Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Make the Yuletide Gay

We're going to whoop it up tonight on Park Avenue downtown with a couple of parties to get you in the Christmas spirit!  That's right, whoop.

First of all, my pop-up shop Hugh for the Holidays will be hosting an Après-ski party to provide for a little relaxed socializing and last-minute shopping (for the holidays and for Hugh, since it pops-down on Thursday).  Come enjoy an adult beverage and relax by the fake fire as we warm up from that last run.  It starts about 6:30 and goes to about 9:30.

Then the activity moves down the street to the Park Bar for a Merry Christmas Doggy Style!  Enjoy more adult beverages and more relaxed socializing!

And to get you in the mood, here is one of the funniest Christmas YouTube videos ever. See you tonight!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Being Counted

A friend posted a link on Facebook to the very handy New York Times "Mapping America" tool and made the observation that Boston-Edison is the gayest neighborhood in Detroit (at 7%), followed by Indian Village (5%)  and Woodbridge (5%).  Not necessarily a shock, but interesting nevertheless.  If only because it prompts a little digging on the map to see where else rates.

It was no surprise to see that East English Village has a higher-than-zero number of "same-sex households" (3%) but seriously, who expected the area around the Detroit Medical Center (3%) to show up higher than Lafayette Park? I mean really, there are like six places to live there!  And the neighborhoods just next to City Airport (4%!)? Random!  Or Highland Park (3%).  For real?

The map is full of surprises like that in the city, little pockets where same-sex couples are just going about their business and not making a big stink about gayborhoods (but probably leading their block clubs).

Just as notable are the areas that don't appear to have a significant gay population, like the Palmer Woods/Sherwood Forest/Green Acres area (0%?  Really?).  Or in Oakland County - Ferndale is only 1-2%!  The winner in the OC is Royal Oak at a whopping 4%.

Remember, of course, that this only tracks households identifying as same-sex, which means couples.  So if there weren't enough reasons for society to make you feel shitty about being single, there's one more.  And the data is based on sampling - the real updated story from the 2010 census will be revealed in February 2011.  I am trying my darnedest to figure out how to find the sampled population of each census tract so I can do a little math with these percentages, but for the son of two Ph.D.'s in statistics I'm not managing to find the right data very well.

And to wrap things up - if you are looking for the ultimate in gay living in Michigan, apparently you need to move to Ecorse, which rates 14%!  If downriver is not your speed, there's always Pinckney (7%).  Really.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My new store will give you wood

Teak, specifically.

As some of you know, I have dabbled in retail in the past.  My modern design store Mezzanine and retail happening Hugh were the major projects of my 30s, but I wrapped them up this spring - a victim of my wanderlust, not to mention my wandering attention.

Apparently I was not completely free of the retail bug, because I kept buying vintage (which at varying points was a large part of what I'd sold) with the intention of hoarding, or maybe selling on etsy, and when my friend and former landlord called me up to say the space that Hugh had occupied next to Centaur on Park Avenue was still available I figured "why not?" and opened up Hugh for the Holidays.

Hugh for the Holidays is a specially-themed version of Hugh - the idea is that Hugh goes on a swank ski holiday and classic bachelor pad style crosses paths with Scandinavian chic.  The store is all about affordable cool gifts, drinking well and entertaining with style.  It's a lot of vintage with a healthy dose of new merch - so think Mad Men glasses on teak serving trays, or stainless steel bar accessories from Denmark, or vintage metal Thermoses for sneaking hot toddies into the movie theater (right Stephan?)

If you live in the area and are moderately inclined, stop in for a little dose of hip shopping on Park Avenue, right behind the Fox Theater.  Open weekday evenings and weekend days until Christmas Eve.  Fan Hugh on Facebook, why don't you, to get all the details?  Or check out the website at lovehughlongtime.com!

Monday, December 6, 2010

We need a little Christmas, right this very minute

And we got it!  Did you read about the Smithsonian pulling the video installation "Fire In My Belly" from the LGBT exhibit "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture" at the Smithsonian?

And then did you read how two activists got banned because they showed up and showed the video on their iPads at the entrance to the exhibit?

Man this makes me feel good.  It reminds me of the old Queer Nation days. I remember being in college walking past the Boston MCA while the Mappelthorpe exhibit was there (back when it was small and on Boylston Street downtown) and a bunch of QN protesters were outside chanting "We're here, we're queer, we're FABulous get used to it!"

If there is a return to the old style of community activism in the works, then I am all for it.  Detroit could use a lot of that.

There is help.

A very useful service for those of you with little ones around the house! 

And by little ones I mean either gaybies OR inappropriately young boyfriends.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Once Onup A Time ...

Doggy Style has been going great! Thanks everyone for coming out.  And for attending Doggy Style!

This vid was a hit last night, and I bet you can't watch it just once.  Celebrity 70s German transsexual Romy Haag! See you next Tuesday!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Fall Forecast

The return of Doggy Style brings up an excellent opportunity to take a look at what's going on with the alternative gay scene downtown, because there have been some changes.  I'll start with the bad news.

