Red and white like me 


The DIA, not unlike its prized mummified remains, has long taken a more reticent and insulated profile when it comes to contemporaneous events, be they art, music or community affairs. Suffice to say, the lexicon of local wags did not reflexively include the phrase “cutting edge” when describing the DIA mission statement. That generalization, which has eroded slightly in recent years, can now pretty much be thrown out the stained glass window after this past Friday’s White Stripes gig, not to mention the recent opening of the exhibit “Artists Take on Detroit.” These days, as we go through our quotidian routines, it seems like you can’t go, oh, about 22.4 seconds without reading a laudatory piece on the Stripes in either the local or national media. Detroit’s breakout buzz band of the year continues to draw rave reviews across the land as well as across the Atlantic. While the past summer’s tour generated a veritable beehive of media and fan buzz in England, Europe and Australia, the stateside papers were also no laggards in that department. Covering the gamut in music media coverage, the band has appeared in spreads in Spin, a half page in Vanity Fair, a glowing in-depth piece in the New York Times, as well as a featured spot in the Village Voice, the latter of which went to unheralded lengths in plumbing the depths of pretentious East-Coast intelligentsia, pseudo-rock deconstructivism. Meanwhile, after a show at the Bowery Ballroom in Gotham this summer, Sundance poster child Vincent Gallo reportedly took a brief respite from consort PJ Harvey long enough to offer Meg White a walk-on part in his latest unnamed film project. Getting back to the recent First Friday, though, the DIA Rivera Court was, for this one night, transformed into the ultimate “all ages” show. This is where the true “candy-cane children” (slang for White Stripes’ fans) came to meet, as the Great Hall and Rivera Court runneth over with a swarm of red-and-white-clad youngsters, almost all of whom were either nieces or nephews of Jack. Captured by the Loose Lips photo crew were Laura Pond, Amelia and Solana Gillis, and Grace Millard (all nieces). When the nephews heard about this, they made a run at the camera as well. Once the band started up, however, any attempt to get the boys’ names was pretty much lost, as all of the children then made a run at the front of the stage. Once there, the candy-cane kids sang along with all the songs (with big cheers going up for “Hotel Yorba,” which we’ll probably see in heavy rotation at Kalamazoo kindergarten classes in coming months). The duo came out with Jack White waving a hilarious ’70s-era “Detroit” flag, and then romped through their set, with songs including “The Big 3 Killed My Baby” (connect-your-Diego Rivera-Frida Kahlo-reference here), and a Detroit medley that ran from Iggy Pop to the Gories to the MC5. For those who couldn’t make it inside the Rivera Court, smart-thinking museum sharpies were simulcasting the gig in the Great Hall, which was good too, because the line for a drink at times appeared to stretch out to Woodward. While in the drink line, I overheard the bartender say that they “usually go through a lot more wine” at these things, but on this night, it was pretty much “all beer.” Only fitting for this show. All beer-all the time.


Speaking of the Great Hall, this may be one of the few times where, at the DIA, you’ll see the names Captain Jolly, George the Animal Steele, Milky the Clown, Johnny Ginger, Morbus the Magnificent and Bill Kennedy featured jointly on museum artwork. Of course, this is all part of the “Artists Take on Detroit” exhibit, and these four murals, entitled “Strange Frut” Rock Apocrypha, were actually painted by a sign painter-muralist at the behest and artistic direction of the Destroy All Monsters collective (Cary Loren, Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw). With the MC5 being featured in the artwork in the Great Hall, while simultaneously being covered live by the White Stripes in the adjacent Rivera Court, it was plainly clear that this was no longer your grandfather’s DIA. Add to that an enormous piece by Tyree Guyton in the Prentis Court, Mike Kelley’s John Glenn sculpture and Scott Hocking’s and Clinton Snider’s “Relics” exhibit, and, well, one begins to get slightly dizzy with contemporary glee. Speaking of Loren, the Book Beat panjandrum approached me in a somewhat agitated state at the recent opening of the Artists Take exhibit, seeking to correct something I wrote in the far distant past (May 2000, I do believe). As devoted Loose Lips archivists will recall, Yoko Ono came to town to plant a gingko tree … oh, wait, correct that — she came to erect a “living, breathing sculpture” in downtown Detroit’s Times Square. In any event, I mentioned that Loren was spotted doggedly yet unsuccessfully attempting to secure Yoko’s autograph on her 1995 Instruction Paintings book, which Loren had brought down for the occasion. For the record, Loren informed me that he “was invited … and it was a gift.” OK, then. I’ll just let that one slide (tho methinks thou doth protest too much). Speaking of Destroy All Monsters, the rumor at the opening was that the art noise ensemble, including lead caterwauler Niagara, were going to play a Nov. 15 gig in the Rivera Court. Whether that comes to pass is unclear, and it may be rescheduled to January; however, Mike Kelley was overheard making it clear it will be all new stuff, including possibly Brittany Spears covers.


Finally, some juicy stuff, for those who care. Downtown nightclub Bleu, open for less than a year, filed for Chapter 11 on Oct. 19. The bankruptcy filing was in response to a collection suit filed in Wayne County Circuit Court by secured creditor Eric Seiger, who is owed more than $600,000. On Oct. 1, the Wayne County Court appointed David Findling of Royal Oak as receiver and enjoined 50-percent shareholder and president Jeff Moran from interfering in the nightclub’s operations. Moran then filed the bankruptcy petition, which Seiger and Chrystina Pattyn (the other 50-percent shareholder) contend is unauthorized. Attached to the Motion to Dismiss the Bankruptcy is a sworn affidavit by Seiger which, among other things, alleges that Moran “suffers from a severe drug problem,” and has threatened to “burn the place to the ground” in the event creditors file a lawsuit. In addition, the affidavit states that competitors operated the club and were allowed to abscond with cash receipts and profits. Finally, in a concluding doozy, the affidavit states that on Sept. 26, Moran was involved in a violent altercation and allegedly shot a creditor’s collection agent. (No indication how seriously the agent was hurt.) There must be a lot of collection agents, as, according to the bankruptcy schedules, the club owes at least 20 creditors over $1.4 million, with four collection suits currently pending. On a happy note, sources inform me that Moran has agreed to dismiss the bankruptcy case, which will allow the receiver to retake control of the operations, and, presumably, no shots will be fired. Moran’s attorney, Martin Krall, had a succinct “no comment” when asked about the allegations.

Casey Coston writes here every other week. Got gossip, essential factoids or party invites? E-mail, or call the tip line at 313-962-5281. Press * then dial

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