Officially In Gear and Rollin’ Toward The D!

Category: Allee Live Performance, Allee's live performances, Art, Creative process, Creativity, Detroit, empowerment, Film, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Party, People, Self expression, September, Songwriting, Travel

This is an update to all those who have donated or signed up to participate in “The D”, my multimedia song-video-documentary extravaganza I’m recording and filming via a series of sing-alongs in Detroit from 9/10 – 10/1, 2013:

The wheels have begun to roll really fast now that we are only 5+ weeks out from going to Detroit to record and film “The D”!

First, an incredible array of fantastic locations in Detroit have signed on to let us record and film there.  They go from iconic outdoor locations both on land and water to inside museums, restaurants, schools, churches, synagogues, laundromats, car washes, radio stations, pawn shops, hat shops, hotels, recording studios, yoga studios, weave salons, and more. From the largest business enterprise in the city to the smallest hole-in-the-wall restaurant “The D” is representing the most vibrant spots and folks in the city. Not to mention a slew of famous singers and musicians who hail from the Motor City and will be coming to my studio in LA to participate.

I arrive in Detroit with a 12 person crew on September 9. We will be there through the end of the month in order to have enough material for the song, video and documentary.  Most of us live in Los Angeles and New York and share a deep love of and belief in Detroit. We will also be picking up many local crew members, interns and volunteers once we’re there.

I was in Detroit earlier this month hosting two fundraisers generously thrown for us by two amazing restaurants, The Whitney, and Vinsetta Garage. The Whitney was a 150 person event featuring sing-alongs and a great live 60s/70s funk band whereas the dinner at Vinsetta was a higher ticket, more intimate evening of just 25 people and about four hours of constant (incredible and mind blowing) food. I was most excited when Mary Wilson of the original Supremes walked into that one!

My third night in Detroit was spent at the Detroit Historical Museum where my portrait and some personal artifacts were on display as part of an exhibit featuring 50 iconic Detroiters in Jenny Risher’s beautiful Heart Soul Detroit book. A truly incredible moment for me, whose only music education was worshiping Motown, was when I walked in to see myself featured as part of the Motown section of the exhibit. Here I am with Martha Reeves (Martha & The Vandellas), Mary Wilson (The Supremes) and Miss Maxene Powell, the Motown etiquette coach who gave the groups all their signature poise and grace.

I want to especially thank the Detroit Historical Museum and the Detroit Historical Society for the great interest and support they have shown to “The D” ever since this most wonderful evening.

At the end of this coming week, I’m hosting a week-long production confab at my house in LA where the director, producer and other principals will be flying in to plan the actual production schedule and figure out the logistics of such an ambitious project. We are incredibly well organized for something of this scale on the somewhat limited budget we have (and why the search for funding will continue until the very last frame of the documentary is cut). Every single person on the team now is beyond enthusiastic and ready to roll up their sleeves and do whatever it takes to get this done, my personality MO since the beginning of my career. I can’t tell you how great and inspiring it is to work inside of an energy force like this and I hope as “The D’ is realized and these updates get more consistent that that energy will uplift you as well.

Once again, I want to thank everyone who so astutely and boldly donated to “The D”. I also want to thank people receiving this because you’ve signed up to participate as well as those who came to the parties at The Whitney and Vinsetta Garage. It’s that spirit that has kept Detroit going through the decades of glut and gluttony and it’s certainly the primary force in re-imagining the city now.

For more information on “The D” go here. (https://www.alleewillis.com/WeSingTheD/)

To DONATE go here: http://www.gofundme.com/3btivk

To learn the actual song go here. (https://www.alleewillis.com/WeSingTheD/sing-or-play-the-d.php)

For more of Allee’s Detroit go here. (https://www.alleewillis.com/detroit/)

 

 

Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Allee Willis Marches on Detroit! Part 10 , The Restaurants

Category: Architecture, Celebrity, Detroit, Food, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Mumford high school, Place, The Color Purple

An important part of any urban experience is where and what you choose to eat. Anyone who knows me knows that no money needs to be wasted on the fanciest or trendiest restaurants in town. I wanted to hit the institutions in Detroit that not only involved the excitement I had as a child driving to them but that have proven to be quality enough (or, preferably, kitschy enough) to live on, restaurants whose very presence defines the personality of the city. Most of my all-time favorites have long since succombed, like Dinah Inn, Jerry’s, both great steakhouses off Woodward, and my all-time favorite deli, Darby’s. Even Carl’s Chop House closed a few years ago.

Thankfully, the Italian restaurant my family went to every Sunday night, Mario’s, is still there.

But although I recognized it from the outside, it’s gotten too gussied up on the inside to be of value to my hungering memory cells now. But old time tradition is still alive in some excellent vintage haunts I’d never been to before. First there’s Mr. Mike’s.

Now selling itself as a karaoke sports bar, Mr. Mike’s is old school dining experience enhanced by dimly lit fake Tiffany lamps, burgundy leatherette booths and stained glass windows.

I could do without the lattice work and Americana dowels but I do like that the banquettes remain intact.

I’m also not a big one for stripping away the plaster to expose the brick underneath in efforts to make a place look old. This place looks old enough without this 80′s postmodern touch.

The waiter didn’t have much patience for me flipping back and forth between a turkey club, onion soup au gratin, Chef’s Salad, and meatloaf, all steakhouse classics for me.

I finally settled on the meatloaf and loaded baked potato. Notice the fringe on the “Tiffany” lamp tilted for optimum lighting of my meatloaf.

The potato especially deserves a closeup:

Though we were all jealous of the liver and onions someone else at the table ordered:

As old school and perfect as the food was, as one of the “grown and sexy people” I’m really sorry to have missed DJ Poppi Smooth:

Another favorite restaurant this trip was Vince’s, an Italian joint in Southwest Detroit. Though I almost didn’t get past the entrance because of the blinding brilliance of this display:

Is the fluffy cotton/Christmas snow backdrop supposed to be steam rising from the pasta?

I don’t know, but the supreme naïveté and kitschiness of the encased pasta art was enough for me to proclaim Vince’s a must-eat-at Italian pit stop in the Motor City. And I’m happy to report that the beauty on the walls continued throughout the restaurant:

As impressed as I am with this Golden Colander award, I’m sure the owners are more excited by this:

I know it’s blurry but you can see it’s a hand-signed personal note from Frank. And you know that means business when it comes to an Italian restaurant. This one isn’t bad either:

Also not bad is the decor:

I was too hungry to remember to snap shots of any of the food but I did get this one of us eating. Well, I’m texting, but eating every other text.

Another stop on the vintage-and-still-standing restaurant run was Sign Of the Beefcarver on Woodward past 10 Mile.

I really wanted to go to this place down the block but it was closed:

But I was excited to hit the Beefcarver as I knew it was a cafeteria.

The food line did not disappoint. As I’ve come to expect in great cafeterias, there’s always a complete selection of salad items.

I had tossed salad with Thousand Island dressing, roast beef, mashed potatoes and corn, my signature meal when I’m in a cafeteria. I forgot to photograph the food here too as I was too busy looking at the walls.

Then, of course, there’s The Telway, with four burgers for $2.25.

And Lafayette Coney Dogs.

I wish I could’ve hit more joints when I was in Detroit but I was too busy preparing for this:

And this:

But my utensils remain sharpened. I’m all ears if anyone else can suggest more vintage eateries for my next trip home which, I’m happy to report, is imminent!