Thursday, November 29, 2007
Man, if I had a dollar for every time this has happened to me, I'd have ... well, no dollars, actually.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
As an added bonus, you get to listen to Cher's hit single, "Believe."
Monday, November 19, 2007
A friend texted me and found, shockingly, that I was up somewhat early on a Sunday and invited me to go for a walk in Lafayette Park (the actual park, technically referred to as Lafayette Plaisance). So I threw on jeans and a sweater, pulled on a hat to hide my bed-head, and took the elevator down to the park for a walk.
What ensued was a crazy example of why life downtown is so amazing to me. First I ran into the owner of Canine to Five, Detroit's doggy daycare, walking her two ginormous dogs. We chatted and walked around the park a few times. And it was good.
Then we ran into "Dutch," the writer of the great blog Sweet Juniper, who was out walking his dog and daughter. Sweet Juniper is an awesome blog about raising a child in Detroit, and he and his wife are expected a second child (a boy) soon. The gender of the new baby led to possibly the gay-friendliest post on any straight blog ever, which ends with the line:
"Well then let them circumcise their own potentially-homosexual son. Mine is going to get into gay night clubs for free."
Then we walked a bit more and ran into an older woman who lives in the Chateaufort association, one of the lesser-known but still lovely Lafayette Park co-ops that border the park (hang out with a dog-daycare owner in a park and you will meet everyone). And finally a cool couple who are inhabiting the design-y new loft development on Gratiot by the folks at Slows and their friends, also out walking their dog.
I can't have a dog - I simply don't spend enough time at home and I would end up boarding the poor thing all the time (like my brother does, ever since I turned him on to Canine to Five). But I love other people's dogs, and that was one fun morning, seeing cool people: people who love living in the city like I do, and frankly, the people who make living here great.
I feel like I seem really Pollyanna in my posts lately, liking Detroit so much as I seem to. But I'll be honest, the more time I spend here, the happier I am to be here. And the less I feel like Detroit needs a makeover.
Anyone who says Detroit is "on it's way" is kind of missing the point. Detroit is actually there. You just have to dig kind of hard to find it. But believe me, it's worth the work.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
It's pretty well-documented by now that I don't really make sojourns to the suburbs very often, but that doesn't trump my renewed interest in trying to take advantage of some of the more culturally enriching things our area has to offer. And thus I found myself driving to Bloomfield Hills on Saturday morning for a day of lectures about the life and work of architects Eliel Saarinen and his slightly higher profile son, Eero.
I'm not going to go into detail on the accomplishments of these two, that's what Wikipedia is for. Suffice to say they both did amazing work in their respective lifetimes, with Eliel's signature accomplishment being his buildings and oversight of the development of the Cranbrook campus; and Eero's masterpieces encompassing the TWA Terminal at Kennedy Airport in New York, the St. Louis Arch and locally the GM Technical Center campus in Warren (not to mention his fabulous mid-century furniture designs for Knoll).
Saarinen House at Cranbrook.
Fabulous topic? Check. Fabulous location? Check. It really only stands to follow that the crowd should be equally fabulous. And you know what? It pretty much was.
Don't get me wrong, this wasn't a Marc Jacobs runway show crowd. It was a slightly older crowd, nicely dressed in a sophisticated, subdued manner. Lots of design professionals in the hizzy, as well as a lot of younger design student types. It seemed everyone kind of knew each other, and since I didn't have a cocktail in me I wasn't quite as social as I like to be. Plus all I want to talk about is celebrity gossip. But the lectures were awesome, a bit on the academic side but I like that. And the lunch was in the main cafeteria which is all Arts 'n' Crafts 'n' shit and really pretty. And then the post-lunch session was at the GM Tech Center.
OK let's talk about the GM Tech Center. It isn't open to the public, so most design buffs haven't seen it in person. Naturally that was the main reason I wanted to go. It is fantastically mid-century classic in the International Style, but has a lot of expressive elements that add some drama and keep it entertaining. Amazingly unchanged in many ways since the buildings were first built, GM has nevertheless managed to adapt the buildings to suit contemporary business needs. The most incredible part of it all is that you can't tell you are in Warren, and that certainly counts as a major achievement by anyone's standards.
Supergay enjoying the drama of a Saarinen expressive element.
