Best Of 1999

Media blitz

BEST SENSATIONALISTIC TOPICS FOR FOX 2 NEWS TO TACKLE NEXT

• Necklines plunge as local anchors fall victim to stalkers!
• Composting with beauty salon cut-hair waste!
• Bad hair days — what to do when they happen to you!
• Weather patio: It’s raining outside!
• The closets of our competitors’ anchors: Sex lives! Drug use! Shirts!
• The tilting of Hart Plaza!
• Hair spray & foundation: Can they damage your brain?
• Air, it’s all around you — A Fox News tip!
• Infants trading sex for guns!
• Gay lawyer pick-up bars!
• Cell phones — The silent killer!

BEST CANDIDATE FOR HIS/HER OWN TALK SHOW

Geoffrey Fieger/Monica Lewinsky

BEST NEW CABLE CHANNEL

Game Show Network

BEST TITLE FOR A LOCAL, REALITY-BASED TV SHOW

"Get in your car & drive"
"Detroit is/was"
"Panic in Detroit"
"White night in a black city"
"Road to bent rims and broken struts"
"Historical digging in Detroit"
"Chop Shop"
"Pissy & cold"
"Our Hope: Chicago"
"Gang War: Live"
"King of Farmington Hills"

BEST LOCAL TV ANCHOR

Carmen Harlan

MOST IGNORED LOCAL STORY

Newspaper strike/lockout

Why was the Detroit newspapers strike and lockout the "most ignored story" of 1998? If you mean "ignored by the media," the obvious answer is that the News and Free Press have no interest in reminding their dwindling readership of management’s law-breaking and union-busting, ongoing since 1995.

And for the local media that weren’t directly involved in the labor dispute, you don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to understand that corporate-owned media tend to side with other corporations when it comes to fights between workers and owners.

Locked-out printer Barb Ingalls has another conjecture: "People are just amazed that we’re still out here. I think it embarrasses them. It should be a no-brainer to support us, and it makes people ashamed that they’re not out there with us. They wish we would go away."

Of course, the strike is not nearly as visible as it used to be, back when picketing and even arrests were happening every week.

Now, most locked-out workers have been forced to find other jobs, leaving less time for harassment of newspaper moguls, although some are still holding on, with strike benefits, as full-time activists.

They held a rally on March 2, with more than 200 people blowing whistles as they marched around the combined News-Free Press building. Management handed out earplugs to employees inside.

"It was a perfect metaphor," says Teamster organizer Mike Zielinski. "The papers are deaf to what the community is telling them."

Meanwhile, the strikers plan more actions to make managers’ lives miserable while the legal appeals drag on, including an appearance at the Gannett stockholders meeting in May. — Jane Slaughter

MOST NEEDED RADIO STATION FORMAT

Classical

This one’s not going to go away any time soon, people. Last year’s Best Of Detroit winner for "Most Welcome Radio Station Format Switch" was the switch that turned classical dial-landmark WQRS into WXDG "The Edge" — an alternative rock station that, at the time, specialized in piquing the nostalgia of grown-up mallternateens. But the outrage at that result proved alternative rock won a Pyrrhic victory at best.

Conscientious classical music mavens have been forced to cobble together a listening schedule by switching among CBC radio, local public radio and WJR’s Saturday evening concerts (at least there’s one domestic, regular fixture serving this underserved audience).

There have been rumors flying loose and free about monied folks poking around the radio dial, looking for a good spot to plant a classical station. You’d think classical listeners should be a lucrative advertising target audience. But alas, no outlet has thus far materialized.

The question, then, for folks actively campaigning for classical is: What kind of a classical station would best serve Detroit listeners?

Many folks were of the opinion that one reason QRS was vulnerable was that its programming was stale and predictable.

Would Detroit listeners support a radio station that mixed new and modern compositions in with the "Three Bs?" For the sake of musical vitality, let’s hope so.

The crucial matter, though, is that the vocal have spoken on behalf of a music they love, and market forces have, well, forced much beautiful music from the public ear. Here’s to hoping classical fans will soon have a single station they can lock in on and jerk the knob off. — Chris Handyside

BEST DRIVE-TIME RADIO SHOW

Drew & Mike

They may be cretins, but, damnit, they’re our cretins!

It seems that some of our readers (and, indeed, some of our writers, yours truly included) take some guilty pleasure in the inspired locker-room humor of WRIF’s morning rabble-rousers Drew & Mike.

Or, more likely Lane & Clark actually provide an antidote to the truly juvenile "Morning Zoo" mentality of endless, pointless guffawing and uninspired banality proffered by most of the drive-time rabble.

There must be reason why the duo (along with Trudi "News" Daniels) and their cast of characters (some legitimately funny impersonations: Howard Cosell, Lawrence Taylor, O.J. Simpson, among them) kick the ratings rears of everyone except WJLB morning fixture Mason & Co.

Lane is a sharp interviewer (a fact that was made painfully clear during his recent, long recovery from back surgery during which Clark labored gamely to keep the dialogue and questions focused on something other than butt jokes and sexual fetishes.)

Daniels doesn’t let the boys get all the fun, either. Let’s face it, sometimes fart jokes actually do translate to radio, and perhaps a mix of smart interviewing and dumb repartee is the right formula. Besides, segments such as "Don’t Stump Mike" (which trades on Clark’s A.D.D.-addled trivia knowledge) and "Stump The Staff" (a fascist trivia game lorded over by a dozen rules which inquirers must wade through before they lay their trivia queries on the collective on-air crew) should make most people feel at least a little smarter as their coffee kicks in.

If you’ve read this far and thought, "My God! This sounds completely juvenile and, yes, obnoxious, too," consider yourself among those voters who must have switched over from NPR just long enough to be offended. And there’s plenty to be offended by.

