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Your Dining Table Could Be Designed by Brad Pitt

Your Dining Table Could Be Designed by Brad Pitt

The actor is collaborating with U.S. furniture designer U.S. furniture designer Frank Pollaro

Wikimedia/Georges Biard

Just in case he wasn't doing enough in this world (you know, acting in movies, adopting adorable kids, being a philanthropist, being drop-dead gorgeous), Brad Pitt has decided to tack on furniture designer on his résumé.

Architectural Digest reports that the actor is collaborating with New Jersey furniture designer Frank Pollaro for a line of furniture including "dynamic tables, elegant chairs, an exotic bed, [and] a minimalist marble bathtub for two," all along the styles of Art Deco furnishing that Pollaro is known for.

The pieces will be showcased in Manhattan from Nov. 13 to 15, AD reports, and we can expect plenty of exotic woods, as Pitt tells AD that lately he's been drawn to "slightly more rustic materials that absorb the light rather than reflect it."

Luckily, if you were hoping for a giant new Mr. & Mrs. Smith-worthy dining table for Christmas, the collection includes a 17-foot-long dining table with a complex, twisted base, as well as a glass dining table for Ocean's Eleven fans. Check out the slideshow for more renderings of Pitt's furniture designs.


By Daily Mail Reporter
Updated: 07:55 BST, 13 June 2008

Pregnant Angelina Jolie has revealed how expecting twins spiced up her sex life with Brad Pitt.

In a typically revealing interview, the 'Wanted' star told how being pregnant has made her more "creative" in the bedroom.

Angelina said: 'It's great for the sex life. It just makes you a lot more creative. So you have fun, and as a woman you're just so round and full.'

Angelina admitted she was shocked to find out she was having twins.

Sexy: Angelina revealed that being pregnant with twins made her feel sexy, and she and partner Brad had to get creative in the bedroom

She also told how she designed Brad's new tattoo and insisted she has no regrets about revealing details of her wild past.

The mother-of-four 'Entertainment Weekly' magazine told: 'We weren't expecting twins.

'So it did shock us, and we jumped to six quickly. But we like a challenge.

'We really don't know. His mom and dad are on standby to come out and help.'

Her main concern is how her kids Maddox, six Pax, four Zahara, three and Shiloh, two, will feel when the twins are born.

Angelina and Brad in France before she gave birth to her twins, with Zahara and Pax Thien

She said: 'They're old enough to feel included to change diapers themselves, to feed bottles themselves, like if I pump into a bottle.

'We're trying to find ways where it can be a fun group things. Everybody gets special time so we can make sure we know where they're at.'

Angelina told how Brad is helping her get around doctor's orders to stop picking up her kids so much while she is pregnant.

She said: 'We've worked out a system where Brad just lifts them to me every time they want to come up.

'I just don't bend down. I'll scream, 'Honey!' and he'll come running and lift them up."
Angelina also revealed she designed the new tattoo on Brad's back, spotted in recent photographs.

She said: 'I drew that. We went to Davos. It's not that we were bored at the World Economic Forum, but one night we didn't have anything to do, so I was drawing on his back. He just liked it!

'The picture everybody saw was kind of awkward, but it just lines up beautifully on his back, just enhances the part of the body I like.'

Angelina is glad she was open about her wild-child past.

She said: 'The reason I talked about going through certain pains or even cutting myself is that I was already out the other side.

'I knew there were people that do that - and somehow are happy that somebody admitted they did and discussed how they got out of it.

'I don't see the point of doing an interview unless you're going to share the things you learn in life and the mistakes you make.

'So to admit that I'm extremely human and have done some dark things, I don't think makes me unusual or unusually dark.

'I think it actually is the right thing to do and I'd like to think it's the nice thing to do.'


2. DIY Alphabet Blocks Tutorial


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PLAYOFF NOTEBOOK: Ex-Hab Nilan's ties to gangster

Former Habs enforcer Chris Nilan claims he had a “great relationship” with feared Boston mob boss Whitey Bulger.

The Canadiens could use both Nilan and Bulger in their series with the Leafs. While the tale is familiar, Nilan was talking about it last week.

PLAYOFF NOTEBOOK: Ex-Hab Nilan's ties to gangster Back to video

“I had a great relationship with him,” Nilan said on the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast on Barstool Sports. “First of all, I didn’t … marry him. I married Karen at the time.”

Legendary Habs hardman Chris Nilan and Boston mob chief Whitey Bulger. Photo by HANDOUT / MASS. STATES ATTY.

Nilan was married to Karen Stanley who was kinda Bulger’s daughter-in-law. At the time, the Irish gangster was dating Karen’s mom, Theresa.

Nilan said Bulger treated Karen as his own daughter.

“I remember going over to pick her up for the first time,” Nilan said. “I was the first male to ever go in that house. … We’re going for the door to leave and he says ‘Hey, Chris. Come here, I want to talk to you. Karen, wait in the car.’

From one of the games great fighters to one of its best storytellers, Chris Nilan has never been shy. Photo by MONTREAL GAZETTE / POSTMEDIA

“She went out to the car and I sat on the couch with him. And he’s got a pistol. And he says ‘Here’s the deal. I know you love Karen and she loves you … but if she ever wants to break up with you, get away from you for whatever reason, just let her go.’”

