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Professional Loafing 

BEST ALTERNATIVE MOVIE HOUSE

Main Art Theatre - Main Street and 11 Mile, Royal Oak, 248-542-0180

Not all that long ago, downtown Royal Oak’s Main Art Theatre began making great movie viewing available daily to a large, appreciative audience in metro Detroit. It was taking a cue from the pioneering Detroit Film Theatre at the DIA that quality films were what mobs of viewers wanted to see.

The Main made the leap from cozy neighborhood vestige of the good old days à la Last Picture Show to the risks and joys of a full-time, commercial art house.

An initial, spectacular renovation of the old building still sets the tone: This retro-moderne hybrid is spacious, comfortable, welcoming, with excellent sound and projection – and, as now managed by the Landmark chain of art cinemas, still feels like a good old movie house, not a mall multiplex or mothership extravaganza.

Centrally located in the Detro-sprawl, the Main Art offers a menu of distinction, dynamism and dementia to a wide range of viewing tastes. From Trainspotting and Pi to Deconstructing Harry and Affliction, from Shall We Dance? to Kurt & Courtney, the variety and seductiveness of the schedule have proved impossible to resist.

The Main Art provides valet parking on weekends or will feed your parking meter while you’re taking your pleasure in the dark. And it’s just a leisurely stroll away from all kinds of fine eating establishments, a number of which are MT "Best Of" winners. So you can view then chow, or chow then view – a pretty rare setup in greater Detroit these days. — George Tysh

BEST USED RECORD STORE

Car City - 21918 Harper, St. Clair Shores, 810-775-4770

On a lazy weekend afternoon, when you’ve got a little cash in your pocket, but not a lot, there’s no better place I know to spend your time and money than Car City Records.

Of course, it helps to be a music junkie, and it really helps to have a turntable. There are plenty of used $8 CDs to choose from – but the true glory of the store is that it’s Detroit’s palace of vinyl.

If you don’t mind that old crackle sprinkled through your music, you can find great old albums for so very little – often $3 or $4.

The deeper you go into the corners of the store, the more gems you can find. If you’re looking for American legends such as Johnny Cash and Louis Armstrong, there are a multitude of albums to choose from.

Recently, I found a four-LP set of Ella Fitzgerald singing the Gershwin songbook for $10, and a beat up but playable Elmore James double LP for $2.

Their newest section, the 94-cent aisle, is full of treasure. When I flipped through it recently, I expected to find a bunch of no-names. Instead, all of the ’70s rock and ’80s pop seemed to be on sale: several albums from Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Pat Benatar and Jethro Tull, among many others.

Bargain hunters clog the aisle in front of the cash register, flipping through the always-excellent selection of newly arrived used CDs.

If you’re not looking for pre-listened music, the selection of new CDs is reasonably priced, and features a good mix of popular bands and cult heroes.

Count on the store clerks to have great taste and intimate knowledge of the local music scene. Not only do they make sure the best of Detroit indie rock is prominently displayed in the store, they’ve often been able to tell me where the weekend’s best shows will be. – Erick Trickey

MOST KNOWLEDGEABLE RECORD STORE STAFF

Harmony House
Various locations

BEST PLACE TO GO FOR FREE

Belle Isle

This is how my notes for the Belle Isle entry read, as typed while my editor dictated assignments over the phone: Belle Isle – best free sunrise sex dog.

What kind of place is this? The longhand version is this: Metro Times readers chose this urban oasis, once known as Hog Island, as best free entertainment, best place to watch the sunrise, best place to have sex outdoors and best place to walk your dog.

And Belle Isle is a truly Detroit-style oasis. Where Central Park has its Olmstead landscaping, bike and foot paths, soundstage and roller-dancing areas, for instance, Belle Isle has exactly what one would expect to see in Detroit: Roads.

And we’re not talking lazy, Sunday drive-type roads. We’re talking wide-open, speed-as-you-will-type roads. And while the sunrise is truly spectacular from the isle, what is even more mesmerizing in the early morning is to watch the hordes who flock to the park to read the morning paper and take in the brisk morning air from their cars!