First off, Detroit's Guerrilla Queer Bar, the long-running traveling gay bar that roamed Detroit for seven years, finally bit the dust this summer when the organizer, "Eddie Edwards," up and moved to Chicago.  Guerrilla Queer Bar ran hot and cold, but when it was hot it was very very hot, and it was kind of the original alternative to the old gay bar scene in the city.  "Eddie" was all of what, 22?, when he started this, and hats off to him for creating something so enjoyable and enduring in a city where the gay community just seems to become more and more disconnected all the time. 

Secondly, Scott and Darren from Atlas Global Bistro have moved on to greener, western pastures as well, and with the primary proponents gone the Wednesday gay night scene there has undergone an expected shift.  The later evening now involves a kind of electro-goth-dance music scene that is, while certainly not free of the gays, not the martini/wine bar scene you might be expecting.  The music is actually quite good, although in my visits there a bit too loud, and most of the time you may find yourself alone at the bar since all the young'uns are outside smoking.  If you are going to Atlas on a Wednesday to enjoy sophisticated libations with a mellow, conversational vibe, this is about the complete opposite of that.  And I'll be honest, I have no idea what they are thinking - great concept, weird venue - but if this is your thing you will like it.  Go early and you will get the Atlas bar you have come to know and love, with the caveat that gay levels there are about the same as any other night (come to think of it, not bad).

And thirdly, not that I've been a big fan, but the Detroit Eagle has closed. (EDIT: the following is hearsay, and I've heard conflicting stories) One story I've heard is that it has possibly been sold to Henry Ford Health Systems, who have some kind of master plan for the area south of the main hospital campus.  It primarily seems to involve demolishing the old buildings and clearing the entire area for development yet to be revealed, Ilitch-style.  The other story I've heard is that the bar is still for sale, but that one denies me the corporate overlord narrative and is less exciting.  Anyway, if you want to get a last look at a bar that may or may not have delivered you some good times, now would be the time.

Until we meet again ... Adios, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehen.

And let me be clear - there is no schadenfreude here.  I had some great times there over the years, and I went with friends more often than I have let on.  Even though each time in recent years brought new disappointments, the potential for something good remained and this fate is a crime. The last remaining full-time gay bar in the downtown area is The Woodward, which frankly isn't quite my scene, but I feel like I need to go just to make sure it doesn't become a total wasteland down here.

On to the good news.  First of all, have I mentioned Doggy Style is back?  OK, yes I did. Go to that on Tuesdays!

Secondly, my friend Todd has taken up the mantle of the Detroit Guerrilla Queer Bar with the new Metro Detroit Guerrilla Queer Bar.  As he puts it, "Same idea, just expanded!"  So I suppose that means more forays into Oakland County, and you know I'm never excited to drive in that county.  But the first meet-up went well at Centaur last month so check out their page on Facebook and let's see how it goes!

Next, word has it that Fierce Hot Mess has been off the hook lately.  I haven't been since I got back into town, but the buzz is things start late and burn brightly.  It is now on Saturdays, and the next one is this weekend!  I would probably describe the scene there in a few words: young, queer, hipster and rambunctious, but honestly I wouldn't be doing it justice.  There are all types there, including middle-aged award-winning bloggers wearing Polo shirts, and if you like a dance party you will have a great time.  Go and be pleasantly surprised. Get there after 11!  Maybe even after 12!

Macho City had a busy summer running semi-monthly and has taken a month off, but it's back at the end of November at the R&R Saloon.  Get back to where you once belonged. After a couple Macho City deejay appearances outside of their regular venue in the past month or so, I have to say I'm pretty excited to get down with them for an extended evening of sweaty fun.

And finally, I suppose I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Friday nights at D'Mongo's are getting a pretty nice mix including plenty of the downtown gays most weeks.  I am a little reluctant to even bring it up, because in general it seems that the more people who know about that place the more annoying it gets (case in point: the disastrous level of suburban hipsters who showed up for a couple weeks after Larry's appearance in the Palladium boots documentary). But you guys are ok, right?  God, I hope so.

Well that's it!  If anything else comes up, you can count on me to let you know!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Return of an Elusive Favorite!

No, I am not talking about the McRib sandwich!  I'm talking about Tuesday Nights Doggy Style at the Park Bar!

The bitch is back.

If there's one thing I never get tired of hearing it's the gentle whining of people asking me to do Doggy Style again this year. I mean, where were all of you last year, fo' real?  I suppose the one sure-fire way to generate interest in something is to take it away - it works for the misshapen lump of pork that is McRib and it looks like it's working for Doggy Style too.

Which is, of course, great news.  Because Doggy Style is super fun.  If you are unfamiliar, Doggy Style was 21st century downtown's first weekly gathering of local homosexualists and their friends in a 21st century setting.  Credit where credit is due, it was the brainchild of the wonderful Liz Blondy of Canine to Five, who got tired of my gentle whining that there was no gay scene downtown and that the scene in the suburbs was not for me.  She coordinated it, I created the content and voila, an ersatz phenomenon was born.

I like to think of Doggy Style as "Detroit's Best Gay-er Night," because attendees are gay and straight and anything in-between (including a few outliers to keep things spicy). It is a night of music and videos, and I work hard to make sure the sensibility is a lot more lavender than the usual Park Bar fare.  But straight or gay, there aren't a lot of people who visit and who don't dig it. It's fun, it's educational (in a gay cultural way), it's occasionally a little outré, and it's constantly changing.

