Sunday, January 27, 2013

This Bears Further Investigation.

On Friday after work, in direct contrast to a person saying he would not-at-all be available for the weekend, I found myself winging my way out to Detroit in order to attend the opening reception for a photography book called Heart Soul Detroit (photographed by Jenny Risher) and to sample the wares of the new Maccabee's at Midtown. I would say winging was an exaggeration, but really, it was an outright lie. It had been snowing all day, and was still lightly snowing; and though the roads were clear, people felt the need to drive between 30 and 50. So. Alas. "Winging" if one were in a horse drawn buggy, but as I was not, I felt hampered and frustrated. But! Maybe they lacked 4 wheel drive! As I have, every blessed winter in Michigan until this one, and OH MY GOD, FWD=BEST THING EVER. I was not slippy! And as a result, not panicking either. But rather, irritated by the Silverado ahead of me in the fast lane, keeping me under 40 mph. Six of one/half dozen, I guess. Intones my sister, "Yeah, but lots of people with four wheel drive get into accidents, because they DON'T slip and then they go faster than they should." She sees police scans, so duly noted. Anyway, I eventually I got there, if not exactly in due time.

The opening was packed. We were soon sorry to be pillowed beneath all our winter layers and spent the rest of the time slowly unlayering, until each of us seemed to be carrying around loads of woolen laundry. Partner in Crime seemed to know at least half of the room, so, much time was spent handshaking and getting the bare bones of new (to me) arts & community folk. You can see the full list of those featured at the aforementioned link, but the portraits spanned a solid cross-section of musicians, politicians, boxers and other sports legends. There was Iggy Pop, yet again defiantly baring his painful-to-view chest*, there the wonderful Lily Tomlin, Smokey Robinson, and Lee Iacocca.

*Do you ever see him with his shirt on? Maybe it's on record, but I'd be interested in the shirt:no shirt ratio.

"Do you ever listen to Jack White?" I pause extra long in front of his portrait, mainly because Curly Girl isn't there to experience this. She would be so happy to be standing there. As with Eddie Vedder, she beats me out in fan points. She once hotel stalked Vedder, in a different life. I have yet to hotel stalk anyone.

Horrid photo, but that's probably better right?
Not trying to steal photographer's image.
"...No, I'm open to new things, though." On the flip side, he did have his students perform the poem White wrote in honor of Detroit, after he moved to New Orleans and everyone thought he was a hater. I try to convey why I admire White so much, but it comes out lamely. Halfway around the room, I add, "But back on Jack White -- he won *nine* grammys!"

"Okay!" He is clearly waiting for something to follow. I look at Anna Sui's portrait. I didn't have anything else. "And what's your point?"

"...Just that. He's I mean, SO talented??" Oh, alas, FAIL. We move along, and most likely someone else exclaims at his presence in the next moment, or he is reinvigorated to get to one of our elusive people-who-must-be-spoken-to.

The primary person in this category is Allee Willis, who until this week, had flown under my radar, though she has penned songs for Earth Wind & Fire; the theme song for Friends; coauthored the musical version of The Color Purple and had her very own museum dedicated to kitsch. Aside from general love from my cohort, it was this last bit that also drew us to her: following the Wayne White documentary, we had a lively discussion, during which PiC had said Muppets were kitsch. What! No! I said. No! Compatriot texted, though she's not keen on texting. We needed to follow up with Allee.

After PiC first pointed her out, she was easy to follow. She wore a suit made from vintage polyester, in wide stripes of black, white, tan, and brown. On her head she wore a pompomed knit cap of pink, orange and white stripes (we both fancy pompoms, it turns out). Cheetah converse and this backpack in orange. Easy to see, but hard to get to; people milled around, waiting for her to autograph her page in the glossy new hardcover.

A New York Times feature from 2011 says, "Her love of kitsch, once shared by other members of her generation then pushed aside by later trends, guides her decorating and landscaping, as well as her hairstyle and mismatched ensembles, which make Julian Schnabel’s pajamas-in-public habit look conservative. But that does not mean she’s laid back or lackadaisical in any way."

When we eventually get to her, she is even-handed: Muppets are not kitsch, in that they are self-referential, even though their out-of-boundsness/freewheeling hilarity can often be found in kitsch. But she leaves the door open, says it can be argued either way. "You won this round, but it's not over," says PiC. Well, it is in my mind, but I fully understand the will to appropriate terms and bend them to new purposes...

Completely outside of that, she's obsessed with a soul-food chef Greg who she discovered a year ago. "It was right where I always used to get off the bus when I was growing up" (she now resides in L.A. And she has flown said chef out there, expressly to feed audiences who have come to hear her myriad hits). What's it called?

"I'll spell it: D-e-m-i-l-i-s."

Where is it?

"On the corner of Wyoming and Curtis. But you won't find it. Trust me, you'll never find it." Which is easy to say to me in any case, but she doesn't know this: Foreboding.

"You can just call us: 861-0331," adds the chef.

"Trust me," says Allee, "The first time I went there, we ate for 5 hours." Check out her restaurant notes and pics here. So. I haven't been there yet, but it's obviously promising. Detroit area foodies, let me know, if you want to go! They apparently only have one table. Greg has been open for business the past 7 years and hopes to expand both the restaurant and his catering services...

In Brief:
Side view, from within Maccabee's in Midtown
  • Briefly went to Maccabee's: sleek bar, nice atmosphere. Fantastic macaroni and cheese and some silky desserts. Be interested to return for a proper cocktail/meal.
  • Have you signed up to follow yet? If not, what's the hold-up? Today you would have received a heads-up about Lindsey Carr, of whose paintings they succinctly say, "evoke the specter of Audubon if he had spent time in a Chinese opium den." Truly. Paintings, here. Paper toys here, and my favorite Etsy giclee here
  • Had a lovely cocktail called the Camille at the new Rodin, katy-corner to the DIA -- it featured chartreuse, St. Germaine, and....I forget. But as I said, it was lovely, and would love to return there. They were just beginning a dj set when we swept through last weekend -- classic Portishead (Dummy), to start. The owner, who is also the owner and brainchild of the crepes place, Good Girls Go to Paris, is an art enthusiast -- she features art for sale on her walls and does NOT (currently) take a commission, artists, take note!
  • Talented Philadelphian-based (yay, stomping ground!) printmaker  Martha Knox, gave my raccoon print a haiku shout-out in her cool printmaking blog. Thanks for making a great weekend that much better!
  • Lastly, had a nice catch up with Ginger last night -- watched the love-letter-to-violence-and-old-cars also known as Gangster Squad and tried Basement Fire beer at Wolverine Brewing (thumbs up! Not too spicy, feels clean and balanced!) Ginger: remember, as recently said, going forward, things will be 20% more awesome.  
Happy Sunday All, Here's to a stellar week.

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