Yup, they just park alongside the Belle Isle expressway and kick back with a cup of fast-food joe and the news (or useless information disguised as news).

The dog-walkers, needless to say, venture outside their vehicles to enjoy the park’s 1,000 acres of grass, gravel and pavement.

Where those who flock to the isle for what, these days, we’re calling sexual relations like to go, I don’t know. (Guess that covers the part about urban wildlife, too.) As beloved as Belle Isle may be, it isn’t the cleanest of places. This might be one instance where visitors should remain in their cars. — Kristin Palm

BEST ALL-ROUND RECORD SELECTION

Harmony House
Various locations

BEST PLACE TO SHAKE YOUR BOOTY ALL NIGHT

Clutch Cargo’s - 65 E. Huron, Pontiac, 248-333-2362

BEST OPEN-MIC NIGHT

Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle - 269 E. Fourth, Royal Oak, 248-542-9900

BEST LOCAL CULTURAL FESTIVAL

Hamtramck Festival

BEST PLACE TO LISTEN TO POETRY

Cafe Mahogany - 1465 Centre, Detroit, 313-235-2233

BEST PLACE TO SEE A CONCERT

Pine Knob - Clarkston, 248-377-0100

BEST PLACE TO HEAR A CONCERT

Detroit Symphony Orchestra Hall - 3711 Woodward, 313-576-5111

Far from the noise of lunatics in orbit, I found myself one evening in 1992 sitting in rapt attention to pianist Ivo Pogorelich as he played Rachmaninoff and Ravel. My first visit to Orchestra Hall in years, this turned out to be a satori-like experience.

The acoustics, from where I sat in the front balcony, transported the performance – which was passionate, daring, extraterrestrial. As the notes of a sonata rose to the restored ceiling of the hall, they swelled and collected there like an invisible mist of sound, more a lingering memory than an echo. Every nuance of the music, each detail, had a presence of its own – you could hear melodic diamonds dropping onto harmonic velvet from any seat in the house.

On another night, I checked out the rolling waves of sound from the main floor as the Arditti Quartet wound its gut-stretching way through a difficult Schoenberg string quartet. Then, most hypnotic of all, was the luxurious resonance of Ivan Moravec’s piano in a Chopin nocturne – this from the sustained concentration of a box seat.

But as perfect as Orchestra Hall is for classical music – it’s the absolutely logical home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra – the range and flexibility of its sonic environment become obvious when jazz masters such as Joe Henderson or Herbie Hancock play there. Cymbals on a drum kit shimmer like dancing angels. A saxophone solo twists the mind into pristine Houdini knots. Whichever acoustic music suits your fancy – from North Indian sitar and tabla to full-blown choral recitals or a seductive soprano delivering Gershwin – this is the spot. — George Tysh

BEST PLAYHOUSE

The Gem Theatre - 333 E. Madison, Detroit, 313-963-9800

At 5.5 million pounds, the Gem Theatre is reportedly the heaviest building in the world to be moved on rubber tires. And what a worthy move it was!

Owner Chuck Forbes renovated the 1928 theater in 1991, only to be told a few years later that his building would be demolished to make way for the new baseball stadium.

Now in its new location across from Music Hall, the Gem and the adjoining newly renovated Century Club serve not only as entertainment venues but as repositories of sorts for Detroit’s architectural history.

What would have been yet another Detroit urban planning debacle were it not for one man’s tenacity, now stands as a monument in contrast to all the city’s past mistakes. (Will they ever learn?).

The entranceway to the Gem is decorated with Pewabic tile rescued from the city’s YWCA (a less-fortunate target of the new stadium wrecking ball), the patio is fashioned from bricks used on the city’s old streetcar line, and the club is adorned with 400 feet of the original cast-iron canopy from the former downtown Hudson’s department store, now better known as "The Future Site of Campus Martius" or "That Big Hole in the Ground." Wood molding and stained glass from the YWCA are incorporated as well.

