Thursday, July 31, 2008

Why can't every day be Thursday?

I love getting the Thursday New York Times.

Aside from giving the best coverage of gay issues/interest in the mainstream media, once a week the Times gives us practically the perfect gay paper. Sure you get your world news and business section and notable obituaries and all the stuff you need to check daily, but then you get the gay news trifecta of The Arts, Thursday Style, and my fave, the Home section.

No matter how crappy my attitude is in general, there is one hour every Thursday morning when things are kind of perfect. Well, as long as my apartment is clean.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Vintage DAC Beefcake

My grandfather was a member of the Detroit Athletic Club his entire professional life. When he passed away in the early '90's I drove by his house and saw boxes and boxes of magazines sitting on the curb for trash pickup. I stopped to see what they were (garbage-pick my own recently deceased grandfather? You bet.) and it turned out to be 30 years of National Geographic and DAC News magazines. I grabbed a handful of the DAC News from the sixties because I thought, well, there must be something cool in there.

I turned out there was a TON of cool pictures from DAC events as well as ads from Detroit at a time when downtown was still the business and retail hub of the region. And a shit-ton of automotive supplier ads. The car was still king! I should have grabbed way more, although I guess I'd have been stuck moving them around for the past fifteen years. Although I'd love to have some from the seventies ...

For those of you not familiar with the Detroit Athletic Club, it was, until 1987 or so, a gentlemen's club. You know, one of those old boys' clubs where women couldn't be members and men smoked cigars and drank scotch.

The lovely and architecturally significant Detroit Athletic Club, circa 1967.
(click to enlarge)

Today the club admits women and even Jewish people as members. How progressive! It's still pretty conservative and business-oriented, but a great place to have a three-martini lunch. And their facilities really are lovely. I do try to take advantage of the memberships of family members and friends whenever possible.

In one issue from 1968 I discovered a feature on the new athletic equipment. I thought maybe it might brighten up more than one day if I posted these photos of sixties conservative businessman beefcake. My apologies in advance if I am objectifying anyone's father.

"1, 2, 3, 4 ..."
(reminds me of
this number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes)

Whether you like 'em beefy...

... or lean and mean, there was something for everyone at the DAC.

OK, that's what I'm talking about. Wow.

"Ready to hit the steam room guys??"
(The steam room in which, as a young boy, I saw my first naked adult male.
Funny how those precious moments stay with you.)


Monday, July 28, 2008

Fiercer. Hotter. Messier.

I was talking to a friend this weekend about this whole feeling disconnected thing I have going on lately, and part of it seems to stem from difficulty finding "my people" in Detroit. "Sometimes, I just want someone else to play Sylvester," I said.

'Lo and behold, the next day in my gmail I have a message from DJ Kelly Pink-O reminding me about the second installment of
Fierce Hot Mess, the new gay monthly dance party held at Oslo. He said, to my delight, "you can bet i'll be playing some sylvester/patrick cowley classics." How did he know??

I was out of town for the first one but I'm looking forward trying this one on for size. Fierce Hot Mess. This Saturday [correction, Friday. "Thanks Ed."], August 1, 10pm at
Oslo. A sloppy dirty good time for only $5.

Whoa. Someone got sucker-punched by Tinkerbelle.


The old 'hood

I've mentioned here and there how the Palmer Park neighborhood used to be the old gay 'hood back in the 70's and 80's (and better yet, readers have chimed in with additional info). Recently I came across this flickr photoset with pictures of the buildings in that area.

There are some really sensational buildings in that McNichols/Woodward area. If you can't make the drive through yourself - and with summer in full bloom there's no better time - then this will be a nice substitute.

View the photoset here

Saturday, July 26, 2008

OK, I'm back.

Well, I think I'm back.

In stark contrast to the wonderful wonder of last summer with its Woodbridge porch-sitting and bounty of friend-based good times, this summer has turned out to be a little, well, less wonderful.

It's a convergence of things. It started with that Michigan Supreme Court decision in May.

Then came Kwame. Certainly the debacle at city hall is not helping, although I try to remind myself that everything was just as fucked up last summer and I was fine.

There was also this building frustration with all these organizations thinking that branding is the answer to Detroit's problems (see link above). When I think of the money spent on marketing and branding efforts the only conclusion I can come to is that it's a way to prop up the "creative economy" that exists here already. It all seems like a bunch of fluff that won't do anything to solve the concrete issues that actually deter the creative class from landing - or staying - in Detroit.

But without a doubt the biggest thing was the fact that my three oldest and closest friends remaining in Michigan all moved away between April and June.

I wrote a bit about my personal brain drain last year, when six friends who'd moved away came back to visit the two of us from our old core gay group who remained. Well, in April the other one moved, to Gay Zion, San Francisco.

