Happy campers of urban hip

Jan 10, 2001 at 12:00 am


Hello, and welcome to Camp Detroit. Your enrollment in this unique camp will cover a vast array of traditional camp workshops, all with a characteristic Motor City twist. Covering the finest of all traditional aspects of summer camp — arts and crafts, music and outdoor survival — your time spent at Camp Detroit, especially since it’s winter, will provide you with the necessary skills to survive in this distinctive metropolis. You bring the marshmallows and I’ll bring the dirt.

Saturday’s adventure at Camp Detroit began at yet another art opening at the hub of urban hipness and shabby-chic elitism, C-Pop Gallery. While campers loaded up for the Wilderness Survival Workshop, hoarding the free tortellini and beer from the Woodward Avenue Brewery, the Literature Workshop was covered with the showing of Urban Scrawls, a documentary on classic Detroit literature immortalized on bathroom walls in such famous dives as Honest John’s, Old Miami and Cass Cafe.

Writer/director/co-producer Jamie Schenk and producer Sarah Cantu were on hand, most likely reveling in the completely barren and blank walls of the C-Pop bathroom.

Sisters Emily and Vanessa Harris of Minnesota were hanging with featured artist Kurt Fredericksen, whose delightfully twisted cartoonlike art was being showcased on the second floor.

Downstairs at Bask’s show, Kit Eagal of Gallery 212 in Ann Arbor was distributing fliers for a call for entries for his latest endeavor, the Painted Mile.

Held in conjunction with the annual bouncing naked frat-boy flesh extravaganza that is U-M’s traditional Naked Mile, the show will revolve around the theme of body adornment — from piercing to painting and everything in between.

Last year, the gallery engaged in a body-painting demonstration on the street, causing all sorts of traffic backup and earning a visit from Ann Arbor po-po. This year promises to be bigger, better, more shocking and much more pleasing to the eye than a throng of jiggling beer guts and baseball caps. Naked men in socks — eew.


Backpacks and compasses in hand, my fellow campers and I took on the task of negotiating rugged icy streets as part of the Urban Hiking Workshop. As we traipsed past the still vacant, still sorely missed Blue Moon, we noted that “soon” holds a different linguistic meaning in Detroit, seeing as a “Coming Soon” sign, referring to a new occupant of the building, has been hanging on the outside of the building there for something like a year now.

After making a few notes on the various examples of urban flora and fauna of Woodward, we reached our destination of the Bittersweet Coffee House, for the Grass-roots Workshop.

Youth counselor Shannon Estep and Wayne State doctoral student Jill Wojewuczki warmed up with espresso and enjoyed performances from singer-songwriters Kelly Cole, Alison Lewis and Blair; the latter was doing double duty and working the door with Emilio Basa.


Thoroughly caffeinated, the campers braved the elements and trudged on to the Magic Stick for the Music Workshop. Along the way, we encountered the unofficial Camp Detroit bonfire, a massive blaze in a building across the street. Perhaps a fellow Camp Detroiter became a little too overenthusiastic in an attempt to earn the fire-making badge. In any case, fellow campers gathered outside the bar to gawk at the inferno, and spun tall tales of the origins of the fire and heroic attempts of bar-goers to rescue people leaping from the windows.

As the smoke thickened, the campers retreated inside to enjoy Tina’s Birthday Swarm, a free show in honor of, you guessed it, Magic Stick employee Tina’s birthday.

The highly successful Music Workshop was conducted by the Buzzards, the Sirens, the Soledad Brothers, the Done Wrongs and Ko & the GBTs.

The women of the Sirens demonstrated skills gleaned from the Hunting Workshop, as they were sporting fuzzy boots, coats and sweaters of genuine white Muppet hair — shot free-range, and lured in with the number 4 and the letter A.

I met the not-so-saintly Dan Augustine who was sure to mention the name of his band W-Vibe, as he astutely pointed out it was against the rules to come across a Loose Lips columnist and not include a gratuitous plug for your band.

A free show always brings ‘em out in droves, and the Stick was jam-packed with veteran Camp Detroiters, including the ever-popular Jeff King of Small’s, writer Todd Hughes, multimedia artist Matt Wittstock, French instructor Kimia Zanjani, off-duty police officer Joseph Smith, and the dying-to-be-photographed Dwight Stewart and Wally Palmer of the Romantics, who just played a New Year’s Eve show in LA where it was purported that Johnny Depp and former Camp Detroiter Quentin Tarantino were in attendance.

Diligently keeping the masses well supplied with vital sustenance were super bartender Anthony Garth of Chrome Bumper and the Camel cigarette-and-candy girl Gwen Joy, who coincidentally enough was featured in Angie Baan’s portrait exhibit next door at C-Pop.

DJ Quig was surrounded by his version of Charlie’s Angels — Lorie and Julie Lucas and Jamie Barnett. Nearby, it seemed a holy trinity of Detroit art had formed, where sculptor Ed Sykes, power artist Glenn Barr and C-Pop big daddy Tom Thewes were found rubbing elbows.

Downstairs in the Garden Bowl lounge, Dave Fragale and Eve Doster were discussing the finer points of the Eve Doster School of Charm. Lesson One: “Hey, fucko, c’mere!”

After a long night of introspective and informative workshops, the campers were tuckered out; they boldly ventured into the streets at 2 a.m., well prepared to face the challenges of urban wildlife.

Extra special merit badges were earned by John Cottos of Robb Roy and Huck Johns, who were gentlemanly enough to walk a poor battered and bruised, balance-impaired lady to her car.

Sarah Klein writes here every other week. Got gossip, party invites, shameless cries for attention? Write [email protected], or call the tip line at 313-962-5281. Press * then dial