It’s unfortunate that the current, long-running play at the Gem, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (held over until June 27!) is not nearly as impressive as the confines in which said musical comedy occurs. But there are more than enough decorative touches inside to divert attention away from the stage and to the real star of the show: Forbes’ fabulous restoration. — Kristin Palm

BEST COMEDY CLUB

Second City - 2305 Woodward, 313-965-2222

BEST IMPROV TROUPE

Second City

BEST LOCAL DANCE COMPANY (tie)

Detroit Dance Center Inc. - 820 W. Baltimore, 313-873-2623
Detroit Dance Collective - 23 E. Adams, 313-965-3544

BEST LOCAL THEATRE COMPANY

Hilberry - 313-577-2974

Consistently bringing both contemporary and age-old classics to the stage, the Hilberry Theatre Company at Wayne State University is a Detroit institution. And while some local theater types may grouse when they see the company, made up of Wayne State graduate theater students, treated much the same as a professional outfit by audiences and the press, there’s no denying that the Hilberry Company, along with the Theatre Company at the University of Detroit, fills that role in this theatrically underserved city.

Drawing talent from a nationwide pool, director James Michael Thomas, chair of the Theater Department at Wayne, stated in a 1998 interview that the Hilberry was probably in the top 15 graduate theater schools in the country.

In addition to luring top talent to study here, he has brought in noteworthy professionals as well, such as Stratford’s Antoni Cimolino, who came in to direct Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance last year.

Of course, none of this explains why Thomas opted to cast Hamlet in a suit and tie and the ghost of his father as a veritable Darth Vader in the recently concluded production of Hamlet.

But the Hilberry’s long-standing track record of solid productions and performances was apparently enough to override this strange mistake in the minds of Metro Times readers, not to mention Hilberry audiences on the whole.

Just try to get a table at Twingo’s after a Hilberry performance some weekend and you’ll see proof of this, to be sure. — Kristin Palm

BEST PLACE TO CROSS-DRESS

City Club - 400 Bagley, 313-962-2300

Don’t worry about running out of black or dark purple lipstick at City Club. Chances are, everyone you meet, male or female, will be wearing your shade.

That’s just one of the perks of going to City Club. Located on the ground floor of the Ramada Hotel in downtown Detroit, City Club was chosen by our readers as the best place to cross-dress in the metro area.

Why dress as the opposite sex at City Club? As one patron put it, screaming over the loud whiz-clang of industrial music on a recent Friday night, "It’s so dark in here, no one will know if you’ve done a bad job!"

Once your eyes adjust, you will notice that people are sort of into their own thing, wallowing in the Gothic music which, in addition to industrial music, makes up the club’s repertoire.

"It’s a great place to go to be anonymous," says one person who will remain that way.

City Club bartender Sandahl Jansen says people come from as far away as Germany and Russia to enjoy the club’s unwavering Goth scene.

"We stick to our format," she chirps from behind the bar, her pink and blonde pigtails contrasting nicely with the obligatory black outfit. "It’s the most untrendy bar you can go to."

City Club regulars say other good reasons to cross-dress at their favorite watering hole include the fact that both men and women are apt to wear skirts and fishnet stockings there, so there’s little chance of being found out even if the person you’re flirting with happens to have really good night vision.

Plus, they say, the men who go to City Club are really desperate for sex. (I’m just telling you what they said.)

Given all that, why not check out City Club? You never know who you’ll meet in a dark corner. — Jennifer Bagwell

BEST PLACE TO GO DANCING WITH A PARTNER

Velvet Lounge - 29 S. Saginaw, Pontiac, 248-334-7411

BEST PLACE TO GO DANCING BY YOURSELF

Motor - 3515 Caniff, Hamtramck, 313-369-0080

BEST PLACE FOR DANCE LESSONS

Velvet Lounge

BEST INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE

Book Beat - 26010 Greenfield, Oak Park, 248-968-1190

The best thing about independent bookstores may be their ability to surprise. While big chains rigidly control their inventories, tracking them by computer and rotating less popular titles off the shelves, at Book Beat you can find out-of-print books, unusual titles and entire sections that reflect the passions of the staff.

A small shelf of books about angels gives way to a larger section dedicated to "vampyres."

The Beat Generation and their influences take up several shelves. There’s an entire aisle dedicated to Judaica and Jewish literature. And the twisting aisles in the far corners of the store are home to a large collection of children’s books.

