Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
With nearly 400 posts under my belt (heh) I thought I'd put together a list of what I consider some of my more memorable entries. You know, to save you the hassle of digging through the archives until you have more free time. And because I'm a little lazy and don't feel like writing something new.
The focus of this blog falls into four broad categories: my critical look on the Gayborhood or lack thereof; my insightful perspective on Detroit redevelopment and the whole "Cool Cities" thing; our gay heritage and other things old-timers like me enjoy remembering; and Supergay Detroit, man about town.
It all started with the Supergay Detroit Gay Bar Blight Tour (Part 1, Part 2). It's like a time capsule of the gay 80s!
The Tigers Stadium preservation debate took a turn for the crazy when Ernie Harwell jumped in with his 11th hour plan, so I figured it was fine for me to propose my own master plan for the site.
All kidding aside, I actually do have some strong feelings about the need for a gayborhood in Detroit, and this led to the idea for the Supergay Detroit Cultural Enhancement Program.
And of course out of this burst of grassroots gay Detroit boosterism was born Tuesday Nights Doggy Style at the Park Bar!
Allegedly Cool Cities
I sat in on some Creative Corridor "visioning" and was kind of appalled by how much people don't seem to get what makes a city cool.
My trip to San Francisco shortly thereafter only reminded me of the great things about Detroit.
The Creative Cities Conference was of particular interest because for once there was some actual discussion about the role the gay community can play in urban redevelopment.
I did a piece for WDET's "Detroit Today" program and talked about how I dealt with the fact all that Kwame and Cool Cities crap was getting me down.
No matter how used to demolitions I get in Detroit, occasionally one bugs me a little more than others, as it was with the Chin Tiki.
On the twentieth anniversary of my coming out I drank a bottle of wine and reminisced.
For a while I was obsessed with Hawkins Ferry, the philanthropist, educator and author of the seminal book on Detroit architecture. I profiled him here, and then found more info about his fabulous International Style villa in Grosse Pointe. Nice to stalk someone after death.
Guest blogger "Backintheday" has shared several wonderful stories about Detroit gay bars of the past.
And I took a moment to ogle DAC members of the 1960s as they worked out.
Man About Town
I never expected to end up at a straight stripper club in Capitol Park, but it happened.
I had been critical of the Detroit blog written by Girl-in-the-D (now Girl-in-the-OC), so it was appropriately awkward when I ran into the author at a downtown holiday party right after I snatched her "Best Blog" title from her.
When the monthly party Fierce Hot Mess got started it was a much-needed tonic for my weary spirit.
I never expected to end up at a straight stripper club in Greektown, but it happened.
And of course who can forget my adventures with Anderson's pooper?
Well, I hope you have as much fun on this trip down memory lane as I did. Maybe you learned something new. Maybe you just killed 30 minutes at work. Either way, thanks for reading!
Friday, November 6, 2009
Nationally the fact that an openly gay man won the Council President spot looks great, though. Nothing wrong with that. And I think he will be a decent President. I don't think he's brimming with ideas that will really take the city forward in a meaningful way, but I think he is the kind of person who is open to the ideas of others. And people like him so there's that kind of goodwill. I've been wrong before though.
Detroit News columnist Laura Berman commented today on Pugh's star status trumping the homophobia of the black churches, and opines that because Detroit needs to be open to more kinds of people, including gays, "his election signals that the city's getting more savvy and open and serious about its survival." I certainly hope that is the case.
I think Pugh's celebrity really did have something to do with his winning, but I don't think he was elected because of his star power. Pugh has been on tv and radio and part of the lives of people in the city of Detroit for so long that people really feel like they know him. And as happens so often, people who normally are anti-gay make exceptions for their neighbors, or relatives, or co-workers. And so they did in this election what they do with those gay or lesbian people in their lives: they overlooked it.
There's no way you are going to see a significant softening of the homophobia in the black religious community of Detroit, but what this election highlights is that Detroiters as a whole are actually very open to gay people as neighbors or friends. I've said before that Detroit needs to make an overture to the gay people of southeastern Michigan that the city welcomes them. Maybe this will help accomplish that.
All I know is that I certainly did not think I'd see a day this soon where not only was the mayor of Ferndale gay but the president of the Detroit City Council as well. There may be underlying factors but that's some kind of progress.
Monday, November 2, 2009
To mark the occasion Doggy Style is ON for the night! It seemed too momentous an occasion to let pass, and also there was a technical problem last week so the Halloween videos didn't work out. So it's now or wait until next year.
Join us Tuesday night at the Park Bar to (hopefully) celebrate good election news, and get one last fix of Halloween until 2010!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
My dual occupation of man-about-town/man-of-leisure opens the door to many interesting opportunities, and one such opportunity arose recently when the following message arrived in my inbox:
This message is to inform you that you have been chosen to join a select group of aesthetes in an uncommon event - an undergound dining experience in an extraordinary locale. Join us for an experimental feast.
