Vowing to “take the hump out of hump day,” last Wednesday saw this columnist drag his “hump” over to the former German community know as Greektown, as the Greektown Casino, Metro Times and WGRV (“The Groove”) 105.1 FM kicked off what will prove to be a recurring Wednesday happy-hour party on the outdoor rooftop patio of the Greektown Casino. Overlooking Monroe Street, on top of the failed–festival–marketplace–formerly–known-as Trapper’s Alley, the festive soiree provided live music by Brazil, blazing sunshine, and inexpensive cold beers (although the overwhelmed barstaff will definitely need some assistance next week. Waving my dollar bill-clutching fists in a vain attempt to get the bartender’s attention, I felt like a commodities trader in the pit trying to go long on pork bellies). The event runs 5-8 p.m. I took my time navigating my way to the party, as the layout of the casino requires you to kind of meander about. After entering off Beaubien Street, I pushed past an elderly woman with a walker to hear the familiar “ching-ping-ching” of the whirring slot machines. I had visions of that “Jetsons” episode where they go to “Las Venus” and those floating animatronic robotic one-armed banditos keep buzzing around George muttering, “Try your luck, try your luck … ching … peep … ching.” Unfortunately, however, there was neither “GiGi Galaxy” nor “Jet Screamer” performing in the lounge, thus I resisted the beguiling peal of the chiming machines and made my way through a series of escalators and pleasant, smallish, slot-filled rooms in the former Trapper’s Alley. Definitely a different and intimate style of casino gaming, particularly when one considers the usual norm of scary, ginormous rooms filled with row upon row of machines. Once in the open air of the third floor atrium, the crew from WGRV was on the scene, including morning host Doc Reno and salesperson Eliza Fochtman. Out on the open-air deck, the Loose Lips camera crew captured sunglasses-clad Stephanie Yates, Gary Butkus and Desmond Orr relaxing on one of the many pieces of comfy patio furniture scattered about. Considering the dearth of roof deck happy hours in the downtown environs (Hockeytown, Tom’s Oyster Bar), this one appears to be your best option for the summer, particularly so in the event you’re partial to the siren song of the “ping-ping-ching-ding.” Head on down this Wednesday as the crew from WCSX 94.7 FM takes over host duties. One has to wonder, however, what will happen to this place if the glamorous Greektown Casino moves to its permanent digs. As noted previously, the casino reportedly has options to tear down the Globe Building, along with the Boydell Building, which houses Niki’s and the Loco Bar, among other businesses, in order to build its permanent casino. The current “temp” casino would then be transformed into a mix of retail/restaurant space. Casino spokesman Roger Martin did not return my detailed voice message regarding this issue. My unsolicited suggestions on the right mix of retail would include a unique mall of specialized pawn shops (musical instruments in one; construction tools in another; jewelry; appliances, etc.) and then maybe an assortment of plasma banks, sperm banks and other spontaneous income generators for down-on-their-luck gamblers. Different? You betcha! That’s my vision for the future! Vote for me for mayor.
After the happy hour, my spiritual cap runneth over with good cheer, so I took a quick stroll around Greektown and the stadium neighborhood to revisit all of those new spin-off businesses around Comerica Park that never arrived last year. The historic Women’s Exchange Building, a mere peanut’s throw from the CoPa’s main entrance, still sits empty. The Flame Grill is even more decrepit than last year, its tattered awning, destroyed by falling building pieces, now rests shoved in the once-grand lobby of the David Broderick Tower. The David Whitney Building is still empty and void of activity other than some recent scaffolding erected around it. The once-glorious behemoth known as the Statler is still rotting away. The Madison Lenox Hotel remains a promising ghost within the epicenter of the activity. And, perhaps most glaringly, the much ballyhooed Post Bistro in the old Madison Theater is an embarrassing eyesore. Although it was originally slated to open this spring, after gutting and demolishing everything, the project has been postponed a year. In response to an inquiry on the Fabulous Detroit Ruins Web site (www.detroityes.com), a Post spokesperson (“Jen”) replied to inquiries about the site as follows: “Have no fear, the ‘Post on Broadway’ will soon be here. Just taking a little longer than we planned as most large projects do. We plan to open in April of 2002. This is a very realistic date and we hope to see you there! It is going to be our most exciting venture yet. Thanks for the support! Jen.” OK. In the interim, the building has sat wide open as a popular hotel for vagrants and squatters, although they recently erected an easily circumvented chain-link gate. Oh sure, there are the Farbman Lofts on Woodward, Harmonie Park has its new Centre Street Pub and Coaches’ Corner, and Grand Circus Park has some signs of activity in the Kales and Mutual Buildings, but so many other buildings sit vacant and rotting. What about the suffocating development pace? Among other factors, highly inflated speculative land costs and a bloated, entrenched city bureaucracy all conspire to drive up total costs. Exercising my new sunny outlook on life, however, we can all rest assured that good things are no doubt right around the corner.
On a Clear day
Clear, an impressive, glossy new start-up mag, has recently appeared on the scene, the brainchild of fashion photog Emin Kada and Ivana Kalafatic, the latter of whom I last saw designing bejeweled dragonfly barrettes. With articles on the revival of downtown Detroit, hip fashion and Derrick May, this mag could give a certain glossy, oversized monthly a run for its money. Kudos for the inspired design work and layout. Although their initial issue had a decidedly declassé Westland mailing address, their second issue has the requisite trendy Royal Oak post office box. Log on to www.clear mag.com for more info.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