ARTHUR BEST OF 2007 LISTS No. 12: Ben Blackwell

Ben Blackwell’s Top 20 for 2007

1. 7″ vinyl singles: Somehow managed to convince Detroit’s weekly rag to let me do a singles column once a month. Armed with a valid excuse, I bought 7″s like crazy. A bunch of shit blew my mind…”Jiggle City” by Noot D’Noot, “October Fires” by Wolf People, “See Me Mariona” from Brian Olive, “I Know a Place” by Jay Reatard are all bona fide in the truest sense. Seriously, that Wolf People single will blow even the arm-foldingest hipster’s minds.

2. Arby’s Cheese Cake Bites: the only time I’ve ever made a phone call immediately following a meal was after I first tasted the succulent richness of these piping hot beauties. Well-worth eating a roast beef sandwich for the chance to have these as dessert.

3. Guerilla Poetics: never before have I found a movement that so accurately captures my very own mindset and ideals. Under a vague guise of anonymity, this collective letterpresses poetry broadsides and dispatches them to operatives the world over who then smuggle them into books of particular significance in libraries, bookstores, etc. I makes me feel subversive and happy all at the same time.

4. Time spent in Iqualuit, Nunavut: eating raw caribou meat, climbing a beastly hill in a full suit and tie and Florsheim dress shoes, the eerie faux daylight experienced at 3am a week after solstice, watching Inuit elders dancing, finding random LPs near the ice floe’s edge that’d been used for target shooting with the bullet holes to prove it, a veggie tray that cost $50, watching the White Stripes fly the far reaches of the Earth to spread the word. In one word: astonishing.

5. Summer of Love Exhibit at the Whitney NYC: Vernor Panton’s Phantasy Landscape Visions II and La Monte Young’s Music and Light Box were both well worth taking my shoes off for.

6. Re-birth of Arthur Magazine: maybe now Jay will run my tour diary via post card ramblings

7. CD-r of unreleased tunes from forgotten Detroit band Death: holy shit. Three Afro-American, Jehovah’s Witness brothers from the east side of Detroit locked onto some mad pre-punk squalor back in 1974. Email me for a devastating Mp3 of “Politicians in My Eyes” poignant now more than ever.

8. Quick trip to Cannes for the film festival: slept most of the time there, but Schnabel was a genuine sweetheart.

9. Late 80’s/Early 90’s ghetto bass/r’n’b/hip-hop: the iTunes giftcard proved valuable for how many old school favorites I was able to grab to help recapture my youth. Poison Clan, Oaktown 3-5-7, DJ Magic Mike, Black Sheep, Nice & Smooth and I still know most of the lyrics.

10. Garage rock alive and well: Killer full-lengths from the Black Lips, the Horrors, the Hives and the Alarm Clocks is proof positive that some shit just never goes out of style.

11. Three days of employment at Archer Record Pressing, Detroit: I can honestly say I’ve fully-experienced blue collar life albeit for less than half a week. From grinding down cast-off Lp’s (warped, scratched, off-center labels), filling vinyl vats, putting records in paper sleeves, putting those in jackets, working the “wrapped” end of the shrinkwrap machine and packing ’em up in boxes of 50 was the three most fulfilling days of the year.

12. Buying a Levis “Big E” jean jacket in Halifax: my lone sartorial extravagance of the year

13. Movies I’d missed the first time around: Old Boy and The Prestige both did my head in.

14. My FreeDamn Vols. 5-6: Rin Tanaka’s studious chronicling of clothing in American subcultures is the best coffee table book out there. Somehow makes all your thrift store scores that much more lame.

15. Bagazine: leave it to mail art stalwart Johnny Brewton of X-Ray Book Company to round up the likes of Billy Childish and Mark Mothersbaugh to contribute to this “magazine in a bag” filled with an assortment of chapbooks, poetry, art prints and all-around exciting and impressive ephemera.

16. The Ice Cream Man: cooling refreshment at Bonnaroo and saviour hunger suppressant at CMJ. And he likes the Dirtbombs!

17. Human Eye live at the MoCAD, Detroit: paint-splattering, a pillow full stuffing raining down on the crowd, fire…what a way to turn a staid, boring art exhibit (Shrinking Cities) into a living, breathing art experience.

18. Not Not Fun Records: the only label around whose every release I purchase without discrimination. Britt and Manda have tapped into something truly fun, interesting and original.

19. Z-Gun magazine: sometimes it’s just nice to hold something tangible, you know?

20. High Bias Recording Studio: the most comfortable, inviting recording environment I’ve ever been in. The only studio that matters in Detroit.

Detroit’s Ben Blackwell runs Cass Records and drums for the Dirtbombs. You’d think that was enough but wait, there’s more: he blogs at

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About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. I publish a weeklyish email newsletter called LANDLINE via substack. Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca., where I studied with Buddhist teacher Ruth Denison and was involved in various pro-ecology and social justice activist activities.

0 thoughts on “ARTHUR BEST OF 2007 LISTS No. 12: Ben Blackwell

  1. I love doing a mean google blog search and drilling down to find who was posting about stuff before the entire world was. Anyhow now that Death has apparently blown up just wanted to say respect and I got my eye on you.

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