Fancy! Exclusive! I'm in.
So earlier this week we headed to the secret meeting point, got directions to the locale and zipped over to the empty Detroit landmark building that was home of "ClandesDine."
It was a secret dinner that was, frankly, brilliant. The guests filed into a space that was neither quite fully abandoned nor close to finished, but had that great Detroit "in between" feel. The fare for the evening was an elegant six-course meal with wine pairings presented by Chef Marc Djozlija of the Wolfgang Puck Grill at the MGM.
And whom did I not know at this dinner? Well, some people, but it was a real collection of Detroit movers and everyone was quite excited to partake in this foodie experiment. From where I was seated all I could see were people cooler than I am, and I had to wonder how I was going to have time to kiss up to all of them in a single dinner! Thank God people were amenable to switching spots.
Not to be purposefully vague, but I'm not sure how much I am supposed to talk about the details of the evening. So instead of a detailed play-by-play of amazing food and wine, presented by some of the most notorious foodies in our community, it might be easier to say that par for Detroit, it was borne of a desire to create something fantastic and altruistic, not something overtly commercial. The creative energy and room for experimentation in Detroit that people love to talk about was on full display, both in the presenters and the attendees. Too bad TIME magazine couldn't be around to witness this Detroit..
I don't always have the time or the drive to blog on here about how Detroit still revs my motor, but rest assured it does. And I'm not the only one. One dear Detroit friend who can be as critical as I am about the city's shortcomings was celebrating her birthday this night, and days later was still saying, "It's like the birthday party I've always wanted."
But didn't even know existed.
Monday, October 26, 2009
There were a few requests that I post the playlist from Saturday, so for the curious or stalkerly, here it is:
I Was Born This Way - Carl Bean
No One Gets the Prize - Diana Ross
Lucky - Donna Summer
Take Me Home - Cher
(thus ends the gay diva sequence)
Fly Me on the Wings of Love - Celi Bee
Shangri-La - La Pregunta
Don't Cry for Me Argentina - Festival
(believe it or not, the producers of Evita commissioned an entire Disco Evita album when the musical debuted, which often was played in its entirety at discos! This track is so much better than the Madonna dance version)
I'm a Cruiser - Village People
(another Village People song about cruising for sex, slapped on the album that also featured YMCA. Hello Middle America!)
So Many Men So Little Time - Miquel Brown
(from 1983, is there a more historically unfortunate lyric than "So many men, so little time ... how can I lose?")
My Knight in Black Leather -Bette Midler
(camp and pathos like only Bette Midler could do it. Until she jumped the shark with "From a Distance")
This Is My Life - Shirley Bassey
(an over-the-top disco version of an already over-the-top song)
That's the Meaning - Beautiful Bend
Forbidden Love - Madleen Kane
I Need a Man - Amanda Lear
(no she was not really a transsexual, it was just a rumor)
Stars - Sylvester
(the best of the many wonderful songs in the Sylvester oeuvre.)
Come On and Do It - Poussez
(the only song I've ever seen with a "moaning" credit)
Tahiti, Tahiti - Voyage
Don't Leave Me This Way - Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes
(the original version, and the best by far, with a young Teddy Pendergrass on vocals!)
OK so now you can recreate your own Supergay Macho City right there at home! Good luck tracking some of those down though.
I've zipped away to Saugatuck for a night to regroup and will be back for tomorrow night when a new season of Doggy Style starts at the Park Bar! It's the special Halloween edition, to celebrate the biggest gay holiday of the year!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
It's not really a new phenomenon, the way that dance parties and "gay nights" pop up outside the standard gay bar scene, but what is a little different here is that it's actually become a series of recurring events and a scene completely detatched from the regular gay bars. With downtown rather underserved in the gay bar department, it's turned out to be a terrific way for locals to get together and socialize, in a geographically-specific kind of way.
To put it a different way: it's really nice to not have to explain what Lafayette Park is to a homo who just told you all about the Barcelona chairs in his living room.
On a monthly basis you can experience the hipster joys of Fierce Hot Mess, which is held the first Friday of each month at Oslo (except in November when it is Saturday the 7th!). You can read how I have enjoyed FHM here, and while I sometimes feel a little old when I go, I do get over it pretty quickly. And the youngsters love it.
The underground disco celebration Macho City, held on the fourth Saturday of every month at the R&R Saloon, is a bit more my speed - partly because I am squarely in the middle on the age scale, and partly because the "old songs" being played weren't popular when I was in high school. I recently wrote about my love for Macho City here, and I am pretty sure that (and a few carefully chosen disco titles dropped casually into conversation with organizer Mike Trombley) landed me a spot as the guest DJ this month!
