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.

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