Sunday in the hood. Where’d everybody go?

It was a strange morning in the hood. It was as if a neutron bomb had gone off overnight. All the buildings were still there, but the streets were eerily empty. It makes for great riding, of course, and as Toby Barlow points out in the first part of Palladium Boots’  “Detroit Lives” documentary, it makes you feel like this town is mine. Maybe it was the weather. It ran backwards from yesterday – started off poor, and then the sun came out.

With the Geomaster in tow, the Legal Eagle and I decided to take a spin closer to the river than we usually follow. There were also a couple of things I wanted to show the Geomaster. Like our nearest powerplant, the Detroit Edison jumbotron over by Bayview Yacht club.

There were nine chimneys here when I grew up – the ‘seven sisters and their mom and dad’

There are plenty of boat storage facilities nearby. One of them was the resting place for an O’Day day sailer. My uncle had one of these; and a Lightning; they’re the boats I learned to sail on.  This one needs a little TLC or TDH love.

Please note attentive (and barking) guard dog under the sign

The boat was on Freud street. (Pronounced “Frood” in the hood, by the way).

We also wanted the Geomaster to see the Mayor of Detroit’s residence – Manoogian Mansion, which our imprisoned former mayor KK used for his party party weekends.  On the way there, we passed an “every man’s home is his castle castle” for sale.  It needs work.

Everything but the moat

What’s cool about the place is that it backs up onto a canal, so you can tie up the Royal Barge in the back yard.

Our current Mayor, Dave Bing, hasn’t yet taken occupancy of the mayoral digs. Some people were over tidying up the manor.  It’s a beautiful residence – and its back yard is right on the Detroit River.

Manoogian Mansion. Detroit has stately manors, too

The Geomaster has never ridden along the river. Nor has he seen the famous collapsed upon itself former water tank over a building on Iron Street.  This little structure looked about to fall over for years, and then, fortuitously, gave up and just settled down into a tidy little pile of debris.

The Very Considerate Collapsed Water Tower – my new children’s novel

But as I said, the weird thing is that everything looked deserted.  Here’s the Riverwalk, waiting for pedestrians and cyclists.

Yoo hoo! Anyone home?

We did have a barge to keep us company for a little while.

There’s a barge in the shadows. If you look closely, you’ll see it

We had been riding into a headwind for a while, which is as good an excuse as any to have a couple of Coney Dogs, so we decamped to the Temple of Tube Steaks, the one and only Lafayette Coney Island for brunch.  I don’t need to post a photo of the place. It’s an icon, after all. Our Eiffel Tower, Washington Monument, Gateway Arch, Brandenburg Gate, and Big Ben rolled into one. That said, I don’t think many of you have seen the accommodations at the LCI. They’re down a narrow staircase, and, very, very clean.

Clean ‘n Green

Up at street level, you can see how few people (actually, no people) were around. Some abandoned furniture was available to passersby, had there been any.

This appears to not have been Scotchgarded(r) before use

Off we went towards Mexican Village. Crossing over the train tracks behind the Michigan Central Ruin Porn Station, we caught a train coming out of, and another going into the train tunnel that passes under the Detroit River. (Bet you didn’t know we had one of those, did you?) According to an article found and read by the Legal Eagle, the tunnel “leaks”.

Here’s a train loaded with hazardous chemicals, headed south into Canada.

We get Canadian Bacon, they get chemicals

I saw a nicely decorated building across the street from the Matrix Theatre – there were no identifying signs on its exterior, so I can’t tell you what it’s for, but the lily sculpture was quite entrancing.

3D Beauty

Finally, a sad mural cheek by jowl with the Michigan Central Building. Perhaps the person being honored here was in an accident in the nearby underpass.

Requiescat in pace, Yvette

Don’t mean to end on a down note.  We had a nice ride down Michigan and through Lafayette Park on the way home, nudged by a wind blowing at our back. Oh, and the guys driving the Hazmat Fire Truck from the Station at Mt. Elliot and Lafayette beeped the horn and waved at us.

Dally in the Alley Day in the D

I had a really nice ride on Saturday, and made it back before the rains hit.  Or should that be I had really nice ride on Saturday because I made it back before the rains hit? Or both? Both it is. The ride through my old stomping grounds (the East Side) was TDH as usual.  I did discover this building, which I haven’t seen before. From what I can tell, the letters that used to be there spelled out F. M. Sibley Lumber Co. Sure enough, it’s got an interesting history.

I think that sign advertised an event on Belle Isle

Sibley’s was Detroit’s second largest lumber company. (This was its office building.)  The interesting bit is that Mr. Sibley, along with a certain Mr. Freuhauf, is credited with inventing the semi trailer. Nifty, eh? The building itself is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Sad that it sits empty – I’m a sucker for Corinthian columns.

Michigan State was playing Florida Atlantic University (?) at Ford Field downtown, and the Sparty Faithful were out in droves. A fellow was playing alto sax to serenade the crowd. While he stuck to improvisations over the Michigan State fight song, I gave him a dollar, and was tempted to ask him to play “Hail to the Victors”. We agreed that a dollar wasn’t worth the potential injury from wrathful Spartanites.

This guy can really play. That jacket color’s not an accident

The bars around the area were hopping. (Duh). On the other side of Ford Field (actually across the Fisher Freeway between Clifford and Park), I rode by a couple of places I had not visited before.  One featured a sort of urban bowling alley; a peculiar combination of 10 pins, bocce,  and petanque.  I don’t know the rules. Or what you strike the pins with.

Maybe you have to bounce the ball onto the pin platform

Another bar around the corner had a name that made me scratch my head at first. Given the retro-ish nature of the logo, the letters AFB could’ve stood for many things: American Federation of Barbers, Alert Firefighter Building, Accidental Federal Bureaucrats. I could go on. My inventions aside, the real name is superb.

Everything you need, all in one place

The truth, as they say, shall set you free. Or in this case, make you laugh, I hope. Just around the corner (on the bar’s window) the acronym’s revealed:

Hooray! Another effin bar!

The Comet Bar looks as if it’s been around for a while. I don’t know how long this decorative yard art has been uplifting the back area, but it looks suspiciously like Tina Fey imitating Sarah Palin to me.

Shame about the stumpy feet

A couple of weeks ago, I noted that Slows to Go was coming soon. Phil Cooley, Detroit’s one man renaissance machine, is the guy behind Slows. The people behind Phil were hard at work inside the soon-to-be take out and catering headquarters.  I think the husband and wife I met were Phil’s parents. They’re just delightful, parents-of-Phil or not, and graciously showed me the uncompleted space. Here’s where the (giant) kitchen will be:

Smells like sawdust: Will soon smell like dinner

I for one, can’t wait. Aside from the new Slows, Midtown appears to be gathering some development momentum (knock on wood) in general. Toronto’s Globe and Mail had a very complimentary article about Detroit in Saturday’s edition – it concentrated primarily on the Midtown area, and the writer was/is spot on with his recommendations. (Even though he never mentioned this invaluable guide to our fair burg. Boo hoo hoo) I concur fully with his pick of the Avalon Bakery’s Sea Salt Chocolate Chip cookies.