Then another friend decided to spend the summer in SF, before returning to teaching for the school year and then moving on to teach internationally. And then the one friend I just never thought would leave got a job in Chicago. And just like that, almost all that remained of my life from before my move to Detroit disappeared.

This isn't intended as an indictment of my newer friends, because I really adore them. But there is some security in having friends nearby who have been through your ups and downs and really understand you, and the loss of that impacted me dramatically.

Isn't one of the perceived disadvantages of relocating at an advanced age such as mine the fact that you have to uproot your life and start over with new friends? That seems to backfire around here, when by virtue of staying put you are continually starting over.

All this had me on edge, and then my mom forwarded some stupid Republican email that was not only sensationalist in its condemnation of Democrats as socialists but, it turns out, was also completely made up (as so many of them seem to turn out. Huh.) In my delicate emotional state I was forced to confront my mother about the homophobia of the Republican party and learned, to my dismay, that after being out of the closet twenty years I have to educate my mom about why a vote for the Republican party is a vote against gay people.

This is when I had to take a break. I was getting bummed whenever I heard of someone cool leaving the state, even if I barely knew them (and is it just me or is this happening a lot?). I was going from zero to rage over stupid slights (like the woman at the Chicago Skyway tollbooth insisting she had to give me $3 in quarters as my change, even though she had a pile of singles in front of her), and when I stopped to figure out where the rage originated - which turned out to be this kind of overwhelming feeling of isolation - I'd just get depressed. So I did what any normal person would do: I holed up and basked in nostalgia and disco. I spent an inordinant amount of time checking the Fabulon blog. I started re-reading The Warhol Diaries.

Self-portrait of me in June. Flawless, but tragic.

At some point here I randomly met this guy who moved from the West Coast with his partner to live in one of the Mies courtyard houses in Lafayette Park. I asked him what they've done so far in Detroit, what they think of this or that, and he responded that while they are still exploring, they basically just do their own home-based thing.

Something about that made me realize that taking a little break from trying too hard would be a good idea. Maybe focus on just having a nice time instead of always trying to effect change in a community that perhaps is not particularly interested in it. In other words, it's not you, it's me. The real issue is managing my expectations. So I've pulled back a little, reprioritized, made some changes, and I hope I'm pretty much back on track.

Everyone I know here has times when the bad things just get the best of them, and we all tend to pull out of our slumps. I still really love a lot of my life here - I love where I live, I love my job, I love the people I meet, I love the energy ... but this social component, that's got me stumped. For now.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Band of Gold

Today's greatest hit is "Band of Gold," the extended version, by Sylvester! It's really very fabulous. You will love it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Guest Blogger: Backintheday

Meeting cool new like-minded people has been a great unanticipated benefit of writing this blog.

Today's guest blogger lived in Detroit for years but is now on the west coast. One of the topics we've discussed in our e-mails has been the history of gay bars in Detroit, and I asked him to share some of his memories from back in the day.

In his first undertaking he shares a little history on the now-defunct Detroit eastside gay bar The Deck, which was located right at Jefferson and Alter on the Grosse Pointe/Detroit border.

The Deck – 1979

There have been national articles written about the Detroit-Grosse Pointe border. Perhaps no other place in America so graphically displays the disparity between the haves and the have-nots. It was even more so in the 70’s when property values in the Pointes were secure and Detroit’s East side was a virtual no man’s land. Sitting on the corner of Alter Road and Jefferson Avenue, tucked just inside this no man’s land was The Deck. I worked as a bartender there around 1979 before I hit the “big time” – T.N.T. and later, Menjo’s.

The Deck welcomes you! Well, welcomed you.

The Deck was a long-standing neighborhood joint. An old brick building, it had a long narrow room with a wooden bar and a row of small tables along the side. The front door had a one-way glass window and a buzzer controlled entry. Don, the owner, had “dolled the place up” with lattice over the windows and wallpaper with a sort of “forest floor” theme, but he couldn’t really hide its blue-collar origins. In the back it was a bit wider and opened up to a pretty nice little patio area. There were a few apartments overhead where Don “entertained” and Pete, the manager lived.

The Bar had settled into life as a place where straight locals, mostly retired, could gather around 3 o’clock and drink cheap shells of beer until the first of the gay clientele started to arrive off the buses they rode from their jobs downtown. The day crowd was pretty good-natured about the gays. The old married couples would look at each other and say “Time to pack it up, darling” and off they’d go, wobbling down the street to their apartments up and down Alter Road.