Nilan replied: “You didn’t have to pull out a gun to tell me that.”

Bulger said: “That’s the way I do business.” Then he gave Nilan $1,000 to have a good time.

The Hub crime lord later went on the run and it took the feds 16 years to catch him. He was murdered in a West Virginia prison in 2018.

Toronto Sun Editor-in-Chief Adrienne Batra is laying a case of beer on the line against Montreal Gazette Editor-in-Chief Lucinda Chodan. Photo by TORONTO SUN / POSTMEDIA

TORONTO-MONTREAL NEWS WAR JUST GOT REAL

It won’t just be mayors, co-workers, and drinking buddies laying down wagers on the MacDonald-Cartier collision.

Toronto Sun Editor-in-Chief Adrienne Batra is calling out Montreal Gazette editorial supremo and Postmedia Senior Vice-President Lucinda Chodan.


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Zoom Fun: Drink Together - Sacramento Magazine

Zoom happy hours were rampant last March but cooled off once we all realized we shouldn’t be plowing through a bottle of wine every night. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still occasions for hitting the vino in front of the webcam again.

Crystal Basin Cellars, located in Camino and with a tasting room in Folsom, offers wine-blending sessions with its winemaker/owner, Mike Owens. Participants are mailed a half bottle of each of his varietal wines along with a graduated cylinder, then follow along with Owens over Zoom as he offers instructions on how to make and tweak a blend. “Everybody’s taste is so individual that the blending allows people to bring out what they really like,” he says.

Likewise, Casino Mine Ranch, a Plymouth-based winery, has found a way to keep people tippling on Zoom while still offering a unique experience. It’s gone beyond virtual tastings to offer a series of cookalongs, which recently saw Casino Mine pairing its wines with fried chicken as taught by chef N’Gina Guyton of South and pizza by Brad Cecchi of Canon. The winery ships the wine and the recipes, and participants source the ingredients, then hop on Zoom.

“There’s something special about it being in the comfort of your own home,” says Mackenzie Cecchi, Casino Mine’s chief of staff. “It feels really good to get together on this weird level and get our hands dirty.”


The Forgetting Machine: Notes Toward a History of Detroit


David Barr and Sergio DeGiusti, Transcending, Hart Plaza, Detroit, 2003. [Photo by Flickr user kiddharma]

Decline and Fall
The classic text on ruins is Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, completed during the last decades of the 18th century, when the English were cultivating a special interest in historical empires that their own advancing empire might yet surpass — a compensatory preoccupation brought on by the recent loss of the American colonies. Toward the end of his massive opus, Gibbon contemplates what it would have been like to “discover” Rome in that late medieval moment when the great metropolis was first appreciated as a ruin. Here, in a passage of vicarious self-reflection, he imagines the 14th-century poet Petrarch encountering the city:

When Petrarch first gratified his eyes with a view of those monuments whose scattered fragments so far surpass the most eloquent descriptions, he was astonished at the supine indifference of the Romans themselves he was humbled rather than elated by the discovery that … a stranger of the Rhône [i.e., Petrarch himself] was more conversant with these antiquities than the nobles and natives of the metropolis. [1]

It might seem self-aggrandizing to say that the post-industrial and post-millennial metropolis of Detroit works in much the same way but it does. I can think of no other American city that feels at once familiar historically, and also alien. Familiar because this is the place where the life we all live — cars, strip malls, shopping centers, freeways, exurbia — was invented alien because nobody here seems bothered that so many recognizable signs of wealth and culture — things that really matter elsewhere — have been so thoroughly abandoned, as if they had suddenly lost all meaning.

I feel like Gibbon’s Petrarch, then: astonished at the seeming indifference of the local citizenry to Detroit’s monumental fragments, humbled at the discovery that after 30 years in the city I seem to know more about its crumbling relics than the natives do — many of them, at least. But these are not ruins from some distant age they are distinctly mine and I find it hard to recover Gibbon’s hearty self-satisfaction at the “supine indifference” of Roman natives. Here in Detroit, the city has been ruined by the same people who still inhabit it. So the question is, who understands better what the place really means: the person who tries to remember it, or the one who lets it go?


Detroit Publishing Company, “Looking Up Woodward Avenue,” ca. 1917. [via Shorpy]

Capital of the 20th Century
There is no culture — for lack of a better word — no context of public memory and social expectation that would bind together all that the city contains. What does it add up to, all this abandonment of lives and buildings, neighborhoods and property? It doesn’t seem to add up to anything, other than the decontextualized spectacle itself and the demographic souvenir-hunting opportunities it provides. This city is never coming back whatever happens next will be without urban precedent because the context of city no longer applies in this place where history has finally run out. And so the reason we come to Detroit — immigrants, tourists, artists, journalists alike — is to engage a fantasy about how we can always walk away from the past, from the now blown promise of an erstwhile prosperity that was once made real for generations of Americans. There’s probably not a better place in this country, maybe in the world, for this kind of work.