The Saturday after Labor Day is the traditional date for Detroit’s own oddball urban street fair, the Dally in Alley.  Way back at the head of this post, I mentioned that I got home before it started raining. I’m sorry to say that it rained all afternoon and evening, but while I was Dallying, things were in full swing.

There was a band playing on the Forest (street) stage.

I believe Tune and Niche were playing while I was there

Moms against War were parading to the sound of a muffled drum:

What’s a street fair without a silent protest and Polish sausage?

And, in an interesting coincidence, Theatre Bizarre was putting on a show. (Coincidence, because I rode by their, er, headquarters, last weekend, over near the ex State Fairgrounds).  There was a very long line to see the show. I also fell off my bike.

I didn’t see any sign of  Larva Girl, I’m sad to say

I did get to meet one of Detroit’s great poster designers, Carl Lundgren.

Following an aggressively caloric ganache-stuffed brownie at the Avalon, I sped home, abetted by a SSE wind and a strong desire to get back under cover before the rain hit.  Along the way, I was happy to see that the Helen Newberry house for Nurses (across the street from the DMC on John R.) is being rehabbed into what will be, I believe, apartments. It’s a lovely building, and will add to rebuilding Midtown.

Nice old building being reborn. Hooray!

The Hood was alive this early afternoon in September. It’s a nice thing to see.


Labor Day weekend in the hood.

Ah, the prospect of a long weekend. Plenty of time for exploring and cardio stretching. But the weather didn’t fully cooperate.

Saturday was just plain too windy. You’ve heard of the Beaufort Scale, no doubt, but since that is based largely on observed conditions at sea, I’ve made my own, based on observed conditions around my house. Saturday was too gusty for an enjoyable ride. I rate it a B.O.T.P.F on the misterarthur scale of wind velocity. (B.O.T.P.F. = Blowing Over The Patio Furniture). My neighbor’s bench and etagere had already blown over when I got up. So I skipped a tour on Saturday.

Sunday was glorious. Our stated goal was to visit the abandoned Dorais Velodrome at Mound Road and Outer Drive. That said, there were plenty of unplanned delights en route. You can follow our passage here: (Map courtesy of the Legal Eagle, official TDH cartographer).

I got a hair cut on Friday, but, alas, it wasn’t here: Someone’s retail dreams shuttered and shattered.

Nails? Hair? East Side Madame de la Farge?

The next place I photographed seemed as likely to cause an accident as cure one.

Get injured by falling mortar, get cured inside?

Harrell’s could be many things. Furniture shop. Interior Design Firm. One of those people who figure out your personal color scheme. Wall-painting service. Set Design. I guess part of its charm is its mystery. It turns out that Harrell’s is a re-upholstery shop. Looks like color is one of their specialities.

I’m not sure how you reupholster a coffee table

Across the street and down a bit is the mighty Davezilla’s self-proclaimed favorite store sign.  I can see why he likes it. When you got roaches, the one thing you want is someone to get rid of them, stat! This place makes its expertise immediately known.

Wonder if they can do anything about Detroit’s recent plague of bedbugs?

The first mystery entry of the day appeared shortly thereafter.  Nice new paint, and the store’s purpose is abundantly clear. Pet Supplies. With an accent on dogs. I get that. I’m a little nervous, however, about the offering between “accessories” and “houses”. Look closely at the photo:

I’ll take an ulna, a kidney, and a pair of lungs

There has to be a good, legal reason they’re advertising the fact that they sell body parts. My question is, whose body? Which parts?

Got meat? Need a case? Here’s the place for you. Cases galore, both new and used.  It’s too bad it’s not closer to Shopping Cart World.

The perfect birthday gift: A used meat case

The Legal Eagle, as you well know, is a fan of Fire Stations. As the front door was open, we decided to stop in and say hi to the fire fighters from Engine 46, who were first responders to the unfortunate fire at the historic Eastown Theatre (which I have photographed pre-fire in an earlier post).

Engine 46 of the Engine 46 Station

The firefighters were a gracious, gregarious bunch, happy to invite us in for a cup of coffee.  They were also pleased to show off their self-made recreation area/garden, complete with pond & ice machine. (The two aren’t connected). Almost every fire station has a nickname. The “Double Deuces”. The “Lords of Livernois”. The “River Rats”. Engine 46 is no exception. Their nickname’s taken from decorative water feature mentioned above.

I am a friend of the pond with the cigar-smoking fish

Should you be interested, Engine 46 has t-shirts and patches for sale. I encourage you to support the station by getting one, or both, for yourself. They are truly nice guys.

Getting closer to our destination, we rode by an auto repair shop that may well be a superior fix-it place. Or not. But they will scane your auto.

I read a book called Flowers for Enginon in Middle School

This week’s recycler award goes to this fence builder on Mound Road. He has repurposed a tarp and a billboard into a delightful patio surround.

I hope this isn’t the future

The Dorais Velodrome was abandoned some time in the 1980s. We (the Detroit Metro Area) have a new velodrome,  but it’s way out in the burbs. The Detroit Velodrome, neglected for 30 years, is showing its age. But it could be worse. Detroit’s own “Mower Gang” has at least chopped the grass down in the area, so you can approach it on your bike. Here it is.

Ceci n’est pas le velodrome d’hiver

Even if you’ve ever seen a track race on television, you’re likely to be quite surprised at how steep the banking is in the flesh, as it were. (It reminded me of turn one at Daytona). Perhaps this will give you a clearer idea:

Take it to the bank

We took a lap, though our ferocious speed was limited by the cracks and potholes in the surface.  Here’s a shot I took riding on the flatter bits.

The pavement did not inspire the Santana song “Smooth”

The parade of misspelled retail establishments started up again once we hit 8 Mile Road. (There aren’t many photo ops on Mound, I’m sad to say).  Here’s a car parts joint.

Clearly suffering from an ED issue. Viva Viagris

I tried to take photos on the Detroit side of 8 Mile, but was drawn to this spot (which, technically, isn’t Detroit. I hope you’ll forgive me). This could be a sister company to the Anointed Hands Salon on the East Side, but I could be wrong. Unfortunately, the shadow across the window kept me from being able to get a clear shot of its slogan/promise.

I’ll spell it out for you: “Where Dance is in God’s Hands”

While I have photographed a number of strip – er – Gentlemen’s clubs on my tours, 8 Mile is the reputed king o’ the strip clubs street in Detroit. I’d have to say, given the front deck of the Colosseum, the rep is right.  Behold the mighty entry way to the splendors of Roman Sybarites, D – style.

Veni, Vidi, I was stunned

Now that’s a Gentlemen’s Club. Upon closer inspection, it seems clear that the owners of the Colosseum care not a whit for historic accuracy. The Colosseum (the real one) was Roman, no? And even though there was that Marc Antony/Cleopatra thing happening, the reign of the Pharaohs had nothing to do with Caesar, et. al., did it? So then why were these Egyptian maidens decorating the facade of a romanesque building? I don’t know.

That column looks Egyptian to me

Around back, we espied more day-to-day splendor, like these ( lap dance?) chairs being chastised for their impertinence.