I honestly have to say this is one of the most exciting things to happen to me in my adult life. If you are not a control freak like me then you can't imagine how many times I've fantasized about being the DJ. Well this Saturday night, you (and I) can find out how that goes! I will be playing two sets, and let's just say I am probably gonna pull the "macho" right out of Macho City. I love a big gay disco song.
Dreams can come true, I'm living proof!
On a weekly basis Latitude, the Wednesday night at Atlas Global Bistro, has been pretty bustling this summer! It's a sophisticated setting that usually keeps things classy, and you can have your lovely pinot noir or top-shelf martini, or you can have the weekly "$3 Bill" gay drink special!
My own little contribution to this, Tuesday Nights Doggy Style at the Park Bar, has been a much bigger hit than I ever expected. I hesitate to use the word "sensation" but you know, only slightly. Doggy Style enters its third season this coming Tuesday with a special Halloween Edition!
Doggy Style is really more of a "gay-er" night by design - we didn't want to take over the Park Bar, just switch the perspective. Every week there is a fun video compilation and lots of great downtown residents (gay and straight) come and hang out.
I do have to tip my hat to the Guerrilla Queer Bar, which (along with the now-defunct Sass dance party) was my first exposure to an alternative gay scene with a downtown sensibility. GQB still happens from time to time, like this Friday at the Midnight MASSacre party! Sign up to be on their e-mail list!
So that's what we've got going on, for everyone who doesn't already know, for people desperately looking for someplace suitable to send out-of-town guests, and for new residents still searching for signs of intelligent gay life. Come and hang out sometime.
[And for you Washtenaw County-based folks, be sure to check out Elbow Deep in Ypsi! It's the fourth Tuesday of the month (or is it the last Tuesday? Sometimes it's not the same) at the Elbow Room. The guys in charge are some pop-culturally-enhanced faggots so you know it'll be a fucked up good time!]
Friday, October 16, 2009
Last year's Halloween was one of the best I've had in many years, and one of the highlights was the Massacre at the Mansion Party, a big gay benefit for the Ruth Ellis Center. Here is how the evening went:
So obviously I was pretty jazzed to hear that this year there will be another Detroit Massacre! This one is called Midnight MASSacre and it will be held at the Spirit of Hope Church, right at the corner of Martin Luther King and Trumbull (that weird intersection where West Grand River cuts through too, on the edge of Woodbridge).
This was a great party last year and you should put it on your calendar immediately or sooner. You will love it! Come in costume though, or else there is mocking and other forms of gay non-sexual punishment.
The party is next Friday, October 23, and it starts at 9pm. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door and proceeds benefit the very worthy Ruth Ellis Center. You can get more info and entertain yourself on the fabulous Detroit Massacre website.
The Midnight MASSacre is only the beginnig to a fabulous gay holiday season, because Saturday night is Macho City, starring special guest DJ moi, and after that is the return of Doggy Style! More on all that soon, in the meantime get to steppin' on that costume!
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
My favorite Macho City moment (of many highlights) is probably the Nancy Fortune night. Mike and Scott had been playing an unusually amazing selection of underground disco that I had not heard before, but that was so immediately likeable that it felt like a series of forgotten favorites. It had such a consistent good disco vibe you could not help but feel elevated.
The crowd was eclectic that night, including a good number of leathermen, some super cool straight folks, and a broad range of ages of us regular gay folks. The visuals were ultra-cool. As an added bonus there were no serious smokers on the dancefloor. It was all just so ... happy.
[As an aside: Not to pick on one group in particular, but there has been a serious rash of girls smoking on the dancefloor at Macho City that is giving me a serious rash. Ladies please, look around. Do you see the gay boys smoking on the dancefloor? No, they do it in the bar area like God intended. Even my friend Chris who can only breathe through a cigarette when he is at the bar abstains. Take note.]
So all is well at Macho City that night, and about 1am Nancy Fortune comes on. The transition to her music was, frankly, jarring, and I was like, "oh well, it was fun while it lasted." But then she got things really rolling (or more likely, my brain adjusted) and suddently there was this fantastic electro/dance/house mix of music - one that rivaled the mastery of the earlier disco mix - that took me back to my after-hours clubbing heyday. You know that feeling you get when you are standing there and the whole world around you is so perfect and you are brimming with joy? Yeah, that. That night wasn't just a Macho City highlight, it was a highlight of my summer.
Now back to the contest. Before I announce the winners I want to address some of the comments.
