For whom the Belle tolls

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The Wonder Twins recently visited Belle Isle in search of music and find good sounds and an immersive experience. 

D'Anne: I hadn't been to Belle Isle since I was a little kid. For some reason I remembered it being really small.

Laura: The last time I was there was almost 10 years ago for a charity walkathon. I only remember it was hot, I was tired, and I vowed to never agree to walk around for charity again — no matter what the cause or location.

D'Anne: This time we didn't walk all over the island, we drove all over it trying to find Come Hear Belle Isle — a charity event for the island itself.

Laura: And we drove around for a long time.

D'Anne: Because — funny thing — it turns out that Belle Isle is not small. It is in fact the largest island park in all the land.

Laura: And the Come Hear Belle Isle organizers were skimpy with the signage. We saw maybe two signs that vaguely pointed us toward the Remick Music Shell. We encountered family reunions that had more helpful and plentiful signage. 

D'Anne: And there were a lot of family reunions. And bounce houses. In fact, I think each family reunion had its own bounce house.

Laura: The family that bounces together stays together.

D'Anne: True. We also saw a large group of people getting baptized. 

Laura: Yes. Full immersion baptism. They were all wearing white. I do not think they had a bounce house.

D'Anne: Belle Isle is a great place to get wet for the Lord. The weather was perfect for it.

Laura: Also, though I don't want to tell people how to live their lives, if you're planning to participate in a wearing-all-white full immersion public baptism any time soon, please carefully consider your undergarment choices. 

D'Anne: Pink thongs make Jesus weep.

Laura: At this point, we've driven around the island several times. We've bounced in the pirate ship bounce house, gone zipping down the giant slide, and crashed the Hall-Marks family reunion (excellent potato salad, by the way).

D'Anne: But we still haven't found Come Hear Belle Isle! It's time to ask for help.

Laura: Thankfully, we came across a group of people wearing shirts that said "Security" in large letters and asked for directions.

D'Anne: The security guard who assisted us said we were on the wrong side of the island. For somebody wearing a sizable silver necklace that said, "BITE ME," she was surprisingly helpful and polite.

Laura: Whether by luck or the exhaustion of possibilities, we finally found our event.

D'Anne: The music shell was aptly named. The stage looked kind of like a giant open clam. The sound was really good. When we got there Loune, a band from East Lansing, was onstage.

Laura: They were busting out the tuneful indie rock that barefoot boys in capri pants are so good at these days.

D'Anne: Yes. In any case, it was cool to see an East Lansing band in Detroit. 

Laura: The audience was kind of sparse. I think a bounce house would have really helped attendance. And changing the name to the "Come Hear Belle Isle Family Reunion."

D'Anne: One of the goals of this event was to get a new generation of folks to Belle Isle to see what a beautiful place it is and, in that respect, I think the event was a success. 

Laura: Considering the current economic situation of the city, it's important that people care about the future of Belle Isle and recognize that it really is a bright spot in Detroit. 

D'Anne: Agreed. My only complaint is the goose waste. 

Laura: If you wanted to be on the grass near the stage it was unavoidable. And people were laying down blankets, romping around barefoot, just sitting on the bare ground. 

D'Anne: I mean, god bless 'em, but that's just not how I roll. The bottom line is that geese should not be allowed to just shit everywhere.

Laura: They should wear diapers. That should be part of the economic stimulus package: Hire people to change goose diapers on Belle Isle.

D'Anne: I would very much like you to present that idea to City Council.

Laura: I'll write up a proposal. Speaking of economic stimulus, the next band to play was Maunder Minimum, which just put out an EP called We Are the Economic Stimulus.

D'Anne: They also sang a love song to the Bridge Card. At least, I think it was a love song. In any case, it was very impassioned.

Laura: They reminded me of a more country-tinged Modest Mouse or Violent Femmes.

D'Anne: And then it was off to the aquarium. Which was not depressing at all.

Laura: I sense some sarcasm. It was, however, a rare opportunity, seeing as the aquarium has been closed since 2005. The inside of the aquarium is really beautiful.

D'Anne: There are folks working hard to reopen it. All they need are fish and water, according to the guy from Friends of Belle Isle Aquarium who showed us around. And some great big scissors to cut through red tape. But right now, out of the many tanks, there's only one with any fish in it.

Laura: "Star fish," as the guy told us, since the tank was filled for a movie filmed there recently.

D'Anne: I'm pretty sure he said the film was called Naked Angel. Probably aquamarine porn. That's a hot trend right now.

Laura: And you know this how?

D'Anne: Never mind that. After the aquarium, we hustled back to see Chris Bathgate, who had already started playing. 

Laura: We are both fans of him already. It was just him and his guitar.

D'Anne: And yet he managed to sound louder than some of the full bands. I have to admit, I was worried for the hearing of that baby in the audience.

Laura: You're such a mom. Still, there are worse sounds to lose your hearing to.

D'Anne: Chris Bathgate played a new song that he said didn't even have a title yet. I'm excited to hear more new stuff from him.

Laura: The last band we saw was the High Strung. 

D'Anne: I had never seen them before and had been feeling left out. I've heard a lot of good things about them. They kind of reminded me of the Who crossed with Flaming Lips and the Polyphonic Spree.

Laura: They're always fun. They put on a good show and always seem excited to be there whether they're playing in front of a big crowd or a handful of people.

D'Anne: You just like them because they named their new album Dragon Dicks.

Laura: Guilty. 

D'Anne: I think it speaks to my disdain for sci-fi and fantasy that when I heard the name of their album I thought it was called Draggin' Dicks. You know, like the hefting around of really heavy penises.

Laura: Maybe that could be the name of a future B-sides collection.

D'Anne: D-sides. Or P-sides

Laura: That's enough out of you. This event really made me want to go to Belle Isle more. I hope they do it again next year.

D'Anne: Though next time, the bands should play from inside a bounce house.

Laura: A full-immersion bounce house in the newly opened aquarium.

D'Anne: Now you're talking.

The Wonder Twins bounce and immerse themselves in the line of their Metro Times duties up biweekly. Send comments to [email protected]
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