Have a seat, make it rain

Best of all were the signs in the parking lot. The Colosseum owners have installed devices to slow vehicular traffic. In every case I have ever seen, they’re called “speed bumps”. Not at the Colosseum. Perhaps they refer more precisely to the services you can look forward to within its walls of temptation. Your guess is as good as mine.

Your headquarters for Speed Humps

Anyone caring to invest in Detroit’s future should know there’s a building for sale on 8 Mile. Use it for a business, or for your new home. Evidently, it’s zoned, (but not spelled) for both.

I also dig the random capitalization

Over on Gratiot, an insurance firm seemed to be preternaturally optimistic.  What happens to you or your car, though you may think is bad news, could well be cause for rejoicing.

Everything’s dandy

The other side of the sign, while carefully painted, is yet another example of professional-painter-without-a-dictionary. 6 letters, and two of them are artfully transposed.

Qiute the misspelling. And you can qoute me on that

I don’t know why this street name made me laugh. It isn’t intrinsically funny. But it seemed to fit with the neighborhood.

We went down Pfent

50 cent is a famous fellow. His little brother may be the owner of the now-defunct establishment we spotted below. However, if you’re being technical about it, the decimal point intimates that this is a rare 1/4 cent and up store.

Gods Seven, misterarthur Zero

The weather was more like fall than Labor Day, so an ice cream cone wasn’t something I was hankering for. Should you be in the mood for one, you could stop by here:

Careful! That ice cream’s driping on me

This week’s “Stump the misterarthur winner” is a beauty supply store.  I leave it to you to decipher what, exactly, you get for your $5.99 or $7.99. Nor do I have any sense of whether those are good prices or not. You decide. And decipher.

I prefer chicken Teriyaki, myself

There was more to see, of course. A couple of splendid murals; one of Captain Metro Man knocking out his competition, AT&T, Verizon, Nextel, and T-Mobile.

Nextel’s in the trash heap!

Another, a luxurious and enticing display of beauty products.

Those eyes follow you as you move around

Finally, a store with a very uninhibited selection in stock. Everything from Toys to Jewelry to Coach Purses, no less, to Nacho’s. {sic}

I wonder if Slush is only available in the winter.

On Monday, Labor Day, we attempted to have a family tour. First we had to pump up the Legal Eagle’s brother’s tires. Then the Legal Eagle’s sister-in-law had a brake pad rubbing on the rim issue. (This was within .2 miles of departure.) Once under way, all seemed to be going well.  The Geomaster was having fun, as you can see. (That’s the Legal Eaglet behind him.)

The Geomaster, racing up Grand Blvd.

Then things kind of fell apart. The Geomaster picked up a shard of glass. I patched the hole, but tore another one in the tube putting the tire back on the rim. Then the pump didn’t work. So we rode the wheel over to a gas station on Mack and pumped it up. By the time we got to the ex-Pfeiffer brewery, it was clear the fix wouldn’t hold. While the rest of the party continued on, Geomaster and I walked/rode down Beaufait, where we were lucky enough to spot this altered signage. (I can’t believe it’s accidental)

What the eff do you want polished, anyway?

The Geomaster and I made it (mostly on foot) to the Tim Horton’s on Grand Blvd. His rear tire was officially kaput.

Well, at least we enjoyed a donut

Mademoiselle misterarthur was gracious enough to pick up the Geomaster while I continued home on my bike.  Halfway back, I saw the Legal Eagle and Eaglet by the side of the road. Poor little Eaglet had run over a safety pin, and the Legal Eagle’s pump was totally kaput, too. Fortunately, L.E. (bro) and L.E. (S.I-L) continued on and came back to pick them up.

Ah, well. Sunday made up for it all. I hope you had a great weekend, too.

Short post: Own your own school + Lay lady (?) Lay.

The weather last weekend was just delightful. Just gorgeous. Perfect for enjoying a spin ’round the East Side.

As you may know, Detroit is busily trying to shrink itself – the city’s too big for the population that lives here. The disastrous Detroit Public School system has issues as well. They’re trying to “right size” it, by closing more schools, adding to the abandoned ones you may have seen already on the blog.  Here’s a newly-closed one for sale or rent. It looks well built.

Be your own school marm – Kercheval and Beniteau

I began to notice there were a number of hyper local festivals going on. One on Kercheval near Coplin.  Given the fact that it was put up next to a liquor store, I couldn’t figure out what the occasion was.

We like our cars in primer here

A couple of minutes later, I passed some members of the Martin Luther King Marching Band waiting for a bus on Lafayette. When they told me they had just finished a performance it dawned on me: Saturday was the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.  (Yes, I know all about Glenn Beck’s tea-partyrama. Sigh).

The flugelhorn player’s sitting on the drummer’s drum

Moments later, I came upon the Episcopal Church of Grosse Pointe’s annual watercress and cucumber sandwich festival. Just kidding. There was a party in front of the Church of the Open Door. Line dancing to secular music. Kids having fun. Me taking photos.

Outdoor dance fest

I have decided that my major dance impediment is a congenital inability to have my hips move independently from my thorax. Hence I always look like the most uptight guy in the room. I am not, unfortunately, the man with the four-way hips.

I am somewhat of an aficionado of “ghost signs” – elderly wall paintings of businesses or enterprises long since gone under. Here’s one for the former anchor of Detroit’s so-called “China Town”, Chung’s.

The “TE” could stand for TEmple, TEnnyson, or TErrace; I’m not sure which is correct

On a happier note, over on Cass and Alexandrine, Slows is (w00t!) opening up a Slow’s to go. I can’t wait for opening day.

Soon, slowly, slowly

On the way back, I chose to (egad!) ride the wrong way down one-way Second – and was rewarded for my illegal activity by the sight of this street art. I can’t decide: Man or Woman? I lean toward man – like a painted version of the emasculated Ken Doll.

Lady, (?) I’ve got a window where my heart is

Here’s a blast from our printed past: “Michigan’s Fastest Growing Weekly” The Michigan Chronicle, an African American-centric newspaper, which you can now read online.

I don’t know if the headquarters are still here or not

Then it was over to Belle Isle for the “Hear Bell Isle” event. The link will send you to Handmade Detroit – it was a fundraiser (donations accepted) for the Friends of Belle Isle.  I made it by in time to hear Maunder Minimum, and ran into Phil Laurie – he of the Detroit Lives blog, and tireless Detroit Promoter. I was hoping to see the hyper talented Angela Duncan, who claimed (via Facebook) that she would be in attendance, but no such luck.  Here, on stage, Maunder Minimum.

Scorching Telecaster solo

Finally, some good news for those who live near Indian Village. The ladder 14 fire station is about to re-open. They’re moving the Medic 12 vehicle from Jefferson and Lycaste, probably because the residential density along Kercheval is much higher.

Nice new doors.

Lovely day in the hood. Not a cloud in the sky, and there was only a gentle zephyr helping to speed me home.

Frozey day in the Hood – Meet the Hendersons

Thursday, it was 80 degrees fahrenheit. Saturday, we had flurries. Sunday was 41 degrees and slightly windy. And, at least in the morning, overcast. Not the most pleasant of aspects for cycling. Ah well. I don’t plan any of these rides with a theme in mind – but this week, it was coincidentally filled with Hendersons or Henderson-related items.