First of all, to the comments saying people posting about lurid activity at the R&R are missing the point of Macho City (some were deleted by their author), I feel compelled to say ... do we need to be this way in 2009? First off, Macho City can be about so many things. Maybe it is about the music, maybe it is about the people, and maybe it's about the setting. In my opinion having Macho City at the R&R - a place that is a safe space for a niche in the gay community (I sound like a lesbian feminist with that language) - sets a tone that you are free to enjoy the night however you want. Maybe Macho City provides a more comfortable way for attendees to get a little dirty in their lives, I see nothing wrong with that.
It's important to remember that we are guests there, and Macho City is supposed to be enhanced by its setting, and in turn enhance the R&R for one night a month. It's the combination that really makes Macho City so special. Arriving at the R&R and then judging the activity (or people's appreciation of activity) is perhaps an unfair approach. I hope that the regulars at the R&R like having the Macho City crowd once a month and continue to show up, and I hope MC attendees can be chill about anything besides dancing and drinking that may or may not go on.
Taking that one step further, as a community we make no progress if we cannot embrace all colors of the gay rainbow. We don't need to be mainstream to deserve marriage equality or protection from discrimination. It's the non-mainstream parts of the gay world that have been on the front lines, and who make being gay so very interesting! You don't need to partake, just accept.
Secondly, there was a comment about Buju Banton being booked at the Majestic and how we should boycott anything there. I am not a huge fan of boycotting locally-owned businesses or gay-led cultural phenomena, particularly in a recession, because often people just need to be educated about their offenses. But in this instance I think the Majestic has paid attention to concerns. Another comment addresses those:
For the record, the Majestic cancelled the Buju Banto show more than a week ago. They will have to eat the $8,500 guarantee. They are the only independent booker in the country that has flat out refused his performance. The Majestic had no clue about Buju's homophobic song (that he wrote 20 years ago at the age of 16 which he has since apologized for) and once they were aware of said song they immediately cancelled the show. The Majestic are very much accepting of all lifestyles. I am gay and have worked for the Majestic many times over the years. They currently have at least 5 gay employees that I personally know of.
I hope this news assuages any concerns people have about going tonight, because Black Devil Disco Club Macho City will be epic! And congratulations to randomly-selected winners Sparky, Darren, b, Phil, Thomas and Joseph, y'all are getting in free tonight! Your names will be at the door!
Have a great Macho City!
[Hey Sparky, email me at email@example.com to confirm your ticket!]
Monday, September 21, 2009
As I mentioned last month, this month is a Very Special Episode of Macho City. The Black Devil Disco Club is in town as part of a VERY limited US tour, and Macho City is presenting them this Saturday night!
What, you've never heard of Black Devil Disco Club? Well go read about them and, more importantly, listen to them on their MySpace page, because they are some cool spacey vintage disco. Macho man Mike Trombley introduced me to them last month and I have been listening nonstop (you can buy their newer but equally cool stuff on iTunes).
Macho City will be held at the Majestic this month, with our regularly-scheduled awesome disco DJ's spinning before and after the BDDC performance. It's going to be really cool, and I think it is a testament to how exciting this whole alternative gay scene can be in Detroit that Macho City is presenting this.
Of course the catch is that with the live show situation there is a higher cover charge. Like $15 instead of $2, which is a jump to be sure. But still a deal for a rare live performance by underground European disco legends.
To help a select few of you along, I have free tickets to give away! Six lucky winners will get a free ticket to the show!
To enter the contest, leave a comment (making sure I can email you from your entry) describing your favorite Macho City moment, real or imagined. Winners will be chosen at random on Friday, and your name will be at the door to get you in free on Saturday night.
Now get to steppin', and see you Saturday!
Saturday, September 19, 2009
See the thing is ... Facebook. I have such a good time tending my personal Facebook garden that I just never get around to the blog posting anymore. First of all, blog posting - the physical act of - is a pain in the ass. There's getting photos onto the computer and formatting them and uploading them, and there is writing and formatting the post in the TRS-80 composition window of Blogger. And then there's the going back and fixing formatting and ... well, it just takes so damn long that lately I've opted in for opting out.
Plus on Facebook ... people respond. You post something, people comment back. It's exciting and interactive!
There is also the sense that I've run my gay course in this city. Like I really think I've just reached this comfortable end point where I can't be bothered anymore. I've figured out the weird gay scene, I know the neighborhoods, I have someone to call if I want a gay night out, and frankly, I've got a routine going that is not that interesting to document weekly. Oh, he's at Atlas again? Crazy.
OH there are some posts that never happened but probably should, like some trips to the gay bars (if only it wasn't such a pain in the ass to get video off my phone). And the story about the dinner I had with the Birmingham gay who used to live in Lafayette Park and told me what a gay ghetto it was in the early 90's. And the crazy Indian Village/West Village yard sale and all the gays swarming that thing.
The quilt of Danielle Steel paperbacks at one of the Indian Village houses ... even better than the cat mug lady!