But most importantly, it's a great way for downtown gays - and that's a state of mind as much as it is a state of being - to meet up with a different crowd, and to do a bit of community-building.  Lord knows we need a little of that!

So bring your friends and let me entertain you, starting next Tuesday evening and continuing until Tiger's Opening Day next April!

Friday, October 8, 2010

I never meta promo I didn't like

Sometimes, when you take a chance and work really hard you get long-deserved recognition for your singular efforts.  And sometimes you just hit the town, make a bunch of alcohol-impaired gaffes and meet the right people.

You have to date me to find out all my secret tricks, but suffice to say something I did landed me a spot in this month's HOUR Detroit magazine in an article about Detroit's most popular blogs!  I was very excited (although my parents somewhat less so). Turn to page 52 in the current issue for the rundown on the best of the Detroit blogosphere.  I am sure some of the URLs will be familiar.  If you aren't local, you can get the bones of the feature here.

Thanks to Superfriends Alexa Stanard for the wonderful prose and Cybelle Codish for indulging my whims in a fantastic photoshoot.  And much thanks to the folks at HOUR Detroit who (despite their suburban home base) have been amazingly supportive of all my endeavors in Detroit, as well as the efforts of so many of my friends and fellow entrepreneurs.

A blog post about a magazine article about that same blog ... I don't even know for sure how to use "meta" in a sentence but I think I can get away with using it here!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Home Slice

Judging from the amazing events I've been attending lately, it's high season for Detroit's downtown society.  And things are only heating up!

MoCAD, Detroit's contemporary art museum, is known as much for their events as they are for their cutting-edge exhibitions.  Lord knows I've had my good times there.  As someone who has worked on his fair share of non-profit art events, I can tell you it isn't easy to keep them interesting, fun and well-attended. But MoCAD has always exceeded expectations.

Well, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, here they go again.

This Friday?  Go to Home Slice, their big benefit that features the best of the local food movement, the best local chefs, the best local artists and more than likely the best local crowd you'll have seen in forever.  And I gauge this because I looked at the back of the invite and saw the most comprehensive who's who benefit committee I've ever seen.  I was even impressed to find myself on the list!  I thought I was just adding a little creative touch to the event styling.

If you love to mix up a little trouble, get yourself in a sticky jam or suck on a local pickle then I recommend you buy your ticket tout de suite.  It looks like it'll be the event of the season.  Tickets are only $75 (or $85 if you aren't a MoCAD member ... and why aren't you?) but do note because this is a fundraiser there is a cash bar (with Michigan libations and artisinal cocktails). Open bar can get expensive, especially for a bunch of heavy indulgers like you guys.

Oh, and don't forget to mark your calendars for the MoCAD Halloween Party on October 30, put together by the extra cool New Wave committee!  More to come on that for sure!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Village People

You have to wonder how many times a reference has been made to one of Detroit's Village neighborhoods with "Village People" as the title.  I would imagine a lot of them.  I usually try to avoid cliches, but since this is a gay blog I am going to use it in the most contextually accurate way it has probably ever been used, so I say it makes this title fresh and fun!

I have intermittently visited the idea of a gayborhood in Detroit on this blog.  There has been some discussion of gayborhoods past (such as here, here and here), and some discussion of the need or desire for gayborhoods future (such as here, here and here).  And maybe a little bit of kvetching about gayborhoods present (I'll spare you the embarrassing negativity).

The conversation about whether we even need a gay neighborhood in Detroit might be worth revisiting, since the landscape has changed so much even in the past two years. Gay visibility is about the same as it's ever been, which is to say "low," but websites like Facebook have made connecting with fellow city gays easier than ever before.  The emergence of our fledgling but exciting alternative gay scene has provided a few social spaces that feel current and allow mingling that feels less like a trip to The Bar and more just like a trip to the bar.  And if I've learned one thing it's that my "community" in this city has a lot less to do with sexual orientation than with shared passions.

But I continue to feel pretty strongly that better gay visibility in this city will make things better for everyone.  Gay people are still making their mark on the cultural landscape of this town disproportionately to their presence here (and I feel kind of embarrassed for us that I hesitate to name names for fear of outing someone), and yet we get short shrift at every political turn.  The pulpit in this churchy city hasn't let up, despite Charles Pugh's rather significant election.  And even though shopping malls and tanning salons have apparently replaced fixer-uppers and opera as the mainstream gay hobbies of choice, I think there are still enough gays and lesbians with traditional gay values that both they and Detroit can benefit from a little momentum in the gay neighborhood department.

We have new leadership in this city, and there are some pretty radical ideas about reshaping density that are both daunting and exciting to imagine.  It seems to me this is the perfect time for the gays and lesbians in the area to start thinking about shifting our own population density.

And this brings me to the point of this post (finally!), which is that this Sunday the West Village - the neighborhood I think could benefit the most from an influx of gay residents - is having a big open house tour and street festival!  It's a super opportunity to get into the neighborhood, see the great variety of housing, meet some of the residents and discover an area that - for reasons that are beyond my comprehension - is still kind of a secret.