The sights soon warmed me up. Like this STF (See Through Factory – see earlier post).  If you look closely under the awning, you’ll see that the owners have painted “No Copper” on the building.  Copper on abandoned buildings in Motown has a shelf life roughly equal to the time it takes for someone to next me on Chatroulette.

Metal Thieves, hie thee to another landhold

On the other side of the street sits a lonely pink building. This is not the pink building in which The Band recorded its famous album, “Music from Big Pink”.

Vigilance uninterrupted

This little structure was a guard house, built to keep bad guys away from the valuable contents once kept fenced and razor wired securely within a giant lot. There’s very little left to guard these days, I’m afraid, unless you’re looking for bits of mica or quartz.

Well, at least the grass is growing

A bit further along, I ran across a boarded-up building, painted in nice, bright colors.  My super fantastic camera misfired, and so I only have one shot of the building. Since you can’t see much of it, I should point out that it is boarded up, locked, barred, and fenced.  Just in case you think it’s not, (and I can’t imagine why that might be) the owners have underscored the obvious by painting its status multiple times on its side. (By the way, there’s some monster graffiti on the side. I’ll snap a photo next time I go back.)

IT’S NOT OCCUPIED. GET IT?

My grandparents lived on Bewick, not far from Mack Avenue. On the corner of Hurlbut and Mack stands what is probably a reasonably typical gas station from the 1920′s. I imagine my grandfather stopped in here more than once. The Legal Eagle said he used to drive Studebakers. I think. I do remember in his last years he drove a light metallic blue Plymouth Valiant 4 door, sometimes with the parking brake on.

Check the oil for you, Dr. Henderson?

There’s a nice piece of landscaping that’s just been redone in what I had always called “Harmonie Park”. But this parklet is named “Paradise Valley”, for the historically African-American cultural center of Detroit. Here’s a link to a more thorough history of the locale. (BTW, the link mispronounces Gratiot. It’s not “Gray-sha”, people, it’s Gra-shut. So there.)

Nice new park

I’ve had a link to Wheelhouse Detroit on my blog for a while. Here’s what it looks like from the outside.  Should you ever feel the urge to take a two-wheeled spin around downtown Detroit, and need the bicycle to do it, you can rent one from them. They also sell bikes and parts, lead tours around town, and they’re very very nice. Stop by and see them sometime.

You can’t rent the bike on the left, it’s mine

I wrote last week about my great-grandfather’s business, Detroit River Iron Works. Here’s a shot of the building (it’s on Atwater near Jos. Campau) that I wanted to capture before it collapses or is knocked down.

Notice the Arthur Henderson & Sons – my first two names are Arthur Henderson

Finally, I took a brief stop at Erma Henderson (no relation that I’m aware of) Park – which is on Jefferson across from Indian Village. In the middle of the park is an Armillary Sphere that features the signs of the Zodiac.  Just in time for Taurus, here’s the one on the Armillary Sphere. (Actually, Taurus starts on the 20th of April and, in case you’re interested, The Sanskrit name of Taurus in Hindu Astrology is Vṛṣabha.)

I’m a Taurus, by the way

Here’s hoping for warmer weather, calm winds, and a fully functioning camera for next week.


Spring, Sprang, Sprocket.

Spring brings out the optimist in all of us, right? With that in mind, I set out on today’s Tour De Hood, looking for the best in all I rode by. (That’s the Sprocket to which this blog post refers.)

Herewith, some of the treats that  I took as signs of Detroit’s revivification. (By the way, the Detroit Free Press had a lengthy article detailing big plans for returning Detroit to its rightful spot as the Paris of the Midwest.)

I noticed a number of new tags on various buildings, abutments, and other objects. This wall, for example, was tag-free last year.

Hi-ho, Paid AAwaaaaaay. (Thanks to Kae V for the deciphering)

“Away” made a return visit (though in a much less artistic form) next to his or her new pals, EP & KBT.

Don’t know if “Away” means “Go Away” or not.

Part of what used to be/is still a residential neighborhood seems to have rezoned itself as a truck stop. Last year there was only one truck here. The family’s growing.

No homes on the block = more space for your semi

I also cycled by a formerly-standing abandoned house. It has dedicated itself to a new Detroit by ceasing to be.

All-new destruction for 2010

For those of you familiar with my end-of 2009 post, I discovered a 23-hour tire(s) repair shop on Kercheval. The owner has spruced up the storefront by painting it a lovely shade of purple. (The sign itself could still use some fixing, if you ask me.)

Perhaps Easter Sunday is included in the hours it’s closed

The following photo may not look like “new” to the casual viewer, but last year, it didn’t have a roof, so we’re moving forward with purpose and vigor.

Still looking for tenants

New to me, but not to Detroit, a coaling (?) stop on the Grand Trunk Railroad. (Information, courtesy the Legal Eagle).

Here’s the abutment:

The coal started here

There’s a little bit left of the track that marked the coaling station itself. There’s nearly a foot left of old track.

Former rail line: Not part of America’s new high-speed rail project

For those of you looking to increase your carbon footprint, there are chunks of the actual carboniferous object itself for your personal collection:

What naughty children used to get for Christmas

The Dequindre cut has a number of actual, new new features for 2010. First, it now extends all the way to Atwater Street – which is nice. It’s currently “blocked” by orange-and-white barrels and some kind of plastic netting, but no one appears to be letting that slow them down. There are also some new examples of street art over which to marvel. One, a more traditional language-based style:

The Dequindre Codex?

The other is of the figurative variety.  I don’t know if this is a “curated” example, or some interloper’s work.

Ferngully meets Detroit Gully

There’s a wall standing alone in a field off of Grand River.  I could’ve ridden past many places today; but coincidentally, (it being Easter Sunday), I happened upon this mural.It has been newly-decorated with a bunch of bunnies. Awww.

Suspicious-looking “bunny” on the right, no?

The Michigan Central Station is one of Detroit’s most iconic ruins. There seems to be some noise about turning it into something – I have no idea what – but I think my Tour De Hood Chronicles wouldn’t be complete without tossing in a photo of one set of its broken windows. (That makes this photo new to the Tour De Hood archives:)

Maybe someone recycled that glass

In a plea for government help, someone has painted the President’s name on the curb outside the razor wire. (I haven’t heard whether it’s had its intended effect or not).

Dear Mr. President: Help!

A venerable pawn shop has given up the ghost. (The license is available). So if you’re looking for a rifle or diamonds to pawn, you may have to search elsewhere.

Four score and six years ago, our forefathers brought forth on this continent a new pawn shop. Now it’s no more

Directly across the street, I spotted a mural “advertising” Corktown, an historically Irish neighborhood. Nothing about the mural strikes me as redolent of Eire, but it could be because I’m ignorant of Celctic traditions. Or something. Judge for yourself.

Forward, diverse robots!

One thing about Detroit businesses, when they fail, they fail. Here, a formerly going concern of some kind that is definitively done. Put a fork in it.

I’m sorry, too

Anyway, this being Easter and all, perhaps a benevolent higher being will resurrect the establishment to the wonder and delight of all. Here’s hoping.

