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Puffing at PJ, paving paradise

PJ’S GREAT SMOKE-OUT

Saturday night in Detroit saw critic’s darling PJ Harvey saunter into St. Andrew’s Hall for what was characterized as an “intimate performance.” That is, it was for about 500 fans and assorted local dignitaries, including Kelly Brown of 89X and the singularly named man-about-town Andre, as well as WDET’s Willy Wilson and music scribe Gary Graff.

Out in the lobby, assorted nicotine-o-philes were flaunting Ms. Polly Jean’s request that there be absolutely no smoking at the show, as the Loose Lips shutterbug caught Scott Hamilton of Small Stone Records flagrantly puffing away, while chatting with Mark Kohler and Brian Hack.

While intimate shows such as this inevitably result in adoring and overly devout fans who squeal with delight and recognition at the first chords of each song, the early emphasis on the quivering quasi-ballads left some wondering if they accidentally wandered into a Chrissie Hynde show by mistake. As the night progressed, however, Harvey picked up enough rocking-out steam such that nobody was, in her words, left “dry.”

PARADISE LOST?

Local historians wistfully reminisce at the mention of the old Paradise Valley neighborhood, a near-east-side enclave of rollicking bars and nightclubs which was summarily plowed under to make way for I-375. One of the last remaining structures, the 606 Horseshoe Bar just off the Madison Avenue ramp to I-375, sits precariously in the shadows of the enormous new Ford Field project, yet oddly enough, with all the construction and destruction going on, the boarded-up green building remains standing.

However, according to Lions vice president Tom Lewand Jr., there are no plans to either renovate or spare the old Horseshoe, in the name of historic preservation or otherwise.

As a matter of fact, the current Horseshoe is not actually the original Horseshoe, as that establishment was located over on Adams, and relocated when the freeway went in.

Lewand indicated that they took a look at the current building’s interior with the idea of perhaps doing a rehabilitation for construction offices, but, he noted, bringing it up to snuff would have run into the “seven figures” category. Given the fact there is little architectural significance to the structure, he indicated that it would definitely be coming down to make way for a widening of St. Antoine.

Lewand did note, however, that the powers that be are deeply aware of the Paradise Valley heritage of the site, and indicated that they will be looking at incorporating that theme into some sort of establishment in the old Hudson’s warehouse, “something more than just an historical plaque,” perhaps along the lines of a House of Blues kind of format.

IN AND OUT

We’re not in Tree Town anymore, Toto, as former fledgling gallery director Sharon Curry has already split from the CPop Gallery and exchanged the cold corridors of Woodward for the collegial confines of Ann Arbor.

Curry, as many will recall, was called in from Ann Arbor to replace chrome-domed CPop Svengali Rick Manore, who was last seen championing the band Lanternjack to anyone who would listen. Her tenure was short-lived, however, and the gallery’s reins have now been turned over to former Compuware official Mary Harrison, who, as fate would have it, was once CPop owner Tom Thewes’ boss at Compuware 10 years or so ago (Thewes, as devoted readers will recall, is a Compu-heir).

Curry, by the way, took great umbrage when I first announced her arrival at the gallery, describing her as a “fledgling” director. She will now be known as “erstwhile.”

In the meantime, get on down to the gallery and check out Glen Barr’s latest show, which opened last Saturday night along with renowned New York artist/illustrator David Sandlin.

THINK LOCALLY, SHOP LOCALLY

In other news, those looking to get their holiday shopping done should be aware that Pure Detroit, that store of all things local, has moved to a new location at 151 W. Congress, in the downtown financial district and just down the street from the Caucus Club.

Shawn Santo and company were still stocking the shelves as the store opened last week, and she informed me that the hot-selling items thus far involve Coleman Young themes, including some refrigerator magnets featuring a photo of the dearly departed MFIC, and the always-popular WWCD (“What Would Coleman Do?”) T-shirts.

Speaking of our city’s fair financial district, a recent rainy day saw your intrepid reporter take refuge in the cavernous Comerica Bank building on Congress. Upon entering the enormous yet quaintly dated 1960s-era lobby, I was struck by what was once a no-doubt-urbane multifaced timekeeping centerpiece that hangs over a spiral staircase in the center, simultaneously keeping time in no less than five different global locales. Highly informative for your average downtown pedestrian and global securities trader.

Until spying this clock, I was completely unenlightened to the fact that, when it’s 1:40 here, it is actually 3:30 in New York City, 11:30 in Mexico City, 7:33 in both London and Rome, and 1:30 in Tokyo. Imagine that. I guess I no longer have to set my watch to the clock on Old Main at Wayne State University.

EAT OYSTERS, PARTY LONGER

Also, at long last, it appears that the downtown Detroit branch of Tom’s Oyster Bar is finally ready to open this week, following a heady bit of bureaucracy from the state Liquor Control Commission. Yes, Virginia, there is in fact an “r” in December, and relief is finally in sight for the thousands of downtown workers starved for viable lunch options. Let’s just hope the brown-bagging GM worker drones decide to leave the corporate fortress, take the rubber bands off the bill clips and start patronizing these downtown businesses, perhaps even sticking around for an after-work beer.

Casey Coston writes about development in Detroit. E-mail him at letters@metrotimes.com

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