Heaps of charm!

I have dozens of reasons why I think this neighborhood has the most potential, and they range from the kinds of housing available to the fact that there aren't any puppetmasters trying to turn it into an "urban neighborhood."  I'm sure I'll discuss them down the road.  But suffice to say it's there and really cool and ready to become even cooler.  And it's already been a homestead for many a gay, so you owe it to yourself to at least get it on your radar!

Come and knock on their door!

So take a little time on Sunday afternoon and stroll around the West Village!  There are details here.  Or just drive over to Indian Village and then walk two blocks west.  Maybe you will see the possibilities I see!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Kaleidoscopic Eyes

The Ruth Ellis Center was incorporated in 1999 and over the past ten years has emerged as one of the bright spots in the Detroit area LGBT scene, both for its great work with queer youth and for its appeal as a worthy LGBT charity.  I've written about a couple fun fundraisers right here on Supergay Detroit, in fact.

There is another one coming up that promises to be quite a good time, because not only does it benefit everyone's favorite cause, but it also takes place at one of the greatest venues in town, the Scarab Club. (Oh, the times I've been overserved there ...)  This event is called Kaleidoscope and it takes place next Thursday.  Check out the details:

click to make it bigger
Aside from the venue and the company, I am particularly excited about the documentary on vogueing, possibly the one gay thing that still thrills me when I stumble upon it!

So come out Thursday, September 23, to the Scarab Club, at 6pm.  It's right behind the Detroit Institute of Arts.  Tickets are $50 for the under-30 crowd and $125 for everyone else (ageism is the new heterosexism!) and you can buy your tickets here.  There's no note about what you should wear, but why don't you dress up a little bit, for a change?

Hope to see you there!  And in the meantime, why don't you enjoy this video, one of the few relatively authentic appropriations of vogueing in popular culture (nothing personal, Madonna).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Party Chatter

There are nights that just reinforce everything you want to believe in.

The yard sale, while exciting and initially lucrative, was rained out in the early afternoon.  After communing with nature while packing up sopping wet housewares and subsequently making a donation to the greater enjoyment of thrift store shoppers in southeastern Michigan, I rejuvenated and made a stop back on West Canfield.

That Historic West Canfield block is one sexy street.  I like to be irritated with Midtown and the Neuvo Royal Oako agenda that just might be seeping in there, but sometimes you just can't deny when something works.  If you are not familiar with this block, check this out.

Among the many cool Detroiters I saw there, I ran into a relatively new acquaintance at this party, a guy who went to U of D High like I did (only a few years behind me), whom I've run into here or there.  He's active in the local political scene in his own ultra-current way, and a super smart and fun conversationalist.  Which is, of course, what one should expect from a U of D High grad.

It's been a long time since I've been so engaged in a conversation, especially when it is with someone who isn't pushing their own agenda (ie: me), wants to hear your thoughts and has great insights of his own.  I would be remiss if I didn't mention his fantastic girlfriend who is apparently a genius in her own right.  The three of us discussed topics ranging from Council by Districts, Kwame Kilpatrick's misuse of corruption, Detroit Declaration, suburban vs. city living, me, Charles Pugh's God complex, gay marriage, Rochelle Riley, the closet and politicians who are no way whatsoever possibly or even remotely same-sex oriented.  These things were attacked with gusto and energetically debated, in what may have been the most casual party-talk manner I've ever experienced.

I realized, as we were making our way out, that I didn't have to talk about a home improvement or a luxury vehicle or a mall shopping experience or a different city's advantages in the entire ninety-minute conversation, and we all left happy and, at least as far as I was concerned, excited about our next meetup. And I almost couldn't believe how much I appreciated that.

I enjoy making sweeping generalizations and I'm going to make one now: over and over I find that my encounters in this city are so different in attitude than the ones I have in our 'burbs.  As much as I want this city to rejuvenate, I want to be explicitly clear how much I really enjoy what we have going on right now.  That recent Palladium Boots Detroit Lives documentary captures one aspect of the city in a great way, but I sure wish I was talented enough to show the world the kind of night I had tonight.  I think we'd have thousands of great people wanting to move here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Weekend Recommendation, and my new Blog

If you are planning to attend what is possibly Detroit's funnest street fair, the Dally in the Alley, this weekend, then you are a smart cookie.  Not only is it super casual, super fun and super cool, it is also the fair with the largest number of gays - at least in my casual observance.

When I was first looking for the gay community in Detroit it was actually the Dally that gave me hope one actually existed.  I mean, as far as gays go it's no Market Days, but it's more diverse and way groovier.  A September afternoon dallying in Detroit is about as good as the street fair experience gets.

Now, while you are dilly-dallying around you should stop by all the yard sales that will be happening on Historic West Canfield.  That's just one block down from the fair.  You know, that one tree-lined block that is so jarring to drive down, not only because the cobblestones are intense but because the homes are all so beautifully preserved.  Several of those lovely households have grouped together to sell some stuff, and more importantly, I'm joining them.