Consider a recent issue of Harper’s, which features an image and excerpt, titled “Eulogy: Nobody’s Detroit,” from one of the latest limited-edition exercises in dystopia, Detroit Disassembled, a collection of photographs by Andrew Moore with an introduction by the Detroit-born Philip Levine, now poet laureate of these United States. I find myself thinking of Marx on Hegel, his famous statement that “all great world-historical facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice … the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” [2] A tragedy of world-historical proportions has occurred here in Detroit and now it is being reproduced, in personal anecdotes and news stories, in books and films, and above all in those now clichéd photographs of rot, dereliction and decay. All of which is perhaps not exactly farce (although there is surely something farcical about the putative bravery of all those on-site observers and their sententious discoveries: I’m so bad, I party in Detroit! the images seem to say, just like the slogan from one of my favorite t-shirts). Instead of farce, our historic tragedy is being turned into art which is precisely why the ex-pat poet has been coaxed into talking about photographs of a city he hasn’t lived in for more than half a century. But I’ll give him this much in his introduction to Detroit Disassembled, Levine gets one thing exactly right:

What we see taking place in [these] photographs is no doubt happening everywhere, but it would appear that in Detroit the process has such extraordinary velocity it seems to have stepped out of time to become the sole condition of being.

Images stepped out of time, that’s what turns tragedy into art. The poet continues:

These photographs are among the most beautiful I’ve ever seen: their calm in the face of the ravages of man and nature confer an unexpected dignity upon the subjects of his camera, the very dignity I had assumed daily life had robbed them of. [3]

So things once tragic become beautiful — images for artistic appreciation — with the ravages of daily life being redeemed by photographic dignity. That’s what art can do: it transforms this Everyman’s catastrophe into “Nobody’s Detroit,” as the Harper’s subtitle puts it — an object for aesthetic contemplation, like the Grand Canyon or a summer sunset.


Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, The Ruins of Detroit (Steidl, 2011), featuring Michigan Central Station. [Photo of book cover by Justin Rowe]

The latest big books on Detroit — not just Moore’s Detroit Disassembled but also Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre’s The Ruins of Detroit — are pricey ($50 and $125 respectively, with Moore’s book available in its special limited edition for $750) they are also the products of collaborations with art institutions, which is perhaps more indicative of the transformation now underway. The photographs from The Ruins of Detroit were exhibited at the Gun Gallery in Stockholm, among other venues Detroit Disassembled was the subject of an exhibition at the Akron Art Museum. I saw the Akron show, and it was truly amazing, transformative even. Moore’s images were blown up to old masters’ scale, mounted and lit as if we were being presented with the canvases of Rembrandt or Velasquez. Moore uses a large-format camera, and he stalks the usual “ruin porn” [4] sites — abandoned theaters and churches and schools, derelict houses, collapsed industrial buildings — but never have I seen work quite like this, whether in his book, or on the museum walls. “I’m not just photographing derelict buildings,” Moore told an interviewer from the Detroit News, “I’m looking for beauty and their poetic, or metaphorical, meaning.” [5] I’d say that just about sums things up.

And that’s where the crucial transformation happens, with the museum conferring the status of art upon work that might otherwise be construed as photo-journalistic documentary. John Berger has referred to this process as “mystification.”

Fear of the present leads to mystification of the past. The past is not for living in it is a well of conclusions from which we draw in order to act. Cultural mystification of the past entails a double loss. Works of art are made unnecessarily remote. And the past offers us fewer conclusions to complete in action. [6]

That is precisely the point of Moore’s work — to mystify into “poetic” inconsequence and remoteness the past that is represented by Detroit, and along with it the conclusions we might draw as a result. Those otherwise troubling conclusions, and the actions that might follow from them — actions undertaken in the name of shared responsibility — are now translated into matters of taste and technique. A sense of “bogus religiosity,” to use another of Berger’s terms, pervades the images action is foreclosed, except for the connoisseur-like contemplations of the solitary spectator, who is freed to look at the worst, without any necessity of further exertion. The “naked” facts of Detroit, in all their frightening and accusatory detail, are turned into museum-piece “nudes,” spot-lit on the gallery walls they’re titillating perhaps, but also unreal, just like a centerfold image is unreal and the more gorgeous, the better. [7]


Andrew Moore, Detroit Disassembled, at the Akron Art Museum, 2010. [Exhibition postcard]

The same can be said for The Ruins of Detroit, a compilation of large-format photographs taken by Marchand and Meffre, who were associated with the team of reporters from Time magazine that spent a well-publicized year in Detroit. [8] This is a heavy piece of work, in every sense, weighing in at almost seven pounds — at least according to my bathroom scale — and containing enough gloomy images to turn the most ebullient booster into a post-apocalyptic nihilist. There’s an appropriate introduction by historian Thomas Sugrue — author of The Origins of the Urban Crisis [9] — outlining the relevant facts about the city’s industrial decline. As Marchand and Meffre write: “True ‘capital of the twentieth century,’ Detroit has literally created, produced and manufactured our modern world, creating a logic that has eventually annihilated, destroyed the city itself.” These guys get it, I thought.

But then I started looking at the photographs, which so completely contradict the insight of that opening statement. The images fail to capture the complex logic that links creation and destruction necessarily together — in Detroit and in America. Marchand and Meffre reduce everything they encounter to a dead zone of already-seen sights they deploy a visual idiom that has all the wit and insight of a post-mortem Polaroid, with the same dismal color palette, and the now-to-be expected prohibition against any human being ever entering the frame. Why have these photographers settled for so much less than their own introductory statement might lead you to expect? Perhaps the cliché-propagating idiom of ruin porn is so powerful that it simply takes over, duping otherwise intelligent artists into a tedious banality that not even the volume’s pretentious scale and price can conceal.

