Beats, wenches and Union-izing

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Maybe it’s the streak of cold and gray days, maybe it’s the impending doom of winter that’s lurking in the distance, maybe the whole country is worn out from the recent unsettling string of events — whatever it is, everyone seems to have come down with a serious case of the blahs.

Dragging worse than a 1975 Oldsmobile trying to push 55 mph, I hopped over to the Magic Stick on Saturday night, in search of a swift kick in the ass, entertainment-wise. The Stick was hosting a bit of a change of pace from the venue’s usual rock and punk shows: The Art of Fischal, a collaborative sensory experience from several Detroit electronica artists. On the main stage, SyntheticDetroit set up an elaborate mountain of TV monitors which flickered snippets of film interwoven with static fuzz and bright slashes of color. The music consisted of live performances and DJs, and switched back and forth from blissed-out trance to fast and loud throbbing beats. The manipulators of the sound scape for the evening included John Briggs, detronik, Tony Drake, antiLogic, Jason Hogans, Colton Weatherston and Kelsey Vaughn Thomas.

Chris Connors was hard at work, as he is moonlighting as “Official Protector of the Door” upstairs on certain nights. Connors also told me the office where he works at during the day recently received a bomb threat, so while Connors and his co-workers were evacuated from the building, they were forced to kill time at Somerset Mall — now that’s my idea of a hard day’s work.

Also present at the door, the always cheery Ko, who has recently retired from barmistress at the Stick, in order to pursue a career as an exotic-cat trainer. OK, not really — she’s got something good planned, but isn’t telling just yet.

Also encountered: Saule Jackunas and her “daughter” Liz McCutcheon, Jennifer Steele, Jon Baxter, Jason Reed and Melina Rodriguez.

After talking shop with the Anthonys (Morrow and Garth), I realized the sweetly hypnotizing and relaxing trance music was doing its job just a bit too well, as I suddenly I became sleepy, very, very sleepy. … Thank goodness I made it home OK before I zonked out and slept like the dead. Fortunately, I’ve found a new cure for my chronic insomnia!


After having intended all summer to head out to the Renaissance Festival at some point, lo and behold, the last weekend of the season suddenly appeared, so I ventured out to Holly on Sunday for the tried-and-true tradition of turkey drumsticks and insult-hurling wenches. Known as “Procrastinators Weekend,” the festival was jam-packed with persons of all ages in modern or Renaissance garb — and a whole heck of a lot of “awwitssocute” kids and dogs in costume.

On the ridiculously long and arduous mile-long trek from the parking lot to the festival grounds, I encountered festival employees Jim Diamond and Steve Guiette, who will soon be a published author — in Penthouse. It seems Guiette wrote a number of off-color limericks for the festival and decided to submit them to the magazine on a whim. The lucky author can expect a high readership too, since all you guys just read those magazines for the articles, right?

The best part of the Ren Fest is all the amusing little anachronisms — the immaculately garbed Elizabethan woman yakking away on her cell phone, the priest in Adidas sneakers, the wench with a face full of glinting metal piercings — some may scorn the lack of authenticity, but I think it’s darn cute. However, winner of the cutest-of-the-cutesy award for the day went to Oberon, the so-sweet-I’ve-got-cavities fairy-winged puppy belonging to Meredith Weis. Obie even upped his cute points when the pooped pooch passed out cold for an impromptu nap at the Guinness Pub during Johnny the Red’s set.

After speaking with Eric Allison, and the lovely and charming couple Debra Rodrigeuz and Thaddeus McGaffey, I stumbled across the royal court: Stephen Nantz, Heather A. Hoogland, Kimba Morgan and Caleb Gilbert, who were playing Captain Gunn, Mary Livingstone, Mary Queen of Scots and Sir William Maitland, respectively. The royalty was also gracious enough to let me sit in the Queen’s box seats for the ever-popular jousting event.

After wading through the sea of mud, and browsing the assorted tchotchkes and devil horns of the shops, it was time for the “Press a Wench” contest, where four innocent men were plucked with the audience and forced to compete against one another, by lifting a number of lovely ladies by the waist and hoisting them sky-high. Doesn’t sound like quite a bad job, until they reveal the final wench — who is always the most rotund man available — in drag.

However, my favorite part of Ren Fest is the Ded Bob show; the cantankerous pirate skeleton loves to brutally insult his audience as much as the audience loves being brutally insulted. Ded Bob was also seen graciously accepting a dollar bill tip which was clenched firmly in the teeth of some brazen hussy in stripey knee socks.

Ded Bob hates bratty children as much as I do. Several of my companions and I were aghast by the abundance of immensely ill-behaved little snots, and remarked that if we had acted that way when we were kids, we would have been smacked senseless almost immediately. Perhaps next year they should have a booth where you can hurl tomatoes at all the naughty children? Definitely food for thought for the festival board.


In a bit of an art-world dust-up, the usual ballyhooed Niagara October opening at CPOP will not go forward this week, due to a bit of haggling over contracts. Not one to be dissuaded, and in a nod to the golden, olden days of yore, Niagara will return to the scene of her old crimes, as it were, with a show in the Michigan Room at Union Street this Saturday night. The Michigan Room, back in the pre-CPOP days, was where Niagara held openings, and, coincidentally enough, then you could buy one of her paintings without taking out a second mortgage.

Sarah Klein is your resident gossip wench. Send hot tips, party invites or desperate pleas for attention to [email protected], or call the tip line at 313-962-5281. Press * then dial
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