Did I ever tell you about how my mom bought me DS's "Family Album" when I was leaving home for the
summer at age 16 andit was the first book I ever read with a gay character and I had an intense bonding
moment with that book? Well now I have.
The stories are there, I guess, but my motivation is lacking. Well, and I've been a bit busy with work.
So here's to trying to ramp up again. I can't make any promises, and yes you will hear more about Macho City, Fierce Hot Mess, Atlas Wednesdays and Doggy Style, but I think I can finally get a bit more into the blogging groove.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
This month's installment will be the last regular installment at the R&R Saloon until October, due to a special feature I will talk about in a minute. But there are uber-special guests for August!
DJ's Mike Tee and Scott Zacharias will be working their turntable disco magic to start off the evening, and then will be joined by this month's special guest DJ's Carlos Souffront (affiliated with Ghostly International, the amazing electronic label that started her in our very own Ann Arbor) and extra special last-minute addition BMG of Ectomorph.
You may not be familiar with those names, but the bottom line is these are guys who know their stuff and know how to pack a dancefloor, even one full of leathermen and middle-aged guys who still like to party like me. If the Nancy Fortune night is any indication, it will be fantastic fun with amazing music.
Next month Macho City is changing things up. Disco legendary legends Black Devil Disco Club, a collaboration between two French dudes back in 1978, are playing just a few dates in the US and one of them will be the Macho City for September! Our Macho City DJ's will play before and after what promises to be a very cool danceable show. If you listen to their spooky electro disco on this MySpace page I think you will see how I become obsessed with them in two days time. Apparently they have had such a strong following over the years that some individuals (who shall remain nameless) paid like $200 for their record!
This Macho City (Sept 26) will be held at the Majestic instead of the R&R Saloon and will have an actual ticket at $15 instead of a cover charge you can pay with change from under your seat cushion. Now I can hear the protests already (actually I already have) so I'd just like to throw this out: has Macho City let you down yet? I think it is a pretty safe bet this night will be phenomenal. So start saving now, and pay attention to this here blog because maybe we can work out some ticket giveaways or something.
As an aside, I think the thing that gives me irrational love for Macho City is how effortlessly it seems to combine high and low culture. Mike and Scott have an almost academic approach to dance music and you can't even tell how curated it is when you go, you just love it and have a good time. It ties back in a way to what I wrote about in January, about raising the aesthetic bar here. We get a dirty dance party in a leather bar at the edge of the ghetto, that may be expected in Detroit, but inside we get some of the top local, national and international talent on the decks.
Speaking of top talent, things return to normal (or as normal as Macho City can be) for the October installment of Macho City when we head back to the R&R and the special guest DJ is Supergay Detroit! What? So much for maintaining standards, DJ Mike Tee! Without posting my playlist, I think we can safely say I'll be veering more toward the disco than the electro, and you'll be shocked to discover that it'll be the gayest night Macho City ever had. Let's just say I never met a chorus of female voices or a string section I didn't love.
OK, now you have all the info you need about Macho City. I promise I will try and write about something other than Macho City in my next few posts.
Can we talk about Macho City for one second? Because it just keeps getting better and better. The last Macho City, well, what can I say to describe it. It started like this, as we got in line behind some leather daddies:
[Hip chick in paisley poncho on cell phone in front of R & R]
Girl: How far away are you guys?
Girl: Yeah we're out front.
Girl: A lot of leather.
One of the fantastic things is that the leather crowd turned out and looked great. I hope they don't get irritated with the whole new crowd descending on the place once a month and stay away. I would like to encourage all Macho City attendees to take the opportunity to - at the very least - allow a leatherman to cop a feel in a bathroom or dark corner to make sure we all continue to be welcome at the R&R.
DJ's Mike Tee and Scott Zacharias played, according to one friend, "all this music you've never heard before but is all really great." Which is exactly what I want at a dance party. I mean, when was the last time you went out and heard all great music you don't know? Like, Midnight Sun, 1995? This is the stuff you end up telling 25 year olds about when you are 40. ("When *I* was 25 ...")
Me: Those aren't snippets, those are the songs where the samples came from.
Special guest DJ Nancy Fortune was a total wild card, in the sense we had no idea if she'd be going disco or electro or what. She came on about 1am and played the greatest electro/house set ever ... it WAS like Midnight Sun 1995! Not the music, but the house vibe and the energy. No voguing though. It was a funny transition from disco to electro but man it worked like crazy.
The dancefloor was packed all night (with fantastic new visuals from Nancy Fortune compadre Tommyboy), and I had to bid a reluctant adieu to Macho City around 2am. But the thing goes until like 6am on Monday morning and you very well may not want to leave before then.