Drew & Mike regularly make gay references (often to their own self-deprecating benefit) for laughs. Clark’s Butt Mike "character" (wherein he mikes his ass so his farts can be heard on-air, and then translates what Butt Mike "said" about the subject at hand) and Clark’s trademark "Biiiittch" (yup, it’s a trademark) don’t broaden anybody’s worldview.

But, on a dial full of true blather, at least they’re speaking (mostly) in complete sentences about (mostly) real life.

Ah, well, MT readers are a conflicted lot, and radio is truly a weird place. — Chris Handyside

MOST OBNOXIOUS MORNING SHOW CREW

Drew & Mike

BEST TALK RADIO HOST

Howard Stern

BEST GUEST FOR "FIEGER TIME"

John Engler

BEST LOCAL BAND FOR "BEHIND THE MUSIC" DOCUMENTARY

Kid Rock

We’re sending this one straight to the folks at VH-1 so they can file the idea away until Rock completes the requisite drama cycle inherent to nearly each and every one of these documentary episodes.

We’re talking about, of course:

1) Prodigious talent at a young age— Check.

2) "The paying of dues" — Check.

3) Discovery by the marketing music machine — Check.

4) Discovery by the world at large on the way to becoming

a) an overnight sensation

or

b) a nonstop pop phenomenon — Rock’s working on both of these currently.

However, he’s not completed the narrative arc of

5) Overexposure in teen magazines leading to the desire to "do his own stuff" (which is nonapplicable in this case).

6) Burnout on booze and drugs (or sexual addiction) leading to a period of "Where is he now?" and

7) A dramatic comeback leading to "successful" tours on the State Fair and/or Beach Boys summer nostalgia circuits.

Now, not every "Behind the Music" uses all of these plot devices to tell the story of some poor, misguided-but-ultimately redeemed rocker, but the pattern holds.

The Bullgod has just started his climb into the major ring, and he’s still a little virile for the VH-1 audience, but give him a few years to either a) Discover the joy of Buddhism or b) Find it in his charitable heart to feed the hungry of the world, and you’ve got yourself a regular postboomer human interest story that, we think, will turn upper-middle-class 30-somethings’ collective hearts to mush.

Let’s hope the former Mr. Ritchie goes the classic MTV Rockumentary route instead, the standard script of which allows for more sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll and would be more suited to Kid Rock’s hard rock/hip-hop roots and apparent taste for porn stars and pubic, er, exposure. — Chris Handyside

BEST BAND TO RETIRE

Rolling Stones

BEST LOCAL BANDS TO RETIRE (tie)

Howling Diablos/
Trash Brats/Stungun

BEST LOCAL BAND TO HONOR WITH A BOX SET

MC5

BEST DETROIT MUSICIAN TO BE INDUCTED INTO THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME (3-way tie)

Iggy Pop
Aretha Franklin
Bob Seger

We’re not sure how well-versed our readership is on the actual induction rules and such for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the Mistake By The Lake, but the three folks y’all picked were either ripe for the ceremony or, alas, already inducted.

Lest you think the Queen of Soul is best known for such trivialities as not paying her limo and restaurant bills, here’s a reminder of the divinity of Ms. Franklin’s art, straight from the Hall of Fame’s notes accompanying her 1987 induction: "As Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun observed, ‘I don’t think there’s anybody I have known who possesses an instrument like hers and who has such a thorough background in gospel, the blues and the essential black-music idiom … She is blessed with an extraordinary combination of remarkable urban sophistication and of the deep blues feeling that comes from the Delta. The result is maybe the greatest singer of our time."

There’s already an amazing group of Detroiters taking virtual residence in the Hall, including nearly the whole Motown divinity as well as R&B OG Little Willie John, Hank Ballard and P-Funk.

So, in the safe world of Hall of Fame selection, Bob Seger may, by sheer virtue of his persistence and hit-making ability (if not by musical innovation), be the next Motor City cat up to bat. He’s certainly ever-present, thanks to his one-and-only commercial endorsement for Chevy ("Like A Rock") and he’s inextricably linked to Tom Cruise’s shaking derriere in Risky Business.

So, for the pop-culturally inclined among us, that’s probably reason enough.

Speaking of Pop culture, the Ig may not be as safe a bet as Seger, but his influence on the shape of rock ’n’ roll becomes more and more painfully apparent every time another shirtless rock icon tries to act dangerous while fronting a wail of guitars, feedback and fuzz.

Simply put, Pop is an icon for a reason and maybe, just maybe, he’s mellowed enough over the last few years that the induction committee would feel comfortable inviting him to the head table. After all, they invited Neil Young (but he didn’t show!).

These two blokes are home runs. The question is, once they get the nod, whither comes Hall fodder, then? Is Cleveland ready to enshrine the Motor City 5? — Chris Handyside

BEST NIGHTCLUB DJ

DJ Marquis

BEST HIDDEN RADIO TREASURE

WDET

Blowing a wad

BEST INDEPENDENT MEN’S CLOTHIER

Showtime Clothing 16231 Mack, 313-886-6288; 5708 Woodward, 313-875-9280

Dan Tatarian is a good guy. But he doesn’t want you to know it.

"This man has a kind heart," says D., a regular customer at Tatarian’s Showtime Clothing (and gifts and CDs). "He has a rough exterior, but a kind heart."

Tatarian, a burly guy with a shaved head, protests, but his benevolent nature and commitment to his community show through whether he’s discussing his Cass Corridor location or his business philosophy: Showtime carries only the choicest quality clothing for the choicest quality customers.