Miss Beverly had been a sales lady at Jacobson’s. Don had worked at “Dodge’s” while his wife Marge kept house. And Chuck was a 55 year old alcoholic stock boy at the party store two doors down. Even though it was more expensive, he drank his first beer of the day out of a bottle because his hands shook too much to hold a shell. They all looked forward to an appearance from Jean, the local bookie, as she made her rounds up and down Jefferson conducting business in the local watering holes.

Interior circa 1979

Week nights were never too crowded. A mix of Grosse Pointe boys and blue-collar East Side guys. This mix always seemed to tantalize. The blue-collar group turned on by a pair of khakis and a Polo shirt and the Grosse Pointers looking for a working class hero.

On the weekend the place was jammed with Topsiders, Brooks Brothers and Izod. Ralph Lauren had recently reinvented the preppy look with his Polo wear and the insular world of the Ivy League had never seemed so accessible. At the same time, while not exactly “out” gays were certainly feeling a sense of community with each other.

Being the only gay bar in the area meant that if you lived on the East side and were just cracking open the closet door, you’d probably do it by checking out The Deck. As a bartender there, I witnessed many an otherwise quiet weeknight when a somewhat terrified young guy would sit nervously apart from the rest of the customers and order a drink. It didn’t take long before he was sitting in front of half a dozen drinks paid for by a hopeful group of regulars. If he made it out of there alive it was on the arm of some old player who knew best how to pluck a chicken.

One quiet night a young Grosse Pointe kid came in and asked for a middle-aged regular by name. I told him I hadn’t seen him that night, thus unwittingly outing him. The kid replied in a fury “Well, I’m his son and I knew he came here. Tell him not to come home anymore.”

Like most gay bars, the place had its day and then it passed. There were attempts to extend its popularity – drag shows, piano players, Sunday brunch. But after its short stint as the “in” place, it settled into life as a cozy neighborhood hangout. This life too must have run its course, the last time I was in Detroit, The Deck was just another boarded up building waiting for whatever comes next.

The Deck today.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Georgy Girl

Shed those dowdy feathers and fly!

Do us that favor.

Could it be you just don't try? Or is it the clothes you wear?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mommy Time

Our final Doggy Style featuring Mommie Dearest was a real gas. The gays were riveted, the straights talked and talked and talked right over the movie. In other words, exactly like you'd expect.

I want to sincerely thank everyone who came and supported Doggy Style over the past six months. It was a good time and far exceeded my expectations. I hope you had fun!

As a denouement to Mommie Dearest here's a new video from
Julie and Jackie (the comedians who did the brilliant parody of Brenda Dickson's "Welcome to my Home." If you don't know what I'm talking about, follow those links and achieve enlightenment).

This may start a little slow, but give yourself to the three minute mark before you make any judgements.

(thanks for the tip, Ed!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cheer Up Attempt #2

This Miss Universe tumble on Monday night was entertaining enough, although her stick arms and giant breast implants and apparent nosejob were distracting ...

But not as entertaining as the video that showed up in the "related videos" box of Beyonce taking a tumble down some stairs during an Orlando concert! Watch her fall head-first - someone ring the alarm! No wait, she's fine. Thank God for protective wig headgear!

Yes, I am exactly this mature.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Doggy Style Last Call

Coordinating with baseball games and the excitement of long summer days has begun to irritate me too much, so I'm putting Doggy Style on hiatus. It's been a good run, but I guess I'm ready for a break.

It's going out with a bang, though! Our final Doggy Style Gay Movie of the Week presentation will be the all-time camp classic, Mommie Dearest! View it with booze and cigarettes, like God intended.

Join us for one last gay hurrah at the Park Bar this week!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cheer Up Attempt #1

Usually when I am in a crappy mood I will throw on certain songs that always get me excited to plan a party or perform a drag act while driving, but none of them have worked very well with this recent funk.

I came across this today, though, and it made me smile. For like a minute.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Taking a breather

Hey kids, I'm gonna take a little time off this week. I'm angry about a whole slew of things right now and nothing good is gonna come of it if I'm putzing around on here.

I'll throw something up here or there I'm sure, and Doggy Style next week is Mommie Dearest so you know that's gonna be good fun.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fierce Hot Mess

Oh kids, here's a great way to celebrate your independence this weekend - a big gay dance party at OSLO!

This Friday night - that's right, the Fourth of July - you can throw down at
Fierce Hot Mess, a "dirty, sloppy good time - a party-style mix of house, old school, new wave, rock, hip-hop, alternative, and more."

I always enjoy a party with the objective in the name - so it looks like the fab gay party directions this weekend are for your to become a fierce hot mess. Well, MORE of a fierce hot mess.

1456 Woodward
Old enough to drink


Oh Buddy

I saw this over on Fabulon and thought I needed to post it over here for you. It's a little dated, but still brilliant.

It did occur to me that I'm about one cameo brooch away from this being me. I can live with that.

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