Ah, yes, the crocuses are in bloom, the robins are tweeting; this unrepentant naysayer has turned the proverbial new leaf. That’s right, kids, the Vernal Columnal Equinox has at long last arrived, when a not-so-young gossip columnists’s thoughts turn to pastels, rainbows and unicorns ... and to perhaps dispel the impression of certain vocal critics that I’m permanently ensnared in some virulent and terminal strain of Seasonal Affective Disorder, I’ve decided to chirp up and blow some sunshine up the collective arse of metro Detroit! From here on out (or perhaps for this week at least), we’ll brook no more negative Nellies, no more bile-induced babbling, no more caustic and sardonic musings on our sociopolitical state ... nosiree, Roberta. I am the milkman of human kindness, with just a whiff of lactose intolerance. Snarky begone. Got it? All positive — all the time. OK. Moving on.
First off, a bit of unfinished and undoubtedly light-hearted business. A few columns back, I retraced the local lore of Harry Houdini’s untimely demise, beginning with his final performance at the former location of downtown’s last Taco Bell (now a vacant lot), and ending at Grace Hospital. A brief epilogue, however, was omitted, that being the site of his embalming. Apparently, the second-floor room where Houdini was embalmed is still in existence very much as it was on that fateful day, including the porcelain sink into which the magic man’s blood was poured. It’s directly across from the Old Miami on Cass, in the old Art Center Music School (site of a few punk shows back in the early ‘80s, a la Negative Approach, Necro’s et al). Local Houdini buffs should make this a must-see stop on your sightseeing tours. Penn and Teller have already checked it out. My thanks to local master of the arcane and esoteric, Tim Caldwell, for this tidbit of valuable info.
Next, in the knee-slapping high jinks department, sports-media sources inform me that my last column mistakenly identified the portly gentleman looking for cocktail sauce at the Atanas Ilitch Osteosarcoma fundraiser as Detroit News and WDFN sportster Bob Wojnowski when it was, in reality, Channel 4’s/WJR’s Fred Heumann. Wojnowski was apparently out of town, and therefore could not partake in the crustacean delicacies being offered. Loose Lips deeply regrets the error and/or confusion this may have caused (although, apparently, many people make the same mistake). To make up for the confusion, I personally delivered a delectable plateful of shrimp and cocktail sauce, courtesy of the Rattlesnake Club, to the WDFN studios on Friday to the salivating delight of Wojnowski and co-host Mike Stone. They promptly inhaled it. Cheers all around. I only hope I can expense this.
Hey, Dennis Archer, if you can’t stand the heat, get away from the Fire Department, as well as the Justice Department, the Police Department, the Public Lighting Department, etc. In the farewell-to-the-chief department, adios, Mr. Mayor. We’ll all miss that savvy combination of which-way-is-the-wind-blowing political decision-making, hubris, and shiny-pate, thin-skinned, city-politics naïveté. Nonetheless, the human weathervane is taking a permanent powder from the daily grind of managing our fair megalopolis. Archer presided over the city during a period of unmatched economic national growth, not really his own doing, but which nevertheless fostered a rosy climate of city-biz relations. Unfortunately however, Lame Duck Denny also presided over the big census count, where Detroit was finally confirmed as falling below the magical 1 million mark. And why is that? Well, it’s not totally his fault that he didn’t reverse a 40-plus-year trend, but he didn’t do much to slow it, either. Here’s a news flash — maybe people don’t actually live in stadiums, casinos or major corporate headquarters. No, by gum, they live in neighborhoods. Vast sprawling neighborhoods, some filled with abandoned homes and eyesores, some without streetlights — all dependent on a joke of a mass transit system which leaves many isolated from the white-collar prosperity invested in the downtown core. It is in this sector that the mayor’s attention had been woefully deficient. While future mayoral prospects are slowly gathering their support, I did happen to meet up with City Councilman and mayoral candidate, the right honorable Rev. Nicholas Hood at a fundraiser in the offices of the Allen Brothers law firm located in the historic-yet-endangered Globe Building (endangered because the way-cool renovated former tobacco warehouse is supposedly in the footprint of the permanent Greektown Casino). Although no mayoral front-runner has emerged as yet, Hood promises to address the aforementioned shortcomings of the Archer administration, i.e. by increasing attention on neighborhoods and basic city services (hark, do I hear a media-savvy campaign slogan coming?... “Taking it to the Hood, With Hood”). Stay tuned.
Tip-top Tap Room
After several “soft” openings, Sunday night saw the official unveiling of the hop-a-riffic Motor City Tap Room, brought to you by those wonderful folks at the Motor City Brewing Company. Adjacent to the brewery, and accessed by entering the parking lot across from Traffic Jam and Snug, this funky-cool space in the heart of the Cass Corridor is the perfect spot for unwinding with a Ghettoblaster beer on their cozy open-air rooftop deck. The space has an eclectic and undeniable neighborhood charm to it, with different colored chairs sprinkled about and tile patterns running throughout the walls and floors. Spinning the music for the party was sometimes MT scribe Greg Baise aka Alpha Soixante, who will also be on hand at the Magic Stick this Saturday for the Exotica fashion and music spectacular. The Exotica party features fashions by Dolly Rockers of Ferndale and live performances by Stun Gun, the Trash Brats and Octopus. Do not miss it. Also at the Tap Room were a smattering of Corridor denizens, including musician/producer Jim Diamond, singer and Monday-night Union Street open-mic host Audra Kubat, Neil Yee of the Gold Dollar, artist Chris Turner, Canfield loft resident/Eastern Market spice peddler Randall Fogelman and shutterbug Alan Barnes. Speaking of shutterbugs, the Loose Lips camera crew captured Tap Room celebrants Laura Drouillard and Dave Zainea, along with Billy Hunter, who was championing the new cult video store in Ferndale called Freak Shack, located on Nine Mile just east of Hilton. The “Shack” promises to meet your daily cult-video needs, with everything ranging from sexploitation to exploitation to blaxploitation. Everything a well-rounded cineaste could desire. Check it out. Zainea, meanwhile, was talking up the new pizzeria at the Majestic, “Sgt. Pepperoni’s,” which is slated to open in 30 days. Cult movies, pizza and beer, with just a soupçon of snarkiness. What more could you want?Casey Coston writes here every other week. Got gossip, essential factoids or party invites? E-mail email@example.com, or call the tip line at 313-962-5281. Press * then dial