Names and napkins dropped 

BOSTON BAKED BASH

Last Friday night saw the boulevards of Detroit's tony Boston/Edison neighborhood fill quickly with society swells and dapper designers, as the Detroit Historical Society and the Michigan chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers hosted the 1998 Designer Showhouse Gala. This year's recipient of the mansion makeover was the Albert Kahn-designed Italian Revival residence at 150 W. Boston.

The sprawling home was originally the residence of Sophie and Benjamin Siegel, founder of the B. Siegel women's clothing store in downtown Detroit.

Siegel left the home to the Greater Detroit Interfaith Roundtable in 1955, which used it as a headquarters until 1997, when it was purchased by current owner Michael Fisher.

The organizing committee sounded like the "Rich and Powerful Wives Club," with Chair Beverly Moore, as well as Denise Lutz, Barbara Denomme, Joyce Inatome, Kathy Antonini, Maggie Allesee and many more.

The house is decorated in a sumptuous yet decidedly conservative manner. One of the more interesting rooms was the third floor attic/loft, a breezy space with a delightful little porch overlooking the back yard. It was a refreshing change from the more staid and overstuffed lower floors. The only absolutely terrifying aspect, however, was the presence of four smallish TV screens broadcasting a video by the high priest of New Age cheesiness, Yanni, which almost had me jumping off that delightful little porch.

In the back yard was a cozy hospitality tent, with food and drink provided by the Fox & Hounds. It was a bit of an amusement park, as the AstroTurf-covered ground was about as smooth as a Michigan freeway, resulting in some unsuspecting dips and drops for tottering and doddering doyennes.

As I strolled to my car, I spotted cigarette-puffing society scribe Michael McWilliams. Apparently, one of the local dailies has sensed a need in our community for more, shall we say, fawning coverage of these types of events, and has enlisted McWilliams in that capacity.

They might want to equip him with a garbage baggie, however, as the environmentally challenged reporter casually dropped his napkin on the sidewalk in front of the house before getting into his standard-issue Neon. Give a hoot indeed.

The showhouse is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through October 25 (closed on Mondays), and admission is $15. Call 313-833-5342 for more info.

VIR-TOO

Antique collectors young and old descended upon Royal Oak Saturday night, as Vertu, that repository of 20th century-modern fabulosity, opened up a second store on Washington Avenue, just a few doors down from the Dondero High School parking lot.

The space is great, with high tin ceilings and bleached hardwood floors. Guests socialized over Heywood Wakefield dining tables and Charles Eames rockers, with food provided by the recently opened Center Street Deli.

Admiring the environs was collector Kevin Jackunas, as well as Christine Carrier and Jared Rundell. Be sure and check out the store -- but check out the Dondero football schedule to make sure there's not a game at the time, as parking was virtually nonexistent.

UNDER THE MURKY HAZE

I squeezed into the sold-out 7th House Friday night for a concert by longtime Australian faves the Church.

The place was packed to the gills, and I was fortunate to arrive about 45 minutes before the band started, as that was about how long it took to get a drink at the bar, which was ridiculously understaffed, to put it kindly.

The advertisement proclaiming the band's lineup of "all original members" was unfortunately incorrect, as original drummer Richard Ploog has since been replaced by Tim Powles, but then again, the 7th House phone message billed the band as being "from England."

Such trivialities were overlooked by the crowd, which cheered and sang along. The band mixed in favorite songs from past and present, including such radio-friendly hits as "Under the Milky Way" and "Reptile."

Spotted in the audience was Chicago resident and professional fly fisher Marla Kurz, who had seen the band the previous night at the House of Blues, and former LA resident Ashley Cormany, who became a fan while traveling through the Aussie outback as a member of the Peace Corps.

Aside from the problems obtaining a beverage, however, 7th House was a fine, cozy venue for a band which, aside from whirling dervish guitar player Marty Willson-Piper, does not engage in a lot of onstage histrionics, to say the least.

NEW PONTIAC-TOPIA

Speaking of churches, Clutch Cargo's, that former church located in downtown "New Pontiac," will host newtopia, a multimedia food-art-music-fashion extravaganza this Friday beginning at 9 p.m.

With exhibits by more than 30 artists, musical performances by American Mars, Paper Tiger and the Larval Orchestra, and food by Baci Abbracci, Big Buck Brewery, CK Diggs and Musashi, this event promises to be fun for the whole family (as long as they're over 21).

Throw in an art installation by Inter Animi, performance art by Satori Circus, and some twisted puppetry by the Gepetto Files, and you've got an entertainment bonanza for the low low price of only $10. I ran into artist Maureen Maki at the Gutterfest, and she had her hands full rehearsing with Paper Tiger and working on a 12-foot phallus missile to be displayed at the event. Sounds like fun.

Speaking of Visual Arts, Fly On The Wall

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