“We don’t sell ink here anymore”
At so many now-familiar ruins — the Michigan Central Station, the Packard Motors Plant and Fisher Body Plant No. 21, the jazz-age United Artists Theater, the American Hotel, the Grande Ballroom, the Lee Plaza Hotel, the Vanity Ballroom, the Metropolitan Building, the libraries and schools and churches, etc. etc. — the photogenic decline and fall of the Michigan Empire has been captured by countless observers. Less well known — perhaps because less represented in the archives of ruin porn — but no less monumental in scale and consequence, is the now-demolished headquarters of the J. L. Hudson Company. Joseph Lowthian Hudson was an immigrant from Newcastle-upon-Tyne who became Detroit’s premier upscale retailer in the early 20th century. Hudson’s flagship department store, located at the center of Detroit, on Woodward Avenue, was among the largest in the country — 28 stories, plus four basements, comprising 2.2 million square feet of interior floor space. Completed in stages between 1924 and 1929 under the architectural supervision of Smith, Hinchman and Grylls, the store had 5,000 windows, 700 dressing rooms and 50 passenger elevators, each with its own white-gloved attendant. At its height in the 1950s, Hudson’s employed a staff of 12,000. Only Macy’s in New York City was bigger.


Left: J.L Hudson Building, Detroit. [From postcard, ca. 1951] Right: Woodward Avenue, Detroit, in 1925. [Courtesy of the Library of Congress]

The building was no architectural masterwork it expanded piecemeal over the years, annexing adjacent structures into an ungainly agglomeration clad in dull red brick. When it comes to commercial signifying, Hudson’s lacked the grandeur and pretension of early 20th-century retail palaces like Marshall Field’s or John Wanamakers or B. Altman and Co. For all its attempts at elegance, the classical flourishes and Beaux Arts details, Hudson’s was an efficient and practical undertaking — much like Detroit itself — a machine for making money, which it did, for over half a century, with sales peaking in 1954 at $155 million ($1.26 billion in 2011 dollars). At which point the J.L. Hudson Company, like other retailers, began developing suburban alternatives to its emporium on Woodward Avenue.

In the first decades of the new millennium it seems clear that the best years of our American lives were precisely when the mechanisms for abandoning our cities were being put in place. The boom years that followed World War II saw the construction of the Interstate highway system, the promotion of suburban single-family housing construction by the Federal Housing Administration, the dispersal of services, commerce, entertainment and eventually jobs to the ever-expanding exurban ring. And it all seemed to happen so rapidly, the result of convergent forces operating so efficiently you’d think there was some kind of deep design at the bottom of things. After a half-century of cultural and economic dominance, Hudson’s, and downtown Detroit along with it, plunged into sharp decline. By the time the flagship store was closed, in January 1983, the company had been reduced to a chain of suburban mall clones, owned since the late 󈨀s by the Dayton Company, of Minneapolis, all traces of local origin to be erased by corporate ersatz.

Interior of Hudson’s. [Vintage postcard, date unknown]

People in Detroit still talk about Hudson’s as a retail institution, but they give little thought to the actual old building, which became a gutted, vandalized wreck, and no less irrelevant than Michigan Central Station. Both are rightly understood as monuments for a disappeared history: the train station because nobody here seems to bother much about the ruin that still remains Hudson’s because everybody claims to remember so fondly the building that’s no longer there. But what people remember is not exactly historical reality instead, the memory of Hudson’s has become a kind of screen upon which we can replay an idealized past — a past without any of the problems that made the utopian promise of suburbia seem worth abandoning the city to fulfill. Consider one of the customer reviews, on Amazon, for a recent photo collection, Hudson’s: Detroit’s Legendary Department Store:

Anyone who shopped in Detroit’s once bustling downtown Woodward corridor should have this book. Starting in the 1930s my grandmother would take the bus downtown at least once a week to shop at Hudson’s and the surrounding stores. As a young girl in the mid 1960s, I occasionally traveled with her and some of my earliest and fondest memories are of wandering around the upper 12 floors and two basement levels of merchandise. You would drop your coats off on the forth [sic] floor, have lunch on the mezzanine or perhaps the basement cafeteria, shop all afternoon, catch an early dinner at the Riverview room on the 13th floor and then head home with your purchases shipped to your home within a day or two. It was truly an experience that no mall today can come close to. … I cried the day the store was demolished and I am sure that Grandma was rolling in her grave. [10]

The review is titled “Memories of a true shopping experience!” Nostalgia, of course, is just a higher form of forgetting. Hudson’s failed because it ceased to attract shoppers Grandma notwithstanding, the customers were at the mall.

