Posted by Patrick in Updates | 1 Comment
First of all in about 10 days Detroit lets it guard down and turns the beats up. Movement 2013, the festival formerly and still commonly referred to as DEMF is about to pop off in the motor city. We’re taking it by storm and we suggest that you think about doing the same.
This weekend however, we’ve got other plans. Rusty and I are embarking on an overnight bike tour of one of the city’s most fabled byways: 8 mile road. We decided that Detroit’s legendary border needs to be explored now that the weather is warm and what we call “blog season” has arrived. We’ll be poking in a smattering of businesses, eateries, and saloons asking questions about different aspects of life and the general state of affairs on Detroit’s Northern Border.
During the trip, we will also be collecting stories for Hell Yeah Detroit as well as the 450. Hell Yeah Detroit is a project that is designed share Detroit stories on a wider scale. If you haven’t checked us out, take a gander at the facebook page, and feel free to share with your friends (wink).
We rode in the bullet proof backseat of the purple metropolitan cab, down to the Purple Planet Ant Theatre, while the blues wailed over the radio. Our driver wasn’t one for small talk, so we didn’t oblige. Like true connoisseurs of culture, we were on our way to a play. Side note: Earlier, we had busted our guts on polish cuisine at the Krakus Restaurant. We drank a couple of tall polish beers, listened to polish being spoken at nearby tables, and proceeded to eat piles of polish food, cooked in the back by three sturdy polish women– This place is authentic. I also liked the stonefaced waitress Agatha, who was impervious to the charm of our wide tourist grins, but was quick and pragmatic at her job. There goes my foodie plug for the year.
We’d met Matthias a week or so earlier at Sunrise Sunset a neighborhood saloon just across the Grosse Pointe border, while we were checking out the east side. He’d informed us that he performed often at the Ant, and that we ought to come check out his current gig in Lambert Street.
Fast forward a bit. We were sitting in the back row of the mini-auditorium, nipping out of our flasks, not quite sure what to expect. A picture of a godlike Coleman Young coddling downtown Detroit hung in the left corner of the front room of the purple house. In the framework of Lambert Street’s plot, it would come to represent an era of relative stability, compared to the uncertainty in the upward tumult of present. As Seven (stagename Deandre) later explained, it was a time when Detroit still had problems, but buses were running and streetlights were on.
Lambert Street is a play about modern day Detroit issues. Let me rephrase that. Lambert Street is about people issues, via the stage of modern day Detroit.
Just as Detroit is a place where economic issues are visible, it is also a place where social issues are visible, mix with one another, and are worked on. It can be an exciting place to be, a confusing place, a hard place. Aaron Thomas Timlin, the playwright of Lambert Street is clearly familiar with the territory, and uses the stage to throttle the tensions of the zeitgeist. The play confronts racial, socioeconomic, and gender related differences between the characters. While watching issues and stereotypes being talked about by the diverse cast– you’re reminded that Detroit is a laboratory where the social fabric of America is being spun from frayed edges.
Yet Lambert Street isn’t a serious affair. The whole play unfolds in the living room of a house on Lambert Street and begins with the biracial Alter family returning from the funeral of the family patriarch. The protagonist, an MSU grad, is Daniel, the grandson. The storyline follows Daniel’s decision to move to Detroit to keep his Grandma happy after his Grandfather’s death. With an “All in the Family” style of humor, the cast of Lambert Street speaks candidly as the audience gazes from a fly on the wall’s perspective. At one point Daniel is chided about his lack of experience with black women by an older family friend named Dupree. Dupree once played on a motown record in Detroit’s heyday. Jeremiah (played by Matthias) is David’s corny white Dad. Deandre, a black character raised in Detroit accidentally insults Chelsea, a black law student, when being assumptive about her educational background. Chelsea is introduced to the family by Maggie, a white idealist urban farmer out of touch with the plight of locals whose roots were set down in Detroit. The characters feel like actual people that you could meet in Eastern Market on any given Saturday.