I mentioned to a friend yesterday, while enjoying gay Wednesday night cocktails at Atlas Global Bistro, that I don't even drink at Macho City anymore because I don't want to miss any of the evening, and he excitedly proclaimed that he doesn't either. It's so good you just feel great dancing and talking and mixing and mingling.
So I guess my point is, don't miss out on Macho City. Nothing this good lasts forever, and if this blog had an audience of more than 15 people I'd feel bad promoting it as much as I do. But I figure we've got a year of real unadulturated Macho City fun - the kind that gets a great mix of R&R regulars, hipsters, us middle-aged fellas who still like to party and a smattering of cool straight folks. I'm really not kidding - don't miss out!
(details on Macho City for this month, next month and the following month being posted shortly!)
Monday, August 24, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Come tonight after 9, videos start around 9:45, good times last all night!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
The only incumbent to not make the cut, other than pre-convict Monica Conyers, was Martha Reeves. Now let's face it, Martha was out of her league from the get-go, although the amazing platform that got her elected (to rename West Grand Boulevard "Berry Gordy Jr. Boulevard" and erect statues of Motown stars) was a pretty good indicator of things to come.
So let's not focus on the sloppy has-been mess she became as Martha-Rose, and instead let's take a minute to reflect on the glory that once was Martha Reeves. She lacked the polish and beauty of Diana Ross but made up for it with grit and soul and a much much better voice. And she was good friends with Dusty Springfield!
Here at Supergay Detroit, we prefer to remember what once was, and what could have been if she had laid off the fried catfish and continued to be professionally styled. Here are a few Martha Reeves moments for you to enjoy.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Join us next Tuesday, August 11, from 9-ish onwared at the Park Bar in downtown Detroit for drinking, laughing, loving and gay camaraderie (even if you aren't gay). Videos will start around 9:30-9:45.
It's our one big Doggy Style night until November, so make it count!
Monday, August 3, 2009
This election is pretty significant because of the absolute insanity that has been coming out of city hall over the past few years. It's a real chance to get some agents of change in charge, as uphill a battle as that seems; Detroit is a city that really does seem invested in maintaining the status quo. From a gay blogger perspective, it is also significant because we have the first openly gay city council candidate running, local media celebutante Charles Pugh.
So I am just going to weigh in with a few thoughts and Detroit voters, you can take it from there.
Clearly it is significant that an openly-gay man is not only running for City Council in Detroit, but appears to be in the lead in the polls. Detroit is notorious for its culture of homophobia in the African-American churches. And those churches really drive a large portion of the voting electorate here. It just goes to show how strong the celebrity/name recognition effect is in Detroit elections.
Pugh's platform seems relatively innocuous, and hits some of the right notes. I think he is right that crime needs to be addressed as Detroit's single biggest issue and the rest will follow. And I am heartened to see him talk about the need for regionalism in creating a plan for public transportation - I hope that transfers to other efforts as well.
Neighborhood services, parks, community pride - everyone mentions those with few specifics about how they will improve them - but I think someone with Pugh's popularity could be very effective at raising community morale about these things.
I don't see a lot about fiscal responsibility, economic development and making the city a better place for businesses, large and small (other than "I will allocate a portion of my budget to visit and work with store chains around the country and encourage them to invest inside the city of Detroit." Feh.) And he does not discuss the issue of right-sizing the city.
Anecdotally I can only throw in a few observations. On the plus side, I've heard he is incredibly nice and a good listener. And of course his life story is inspiring. And he really believes in this cause: I've heard he is convinced he can make Detroit better.
On the flip side, maybe we don't really need someone who has quite the kind of ego involved in thinking they can single-handedly make considerable improvements in Detroit. And judging from the short-lived Facebook post of an ex-lover a few weeks ago (it pays to have lots of Facebook friends), that narcissism seems to extend into the personal realm. Deja vu?
And I have no fewer than four reports from white Detroiters that he always seems to assume they must not live in the city when he encounters them. From a resident of Brush Park, this seems a bit ridiculous.
So does Charles Pugh get the Supergay endorsement? Sure .... why not.
I don't think he would be disaster by any means, he is charismatic and beloved by many. And I don't think we can underestimate the message that electing him sends to gays in the region about Detroit as a good place for living as a gay person (which pretty much any gay Detroiter will tell you, but this broadcast goes much further). But honestly I think there are a lot of other choices in this election who will be more effective in transforming Detroit.
I don't have a slate of 18 candidates for your reference. One friend says she is only voting for accountants, city planners or attorneys, which is a pretty good plan (although I pointed out Mon Con was in fact an attorney). There are some great candidates out there: incumbent Kenneth Cockrel and contenders Saunteel Jenkins, Lisa Howze (an accountant!) and Andre Spivey seems to get high marks from editorial boards as well as voters I have talked to. Other candidates that come highly recommended include James Tate, John Bennett, and Fred Elliot Hall.