My first visit to Hudson’s was in 1982, soon after I’d accepted a job in Detroit. I arrived by plane from New York City, rented a car at Metro Airport, and drove downtown to look for a place to live. I settled on an apartment on Washington Boulevard, and the building manager informed me enthusiastically that we were just around the corner from Hudson’s! So I walked over to take a look. I found a forlorn place that could have been the stage set for a period movie, all the elements of commercial presumption intact, though threadbare. What was missing was the cast on the higher floors, I seemed to be walking through the aisles alone. In the stationery department, I looked at fountain pens, some costing hundreds of dollars. I thought I would buy a bottle of ink, my own pen having gone dry. “We don’t sell ink here any more,” the exquisitely polite clerk explained.

And the story was pretty much the same in all the last-vestige establishments I would visit in my early years in Detroit: restaurants and movie palaces, clubs and exclusive men’s stores. The apparatus of city life was there, but none of it was fully operational — like those expensive fountain pens that nobody was expected to buy, so that ink had become superfluous. What had once been a viable, commercial downtown — “bustling,” as the Amazon customer remembered — had tuned into something else entirely, something spectral and forlorn.


Illustration of Hudson’s departments in LIFE, December 1958. [via The Department Store Museum]

“A city within itself” is how many of the early 20th-century department stores were described, and the comparison is apt. Hudson’s, at its height in the mid-1950s, served 100,000 customers per day the store boasted its own telephone exchange, with the third largest switchboard in the United States, exceeded in size only by the Pentagon and the Bell System. [11] And like the city, Hudson’s had a necessary purpose — to teach people how to live in society. J. L. Hudson ascribed to a calling higher than mere commerce, and he communicated this in “The Hudson’s Creed,” which his employees were expected to espouse:

My faith is not alone a faith in the store, the organization — it’s a faith in the ideals of men, those who are responsible for this great house of industry. And so I stand, inspired with the blazing truth that I am taking an active part in building, through honest effort, one of the greatest institutions in this broad country — Hudson’s Detroit. [12]

The great department stores, and their owners, came naturally by the evangelizing mission. The making of shoppers, like the making of citizens, was an essential function of both store and city, especially the city of middle-class arrivals made possible by the flourishing of modern industry. In Service and Style: How the American Department Store Fashioned the Middle Class, Jan Whitaker observes:

No longer primarily a purveyor of basic necessities, and by now a venerable and trusted establishment in a rapidly changing society, [the department store] took on a larger role as arbiter of middle-class taste and lifestyles. From the 1920s into the 1960s, stores exercised an almost moral authority to define in material terms what it was to live as a middle-class American. They poured creative energy into encouraging Americans to “trade up,” to demand a higher standard of living. Marshaling their enormous promotional resources, they expanded their entertainment and educative roles. They broadened services, upgraded buildings. They emphasized style as never before. In short, department stores deployed their skills in interpreting and managing the symbolic significance of the goods they sold. [13]

The mission of the department stores, with their encyclopedic arrays of “departments” (Hudson’s had 200), was city-like: their goal was to teach people how to be together in an unprecedented condition of plenty and upward striving. The well-articulated “stories” of the great emporia told a compelling narrative of desire, with an infrastructure that mirrored the cities they proudly represented. But the pedagogy of these grand establishments had a perhaps unanticipated outcome. In Detroit, J.L. Hudson’s taught its lessons so effectively that citizen-shoppers quickly graduated and were ready to set out for the suburban malls, effectively forgetting how to remember that they had ever needed the department store — or the city — to send them on their way.


Hudson’s site in 2008, a vacant lot above an underground parking structure. [Photo by Flickr user gab482]

In 1996, a newly elected city government identified as one of its first objectives the demolition of the abandoned and vandalized Hudson’s on Woodward Avenue. If anything different was ever to happen downtown, the feeling was, that place had to go. As soon as the decision was announced, the nostalgia industry shifted into overdrive. The Detroit Historical Museum mounted a semi-permanent display of Hudson’s memorabilia a documentary aired repeatedly on local public television. The city newspapers created special series dedicated to reminiscences about Hudson’s (they were already running weekly columns focused on recollections of bygone neighborhoods and vintage cars). And in a surprising twist, the company hired to demolish Hudson’s pioneered a new and distinctively American form of urban archaeology. Because of the building’s age, and because no accurate architectural plans existed of the five structures and thirteen construction types incorporated in Hudson’s expansion over the decades, the demolition team determined that a thorough excavation was required — not to preserve the past, but to destroy it completely, in the most rational and efficient way possible. So one evening in October 1998, the mayor of Detroit pushed the button that set off the explosive charges, and Hudson’s, once the tallest department store in America, became the tallest building ever to be imploded. The enormous structure collapsed in a vast cloud of dust that enveloped the whole of downtown, darkening the sky in a Pompeiian gloom.

Eternal Return
You can read the history of Detroit as a history of what philosophers have called the eternal return. The Czech novelist Milan Kundera created a masterpiece, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, in which he struggles to grasp this phenomenon he speculates on the loss represented by an understanding of time that is content to abandon — to forget — the past.

