Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fashion. Food. Fabulosity. In Detroit. I Am Not Making This Up.

(Note: While my thoughts and prayers are very much quietly with the Weir and Moore families this week, as they gather to celebrate the life of Johnny's grandfather, Robert Moore, who passed away last Friday, my über-stan-ness and sense of humor remain here on the blog, where there are still awards over which to squee and more voting to be done and upcoming performances for which to consider black-market opportunities in order to be able to afford to attend ... )

So I wish I lived in Detroit.

Which, as sentences go that one does not expect to hear or say, ranks right up there with, "Mom, I was trying to tame a wild horse but I got eaten by a grizzly bear so I had to start over."

[Child appears to be intact and not bleeding; mind races frantically to recall when the last grizzly bear was spotted in western Illinois and whether or not it could possibly have made it all the way into the living room.]


[impatiently] "You know, in Red Dead Redemption. On the PS3."


[Wonders when we'll all just give up and have a USB port surgically implanted in our brain stems so we can go ahead and join Neo, who BTW is really cute, in the Matrix.]

Anyway: I actually live in a reasonable facsimile of Detroit on a much smaller scale, although the scale of Detroit has basically been shrinking continuously since its population peak of two million. In 1950. Which is the same thing that has happened to my little corner of the world known as the Quad Cities. One of the four cities is Rock Island (population: less than 40,000; motto: "Experiencing subtraction daily!"), my husband's hometown, to which we returned two years ago. Once a proud and thriving manufacturing base, home to JI Case and International Harvester, the area was devastated by the loss of those companies in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and has since dwindled to a minimum-wage service economy and a LOT of rundown houses, many in foreclosure. Only Deere and Company remains, over in Moline, which has long been Rock Island's uppity younger sister, secure in her marriage to John Deere and his billions and haughtily turning up her nose at her poorer, old-maid sibling.

My husband's family has lived here since they came from Sicily around 1913, and I fell in love with this shabby old town when I married him 20 years ago and we came through on our way to Chicago. We've lived a lot of places during our marriage, but we finally came home in what we hope is our last move.

And we love it here. As do our kids. Yes, we know. After nearly 40 years, the city government is still completely clueless as to how to attract any real businesses or jobs; the crime rate is dispropor-tionately high compared to the population; and the city's idea of fixing the ever-widening sinkhole right in front of our house is to grudgingly place one of those little orange and white fold-out barriers over it with a blinking orange light on top that is held in place by one screw where there should be four. The thing is anchored with a sandbag that has a hole in it so that the sand has steadily leaked out of it into the sinkhole since that first day some weeks ago when the city workers set up the barrier and drove off--their comprehensive response to my call saying that I had just re-sided my house and I would really like it to NOT fall into a three-story Guatemalan-sized sinkhole for at least a day or two. They've never returned to actually repair the hole, and the barrier falls over several times a day and then gets run over by a car to which it gets stuck, and then it's dragged down the street until the driver realizes, backs up, drives away, and leaves it lying there. So I go retrieve it and set it up again while my neighbors watch with idle curiosity, odd-smelling smoke drifting lazily from the homemade-shaped cigarettes they seem to favor.

The whole thing is a metaphor for Rock Island itself. Which, BTW, my daughter calls "Crack Island."

It fits.

But we still love it.

We live in the heart of the historic district known as Broadway, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Crack Island, in a 130-year-old Victorian house that has seen better days. She had an owner about 15 years ago who cared enough to do a lot of the work; then she had the misfortune to be a rental property for a number of years, which resulted in a series of abusive relationships with various tenants; but now we have her, and she's coming to trust us and realize that we have good color sense and a deep love for the kind of house that has an elegant front staircase of solid oak and a steep back staircase for servants, both of which take you to the upstairs hallway--a feature that delights children and cats equally.

And so despite the high unemployment and the shady manner in which some of my neighbors seem to earn a living and the lack of brisk and efficient city services, my family has a deep, abiding, pretty much inexplicable attachment to this old town.

Like the way many people still left in Detroit feel about their city. Much to the incredulous disbelief of outsiders. One of the best peeks into the heart of Detroit is Time.com's Detroit Blog, which includes the feature, "Why Detroit?", described as "a weekly series of videos in which Detroiters answer that question, with infectious passion and serious pride."

I get that.

And it's that kind of passion and pride that creates an event like Crème de la Crème, which, as I mentioned yesterday, couldn't seem more out of place in Detroit at first glance. But actually it's perfect. It's the kind of unstoppable spirit that Scarlett O'Hara displayed in creating an extraordinary gown out of her curtains when everything around her was ruin and devastation. In the midst of Detroit's uncertainy about its future, Crème de la Crème is a celebration of artistry, elegance, and fashion, draped beautifully over a socially conscious heart--because proceeds from the event are donated to The Pink Fund, the Detroit Institute of Arts, Forgotten Harvest, and St. John Meade Pediatric Hematology / Oncology Unit.

