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Culture > Loose Lips

Cars, guitars & covers

Dan Sweet, Tony Bell & a stogie.
Karen Wiggins & Michael Branch groove & glow.
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Published 1/9/2002

AUTOPALOOZA

Hey, kids! It’s time once again for the enormous production of flash, glitz and vehicular glory known as the annual North American International Auto Show. Yes, the week before the show opens to the public, we privileged members of the media get to indulge in a smorgasbord of free food and drink, and a mountain of press kits and artistically styled, limited-edition paperweights. Why, it’s times like this that remind me of why I ventured into the world of journalism in the first place.

But on to media preview week: I moseyed into Cobo Center and was greeted by the sight of an international cast of automotive reporters and industry insiders cavorting about, swilling free European beer, wolfing down sushi and ogling the slinky auto show models — er, vehicle spokespersons. Many of the esteemed members of the press were also seen sneaking out the door with briefcases stuffed full of pilfered food — hey, we’re entitled. Have you ever seen the average journalist’s paycheck? It ain’t pretty.

I’m not so pleased to say I have determined the No. 1 pickup line of choice by overweight, balding execs at the show: “Say, are you one of the models?” I lost count after about the fifth time I was assaulted with this, and even tried snipping back, “Why, no, I’m a vehicle spokesperson!” and then stomping off in a snit.

Then there are the amazingly elaborate installations, like the enormous waterfall at Jeep, or fascinating idiosyncrasies such as the sight of turbocharged, testosterone-injected race cars burning rubber around a symphony string ensemble.

The vehicle displays are spectacles indeed; former Noir Leather employee Matrix entertained me with an utterly hilarious anecdote about last year’s show, when a handful of fetish models were recruited to play the part of “cool people” and promote the “coolness” factor of GM’s much-maligned Aztek. The concept of Noir Leather fetish models endorsing an Aztek is so preposterously amusing that I simply cannot add any further witty and acerbic commentary to the situation. OK, yes, I can — the Aztek’s versatile and rugged cargo storage space is also quite adept at hauling and transporting all of your cat-o’-nine tails, riding crops and spanking benches! I’m sorry, I just had to.

The place to be in between the theatrics was the DaimlerChrysler par-tay at the historic firehouse across the street. Whoever arranged the entertainment gets an A plus for booking one of the best and hardest-working blues bands in Detroit, Johnnie Bassett and the Blues Insurgents. I was also highly impressed with the stylish and cozy martini and cigar bar. Here, I discovered that journalists, while plenty accustomed to snapping photos of people, tend to turn and run in abject horror when encountered with the other side of the camera lens. However, journalists Dan Sweet and Tony Bell were kind enough to allow me to steal their souls, er, take their images while they were savoring some of the fine Cubans offered.

HOT FREEZE

Since I was freezing my tush off, I decided to go warm up with some scorching, red-hot soul at the last day of the annual Anti-Freeze Blues Festival at the Magic Bag. Owner Jeremy Haberman told me the three-day festival was a smashing success, and sold out the Saturday night show which featured the queen of the blues, Koko Taylor.

The Sunday night bill boasted an all-star Motor City guitar showdown, featuring Larry McCray, King Robert Noll, Mark Pazman, Jeff Grand, Jim McCarty, the Bobby East Blues Band and Johnnie Bassett, performing double duty after his Auto Show gig.

While grooving to the music I managed to snap a photo of Karen Wiggins and Michael Branch, and briefly chatted with Alanna Vincent, programmer John Thomas and PR gal Elizabeth Caulton.

JAMMING FOR A GOOD CAUSE

Mark your calendars for Jan. 18, and be sure not to miss a special benefit at Lili’s for Angie Zilla, the drummer of Broadzilla who has some medical bills she needs a little help with. Not only is this an ideal chance for the oft-divided Detroit music community to rally together in support of one of its own, the lineup is a stellar combination of power pop, punk and glam from Queen Bee, the Ruiners, the Bomb Pops, the Motor City Burgers and Forge. Be there, and bring all of your friends.

SCENESTER SCOOPS

The second Patty Duke Fanzine 7-inch record compilation is out now on Top Quality Rock and Roll Records, and features covers of Patty Duke tunes by Detroit acts the Gore Gore Girls and Slumber Party. Speaking of the Gore gals — despite the recent lineup changes, the band will still release its second album on Get Hip Records in the next few months. A third comp is in the works and will feature even more Detroit groups such as the Trembling, W-Vibe, the Come Ons and a solo effort from Melody Licious. On that note, Ms. Licious is currently rehearsing with the new lineup of the neo-’60s group the Sirens, which includes Deanne Iovan, Muffy Kroha, Michelle Lanoo, and Mick Collins. The revamped lineup will appear at the upcoming MXMW festival (which is once again slated the same weekend as the Hamtramck Blowout).

Pork Barrel Salamander has a new singer, Savannah Monitor, who had a very successful debut Saturday at the Elbow Room.

Detroit/New York performer Dara, a former member of His Name is Alive and current member of Laudanum (the duo she formed with her husband, Nick) will soon have a solo album released by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth fame, on Ecstatic Peace Records + Tapes.

Also, happy birthday wishes go to petite and feisty model Sinnamon, who reported receiving the dubious honor of a special birthday lap dance from the Holy Goat, the drummer for bad-boy rockers the Lanternjack.

Sarah Klein is a wanton journalist on the lam. Send gossip, party invites and desperate pleas for attention to looselips@metrotimes.com or call the tip line at 313-962-5281. Press * then dial 8056.

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