Most dramatic is the immense art and photography section, which includes books from Europe and Japan. A quick scan of the art books turned up collections of Jean Cocteau drawings, West African Yoruba art and German expressionism.

And nearby, behind the Frida Kahlo bead curtain, Book Beat’s gallery hosts first-rate photography and art exhibits.

"The store is focused on creativity," says owner Carey Loren, also a member of the legendary avant-garde noise band Destroy All Monsters.

"We’re catering to a certain clientele that has respect for the medium of books."

Book Beat is the place to go if you want to get lost in books: Its unruly shelves reach out and draw your eyes toward titles and topics you would never have discovered otherwise. — Erin Trickey

BEST PLACE TO DRINK TEA

Fiona’s Tea House - 945 Beech, 313-967-9314

BEST DOWNTOWN ART GALLERY

Detroit Institute of Arts - 5200 Woodward, 313-833-7900

BEST SUBURBAN ART GALLERY

Revolution - 23257 Woodward, Ferndale, 248-541-3444

BEST USE FOR A USELESS SUNDAY

Sleep

BEST PRIME-TIME CARTOON

"The Simpsons"

I will write about "The Simpsons."

Homer says d’oh! I will write about ... mmmmm ... Donuts! Beer! Hamburgers! TV! ("Like Father, Like Clown")

I will write about Homer (260 pounds, winner of the C. Montgomery Burns award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence, Springfield’s Belching Contest Winner, occasionally mistaken for Bigfoot). ("Rosebud")

I will write about blue-haired Marge (who holds the Simpson clan together and – commissioned by Homer’s boss, Mr. Burns, to paint his portrait – saw beauty in his scrawny naked body). ("A Streetcar Named Marge")

I will write about irreverent Bart, who writes: The truth is not out there/ I will not draw naked ladies in class/I will not waste chalk/I saw nothing unusual in the teacher’s lounge and other such mysteriously repetitive assertions we love to memorize, regardless of their sometimes obscure meaning. ("Krusty Gets Busted")

I will write about Principal Skinner, the man with the Springfield Files. ("Sweet Seymour Skinner Baadasssss Song")

I will write about pacifier-Maggie who can spell E=MC2 with her toy blocks and shot Charles Montgomery Burns. ("One fish, two fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish")

I will write about Lisa, the first female cadet at Rommelwood Military Academy, mentored by the late Bleeding Gums Murphy (not necessarily in that order). ("Mr. Lisa Goes To Washington")

God, I love this show! The system works! — Dayana Stetco

BEST TV SERIES TO EUTHANIZE

"Friends"

BEST TV COMMERCIAL TO MOCK

Taco Bell dog ("Yo quiero a break ...")

BEST PLACE TO READ A BOOK

At home, in bed or on the couch

BEST PLACE TO SHOOT POOL

Fifth Avenue - 215 W. Fifth Ave., Royal Oak, 248-542-9922

TOP FIVE INTERNET HOAXES

Y2K

Y2K as best Internet hoax? Well, maybe. It certainly could become the granddaddy "sky is falling" high-tech whopper of the decade. But as far as I’m concerned, I’ll wait till New Year’s before I call it a total fraud. Until then, all cyberbets are off.

Let’s face it – the Year 2000 bug is just too legit. Congress discusses it. Corporations spend millions fixing it. Government agencies deny they’re having any problems at all. Hey it must be true, right?

No, I definitely prefer the less publicized kind of Web tall tale. You know, the e-mail-forwarded-to-the-whole-office-by-Irma-the-gullible-secretary sort of hoax.

Certainly you’re familiar with these: "Sick little Timmy needs your help to get into the Guinness Book!" (There is no Timmy).

"Hi. I’m Walt Disney Jr. and the first 1,000 people who forward this message win a free trip to EPCOT!" (Walt Disney had no sons).

"Warning – the FCC is imposing a per minute surcharge on Internet use!" (plausible, but totally false), and my personal favorite: "Bill Gates is about to buy the Catholic Church from the Pope!"

If you’re guilty of forwarding any of these to unsuspecting friends or family or co-workers, don’t worry.