Stop by West Canfield between Second and Third and see me!  That's right across the street from Bureau of Urban Living, City Bird, Motor City Brewing and Traffic Jam.  I will sell you some cut-rate vintage cool stuff including some Hugh leftovers.  There will be vintage housewares, dinnerware, some barware, tiki mugs, even a Heywood-Wakefield desk.  Plus the usual random extra household stuff that always ends up in these things.

I need to move stuff out because my time as an itinerant has revealed to me that I have a shopping problem.  With no more Mezzanine or Hugh as an excuse to scrounge unlikely sources for vintage coolness, it has become apparent that those businesses were only a means to an end.  My need to score great finds continues unabated, and in fact has intensified since I've become I'm a man of leisure.

That's good for the general public on two fronts - first of all, periodically (like this weekend) I'll need to unload the things I don't want to keep.  And secondly, it has inspired me to try out a new blog.

The new blog is called Joe's Addiction, and all it does is feed you a daily photo of one of my vintage finds.  They might be things I keep, they may end up online at some point, possibly they will be Christmas gifts.  Who knows?  I don't.

I only know that every morning at 7:30am Eastern time a new photo pops up.  It might be something amazing, or it might be kind of pedestrian.  It'll be a surprise, and that's always part of the thrill, right?  Think of it as your scheduled, watered-down shopping experience - a methadone clinic for your little vintage-loving heart. I hope you like it!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Doggy Style?

I stopped by the Park Bar for a bit last night, and it being a non-game night it was really nice and mellow.  Ran into one friend, saw a few familiar faces, all as expected and good times.

What was not expected was a couple random inquiries as to whether or not I'm bringing back Tuesday Night Doggy Style when the baseball season ends.  As you may recall, I buried that dog in the spring, but this isn't the first time people have asked me about bringing it back.

So I guess that's something I will have to think about.  If you have any thoughts on the matter, please weigh in.  And include in those thoughts if you might show up.  We had a truancy problem on the part of the gays last year (at least compared to season one or season two), although Doggy Style did develop a relatively enthusiastic straight following.  Maybe it was gentrified?

In the meantime, here are a couple videos from the old school - in the Doggy Style spirit - to get you through your day.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I Went to a Marvelous Party

My first official public appearance on my return to Detroit was at a summer soirée thrown at the Hanging Gardens in Midtown.

The Hanging Gardens project, as you may have heard, was undertaken by a group of volunteers from Team Detroit who created a vertical garden on the walls of the burned-up-but-being-fixed-up Forest Arms apartment building. When I left town the kickoff had just taken place.  The overall impression was a lot of green bags hanging from the windows of a burned-out building, which wasn't actually very exciting yet.

A party at the Hanging Gardens, then, seemed like the best time to check out the progress, and the perfect time to make a return to Detroit society.  As it were.

I arrived at the party in a pissy mood, having just left a friendly but rather heated discussion with a local developer about the value of authenticity (or as it devolved, "douchebaggery" vs. "funkiness"), and then the passenger window in my long-suffering ride decided to get a little flakey.  I really, really was not in the mood to leave my car with the window open, as I am sure you can imagine, so I hastily remedied that and headed into the party.

With the flowers grown in and the Forest Arms wrapped around a cocktail party in full swing, my bad mood evaporated.  It was as if someone had gathered a couple dozen of my favorite Detroiters and put them into one surreal, uniquely Detroit setting.  Which come to think of it is exactly what happened.

Oh I could name names, but all you need to do is read any issue of Model D, or pick up a newspaper or watch a documentary and you'll have a pretty good idea who was there.  Detroit movers and (until they get a drink in them) shakers.  A wide array of old-timers and newcomers.  And a whole slew of Team Detroiters, the folks who set the whole thing in motion.  All people who get Detroit and the possibilities life here presents.

The party was Detroit summer perfection.  A beautiful night, a smattering of funky furniture, no shortage of gossip - I mean, conversation - and food and drinks borne of this local food movement that is so awesome I can hardly believe it is happening here.

We wandered through the building, my friends and I, checking out the rehab work and we ended up on the roof, where the party had partially migrated.

It's been a long time since I've had a more authentically Detroit moment than standing on the rooftop of an empty building with a drink in my hand, watching Robert M. Nelson tell one of his ribald jokes through a megaphone to an appreciative audience.

Oh Robert, what would Detroit 2010 be without you?

I can't lie, in the chaos of wrapping up my loose ends in May I had my doubts about the merits of this project.  Seeing it in full bloom, this almost formal flower garden set against the reversal of a ruin, I now find it to be an interesting foil to the whole "nature reclaiming the city" meme.  And of course, it really is quite beautiful.  It's a great example of what some creative thinking can do to mitigate what might otherwise stand as a symbol of loss, rehabilitation notwithstanding.

If you happen to find yourself near the intersection of Forest and Second, take a few moments to walk around and enjoy the Hanging Gardens.  Like most cool things in Detroit, it won't be long before the moment is over.

I am, naturally, very grateful my homecoming coincided with such a unique experience at the Hanging Gardens; it reinforced everything I'd gleaned from my travels, and everything I was discussing just before the party. If I were Noel Coward I would write a clever little song to sum up the evening, but I'm not.  So all I can say is this: I couldn't have liked it more.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Hey did you see this trailer yet?  Way more interesting than that Detroit 1-8-7 show trailer (what a disaster) and lots o' superfriends to boot!

