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Washtenaw Flaneurade
20 August 2005
Biblical Confrontations and Suicidal Puppets
Now Playing: The Waitresses--"No Guilt"
The city of Ypsilanti, Michigan, was named after Demetrios Ypsilantis (1793-1832), Greek freedom fighter of the early nineteenth century. Ypsilantis was one of many Greek intellectuals and mercenaries (fighting primarily for Russia during the Napoleonic Wars) who conspired to free Greece from Ottoman rule, beginning in Odessa (now in Ukraine) in 1814. Ypsilantis' older brother Alexander (1793-1828) led a disastrous failed invasion of Ottoman-ruled Moldavia and Wallachia (present-day Moldova and southern Romania) in 1821 and died after seven years of imprisonment by the Austrians (who captured him as he fled into Transylvania, then part of Hungary) in 1828. Demetrios was more successful, fighting in various capacities during the Greek War of Independence and ending the war as commander of Greek forces in Eastern Roumelia (Thessaly in present-day Greece), going on to become the first overall commander of the Greek army. That's my contribution to Ypsilanti Heritage Weekend, anyway.*

It was pleasant enough yesterday, waddling through Riverside Park and watching the arts and crafts people do their thing. The Ypsilanti Heritage Festival reminded me of a much less obtrusive, less obnoxious Art Fair. I didn't really do all that much--went to Aubree's, had a calzone, and finally got to hear the Ragbirds at the Michigan Ave. and Washington St. stage. I must say I was impressed, even if they played a few too many bland covers. One highlight was "Romanian Transom", a blazing gypsy tune knocked out by violinist and singer Erin Zindle. The evening was gorgeous, and everyone seemed to have a good time. I also visited the revived "Riverside Arts Center", where I saw many lovely watercolors and lithographs dealing with Ypsilanti, and somehow found myself regaling the docent with a version of this entry's first paragraph. Good times, good times.

I also finally got to hear Glori5, about whom I've been curious for about two years or so, at the Blind Pig later that night. Tight, focused, accomplished, and awesome--you'd think that the spectacle of so many bands working this 60s R&B-MC5-Stooges-early punk continuum in the same town might grow tiresome, but it doesn't, I'm happy to say. My stamina needs work, though. I made it through Wolfbait, who were amusing enough (I don't know how to do umlauts on this thing, since the "o" in "Wolfbait" carries one), but I was sadly unable to stay for Christpuncher (it's horrible, I know, but I have to giggle every time I see that name), who headlined. I counted myself lucky to have seen their sidesplitting trailer (which promised "Biblical Confrontations" and "MORE Substance Abuse"--respectively, some guy in sunglasses, a leisure suit and a mustache yelling things outside the Blind Pig, and one of the band members drinking from a can of Natural Light) and to have enjoyed a little of "The Gepetto Files," an entertaining if rudimentary puppet show that went on atop the dais in the back, next to the window--there didn't seem to be much plot, only a puppet pointing a gun at the audience and then at its own head. I was tremendously disappointed not to have nightmares.

One weird note--while visiting the facilties downstairs, I noticed a Ragbirds sticker stuck on the wall above the facility I was using at the time, with a scrawled "Oh my Gawd! Just kill yourselves!!" above, with an arrow pointing to the sticker. Whatever happened to manners, I ask?

Friday was all right.

*Interestingly enough, it looks as if Scio Township might also have a Greek War of Independence nominal pedigree. "Scio" was the name used during the 1820s for the Aegean island of Chios ("Scio" being the Italian name), the site of brutal Ottoman reprisals against the native Greek population. The massacres of Chios (commemorated that same year by Delacroix in... The Massacres of Chios) led to worldwide sympathy for the Greek rebels and may have been a turning point in the war.

Posted by Charles J. Microphone at 10:58 AM EDT
Updated: 20 August 2005 11:29 AM EDT
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