Best of Detroit 2011
Photo: Marvin Shaouni
The Real Deals - Staff Picks
Our staff counters with our own favorite places to plunk own them bones
Published: April 27, 2011
Showtime Clothing's Dan Tartarian
5708 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-875-9280
When Dan Tartarian opens his shop's doors, he doesn't wait long to see his first customer stroll in. Said customer's usually a musician or is in some way tied to the city's music community, or is a kind of sartorial strutter into a particular scene, or it's likely they've known Tartarian for years and play into his penchant for shootin' the shit.
Coming up on 22 years in business, Tartarian's approach to being a clothier follows the old adage about ailment and doctors; as long as one exists we'll need the other. As long as there's a thriving music scene, there's a need for Showtime. The shop carries staples, with hats, shoes, pants, T-shirts, buttonups, motorcycle jackets, trench coats and even guitars. And, it's the only place where you can buy a mandolin, a set of handcuffs, killer miniskirts, a Nashville button-up, a gas mask, a riding crop, a head-to-toe Kiss brand Gene Simmons outfit, and a Made in Detroit zip-up and creepers. It's as if Tartarian raided closets of Janis, Hendrix, Trent Reznor, Stone Temple Pilots, Rancid, Slade and Sgt. Pepper's-era Beatles. Guitar cords, picks, strings and slides are in close vicinity to rolling papers and incense. Tartarian knows his client.
Many of his visitors — from, say, your average customer to Crud to the Contours — often arrive ready to talk Detroit. See, Tartarian's a concerned citizen, an old school Cass Corridor guy — a Detroiter through and through. He sees, for example, the recent Midtown rebranding and subsequent efforts to commercialize the cultural district, where his shop is located, as an attack on the neighborhood.
What's the difference between Cass Corridor neighborhood and Midtown, you ask?
"We lost our blind pig customers, guys with cash in their pockets. The guys who ran numbers would come in here, the mob guys, the motorcycle gangs, they'd all come in," Tartarian says.
From the '70s to the '90s, Detroit's underworld helped support this clothier. "They're pushing the motorcycle gangs farther and father out of the city. They all had money from illegal enterprises, but they had money. Unlike the casinos, who are the guys running numbers now, don't put the money they make back on the streets. I'd rather have the guy on the street running his private, neighborhood enterprise than greedy big business."
Tartarian sees the positives of rejuvenation, but says "At what cost? Fuck Whole Foods. Fuck Trader Joe's."
And don't get him started on the "hipsters."
Actually, do, but bring him a coffee and a CD of something local that you're listening to.
"I've seen and dressed a lot of bands, a lot that've been able to break out of here," Tartarian says. "There's been Trash Brats, Sponge, Kid Rock, Eminem and ICP. There's Sista Otis and Brothers Groove, Ty Stone, The Sights, Doop and the Inside Outlaws, and Whitey Morgan." Sponge's Vinnie Dombrowski is probably his fave.
"I like music, so I'm always out seeing bands." he says. "My social life is my business life. What can I say? I'm hands-on."
A perennial MT Best-of winner, Dan Tartarian's Showtime Clothing is a Detroit cultural hub; there's no other place like it. - Travis R Wright
Best Way to Get Free Culture
Museum Adventure Pass
Available at more than 200 libraries in nine southeast Michigan counties, the passes grant patrons free admission to dozens of museums and other cultural institutions. Use your library card to check one out for a week. They're available on a first-come, first-served basis, using a library card, and allow two or four people entry on each pass, depending on the location. Sponsored by Macy's, the passes are in their fourth season. We'd suggest you make a small donation during your visit.
Best Wedding/Event Planner
Adrienne Nutter, Fandangle Event Designs
Grosse Pointe Park; 313-566-9221; fandangleevents.com
From 300-guest weddings to corporate gigs to small retirement parties, Fandangle's proprietor Adrienne Nutter makes them all special for those lucky enough to attend. If brides, grooms and other party hosts are looking for a personalized event, Fandangle is up for the challenge — as big or as intimate as the clients want. Nutter, who has a degree in art history and is a bit of a font-phile, coordinates graphic design elements and color schemes in printed materials from the Save-the-Date to the Thank-You cards. Ordering online is easy, but who wants what everyone else had? One of Nutter's clever favorites: elements that are multi-use. Think wedding favors that double as seating cards, centerpieces that double as favors. Saves money and impresses guests with the creativity factor.
Best Unique Wedding Venue
461 Piquette St., Detroit; tplex.org
Formally known as the Model T Automotive Heritage Complex, the T-Plex brings that perfect blend of Detroit grittiness and automotive history assembled with a creative approach to modern entrepreneurialism. Where else would a largely intact factory be rented out for formal parties? A Motor City original for a Motor City event, that's what the T-Plex can be. And don't worry, with the right designs it can be plenty elegant. Located in the New Center area, the building maintains its red brick exterior, albeit with modern graffiti on some walls. Inside, it's a step back in time with original fixtures, firewalls and flooring. Various Model T's and other early 20th century Ford models are on display. Anyone can rent strolling swans; who can have vintage cars?
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