Pianos, players and the Post


It has been brought to my attention that my debut in this column exhibited a certain cattiness incongruous to my nature. Those who know me, as the harbinger of good will that I am, were taken aback at the barbs peppering my items.

But making interesting social commentary necessitates pointing out the often silly and illogical patterns of human behavior that we all find ourselves participating in from time to time. If I poke fun at some inane communal ritual, it is only because I recognize it as one I have also fallen prey to.

To be sure, I’ve spent my fair share of time atop a soapbox, extolling newfound wisdom gleaned from innumerable self-help books. I’ve been guilty of making unnecessary cell phone calls, wearing sunglasses at night, and carefully monitoring my pose to look casual.

Human nature is fraught with subtly motivated and complexly woven actions creating countless opportunities for us mere mortals to make asses of ourselves. Enjoy it.


Maryann Mahaffey, Detroit’s affable city council president pro tem, hosted a reception last Friday for the "Send a Piana to Havana" project. Under founder Ben Treuhaft (son of author Jessica The American Way of Dying Mitford), the effort dispatches pianos to Cuba, countering Sen. Robert Torricelli’s noose-tightening bill (passed by Congress in the wake of Cuba’s economic collapse following the Soviet Union’s demise).

Arriving at Mahaffey’s home, I was warmly greeted and force-fed by three self-proclaimed Jewish mothers who cautioned that resistance was futile.

Detroit teacher Marsha Cohen turned me on to food, drink and the "we’re casual here" policy. Arm twisted, I gobbled Scotch eggs and settled in the sitting room in front of Tom Pettit’s 1990s-era Schmitt grand (on loan).

Cuban sensation Lida Lopez Mancheva took our breath away with her emotional performance. My rapt attention was disturbed only by Treuhaft’s abuse of the "casual" credo, as he stretched prone on the floor; and the man to my left who kept slipping off his seat.

Delightful guests included musician Art Levine, Marion McGuire of the state board of education, Jazz Network Foundation’s Bill Foster, and Helen Samberg, whose passion for life inspired me greatly.


Post-reception, I was forced from my cozy urban confines and into suburban nightlife for the first time in eons. Enjoyed Woodward Avenue Brewery (though no vanilla porter), but downright painful was witnessing the cheese-factor meme’s successful invasion of Ferndale, headquartered at the Post. "90210" throw-backs swarmed, rubbing against each other in drunken enthusiasm. The many BOUS (breasts of unusual size) worked like vertical speed bumps at every turn, and conversation was monosyllabic.

Shocked to discover myself drinking a Rum Runner, I wallowed in shame by letting tanned and gelled Gold’s Gym dudes hone their pickup lines on me.

In a moment of drunken delusion and desperation, I foolishly launched a debate weighing suburban bars against downtown watering holes. Andrew Haller of Farmington Hills proved the fruitless nature of my earnest effort at imparting logic, saying he’ll "go downtown once it feels like Chicago." Predictably, he closed his argument with "Go Red Wings!"

Oddly, Clawson proved the best leg of my journey. Boasting mugs big enough for Joe C. to swim in, Ted’s remains one of the few suburban bars still booking talent. The Civilians rocked the crowd off their feet, and frontman Jim Hebler reported overwhelming sales of their new disc that night.

Royal Oak’s Tracey Taylor sweetly posed with manager (and 105.1 FM producer) Ryan Niemiec and bassist Sidi Henderson.


A fistful of Tigers Dream Camp players wound down at Detroit’s crown jewel of sports, Lindell A.C., after Saturday night’s practice. I stopped in to toss one back with ’68 Tigers pitcher Jon Warden, who was all charm and flirtatious good humor.

Sportos and drunks alike (superfluous differentiation?) flocked Warden like vultures to a corpse, feeding vicariously on yarns of yesteryear. Our ruddy champ graciously doled it out, even leading MSU’s Jeanette Strezinski on a tour of his mugshots lining Lindell’s walls; an act of great altruism, I am sure.

For one night at least, those walls did talk. Warden and proprietor Mel Butsicaris recalled the historic ’68 Series win, when Warden snuck off to Lindell’s incognito for celebratory inebriation.

"The Lindell A.C. is one of the all-time sports bars in the United States," Warden edified, whether "you’re a Hall-of-Famer or an ordinary team guy like me." There’ll be no better place to mourn the stadium, as Mel keeps your glass full and mind entertained.


Bumped into Joe Janes (Second City’s producing artistic director) on opening night of Detroit Ensemble Theater’s Our Town production. Reveling in this chance encounter with a keystone of the new Detroit, I learned that Hockeytown Café’s grand opening will be Sept. 29, with full Red Wing attendance. On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, WNIC’s Breakfast Club will be on-site for a brunch and broadcast. Replacing Risata, Hockeytown will cover two floors, feature an incredible menu, and provide shuttles to and from every home game.

Heavy drinking and dancing will also continue at the 5-Hole, high atop this one-stop entertainment edifice. Within stumbling distance from the Town Pump, a rumored new Wings arena (unconfirmed), the Fox and Comerica Park, Hockeytown is securely positioned in the pumping heart of our pulsating city. Um, and you’re waiting for "what," again, Mr. Haller?

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