Toast of the Town … Oh what a night it was for old-school Hamtramck friends


By Charles Sercombe
“A gathering of the tribes.”
That’s how one attendee, Paul Zimmerman, phrased it on Facebook about last Saturday’s fundraiser for Mike Karwowski.
A number of those who were at New Dodge Lounge on Saturday had a similar reaction: it was a throwback to the 1980s, when Hamtramck’s nightlife was hopping.
And back in the day, in the center of all that frenzy, was Lili’s 21 Club on Jacob St.
From the late 1970s through the 1990s, the club hosted local and travelling bands – mostly of the punk, new wave and indie rock variety.
Holding court there was one Lili Karwowski, known for her trademark leopard printed clothing and generous offerings of drinks – especially if she knew a couple were on a date.
One wonders how many marriages and babies were generated by her bar?
Also there helping her were sons, Art, Alan, Chris and Mike, who all manned the bar at different times of the day.
As mentioned in last week’s issue, time passes by, and Lili is no longer with us. The family sold the bar several years ago, and it’s been renamed The Painted Lady. You can still hear local bands there.
Moving up to today, some bad news: younger brother Mike Karwowski has been undergoing treatment for stage 4 esophageal cancer, which has spread to his lymphatic system and liver.
Saturday was a fundraiser for him at New Dodge Lounge, and by the looks of the turnout, and the ongoing online fundraiser, that fundraiser did quite well.
(You can still donate to the GoFundMe site, type in Mikeypalooza, or you can send a check to: Michael Karwowski PO box 183124 Shelby Township, Michigan 48318-3124.)
He’ll need every penny and more. As we mentioned last week, this country’s health care system is cruel and costly.
Mike and his brothers (except Chris) were all there at New Dodge, and Mike looks well. We are happy to report that Mike is responding well to his treatment.
To say it was packed is an understatement. It was shoulder-to-shoulder, sweaty, and with plenty of good vibes.
For those of a certain age, you couldn’t walk more than a couple of feet without bumping into someone you haven’t seen in, oh, 30-40 years. It all reminded us how much fun we had in our younger years.
On Monday, a Lili’s regular named Tony, who preferred we not identify his last name (but who goes by the nickname “Fecker”) came by The Review office, and was still walking on air from Saturday’s get-together.
“The love train stopped in Hamtramck,” that night, he said. “It was a reunion party. … I’m still smiling.”
We can’t remember who all we ran into, but former Hamtramck City Councilmember (and owner of the Polish Sea League on Brombach) Joe Karpinski stuck out.
He was joined by former City Councilmember Mike Witkowski, and they both reminded Toast of the time that Joe dumped a waste basket over a certain fellow councilmember’s head.
That was during a closed meeting, so no member of the public witnessed it — but word did spread fast.
It was a reminder of more tumultuous times in city council meetings back in the 1990s.
As the saying goes, time heals all wounds, and both Joe and the unnamed councilmember (who later became mayor of Hamtramck) have patched things up. They get together whenever the former mayor, who now lives in New York City, comes to town.
Let that be a lesson for all longtime time Hamtramckans: Once you come under the spell of the city, you are forever a comrade in arms, no matter what happened in the past.

When it comes to good food and great times, Hamtramck has plenty to offer. Know of an event or something of interest coming up for folks to do? If so, drop us an email at
Posted Feb. 10, 2023

One Response to Toast of the Town … Oh what a night it was for old-school Hamtramck friends

  1. christine chernik

    June 29, 2023 at 12:55 am

    any one know where carol chernik Hamtramck High 1959 is half sister and may not realize of her half sibling christine chernik I hope this is ok to ask

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