PANDERING TO PANACEAS
Ah, yes, ’tis now Thanksgiving Eve, that hallowed bar night of Brobdingnagian proportions, when the urbanely outfitted college-age offspring, as well as their elder comrades, return to a joyous, sweater-clad reunion within the parental nests, only to immediately split for a debauched night on the town. The hometown, doing its part, is more than gearing up for the festive holiday bacchanal, as even the most cursory perusal through this publication will reveal. Being a devoted public servant seeking to ensure only maximum saturation of info for the discriminating club-goer, let me try to do a rundown of current eruptions on our nightclub moonscape. While not all the new nightclubs will be up and running, one ambitious new entry on the downtown scene, Panacea, supposedly is shooting for a Nov. 21 opening party. When I strolled by there last week, however, Nov. 21 looked feasible … for, oh, perhaps 2002. With a glorious Parducci-sculpted exterior, smack-dab in the middle of downtown Detroit’s financial district (Congress and Shelby), Panacea has the ignominious distinction of driving out the popular-yet-peripatetic Britt’s Café, a well-liked lunch spot for downtown Detroiters with few options left. (Long live Luxe Cuisine just down the block … wait, shhh, that’s a secret. Never mind.) Nick Delicata, who owns the building at 205 W. Congress, oddly enough is in the awkward position of having leased his building out before finding a new location for his cafeteria. He contends, however, that Britt’s will soon reopen somewhere downtown, with the Renaissance Center being one possible location. Panacea, meanwhile, is being put together by partners Glenn Hernandez and Eric Caloda. Good luck. Just behind Panacea, across from the Crowne Plaza valet entrance on Larned, is yet another new club opening up soon, going by yet another singularly named quasi-exotic (yet ultimately not) moniker, Envy. Right … I think I’m harboring a resentment for Envy and I need an antidote for Panacea. Add to this a supposed nightclub going into the ground floor of the Book Building, the still-anticipated Motor to Moose Lodge upheaval, as well as the recent conversion and reopening of Pure as X/S, and, well, by gum, you got yerself a bona fide disco zone. X/S, by the way, is helmed by David Grossman of Pegasus Lighting, who was reportedly furious at losing out to Nobody in Particular Presents in the bankruptcy court bidding for the Royal Oak Theatre. Grossman, as devoted ’80s club archivists will recall, once made an ill-fated go-round on downtown nightclubbing with his Currency Exchange, converting the building adjacent to the decaying vainglorious relic known as the United Artists theater on Grand Circus Park. In addition, don’t forget the bevy of nightclub upstarts cropping up in places like, natch, Ferndale (Q), and, well, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the Chapter 11 filings, tattered velvet ropes and shuttered doors. When will all of these would-be club impresarios figure out that, for all the alluring post-apocalyptic techno-spawning glory and indie-rock street cred of Detroit, this is not unlike a conservative blue-collar town when it comes to club-hoppers, and a new nightclub downtown can count on perhaps one big night a week (“Hello, Saturday”). The day-in-day-out nightclub public is not as strong here as in other more cosmopolitan cities, which leaves the surviving clubs to cannibalize each other for patrons. As such, you get flashes in the pan like Bleu, aka the Bleu Room Experience (more on that below), which open and close in less than a year, with over a million and a half dollars in unpaid bills in their wake.
OF BILLS AND BALLS
While I’m in the neighborhood, however, I should note that Pure Detroit, that store of all things Detroit, located less than a block from Panacea on Congress, is opening a new store in the Fisher Building on Dec. 1. Last Thursday, the new location played host to a 10th anniversary party by the Droog Press of the hilarious yet stirring “little red book” style compendium of former HMFIC Coleman Young’s quotations. Present at the party were Droog Press founder Bill McGraw, along with collaborators Ben D’Angelo, and Mark and Sue Giannotta. Also present and captured by the Loose Lips paparazzi team were Pure employees Orlando DeJesus, Tenley Lark and Gabrielle Hoard, New Center ambassador Michael Solaka and Eastern Market spice peddler Randall Fogelman, Peter Franco of detroitencoding.com and urban experience connoisseur Jeff Shovlin of motormouth.org. The Droog Press quote book is available at Pure, along with the infamous “WWCD (What Would Coleman Do?)” T-shirts (modeled at the party by creator Jim Fracassa). Given that former guv James Blanchard has resurfaced in the political arena, I’d thought I’d bring to light an infamously salty Coleman quote on Blanchard, opining on whether the latter would ever grow in office, as former Gov. William Milliken did. Sayeth Coleman: “You don’t grow balls, either you got ’em or you don’t.” Succinct, and to the point. Somebody send Kwame one of those little red books.
GUNS ’N’ KNIVES
Speaking of Bleu, in my own nod to equal opportunity for gossip-column targets, I will report that former Bleu co-owner Jeff Moran vehemently denies any truth to the allegations contained in the bankruptcy court pleadings previously reviewed in my last column. Moran’s only regret is trying to run a business with novices who were more interested in the cachet of owning a club than actually running it as a business. As for the allegations of drug use, he testifies that he has been clean as the proverbial whistle, with little more than a parking ticket, for his entire life. He did admit, however, that he did discharge a gun at a would-be collection agent, however the gunshot was precipitated by a knife-pulling; the, ahem, agent was allegedly seeking some additional “street interest” on a personal loan to the club. According to Moran, however, the debts for the club were crippling an operation which was basically open for only one night a week. Moran does not expect that Bleu will ever reopen. That’s too bad, too, as my last column on the club generated a spate of anonymous allegations of debauched chicanery. Alas, poor Bleu, we dirt-dishers hardly knew ye.
The Eminem Hollywood crew continues to make tracks around town. Last Friday saw a huge crew set up filming in an old warehouse in Rivertown on Woodbridge (demonstrating, yet again, that Detroit’s overabundance of abandoned buildings is a veritable back lot for shooting Midwestern rust belt scenes). Supposedly the production had a rather rocky reception in a south Warren neighborhood, and rumors from the Chin Tiki are that a few prized relics of tiki culture have mysteriously gone missing. Somebody keep an eye out for Kim Basinger lugging around some dried blowfish and Easter Island tikis into her Townsend suite. Nevertheless, movie production is doing its part to keep our local economy chugging along, as former Dearborn-Royal Oak-Ferndale used-clothing peddler Heidi Lichtenstein of Cinderella‘s Attic, now ensconced in Changes in Birmingham, can attest. The Eminem movie costume designer, who also clothed Boogie Nights and Blow, supposedly bought a lot of Made in Detroit gear, Maurice Malone vintage T-shirts, 1995 hip-hop clothes and some Motorbooty shirts.Casey Coston writes here every other week. Got gossip, essential factoids or party invites? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the tip line at 313-962-5281. Press * then dial