Glossy gala, gym swing


Woodward magazine recently threw a little shindig for itself at the C-Pop Gallery, trucking in a rather bespectacled and suburban-looking group of predominantly middle-agers into the pulsating aorta and atrophied liver of our fair city’s arts and entertainment district.

For the uninitiated, Woodward is that nascent-yet-polished little Motor City New Yorker wannabe. Unlike certain other glossy, oversized monthly city mags, this one didn’t need to max out its founders’ credit cards in order to get off the ground. Why risk your credit rating when you can sup from the well of eternal patronage?

In this case, word is that most of the cashola to start the mag came from executive editor Chris Bisha’s dad. They clearly didn’t skimp on the scratch either, as the magazine has an impressive look and veneer to it, while the substantive content definitely shows some promise.

The publication is headed by editor Leif Gruenberg, who previously toiled away for Walls and Ceilings Magazine. That lineage, when combined with their avowed New Yorker aspirations, will undoubtedly lead to some 3,000-word essays on such topics as, say, "The Postmodern Impact of Drop Ceilings as Neo-Kitsch Among Generation Y-Z."

The expansive picture windows in the front of C-Pop provided an interesting juxtaposition between the Woodward mag party, tinkling baby grand and all, and the über-urchin youth lined up outside for what looked to be a sold-out Dropkick Murphy’s concert taking place later at the Majestic Theater. Overheard more than once at C-Pop were sweater-clad men muttering such somewhat-bemused comments as "What the heck is going on next door?" in order to mask the nervous tremor in their voices.

The gala showcased some of the magazine’s featured artists, including Renata Palubinskas, a recent Lithuanian émigré whose fanciful painting adorns the cover of Woodward’s kickoff issue. Palubinskas’ colorful works suggest the possible outcome if the Brothers Quay were to have studied old masters oil painting techniques with Hieronymus Bosch while moonlighting at the surrealist school, and working weekends animating Yellow Submarine for Peter Max.

Sizing up the paintings was C-Pop’s retro-futurist artist and deep-pocketed financier Tom Thewes Jr., whose father, as many of you know, was a co-founder of Compuware.

Tom Jr. and his inheritance reportedly footed a large part of the $1.5 million for C-Pop gallery (i.e. Compu-Heir North), so it kind of makes sense for Woodward to hold its coming-out party at the space.

All in all, it was a swelligant and nepotistic night for a magazine that hopefully will become available at your corner newsstand (if, in fact, Detroit ever evolves to the point of actually having corner newsstands).


The Detroit-Area Art Deco Society (DADS) unlocked the gates of the Marine Corps’ Brodhead Armory last Saturday night for a super-special swing dancin’ spectacular. Given the advance billing, I anticipated some spectacular ’40s era WPA murals and art deco interiors. What I saw instead was essentially a parquet-floored gym with highly unflattering institutional-style lighting (perhaps designed to break the backs of the plucky yet dermatologically challenged Marine recruits who dare enter that sanctum sanctorum).

No doubt the surgical lighting served to scare off some of the more vain members from the DADS Bloomfield-Birmingham axis, who, no doubt, would have preferred that the light be filtered through a mica shade.

Apparently, the true deco treasures, and in fact the raison d’être for the whole event, were some spectacular murals in the higher-up’s quarters (and off-limits to rank civilians such as myself), which had been subjected to unfortunate water damage.

Given the sounds of the vintage swing 16-piece Tuxedo Junction, the numerous fresh-faced guys and gals in WAC and USO outfits doing the lindy, and the whole gymnasium atmosphere, I kept expecting the floor to open up and reveal a swimming pool, à la It’s a Wonderful Life.

I did talk to vintage clothing mavens Julie Greene of Patti Smith in Royal Oak and collector Kevin Jackunas, who were busily peddling their vintage wares along with several other dealers.

For true authentic feel, they had a USO-style canteen dinner, which featured foil chafing dishes filled with green beans the color of Jeeps, some type of indistinguishable curled beef slices floating in brown juice, and some pasta and chicken. Where do I enlist?


Speaking of institutional lighting and food to match, word on the street is that the Flaming Embers on Grand Circus Park is going to be shutting down to make way for a satellite branch of the Atwater Block Brewery. Atwater is eagerly seeking to gain a foothold in the Grand Circus region in order to prep for Comerica Park 2000.

In other stadia neighborhood news, after a lingering death attributed throughout the summer to a lack of air conditioning, the once-promising DISH has moved out of the Town Pump/Park Avenue Hotel.

Town Pump poster-prince Sean Harrington deftly sidestepped any acrimony, commenting that the popular east-side carryout was a bit "overextended."

Moving in to fill the void will be former Harmonie Pointe Grill wünderkind Dave Wood, who was last seen at the Dally in the Alley in the Bohemian Cafe tent. Although Wood is in Europe for a few more weeks, his lieutenants have supposedly already moved in and are preparing their delightful fare even as we speak.

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