And the crowd, also diverse (as my favorite places in Detroit are) laughed together boisterously at the raw, honest, real-life jokes. It was refreshing to see people laughing at the differences between each other, laughing at themselves, and at the absurd and sometimes uncomfortable nature of this place. Thank god people from Detroit have a sense of humor. I think you’ve got to, if you’re going to take a whack at living here.
After the show and a couple pops later, Rusty and I got in the back of a Grand Marquis and embarked on a silly, shenanigan filled night with Matthias and some other members of the cast. Between bottles of high life, I went outside of Jumbo’s, the dive bar of the night, and stood there in the freezing air, smoking cigarettes by myself. I thought about the polish whispers at Krakus, Agatha’s hard eyes, and the flabby arms I could see in the kitchen swaying over big pots of soup. I thought about the beaming family members of thirteen year old DeVaughn Cone, who makes a confident appearance in Lambert Street when he accidentally breaks a window in the house with a baseball. I listened to the laughter of the audience in my head. The laughter of friends and strangers, suburban and urban, men and women and children, with different colors of skin, different amounts of money in their pocket, and similar hopes for Detroit in their minds.
Listen to what the crew has to say about Lambert Street here, and lets hope a new episode comes out soon!
Last time I checked, they said they were were working on a series on episodes. In any case, I’d love to see what this group comes up with next.
Thanks be to a bout of sinus infection I was unable to partake in the regular festivities of opening day. A regimen of antibiotics kept me on the proverbial sidelines, but it didn’t stop me from at least taking a peak.
Opening day is typically a veritable buffet of lascivious, lecherous and downright dirty behavior. Last year I painted a true and wrong masterpiece and decided this year that maybe, just maybe, some antibiotics and one year longer in the tooth would keep me from acting a fool.
Although Michigan has teased our loins with flirtations of Spring, and served us up a near winter day, it was at least very sunny. Like a proud Michigander it was time to oil up the beach cruiser and take a ride.
We ambled slowly through Greektown and like some zombie movie we stumbled upon the horde. Somewhere before Bouzouki Lounge we started seeing day drunk white people staggering purposely towards the stadium, a new bar stool, or some sort of processed pork product to jam down their hungry suck-hole.
Strange vibes and weird energy abound when you get so many beer hungry white folk together. Its a sort of reverse invasion. Thousands of the white people who live outside the city descend upon her like a teetering swarm of shit-faced locusts. Devouring all in their path. Belching in the faces of waiters and waitresses, swinging a doughy arm searching for another sip of their bud light, grunting for another side of ranch, and dabbing the grease from their sun deprived chins.
We watched the usual clowns performing their perfunctory duties for their friends. Stopping traffic and waving a gaggle of tiger gear adorned sluts across a busy street, high-fiving and belittling homeless people outside of a liquor store, screeching in delight as someone in your gang of booze soaked dipshits smashes a bottle on the sidewalk.
I am sounding all high and mighty here. For all that know me, call me a friend, and most importantly have ever been part of one of our “clinics” in Detroit, I am certainly not one to poo-poo at people getting totally annihilated before dinner. But we respect Detroit. I may tear around on my beach cruiser a bit too drunk to ride, scream in delight as I get closer to another oasis in the urban desert that is Detroit, but we do not mistreat those people who live, love, work and play in the City every single day.
Many people who come to Detroit for Tiger’s games, Lion’s games, concerts or Holidays treat her like a sort of pop-up circus. A time to giggle at the bearded lady, laugh at the Siamese Twins, pop a token in the machine and behold the wonder that is the strange, the derelict, the unfortunate, and inexplicable. Only to hop back in the truck and wonder, what on Earth did we just see?
Detroit is real, its as real as it gets. A living, changing, thriving, pumping beacon for the future of the American urban landscape. She is a lady. A dangerous lady, a wonderful lady, one that you may not pick first out of the line-up lurking next to the dance floor, but I bet you, she is probably the best dancer.