A nomadic noel

Dec 5, 2001 at 12:00 am


The frenetic pace of a no-doubt festive holiday season has only recently started to build, what with the Noel Night/Gallery Crawl festivities Saturday night, which saw throngs flood our city’s fair Cultural Center and assorted art galleries in search of artistic enlightenment, hot cider and free museum admission.

Unable to attend the caroling and crawling for the arts, your intrepid columnist instead resorted to another cherished holiday tradition, that being none other than the post-Noel Night Pub Crawl, which is sort of like a gallery crawl, except it occurs in a haze of cigarette smoke and you don’t run out of refreshments at 10 p.m.

First stop of the evening, your amiable neighborhood brewery and tap room, located on the grounds of the Motor City Brewing Works Tap Room. The crowd featured an interesting mix of turtleneck- and sweater-clad middle-agers as well as the studiously insouciant Cass Corridor hipsterati, the latter of whom were no doubt in attendance for the featured performance by Swinger, featuring members of the Wildbunch, Octopus and the Regulators.

My Ghettoblaster pint had run empty before any live music rattled the hops. Eager to keep my pub crawl in motion, I bid adieu to the Tap Room and steered a course down Cass for Corktown, home of the venerable Lager House.

My journey, however, was derailed by bright lights to the east, in the vicinity of the old Michigan Theater on Bagley, once the most glorious and elegant of our grand movie palaces, now holding forth, in true Detroit ironic fashion, as a makeshift parking garage. The Michigan, constructed in 1926 at a cost of $3.8 million, is truly one of the most amazing parking garages in the city, as anyone who has been inside can tell you. The guts have basically been cut of the 4,038-capacity theater (it was needed to hold up the adjacent office building), leaving in place such features as the ornate and crumbling ceiling, columns in the lobby, the proscenium and tattered curtains ... even some stairs to nowhere. This was clearly a movie set waiting to happen, and, naturally, the Eminem movie location scouts have done their homework yet again. The familiar semis bearing the logo of Mark Scott Productions were evident around the building. This was the most action the Michigan has seen since David Bowie played eight consecutive shows there in the mid-’70s (as local Bowie historian and Fisher Theatre ticketrix Amy Yokin can surely attest, as she attended every show).

This movie has truly covered our local landmarks, from Chin Tiki to a Warren trailer park to burning down an abandoned home in Highland Park to, now, the Michigan. What’s next, the old train station?

In any event, it’s clear the movie crew is scouring our most cherished sites of historic and aesthetic significance, once again demonstrating that, while it may be cheaper to film in Toronto, nobody has Grade A photogenic Rust Belt ruins like Detroit. My attempts to photograph the shoot were quickly quashed by an overzealous rent-a-cop, who immediately chased me away. No great loss, however, I’ll just wait to see it on video (which probably won’t take too long).

Besides, the Lager House awaited, where the loungecore sentiments of DJs Lemmy Caution and Alpha Soixante were spinning my favorite fuzz-cuts from vintage ’60s and ’70s-era Italian/German porno-film sound tracks, as well as other alt-dimension Top-40 hits.

Next up, classic Detroit synthpop duo Taboo took to the, um, corner, with their synthesizers humming in vintage ’81 fashion. The Taboo duo even came with some white go-go-booted impromptu Taboo Dancers, aka Liz Cassani and Danielle Arsenault. The Loose Lips camera crew also came into contact with the other musical offering on tap that night, none other than esQuire, described by one local wag as “like Beck backed by Joey Heatherton opening for Peaches.”

Unfortunately, certified Detroit scenester Greg Baise attempted to ambush the shot by jumping behind esQuire’s dance partner, Si, thereby unnerving the photographer, who subsequently jerked the camera slightly (resulting in a nice shot of the stage lights).

For those who need more excuses to get out of the house, head to the Lager House this Saturday for its first anniversary party, featuring the Filter Kings, Bob McCreedy and DJ Wayne Pritchard.


Not one to outstay my welcome, I quickly skipped over to the always jumpin’ Magic Bag in fabulous Ferndale, where a sold-out house was enjoying the triumphant return of Robert Bradley’s Blackwater Surprise. This rescheduled concert was postponed a few months back after drummer Jeff “Shakey”Fowlkes’ unfortunate encounter with a deer on a Colorado Interstate highway. Nobody in the packed house seemed to mind, however, as the band appeared to be in fine form, seemingly fully recovered from its live appearance in a Bud Light commercial a few weeks back. For those who missed it, Bud Light did a satellite broadcast live, coast-to-coast, from Fifth Avenue in Novi. This occurred during a welcome commercial break from the NBC sitcom “Friends.” I happened to tune in for the commercial, and thought I mistakenly acquired the Comedy Channel — what I witnessed looked like a hilarious send-up satire of a beer commercial, with highly choreographed spontaneity of the “high-five me, dude, and get a beer for hot blondie!” variety. Nevertheless, Bradley and crew emerged relatively unscathed, despite having to essentially write a song on the spot, learn it, then perform it live for millions of viewers across the country.

It was clear that a lot of Bud Light was being downed at the Bag Saturday night, judging by the packed house, as well as, in an interesting gender-role reversal, the alarmingly long line for the men’s room, which practically stretched to the street.


For those that missed the gallery crawl, as well as CPOP’s opening last Saturday, be sure to head down to the gallery this Saturday for the 50/50 Show. Fifty pieces by 50 artists for $50 each, and featuring work by local and national artists including Mark Dancey, Ron Zakrin and even the CPOP staff. This thing starts at 7 p.m.; get there early, as these budget-conscious events are among the few times that the hipster freeloaders that frequent the gallery actually take the rubber band off and buy something. Also, anyone in search of new spectacles (such as myself) should get thee over to Bloomfield Optical this Friday, on Maple in downtown B-Ham, just west of Harmony House, as there will be a party, fundraiser, and fashion-eyewear trunk show featuring Zip Homme frames. The trunk show is from 3-6 p.m., with the silent auction beginning at 7 p.m. All proceeds go to the Oakland County Child Care Council. It’s also the town’s “moonlight shopping spree” night, so stop into the fund-raiser for a Mojito or three before venturing into the crowds. It will make shopping, and Birmingham, all the more enjoyable (or at least tolerable).

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