Thanks to The Legal Eagle for the History Lesson, and for Spencer’s accompaniment. Yo! Spencer! 28 miles!

A little poem to celebrate the arrival of spring:

“when faces called flowers float out of the groundand breathing is wishing and wishing is having-

but keeping is downward and doubting and never

-it’s april (yes,april;my darling)it’s spring!

ee cummings.

Mondegreen, Overly zealous security guards, Chix on Dix – 2009 Tour De Hood Grand Finale

This post is way overdue. The legal eagle was threatening to arrest me under some abstruse infraction of the law if I didn’t write something, so here goes: the description of 2009′s last official Tour De Hood ride. The ride actually took place back in November. You can follow the route by clicking here.

We started off with a quick visit to misterarthur’s birthplace:

Birthplace of misterarthur

No, I wasn’t born in a field. That’s the former site of Detroit’s East Side General Hospital.  In lieu of a memorial to my birth, there’s an ice cream truck parked where I took my first breaths.

I had an uncle named Bob. (So this isn’t my uncle’s ice cream truck)

Directly across the street from the used-to-be-a-hospital site is an abandoned Masonic lodge. At least that’s what I think it is. No one ever asked me to be a Mason, so I can’t be sure.

Secret Handshake Headquarters

Enough of old memories.

The legal eagle and I have covered most of Detroit’s main thoroughfares this summer, but hadn’t officially ridden the Southeasternmost part of Detroit.  There are plenty of lovely sights to behold.

One is Ste. Anne’s Church.  Ste Anne’s is the second oldest operating parish in the United States. Wow! (It’s proper name is Ste. Anne De Detroit, after the patron Saint of France.) It’s a beautiful church, but one of its features leaves me a little puzzled.  Here’s the rose window. Anyone care to speculate on why it features a Star of David?

Maybe they put up a Kvetch at Christmas

There’s a beautiful though abandoned fire station right next to the Church. I don’t know who owns it now. The inside looks to be in pretty good shape.

Look closely. It was opened in 1897

The station has lovely brickwork detailing. See?

Public Building, built like they should be

I simply cannot think of one time in my adult life when I was happy to pay for parking; hence I was bemused by this cheerfully-named place to leave your car when you hand over cash:

If you don’t pay, you won’t be happy

The advertising business has been hit hard in Detroit, what with the troubles of our domestic automakers. The easy fix for companies in trouble is to blame their marketing firms.  I worry that in a couple of years, all the big names will be more like the shop below than the agencies glorified on “Mad Men”.

Advertising and Distributing: Take your pick

A bit further south, we came upon a city-owned property that is a Jimi Hendrix Mondegreen.  (A Mondegreen is a misheard/misinterpreted lyric to a piece of music, like “The Girl with Colitis Goes By” instead of “The Girl with Kaleidescope Eyes”).  Here’s what I mean: ‘Scuse me, while I Mistersky:

Look closely, you can see former Mayor Dennis Archer’s name under that tape

One of our main reasons for this trip route was to get a look at Zug Island, a real beauty of an industrial eyesore.  Zug Island is connected to the mainland by a railroad bridge. There are signs all over the place saying not to enter, and, more specifically, to NOT TRESPASS OR YOU WILL BE PROSECUTED TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW.

Zug Island Road (Private Road)

Curiously, the warning sign is only on one end of the street. We had entered at the other end. A sign there warned against taking photographs of Zug Island proper, but I thought that meant you couldn’t take pictures on Zug Island, not of Zug Island.  I was wrong. After popping a couple of snaps of a nondescript pile of coal and a smokestack, we rode away, only to be chased down by a US Steel Security Guard, who demanded that I erase any photos I had taken of the industrial complex. “Why can’t I take pictures?” I asked.  “Homeland Security,” he answered. Huh? Why a terrorist would target a heap of taconite and blight is beyond my ken.  Shortly after passing this neglected caution sign,

Perhaps it’s to confuse would-be terrorists

we were able to see the full beauty of Zug Island from a different, legal, not trespassing angle.

I ask you: Can your city boast of an eternal flame like this one?

Detroit has a Yeti-Sized Carbon Footprint

Does your city have a Homeland Security Protected Steel Mill that randomly spews out smoke and steam?  Well, mine does.

I’m sure it’s in full compliance with current EPA regulations

Zug Island abuts Delray, a Detroit neighborhood formerly populated largely by those of Hungarian descent.  They’ve all pretty much pulled up stakes and abandoned the old neighborhood.  In an effort to protect some of the buildings, someone has put angels on the structures.  More precisely, they’ve put paintings of angels on the buildings, but you get my drift. Here are three.

Perhaps they’re the patron saints of light beer.

This grocery store on Schaefer appears to urge the populace to eat more vegetables.

I’ll take two turnips and a head of lettuce, please

As we turned onto Dix, I was looking forward to crossing the Rouge River, not expecting to pass by the winner of the Tour De Hood “Best Named Strip Club” award.  It takes a great name to knock the “Please Station” off its pedestal, but how can you argue with the genius of this club’s name?

How could Chix on Dix not be an adult entertainment facility?

There was better news yet to come. Not only does the club have the best name ever, it’s affordable family fun, too!

Not just $2 Tuesdays; lap dances are only $10

Our elation was deflated a tad bit by this sad tire repair sign,

Poor little bias ply

But we perked up a bit at the National Geographic quality view from the bridge across the Rouge River.

Detroit: Vacation paradise

For an inexplicable reason, some passing adolescents yelled “Faggots” at us while I was taking this photograph. I guess they don’t like bicycles.

On the way back north, we passed an eatery that was, unfortunately, closed:

Dig those stylin’ shades on AD.

We also came across what I think was a broken water main just off Rosa Parks avenue.

The Plank and Tire are a nice touch

Our ride ended with a nice surprise. We intercepted Steve Coy and Dorota Billica as they were painting an “Hygienic Dress League” mural on Woodbridge.  That’s the second time I’ve run into Steve on one of my rides, and I encourage you to go downtown and check out the finished work.

Artists at Work

And that was that.  All in all, a great year on the TDH. I’m going to take a break while winter’s at its worst, but will be back like the swallows to Capistrano come Spring.

I wish you and yours the happiest of holidays, and best wishes for a fantastic 2010.

Nipples & Boobs & Bunns, But it’s all Squeeky Clean.

Following a week of depressing, wet weather, Saturday turned out really nice – perfect for cycling and enjoying the sights of autumn around our fair city.

The Legal Eagle had a nifty route planned, which you can see here, on this approximate map of our travels.

On our way downtown, we passed a business that’s open, if you look closely, 23 hours a day. Which hour it’s not open is not made clear, but I guess it’s around 10 – 11 am on Sundays.

1twentythreehourNow we’re open

I say appears, because the owner was either closing for that specific hour, or disturbed by my photo-taking, as he spotted us and pulled the garage door shut.

2twentythreehourNow we’re closed

(ps: I like the pluralization of “Tire” on the left-hand side of the door frame)

Earlier this year, I wrote about Rosa Parks’ funeral home. This time, when we rode past, the proprietors had parked their LaSalle Hearse in front of the building.

