Martians, artists & Hourly types

‘Tis Wednesday, yet again! And, as always, Metro Times acts as your midwife of the midweek, ably assisting you in bringing forth the necessary info to schedule your weekend plans, while also pausing, only for a moment, to revisit the events of the past (and here’s where I come in). That’s right, the pretentious yammerings of this unrepentant pedant can only mean one thing: The time is now upon us, dear, loyal readers, for the latest chapter in the sycophantic ode to the chattering masses and classes, also known as “Loose Lips.” An ode which, by the by, is a product of a process which should henceforth not go unnoticed or remarked upon. As always, your intrepid columnist has tirelessly chummed the muddy waters of our region’s disparate entertainment venues, Ahab-style, in search of that elusive green light beckoning at the end of the dock, a blinking beacon signifying that the Loose Lips Holy Grail is well within reach of my clammy claws (as well as my mixed metaphors and jumbled literary allusions). Finding no green light, and lazily heading east on Nine Mile about two miles from home, I instead took a right on red and ended up at the WAB (Woodward Avenue Brewery) on Friday night. As I arrived, local band American Mars was taking to the stage, offering up for the thirsty masses their inscrutably idiosyncratic take on the sonic landscape of our Midwestern geography. With black-and-white slides of hardscrabble scenes being projected on the billowing sheets behind them, the band proceeded to partially enthrall the throngs who were packed into the WAB to listen. As always, this being Ferndale, there were also your pockets of indifferent twentysomethings who would look equally at home hanging out drinking Bud Lights and listening to the jukebox at “TGI McScratchy’s” or some similarly named entertainment venue. Nevertheless, loyal fans of the band were out in force, including four-fifths of cowpunk troubadours Blanche, including Dan and Tracee Miller, as well as navel-baring drummer Lisa Jannon, sitting at a table with onlooker Kate O’Hara. Strolling among the crowded booths I ran into American Mars front man Thomas Trimble and the band’s pedal-steel wunderkind, Dave Feeny of Tempermill Studios (and also of Blanche), as they were carefully calibrating the slides in preparation for the band’s set. I also chatted with Michelle Brock and Randy Sly, the latter of whom is the keyboard player for Robert Bradley’s Blackwater Surprise, and who just returned from a tour that took them to the West Coast and back. In a glammy rockstar anecdote, Sly, somewhat sheepishly, mentioned that he and some others were taken out to the Viper Room by Michigan native and Red Hot Chili Pepper Chad Smith. Ahhhhh, the big time.


Moving on to other news, or what passes for news in this space, The Greater Downtown Partnership of Detroit has launched an initiative to help establish an artists colony in downtown Detroit. Following a well-established blueprint from other urban areas across the country, luring artists into an urban-renewal project is usually the first stage in what will eventually become a creeping gentrification process (which in certain cities ends, ironically, with the homesteading artists getting priced out). Kate Beebe of the partnership indicated that they were in the preliminary stages of exploring the possibility of taking one of the larger downtown buildings, which she referred to as “dinosaurs” (I would call them landmarks), and establishing a 60-unit space. Artists would live there, work there, and show there, with some sort of retail-café space on the ground level, creating a critical mass of both downtown residents as well as a 24-hour, non-9-to-5 culture. The partnership has enlisted Artspace, a nationwide organization based in Minneapolis, which has helped set up similar projects using older historic structures in cities such as Portland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Minneapolis. According to its Web site, the mission of Artspace is to create and manage space where artists can live, work, exhibit, perform, and conduct business. Check out, for some interesting info on these projects. While reviewing the projects in other cities, particularly the Minneapolis area, you can’t help but see how such a concept is tailor-made for Detroit. While they would initially like to try to reuse an existing large building along the lines of a David Whitney or Broderick Tower, if such a project appears to be too large, Beebe indicated that they would consider scaling back to a 24-unit space in one of the many smaller abandoned commercial buildings downtown. While the demand is high, the threshold issue comes down to money, and the first step is to get state approval for low-income tax credits for the artists. For more info, in addition to the Artspace Web site, go to


In the expat department, word from the left coast is that one of the founders of a glossy oversized monthly magazine based in the burbs with the word Detroit in its title has somewhat brazenly resurrected his publishing empire out in San Francisco. Tom Hartle and wife Heather left our sunny shores for the Bay Area around a year and a half ago, and when last I saw him in the beer line at the inaugural DEMF, I thought he indicated that they were embarking on some sort of cyber-venture. I can only surmise where that went; however, Hartle has apparently made something of a splash with yet another glossy entitled 7x7. My e-mail to Hartle for info and comment has, to date, gone unanswered. According to published reports in the SF media, Hartle felt that there was a discernible need for a story-driven weekly magazine that focused only on San Francisco itself, rather than dealing with the whole Bay Area. According to an SF Weekly cover story, he sought to exploit a similar niche in Detroit with Hour, which was described as “one part Vanity Fair and two parts Martha Stewart Living.” The result is 7x7, a somewhat obscure reference to both the dimensions of San Francisco in square miles and the fact that the city is built on seven hills. In a fairly candid interview before the magazine launch, Hartle opined, “I say ‘So-fucking-long’ to the dot-commers,” bristling in response to the suggestion that this may not be the best time to start a business, especially one that is reliant on the affluent twenty- and thirtysomethings now losing their jobs and disposable incomes at increasingly defunct Web sites. “Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise, which will preserve the diversity of this city.” In a bit of a nonrevelation, Hartle says he subscribes to the Andy Warhol-Interview formula: Cover only the elite and the underground. Ignore the middle, because the middle is boring and wants to be like the other two anyway. David Weir, a former investigative reporter at Rolling Stone and editor of, has been enlisted to head up the 7x7 staff.

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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