Speaking of boots, I don't know much about these Palladium boots but if this documentary is as good as it looks I'm gonna have to buy a pair.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Black and White

Tuesday nights Doggy Style may have ended but my YouTube OCD has not.  While I work on a post about something relevant and informative, why don't you enjoy this black & white video duo?

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Pride Issue

In my last, long-ago post I think I made it sound like I was only going to be happy if I found things in SF that I like in Detroit, and I think anyone knows that would be a mistake.  San Francisco has many great things, and I suppose what I really meant is I needed to find the unique things about SF to enjoy just as I've found so many unique things about Detroit to enjoy.

Once I took a chill pill and just started hanging out, things fell into place.  Without belaboring the issue, I don't think I'll ever be in love with San Francisco like I used to be, the spark is gone.  But it's a really tremendous place and if you want to give me a six-figure job I will move there no problemo.

The first thing that really blew me away this trip was Pride.  I've never been to an SF pride, and I have to say it is mind-boggling how big it is.  I mean HUGE.  Coming from SE Michigan with our pearl necklace of Pride celebrations ... state-wide pride in Lansing, Motor City Pride in (ironically) Ferndale, Hotter than July Black Gay Pride ... it is amazing and scary to witness the sea of humanity that descends on the Civic Center in SF for Pride.  Literally people as far as the eye can see.  I only managed to snag a few pictures, but take a gander:

 We are everywhere. Especially MUNI.

 Hundreds and Thousands.  Just like Bronski Beat predicted.


Even my mom showed up. 

SF Pride is so big they even have a celebration the day before, Pink Saturday.  My hosts with the mosts threw a Pink Saturday party which was really my first chance to chat extensively with gay locals, nearly all of whom are transplants.

Think Pink!  And Drink!

Ball of Carnation.  That's what the world is today.

People who move to SF *love* SF, so it is always interesting to hear their stories (after reminding them that it is bad form to insult Detroit after I have said I like living there).  One guy who lived in NYC in the 70s and 80s said that what he really liked about San Francisco is that you can still reach out and touch the edge.  That's been lost in a lot of other cities.

Any of us in Detroit can probably relate, in perhaps a more immediate way.  As I said over two years ago after another SF visit:

There will be a time when there will be a Starbucks on every corner and we’ll talk with a dreamy look in our eyes about the great community that thrived at Café de Troit, where it seemed like everyone you met was making something happen in town. Lower Cass will get the Ilitch touch and we’ll laugh about the days of dodging crack whores and roosters on our way to Honest John’s. Corktown will turn into Birmingham and we’ll actually miss all those hipsters and Terry-oke at LJ’s.

As for finding the "spirit of Detroit" in San Francisco, that was kind of a bust.  I did get to meet Bob Mould randomly in a bar, which was awesome, and I saw a drag follow-up to Trannyshack that was literally unwatchable, but it's about the closest thing to a gay underground I found.  I do eagerly await the Detroit arrival of several SF trends:  the small-scale artisinal cocktail lounge, neighborhood chef-driven restaurants (Ann Arbor's contributions notwithstanding) and the Edison lightbulb in hospitality decor.  Maybe even all under one roof.  And sometime this decade.

In the meantime, it's good to have my travels over and finally be back in Detroit where - when I really want to - I can turn around and swim frantically back to touch the edge.

Friday, June 18, 2010

200 Steps

Palm Springs turned out to be Perfectly Splendid, and what a glorious week I had there.  The town is so manageable in size and full of nice things to see and do, how can you not have fun? Of course it's full of elders not youngsters (although the gays still wear Abercrombie & Fitch, even at 80.  Charmant!), but that doesn't stop people from cocktailing or mingling.  It just means it's over by 10pm.

In a day of thrifting through the desert canyon I came across many crazy things, more indicative of a boom time for mediocre home decor stores in the early 90s than the modernist heydey of the 60s.  That doesn't mean I came up empty-handed though, most critically scoring a fantastic i-glass carafe for a measly thirty bones.  Yes, before there was the iPod there was i-glass.  There are no new ideas.

One of the better stores for "cool stuff" was Revivals, the thrift store to benefit the Desert AIDS Project.  I'm talking more kicky little housewares and not modern masterpieces, but they also have a great book selection.  I nabbed a few good ones for the trip up to SF and the few days before my steamer trunk arrived from Detroit.  To really get me in the mood there was a first edition paperback of Babycakes, one in the Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin.  Nothing like a little old school San Francisco.

[If you've never read any of the series, I can't recommend them highly enough.  More than just a snapshot of a long-gone time, they're a snapshot of a long-gone place.  In the same way New York is a character in "Sex and the City," San Francisco is really the major player in these books.  Well, San Francisco before the dot com boom.  A riveting and thoroughly entertaining read, particularly the first book.]

Now I've been accused of romanticizing San Francisco an excessive amount, and I suppose that is not inaccurate. It has changed so dramatically since the first time I was here, gone from a dynamic but perhaps a touch provincial second-tier city to a wealthy cosmopolitan hotspot, and admittedly I cling a bit to the history of the place.  I don't care if it's tacky to get a drink in the Twin Peaks bar at the corner of Castro & Market.  I just love the fact that I'm sitting in the heart of one of two epicenters of gay triumph and tragedy in the US, and that all these older drunk queens have lived through everything I've spent my adult life reading about (like the Gold Rush.  I kid!)