4hearseRosa Parks’ hearse

For those of you not up to speed on Detroit’s moto-industrial past, LaSalle was a line of vehicles designed to fill a perceived gap between Buick and Cadillac. Luxury, in other words, but not quite as luxurious as Cadillac.  The hearse pictured here has a custom body, and this device on the door, which I think could be a cremation urn or some other funerary symbol.

3hearseSwanson Door Ornament

Pfeiffer beer used to be one of Detroit’s favorites. We passed by two buildings, one that looks like its original home.

5oldpfeifferThe “office”

Another, larger building is across the street. It was built in the 1940s.  Interestingly, one of the directors of the Pfeiffer Brewing Company was an ex-FBI agent who was the guy who captured Bruno Hauptman, the infamous Lindbergh kidnapper.

6pfeifferOwn your own brewery

As you know if you’ve read any of my earlier posts, the Legal Eagle is a scholar, not just of the law, but of Detroit Fire Stations.  We rode by two former stations, one of which is abandoned:

7exfirestationEngines 11 and 28 (now deceased)

The other one was recycled at some point into a residence, but appears to have been abandoned as well.  It looks like a ‘regular’ house,

9firestationhouseMore than your everyday house

but what gives its origins away is the lettering above the front door.

10housestationSee? It’s number 35

I can’t remember if this was a ladder or engine company; regardless, it’s empty now.

I’ve puzzled over the seeming absence of “Stimulus Funds” at work in Detroit. I think I’m not the only one. This church is holding out hope from a higher authority.

11stimulusplanHope he’s got some jobs for the unemployed

Back in the “summer” (it never got hot enough to qualify to summer this year) I rode by the unfortunately-named “Last Chance Academy”.  I think it dawned on someone that there might be an more inviting moniker for the school, because the sign’s been changed.  Here’s what it looked like in August:

lastchance2Last Chance Then

But that was then. Everyone’s feeling more optimistic now:

12newlastchanceLast Chance Now

Right around the corner from the newly-named Detroit Cares Academy is what looks like a feeder school for the Academy. That or a reform school for toddlers

13obedientdaycareRule #1: Sit down and be quiet

I usually post photos in a linear fashion – that is, by the order in which I pass the sights. Today, however, a couple of sets of natural groupings presented themselves.

Titillation.

First up, the Club Temptation, which, unusually, isn’t a strip club, just a lounge for adults with dancing and spirits. I really like the assiduousness with which they decorated the facade and its environs.

14clubtemptationJust look for the purple rocks

A recurring theme which is sprouting all over the city is a claimed link to President Obama, who may or may not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, but is certainly worthy of having a burger named for him.

15temptation$4, or only 4 available for public consumption

Next up, what I believe to be a women only  Motorcycle Club social society:

17motorcityfoxesFoxes inside – watch it!

Detroit has always been in the business of making things – some of which have peculiar nomenclature. There’s a “broaching” shop not far from my office, and at the top of the heap, the ought-to-be-famous Detroit Nipple Works. (Boy, do I hate Bookman with swash caps)

8detroitnippleworksNot for babies

There are plenty of places to get your car washed in Detroit. The front-runner for best-named hand wash place is the appears-to-be-defunct Yetta Boos:

21boobsandbunnsBoo Hoo. It’s closed

Yetta Boo’s claim to fame must’ve annoyed some of the neighbors. But at least one denizen of the neighborhood stood up on her behalf, and was not shy about making his feelings known.

22makingshitlookbetterYetta Boo’s fan club

The second category is another common Detroit sight, the “play fast and loose with the english language” department.

Spelling Fail

One auto shop will fix your fram. (If you have one)

20framrepairMaybe they’re referring to Nat King Cole’s song “The Frim-Fram Sauce”

Here’s a place to go if your vehicle comes from overseas:

19forignPronounced: Furrin

Yet another car wash. I guess I should cut this place some slack – for one, the sign painter did a fantastic job, and maybe they were trying to copyright the name.

18sqeekycleanSail right in, matey (they detail boats, too)

The Clairmount check-cashing facility will cash any sized check. Just to make sure you understand that, they make the claim on three sides of the building.

24tobigtoNo check to big (emphasis on cents)

In case you miss that sign, they took the opportunity to misspell too again on another facade.

25notobigNote the emphasis on the $ in this version

I wonder if this is where GM will cash the check they get from selling the Hummer brand to Tengzhong

(By the way, I’d have posted a photo of the third sign, but that would’ve been overkill. Or, as the owners of the Clairmount would probably put it: “To much”.)

The NU-MRK pest control shop (which has t-shirts for sale) has, in a reversal of typical practice, added a hyphen where none was necessary, instead of leaving out a letter where one is needed.

26numrkWhat about the ones that just fly or wiggle?

Another academic location has services for children of working parents.  Summer camp, too.

16afterschooAfter Schoo, I’m going hom

The third category into which things sorted themselves I can only describe as

Detroit Oddness

Perhaps this entity is supposed to carry you across the rivers of Babylon:

23shipofzionIt begs the question: Is there a lesser ship?

Another shop (with a very limited inventory) somehow links Rosa Parks to a nut.

30pecansI like pecans, but don’t get the connection

Meanwhile, back on earth…

There’s a lovely neighborhood near midtown in Detroit called Woodbridge, it looked particularly inviting in the fall sunlight

27woodbridgeThis is Detroit, too. See? What a nice neighborhood

We stopped at the Avalon Bakery for some sustenance – I went with a yummy piece of sour cream coffee cake; the Legal Eagle ate something healthy.  I forgot my camera inside, but one of the Avalon-ites was nice enough to bring it out to me.

28avalonFantastic Food and Camera retrieval services

We had another interesting experience on (in?) the Dequindre Cut. An artist named “GAME” was in the process of painting a mural. It’s all on the up and up, according to Tom Stoye – who’s the curator of the graffiti art in the Cut. Here’s a work in progress:

29legalgraffitiMural in Progress

Tom sent me some more information about the project, along with some cool photos of finished mural art – I’m going to do a separate post about the subject when I get a moment free. Until then, take a trip downtown before it gets too cold and snowy. There’s lots of great stuff to see.


Blessed Elephants, Polar Bears, and Atomic Dogs – TDH visits Wyoming, Tireman, Harper, and more

Took a rather extended loop on the Tour De Hood today. It was the same day as the Tour De Troit - which we intersected on our end stretch near Indian Village. Went our own way, as the legal eagle and I  didn’t want to follow 2,000 cyclists around a path we already know well.

Here’s a Google Map of Saturday’s Route of the Tour De Hood if you’d like to see the route. We did go through Hamtramck & Highland Park, so some of it wasn’t, technically, Detroit proper, though let’s not quibble, ok?

The Tour started on Harper, where I encountered my first Lash Parlor. (Not an S & M facility, even though it was across the street from Harper News, “An Adult Fantasy to Experience”.)

1noexcusesNo excuses not to look your best, Ladies (dig the scissors in the “X”)

So far, nothing out of the ordinary, just typically exuberant Detroit retail design. Here’s the  relatively subdued adult video emporium (I didn’t know these still existed) which offers titillation for a mere 25 cents.

2adultvideosLooking for a lottery tip sheet to go with your porn?

