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November 12, 1978 - Image 13

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-11-12
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Page 6-Sunday, November 12,~1978-The Michigan Daily

lOD/ken parsi gian & rene beeker

Glitter of the sixties
has faded at Detroit 's
Motown star machine

f~e~Michig anDaily-Sunday, I

Innumerable courses,

innovative

wines at a price) but with class

By R.J. Smith

DETROIT IS generally not known
as cosmopolitan. But the intrepid
epicure can find more than just a
decent meal in this largely blue collar
town. The vibrant ethnic communities
of Detroit offer a wide range of tem-
pting tastes. The French, the Italians,
the Polish, and even the Arabs
curiously make Detroit one of the best
all-around eating cities in the country
outside of New York, New Orleans, and
San Francisco.
. Our favorites include: Aldo's, Italian
cuisine extraordinaire; Ponchartrain
Wine Cellar, a true French bistro; The
Sheik, authentic middle-eastern
delicacies; Benno's, French again, with
Benno himself in charge; and the most
exclusive, Van Dyke Place, with a set
menu, uncountable number of courses
and room for just 20. But even this im-
pressive array of culinary castles is
dwarfed by what is often called "the
most celebrated restaurant west of the
21 Club" - The London Chop House.
The atmosphere which pervades the
Chop House mystique is one of under-
statement. Although almost every
Detroiter knows of the London Chop
House reputation, many would not be
able to tell you where it is. Located in
the center of Detroit's downtown
business district, the inconspicuous en-
trance on Fort Street is extremely easy
to miss. A small lighted sign simply
stating "The London Chop House" is
only a formality - there is no need to
broadcast
Walking down the stairs it feels as if
you've just gained admittance to the
lair of a secret organization, and in a
way, you have. There is nothing preten-
tious about the atmosphere - its club-
like milieu is one of its greatest charms
- but everything is pure class. During
your first visit you will be sitting at a
table. The booths are reserved for VIPs.
HE MENU is gastronomic ecstacy.
Steak au poivre, rack of lamb,
Dover sole, Veal Oscar, and much more.
But the menu does not tell the whole
story. Many specialties are not even
listed; only the regulars know what is
available. In fact, the best way to not be
sneered at by the waiters is to order
something not listed on the menu. That
way they know you are not just a
tourist, and they will treat you accor-
dingly. As you peruse the menu, take
care not to notice the prices or you may
lose your appetite. Everything is a la
carte, and tres expensive. Dinner for
two is possible for $50, but don't be sur-
prised if your bill balloons to over $100 if
you order anything more than steak
and salad.
There is no one element of a Chop
House feast which can inflate the bill as
much as wine. Les and Sam Gruber, the
conscientious owners, have established
a wine cellar at the Chop House few
restaurants in the country could match.
Grounded firmly in French Bordeaux
and Burgundy, the wine list has a
healthy number of up-and-coming
& California wines.
Ken Parsigian is a Daily man-
aging editor. Rene Becker is Daily

A reasonable bottle of wine can be
had for about $10. But beware, the thir-
sty oenophile can easily move into
Chateau Lafite Rothchild 1961 at $250 a
bottle. The somolier can be very helpful
when selecting the right wine for either
a grand fete with a dozen persons or a
romantic meal for two. Even the most
experienced wine consumers will often
solicit the somolier's advice so don't
feel awkward asking. After all, no one
knows the cellar better than he.
Next comes dessert, and once again,
the selection is luscious and varied.
Grand Marnier souffle, cherries
jubilee, baked Alaska, assorted tortes,
and napolean are usually offered, and
should not be skipped. They will add
generously to your already taxed
waistline, but it will be worth it.
We should point out that if a Chop
House meal lacks anything, it is that

most satisfying course that clears the
palate between entre/salad, and
dessert - cheese. One would expect a
large offering of fromage, but that is,
sadly, not the case. The words "Bour-
sault, Souli, Roquefort, and Chevron"
will not be found anywhere on the
menu. There is no satisfactory
justification for this gross omission, but
perhaps if you complain on your next
visit, Les and Sam will correct the
situation.
Finally, delight your tastebuds and
pamper your stomach with an after-
dinner drink. The bar features all the
standards, as well as a number of
exotic liqueurs. We recommend a snif-
ter of cognac, and since you have
decided to spare no expense, ask for
Martell Cordon Bleu.

