Old Miami is a bar for the misunderstood.
Its name isn’t a reference to Florida…that would be weird, since the bar is located in Detroit’s infamous (but rapidly gentrifying) Cass Corridor. “Miami” is an acronym standing for “missing in action Michigan,” Uncle Sam’s shorthand for the local boys who never made it back from Vietnam.
Old Miami is a hangout for their brothers, their friends and their favorite musicians. Actually, the bar’s name could just as easily refer to the lengthy and now-legendary absence of Sixto Rodriguez, the philosophy student-turned-protest singer who got screwed over by Sussex Records and absconded from the music scene, turning up only occasionally to run for public office.
Coincidentally, Old Miami was established right about the time that Rodriguez was (unknown to him) becoming a superstar in South Africa. Four years after his second failure to get on the ballot for mayor, he found himself on the Internet, and discovered that he had been a platinum-selling rock legend for the past 18 years.
Despite a nearly nonstop touring schedule, Rodriguez hasn’t lost his zeal to work on behalf of the working man. He ran again for mayor in 2013; Old Miami led the charge in collecting signatures to get him on the ballot.
(They also sold tshirts that read “Viva Sixto!” and “We Want a Philosopher King”–somebody please tell me if you know where I can get one of those shirts.)
Some might call his campaign unsuccessful. Rodriguez, as you might expect, doesn’t see it that way:
“The thing is, it’s a struggle, and it’s continuing. But I think that we are ready to struggle.”