At these design-oriented things it can be really difficult to figure out who is gay and who is not. In the morning session at Cranbrook, I felt like I identified several groups of gay men, all in their late 40's-50's. Many of them turned up being out-of-towners (in an informal raising of hands initiated by one speaker ... I know, odd), but still, it got me thinking maybe I need to expand my dating pool. The GM part had a lot more attendees and skewed a lot younger, although I really couldn't tell who was a hipster and who was a gay hipster. You really never can, at least not until you are making out with one.
But overall I'd have to commend the Saarinen Symposium for a healthy gay turnout, both on the part of the attendees and the speakers, and it made me feel like at least a sliver of the kind of gay world I want to be a part of exists here in SE Michigan. And the day of the symposium - which took me from Lafayette Park to the Cranbrook campus to the GM Tech Center and back again - I really felt like my life here can, at some times, totally out-fabulous gay life in almost any other city.
How about that.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Everyone has seen it. They have seen it 100 times. It was amazing, for a minute. Now it is spam.
If you haven't seen it yet, you are incredibly poorly-connected and out of the loop. When you receive it in your email inbox - and you will - please assume you are at the bottom of the email food chain and delete it when you are done. You are just embarrassing yourself if you forward it on now.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
The absolute best reason to go to the Comet is for karaoke on Friday nights. What a surreal experience. You get the aforementioned mix of people, and nobody holds back.
My first trip to the Comet for karaoke was actually for the Guerrilla Queer Bar earlier this year. We really took over the place, but it was strangest mix of guerrillas I think I’d ever seen. A friend of mine said, “I thought that guy over there was looking at me because he wanted to beat me up, and then he winked at me.” (He meant that in the hottest rough trade kind of way, btw.) That sums that night up pretty well.
Subsequently there have been many Comet Karaoke Fridays, and while it’s never the same thing twice, there is a beautiful stable of regulars who give any Friday that characteristic Comet, well, freakishness. This is best exemplified in an evening there early this fall, a night I like to refer to as The Night of the Karaoke All-Stars.
It was a going-away party for a friend, another gay young‘un moving on to pinker pastures. He brought a great batch of his theater-type co-horts, which is exactly the type of catalyst the regular crowd needs to push the evening into the karaoke stratosphere. There were the following genius performances that night:
Domo Arigato, Mr. Vibrato:
The theater world presents “Dance Ten, Looks Three” from Chorus Line. You know it as the “Tits and Ass” song, we know it as DRAMAAAAAAAAAA. Love the laughing girls in front.
The Tranny Frank Sinatra:
Is there anything better than a transvestite who makes commentary on current events by changing the words to old standards? No. "Juice The Knife" coming up!
The biggest star of any karaoke night is Gail. She’s a regular, and words really can’t describe her. What can describe her is this YouTube video:
Her baby loves her the way that she is.
Our last trip was as genius at the first. The Friday of Veteran’s Day weekend was full of guys who seemed to be, well, veterans. Or at least solid, hard-working middle-class Americans, as described by the politicians of the world. Except hammered off their asses.
What was remarkable was the missing hipster/college element. It was very us, and them. And it was beautiful. There was Gail performing Shania Twain’s “Any Man of Mine.” There was the Vietnam vet performing “War.” There was a lesbian performing an awesome version of "Believe" by Cher, among other treasures. By the end of the night she seemed like our very own k d lang. There were those notorious downtown brothers performing “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a performance that actually changed how I think about karaoke forever.
And when it came to my turn, I put in one of my Cher standards, only Terry, the karaoke mistress, called my name and told me she didn’t have that cd with her. So I did what any gay former Boy Scout would do (“Be Prepared”): I opened up my man-bag, pulled out a tambourine, and performed my a capella version of “Ring Them Bells” by Liza Minelli.
All I can say is, it’s a show-stopper.
The Comet is about as gay as any other downtown dive bar, which is to say there’s a smattering. But it’s all part of a bigger picture when it comes to these places. You don’t go there to mingle with gay people; you go there to mingle with EVERYONE. I will say this – as a gay review – there are few places downtown that are as diverse in their clientele and as laissez-faire in their attitude about who’s there as the Comet. Head down some Friday, you will NOT be disappointed.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Have you ever been to the Furniture Factory? (insert answer here) Me neither. That is one cool-ass black box theater, right over there on Third, the street you never end up driving down. The crowd was not really what I expected, but then when is it these days? I very probably was the only gay guy in the audience, although there was for sure a selection of lesbians to choose from.
