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Penguin and Paper

A conglomerate of my random thoughts

Category Archives: Observations

Today I learned a story about a song:

Detroit 1967

There was this after hours bar in Detroit called the Blind Pig, on the corner of 12th Street and Clairmont (that was a Black neighborhood.) And on July 22, 1967, there was a party going on there two vets who’d just returned from Vietnam. At that point America had been fighting a war in Vietnam for 12 years, and it would continue for another 8, until 1975. But this story is about a different war.

There were a lot of people in the Blind Pig that night: eighty-two is the official number. And there were 4 officers in each Tac Squad. Tac Squads were these police units that roamed black neighbourhoods; they would demand identification from residents, harass people with racial slurs, and find excuses for use of excessive force. So when the Tac Sqaud busted into the Blind Pig in the early hours of July 23, the rage spilled out onto the street. The ensuing 12th street riots lasted for 5 days. In that time forty-three people died, 467 people were injured, and over 2000 buildings were burned.

Now while all that was going on, Isaac Hayes, a song-writer and music producer was watching the news coverage of the riots on TV, and noticed that someone had written the word “soul” on the doors of buildings that had not been torched. So Hayes, seeing pride and resiliency in the midst of destruction, wrote this song:


A guy walks below my window just now – tall, bald, mid 30’s. I’ve seen him before: Yesterday he was walking across the street from me, talking on his cell phone about quitting smoking, about how it was hard at parties; about people who just get to step outside for a minute, about how he couldn’t do that anymore. I felt a brief pang of guilt because I occasionally step outside for a minute during parties too, and I silently wished him luck with quitting.

Just now, down on the sidewalk below my window, he has a cigarette in his hand. I guess some days are harder than others.