Doc of Numbers Game in Detroit

Let me start right after I released the Noise Tank (lovesyou) ep. I was living in Detroit’s Boydell building. It’s basically the first Dodge motor plant, and these skeezy people opened a pizza restaurant and a strip club on the ground floor, and rented out the other floors as cheap loft space. So I had basically half a story of a 110 year old former car plant to myself and my roommates and I fucking loved this place. We dubbed it "the Bunker". I threw a lot of great parties, recorded a lot of music, and had a lot of fun here. Check out these pictures.

But everything sort of fell apart towards the end. I decided to move to San Francisco cause the school I was going to began sucking real bad and a lot of my friends had already moved away. During the last 12 months or so in Detroit, like everything unraveled and barely got anything done other than just staying afloat. One of the major catastrophes was with the plumbing at the bunker. There were I think 5 stories above where we were, and all except for one were uninhabited and all locked up. What began happening is that somehow somewhere the sewage began backing up into the drains above us. So basically the bathtubs above us began filling up with raw untreated Detroit sewage and then began spilling over. Now of course with the age of this building, everything but the outside walls were wood, so where sewage fell, is exactly where it began dripping down from floor to floor. So me and my roommates were running around trying to cover records and my equipment and everything with plastic as its literally raining sewage everywhere. I know what you’re thinking “well shit happens lol”. Kind of sort of, but this wasn’t the first time. This would happen every few months with increasing severity. The slumlords refused to do anything about it. They wouldn’t hire a plumber, they wouldn’t clean it up, nothing. To illustrate how bad it was, we had all these ceiling fans, and when you turned them on, the shit that has dribbled down to the top of the blades would fly everywhere. The shit literally hit the fan. Like this is not the most ideal environment to write music and run a label and make art.

For two years this place was perfect. It was big at over 2,000 sq ft and it was in the central downtown hub of Detroit right in Bricktown at the edge of Greektown. You could do what you want, when you want, as loud as you want. Detroit remember is a city built for I think 5 million which is presently inhabited by under 900,000. The police force there is so understaffed that its basically an anarchy state. You can do basically anything you want, there aren’t many rules. If you wanted to go on a major crime spree or something, the police will definitely show up and be pretty hardcore about it. But anything short of that is fair game, run red lights all day everyday, rob little old ladies leaving church, or in my case, throw large parties right out of your home. Whatever no problem. I had my studio area was sectioned off with chain link fencing which created a cage in one corner of the bunker bigger than most Manhattan apartments. Should someone’s party on the other side of town get broken up or something, my place could go into insta-rave mode as easily as hitting the button for the sound system and moving the good couch into the cage.

But that’s the least of the reasons I miss the Bunker and downtown Detroit. I felt like I had won in that place. I felt like this was my Bunker and from here I can machine gun my thoughts at the world. I remember my best friend and roommate Denis had slowly acquired a pile of old TVs for a project he was working on. I remember one day he called me and said that he’s giving the project up and he doesn’t even want to see those TVs anymore and asked me if I could get rid of them. So since the alley with the dumpster was right below our window, it made a lot more sense to just chuck them out the window that it did to carefully carry each one down the stairs. So me and my two other roommates Jim and Kara began throwing these TVs out the window. When they hit the pavement a story below, they made the sound of a shotgun because of the imploding ray tube. So we throw a TV out and BOOM it implodes, and another TV and BOOM it implodes. After 10 or 15 TV’s eventually one of the casino cops stationed at the Greektown casino runs over like “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!?!” we were like “oh we’re just throwing these TVs out the window” he was like “so those sounds were TV’s and not shotguns!?!”, “yes officer”, “oh well I guess that’s alright, I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t a lunatic over here with a shotgun”. So as the cop stood there sort of laughing we threw another TV out the window. BOOM! And another. BOOM And another. BOOM! It was great! I think he got a real kick out of it too. There was just a giant pile of glass and toxic shit in the alley. It was beautiful.

Needless to say, my days then were blessed with a lot of little dystopian adventures like that. I had a pretty good lifestyle. I would go to work or school for a bit, come home and make music and art, and if I needed a little break from it for an hour or two, something like that always seemed to happen. Then I would go back to making music. This chaos seemed sustainable. I mean, that’s exactly how things were for two years straight.

Even the weather was nice. The summers in Greektown were muggy and smelly, but the winters were really cozy cause most of downtown Detroit is still on the 100 year old shard steam heating. So when the steam kicks on for downtown, it kicks on for a group of buildings at a time. All the old buildings would inhale and exhale like a large gentle mammal. Everything had a healthy hiss, pop and clunk when it came on. Some parts of a room would remain cold yet mysteriously as humid as a sauna, while others would be dry as a bone and like 80 degrees. It sort of created a separation between who lived downtown in the steam heat section and who didn’t. Cause you would go over to a friends place and you would be like “oh, you live in a magical breathing building too”, while others were dammed with these blasphemous gas contraptions that radiated heat with no heart. It was like me and my friends has all formed a little residential community were we all lived in the belly of living sperm whales for the winter.

You could tell which was which cause the heat of the steam pipes that ran in the sewer lines would heat the swears above 100 degrees, so all of downtown Detroit’s swears powerfully blow steam all winter. You would think that the steam would smell bad, which it sort of did, but it was a very subtle comfortable smell. They were dangerous to walk over though as some of the sewers blew up steam with the force and heat to cause 1st degree burns. It was easy to develop a disdain for anybody who could live like that, but simply choose not to. Remember that the city of Detroit sometimes doesn’t plow or shovel snow, so when you would get in from walking in snow up to your knee, and you’ve lost feeling up to your thigh, and all you know is that your hips are really tired, and you needed to feel something safe and know that you’re being cared for, it was like the building itself would sort of mother you right as you walked in the door by greeting you with a sauna.

Anyhow after the plumbing catastrophe, I had to get out of there. It was filthy and it was making me sick. Besides I was moving to SF soon anyhow. I mean it was almost totally sustainable. But the thing that ultimately ruined my little lifestyle were the fundamental problems with the infrastructure. Even if the power fails, even if there’s no heat, even if there are crazy men running around attacking people with yard rakes, you can still get by. But you cannot, under any circumstance, have sewage come up where it’s supposed to go down. That’s when things fall apart.

Posted: 07/07/2009 7:07 am by Doc.