I am as much for keeping your car clean as the next guy, so I’m thinking that my anodyne sedan might need a trip to the following locale:

3mrheavySalon + Mr. Heavy = iron fist in velvet glove

We passed an unfortunately defunct appliance repair facility. While the english-ness of its name (World Tomorrow) is a bit questionable, the application of a real washing machine to its signage deserves inclusion into the Detroit pantheon of retail peculiarity.

4worldtomorrowFollow the arrow to tomorrow

As should be obvious to any one who has followed my peregrinations, it wasn’t long before I passed by a strip club:

7chichisTime to celebrate National Hispanic Month

It’s September, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to prepare for Valentine’s Day. Flowers are always appropriate.

5loveoneAt least there’s no unnecessary apostrophe, but that dash! Oh, dear

There’s a fascinating (though unfortunately faded-by-weather) mural where Harper crosses Gratiot. (Which I now automatically pronounce Gra-toit – per the misspelled sign from last week.) Among the portraits you can spot Malcolm X, former Mayor Coleman Young, the People Mover (?), Nelson Mandela, a young Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King, and, I think, Toussaint L’Ouverture, leader of the Haitian Revolution in the late 18th Century. The mural’s title confounds me:

6aaubiquityAmalgamation of Ubiquity? Fusion of Everywhere?

Shantinique Music is bucking the trend of highly-focussed retailers, like Michigan Saw & File, and has (successfully?) cobbled together the only Music/sportswear/footwear shop I’ve ever seen.

8shantinitqueMusic, and the outfit to go with it

A delightfully-named car wash, “Bubble Time”, was the next sight to behold, which wouldn’t normally merit inclusion here, but I was struck by the inequality of the time devoted to painting the bubbles, and the slapdash execution of the name itself.

9bubbletimeTime to get down with your foamy self

Shortly thereafter, things soon descended (or arose, I guess) into one of the most memorable rides I’ve taken in Detroit, a surreal combination of misspellings, oddball graphics, stolen logos, religious “iconography”, and just plain weirdness that is probably unmatched by any other city in America.

Behold: The Harper/Mt. Elliot/Conant/Oakland/Wyoming/Tireman acid trip on two wheels.

There’s a lonely chimney, which reminded me of the photos of Atlanta following Sherman’s March to the Sea.

10chimneyFormer site of _________?

I know the English language has certain peculiarities which make spelling correctly kind of difficult – but the person in charge of this sign appears to have not even bothered trying to get it right.

11frigiratorsHot ‘n’ Kold, I guess

Given that our native tongue has (according to the O.E.D., which ought to know) over 170,000 words in current use, it’s surprising that the owners of this facility couldn’t drag up a better adjective to describe their wares:

12ampleDig those “Roman” Ds

Consider yourself a sign painter. You have a project. Your assignment is to paint the name of a store and its goods on a rather large blank wall. Given the space you’re given on which to apply your art, wouldn’t you think about that door before you realized that you’d have to split “gro” and “ceries” to maintain your sort-of centered type format?

13newpolkaNo more Frankie Yankovic? That’s Old Polka

Last week, I mused on the absence of a mountain on Mt. Elliot street, but I think I found a lump that could be the missing mountain after all. It’s a geological oddity, as it’s made primarily of crushed concrete, unlike the Alps or the Himalayas.

14mtelliotBehold Detroit’s highest mountain

The Highland Park High School Varsity football team was playing an away game against Country Day on Saturday. As predicted by some of the people we met, they stomped all over the Country Day Yellow Jackets, 36 to 3.  But here’s the question:  What on earth possessed the school board to name the team “The Polar Bears”?

16polarbearsPolar Bears in Highland Park? Reminds me of the first two seasons of Lost

A temporarily permanent “restaurant” beckoned on McNichols, and while the art work featured enticing renderings of  various comestibles, the sign (with a surprisingly accurate use of an apostrophe) promised Nothin’ but Love” [sic]. I don’t know what the end quotation mark is for.

17nothin'butloveI want some fries with that love

Co-winner of this week’s Pro-Am competition, this professionally painted but amateurishly spelled appliance repair store:

18proffessionalsGreat at ffixing frigirators.

Tied for first with the proffessionals is a furniture repair shop, that promises all kinds of furniture repair.

19dinningroomQuality work; bad spelling

Here’s this week’s stump the misterarthur winner. I’m willing to go with blessed money plants (sure to generate wealth) and blessed thinking caps (we could all use one of those), but the blessed elephant thing totally confounds me. Do you have to bring your own elephant to be blessed?  Is this a combo candle store/pet store that only sells elephants? Is it legal to own an elephant, blessed or not, within the Detroit City limits? Does this Mayor know about this possibly illegal trade in elephants?

20blessedelephantsI’ll take one thinking cap, please

We try to support Detroit Car makers as much as we can; but even if your car comes from elsewhere, we’re happy to repair it. That doesn’t mean we have to spell its origin correctly.

21foriegnI promise to defend the constitution against all enemies, foriegn or domestic

I’m not sure if a Moabite Body is something I’d like to have. According to Wikipedia, the ancestor of the Moabites was Lot himself, via incest with his oldest daughter. Whether that contributes to physical perfection is not within my area of expertise.

22moabitesThere’s a town in Utah called Moab, maybe they’re Mormons

Next up, Detroit’s version of fusion cuisine. Not quite what you’d expect from a Spa experience in California, but what the hell, it might be tasty after all.

23asiancornedbeefWTF? Irish Sushi?

This week’s TDH winner of the Amateur Retail Decor Award is a sort of one-man Home Depot.

Here’s a wide view. Note the care with which the sign painter avoided the shutter on the left hand side

24lumberwide

It’s a medical building, too. See above the door

My favorite part is the full Detroit rendering of Doors, Lumber, and Window$ [sic], especially the random use of upper and lower case letters.

26lumberWindow$

A fellow walking by said “That building’s all F’d up. Ain’t got no floor. Ain’t got no roof”.  I take that to mean we’ll have to look for our new KiTCHEN CABINET elsewhere.

Detroit has been a Democratic Party stronghold for years and years, and, as a whole, has embraced our new President. That said, no one appears to have taken it as far as the proprietors of this service station, who’ve violated every copyright law in Amercica to proclaim their allegiance to Mr. Obama.

27obamagasIn case you don’t know which Obama they’re referring to, there’s a photo for your assistance

Even the pumps carry the full Obama Campaign graphics.

28obamapumpDoes Hugo Chavez have anything to do with this?

David Mackenzie High School was erected in 1931 – hence the glorious Deco tile work. I don’t know when it was abandoned; it still has some unbroken windows.  What a shame.

29highschoolNo child left inside

God, as I generally understand it, is all-seeing, and all-powerful – at least as defined by Judeo-Christians everywhere. You can imagine, then, that I was nonplussed by the re-definition of God’s will over here at Cliff’s Family. I think it’s a barber shop – the signage behind the white Ford Explorer says “regular haircuts”. No tyzillions here, I guess.

30godspecializeGod Specialize in what?

This small restaurant on Tireman was new to me – I don’t remember it being listed in one of the hot Detroit nightspots directories.  Irradiated food! It’s the next big thing!

