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."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cherie Currie "Neon Angel" book signing @ Book Soup

I can honestly say I was nervous walking up to this one. I've had a crazy pre-teen crush on this woman since, well, I was a crazy pre-teen. Not just from the Runaways, either. her shoulda-been star-making turn in the 1980 movie "Foxes" is my jam forever. It's all about Annie, baby. Even though today was all about "The Runaways," the movie you might have heard something about recently.

I got to the spot early enough to see her show up in a chauffeured town car with her mom.

The line behind me quickly got really thick. Soon, we were all crammed into Book Soup to listen to Cherie talk and answer questions, including the Mayor of the Sunset Strip, Rodney Bingenheimer.

I stuck my hand up and she picked me. So I asked her what really happened between the Runaways and Rush. I had no idea that the drama went down in DETROIT, and at Cobo Hall. Here's what she had to say. Sorry for the shaky picture. I told you I was nervous! ; )

Another good question was the whereabouts of the infamous corset. Cherie said that after a tour, she took it to a shop on Sunset Blvd to get repaired. The shop was owned by Billy Squier's then-girlfriend. When she came back a couple of weeks later to pick it up, the shop was gone. As was the piece of rock history.

Cherie was really sweet when I went up to get my book signed. The woman a few people in front of me totally starting crying, which seemed to kind of unnerve Cherie a little, but she handled it like a pro.

This dude wearing the "Britney Spears is God" pin was awesome. He had lots of great stories about seeing everyone from the Runaways to the Currie Sisters to the last Sex Pistols show at Winterland in SF. He also LOVEs teen pop music. He even gave me a "Britney is God" pin. Score.

On the way out, I spied Cherie's twin sister, Marie Currie, hanging out in front of the store with friends and fans. Good times.

Cherie Currie is doing a handful of dates this summer, including a gig with JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS at the OC Pacific during the Fair on August 11.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Jackie Fox of the Runaways remembers Detroit 1976

Early 1976: "Driving across country with the Runaways was always an experience. I always wore a skimpy little t-shirt, no matter how cold it was, and Joan always wore her leather jacket, no matter how hot it was. We never had enough money for food and, somehow, our travel agency always managed to find us a hotel in the most inappropriate part of town.

I will never forget staying at the Holiday Inn on Trumbull Avenue in Detroit, supposedly the only hotel in the country at the time in which the night clerk's window had bullet-proof glass. Creem magazine was located in Detroit, and whenever we would tell the writers we were staying at the Holiday Inn, they would always get a look of panic on their faces and say not the one on Trumball Avenue?

Detroit was one of our first stops on tour, and the night we got there we decided to go to a movie at a theater nearby. It was a Clint Eastwood movie (one of the Dirty Harry series), and that night was the first time in my life that I really realized I was white, since we were staying in a totally black neighborhood and we were the only white people in a fully packed theater. And there we were, five teenage girls, with no chaperone. Don't ask me where our manager was, I don't remember. But he wasn't there. Lucky for us, the people in Detroit were really nice (although they did seem a bit surprised to see five 16 year old white girls running around their neighborhood at night)."

via Jackie Fox's "The Runaways Remembered" blog