Java, jive & Jennings


It’s not that often when I just happen upon a headache in the middle of a normal non-fun-filled workday, say, perhaps, a Wednesday midmorning. But there it was … pulsing, pounding, throbbing … a real barn-burner. But why? No excessive libations or celebrations … no overdose of local newscasts … minimal contact with the immeasurable wisdom of the Detroit City Council … what could have caused such a cranial-pinching dilemma? I puzzled and puzzled till my puzzler was, well, pooped, until I learned that I, unwittingly, had consumed a decaffeinated cup of coffee during a morning business meeting. Now, if there’s one thing that puts a bee in my bonnet, it’s an accidental consumption of decaf. Blech. Talk about kissing yer sister, talk about a spit take, that is the one thing that will give me a headache on a moment’s notice. The brain, tensing up in expectation of the exhilarating rush and dilated blood vessels of caffeine-powered java juice, is instead treated to a hot bitter dose of low-test … and your body punishes you as a result.


What does this have to do with the column, you ask? Well … I … ah … am getting to that. Right. Getting … to … that. As your intrepid columnist searched for a palliative for this horrific hangdog headache, I was countered at all corners with what could charitably be described as cacophonous and discordant headache inducers … be it a noise show at CPOP on Wednesday or an art-rock performance at CPOP on Friday … or bands and/or venues which I have reviewed excessively in the past (see, e.g. Buzzards at the Magic Stick, Wildbunch at Magic Bag, Dirtbombs at Lager House, Scotty Moore/Lee Rocker at the Stick — done, done and done) … or, as enticing as it may be, the 15th annual Erotic Poetry and Music Fest, about which I gave a hearty poetry “slam” in this space a year ago (not one to beat a dead horse, but, again, the erotic level was on a par with a rainy Saturday afternoon trapped inside the State Fair beer tent). What to do? What to do? Yes, retirement is one option, but then, as I was heading down Woodward Avenue, contemplating the lack of meaning in Loose Lips’ life, what should my wandering eye alight upon, but a single golden harp … in the window of the New Way Bar. The presence of said harp could only mean one of two things: either I’ve died and gone to Ferndale (not a good sign), or a live gig by vintage jazzbo troubadours the Filter Kings was about to take place. Blustering my freeloading way past the unhappy doorman seeking to extract a cover charge, I immediately ran into Filter Kings slide man, Tony Buccilli and wife Collette, a couple whose informal engagement announcement first appeared back in this column many years back, when Mr. Buccilli was still manning the trombone for the dearly departed Atomic Fireballs. Moving past the happy couple, I next ran into Intoxicats Wayne Pritchard and Anthony Yacobelli, along with Yacobelli’s better half Kristin Hughes. Pritchard pulled double duty on the night, not only manning the DJ station, but also preparing the fliers for the show, about which he rather sheepishly pointed out that he had misspelled “Febuary.” Yeah, well, I don’t think the majority of the New Way patrons noticed. Hell, even I didn’t notice, especially after a couple of them thar fancy new Guinness patented depth-charge bottles. Many in the crowd were slightly remorseful about the unfortunate scheduling of the evening, in which the Magic Stick show (featuring former Elvis guitarist Scotty Moore and former Stray Cat Lee Rocker), essentially split the roots-rock scene right down the middle of the pomade tin. Apparently, the Stick crew grew a bit nervous about advance ticket sales for the show, cutting the price in half by the time the weekend rolled around. Recognizing that I couldn’t write about a show at the Magic Stick for, um, like the 1,200th time in the past five weeks, after inhaling the Filter Kings, I decided to roam the mean streets of the city. I vowed to stay away from Corktown’s Lager House, given that I had just covered a show there last week, but I couldn’t resist just a few minutes with Detroit’s famed Dirtbombs, who were entertaining an absolutely overstuffed tin-ceilinged sardine can of indie-rock hipsteratti. Since this is ostensibly a gossip column (as opposed to a warped public diary, but I dare you to find a difference), I should note that included in the crowd was Meg White, of the White Stripes of course, who pushed past me to get to the crowded edge of the stage, within dangerous perspiring distance of Dirtbombs front man Mick Collins. Getting back to the scene at hand, it’s plainly evident that the Lager House has wholeheartedly picked up the local rock baton which the Gold Dollar dropped over on Cass, and, if they can just find a way to free up a little more space, this place could become legendary. Speaking of freeing up space, here’s a tip: What the hell is it with the inevitable oblivions who find it necessary to carry on a game of pool when the other 99.9 percent of the throngs who have pressed their flesh into the tiny bar are there to see the live music? Here’s a suggestion: Put the pool table out back on the patio, alfresco, thereby ensuring that cue space will not be compromised, while also giving the music aficionados a little more breathing room. Pool table … gimmee a beak.


Now it’s time for some random potshots, er, I mean profound observations. First off, ABC’s pre-eminent prima donna newsman Peter Jennings rolled his caravan out into the hinterlands last week, deigning to entertain a Q&A with an interesting array of Detroit-area preselected media and audience members last Tuesday, including reformed dial-a-porn fanatic Frank Turner and peripatetic talking head-sports scrivener-professional in-store book-signer Mitch Albom. Anyone who caught the show on Channel 7 had to be appalled at apparent camera hog-gubernatorial candidate Jim Blanchard, who was strategically placed in a shameless position where the camera would constantly show his face immediately behind the person asking a question of the panel. The only thing worse was Jennings’ idiotic question to Mayor Kwamarama about the diamond stud earring. Give it a rest, that’s something I’d expect from Sally Jessy, not Peter Jennings. Next up, how about this new Detroit-brand bottled water that the Water and Sewerage Department is talking about producing? Uh-huh. Does that come with a whiskey shot back? (Badum-bum). Now we all know that the water here is high-quality stuff, but let’s be candid, folks, to the rest of the world, bottled “Detroit Water” is about as appealing as “Three Mile Island Farms Organic Produce,” “LA Air,” or “farm-raised Love Canal brand catfish.” It’s oxymoronic marketing, emphasis on the moronic. Finally, you gotta love our megahyped new airport terminal. Architectural critics have charitably dubbed the design “functional” and “conservative” — all code words for boring. But, hey, this is Detroit! While other cities get excited about an airport’s soaring architecture, proponents here are absolutely wetting their pants over the attached parking garage, said to be the largest free-standing parking garage built at one time (as if people really keep track of such things). Must be something in the water.

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
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