A garden in Harmonie

Jun 20, 2001 at 12:00 am

Feels small town

This past week served up the usual smorgasbord of scintillating column fodder, see, e.g., the grand kickoff of the Majestic Complex’s entertainment megaplex party on Friday as well as the estrogen-fueled Girlee-Stun Gun doubleheader at Cranbrook. However, seeing as how I already mentioned both of those venues in my last column, it would no doubt behoove me to at least attempt to cover different events and different people, in order to at least avoid regurgitating the same names and places over and over ad nauseam (it’s a small town, make no mistake, and I harbor no illusions as to my evenhandedness, or lack thereof). Nevertheless, rest assured, I have no intention of enrolling in the Detroit News school of column writing, where bespectacled society chronicler Michael Margolin essentially sits like a parrot (or perhaps a chanticleer) on the shoulder of the newly single and loving it Jennifer Nasser (recent ex of Ford CEO Jacques), oohing and ahhing at her social vortex and the accompanying charity work caught within its undertow. Nasser? You’d a thunk it was NASA the way he follows that society space shuttle around town. Just as an aside, and then I’ll put this point to bed, a quick review of Margolin’s News party column yielded no less than four fawning kowtows to Ms. Nasser in the past four months. Like I said, it’s a small town; I have trouble filling my column sometimes too.

Garden get down

In any event, as we move forward ever deeper into the lush dark-green clutches of June, one of the telltale signs of summer has at long last arrived, i.e. those inescapable garden parties and al fresco affairs which inevitably bloom at establishments across town. Of course, the well-documented Whitney garden parties hosted by 89X take place every Thursday and Friday, offering up an accommodating buffet as well as an eclectic mix of semiunplugged local musicians. In addition, Wednesdays at Harmonie Park has also been jump-started, featuring a more mainstream mix of the usual blues and rock groups (Johnnie Bassett, Bugs Beddow, Thornetta Davis et al). This party takes place in the triangular plaza in front of the ill-fated and schizophrenic restaurant/bar, which has operated under a multitude of names and business plans (“Harmonie Pointe Grille,” “The Park Bar and Grille,” some Italian carryout, a wine bar, and now, finally, the hybrid hodgepodge Intermezzo’s Harmonie Pointe Grill). Seeking a quick refreshment, I settled in with my can of Heineken and surveyed the scene. I was invited to join a group at the table next to me which included Detroit Chamber of Commerce envoy Amy Hennes, Julie Bach, who works upstairs with the Harmonie Park Creative Group, and late arrival Cathy McGann. Declining their offer, I instead snapped a photo, in order to document the fact that, yes, Loose Lips columnists do actually get invited to join people at their tables (at least until they discover who you are). Also pulling up in her white pickup truck was the CPOP gallery’s Mary Harrison, who can be found at virtually every metro Detroit garden party displaying artwork (Whitney on Thursday and Friday, Harmonie Park on Wednesday). The highlight, though, was watching the pickled Harmonie Park homeless bum get chased around by a manager as he went from table to table asking for people’s empties. I shouted out, “Hey [to Intermezzo owner Nick] Apone, that kid’s got a career as a crackerjack busboy,” not that anyone was really listening. Oh, well ...

Kentucky fried

Next on the agenda, an early Saturday evening trip to downtown Detroit for a visit to the Grey Gallery, poised high atop the beautiful circa 1891 Wright Kay Building (also known to local sheet music historians as the Schwankowski Temple of Music, also known to club-going masses as the place where Pure is located). In any event, the spacious 6th-floor gallery is an impressive new entry in the burgeoning downtown arts scene, as this was actually its second opening party in the past several weeks (why not?), featuring artwork by Miriam Bloom and former Willis Gallery director Matthew Hanna. Once inside, elevator operator/director/owner Doris Koosis headed up the early-arrival reception committee, along with Katie Shively and Robert Koch. [By the way, on an historical note, this was one of the first Detroit buildings whose initial construction included an electric elevator]. Getting back to the gallery, the intermingling of Bloom’s biomorphic sculptures and Hanna’s Col. Sanders’-fueled artwork and installations had me salivating for a bucket of original recipe, although I had to settle for the usual gallery fare of cheese cubes and fruit, without any secret herbs and spices. Perhaps, one day, the opening of a new art gallery in downtown Detroit will merit nothing more than an arched eyebrow, however, in this day and age, it practically warrants a celebratory parade. ... Speaking of parades, I think I’ll take Koosis up on that offer to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade from the gallery. Of interest in this surrounding neighborhood, I noticed that the long-time-in-the-making techno/sushi bar “oslo,” just across the street, has finally lost its plywood facade to reveal some new picture windows facing Woodward and John R. And speaking of downtown restaurant roulette, Andiamo is supposedly going into the old Tres Vite space, while Joe Muer’s Grill is hot in discussions with Compuware to put something in their HQ. For more info on Grey, call 313-965-0709.

Just like Paris

Mucking about town this past week was a crew of journalists from the French magazine “Rock and Folk.” These Gallic gadabouts were in town to document the Detroit rock “scene” which is so very au courant in France these days. Such a task entails dutifully hitting the rounds of the local rock luminaries for interviews, and this crew hooked up with, among others, the White Stripes, Niagara, Ron Asheton of Stooges fame (couldn’t find brother Scott), Scott Morgan, the Detroit Cobras, the Go and many more. They also hung out at the Majestic, rubbing elbows at the bar with the Detroit rock glitterati and no doubt smoking a few Galoises in the process. Not only were they journalists, however, they were also big fans, getting autographs and carting around various pieces of Detroit memorabilia for personalized inscriptions. Apparently, the Detroit music scene is well on its way to being as big as Jerry Lewis in France.

Rivertown rebirth

In other notable news, the Woodbridge tavern in Rivertown celebrated its grand reopening party this past Friday night. The Woodbridge, as many will recall, as been sitting in limbo ever since lame duck Mayor Archer began his tortured waffling on casino locales back in 1998. In the meantime, as Hamlet dithered and Nero fiddled, Rivertown businesses went pretty much bust, left in the lurching limbo of landowner litigation and a game of condemnation chicken with City Hall. Well, the City swerved, and the landowners were left holding a bag of tumbleweeds. Kudos to Marcia Cron and the Woodbridge for bringing some life back to the area.

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