Let us therefore agree that the idea of eternal return implies a perspective from which things appear other than as we know them: they appear without the mitigating circumstance of their transitory nature. This mitigating circumstance prevents us from coming to a verdict. For how can we condemn something that is ephemeral, in transit? In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia. … This … reveals the profound moral perversity of a world that rests essentially on the nonexistence of return, for in this world everything is pardoned in advance and therefore everything cynically permitted. [14]

In Detroit there is one place where the eternal return seems especially palpable, and also a little frightening, which is to be expected of a site where the past is undead, where it is neither thematized nostalgically nor banished outright. I’m thinking, of course, of the Michigan Theater, the great jazz age movie palace created by the architects C.W. and George L. Rapp, or what’s left of it these days: the theater was shut in the mid-1970s and partly demolished and gutted and converted into a parking garage. In an earlier essay published in Places, I quoted a reporter for the Detroit Free Press, who exclaimed upon the building’s opening in 1926: “It is beyond the human dreams of loveliness.” I left out the next part of the review: “Entering it, you pass into another world.” [15]


Michigan Theater, in 1927 (left) and 2005 (right). [Composite by Geoffrey George]

Entering the Michigan Theater today, you do indeed feel as if you’re passing into another world, as if you’re drifting through the sunken Titanic, or the fanciful dungeons of Piranesi. After the downtown movie palaces went dark in the 1970s and began their inexorable slide into dereliction (which efforts to turn them into blaxploitation venues or X-rated cinemas did little to halt), the Michigan’s owners hacked away at the lobby and main auditorium, installing a parking garage under the proscenium arches in the space that once accommodated 4,000 moviegoers.

But the crude and hasty retrofit left many of the decorative elements intact, allowing the interior, “the heavily carved and ornamented walls,” to decay, along with the tattered velvet curtain that is still hanging, and disintegrating, behind the old proscenium. [16] Plaster fragments and withered carpet strips litter the floors, and daylight filters in through holes punched in the walls, bathing the interior in a half-lit gloom. It’s an extraordinary spectacle — as countless photographers, professionals and amateurs alike, have been quick to realize, and a few filmmakers too, notably the director Curtis Hanson, who set a crucial scene of 8 Mile, with Eminem, in the theater.

The old Michigan Theater is one of the most suggestive sights in the whole city of Detroit: neither an abandoned ruin nor a precious, restored fetish, but a working statement about making do with the past. The tenants of the offices adjacent to the theater threatened to move out unless they were provided with secure parking, so that’s what the landlord improvised out of the otherwise useless auditorium. And that is the genius of the place. One can only marvel at the dramatic parable being enacted by the current occupants — the returnees — who drive in and out of the vast space, past the former ticket booth, brought daily into conversation with the past, and what our desires have made of it: the desire to ride Henry Ford’s cars out of town, onward to a better life that lay, we imagined, beyond the city. But still the city is here, outmoded and abandoned but necessarily returned to, that contradictory fact of life rendered in an architectural colloquy so extraordinary it cannot help but be felt.

The truth I’m trying to present is one about site-specific forgetting. If our history is a history of forgetting how to remember the past, as I am arguing, then the city of Detroit is the engine of our conflicted deliverance. It’s the machinery we’ve used for particular acts of forgetting, each connected to the place and time where the forgetting got done.


Detroit Publishing Company, “Campus Martius at Night,” Detroit, ca. 1910. [via Shorpy]

This is a history created by serial default. Nobody really planned the ends — the ruins — of these buildings, any more than they planned Detroit, or America for that matter, despite our dedication to continental-scale projects, beginning with the Declaration of Independence and moving through Manifest Destiny and continuing with the Urban Renewal programs that destroyed America’s cities. We’ve all had a hand in our collective making, and now we’ll have to live with the consequences, not the least of which is our ignorance about the origin of things, so that we stand stupefied or angry or fascinated — camera at the ready —before the monuments to ruination.

But the improvisation of the Michigan Theater is powerful because it doesn’t remove people from the city on the contrary, it involves them dramatically in the production of their own situation. The ruin of urban space becomes a participatory drama: memory versus forgetting, the city dead or the city alive. The trick is seeing both at once, and comprehending them as equally true and mutually implicated.

Adding a special resonance to the history of the old theater is the fact that it was on this very spot — then 58 Bagley Avenue — where Henry Ford lived when he was a hired workman at the Edison Illuminating Plant, two blocks over, on Washington Boulevard. In the 1890s Ford rented part of a house on the site, along with a shed out back, and right there, in the spring of 1896, he built his first horseless carriage — the “Quadricycle,” he called it. His gasoline-powered contraption turned out to be wider than the door he had to push it through to take a test drive, so to get the machine outside, he was forced to knock out part of a wall. And so you might say that for more than century automobiles have been repeating that originary gesture, returning to the act of demolition that attended their birth. Just look at what they’ve done to the Michigan Theater and to the rest of Detroit. And what this realization yields — provided it is lived from the inside rather than gawked at from afar — is something much less creepy and off-putting than the aesthetic rot sold in large-format photography books. The Michigan Theater offers a way of thinking about the past that is historically inflected, human-scaled and sustainable and — most improbably — hopeful. What it offers is a new ecology of hope, with the city of Detroit as its monumental basis.


THE JANCOX

Bold and showy, they are more in keeping with the latest fashion trend for cocktail rings, favoured by those wishing to make a clear statement about their wealth.
People like Mr and Mrs Rooney, in fact.

Wayne and Coleen exchanged rings worth an estimated 𧶲,000 his-and-hers rings at their glittering ceremony in Genoa on Thursday.

The bride designed each of the diamond-encrusted bands, which have the couple’s initials carved into the inside.

