Loose Lips

Feb 9, 2000 at 12:00 am


Aaron Timlin of detroit contemporary gallery, with his unpretentious willingness to educate in layman’s terms, opened up the art world to me last year. Now, I am happy to announce there’s another venue joining the ranks of galleries run by fabulously real people.

The Snug Gallery in Detroit, which shares a roof (and front door) with the Traffic Jam Restaurant on Canfield, has at last found some direction. Local artists Slaw and Lou have stepped up to the curator plate; they have big plans for remodeling and weekly entertainment. (Sorry, singles – these attractive artsters are happily wed, to each other.)

Kicking off their reign was a well-attended opening Friday night (again an opening with no yellow cheese cubes; has Casey Coston scared the entire art community off them permanently?). No snobby stiffness here; Snug Gallery is fun, enthusiastic and alive, full of friendly chatter, personal touches and great ideas.

The "Hard Boiled Art" exhibit runs daily through Feb. 21, and features works from 10 local artists. Look for my favorites: Anything by Slaw; "The Climax" by Steven Verriest, and "Bathtub Hussy" by Jeramy Harvy.


I take my duty to you, the reader, quite seriously. I know that you have families, jobs, responsibilities – OK, lives – that prohibit your participating in an action-packed nightlife. But you want to stay plugged in, which is why I forgo a life necessitating maturity, and heroically shoulder the burden of having fun in your stead.

So, just for you, I ignored the stomach flu ravaging my innards Saturday night to have a swingin’ time down at the Fisher Building in Detroit.

The Fanclub Foundation for the Arts’ "Swingtime 2000" roared throughout the cavernous art deco halls, providing a wormhole to an era gone by. The swanky party featured jive greats The Imperial Swing Orchestra and dance lessons for early arrivals.

Gourmet grub from more than 30 restaurants, free-flowing beer and wine (by Local Color and Michigan Wine Council, respectively), and superb entertainment made the $50 advance ticket price a bargain, believe it or not – although partying with the "swingsters" who pay $50 cover charges is pretty much equivalent to socializing in a board room.

Thankful that I opted for loose trousers as part of my ensemble, I cruised the victual vendors, sampling Mongolian barbecue stir fry from Excellence Too Catering of Bloomfield Hills, Prince Edward Island mussels from Royal Oak’s D’Amato’s Neighborhood Italian Restaurant, and cheesecake from La Dolce Vita of Detroit. With such a scrumptious spread, I pitied the scads of dames in form-fitting frocks, posing like cardboard cutouts and drooling over their men’s plates of food. The West Bloomfield crowd seemed to dominate, reminding me that the physical perfection required in such circles is positively grueling to maintain.

Several Barbies and Kens did cut loose on the dance floor, however, though one woman worried me sick as she stopped periodically just long enough to suck from her inhaler!

Ah, the power of swing! I’ve long shunned swing dancing, as I fancy myself "above" participating in fads. But, man, I’ve been converted. Watching swingsters Terri Baumann and Deor Orzame literally move so fast they blurred on the dance floor made every cell in my being long to do that! Plus, I want to wear those cool outfits. So stand back – way back – next time you’re at Velvet; I’ll be tearing it up!

Vicariously exhausted from the twistin’ and turnin’ on the dance floor, I sought out adult beverage and some wallflower real estate. Inside the theater lobby, the Town Pump served sauce at a makeshift bar complete with two of their infamously inviting bartenders. Squeezing between a rogue so tan he looked like a holographic negative, and the gallant cloud of cologne that is Mitch Wood, playboy pet of the party set, I grabbed a brew and shimmied down to the stage.

Mesmerizing a rapt audience was the Pena Worldbeat Latin Band, which invoked my last burst of energy, as I fashioned funky moves and dreamed of Ricky Ricardo.

So sultry and sumptuous the beat! So silly and sad the drunken and diamond-riddled diva who dirty-danced her way to every young stud in eyeshot.

Beat down, lightly toasted and pleasantly stuffed, I aimed myself toward the coat check. Ah, but one quick detour to the Cookies by Design table. Diverting my attention from my straining waistband, I struck up conversation with Lavada Taylor of Lakeside Building Maintenance, who told me she was having fun just working at this event. Swingtime’s success was certainly in part attributable to Taylor.

My waddle slowing to a stop near the exit, my pal and I sat at an empty table. People watching is a special treat when your subjects are high profile, exhausted and under some influence.

Tipsy, stumbling women in dresses worth more than my car. Skeletal socialites filling empty cosmopolitan glasses with handfuls of little desserts for the ride home. Charmingly romantic couples in their golden years holding hands and smiling nostalgically. And considering that "it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing," this was one hell of a meaningful night.