Monday, March 22, 2010

Photo of the Day: Emily Gail makes the new Runaways movie

I can't shut up about the fact that Kristen Stewart rocks a classic Emily Gail "Detroit" logo t-shirt in the new Runaways movie.

Emily Gail is a serious Detroit legend. She was the original pro-Detroiter back in the 1970s, even opening a store in downtown that sold all sorts of cool stuff. She would also organize "fun runs" around the city (my dad ran in many of them). I was recently thinking how much I wanted to either track down some of those classic designs (which is all but impossible--so far, anyway).

So when "Joan Jett" breaks this baby out in the Runaways movie, I almost choked on my popcorn. Where in the HELL the movie's stylist found that baby is beyond me. All I know is that it's AWESOME.

Detroit writer Neil Rubin explains Emily Gail perfectly in this excerpt from a July 2,2009 story from the Detroit News:

"For more than two decades now, Emily Gail has been saying nice things about Kailua Kona, Hawaii. But the woman who believed in downtown when nobody else did is still saying nice things about Detroit, too.

That was her slogan in the '70s and '80s: "Say Nice Things About Detroit." She put it on T-shirts and bumper stickers and the occasional banner trailing behind an airplane, and now it's embedded in the history of an era.

Gail is 62, not that she looks it, and her naivete and trademark braids are long gone.

A quick word about downtown Detroit back when Gail began to make herself known:


Hudson's was still around, but dreariness had descended. Then the Renaissance Center opened in 1977, sucking tenants out of the old office buildings and into the glass fortress on the river.

'People walked with their heads down,' she says. The streets were so empty that Gail and beau Herb (Pooh) Squires would bring out her old baseball gloves and play catch on the asphalt.

Her family owned Gail's Office Supply in the Penobscot Building. She opened a tiny gift shop in the skyscraper, then a larger one at Congress and Shelby called Emily's Across the Street. She sold jewelry and T-shirts, often using one day's receipts to buy the next day's merchandise, and branched out into hot dogs, ice cream and cookies.

Profit margins were minimal, but the fun factor was high. She sponsored bike days and a fun run that grew from 100 pairs of feet to more than 20,000. Emily became the first name in civic boosterism.

Then she lost her lease, married Pooh and moved to Hawaii. No more stickers, no more fun run, no more Detroit, except in her heart."


Stella Roxbury said...

We loved Emily Gail! My brother worked at her store. Nice to know where she ended up

Stella Roxbury said...

By-the-way, there are still people who say nice things about Detroit and live and work there. Check out David Di Rita's blog (Roxbury Group):

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