The proud couple flashed the distinctive gems during a wedding breakfast at 700-year-old La Cervara Abbey, and they were also sparkling as they boarded a jet at Genoa yesterday on their way home to Liverpool.

Coleen loves designer jewellery and often wears a 㿊,000 diamond-encrusted bracelet from New York jewellers Jacob & Co. But the most stunning is the 𧶀,000 ten-carat diamond from Chopard – a 21st birthday present from her husband.

Meanwhile Catholic Church officials are to launch an investigation into the wedding as the monastery where the ceremony was held was deconsecrated and not suitable for a religious event, raising fears that the marriage may not be valid.

Trinny and the trouble with Johnny Too Bad

When Trinny Woodall arrived at an exclusive showbusiness party last week, she was wearing her customary pout and steadfast steely glare.

Pushing through swathes of paparazzi she carried a well practised air of hauteur, refusing to acknowledge anyone who enquired as to her wellbeing.

Nothing unexpected about that, you might think. The television presenter is, after all, a staple presence on the capital’s party circuit, used to being subjected to the glare of the media and certainly not a woman to crumple in the face of rigorous speculation about her private life.

Yet for all her attempts at normality, the past seven days have been traumatic for Trinny.

Growing doubts about her marriage to former rock drummer turned financial adviser Johnny Elichaoff last week crystallised as full-blown reports that the two had split.

The pair have held a series of crisis meetings in a desperate bid to salvage their nine-year marriage. They face, it seems, an uphill struggle.

For The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the chasm between them has deepened to such an extent that it is all but unbridgeable – caused by a toxic combination of his deep-seated jealousy, her unwavering ambition and the drastically different ways they cope with the addictions that continue to blight both their lives.

Trinny, 44, has fought a well documented battle with alcoholism. She has not had a drink for 16 years, and attributes her abstinence to religiously attending her local branch of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Her 49-year-old husband, meanwhile, is dealing with a dependence on prescription painkillers, for which he was treated two years ago. But Johnny is, his friends fear, throwing his wife into despair.

As one well placed source explains: "Trinny is totally into recovery and the process of recovering. She feels let down that Johnny can’t make the same inroads."

Also the source says after all her problems, Trinny hates to be near drinkers.

"She won’t set foot in a pub, but Johnny will, so they have been living almost separate lives, which has taken its toll on their marriage.

"She is channelling her addictive personality into furthering her career, while Johnny is more laid-back and thinks that there’s more to life than work, work, work."

Trinny, of course, fronted the BBC’s hugely successful fashion makeover show What Not To Wear from 2001 to 2005 with her best friend and business partner Susannah Constantine.

The pair – in a move that is, with hindsight, bitterly ironic – went on to host a marriage "counselling" show, Trinny & Susannah Undress, on ITV in 2006.

This month they stripped off in their show The Great British Body, also on ITV.

Both women boast privileged backgrounds. Trinny’s grandfather was the head of British Steel, Sir John Duncanson, and Susannah’s father was ex-Eton and Coldstream Guards.

They first met at a dinner party hosted by Susannah’s former boyfriend Viscount Linley in 1994 and wrote a newspaper fashion column together before landing their television contracts.

Their frank advice and no-holds-barred criticism attracted more than seven million viewers and their accompanying fashion books have sold in excess of 2.5million copies.

Coupled with lucrative advertising contracts, the two women have become a bestselling brand, among the wealthiest and most successful celebrities in Britain.

But that is not enough for Trinny, who gave birth to Johnny’s daughter, Lyla, in 2003.

"Trinny wants to conquer America," adds the source.

"She’s proud of what she’s achieved and always wants more, while Susannah, like Johnny, is far more laid-back. Johnny’s not interested in a lot of the things Trinny’s obsessed with and sees her celebrity lifestyle as increasingly superficial.

"He’s bored when she’s off doing her own thing and he feels stuck out on a limb. She feels let down. She says that she can’t be both adults in their relationship."

It is fair to say that the tables have turned somewhat for the couple, who own a ٠.2million terraced townhouse in West London, where there was no sign of either of them last week.

Back in 1982, it was Johnny who commanded the limelight, as a madcap rock drummer who toured the world supporting U2 and Siouxsie Sioux.

Nicknamed Johnny Too Bad, he played in a Seventies band called Stark Naked And The Car Thieves before defecting to the equally bizarrely named Baby And The Black Spots and then playing in guitarist Robert Fripp’s League Of Gentlemen.

His musical career was interrupted by a two-year spell in the Army in 1984, and he went on to help manage rock bands Tears For Fears and Fairground Attraction.

It was a long way from the rather dry world of taxes and insurance that he inhabits nowadays.

Many wonder if, deep down, he still hankers after being a performer as he watches his glamorous wife command centre stage.

Trinny was still on the cusp of stardom when they met, and reeling from her traumatic childhood, teens and drink-soaked 20s.

The youngest of six siblings, she is the daughter of a wealthy banker and was dispatched to boarding school at the age of six.

It was an institution she recalls as "cruel" and "sadistic", not least for the time she was forced to stand naked in the school corridor as a punishment for her involvement in a water fight.

By her early teens she suffered from severe acne. "It was hideous," she says.