You’re not a sucker.

After all, the reason these hoaxes spread so quickly is they’re believable.

Sort of.

Well ... frankly ... we want to believe them. They’re fun.

And maybe Y2K will turn out to be the biggest hoax of all. But I’m not taking any chances. I’m stocking up on canned goods and jugs of water. I’ve placed my order for 10 cords of firewood and a solar generator. I’m buying a brand-new shotgun.

And if you have any sense at all, you will too. Quickly, before it’s too late – forward this message to 15 friends and spread the word! — Adam Druckman

Bill Gates giving away trips to Disneyland
The kids that were going to lose their virginity online
IRS Scam Letter
$1,000 chain letter

BEST CHAT ROOM

Yahoo Games/ Michigan M4M-town

BEST FICTITIOUS URLS

www.idontcare.com
www.metrotimessucks.com
www.lardasses.com
www.suckbill.com

BEST NEW DRUG

Viagra

BEST OLD DRUG

Cannabis sativa, and all derivative names for it.

BEST WAY TO KILL TIME

Read – books, Metro Times, magazines, the Bible

Freshly ironed, the little black dress hangs quietly in the closet. You don’t have to take it out, not yet, you’ve still got an hour. He’ll show up with flowers, as usual. White lilies, maybe gerberas with soft, heavy petals. Isn’t he wonderful?

9:20. Didn’t Ms. Havisham’s clock stop at 9:20? (both biological and...) How long has it been since you’ve read Great Expectations?

Oh, that’s right: you’ve never read the book, but you’ve seen the movie. The movies, all versions, including the Anne Bancroft, Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert De Niro one. People didn’t like that one: You did. Theatrical and over-the-top as it was. That’s right, now you remember: The women wore only green dresses in that film.

Maybe you should read ... No. He’ll be here in half an hour, 40 minutes at most. Should you try to look less formal tonight? Maybe wear the emerald green dress ... yeah, right, to go with the Emerald City.

"We’re not in Kansas anymore!" You’ve always wanted to say that, god knows why. Speaking of which, when’s the last time you read The Wizard of Oz? Maybe you should finger it familiarly whilst you wait ... No. He’ll be here any minute now.

So: The green dress, the black shoes from Incognito, and green bubble shades. ("Oedipa, perverse...")

Where did that come from? Thomas Pynchon! The Crying of Lot 49. Oedipa, "perverse," in love with the image of the world as seen through her tears reflected by the warped lenses of her green bubble shades ... How long has it been since ... Maybe you should ... No! He should have been here 20 minutes ago. Traffic. He must be stuck in traffic.

It happened to Arnold Schwarzenegger in Eraser. You remember the scene: "You’re late," says Vanessa Williams, more beautiful than ever – mascara intact, lipstick unsmudged, hair perfect – as two hundred bullets are shot in her direction.

"Traffic," says Schwarzenegger and throws the fatal grenade. How long has it been since ... Oh, that’s right: The book came out after the movie. And why should you read that anyway?

The green dress or the black dress? Chanel No. 5 or Wings? The silver bracelet or the gold? Should you lie down for a minute? On the bed or in the armchair? By the window or by the fireplace? Maybe you should browse through the J. Peterman catalogue, get a few gift ideas. ...

He should have been here an hour ago. He’s not coming. The pompous-frog-faced-son-of-a-bitch! He can take his flowers and shove them up his arse!

9:20?! How could Ms. Havisham wait for that bastard all those years?! And as you smash the Chanel No. 5 bottle against the (fake) Venetian mirror, throw the Incognito shoes out of the window, and tear to shreds the little fucking black frock, you remember Ann Bancroft telling Ethan Hawke: "Feel my heart! Broken!"

And then you lie down, open a book (any book; it’s not like you’ve read anything since you’ve met the snake!), and notice, in passing, that your watch has stopped at 20 after nine. — Dayana Stetco

BEST NEW SLANG WORDS

Technobabble: adj. Words that discuss technical details without imparting meaning
2x4: n. A stud
Hit: adj. Tired, as in after a workout
Blazi-blazi-boom: n. Expression used instead of "et cetera"
Bombity: adv. A combination of "bomb" and "diggity"

BEST RETRO SLANG WORD

Groovy

BEST PLACE TO PASS OUT IN PUBLIC

Hart Plaza

BEST PLACE TO PASS OUT LITERATURE IN PUBLIC

Downtown Royal Oak

BEST FASHION ITEM TO SYMBOLIZE THE ’90s

Baggy pants

When I get to the office he’s already there.