Visitors who mistreat the merchandise are asked to leave. Unlike cheaper chain outfits, Tatarian can’t afford to return damaged goods. Besides, answering to no corporate headquarters, he does not have to subscribe to that retail fallacy that the customer, however much of an asshole, is always right.

Suppliers whose ethics don’t jibe with Tatarian’s are ousted as well. He’s axing Doc Marten from his inventory, for instance, because they are only offering their top-of-the-line to chain stores these days.

And Tatarian does not do mail order. If you want to partake of Showtime’s ultrahip offerings, you need to haul your ass to the Corridor to do it.

Showtime has provided anything one could need for clubbing, from lavender wigs on down to steel-toed, thigh-high patent leather boots, for 10 years. Over time, Tatarian has added gifts and CDs to his inventory as well.

In the past year, Tatarian has focused specifically on his men’s line, and is especially pleased Metro Times readers have appeared to notice. But it’s a wide range of customers to whom Showtime appeals, says Tatarian, from pimps to musicians to club cats to students.

"We cater to anyone and everyone who has fun," he explains. — Kristin Palm

BEST INDEPENDENT WOMEN’S CLOTHIER

Patti Smith Collectibles 450 S. Washington, Royal Oak, 248-399-0756

It’s not the first time this cute and tiny shop with the fierce-looking women’s wear has received a "Best Of." Maybe it’s because Metro Times readers like paying prices that won’t torment them while they’re driving home from their shopping trips.

Yep, Patti Smith Collectibles is all that and then some. The shop has an exotic yet trendy vibe that invites you in to see all the latest fashion statements: Great looks for club hopping, going out with that man you’re trying to impress, or just lounging on your own.

Whatever the occasion, Patti Smith is dedicated to helping you look creatively distinct for a reasonable price. Best of all, you can leave the store happy with your purchases, and keep your blood pressure in check when the credit card bill arrives. — Tracy Spurlin

BEST PLACE FOR COOL EYEWEAR

D.O.C. Eyeworld Various locations

Back in high school, I always wanted glasses. I thought they would make me look intelligent. Since I am old enough to have used a typewriter throughout my wonder years, however, I was never able to damage my eyesight enough to create a need for this key accessory.

Only after I began to spend countless hours entranced by the all-powerful Mac Plus did objects more than a foot in front of my face finally become a joyous blur.

Thus began the quest for the perfect pair of specs. I began with horn-rims which, in retrospect, made me look like an owl. Then came a more stylish, and smaller, pair of Calvin Kleins. Then a pair of green cat’s eye wire-rims, which I wear to this day.

The problem is, even though I undoubtedly feel more interesting with my face bespectacled, I can always find someone whose glasses are cooler than mine. I have always been especially envious of my friend Karen’s small, oval tortoise-shell frames that make her look, well, smarter than me.

I had always blamed my inability to keep up with the Joneses (or the Karens) on my refusal to spend the dough necessary to shop at trendy suburban eyewear boutiques. But apparently, if Metro Times readers – the hippest of the hip, right? – are to be believed, the place to go is not these upscale indies but to your local mall and its D.O.C. for some Sexy Specs. Now, if I can only find out who does Karen’s hair. — Kristin Palm

BEST ALL-ROUND DEPARTMENT STORE

Hudson’s Various locations

BEST PLACE FOR A THRIFT SCORE

Value Village Various locations

I bought my couch at Value Village. It was just sitting there: a perfect bench-style specimen from the early ’60s. The price was right too: 50 bucks. I’d seen the same couch at an upscale "vintage" shop in Royal Oak for $400. Why was no one buying this beauty?

Five minutes later, Sam – the floor manager – and I carried the thing out to my station wagon. I remember having to contain my excitement on the way out the door.

This is the essence of the perfect thrift score. You keep a straight face and save the shouts of joy for the car ride home. And although its popularity among urban bargain hunters has grown tremendously in the last few years, Value Village is still the mostly untapped kingdom for thrift discoveries.

Sure, you’ll see the odd knit-capped hipster there, rooting around for that vintage Oceans Eleven-era Sinatra suit or perhaps a seafoam-green ’50s table. But for the most part, the competition is thin. Especially at the stores located in sketchier neighborhoods.

Value Village completely changes your idea of what things should cost. A 1970s globe lamp: $3.18. Retro leather jacket: $5.72. Last year’s Halloween costume: a Val-Vil special at 10 bucks. Let’s face it the Gap just can’t compete. And certainly WalMart is nowhere near as fun.

Of course, shopping at the Village isn’t for everyone. There are no dressing rooms. The price tags are stapled to the clothes. And frankly, most of the clientele doesn’t shop there by choice. Walking out the door with a bag full of goodies does provoke a certain amount of guilt.

But if you’re looking for that thrift score rush, Value Village just can’t be beat. Well, there is one better place ... but there’s no way I’m gonna tell where. — Adam Druckman

BEST MALL

Somerset Collection 2801 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy, 810-643-6360

First, make sure you match: No odd socks, no sneakers with a two-piece suit, no nonsense. This is not your job you’re going to. I mean, for once, it does matter how you look.

No (cheap) mascara, please, no loud lipstick, no undisciplined strands of hair (even if your enemies – the ones you haven’t identified yet – told you how much that disheveled Melanie Griffith look suits you).

None of that. (Oh, and one other thing: Do lie about your age. Defying it will do doodley-squat for you.) Now you’re ready.

Park at the Gates of Heaven. Go in. Smell the coffee. Worship the cleanliness. Start with The Nature Company, which is one darn good place to buy a lizard if you’re into that whole reptile thing.

Then move on to J. Peterman – they of the insane catalog – and fondle the velvets and the rich brocades. (While you’re at it, make sure you buy something during their 75 percent-off sale, before they disappear without a trace on short notice like all the stores you’ve ever loved. Buy a Swiss Army knife or an Alice in Wonderland tie and make some remarkable young man happy.)

