Vital Signs

Detroit Shakedown

Stevie Wonder wants to become mayor of Detroit. He's had some trouble determining precisely when the election will be held, but no matter. He believes that he can be the mayor of Motown in the 90's. Now, this is no Sonny Bono and Palm Springs. Bono is decidedly a working-class stiff compared with the Retin A-swathed desert rats, and brings an air of reality to Southern California. Detroit, on the other hand, is an industrial city that's losing its industry, a place that is trying to figure out what it will become (the present mayor wanted to make it the Atlantic City of the Midwest). And yet Stevie, lack of experience notwithstanding (in interviews he notes that Ronald Reagan didn't have national experience either) wants to become the leader of Motown.

The real leader, of course, was Berry Gordy Jr., founder of Motown Records, who left town years ago, for LA, and has since sold the label to a conglomerate that's color-blind to every shade but green. All that remains of Motown in the recording sense is a museum on West Grand Boulevard in a neighborhood that once boasted chandelier-shimmering houses that have since become rundown funeral parlors.

As the city has gone, so have some of its citizens. Lester Bangs is one of the many casualties of Detroit's music scene. Bangs died in 1982, at age 34. The coroner indicated Darvon was a contributing factor. He might have added rock and roll—probably...

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