A final note: while much of the Chop
House's exorbitant price tag is justified
by the unparalled quality of the food, it
also reflects a degree of snobbery.
Taking someone to the London Chop
House for dinner is THE way to make a
big impression in Detroit. It is not for
everyone, and the regulars are willing
to pay the prices to keep it that way.
But just because your budget won't
permit the extravagance of a Chop
House meal doesn't mean you must
remain a total virgin. Across the street
is the "poor man's Chop House" - the
Caucus Club. While still extremely ex-
pensive, this sister restaurant (the
Grubers own both establishments) ser-
ves much of the same fare at 50 to 75 per
cent of the cost. You won't be quite as
chic, but your stomach probably won't
discern much of a difference, and your
pocketbook will.

detroit

(Continued from Page 5)
Detroit and the suburbs were at odds
and the latent racial hostilities that had
existed since the riot re-surfaced.
Whites repeated fears of, black students
who roamed the school corridors with
guns and knives, while blacks in Detroit
feared cross-burnings and white lynch
mobs.
The roots of the rebellion, however,
went deeper, all the way back to the
racial antagonism of July, 1967. At the
time of the, suburban-city busing order,
polls showed less than half of Detroiters
thought race relations had improved
any since the riot. In 1972, Michigan the
winner of the Democractic primary
election for President was George
Wallace, the most adamant busing
opponent. Most of Wallace's support
came from the metropolitan Detroit
area which was in an anti-busing
uproar.
In 1973, Detroit took another blow,
this time on the economic front.
S INCE THE TURN of the century
Detroit has been a one-industry
boom-town. The population rose from
613,000 in 1910 to over 2 million two
decades later. During World War II,
Detroit also absorbed an influx of labor,
mostly Southerners and blacks, to reap
the rewards of the automobile industry
which was transformed entirely into
war-effort production.
The price Detroit has .had to pay for
its early economic well-being was to
become a tovwn totally dependant on one
product-the American automobile.
That dependence was underscored in
1973 when the Arabian oil cartel
decided to boycott sales to this country,
sending the nation into a tailspin and
Detroit into the worst recession in its
memory.
Crime was up, employment was
down, and morale of the citizens was
even lower. Economically, politically,
and socially Detroit had hit rock
bottom.
It was in these straights that Detroit
entered the 1973 mayoral race that
pitted Coleman Young against police
commrissioner icJtholsin a cpnntg

which would decide the city's future.
That campaign, in a sense, provides a
convenient personification of the two
Detroits. On the one hand, there was
Nichols-called "Blackjack" by his
friends and worse by black
teens-stressed the need for a
clampdown on the thugs and hoodlums
who had overrun Detroit. Young
staunchly campaigned against the
institution of the police department,
which he characterized as a repressive,
reactionary enemy.
When the bitter campaign was over,
Young had won by a sliver and it
became his job 'to reform the police
department-the major campaign
issue-into his image.
When he took over city hall in
January of 1974, Young set the tone he
was to take for the police department

forced, police-community relations did
improve. STRESS was disbanded, and
police officers were dispatched to
neighborhood mini-stations. In 1973,
only 22 per cent of Detroit's black
residents thought the police were doing
a good job. Today, that figure has
doubled. Sixty-five per cent of Detroit
blacks are now satisfied with the police,
compared to a mere 38 per cent in 1973.
But Detroiters really are feeling
better about their city these days. The
Renaissance Center was a major
additon to the skyline, but the change in
Detroit has been primarily in. people's
attitudes. As one Detroit resident put it,
"Ren-Cen just gets more publicity
because it's the most dramatic, (but)
it's sort of been going on all along."
All along, Detroit has had more to
boast about than anyone gave it credit
for. Economically, the city is sound;

"I will build you a castle with a
tower so high,
it reaches the moon,
I'll gather melodies from birdies
that fly,
and compose you a tune,
give you lovin' warm as
momma's oven
and if that don 't do, I'// try
something new"
-Smokey Robinson,
"I'll Try Something New"
"Your love gives me such a
thrill,
but your love don't pay my
bills''
-Berry Gordy, "Money"
(sung by Barrett Strong)
ULTIMATELY, Motown doesn't
have a whole lot to show for itself;
that is THE Motown, before it moved
out of Detroit.
Like the best fruit of any branch of
pop culture, the sound of Motown was
divinely banal, even laughable, and ex-
cessively derivative of everything from
the blues and gospel to cocktail lounge
schmaltz. And disposable? This music
was made to be trashed; from the start
Motown founder Berry Gordy said he
was aiming for a "factory-type
operation." Listening to the songs
today, it is clear they were made to be
fun, but not out-of-control: Gordy made
music kids could dance the monkey or
the frug to,,as their parents grinned ap-
provingly and tapped their feet.
What came across in Motown's best
was not so much a unified sound as a
feeling. At its best, and the best of
Motown fills dozens of albums, its
sound held a fervent wish for romance,
security, and joyousness, in a nation
and an era that was trying to shuck

