Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]
Walking with Dinosaurs, a magnificent stage show that features life-sized animatronic creatures from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, will be in town next week. But to preview the show’s run at the Palace, a baby T-Rex will be making an appearance at four area malls to the delight and wonderment of shoppers. Baby T-Rex, as the creature is being affectionately referred to, is seven-feet-tall and 14-feet-long. He’ll only be at each mall for about 15 minutes, so while there will be photo opportunities, they’ll be short. The dino will be at Fairlane Town Center Center Court at 18900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit from 2-2:15 p.m. today, July 30; The Mall at Partridge Creek at 17420 Hall Rd. in Clinton Township from 5-5:15 p.m. today, July 30; Twelve Oaks Mall at the Lord & Taylor Court at 27500 Novi Rd., Novi tomorrow, Thursday July 31 from 1:30-1:45 p.m.; and Great Lakes Crossing Food Court at 4000 Baldwin Rd., Auburn Hills from 5-5:15 p.m., tomorrow Thursday, July 31.
Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through BuildingDetroit.com, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.
We don’t know about you, but usually Nancy Whiskey and Long John Silver’s aren’t two concepts we’d place in the same sentence. However, the international fast food fish fry conglomerate made a nod to the Detroit dive in their latest YouTube commercial. LJS is offering free fish fries on Saturday, August 2, which is the promotion the commercial is attempting to deliver. But, we think we’ll just go to Nancy Whiskey instead.
We came across an interesting item this week: Apparently, a music festival with the name “Michfest” is quietly oriented as a “Women-Only Festival Exclusively for ‘Women Born Women.’” It seems a strange decision to us. If you wanted to have a women-only music festival, why not simply proclaim loud and clear that it is for all sorts of women? But if you really wanted to become a lightning rod for criticisms about transphobia, organizers have found the perfect way to present their festival. Now, we know that defenders of non-cisgender folks have it tough. The strides made by gays and lesbians (and bisexuals) in the last 20 years have been decisive and dramatic. But the people who put the ‘T’ in LGBT have reason to be especially defensive, facing a hostile culture and even some disdain from people who should be their natural allies. That said, sometimes that defensiveness can cause some activists to go overboard; when we interviewed Dan Savage a couple years ago, he recalled his “glitter bombing” and said it was due to the “the narcissism of small differences,” adding that “if you’re playing the game of who is the most victimized, attacking your real enemies doesn’t prove you’re most victimized, claiming you […]
Bathed in the light of a Pacific Ocean sunset, lounging on a hammock in the in the back yard of his Maui bachelor pad, talent manger Shep Gordon surveys his surrounding like a master of the universe. He has many reasons for his ample self-regard, having spent his life building the careers of such diverse musical artists as Alice Cooper and Teddy Pendergrass, French master chef Roger Vergé and even Groucho Marx, and he helped make all of them, and himself, very wealthy. Gordon’s roster of former clients, celebrity pals, and past lovers sometimes seems a bit like the guest list at a Vanity Fair post-Oscar party, and a great deal of these famous friends line up here to sing the praises of the man who, through his ineffable wisdom and chutzpah, has made them all a great deal of money. Star after star, from Sylvester Stallone to Michael Douglas to Creole cooking magnate Emeril Lagasse, all seem eager to bask in the glory of Gordon, a big, warm gregarious character, who is unusual only in that everyone in showbiz seems to genuinely like him.
One of the man’s most ardent admirers is SNL vet Mike Myers, who crashed in Shep’s guest room during a particularly dark period in the comedian’s life, and Myers has repaid that generosity by directing an endlessly fawning tribute to Gordon, not just recounting his life, but showering him in glory and stopping just inches short of full beatification. Myers gazes in perpetual awe at his subject, sitting and soaking in the stories of sex, drugs, and hard-living debauchery with the wide-eyed glee of a child sitting on the knee of a favorite uncle.
In fairness, Gordon does have some delightful stories to tell from a long run in showbiz, even if those stories somehow always bend toward self-congratulation.
After the requisite humble beginnings back East, Gordon ambled his way into Hollywood in the late ’60s, and he recalls a tale of getting punched by Janis Joplin at a pool party, and then meeting Jimi Hendrix, who encouraged the lanky, slightly dorky Shep to get into talent management. His first client was shock rock innovator Alice Cooper, who rose to fame through a combination of talent, stagecraft, and a string of very canny PR stunts. Gordon moved Cooper back to his native Detroit, where hard-rock-obsessed audiences ate up his mix of glam rock, gender-bending, monster hooks, and sinister, comic book mysticism. Of interest for Detroiters of a certain vintage is the mention of CKLW 800 AM, the Windsor station that was once a musical powerhouse, and which helped push Alice’s breakthrough hit “I’m Eighteen,” mostly because it was recorded in Canada and therefore fulfilled a government mandate for “native content.”
One of the most infamous incidents in the Cooper mythos occurred at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival in 1969 where, as an opening act for John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the proto-goth rocker tossed a live chicken into the crowd, which promptly tore the poor bird to pieces and hurled the bloody remains back at Alice, who basked in the carnage. Nearly a half-century later, Gordon takes unabashed joy in pointing out that he was the one who brought a chicken to the rock concert on purpose.
The manager used less grisly but equally effective techniques in promoting snooze-rocking Canadian siren Anne Murray, proving that his genius for publicity was legit.
As entertaining as Gordon’s adventures in the music industry are, Supermensch is far less successful in explaining why we shouldn’t just be watching a movie about the performers he managed. Gordon recounts everything with a soothing but mildly scratchy baritone that is equally charming when he discusses his deep personal relationships with Sharon Stone and the Dalai Llama. Shep’s tone of faux humility and the vocalized disdain for fame ring pretty hollow for a guy staring directly into a camera lens.
That camera lovingly embraces the grinning, frizzy-domed impresario, as he recounts the varied, often ingenious tricks he used to boost the profiles of his clients, but the film never once pauses to consider if Gordon’s knack for media manipulation doesn’t extend to manipulating everyone in his personal sphere. Such questions, or really any sort of investigation, would be better suited to an actual bit of documentary filmmaking, instead of the extended infomercial that Supermensch turns out to be.
Supermensch is rated R, runs 84 minutes, and is playing in theaters now.