"Hello, Marius. Am I late?"

He gets up quickly, smiling. "No, No, I’m early."

He’s missed another assignment. What was it this week, I wonder? LSD? A Phish concert? The girl?

"Cool office," he says. He’s delighted to be here. He takes off his shoes, he stretches. He’s perfectly comfortable. He bends to look at a book on the bottom shelf. Small T-shirt, bare back, green underwear (don’t ask), baggy pants.

As a matter of fact, his pants have a tendency to lag every time he moves. It’s as if they choose to stay behind, too lazy to follow.

Baggy pants: the latest fashion scream. The rage.

"What?" He looks at me, hands on his (practically bare) hips. "What are you looking at? Are you trying to intimidate me?"

Good God. Who has the energy?

"No," I say. "I was admiring your pants. New fad?"

"Oh, no. They’ve been around for a while. Very comfortable." He clears his throat. He scratches his forehead. He yawns. "I’m so sleepy. The girl kept me up."

"I’m happy for you. Now for your quiz ... "

"They’re cool pants. Very comfortable."

"So you’ve said. Which quiz did you miss?"

"There’s so much freedom of movement ... here, at the crotch, you see?"

He’s ready to demonstrate.

"Plus, you can have a few orgasms and no one will notice. You don’t have to be embarrassed or anything. You can hang out all day in the same clothes – I practically live in mine for days – and no one will know what you’ve been up to."

"Fascinating," I say. "So, do you remember which – "

"I don’t feel like taking an exam right now. You wanna have some coffee?" — Dayana Stetco

BEST PLACE TO START THE MILLENNIUM

Home

BEST CANDIDATE FOR THE NEXT RETRO TREND

Roaring ’20s

BEST WAY TO DEFEAT SATAN

Pray

The big issue in writing about the best way to defeat and/or embrace Satan has to be the personal safety of the writer.

So, let the Big Evil know that opinions expressed here are (mostly) those of MT poll voters, and not of this bad-as-you-want-me-to-be reporter.

Chances are pretty good that Satan doesn’t read the Metro Times, anyway, other than the personals ads. So, the hell with it, here’s the buzz on Beelzebub.

The method most MT readers picked to defeat Satan was to pray/go to church/read the Bible. An ecumenical vote for Allah was cast. But Good has many weapons in the eternal battle with Evil, including the direct approach: "Kill him," "Afro pick," "Dentyne Ice" (How do you get the devil to chew gum?) and "Stake through the heart."

The Sellout Method – "If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em" – was also mentioned, as were the idiosyncratic angles of several extreme readers who seemed bent on baffling Satan into submission.

These cosmic warriors would "Wear underwear upside down" while "playing Slim Whitman music," brandishing "a nude pic of Gov. Engler," and, finally, would "spit Absolut Vodka at him."

Not to forget these wise, though unforgivable, words: "Don’t ever write 666 – oops!"

The road to embracing Satan is far easier, say readers: Sin, sin, sin. Sex, drugs, rock and roll. (Monster Magnet and Iron Maiden are the quick, cheap tickets into Hades.)

The winner in the Satan-embraceable-you category, on the other hand, was "Vote Republican."

No nasty comments on that from this quarter – taking on Satan is one thing, taking on John Engler is quite a different matter. — Dennis Shea

BEST WAY TO EMBRACE SATAN

Join the Republican Party

BEST NEW TREND TO AVOID

Piercings

BEST PLACE TO SEE URBAN WILDLIFE

Belle Isle

BEST DAY TRIP

Canada (various locations, presumably within driving distance)

BEST PLACE TO GO IN THE OFF-SEASON

Up North

BEST WAY TO MAKE MORE TIME IN YOUR DAY

Get up earlier

Previous Winners

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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