DANCE AND DEBAUCH
The much-ballyhooed end of the millennium gained considerable steam in the last few weeks of 1999, as local glitterati, hipsters and the groupies who love them gathered for raucous parties at various locations about town.
Romeo boy made good, Bob "Kid Rock" Ritchie, busted down the gilded gates of Greektown's Bouzouki Lounge, throwing around a lot of drachmas at a pan-Hellenic holiday party thrown in conjunction with Made in Detroit's Robert Stanzler. While such a venue might be construed as a rather blatant attempt at choreographed fin de siècle debauchery, many in attendance at the venerable downtown strip club seemed to relish the experience whilst the Bouzouki femmes fatales paraded their many wares.
Meanwhile, the recent Salon Red party over at the Pure Bar Room featured even more carousing. Party attendees made their way through the fog-filled dance floor, where they were periodically greeted by green-painted midgets who waved hello and ran between dancers' legs, along with half-naked transsexuals and transvestites, and simulated sex.
It's always an interesting reflection on the rather skewed social hierarchy in this town to see overpriced, glorified Bloomfield Hills barbershops throw such wild Fellini-esque shindigs.
In any event, Heidi Lichtenstein of Cinderella's Attic also threw her annual party at the Shelter last week. Throngs of freeloading hipsters rushed the open bar from 9-10 p.m., then quickly filtered out after it was clear that cash or cash equivalent would be required to obtain libations.
Sticking around for the varied musical portion of the evening was a crowd that seemed a sort of reunion for all the assorted oddball characters you may have seen loitering about in Cinderella's Attic over the years, be they quasi-employees, or merely aging itinerant roadies in search of a friendly face.
The first band on the bill was Driftweed, fronted by former Kentuckian Judy Ann Adams, whom you might have also spied pouring you a beer at one of the many C-Pop gallery functions over the years.
Watching over her approvingly was C-Pop panjandrum Rick Manore, de facto Driftweed manager, whom Adams, in her Southern drawl, has dubbed "my Northern paw." Along with Manore was C-Pop employee and longtime Stun Gun guitarist/vocalist Joelle.
Fulfilling his grandest Warholian fantasies, Manore continues to keep his busy "Northern paws" on the Stun Gun girls, informing me that he believes he has located the final missing piece for the band which will undoubtedly secure them that coveted Grammy nomination. The find is none other than current Manore "gal pal" and "protégé" (but not girlfriend) Brooke Lynn (aka Erica Griffor), who will no doubt be taking a crash course in catty, femme-fatale musicianship in order to meet the lofty standards of Stun Gun. Look for the band to resurface in about two months or so, with the new lineup, which also includes local fashion designer Stacy Lauwers on bass.
Getting back to the Cinderella's Attic party, also on the bill were the bands Killswitch and Jelly's Pierced Tattoo, a semi-acoustic bongo shuffle featuring Jelly herself (daughter of a Detroit cop, Heidi informed me) on lead drum. She appeared to be neither pierced nor tattooed, but I could be mistaken.
This band was notable for Jelly's habit of walking around the room and singing sans mic, a la Tony Bennett at the Fox Theatre, but the Shelter's acoustics are not exactly on the same level as the Fox. The band also had a curious and slightly nerdy quartet of almost middle-aged groupies who shimmied, danced and cheered every move.
I also ran into musicians Wayne Pritchard and Anthony Yacobelli of the Intoxicats, and Bootsey X, all of whom seemed to be swept up in the holiday cheer.
BAG LADIES IN THE PARK
Those who haven't been around Grand Circus Park in downtown Detroit lately are in for a surprise, as the place has become a virtual beehive of activity in recent weeks ... well, relatively speaking.
First off, you have retail: BagLady Beads has moved from Hamtramck and reopened in an attractive and cozy location on the ground floor of the Women's Exchange Building, located at 45 Adams on the northeast side of the park. I was grateful in the final days before Christmas, as owner Carla Hankins and manager Danielle Kencik ably assisted me in my last-minute shopping needs.
With the Pure Detroit store just across the block ... and ... um ... Flaming Embers nearby, and ... well ... Sibley's Shoes down the street, another 30 stores and restaurants and this area will be giving the Somerset Collection a run for its money.
I was also grateful for the fact that you can literally drive up and park right in front of the store. Ah, the joys of shopping in downtown Detroit.
Speaking of the front door, just outside the door is the grand Millennium Bell, a 26-foot tall, 20,000-pound work of public art, put together by 34-year-old local sculptors and downtown habitues Chris Turner and Matthew Blake.
The city selected Blake and Turner's proposal for the $260,000 project, the kind of stuff we need to see a lot more of around this town. The sculpture is truly unique in design, bearing a vague resemblance to a metal fish head pointed heavenward. It's amazing that the city powers that be didn't demand a replica of the Liberty Bell. Perhaps this one just slipped by the City Council.
Kudos also to Detroit culture czarina Marilyn Wheaton for shepherding this one through the minefields.