Speaking of young men, there’s Brooks Brothers and Saks Fifth Avenue. Naturally, they can’t afford more than a pair of socks there, but a bit of window shopping might improve their taste.

Then, there’s Mont Blanc. Go in, smile, take out your credit card (the one that’s not maxed out yet), buy a $200 pen without a trace of hesitation, leave the store, get a cup of espresso, sit down, take from your pocket the crumpled postcard you’ve been carrying around for days, take the pen out of its velour case and write: "Dear Maurice, guess where I am? Paris may be great, but ..." — Dayana Stetco

BEST NON-MALL SHOPPING DISTRICT

Royal Oak

BEST URBAN BOUTIQUE

Showtime Clothing

BEST HEAD SHOP

B.D.T. Pipe and Tobacco 21623 John R, Hazel Park, 248-542-6110

On a Monday night the store went kablooie with the rest of the mall in Hazel Park. By Wednesday night, co-owner Charlie Strackbein was able to laugh at the obvious "up in smoke" jokes. By Friday, the headshop of choice for MT readers, BDT Pipe & Tobacco, reopened in temporary digs across the street with "blowout prices."

"We’re excited about being able to open four days after a major explosion," says Strackbein, calling by cell phone from the gutted remains at John R and Meyers.

"Three feet of ash and debris," he says, reporting on his surroundings. "It’s still smoldering."

The store began 25 years ago at Nine Mile and John R, moving to the ill-fated mall location in 1984.

The blast after closing hours March 8 destroyed five stores in the strip mall, reportedly sending flames 200 feet into the air; there were no injuries. Authorities are investigating a possible arson aimed at one of the other stores.

One upshot: When the mall is rebuilt in about three months, BDT plans to move back in and have roughly twice its original space.

Talk about a business boom. — W. Kim Heron

BEST VINTAGE CLOTHING STORE

Cinderella’s Attic 322 S. Main, Royal Oak, 248-546-7209

This Royal Oak-based store, widely known for its eclectic and too-cute yesterday-wear, is the kind of store Audrey Hepburn would shop at if she were a living Michigander.

Its ongoing popularity (this is about Cinderella’s gazillionth "Best Of") can probably be attributed to Metro Times readers’ desire to look both chic and different. Count on Cinderella’s Attic to give you a look that no one else at the party will have!

If you’re looking for the best in retro, you can find shoes from the 1920s, Capri pants from the ’50s, ’60s spaghetti-strapped dresses, and a whole lot more.

You can go in looking very ’90s, but come out looking like a ’40s movie star – and if you wish to look like Louise Brooks, Joan Crawford or Rita Hayworth, Cinderella’s has the clothes.

Walking through the store is a lesson in fashion history: You can see just how far women have come in terms of style. Imagine having to hold in your gut with a stifling corset, or being confined to a wardrobe of dresses that cannot be any shorter than just above your ankle. (Wow, we have come a long way!) But, thanks to Cinderella’s Attic, we can go back to yesterday (or yestercentury) anytime we choose. — Tracy Spurlin

MOST WALKABLE OUTDOOR SHOPPING AREA

Royal Oak

BEST PLACE TO BUY A COMPUTER

Gateway Computers
Various locations

BEST COOL FURNITURE SHOP

Pier One Imports
Various locations

BEST SMOKE SHOP

B.D.T. Pipe and Tobacco

BEST PLACE TO GET SOMETHING PIERCED

Eternal Tattoos 27590 Plymouth Rd., Livonia, 248-425-0428

BEST PLACE TO GET A NEW DO

BoRics Haircare for Everyone
Various locations

BEST NAIL SHOP

Heidi’s Salon Fairlane Town Center, Dearborn, 313-336-4630

BEST TOY STORE (FOR KIDS)

Toys ‘R’ Us Various locations

"It all started with $2,000 and Charles Lazarus, a man with a vision. At 22, he borrowed the money to open a baby furniture store. Smart move. It was after the war and the baby boom was ‘due’ to arrive. The first store was 40 feet by 60 feet. After a year or two a customer said, ‘Don’t you stock any toys for my baby?’ and Toys ‘R’ Us was born.

"In 1957, Lazarus opened the first toy supermarket. Specialty retailing and off-price positioning were revolutionary concepts in those old pre-mall, pre-discount days. And, obviously, it was an idea whose time had come. In the late ’70s, Toys ‘R’ Us became a public company. At last count, between Toys ‘R’ Us, Kids ‘R’ Us and our latest division, Babies ‘R’ Us, we had over 1,450 stores nationwide and $11 billion in sales. That’s a lot of Legos, Barbies, Mr. Potato Heads and Transformers."

There you have it, the official corporate lore about how MT readers’ favorite toy store came to be.

When you think toys, you have to think Toys ‘R’ Us. They’ve got it all, and they’ve got it under one roof. From old-time favorites such as Monopoly or Matchbox cars, to the newest in high-tech gizmos and computer games, the ‘R’ us gives our kids (and the rest of us, too) the fun we crave. And they do it at prices that are hard to beat.

We’re not just talkin’ toys, either. Whether it’s a sturdy car seat for Junior or one of the best deals in town on disposable dipes, the house that Geoffrey the Giraffe built satisfies.

Thanks, Mr. Lazarus.— Curt Guyette

BEST TOY STORE (FOR GROWN-UPS)

Sharper Image Twelve Oaks Mall, Novi, 248-347-0080

BEST SEX TOYS

Dildos

The first thing that comes to mind is a movie called White Castle, with Susan Sarandon and James Spader. He’s a ritzy young lawyer (Jewish? Yes, I think so. It doesn’t matter, does it? I mean, it wouldn’t change the story if he weren’t) whose elegant, smooth life is disrupted by the sudden death of his wife. (How did she die? I don’t know. I don’t remember the circumstances.)

