to my phrase rely.

I will be trustworthy, I’ve fairly a conflicted opinion concerning the Metro Occasions. From discovering it throughout my pubescent years and it serving as a veritable lifeline for my data and consciousness for something and every thing that may be populating my go-to venues just like the Gold Greenback and the Magic Stick… every new problem was brimming with promise, with risk, with potential. It was much more au courant than Orbit (a MONTHLY publication schedule?) and much deeper than the dailies (oh how they tried).


As soon as I started the lifelong battle of contemplating myself a “journalist,” the Metro Occasions was that seemingly attainable objective within the distance. “I wish to write for the Metro Occasions,” I am positive I in all probability mentioned to anybody unfortunate sufficient to must take heed to me.

Learning journalism at Wayne State, I used to be psyched to shadow then music editor Melissa Giannini for a day November 2001. The pile of free CDs! (I informed her the Hives have been gonna be enormous, that she ought to overview it, she did not hear.) Cigarette breaks with guys who labored at Creem! Lunch in Greektown! An after-work loft celebration the place I bumped into professors of mine from Wayne! Seemingly barely any writing truly getting finished! Attempting (unsuccessfully) to sneak my underage ass into the Brendan Benson present on the Lager Home that evening! THIS WAS MY SPEED!

So a couple of months later I submitted an article to an novice journalist contest that they had. Thought I had it sealed up. I would truly been INSIDE their workplaces. I might, barely, string collectively a coherent sentence, which isn’t even vital for rock criticism. How might I not win?


I didn’t win, and rightfully so. I lately dug up the writing that I would submitted and it is baaaaaad. Giannini bought shit-canned not lengthy afterward, and boy did she make the very best of it. She’s at present the options director at ELLE journal and deserves every thing she’s labored so exhausting for.

A few 12 months later, I began my very own file label, Cass Information. Upon releasing the primary two 7-inch singles on the imprint, an entry within the Metro Occasions new Hit Singles column referred to as out my “questionably titled, suburb-based label.”

By no means thoughts the truth that the label was based mostly in Detroit, and pay no consideration to the truth that the “retraction” was equally as shitty, blaming the truth that my residence and label HQ have been solely within the metropolis limits by “one whole block.”


That and so they coupled the notice with an image of my head superimposed over a map of the town of Detroit.

Simply… elegant.

Think about my shock when, not three months later, MT music editor Brian Smith (who I am pretty assured was behind the Hit Singles sniping) reached out to ME and requested if I’d think about freelancing for the paper.


The confused feelings, the uncertainty… I would needed to jot down, to receives a commission to do it, however this man was simply unnecessarily imply and he was straight from Arizona. I made a decision to place that each one behind me and was delighted when MT ran a tour diary I wrote of the Dirtbombs’ trip to Japan in January 2004.

I am unable to say that I wrote a TON for MT, primarily simply file critiques and the occasional tour diary thrown in. However for me, it was an eye-opening expertise. As soon as at an off-the-cuff meet-up amongst of us who have been writing within the music part, I used to be confronted by pure SHOCK from one other contributor when he found I listened to the albums I wrote about a number of occasions.

“You do not?” I requested, bewildered.


“No. Take heed to it as soon as, learn the press launch, increase, there’s your overview.”

That interplay scared me. I didn’t wish to be reliant upon writing as a way to make a residing. I did not wish to write about one thing as a result of I HAD to. I needed to jot down about one thing as a result of I HAD one thing to say.

So to today, I’m proud to solely write after I really feel compelled, after I really feel motivated. And to maintain individuals supporting the Metro Occasions is as worthy a trigger I can consider.


By no means thoughts how mad I used to be when editor Invoice Holdship yelled at ME for snarkily stating that my use of the time period “skronk” with reference to atonal saxophone taking part in was not meant to learn “kronk,” the identify final identify of a long-deceased Detroit Metropolis Council member.

You realize what Holdship had the gall to do? After I commented that the time period gave the impression to be fairly identified in rock writing circles (Lester Bangs having attributed it to Robert Christgau), he mentioned, I am paraphrasing right here, “Do not inform me about Bangs. My identify is within the credit of Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung. Shut up and money the examine.”

We did not get alongside.


However when Mike Hurtt took over the music editor place? He put my damn band on the cover! Positive, we would been on the entrance of Actual Detroit beforehand, however did anybody ever actually give a shit about that magazine? The Dirtbombs graced the entrance cowl of the Metro Occasions in February 2008 and if I’ve any regrets, it is that in an effort to boost the picture shoot, I began leaping in a few of the photographs. Or blowing my breath to create seen gasoline within the completely freezing Russell Industrial Middle.

Whereas all enjoyable and video games, trying on the photographs now, I am not terribly stoked to have my face obscured or my stomach exhibiting.

And a 12 months later, I used to be shifting to Nashville, positive to catch the Metro Occasions Blowout the evening earlier than I shipped out for good. A Detroiter through-and-through (I proudly displayed the Detroit map/my head graphic on the Cass Information web site for years), the Metro Occasions web site remains to be crucial for me to learn regularly.


My job operating Third Man Information afforded me the chance to place out a scorching 7-inch by Detroit punk stalwarts Teener late final 12 months. The place did I change into conscious of the band? An article in the Metro Times, naturally.

Do not take as a right the service an impartial weekly publication serves for the neighborhood — native, ex-pat, no matter. You’ll not understand how good you have had it till it is gone. Does not matter in the event you assume the content material of the “Information Hits” column is healthier served by shifting the primary “s” two spots to the appropriate, or blush at their legendary escort promoting… Metro Occasions is crucial. I am a sustaining member to the Press Club and try to be too.

Ben Blackwell is a drummer and co-founder of Jack White’s label, Third Man Information.


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