"It affected my self-worth, everything. It was the bane of my life. I grew my hair long just so I could cover my face."

She was not prescribed effective medication until she was 29, so she self-medicated with alcohol instead, drinking in an attempt to numb her embarrassment.

"I did everything," she admits. "It became a real problem. I would drink and go mad."

Working as a secretary, she spiralled out of control, living beyond her means and racking up 㿆,000 of credit-card debts in her early 20s until, at 26, she hit rock-bottom.

"I’d had enough [of drinking]," she remembers. "I felt so low. There was an exact moment when I just knew I didn’t want to do it any more. I was out with two very good friends of mine, who are now dead. They both died of alcoholism.

"It was about 3am and I thought, 'I don’t want to do this. I have to stop.' I’d felt that before, a hundred times, but I woke up the next morning and I still didn’t want to do it. And that was the first time in ten years I’d had that strength of feeling."

She spent a year in rehab. "I never want to go back to where I was," she says. "A lot of people do go back, so I still feel a day at a time."

Being married to a fellow addict may in some ways provide a source of support. But it is also, it seems, antagonising Trinny’s honourable intentions.

Johnny – who has a son, Zak, from his first marriage – developed an addiction to prescription painkillers two years ago when he had 20 operations after breaking his leg in a motorbike accident.

He was treated in a Californian rehab clinic in October 2006, during which time Trinny caused concern by collapsing in the aisle on a flight from New York to London.

She dismissed the incident, claiming she had simply had an allergic reaction to a sleeping pill.

Some close to the couple, however, feared otherwise. "Part of the reason for her collapse was that she had recently spoken to Johnny," says a confidante. "She was worried about his addiction."

Tellingly, it had only been a month earlier that Trinny insinuated they were suffering strains in their marriage.

She admitted: "Johnny and I had to deal with a difficult stage. We have a 'business meeting' where we talk about our issues. It works for us. You have to keep talking to each other."

Theirs is certainly a bond that has weathered a number of storms, perhaps the worst being Trinny’s struggle to become pregnant.

Susannah – married to Danish entrepreneur Sten Bertelsen and the mother of their three children – fell into motherhood effortlessly.

But Trinny was diagnosed with blocked fallopian tubes and endured nine rounds of IVF and two miscarriages before she conceived.

She said at the time: "It is stressful having IVF. I’m a hormonal cow for a month, but luckily my husband is very patient."

When she finally became pregnant she spoke glowingly of Johnny. "I still feel a sexy woman, which is important," she said.

"Some husbands are very funny about their wives when they’re pregnant and go off them sexually, but my husband never puts me down. I’ll say, 'I hate my thick legs,' and he’ll say, 'Trinny, you can cover them – and your t*** look fab.' He always makes me feel great."

She added poignantly: "I probably won’t have another. I’ve tried to have another baby. I would love Lyla to have a sibling near her own age, but what will be will be."

However, those close to the couple say the situation has now changed and that it is Johnny who is pushing to become a father again.

"In spite of all their problems conceiving in the past, he is keen for another child," says one source. "He thinks it would help ground Trinny but her response is very much 'not now'."

Indeed, her social schedule is such that another baby would struggle for space in her life.

When she is not performing sartorial overhauls she is entrenched in a glamorous whirl of charity fundraising as a trustee of the Chemical Dependency Centre and a staunch supporter of the Lavender Trust at Breast Cancer Care.

Counting Elton John, Mick Jagger and Liz Hurley among her many friends, she is undoubtedly well connected.

"She really admires Liz and sees how her husband Arun lavishes diamonds and exotic holidays on her," says the source.

"She sometimes wants that a bit for herself but isn’t married to somebody who gives her that.

"She’s the one everybody recognises at parties and he’s pushed out of the way by people trying to get to her. He feels emasculated."

There is also the prickly issue of Trinny’s appearance. A self-confessed Botox user, she has shocked viewers in the past with her scrawny figure, but insists that, at 5ft 7in and a steady nine stone, she eats heartily.

Yet although not suffering from an eating disorder, she is evidently fanatical about her health and beauty regime.

"She is on a desperate quest to stay youthful and trim and she’s often in bed early in the evening as a result," says a source.

"Johnny finds that over the top and superficial."

For all her workaholic tendencies and neuroticism – fellow contestant Piers Morgan labelled Trinny a "banshee" after her spectacularly bossy behaviour on BBC’s Celebrity Apprentice last year – Johnny has always been her most ardent supporter.

He said of his wife before their most recent troubles: "Trinny comes across as cold and aloof, but in fact she is the kindest woman I have ever met. She has a heart of gold. The steeliness people see in her is really a cover for her chronic shyness, believe me."

There is no doubting Johnny and Trinny’s earnest desire to make their marriage work.

But their shared experience of addiction – and the toll that it takes whatever its form – is both a blessing and a curse. Addiction is selfish and so, sometimes, is the determination to sustain a recovery.

Ambition, too, can be an unforgiving quality, especially if it is not shared in equal measure by a spouse.

Last week, Trinny was once again wearing her wedding ring, something she has been neglecting to do in recent times.

Is this a sign of a desire for reconciliation with the man who, for all their troubles, she so clearly adores?


Watch the video: David Letterman sucks on Jennifer Anistons hair (January 2022).