Anyway, his friends keep throwing these lavish parties and he attends them all – faint smile on his lips, glass of cognac (Cognac?! I think so. Stop interrupting me!) in his hand – and meets all these perfect porcelain girls with perfect manicures and perfect hair, but none of them touches his heart.

And one day he gets drunk and this woman (Sarandon? Yes!) takes him home and makes love to him. (Good love scene? Yeah ... Steamy? Steamy but delicate, if you know what I mean ... they don’t wrestle like strangers in bed ... it’s more like healing ... like inventing another kind of solitude ... for two. I have no idea what you’re talking about. Sex is sex. Go on.)

In the morning he looks around: Messy house, miserable little space suffocated by kitsch – she’s a 40-something burnt-out waitress with no conversation – and then he does something strange. He opens a drawer and inside – among loose keys and little pieces of string, and other odds and ends – he finds a dildo. He smells it and puts it back.

It’s a strange scene: Not funny, not even awkward. The woman is awake.

"Did you find something interesting?" she asks, facing the other way. He’s silent. "Will I see you again?"

"No," he says and leaves quietly. (And then? And then nothing. He remembers her touch – the texture of every gesture – and knows it was magic and comes back for more. It’s a fairy tale. These things don’t happen. The dildo is the only real thing in the whole damn movie. Sad, isn’t it?) — Dayana Stetco

BEST PLACE TO BUY THOSE SEX TOYS

Lover’s Lane Various locations

BEST ART SUPPLY STORE

Charrette 1422 N. Woodward, Royal Oak, 248-548-7679

BEST PLACE TO SATISFY A FOOTWEAR FETISH

Incognito 323 S. Main, Royal Oak, 248-548-2980

As a teacher, I’ve had my share of stupid encounters. (Let’s face it, not everybody should be in college.) But those are people I choose to disremember, for they make me angry and sad.

I do remember the smart kids, though: Boys of four-and-20 with a taste for wine, women and song; little rave girls with pig tails and pink (occasionally green or silver) hair; beauty queens annoyed by their own perfection, too clever for their own good; plump and quiet lasses of remarkable intelligence ("Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses"); devastated, unkempt lads of formidable insight.

I remember them all and I’m grateful for the simple fact that they exist, and I keep their papers – notes, exams, diary entries, essays – to reread in moments of utter desolation.

One of the papers I like best talks about shoes. It’s supposed to be autobiographical and it is, but strangely so: The girl remembers sundry incidents in her life in connection with different pairs of shoes (their color, feel, leathery smell, childish accessories).

It’s an extraordinary "still life" – pages and pages of shoe descriptions – laced with restrained emotion or backed up by the occasional anecdote. And the words are alive, at times shiny and loud, often dark, clean-cut and elegant, soft to the touch and warm, like a familiar, lived-in pair of shoes of tremendous quality.

"So, where do you buy your shoes?" I ask the girl.

"You didn’t think it was a stupid paper?"

"On the contrary. I found it very comforting."

She shrugs her shoulders. "Incognito," she says in a quiet voice. "The only place that still reminds me of the old Royal Oak. You should go there sometime before they disappear. You’ll like it. It’s the kind of place people should write stories about."

"I’ve always believed places preserve memories better than people."

The girl looks straight at me. "Yeah," she says. — Dayana Stetco

BEST CHOCOLATIER

Godiva Chocolatier Various locations

BEST PLACE TO BUY AFFORDABLE ART

C-Pop Gallery David Whitney Bldg., Suite 313, 1553 Woodward, Detroit, 313-964-0911

BEST STEREO STORE

Best Buy Various locations

MOST KNOWLEDGEABLE ELECTRONICS STORE STAFF

Best Buy/Circuit City (tie) Various locations

There’s this new computer you’ve had your eye on – the one you hope won’t be obsolete three days after you buy it. Does it have all the RAM necessary to meet your digital needs? And, by the way, just what the hell is a RAM anyway?

Then there’s that big-screen TV you’ve been coveting for years, because you are a glutton for punishment and want to watch your beloved Lions lose in dimensions that old 19-incher just can’t fulfill.

Is projection the way to go? And what about this surround sound – and will the subwoofer that comes with it cause my old Rottweiler to get jealous?

And will this spiffy 250-watt receiver and four Bose 901s be a sufficient system for my 600-square-foot studio apartment?

Finally, there’s the one big question that actually has two answers: When you need to buy electronic gear and want knowledgeable staff that can do more than show you where the on/off button is, where are you going to go to?

Well, according to Metro Times readers, the place to go is Circuit City. Unless you prefer Best Buy.

That’s right. Our readers rendered a split decision on this one, saying that the folks offering their services at either of these national chains can tell you all you’ll ever need to know about bytes and amps and the latest in DVS. Wow. — Curt Guyette

BEST PLUMBER

Roto-Rooter Sewer Service 18620 Van Born Rd., Dearborn, 313-525-1370

The best detectives in the world often solve their cases by rummaging through people’s trash. Sometimes the operation is delicate: A pair of gloves, a little plastic bag, a tiny fragment of cigar ash, or fiber, or the expiration date on a can of pineapple, or a piece of cheese with teeth marks on it.

Provided with the visible evidence, "the little gray cells" start working.

Other times it’s stinky sewers and bad pipes, deep wells or buried trunks.