31atomicdogsNote: Whole Chicken Wings

The sign painter has either inadvertently left a space between “cat” and “fish”, or is, instead, promising something I’ve never seen on a menu before; your choice of cat or fish.  I’ll take the Atomic Dog.

We ran across another spelling fail before we got home. I hate insurance deductibles (like everyone else). As for deductibales, I’ve never had to pay one. Special Shout Out to the estimable Ed Dilworth, who pointed out that Jay’s phone number has an extra digit.

32deductibalesIt appears as though they demolished their dictionary, too.

The ride ended, not with a bang, but a hiss. A piece of glass, too big to be a shard and too small to be a chunk whacked my rear tire. Two patches later, the tube was still not holding air. My wife had to come and pick me up. Thus an ignominious end to a glorious and enlightening day. Such is life on the Tour De Hood.

Addendum: Forgot to include this impressively named and fantastically decorated hair salon:

anointedhands“A woman’s hair is her glory”




Warren and Michigan Avenues: Meat City, Hair for Sale, Palindrome Fail, and more

What a glorious day on the Tour de Hood. Not only was the weather just spectacular, the sights to behold were equally inspiring.  After all, who wouldn’t be thrilled by a giant cow head (complete with its own reading light)?

cowBessie with a headlamp

On the way to East Warren Avenue, I passed an extraordinarily bad painting of President Obama.  The building on which he’s painted also poses a mystery. The establishment promises “Seeded” and “Seedless” Watermelons, and the neither-of-the-above “& more”. More what? Semi-seeded? Sorta-Seeded? Seems like seeded and seedless covers just about all the possibilities to me.

worst-painting-of-obamaPresident Obama, more or less

I know Mies Van Der Rohe famously said “Less is More”, but if I ever open a nightclub, I hope I can come up with a better name than this:

club-clubClub Club (Private Club Club)

You can spot a newcomer to Detroit by his or her non-Detroit-pronunciation of street names like Schoenherr (Shay-ner) and Goethe (Go-thee – soft th), and famously, Gratiot.  We pronounce it “Gra-shut” where the Gra rhymes with laugh. While on the way to Michigan Avenue, (on Gratiot) we passed a monumental misspelling. (And no, I’m not referring to the misplaced possessive). What’s most mind-blowing about this is that the sign painter could’ve checked the correct spelling just by, oh, looking at the street sign. Voila: Gratoit Tires and Service. (Maybe it rhymes with Detroit?)

GratoitNeed yoru cra fexid?

I am somewhat follically-challenged, so I was quite thrilled to find a shop that, oddly, sells hair. I’ll admit, I have never seen a hair shop before.

hair-sold-hereHow do they charge for it? By the inch? The pound?

I am also a fan of wordplay – puns, palindromes, crossword puzzles, etc., so imagine my pleasure at finding this tax preparation company which has the two ends of a palindrome, but forgot about the middle part.

xat-taxPalindrome Fail: Xat’s what I’m talking about

Once on Michigan Avenue proper, we passed the mighty Slow’s restaurant, one of my all-time favorite places to eat anywhere. It has only one problem – it’s too popular, and the wait to get seated can be excruciating, particularly when you are being assaulted by the tempting aroma of slowly barbequing pork.  I’ll bet you’ve never eaten across the street from a speedometer repair shop, either.

slowsEven the wait to eat is Slow

The sights on Michigan began to unveil themselves. We may call ourselves Motown, but what the heck, Meat City sounds good, too.

meat-cityWait until PETA hears about this

Across the street is another motorcycle – er, social club – no doubt populated by very friendly members.

highwaymenI wonder if there’s an initiation rite?

There was a decidedly non-pc vehicle for sale next door. I think it would be a great commuter car for Michigan winters.

non-pc-vehicleIngress and egress will be tough

Looking for some dubs for your whip? Rim City might be able to help you out – and perhaps can explain the whatever-that-thing-is on the roof is.

rim-cityJust down the road from Meat City

There are quite a few adult entertainment establishments on Michigan Avenue – (reasonably typical of Detroit’s major thoroughfares). Take your pick:

Club 4 Play

4-PlayHamburgers are only $4.00. With fries

Starvin’ Marvin’s – amazingly accurate use of the possessive, and so, perfect for grammar police stripper fans.

starvin-marvin'sExclusive? Oh yeah.

Next, a place that’s either an adult entertainment facility or a post-exercise hangout.  I’m betting on the former.

hard-bodyDouble extra-hot no foam latte with that lap dance, please

Finally, close to Dearborn, The Crazy Horse. (We left Michigan at Lonyo, so as to stay within the city limits.) Looks nice from here:

crazyhorse

Talent agency, too

Perhaps because of its proximity to Dearborn, the Crazy Horse has a neon sign which I can only assume is Arabic.  Translation, anyone?

arabic-neonDoes this translate as “Adult Entertainment” or “Talent Agency”?

Naming streets for a big city must be an exhausting job.  So I guess I understand that the person responsible for this street simply ran out of gas one day, and gave up trying to be inventive:

JoeI live on Joe. Just Joe.

There’s an auto repair facility on the corner of Joe and Michigan, whose sign appears to have been painted by the same firm responsible for “Gratoit”.  Here, you can get your front end aliged.

aligmentI always wanted my wheels aliged

This sign was clearly not painted by the company whose sign you’ll see below.  I want to meet the fellow illustrated thereon, whom I’ve dubbed the King of Detroit.

King-of-DetroitI need a logo for the Tour De Hood – I may call this guy up

Yet another very narrowly-focused retail outlet. Not just socks. Sporting socks. American sporting socks.

american-sporting-socksLooks like you can buy them singly or in pairs

After the string of strip clubs, it was somewhat of a relief to find a church to keep things in balance. If you need deliverance from fire, now you know where to go. This is on West Warren – near Lonyo.

fire-and-deliveranceChurch-cum-Fire Station?

I’ve seen plenty of great store fronts here in the Paris of the Midwest. Mr. Fix It is simply a Masterpiece of retail art. So much so, I didn’t think one photo would do it justice.

Here’s one side (the one that faces Warren Ave.).

mr-fix-it-1Odd jobs

The front – one part of which I can’t quite figure out. Can you find it?

mr-fix-it-2aAn adventure in Auto care. (And other things, too!)

Here’s the part I can’t decipher:

mr-fix-it-3Guess the object next to the Bible. Please submit answers in the comment section

Side three. Not a wasted inch of space. And, perhaps, a way to help you keep your hubcaps in place.

mr-fix-it-4Peculiarly-shaped phone, no?

The United Sates is supposedly a class-free society, so I’m not sure how I feel about the regal claim made by the owner of this liquor store. (Maybe Elvis is still alive, and works here?)

king-of-warrenDetroit Royalty, with his subjects, alcohol and the lottery

Identifying the King of Warren will have to wait a while – in the meantime, I can tell you he’s probably not named Jason.  Here’s an awfully blunt piece of invective I spotted on the side of a truck.

jason-reichAm not responsible for the veracity of this statement.

All in all, a beautiful day in the Hood, including a live love song in front of the Avalon Bakery. (It’s a long story).