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Finery, fate and funding

FACE TIME

Egads, now the Metro Times plasters my leering visage alongside this column. (Normally, I only use a photo of myself when I quit or rejoin the paper, a gratuitous and self-indulgent plug of pure ego enhancement.) While this will give me a ready-made press ID card to use on resilient doorman/gatekeeper types, formerly unsuspecting victims of my officious eavesdropping will now be able to see me coming from 30 paces. Look for cunning disguises in the near future.

FERNABLE FASHIONDALE

Friday night saw a flurry of activity in fashionable Ferndale as the Woodward Avenue Brewery hosted a gala kickoff spectacular for Fashionable Fridays, an evening of fun, frolic, fashion, fortitude, foppishness, Finlandia vodka and anything else that starts with the letter "F."

Sponsored by the ‘forementioned vodka label, in conjunction with Planet 96.3 and local weekly rag the Metro Times, the event drew a sizable and well-lubricated crowd (considering it was only 9 p.m.), which showcased the latest in fashion from such boutiques as Mother Fletcher’s, House of Chants and Penny Pinchers. The Planet’s Thom Kikot was on hand to kick off the event, as a parade of models dutifully marched their way around the room in a rather serpentine pattern.

At the rear of this parade, curiously enough, was Toronto swing-punkster and bandleader Big Rude Jake, who affected a rather insouciant casualness as he brought up the caboose of the fashion train in a vintage suit and chapeau from Mother Fletcher’s.

As the models stode by, I found myself squeezed into the bar alongside Mike Clark, local music producer/engineer extraordinaire (ICP, George Clinton, Primal Scream, Kid Rock, etc.) and ego-site proprietor, bedecked in a glammy sparkly shirt and bowler, as well as massage therapist-turned-model Jonna Thomas. Holding up their end of the bar and enjoying the show were guitar virtuoso Chris Brantley and comrade Rhonda Spencer.

Attendees clamored for more fashions, but, seeing none forthcoming, turned to clamoring for free Finlandia.

To catch the next wave of this frilly fashion fair, show up next Friday at the Big Rock in Birmingham, as Fashionable Fridays takes its show uptown.

AFTER BLAST

After a little fix-it glue to correct what was initially deemed some "cosmetic damage," the People Mover is scheduled to be up and running in circles again beginning Nov. 15. The 14-month hiatus followed a rather messy bludgeoning of the tracks by some free-falling Hudson’s building girders, resulting in a bit of protracted litigation with city and demolition insurance companies.

Never fear, though, the system should be up and running in time for the Auto Show and the Red Wings season, which is about the only time it ever comes close to capacity.

Meanwhile, in the former shadows of the Hudson’s building sits a forlorn yet formerly dignified temple of knowledge, the downtown branch of the Detroit Public Library. The library was initially supposed to open in June 1999, but that was postponed in order to fix the People Mover tracks.

Now, however, it sits in limbo, awaiting the encroachment of the Compuware-us Martius development, which recently annexed the lot formerly used for the library’s garage.

The facade of the triangular building is scrolled with such weighty phrases as "The Wealth of the Mind is the Only True Wealth" and "The Fountain of Wisdom Flows Through Books." Unfortunately, it seems the fountain has dried up, leaving a literary wasteland of Hudson’s dust, chain link fences and Acee Deucee portable toilets.

Maurice Wheeler, the Detroit library director, informed me that while the building was not damaged by the big blast of ’98, they are looking for some fundraising to the tune of $4 million-$5 million to bring the place up to snuff.

He didn’t say where the funding would come from, but said the library will most definitely reopen. This sounds like a perfect charitable project for some society doyenne to take under her wing – unfortunately, however, they’re all still tied up at the Opera House.

One would hope that Mayor Dennis Archer sibling-in-law and downtown power broker C. Beth Duncombe will shake loose a little of the $71 million that the Downtown Development Authority and Detroit Economic Growth Corporation are planning to sprinkle on the streets of the C-Mart development.

Wheeler was mum on that subject, only saying that the funding should come together "soon." Let’s hope so.

PUMP BRUNCH

Correcting my last column, that wasn’t Medusa Cyclone but rather Fedora who was playing the "It’s A Detroit Thing" party at Motor. Must have been another misprint in the invite. Fedora, by the way has a regular Monday night gig at the Town Pump.

Speaking of the Pump, Sunday afternoon saw a sparkling little four-course art brunch at the restaurant formerly occupied by Dish (new name not yet determined), kicking off the detroit contemporary show which opens this Saturday. The show, entitled "364 Days," features works by James Stevens, Paul Snyder and Robert Berry. The title refers to the fact that this is the one-year (minus one day) anniversary of the fledgling gallery which has quickly developed a strong following among local cognoscenti. Detroit contemporary’s Aaron Timlin informed me that people are actually buying stuff these days, a marked improvement over those scenesters just looking for free beer and crudités.

By the way, numerous brunchers were overheard commenting favorably on Chef Dave Wood’s fare at the yet-unopened restaurant. Stay tuned.

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