Whatever the scenario, the detective has to get down and dirty sometimes. Take Sherlock Holmes, for instance (played by the formidable Jeremy Brett). In "The Case of the Master Blackmailer," Holmes secures the affection of the blackmailer’s maid by posing as a plumber. But as the girl falls for the elderly plumber with sad eyes and cultivated voice, Holmes discovers – somewhere, in the empty region of his heart – undisciplined feelings of love.

"You touch my heart," he tells the girl. Watson is worried.

But let us leave the movies and move into the real world. Can you imagine a world without plumbers? (Without Roto-Rooter in particular, of course.) Perish the thought.

In his book, The Hippopotamus, Stephen Fry imagines such an apocalyptic scenario. Question: What would happen if all the poets were to be executed? Answer: No one would notice for about 15 years.

Question: what would happen if all the sewage engineers disappeared? Answer: The end of the world. Chaos. The plague bacillus. The end of all the happy cities. Bloated corpses and intestinal cramps. There. — Dayana Stetco

BEST PLACE TO BUY A NEW CAR

Saturn dealers Various locations

BEST PLACE TO BUY A USED CAR

AutoNation 36250 Van Dyke, Sterling Heights, 810-978-3336

BEST NEW CAR TO BECOME THE NEXT EDSEL

New VW Bug

BEST MECHANIC

Midas Muffler Shop Various locations

BEST HOME REPAIR PROFESSIONAL

Tim Taylor/Sears (tie) Various locations

BEST BEER SELECTION IN A STORE

Merchant of Vino Various locations

BEST WINE SELECTION IN A STORE

Merchant of Vino

BEST SINGLE ITEM TO BLOW A PAYCHECK ON

Vacation

BEST IMPULSE PURCHASE

Compact discs

More MT readers blow their money on those little silver discs that store their favorite music than on any other potential treat.

Well, at least CDs are a lot cheaper and less painful (in more ways than one!) than some of the other responses: House, a car, hookers and tattoos.

At least with CDs, you may not have too many regrets later on down the road. They’re relatively cheap, costing anywhere between $12 and $20 (less if you’re buying them used), and you can get safe enjoyment out of the musical experience they offer.

According to sales reps at Media Play and FYE (For Your Entertainment), the biggest sellers these days are the latest from Lauryn Hill, TLC and the Dixie Chicks, which are snapped up almost before they reach the shelves.

These same stores also have CD singles (lately, by Britney Spears or the Roots) placed near the registers for you to peruse while waiting in line. And guess what? You can’t resist the temptation! What a practical bunch. — Tracy Spurlin

BEST ANTIQUE SHOP

DuMouchelle’s Art Galleries 409 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit, 313-963-6255

BEST PLACE TO BUY VIDEO GAMES

Funcoland 16201 Ford Road, Dearborn, 313-271-6700

BEST ANTIDOTE FOR SHOPPER’S RAGE

Booze

You decide an excursion to the mall will help you either forget your problems or sort them out, so off you go.

Once there, you encounter Sandy the Salesgirl, who has an I-could-care-less-that-you-need-help attitude.

If that’s not bad enough, you can’t seem to find that hot-looking outfit in your size. When you finally head on over to the checkout line, you see it’s unbelievably long, because the stupid store has only one sales rep on the cash registers.

While waiting, you have time to think about the fact that the jeans you’re buying will set you back to almost before-the-paycheck status.

All of this is starting to make your blood boil, so what do you do? Cut to the front of the line? Curse out the management? Try to do major damage to your space in the fitting room? Nope.

According to Metro Times readers, the answer is to head to the bar or the party store for some liquor – because when the going gets tough, the tough don’t go shopping until they grab the Jack Daniel’s. — Tracy Squrlin

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

Romance

Best Place to Meet Mr./Ms. Right

At church

Best Place to Meet Mr./Ms. Wrong

A bar

Our readers have proven themselves to be intelligent, sensible and in good taste by voting (cue the shrieking) bars as the best place to meet Mr./Ms.Wrong.

Despite what’s often said, people are ugly after 2 a.m. Instead of wasting your money on cover charge and drinks, why not go to a 7-Eleven, buy a fifth, and go Dumpster diving behind the store if you insist on picking up trash!

Moreover, nothing is more frightening than the torrid tales of dysfunctional relationships and marriages spawning from the bars.

Welcome to Never Never Land, where you can choose, from any bar’s shallow intellectual-growth-deprivation tanks, the Peter Pan of your dreams!

Whether they’re materialistic or downtrodden, these little boys’ minds have not caught up with their adult bodies. Oh, if only they could live at home forever with their mothers! However, since they can’t have sex with their mothers, they head to the bars to seek out the Wendys of the world.

These barflys’ distortion of reality is rooted in both the fear of abandonment and the fear of engulfment.

Our next case study is Wendy, a veritable Barbie doll with all her hairspray, goo and clown makeup. Nothing like primping for perfection to hide all those flaws and insecurities from Peter Pan.

It’s hard to know who’s the predator and who’s the prey. Either way, there’s nothing quite like watching unresolved issues of every kind, live and in person.

As Metro Times readers know, if you’re looking for a date, mate or a piece at a bar, you get what you pay for. —Karen Mouradjian

Best Pick-Up Line

"I lost my phone number, can I have yours?"

I’ve always thought it weird when the goal of pick-up-type interactions is to procure a phone number – rather than making something happen right then and there.

In my day, back in the Cretaceous, "to be picked up" meant "we blow this pop stand together tonight, and see what happens." Nowadays, you get the number first so you can check the person out more slowly. Wise. (Monica/Bill exception duly noted.)

Or do Metro Times readers just prefer phone sex? Because a plurality nominated the following your "best pick-up line:" "I’ve lost my phone number – could I have yours?"

Consider also some of the other nominees:

• The plea for sympathy: "I’m in town for a funeral."

