Best of Detroit 2011
Public Square - Readers' Choice
Our local riches, from media to politics to business and more, as judged by our readers
Published: April 27, 2011
Every year we ask: What more could there be to say? What could be new in the 25th anniversary edition of Best of Detroit, that hasn't been said before. But then we print up the readers' ballot and put a version online, and watch as the returns begin. Then we start free associating, opening our eyes to what's around us, letting our ears perk up when someone tells us about a new shop, a new club, a new insight. By the end, this year, we were checking with the production department to see where we might pry loose a little more space. By the end the ideas were flowing. We have to get in the Detroit Party Marching Band, right? And Autotune Karaoke. Got to get that. Tom's Tavern hasn't fallen down yet? Gotta get that. Meanwhile, we're harvesting what 1,000-plus readers have said in our ballots, reminding us of great places, interesting people, important ideas. When we asked for a new slogan for the city, one response was: "A great place to visit, even when you live here." If that makes sense to you, hold on to this as your visitor's guide until we bring you a newer one a year from now.
Contributors: Todd Abrams, Jeff Broder, Curt Guyette. Evan Hansen. W. Kim Heron, Patrick Higgins, Michael Jackman, Jim McFarlin, Megan O'Neil, Marvin Shaouni, Dennis Shea, Jane Slaughter, Brian Smith, Sandra Svoboda, Travis R. Wright
Plus: Detroit Derby Girls & 1,000-plus Metro Times readers
Photos of the Detroit Derby Girls by Marvin Shaouni
with thanks to Eastern Market, Showtime Clothing, Iridescence, Roast, and the Detroit Princess
PUBLIC SQUARE - READERS' CHOICE
Best Local Music Festival
The Hamtramck Blowout
This coveted award has seesawed in recent years from Movement to Blowout. Both create a weekend festival community at once hip and inviting. After this year's Blowout, your head was spinning from the Hard Lessons' passionate farewell (for now) show, the sonic sprawl of JSB Squad, the Yardbirds-at-Chess vibe of Jeecy and the Jungle, Prussia's odd pop propulsions, the frenetic antics of Carjack, the digable debut of electro-pop duo Phantasmagoria, hip-hop conglomerate Cold Men Young and more.
Best Place to See a Mainstream Film
Uptown Palladium 12
250 N. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham; 248-723-6240; palladium12.com
When there's a blockbuster release, metro Detroiters flock here for the contour-hugging seats and other amenities (Starbucks, Little Caesars, etc.) that make worshipping at the big screen a big event. Here you behold a cinema that delivers the shock and awe that the latest generation of high-tech movies require. This is a temple to the cinema of today as much as, say, the Fox Theatre, 17 miles south on Woodward Avenue, was in its cinematic heyday.
Best Place to See an Indie Film
Main Art Theatre
118 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-263-2111; landmarktheaters.com
As downtown Royal Oak has revolved around it these past 14 years, this remains a cinematic oasis, not a relic frozen in the past, but a place with a sense of memory — and cinematic mission. It all fits the kind of big screen flicks that are the stock-in-trade on their three screens here — the slightly off-kilter, where the explosions are emotional more often than literal. (And there's even some free parking.)
Best Local Film Festival
Ann Arbor Film Festival
As our award-winning film writer Jeff Meyers wrote of the 2011 festival: "Ultimately, AAFF is both an experience and a scene; '40 programs over six days with 188 films, videos and live performances.' Whether it's the after-hours parties or crazed installations or interactive displays, the festival does a damn good job of transforming a corner of downtown Ann Arbor into a celebration of independent cinematic expression. Good or bad, at the very least, it'll be a hell of a lot more interesting than most of the stuff you'll find at the multiplex." And chances are it will be grander-than-usual next year, which will mark the 50th festival for this vital-as-ever institution.
Best Place to See Local Theater
Who Wants Cake? Company's Ringwald Theatre
22742 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-545-5545; whowantscaketheatre.com
Fans flock here to to take in the absurd, surreal and sarcastic productions. Most recently, Mercury Fur, starring Jon and Nico Ager, was talk of the town. The company is again taking submissions for their groundbreaking Gay Play Series, which last year featured work by playwrights from across the nation, a reading of Valley of the Dolls and the first Motown MisCast Cabaret. To be or not to be ... there for their next production?
Best Bowling Alley
4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700; majesticdetroit.com/garden-bowl
Sure, it's got history as part of the entertainment complex built just before World War I. While it's got that historic vibe, it's totally up-to-date with 16 recent vintage lanes — compared to the original 10. And where else does sonorous rawk from nearby music mingle with the roll of balls and the clatter of the pins?
Best Bingo Night Venue
Drag Queen Bingo at Five15 Media Mojo & More
515 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak; 248-515-2551; five15.net
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