I haven't come across that much current gay activity that captivates me as much as the history of gay San Francisco.  Prop 8 is being decided in the courts right now, but all I've really heard anyone say about the issue concerns the home for the judge and his partner that is being renovated just up the hill a bit. 

San Francisco may now be rife with impeccably-appointed homes and luxury cars, but the spirit of a city doesn't disappear altogether, whether we're talking about the ascent of San Francisco or the decline of Detroit.  That's why a whole month to get my hands dirty (so to speak) in this city is kind of exciting.  It's a real chance to get out and find the kinds of things that always excite me back home in Detroit.  The secret stuff.  The stuff that made SF so exciting to people in the first place.

There are 200 steps I climb when I walk back from the Castro to my friends' house, and every time I climb them I think that if a tucked-away sliver of old SF beauty like this still exists then the city can't have completely become bland and gentrified.  If it has, well then I guess that's a cautionary tale for Detroit.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Paradise is very nice

Summer in Detroit is such a fantastic time, really the greatest time to be there.  So I'm really sorry I'm going to miss it this year.

Apparently spring in Detroit routinely bums me out.  I get really edgy, everything seems to be bad news, little things like the INSANE parking enforcement downtown or the ghetto-ization of Lafayette Towers became big things (more on those another time), another old building is suddenly a demolition imperative for no apparent reason (never the Packard Plant though), Kwame sticks his ugly mug out of the ground and we get six more weeks of emotional winter ... 

I can't pinpoint where it started for me this year, but do know at one point I started to attribute feeling crappy to low blood sugar and began a weird kind of stress eating that resulted in gaining like ten pounds in six weeks.  And by "like ten pounds" I mean fifteen.  The weather became nicer and my friend (and your dog's bestie) Liz Blondy suggested I undertake some city biking with her instead of turning my jeans into stretch pants, but biking through Detroit's intermittently desolate east side only served to bum me out further.  You can only see so many people trying to keep their house nice while a burned out shell sits next door before you start to think man, this is all really really fucked.

When the things that used to inspire you drive you to drink, you know it's time to reassess.

With the end of my apartment lease coinciding with the move-out from my business location at the end of May, I made the executive decision to get out of Dodge for a while and recharge my batteries.  All those friends who have moved away from SE Michigan over the years (and who have a guest room) are getting a visit.

So I tied up loose ends and, homeless and jobless, departed for locales west.  First stop, beautiful Palm Springs, California.  

Of course Detroit had to get in the last word.  As I was loading the last of my things from the store the night before I left, one of the dozens of "street prophets" comes into the store and chats me up, and by the time I can get rid of him he's stolen my new phone.  

So I've had a week in Palm Springs, where I don't have to watch everything I own every minute of the day to make sure it doesn't get snatched and where modern isn't a dirty word.  And it's been amazing. And tomorrow I head off to San Fran for a solid month for my continuing attitude adjustment.  And after that, Chicago.

For now, I'm getting in the private pool and getting as sunburned as I possibly can.  Detroit, see you later.  We'll always have Indian Summer.

I'd go for a skinny dip in the private pool but there'd be nothing
skinny about it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Best Birthday Present Ever

Someone had a birthday yesterday, and he got the greatest present a Detroit boy (well, old man) could ever hope for.

I know, you think Kwame getting thrown in the clink is what made me so happy on my birthday, and I won't lie, I was pretty happy about that. 

The Handcuff Double-Down
(Free Press photo)

But really what thrilled me is I found out that the Burton Theater will be hosting a $5 outdoor double-feature this Saturday night, with features chosen just for me!  Or at least it seems.

Head over the Burton Theater on Saturday, May 29 at 10pm and grab a spot on the lawn to see Ken Russell's "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," followed by "Xanadu"!  Yes, I'm serious!  Talk about a movie camp-out!  If you are a gay (or just think like one) and haven't seen these films it is your DUTY to attend.

And then, when you're done there, you can hit everyone's favorite down-and-dirty disco party Macho City at the R&R.  The special guest is Azari & III, a Toronto-based house duo. 

One of the best Macho City nights last year had Mike and Scott playing their patented underground disco sounds until about 2am, and then Nancy Fortune took over and turned the dancefloor into an old school Detroit house music party. Listening to this track, I think we might be heading for that same kind of greatness.  As one friend said, it will be a barn burner!

To get the most out of the evening you may have to cut out of "Xanadu" a little early, but if you've attended Doggy Style at any point in the past three years you've seen the finale anyway.

Talk about a great Saturday night.  Thanks Burton Theater and Macho City for planning all of this.  I know you did it just for me!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hersch so good

I only dabble in organized religion, and even then really only with officiants, but I have come to truly enjoy downtown Detroit's Central United Methodist church.  That's the historic church right on the corner of Adams and Woodward with the saucy initials.

