On a recent Fourth of July afternoon, a certain Loose Lips columnist ventured down to the New Center environs to check out the most recent permutation of the Comerica Michigan Tastefest. Severely distressed because the Issac Hayes show took place the previous evening, my entrée to the festival was further dampened by the fetid stench of rotting garbage and stale Portajohns which greeted me as I strode down a nearby corridor.
Once my feet hit the melted, undulating pavement of Grand Boulevard, however, the stench was replaced by a potpourri of sights, sounds and widely varying demographics (Redford meets Cass Corridor with a soupçon of Grosse Pointe, for example).
The Second Avenue street fair was a big hit with both vendors and festers, as stores such as Pure Detroit and Bag Lady Beads were doing a brisk business, while the porta-Town Pump tavern set up for the occasion provided a welcome oasis for those seeking an alternative to the limited draft beer and water choices available in the festival at large.
According to the Bag Lady-in-chief, Carla Hankins, they could barely keep their tent in stock, as rampant consumerism threatened to deplete their shelves of every last bead and soap product. Fortunately for Hankins, she was ably assisted by beadlings Danielle Kencik and Christine Costa. Kencik, by the by, is preparing to re-enter the couture field with her rejuvenated Dkoy line, and will be working out of a temporary haberdashery space in the Bag Lady store on Grand Circus Park.
Also spotted at the Pure Detroit tent was local author Michael Zadoorian, signing copies of his recent novel Second Hand, which has as its subject matter a theme near and dear to my heart, i.e. second-hand junk. Kudos to Zadoorian for gratuitously complimenting me on my second-hand General Noriega shirt, which I picked up at a Salvation Army store in Flint a few years back.
Also basking in the success of the fest was artist Kevin Stanislawski, aka Slaw, who, along with his wife Lou, curated the gallery show inside the old GM building. He indicated that the gallery was doing extremely well.
Demonstrating a true flair for outsider art, Slaw was accepting various works from walk-up artists such as the building's janitor and a bartender from the porta-Town Pump. Both pieces apparently sold. Slaw said he would like to run a permanent gallery there, an interesting concept if they ever got rid of the 1970s-era doctor's office wall and floor coverings which currently inhabit the once-grand space.
CIRQUE DE SOUTHFIELD
Searching for something entirely different, and seeking to entertain a 16-month-old (family man, that's me), last Saturday saw your intrepid columnist visiting the village green of the Southfield Civic Center, where the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Kaleidoscape Circus set up shop.
The whole shebang is leaving town this Sunday, so if you haven't seen this way-cool spectacular, do so immediately. With comfy plush seating, including red velvet couches, as well as pizzas prepared by the Golden Mushroom, this is definitely not your standard Shrine-style big top.
One hour before the show begins, a reception is held where performers wander about and a band entertains. Whilst munching some caramel corn and sipping espresso, I chatted with Malik Jordan Young and Bishop Lee Parks, who were sitting with one Nigel Finnegan Coston. Young and Parks had made the long journey up from Dayton, Ohio to see the show, while Coston had traveled from nearby Royal Oak.
The show itself is big on Euro-style, high-end performances; animal acts are limited to a high-stepping corps of trained white stallions and a flock of geese that responds to commands.
There was also this guy who calls himself Picasso Jr. (no relation), who juggled Ping-Pong balls by shooting them out of his mouth like a human lottery machine. He also kept the audience awake by winging plates high over the crowd and then (usually) catching them. I saw one mom grab her kid and start running when those plates started flying over her head.
HIT THE SHOWERS
The recent 24 Hours event sponsored by the Metro Times at detroit contemporary gallery was a rousing success, as more than 600 people traipsed through the doors to see the Trash Brats make music history in a 24-hour (pretty much) nonstop performance.
Another added bonus was the acoustic dejeuner sur l’herbe which took place Saturday morning as the show moved outside for some fresh air and a little hibachi-grillin'. Be sure not to miss the Metro Times' Sonic Boom event this weekend, a mondo local music fest taking place at various venues in the Cass Corridor region.
Corrections to be made from my last column: First, the Garden Bowl bleacher party at Comerica Park is this Thursday, and not Sunday, as I erroneously stated. Also, the woman identified in the photo fending off a karate blow is Shana Dellas (née Smith).
Finally, putting to rest a spate of unfounded rumors, Rick Manore has confirmed that he will be voluntarily departing the C-Pop gallery which he founded five years ago in a Royal Oak basement. Splitting in September, the chrome-domed Detroit art Svengali will be venturing out to pursue his many diverse interests, among them a semiautobiographical NBC pilot script about an art gallery, as well as his art-media consulting service (ArtAttack). In line to take the reins will be Sharon L. Currey, formerly of the Ann Arbor Art Center from 1996 to 2000. Adios, amigo.Casey Coston writes about development in Detroit. E-mail him at [email protected]