And now, I want to take a second to put in a plug for my friend Matt Naimi.
Matt is the candidate I feel could help Detroit become the forward-looking city it needs to be. Matt is a business owner who is responsible for creating the city's RecycleHere! program, and has a strong and progressive "green" platform that I think hits the right notes and can make transformations other candidates aren't even considering.
Fighting blight, which he cites as a breeding ground for crime, with "smart" demolition; developing green technologies; encouraging urban agriculture; treating recycled material as a resource; right-sizing the city - these inititatives will not only address Detroit problems, they frame Detroit as a city looking to the future and the role of an industrial city in the 21st century. You can read more about his platform at vote4growth.com.
Matt has worked extensively with city government and community groups and knows how the city's public works department works. He also knows the challenges business owners face. And as a resident he knows how important a cohesive community is. He also knows that that working on city council means harnessing the strengths of various members, and applying your best judgement to the result.
The attitudes and approaches of Detroit's government are seriously outdated: they barely worked when the city was flush and they are counterproductive with the city in its current state. I think everyone agrees drastic change is needed.
I am singling out Matt not just because he is my friend, but because I really strongly feel that if Detroit embraces a new way of thinking it will not only create solutions for current problems but change the image of Detroit in the country. And trust me, I normally hate the hippy green bullshit. But Detroit is a place of incredible opportunity - on a micro and macro level - and I think some of these ideas really do make sense in this context. Matt can really help Detroit become an exciting, new kind of city.
And a last thought about City Council primary voting - you don't have to vote for 18 candidates! Don't just pick random names to fill out the ballot, only vote for the candidates you know are comfortable with. And mostly ignore incumbents, mbien?
Speaking of drastic change
Finally - if you are a Detroit voter and have not signed the petition to create City Council by District, please do so immediately or sooner. Get more information HERE, you can probably sign a petition at the polls tomorrow. They need all the signatures they can get and tomorrow night is the deadline!
There's no guarantee that Council by District will eliminate corrupt politicians in Detroit government, but it will create more accountability and make a relatively insane primary election process a lot more manageable. It will also help underrepresented areas of the city get the voice they need on City Council. And there is no guarantee that the City Charter revision committee will instate council by district - they passed on it in the last revision in 1993.
OK, do what I just said above and then we can say we helped move Detroit forward!
Friday, July 24, 2009
I would have reminded you sooner but I had an unwelcome distraction earlier in the week in the form of my brother going on a Fox News bender and sending drunk texts ranting about Obama and tax increases ("I'm sick of your gay agenda. Obama sucks and is going to ruin your family. Hope your (sic) happy."). Some people find it hard to get by on a couple hundred g's a year I guess.
Anyway, after all that crap you can bet I'll be getting my gay agenda on Saturday night! There is a super-special guest this month, Clone Records artist Nancy Fortune who is here all the way from Europe just to play Macho City! Because that is how cool Detroit is around the world, they are lining up to play at the R&R Saloon!
In case you hadn't heard, Macho City just keeps getting better and better. Last time I had to leave at 2am for an early-morning departure to Chicago Pride and the place was packed and going strong into the late-night hour. The music was tremendo too! And as we've established, I'm hyper-critical on that kind of thing.
See you Saturday night at the R&R! $3 cover (price increase to keep out the riff-raff I guess) gets you one free drink! Action starts at 10pm so don't be late! Dirty disco upstairs, dirty hookers downstairs!
R&R Saloon, 7330 Michigan Avenue (between Livernois & Wyoming), Detroit.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
I don't know if people just didn't pay attention or if it was a sly wink from a gay ad exec, but I am starting to suspect that "Mennen" isn't just a name, it's also a verb.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I just happened upon the end of a set at the main stage by this pop gospel boy band group called 21:03. They are from Detroit and they were Grammy nominated in the Gospel category this year and it turns out they are a great show. I know there is the whole "religion" thing in the music and they probably have some antipathy toward the homosexualists, but this song really is pretty fantastic and I felt proud that they were hometown boys.
They were so fantastic live, in fact, that the crowd could not help but get into the song. Especially this guy. Believe it or not, the best of his dancing ended before I started filming..
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I figure I can't be the only one forced by circumstance into a life less lavish than the one enjoyed same time last year, so I thought I would share some of my tips for keeping your leisure time standards high and your cash expenditures low.
Let me begin by saying Detroit is a great place to be broke. We have a strong and proud tradition of avoiding those distracting boom times that blow up real estate prices and deposit overpriced restaurants and bars on every corner. Detroit's ample inventory of cheap bars and Coney Islands is well documented. What requires a little digging is taking your dollar-store budget and living well, eating well and - most importantly - drinking well in Detroit.