• The health-conscious: "I don’t smoke."

• The compliment you never heard before (so it must be sincere): "You have great clavicles."

• The appeal to family values: "I’ll bet your Dad’s handsome."

• The appeal to shock value: "Since we just met, I guess a blow job is out of the question." (Monica/Bill exception duly noted.)

• The appeal to value for money: "I’m a millionaire."

• The appeal to patriotism: "I seem to have dropped my Congressional Medal of Honor – have you seen it?" — Jane Slaughter

Best Place for a First Date

Movie theater

Best Place to Propose

A romantic restaurant

Best Place to Get Married

Church

Best Honeymoon

Hawaii

Best Place to Cheat On Your Partner

Windsor

Best Place to Celebrate Your Divorce

Any bar

Best Matchmaker

Metro Times Links/Connection

Best Line for Ditching a Date

"I’m sick"

There were some common themes in this category. Several of our readers hid behind assorted work, family, emergency and illness-related excuses in ditching their dreaded dates.

Some suggested the classic lines – "I’ll be right back" and "I’ll call you."

The most interesting was that a couple of our readers suggested being honest and telling the truth. Truth? Honesty? In the ’90s??!! BLASPHEMY! They must belong to the Green Party! In that case, their parents did something right in raising them.

Some of our readers’ more creative lines included "You weren’t home," "I’m in labor," and "Look over there!"

The weirdest was, "Let’s go back to my place so I can kill you." (If that doesn’t convince you not to let that dreamboat go, I don’t know what will. Why take some boring lawyer or doctor home to meet Mom, when you can take home a homicidal maniac instead?)

But these lines serve a vital purpose. There’s nothing like waking up (or coming down) and desperately trying to get out of that ghoulish date.

So, to borrow a few more good lines, I have to go now; I have to find my Marinol before they pull my weekend passes for good. And man, I’ve got a splitting headache from all the voices in my head screaming at each other. — Karen Mouradjian

Five Best Online Sex Chat Room Pseudonyms

twinkletoes
funksoulbrotherno.1
bucknaked
billc
johnengler

Best Celebrity Fantasy

Brad Pitt

Best Florist

Viviano’s 32050 Harper, St. Clair Shores, 810-293-0227

Best Jewelry Store

Tapper’s Orchard Mall, West Bloomfield, 248-932-7700

Most Romantic Restaurant

The Whitney

Best Place for an Afternoon Date

Detroit Institute of Arts

So where can you take this slender girl with little voice and no opinions to find out whether she’s dense or merely shy?

The DIA, of course. Walk her through the luminous corridors of the ground floor, plant her before Van Gogh’s self-portrait and whisper in her ear the story of his sacrifice.

Be frightfully prepared. First, show her a print of Bosch’s "Garden of Earthly Delights" (Hell, to be more precise) which you can find at the DIA store, and point out to her the human ear in the top left corner of the painting. Then remind her of the scene in Blue Velvet where Kyle MacLaughlan – he of the firm chin – finds that shriveled-up ear which is the key to the whole mystery.

Then have handy a still from Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, the moment when Mr. Blonde screams in the severed ear of the young policeman.

Only when she’s in full possession of these facts should you recount Vincent’s sad story. If she sees how the "ear motif" functions in these four separate cultural instances, she’s OK.

If she runs away screaming, you’ve been wasting your time all along.— Dayana Stetco

Best Place to Slow Dance

At home (in the living room!)

Sexiest Fragrance

Obsession

Sexiest Article of Clothing

Thong panties

Metro Times readers’ favorite article of sexy clothing leaves little to the imagination: The thong panty.

We can’t be sure, but your choices may have been influenced by the publicity surrounding Monica Lewinsky’s statement that she flashed her thong to Bill. As she told Barbara Walters, "If you take my word for it, it was a small, subtle, flirtatious gesture. And that’s me."

(Speaking of subtle flirtation, you also mentioned a cigar as a sexy article of clothing.)

In her interview with Walters, Lewinsky also referred to a "dance" of flirtation with the president. Come to think of it, if you had a small piece of material stuck up your butt, wouldn’t you dance?

Imagine a new dance craze, better than the Macarena. Right hand to the right cheek, left hand to the left cheek ... kind of like the Hokey Pokey, and then add in a cigar ... oh, never mind.

Seriously, though, thongs have their advantages. They’re great for avoiding unsightly pantylines, slimming if worn high on the hips and, depending on the material, they probably make good slingshots.

But if you plan on being regularly seen in thong panties, you might want to decide if it’s worth the razor burn. If you have to ask, we suggest renting Female Perversions and skipping the rest of this blurb.

Voters’ other choices for sexy clothing included brassieres and bustiers, jockstraps, men’s underwear, strappy high-heels, condoms and "anything crumpled up next to my bed." Plain old birthday suits were another favorite.

One person voted for the sleeveless undershirt dubbed the "wife beater." Whoever came up with that name for an undergarment?

Well, that’s part of the beauty of sexuality. It’s so subjective. — Jennifer Bagwell

Best Cigar

Monica’s

Best Spot for Outdoor Sex

Belle Isle

Best Sunrise View

Belle Isle

Best Alternative Use For Altoids

Oral Sex (Monica’s idea)

Best Alternative Use for Viagra

For women

Best Place to Get Health Care

Henry Ford Hospital

Sporting life

BEST SLOGAN FOR THE LIONS

We Suck!

Hey, sports fans! How about them Lions!

Oh, okay — Hey, masochistic sports fans!

Forty-one years without a championship — the Lions’ quest of futility is old as the Edsel.

Clever MT poll respondents have picked a succinct new Lions slogan: We suck! Even sparse Silverdome crowds could spell it out, and it’d be a natural tie-in to hire Monica Lewinsky as head mouthpiece for the new cheer.