I have a couple friends very actively involved in the congregation, and their enthusiasm for the church's mission of social justice and community has even enticed me into visiting the church a couple times.  The first was for the wonderful Catie Curtis show two years ago, and the second was for Palm Sunday services this year.  And once I got over the extreme non-Roman Catholicness of it all it was a fantastic experience.  As was post-service brunch, natch.

One cool thing about the church is their music programming.  They often host concerts, and they are often quite renowned musicians.  World-renowned is the case this coming Saturday evening, when jazz pianist Fred Hersh will be performing.

Fred Hersh is a new name to me, but not a new name in the world of jazz.  I discovered this when I started researching him and found a huge piece in the New York Times Magazine from earlier this year.  If I wasn't sure of his prominence as an artist before, I sure was after reading, "And singular among the trailblazers of their art, a largely unsung innovator of this borderless, individualistic jazz — a jazz for the 21st century — is the pianist and composer Fred Hersch."

The Times piece is a highly recommended read, and I think once you are through with it you will agree this is a can't-miss performance!

Hersch, by the way, is also highly relevant for readers of this blog because he is one of the few openly-gay and openly-HIV positive artists in the jazz world.  His story of coming back from the edge of death is as inspiring as the story of his jazz legacy.

Now in the interest of full disclosure, part of my affection for CUM stems from the fact that my dear friend Ed Maki-Schramm is the musical director there.  And being so, well, dear, he has arranged for me to have a ticket giveaway for the Fred Hersch show this Saturday!

If you would like to win a pair of tickets to the show, all you have to do is email me at supergaydetroit (at) gmail (dot) com before Friday morning, say 8am.  At that time I will randomly draw two names and will promptly inform you of your win.  Or loss.

If you don't win, or want to secure your tickets earlier, here's the information you need.  Hope to see you Saturday evening!

Saturday, May 8,  8:00 pm 
Tickets $20 for adults, $10 for students
performing at the extraordinarily gay-friendly Central United Methodist Church
23 East Adams, downtown Detroit

Friday, April 30, 2010

Three Things

Number One
I'm going to take a break from not making any money off this blog to mention, just this once, that I'm clearing out a lot of merch from my retail endeavors in the Mezzanine clearance sale in the Hugh space.  Everything is really discounted, like 30-70% off!


It's mostly Mezzanine stuff, big and small, so if you like Saarinen dining or end tables, I've got 'em.  If you like ebony knife rests made in Paris, I've got 'em.  If you like Nelson bubble lamps, I've got 'em.  And quite a few great gift ideas for Mother's Day (it's next week, I know you forgot).

There's some Hugh overstocked stuff in there too, so even though I will be selling on the web there are a few things I've just got too much of.  There is decorative stuff, kitchen stuff, tabletop stuff, furnishing stuff, rug stuff ... essentially, if you like good design and good bargains, you should stop by.  And it's only in the store, not much is online.

This weekend is the final weekend, it's open 1-8 today and tomorrow and 1:30-5 on Sunday (do be cognizant of the Tigers' home game schedule).  It's located right behind the Fox Theater, next to Centaur, in the retail space formerly known as Hugh.

Number Two 
Someone posted this game on Facebook today and I found it to be a more than entertaining timekiller, plus it features unicorns and Erasure!  Perfect!

I hope Mark Maynard and his intellectual property people are on the Adult Swim folks about the clear copyright infringement, however. 

Number Three
Smoke 'em while you've got 'em!  Mercifully, the smoking ban kicks in tomorrow.  I'm proud to be from a state that barely avoided being in the last ten states to take this step.

I'm sympathetic to my smoking friends, but this was a long time coming and I have paid a lot of dry cleaning bills because of your nasty habit.  I am pleased.

If you are looking to see out the smoking era right, the Ruth Ellis Center has a Ferndale-based bar crawl called "The Last Drag" going on tonight that should be fun.  It starts at Loving Touch and ends with a drag show at Club Nine.  With plenty of drinking and smoking in-between.  More details at the Facebook event page.

And with that, I leave you to your weekend.  Have a good one.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Stormy Monday

Up early this morning and these April showers are kind of fantastic.  Lafayette Park is finally full-on green, the trees are almost filled in, the City has even already been out to cut the grass.  Remarkably even before the management at Lafayette Towers managed to cut their lawn, but that's a different blog post.

I had to clean off the old photos from my phone on this rainy Monday morning in anticipation of a replacement, and I came a cross a couple of unused photos I took for the blog.  So I'm catching up.

Cat mugs at the Indian Village Yard Sale. I guess it was time to move on.

A late summer night on Park Avenue, heading to Cliff Bell's.

A Macho City moment: someone got a Bedazzler!

This poor unfortunate soul didn't even get the courtesy of four blocks for his wheelless chariot.
This happened in early evening in a surprisingly busy area, which will remain unnamed.

Smoke break outside the State of Michigan offices in New Center.
A picture says a thousand words.

A joyful moment at the new dance monthly Private Joy, where Macho City meets
Fierce Hot Mess at Menjo's. Wrap your brain around that!

New Year's Eve at Cafe D'Mongo's Speakeasy.

Marche du Nain Rouge, a view from the rear.
What a day that turned out to be.

Now our rainy Monday morning has turned sunny, but I'll leave you with this morning's rain-themed soundtrack anyway.

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