Fortunately for us, the Cocktail Hour has exploded around town. There are a ton of fantastic deals to be had, if you are willing to shift your social time a little earlier in the evening. Since I am now a Gay Elder, I have had no problem doing this. It's pretty great - you get your drink on and you're in bed by 10 watching a streaming episode of 30 Rock on your laptop.
Roast, Michael Symon's new restaurant in the Book-Cadillac, has the king of the Cocktail Hours in town. For starters, it is the only one that takes place every weekday, from 4:30 to 6:30 at the bar. They have a fantastic bar menu derived from their regular menu, and each item is only $3.00, including a 5 oz version of their burger (topped with bacon, cheddar and and egg!), a roast beast taco and a tremendous sausage-of-the-day stuffed pepper dish. Six bucks gets you a great dinner.
OH - there are drink specials too! Three drafts and two wines are $4 a glass, and well drinks "with a wash" (it means one mixer, I've learned) are $5 each. Seriously $15 and you are well-fed, feeling fine and on your way. Roast has a lovely interior too, and if you don't mind the fact that most of the women who work there seem angry (seriously, hostesses who don't even look at you) you will have a wonderfully budget-conscious time.
Angelina Italian Bistro has turned out to be a pleasant surpise, especially for someone like me who always expects the worst. The decor is not 100% there (although pretty good by Detroit standards), but the food is really fantastic. I recommend the Pappardelle Bolognese in particular, but everything I've tried is great. For their Happy Hour they are offering everything in the "Tasting Plates" section of the menu at half-price (the pizzas are a whole meal) plus drink specials! It lasts until 7pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On a nice day the windows are all open and it's practically dining al fresco.
Cliff Bell's has introduced their dinner menu, which is a good deal even at regular prices. On Tuesdays from 5-8 is Happy Hour, and not only is all the food half-price, but all bottles of wine or champagne are half-price too. There is no live music at that time, so it's a low-key jazzy supper club vibe, which always suits me just fine because you can easily converse with your companion.
Atlas Global Bistro, a perennial favorite of mine, lets you expand your social time past the dinner hour. On Martini Mondays they offer half-price martinis all day long, so you are quite likely to find a saucy bar crowd trying to live within their means. A few newer bar menu introductions at nice prices also keep your food expenditures low.
"Latitude Wednesdays" at Atlas is the gay night, and it has taken off like CRAZY lately. It is, frankly, as well-attended by gays as our Doggy Style nights are (at least!), and it's a fun crowd that's a super mix of city and suburb. The new introduction of a special Queer-as-a-$3 bill drink specials (that are $3, obviously) may have helped. A good time, and it gets buzzing around 9pm.
And there's another way to save at Atlas GB - there is a promo through Channel 7, "Ultimate Dining Deals," where you can buy a $50 Atlas gift certificate for $25! You can get up to two, so buy them up and you can not only get half-price food, but you can go on Monday and get quarter-price martinis like I did the other week!
I am sure there are other deals out that that I don't know about - if you have any tips, post them in the comments, ok? I know there are more deals out there!
Friday, July 3, 2009
I won't rehash why I thinks FHM is great, because I just did in the last post. But if you are in town for the weekend and looking for good times after Cityfest or Baar Bazaar (super cool ... and Macho City dj's spinning!), you need to zip on down to Oslo.
And in a bit of "reporting back" ... Macho City last Saturday was completely off the hook. I had to leave at about 2am so I could head to Chicago Pride in the morning and the party was going strong. That after-hours thing seems to be a hit!
(PS - Happy first anniversary, FHM!)
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I would like to clarify a bit - that comment was intended as a joke about how old I am, not about how fun Fierce Hot Mess is not. That sentence was painting a picture of a very specific situation - me, hearing a song I've already lived through and whose charm is now lost on me, watching a bunch of kids half my age dance around to what is for them a golden oldie. As I've expressed to Adriel, the FHM organizer, a number of times, sometimes I just feel kind of old when I'm there. I do not feel that way at Macho City. That was my point.
What more ringing endorsement could a club night have than some 40-year old guy feels old when he's there? That should get the kids lined up 'round the block!
Man, nobody objected to me calling myself old and creepy, but God forbid I question a musical choice at Fierce Hot Mess. I'm tearing down Detroit's whole cool gay scene!
Lest anyone forget the love I have lavished on Fierce Hot Mess, let me remind you:
Announcing Fierce Hot Mess!
They're playing Sylvester at FHM this month.
I think Andy Warhol said it best ...
Back from San Fran and ready for more Mess
Fierce Hot Mess goes Bi
The upstart competition doesn't rate
A night out to revitalize the soul
I love my indie gay nights/introducting Macho City
Fierce Hot Mess in the Supergay Slate for 'Best of Detroit'