Like Monica with Bill, the Lions just can’t go all the way — in their case, to the Super Bowl. The Lions don’t even have a blue-dress memento.

Ten hope fiends out of more than 100 voters in this category wrote positive slogans on their ballots, from "Go Lions!" to "Grr!" to "It’s a rebuilding year" to "Win one for Barry."

Indeed, the Lions’ greatest running back figures in one reader’s heartfelt response: "Barry Sanders’ Personal Purgatory."

One unspeakable suggestion sounds like a move longtime Lions general manager Russ Thomas might’ve made: "Just trade Barry."

And incomprehensible conspiracy is suspected when two (!) fans wrote "We want Wayne (Fontes)."

There weren’t many solutions for ending the Lions’ parade of 7-9, 8-8, 5-11 seasons, crucial interceptions, fumbles, 12-men-on-the-field penalties. ...

"You lose, we booze" about covers the reaction of many fans.

So what’s in the Lions’ future, according to readers?

While "We’re better than the Tigers," "You’ll regret giving us a new stadium." So, "Wait till next year/century/millennium."

The last, hopeful word comes from a realist who sees great positive in a negative: "Scott Mitchell is not our QB."

Go (somewhere), Lions! — Dennis Shea

BEST HAIRCUT ON A RED WING

Steve Yzerman

BEST ALTERNATE NAME FOR COMERICA PARK

Tiger Stadium

BEST PRODUCT ENDORSEMENT FOR THE DETROIT SHOCK

Tampons

BEST AREA ATHLETE

Barry Sanders

He darts. He dashes. He cuts, slashes, zigs, zags, then reverses course on the head of a pin and in the blink of an eye reverses course again, leaving defenders sprawled on the field, clasping thin air and looking desperately for the socks and jocks they’ve just been faked out of.

Then he comes back on the next play and does the same thing again, only with even more flair.

We’re talking, or course, about Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders. Otherwise known as The Man.

It is beyond dispute. Just check out the 10-story mural of him downtown, with the road sign pointing toward Canton.

The Hall of Fame is already a foregone conclusion.

Not only is the guy unbelievable, he’s indestructible. During his 10 years in the NFL, No. 20 has compiled some astounding stats: The only player to ever rush for 1,500 yards or more five times, and he did it in consecutive years, falling only 9 yards short of making it six in a row last year; the No. 2 all-time leading rusher, trailing Chicago’s Walter Payton by only 1,437 (which means that, if all goes as usual, he will become the best ever before the end of his next season); most consecutive 150-yard games, most consecutive 1,000-yard seasons — and on and on and on.

How much do we love this guy? So much that you will hear fans on local talk radio suggest that he should be traded to a real contender, because anyone as great as he is deserves to be on a team far better than the Lions. — Curt Guyette

BEST FRINGE BENEFIT OF A SHORTENED NBA SEASON

A shortened NBA season

BEST NEW JOB FOR MICHAEL JORDAN

Coach Pistons

BEST GYM TO MEET SOMEONE NEW

Powerhouse, Various locations.

BEST AREA FOR JOGGING/CYCLING/WALKING

Belle Isle

BEST PLACE TO ROLLERBLADE

Metro Beach

BEST LEISURE ACTIVITY PASSED OFF AS A SPORT

Golf

BEST SPORT TO ADD TO THE OLYMPICS

Bowling

BEST SPORT THAT REQUIRES NO GEAR

Sex

BEST BOWLING ALLEY

Garden Bowl

BEST EXERCISE EQUIPMENT TO GATHER DUST IN YOUR BASEMENT

Treadmill

Imagine the future of the home fitness market. Take the potential range of bodily motions and contraptions to augment running, skipping, flipping, flopping, sliding, kicking, etc.

Throw in monitors for pulse and other brain-body functions, direct electro-muscle stimulation and virtual reality headsets; run it all through the ever-more-powerful home computer.

Think recombinant technology without end.

Think Rube Goldberg.

Think mutating infomercials.

Shudder.

Take solace that on this side of the millennium, Metro Times readers associate home fitness with the rather staid treadmill, that standard-bearer among fitness machines.

Even though fitness machines make up the biggest chunk of the fitness market — $1.5 billion of 1997’s $5 billion total, according to the Fitness Products Council — they still merit dust-gathering.

Do readers unjustly malign the treadmill as the machine most likely to gather dust in the basement? Well, that’s the problem all exercise equipment runs against, says Dr. Ross Zafonte, associate chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Wayne State University School of Medicine.

"You find lots of people spending significant amounts on machines, getting on them for a time, and after a while, unfortunately, the equipment just lies there," says Zafonte. The novelty wears off, the routine breaks down. The dust coat begins to build.

The secrets of home exercise success, says Zafonte, include starting with a physician’s advice on the best regimen for your body and habits, rewarding yourself for success, and scheduling a regular time for workouts.

Break the routine for a day, and it becomes easier to rationalize breaking it the next, and the next, and the next.

Zafonte knows that pattern well, admitting to a two-month break in his ski-machine regimen before getting back in sync.

So go down to that basement. Blow off the dust. Walk. Run. Break a sweat.

Or wait for the strange exercise contraptions to come.— W. Kim Heron

BEST SPORTS BAR

Spectadium 2511 Livernois, Troy, 248-362-4030

BEST SKI/SNOWBOARDING HILL

Boyne Mountain

BEST RETRO SPORT

Bowling

BEST MARINA

Jefferson Beach

BEST PLACE TO WALK YOUR DOG

Belle Isle

BEST SOLO SPORT

Masturbation

BEST DUO SPORT

Tennis