There is a mandatory element of suspension of disbelief in attending live theater and being a total cynic, this presents a huge obstacle for me. But by intermission, I was doing fine. The play is really great. It's by Douglas Carter Beane, who wrote the screenplay for "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar" and the book for the new musical "Xanadu," not to mention winning a Tony Award this year for his play "The Little Dog Laughed." That's exceptionally gay. Anyway, the play is full of all the witty banter and gay pop cultural references you might expect, but it isn't really what I would call a "gay play" at all. It's just a plot point. Which is good because gay theater and cinema can be really irritating, as it so often falls in the trap of putting the emphasis on making a point instead of telling a story.
I was super impressed with the cast, and that lead role of Alexa Vere de Vere is like CRAZY full of rapid-fire dialogue, which the actress handled beautifully. The only way that could have been played better is if there were a drag queen in that role. The supporting cast was full of really surprisingly good actors too(I'll admit, I had my concerns going in).
My only small gripe - because this is my area of expertise - is that maybe the young feller playing the gay, Jewish, New York writer lead did not seem that ... gay? It can be a hard thing to nail, playing gay without playing flaming, but I just kind of thought the whole time that this guy is really straight. Wouldn't it be funny if the actor is gay in real life? Man, that's a problem, TOO straight-acting! Either way, he's cute so that mitigated things a lot.
And also there is the issue of the suit, the purchase of which is a somewhat significant plot point that is referenced several times through the play. The suit itself is fine (although costumer please note: if only one button on a three-button suit is to be buttoned, it should be the middle one, not the top one. I'd like to see the top two buttoned myself.) But the shirt. Oh Lord. It was just too big for a slim young man like our hero. It had the effect of making him seem less like an up-and-coming New York author caught in the whirlwind of celebrity and more like, well, a customer service specialist at Rock Financial in Livonia. I mean, a gay can only suspend his disbelief so much!
These minor quibbles aside (and please note, I have exactly zero qualifications to review theater), it was a really fun (and funny) play to see, and it was awesome to break out of the usual routine and see people creating something, just for my enjoyment. Regardless of gay audience content, I'm making an effort to incorporate live theater into my routine much more regularly. It's like a whole world of entertainment right under my nose that I've been ignoring. Go see this play, it will make you happy, and you will be supporting the creative economy that everyone is convinced needs to grow for Detroit to be a "world-class" city. Whatever that means. And you will still make it to the bar to meet your friends at the regular time.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Her best one ever has got to be the video for "Cherish." It's a happy song, and Herb Ritts (may he rest in peace) directed the video so it's gorgeous. And it has hunky mer-men. What's not to love?
Have a great weekend.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
One area I have not explored at all is Detroit's theater community. I know there are gay people involved in theater - not just because "duh" but also because I've befriended some of them during my time in Detroit - but is there really a gay patron of these arts?
Well I start exploring this weekend, because I am going to see the Breathe Art Theatre Project's production of "As Bees In Honey Drown." The only other recent local theater production I've seen was by Breathe last spring, when they had their mind-blowingly awesome production of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" at the 1515 Broadway theater. Man, that was great. And as I recall, I did recognize some gays in the audience.
"As Bees In Honey Drown" is another show with a gay angle, although I don't know exactly what that angle is. The blurb from Breathe says:
"A comic satire on the lure of success and contemporary pop culture, As Bees…tells the story of a young writer who gets caught up in a lifestyle that blurs the line between fantasy and reality. Faced with the prospect of fame and fortune, he is seduced by a witty and wicked socialite Alexa Vere de Vere. Following this discovery is a deliciously sticky romp through the worlds of art, literature and film in the company of fabulous people, and even more fabulous con artists."
I also don't have any idea if there is gay interest in this kind of thing. I suppose I will find out. It is playing Friday and Saturday for the next three weeks (and 2pm on Sunday, Nov 11 for the bluehairs) at The Furniture Factory in midtown (4126 3rd Street). It's supposed to be hilarious (I checked out some reviews). Go.