In keeping with this theme, the star of Crème de la Crème, our Johnny, will be auctioning off four original costumes that he has designed for this show, with the proceeds also going to charity. Because he's cool like that.

I think one of the commenters on yesterday's blog summed up the giddy joy of this part of the event best: "How pure-awesome is THAT?! Who doesn't want one of Johnny's costumes in their HOUSE?! Maybe that he WORE!" [Insert OMGIDIE here.]

She added: "I have a bit of a hard time envisioning how this extravaganza is going to play out, but am sure it's going to be a lotta good stuff! ('Alotta Goodstuff' ... I think I just invented an excellent drag name)."

Yes, I think you did. The kind of name that sums up how Detroiters feel about their aging, battle-scarred, diva of a city, whose beauty still shines through and whose potential for reinvention drives her to put on her best evening gown and step out proudly to welcome her guests to Crème de la Crème.

Yep, she's Alotta Goodstuff, and she and Johnny can't wait to show us what they've got.

So I wish I lived there. It would make it a whole lot easier to, you know, be there for this thing, which, as Johnny events go, sounds really absolutely amazing.

Maybe my friend Neo can hook me up somehow--as long as it doesn't involve any wild horses or grizzly bears ...

Please become a fan of Crème de la Crème 2010
on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and visit their website
for all the info on scheduling and tickets!

Check out Johnny's new blog on SUNFiltered!
He'll be posting entries there all week
leading up to the BGJW finale this Sunday!
KEEP VOTING for him as Skater of the Year
in USFSA's 2010 Readers' Choice poll
(voting ends July 15)!

Please also vote here to tell Pepsi
that you want them to donate $250,000 to Just Push 'nPlay!
Johnny is on the board of the 'nPlay Foundation,
and this funding would help to provide physical activity
programs to nearly 20,000 kids.
Let's help make this project the top vote-getter!
(voting ends June 30)

Tubey Awards voting has ended for Be Good Johnny Weir,
but THIS WEEK ONLY you can vote here
for Johnny's Foot Massager, nominated for
Best Performance by an Inanimate Object!
It's listed among categories 13-16.
Only the top 10 vote-getters in each category
will make it to the final round of Tubey polls!

Coming all week: More exciting stuff about the spectacular
Crème de la Crème Runway Fashion Show on Ice
in Detroit featuring Johnny this Saturday,
Sunday, and Monday, June 26-28!

copyright 2010 / Binky and the Misfit Mimes / Lynn V. Ingogly / all rights reserved


Wendy S said...

Well, Broadway just looks beautiful! I love architecture with some heart and history -- it disappears more each day. How nice that you're surrounded by it! (if you ignore the crack houses, that is)

I still can't get over the fact that people will be able to buy costumes literally off of Johnny's back! The very idea is really more than I can comprehend. (~imagination spinning wildly~)

And I'm so impressed that once again, he's associated himself with a project that is going to be giving back to the community. Is it possible to love him more? I think not.


katester said...

Once again, you make me smile. I hope you enjoy a lovely day in Crack Island, and may your house never fall into the hole.

Nico said...


I've been reading about the resurgence of Detroit and the bleak environment that has created such a need for quite some time. One of the very best bloggers I know (present company included, of course) is Jim Griffioen of www.sweet-juniper.com. He is incredible and will cause anyone to fall head over heels in love with Detroit. They do very much deserve the love and artistry of Johnny Weir at the Creme de la Creme event and I wish I could be there, much like you.

That said, even in the sleepy suburbs of SLC, our neighbors are similar to yours. The father next to us, a man our family lovingly calls "Righteous," has a fondness for working from home on his cell phone and treating us to the excitement of the occasional stake-out and arrest, which he takes in stride because he's, well, righteous like that. Then, he's back, mowing the lawn and helping his little girls as they learn to ride their bikes or play princesses in the front yard.

And, no, it would not be weird to set a place for the costume at the table. Costumes gotta eat, too, ya know!

Love love,

WheresMyKoppy said...

You are SO funny, lol!

And your descriptions of Johnny being 'cool like that', I love it! YOu are spot on, MM! It seems like almost everything he has done since Vancouver has had some kind of charitable connection.

I appreciate the way you talk about your neighborhood, because sometimes you can't help loving where you are despite it's little quirks.

Re Detroit, I remember last year when the Tigers made a legitimate run at the AL Central title a LOT of people, myself included, were rooting for them to reach the World Series, just because we all thought Detroit could use a morale boost. They seem to do a damn good job of giving themselves a morale boost, don't they? I admit to telling a friend the other day this event seemed kind of out of place in that economically depressed area. I wasn't trying to be snobby, I was just making on observance. My only issue is whether they had enough time to properly publicize Johnny's participation. I would SO love to go to this event and I would SO love to have one of those costumes...