The Great Holiday Grape, an elaborate wine-tasting party presented by the Fine Wine Source of Livonia and the Metro Times, finally happened Thursday night at the Royal Oak Music Theatre. It was well worth my wait.
Hometown hero Stewart Francke performed live while the hip set's upper crust roamed about, nodding tipsy pleasantries to each other and sampling wines at 25different tables.
Adding a fresh edge to the elegant aesthetics were models donned in Mother Fletchers' fashions on continuous parade amid the more conservatively dressed sampling crowd.
Because cheese is what truly lures me to such events, I was hugely bummed at the lack of any! But the array of hors d' oeuvres, provided by Pontiac's Pike Street and Waves of St. Clair Shores, went a long way in assuaging my despair. Scrumptious little desserts and a plethora of yummy dishes beyond my culinary scope of description were on hand and readily replenished. Impossible not to note was Waves' Rajin' Cajun, an innocent-looking pasta dish that pretty much set my sinuses ablaze 30 seconds after swallowing the first bite! I was simply forced to gulp down several more $70-a-bottle wines in an effort to put out the fire.
Pike Street's charismatic new marketing manager, Kathy Krajewski, won my secret "Nicest Person in a Snooty Atmosphere" contest, which I hold at highbrow events to amuse myself. There are "real" people to be found everywhere, if cynicism is held at bay long enough to notice.
I talked Krajewski into posing for a photo with Gallery Function Art's D. Scott Patria (who did not even make the first cut in my contest) and David Sawicki of the band BEAKOE.
Sawicki's wild gold-foiled, wrapping paper-inspired jacket (a delight in the sea of black) was, I overheard, picked out by his wife.
Also seen darting about was none other than that enigmatic gossip columnist, Casey Coston, and his gorgeous wife, Tari Frank. Mr.Coston actually came in as my contest's close second ... you just can't believe all the gossip you hear, now, can you?!
Toward the end of the evening the vibe loosened, thanks to plenty of fine spirits. Birmingham realtor unextraordinaire, Tim Bostwick, apparently rode the vibe a little too strongly, nearly jarring the rug from his head as he stumbled into the table of metalist Suzi Taro and her date.
Deciding to leave before I began stumbling myself, I chatted with Scott Head (Fine Wine Source) and pals Michael Kain and Rachel Birk on the way out.
Stewart Francke could be heard on stage proclaiming Debbie Sipes (MT hostess) to be the "sexiest woman in Detroit." Aw, Stewart, that's what all the fellas say.
Red-nosed and aglow from wining it up, my date and I stopped in at 7 Brothers in Hamtramck to experience the sensory shock of pouring $1.25 Pabsts over our newly spoiled taste buds. Thanks to the amazing personality that is George Cvetanovski (behind the bar for 23 years), 7 Brothers is the hub of Detroit theatre. Most patrons are recognized talents, showcased on stages around Detroit. Laughter abounded Thursday, as the crowd was comprised of Second City improvisers. Actor / improviser Todd Green and dancer / instructor Sherri Embrey posed for me, and then challenged my date and I to a game of pool! I almost didn't mind losing, so entertaining and charming were they, literally dancing around the pool table as they kicked our asses. A rematch is in the works.
Gene Loves Jezebel, the band epitomizing all that was right with '80s alternative music, is back, under the leadership of Michael Aston (Gene).
Twin brother Jay (Jezebel) lost his lawsuit to prevent Michael's re-forming of the band, so GLJ is touring to promote their new album, Love Lies Bleeding.
I caught them Saturday night at I-Rock Nightclub, an unassuming rock spot known for booking outstanding acts.
Regular local dudes and wilder devotees made up the small crowd. In the case of the loyal fans, their style has not changed much since the early alternative days, except for the addition of boys in dresses; for this we have openers The Trash Brats to thank, whose gender-bending, sexually charged stage presence is dwarfed only by their world-class music.
Hanging out with Trash Brats Tony and Gomer post-show, as well as chatting briefly with Aston himself, I again marveled at the fabulous opportunity our Detroit music venues provide to get close to huge talents. Oh, and Michael, remember to call Justin in Atlanta.
In my last column I wrote about, and printed a photo of, a man I referred to as "Stumpy," portraying him as a sweet and harmless street beggar on Woodward around the Medical Center.
The week following that column, I received a number of phone calls and e-mails from readers saying that this man's name is really Tyrone, that he was not what he appeared to be, and that others should be cautious in dealing with him. Detroit Police Sgt. Leonard Hill of the 13th Precinct, which includes that stretch of Woodward, urges caution in dealing with strangers in general.
"Especially this time of year, you have to careful who you deal with," said Hill. It's a time of year when some people feel kind-hearted while some people "prey on people's kindness. You should watch yourself at all times, but more so at this time of year."