There was a twist to the Guerrilla Queer Bar last Friday night. It was held at Illuminate, one of those loft events we get periodically around town (which, despite my original expectations, usually turn out to be pretty fun). This event was held at Willy's Overland Lofts, which is the loft project next to Avalon International Breads in Midtown. The building is cool and the penthouses are AMAZING (well, the unfinished space is). The model, well, you know, it was model-y. I think my only hearty endorsement was for the shower and for the hot guy leading our tour. It's a little upsetting to me to see these cool projects underway and to see the absolute lack of interesting interior design or space planning. I mean, these aren't cheap places. My advice is buy early so you can control your space completely and avoid the heartbreak of hollow-core doors.
You really get two kinds of Guerrilla Gay Bars - there is the fancy bunch and the regulars. The fancy bunch only shows up at places they are familiar with, but those bar nights tend to be really amazing and cool, with a great vibe and interesting mix of folks. The recent Town Pump event was like that.
When an event is held someplace a little off-beat, or at a dive bar, or features karaoke, attendance tends to be a little lower with a lot of familiar faces. It's kind of like an off-night at a regular bar. But those are fun because you get a chance to check out someplace different, talk to people you don't see all the time, the people tend to be a little more adventurous, and you can let your hair down a little because you aren't trying to impress some cute guy you just met. A "regulars" night might have about 50 folks show up, where a "fancy" night will get upwards of 100. Both are great.
The Illuminate night was a "regulars" night. Oddly, everyone seemed to show up at the exact same moment, like it was a gay flash mob or the rainbow bus just pulled up. The gays mingled, drank, toured, judged the model unit, and were a major presence at the party. They loved the fashion show, and it was declared by boys decidedly fitter than I that the pink "Bad Kitty" sleeveless hoodie is the gay fashion must-have for winter. I'll be sitting that trend out.
When the fashion show ended the band started up. They were kind of cool in a retro Carrie Nation/Beyond the Valley of the Dolls way. And they were loud. And that's when we lost the gays.
Unfinished drinks were set down. Conversations were abruptly curtailed. Your friends waved good-bye across the room. And they were gone. It was as if someone had dropped a giant vagina in the room, they couldn't get out fast enough.
So it was fun while it lasted, and of course we're all eagerly awaiting the next occurrence of our only decent downtown gay bar.
Moving on with the weekend ... a very fun gay-hosted Halloween costume party was on the docket for Saturday where I stayed MUCH later than I'd planned. I ventured out from there to meet a friend for last call at the Town Pump. While parking I watched a group of very macho types lining up to get in the TP and reconsidered my decision to enter the bar alone, in costume. A gal doesn't really like to get harrassed. Then I thought fuck it, I'm Supergay!
Predictably, hilarity ensued and I made it home intact, if not a little inebriated.
Sunday featured an amazing jaunt to Ann Arbor for dinner, drinks and a show, and it couldn't have been better. The details are really not relevant, but I'll just say it is an amazing thing to have a city like Ann Arbor so nearby. If downtown Detroit could just catch a hint of that foodie, intellectual vibe, it'd be a better place. The complacent smugness can stay in A2 though (I love that city, but let's just be honest).
Monday's highlight was lunch at the Caucus Club, as covered previously, and Tuesday's feature was a reception followed by a lecture by Julie Mehretu, hosted by the DIA's Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art. Mehretu's work is one of the exhibitions when the museum reopens - kind of nice to have something contemporary, no? Of course we ended up skipping out on the lecture because, hi, don't serve drinks and then make me sit in an auditorium for an hour. We cut out to meet friends cooler than we are at Cliff Bell's.
And in what has become a tradition, I went to Grosse Pointe Park to dress up like Betty Butterfield and pass out candy at my friend's house. They get tons of kids from both GP and Detroit come through their neighborhood, and originally I came to help "manage" the older non-costumed teens. It's amazing the power a man in a wig and a face smeared with lipstick can have over the youth of America.
What was great this year is that it was way more little kids out with their families. When teens showed up in street clothes, Betty forced them to sing a song, which was great because mostly they just turned and walked away. A lot of the kids get excited, trying to figure out if it's actually a woman passing out the candy. One tenacious little girl of about 8 in a Spider Woman costume came back three times, asking, "What you is? What you is?" She was excited beyond words to figure out I was actually a man in that pink Wal-Mart robe. She ran away yelling "It's a man!" and I had to fake heart palpitations to distract the other children at the door from the truth.
The night ended with a viewing of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," a nice cabernet and child's candy sorting, and it all seemed, in a very strange way, like a perfect gay Halloween. Well, perfect in the absence of anything gay besides me. Sometimes that's plenty.