frivolity. A stony, "realist's" viewpoint
soon was to hang over pop art; but for a
while, Motown love conquered all. Like
television, the Beatles, paintings of
Brillo boxes and soupcans, Motown is
rubbish - but it is our rubbish.
Although by the late 1950s it had a
reputation as the birthplace of great
rhythm and blues musicians, Detroit
was nonetheless an unlikely place to
spawn the largest, according to
Motown's Esther Edwards, black-run
business in America.
There were virtually no music recor-
ding facilities in town, and in the late
50s Detroit had becomea repressive
city for blacks - it had the largest in-
flux of white southerners of all cities in
the post-war North.
Nonetheless, it happened.
The son of a Georgian plasterer,
Berry Gordy grew up in the slums of
Detroit. After quitting Detroit's Nor-
theastern High School in the eleventh
grade, he tried his hand as a
professional featherweight boxer. But
after a career record of 12 victories out
of 15 bouts, Gordy retired his gloves to
pursue songwriting.
While holding down short-term jobs
as the owner of a record store and an
assembly-line worker at a Ford fac-
tory, Gordy began submitting songs to
local artists and major publishing firms
and producing Detroit singers. In 1958-
59, he wrote three hits for a Detroiter
who was destined to become a pivotal
soul singer - Jackie Wilson. But still,
Gordy's career was hardly yet an event-
ful one. Soon, though, Gordy's fate was
to change, as was that of another local
songwriter named William "Smokey"
Robinson.
"THERE WAS a natural kind of ac-
JL tivity in Detroit - you know,
young people getting together, har-

F:%"* b' I
monizing in school and on the streets
where they lived," said Edwards,
seniorvice-president and corporate
secretary for Motown Industry.
"Smokey had heard of Berry Gordy,
and had wanted him to come audition
his group, the Miracles. So Berry did go
over, to Warren Court on the east side
where Smokey lived, and down in the
basement Smokey and his group
auditioned for Berry. He obviously
liked them."
Working out of his two-story brick
bungalow on West Grand Boulevard,
Gordy set up tiny recording facilities.
By early 1961 Gordy's first record com-
pany, Tamla records, had its first big
hit, the Miracles' "Shop Around."
A sweet, witty tune that was easy to
digest, "Shop Around" put Gordy
squarely in the financial black, by
reaching the Number Two position on
national pop charts. But while the
soaring, passionate voice of Smokey
Robinson eventually became an in-
tegral part of the "Sound of Young
America," (a slogan coined for Motown
around 1962) the first big star of
Motown was teenager Mary Wells.
"There was a time when you could
just walk in off the streets and
somebody in the offices would listen to
you right then," recalled Edwards.
"Mary Wells just walked in, she was
a little girl, 16, and had a song she had
written that she wanted Berry to have
one of our artists do. So Berry said,
'Okay, how does it go?' She sat at the
piano stool with him - it was a song
called 'Bye-bye Baby' - and she star-.
ted singing. She said, 'I can't sing, I
can't sing,' but he said, 'Oh, yes, you
can.' So she started singing 'Bye-bye
Baby,' and he started picking it out on
the piano, And sure enough, he made
that record with her and immediately it
was the Number One record."
Surviving at first on a staple diet of
Robinson and Gordy songs, Gordy's of-
fices and studios soon filled six houses
on one side of West Grand Boulevard.
By 1962, both the Gordy and Motown
recording labels had been created, and
a discernable sound began to emerge.
The early years of the 1960s were
truly nauseating times for pop music.
I Kind-hearted corporate moguls were
positive they could do "the kids" - and
themselves - a favor by snatching pop
music from the inefficient hands of
small businesses and ambitious young
adults. With their own interests in
mind, they aimed to sate the growing
youth market with the Bobby Rydells,
Frankie Avalons, and Leslie Gores.
And, for a while, it worked.
T HE SONGS from Motown's studios
have been dismissed asmia

tripe. This
one which
examine t
Detroit. It
interested
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work or C
"Fingert
sound of
from Wes
pered by
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Diana Ro:
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Nor was i
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sales wer
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With
Cavanaul
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Detroit, i
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that a f
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Detroit, 1
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Motown
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Lamont
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Riding 1
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'Crime was up, employment was
down, and morale of the citizens was
even lower. Economically, politically,
and socially Detroit had hit rock
bottom.

4

when he told the city's undesirables
they were unwanted-"I don't care if
you are black or white, if you wear
super fly suits or blue uniforms with
silver badges, hit the road !" he said.
He began an affirmative action policy
that promoted blacks and women in the
police department over their white
male partners. He began to enforce a
previously ignored residency policy
that required police and other city
employees to live inside the city
limits.And he appointed the city's first
black police chief, William Hart.
But after the smoke had cleared,
crime did start to subside in the city.
And athoupwh maivbe the effort was

Detroit has the highest salaried city
employees, including police, of any of
the major cities. Teachers' salaries are
the sixth highest of any city according
to a recent poll, and the auto plants and
the UAW have given the city a solid
middle-class of blacks and whites.
Detroit has a robust local economy
now, and median incomes are among
the highest in the country.
Detroit's thriving economy may be.
temporary and the next recession or
slowdown in the auto industry could
send the city's cash flow plummeting.
But for now, - at least, Detroit has
money, people have jobs, and have

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