June 4/5 2011. A spin past some familiar sites plus12th Street (Rosa Parks Blvd) from the river to McNichols.

Saturday, June 4, was a lovely day in the hood, and we went on a ride past some familiar sites. The Legal Eaglet (who was in town for a wedding) and my cousin (who photographed the “Phearty Hearty” store and graciously passed it along to me) along with the Legal Eagle spun through some 313 streets.  Needless to say, there were plenty of things to see:  For one, this mobile, self-styled “style center”.

The Speed Demon Barber of St. Paul Street

The roving barber’s not far from both a stationary (and, sadly, looks-to-be-stuck-a-fork-in-it) corner store.

Don’t know when it’s going to be open

It’s also just down the street from the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, an exceedingly worthy Detroit charity that serves basic human needs for those who need it most.  It’s also a drug-free zone, as indicated by this sort-of oddball sign.

No Drugs accepted

Things soon looked cheerier.  Iron Street has a wonderful collection of street murals. I don’t know who (or which organization) set this up, but there’s clearly some collective action happening here.  Nice use of a corner of an abandoned building for this Egyptian Motif:

Sphinx on the corner

Some positive vibrations:

Nowhere to go but up!

Another very colorful addition is even more inspired – and inspiring.

Brick by Brick By Brick

Finally, a reminder (as if you needed one) about where you are.  Gotta love the smoke from the front wheels correctly illustrating the powertrain of the Caddy in the mural.

Detroit Muscle

Should you be inclined to pedal down Iron Street, take it to its terminus (at the Coast Guard Station), and get thee onto the lovely Detroit Riverwalk – which is also cycling friendly. We had a lovely ride along the Detroit River, turned right onto the Dequindre Cut, and rode up Gratiot – where I spotted a couple of Detroit’s steam vents. The city (via our public utility) actually heats a number of buildings through a maze of tunnels. I guess this is a place where excess steam is vented.

Thar she blows!

I’ve visited the Heidelberg Project a number of times. You should too – either if you’ve never seen it – or if it’s been a while since you’ve been there. Tyree Guyton is always adding something new.  The first couple of shots were snapped by the Legal Eaglet®, who has permitted me to post them here:

The Piano of Hope

Mr. Guyton has repurposed some ad-like-objects (in bulk) and added his own slogans. He is clearly opposed to smoking.

Cancer and Poopy Breath

He has also found a Steven Colbert-ish character to which he has added some, uh, interesting messages:

War! (Good God!) What is it good for?

This next one plays a bit with WWJD.

Sacré Bleu!

We spun gently home, gently guided by a tailwind zephyr.

Sunday, the Legal Eagle and I decided to check off another street to our  “I rode the whole length of…” list.  On the 5th, it was Rosa Parks Blvd. (Formerly Twelfth Street).  For those of you who want to follow along, here’s a link.  The relevant parts are the parallel-ish lines on the left of your screen.

Here’s a scintillating view of the foot of the St./Blvd. (That’s the Detroit river in the background.) Don’t expect to see my work gracing the cover of National Geographic any time soon.

Hey! That’s Canada over there!

The Legal Eagle is a brainiac in many fields – including the History Of Detroit, (he’s always throwing in an interesting tidbit or two), Fire Stations, and Railroads. To wit, an unassuming concrete block festooned with contemporary street art.

Hunk o’ concrete with a purpose

This quotidian admixture of cement and sand used to be one end of an elevated rail track that ran toward where is now the GM building, hung a left, and ended at the Michigan Central Station. Yes, indeed, we had elevated rail tracks in the Motor City once upon a time.

Up a bit (across 1-75, actually) we rode past an apartment “complex” that appears to have been designed by a former penitentiary architect. Not the most welcoming of building materials, I’d have to say.

A stone for my bedroom

Update: A reader gave me some new information about this place. It’s called “Spaulding Court”, and is being rehabbed by a non-profit organization. Please hop over here to see what’s up. The work inside is really cool.

By the way, these abodes are at the intersection of Spruce Street and Rosa Parks.  One block over, on Vermont, is the newly-opened Corktown Youth Hostel, which is actually not quite in Corktown – nevertheless, it’s a great project for which the indefatigable Emily Doerr deserves a great deal of credit.

At the intersection of Rosa Parks and Grand River is a building which the Legal Eagle believes was, at one, time, a Detroit Police Precinct Headquarters of some sort. Being a prudent fellow, he won’t swear to the veracity of that claim.

Could’ve been a cop shop at one point

Up at 5141 Rosa Parks is one outpost of the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit.  (It also has a location on Hubbard). It appears to be closed on Sunday Mornings.

One of the committee members is Detroit Lives founder and all-around good guy, Philip Lauri

Had it been a little later, I’m hoping that Papa’s Soul Food & Grill might’ve been open. (I think it was around 9:00 am when I snapped this shot). I can’t find any information about it online, so I’m assuming it is no longer a going concern. (If I’m wrong, please let me know).

Is Papa’s still open for grillin’?

The Detroit Riot of 1967 started following a police raid on a blind pig on 12th Street and Claremount Avenue. It’s such a sad story.  You can read more about it at this link.  The Legal Eagle also recommends The Algiers Motel Incident by John Hersey. That is, if you can find a copy. It appears to be out of print.  Anyway, there’s a small, somewhat unkempt park that memorializes the location.

12th and Claremount Park

Here’s a tighter shot of the purple sculpture.

If I read correctly, the artist is J.A. Ward

Further up the road, someone has turned a store front into a church of sorts. I thought the juxtaposition of the message and the left-over promise on the right side of the building’s top was interesting.  If you can’t read it, click on the photo.

Refreshing Spiritually and Physically

Next up, an ex-bank-now-church-with-many-colors-including-eagle-or-bird-of-some-kind.

The Apostolic Faith Church of Love (Hood Rat)

Perhaps not coincidentally, a sign of warning to the tagger is just across the street.

Quit your tagging, heathen!

The Legal Eagle has, as I’ve mentioned before, has visited every Detroit Fire Station (open or shut). There’s a closed one on Rosa Parks.  I love the care with which these buildings were originally erected.

I believe this was a flagpole support. Love the stone work

We passed a really cool Metal Fabrication shop near where the street veers slightly to the right. (About which more later).  Its name is a little mysterious:

Weldments?

Judging by the ornamental work, it looks as if they do really fantastic work.  Approaching from the South, (as we did), you might be put off by the first sign for the company you see.  I think the official name for this font is “Impenetrable Peeling Bold”.

D-Style Hieroglyphics

The shop is also protected by (almost) every protection device known to man:

Now, all they need is a guard vegetable

I mentioned above that Rosa Parks/12th Street veers a little to the right as it crosses the John Lodge Expressway.  If you continue slightly to the left, you’ll find yourself on Fenkel. As I looked up the street, I noticed a Motorcycle club with bikes parked in the front. So I rode up and chatted with a couple of the members. It turns out, it was the headquarters of Satan’s Sidekicks, getting ready for a memorial ride. I wrote in an earlier post about the club – with whom I worked during college at a Dodge assembly plant. They used to sport red helmets with devil’s horns. (They’re wearing more normal helmets now.  Two things of note.  1) Whilst searching for information about the club online, I noted there’s a Facebook® page dedicated to the location of the club headquarters. It’s here, described as a “local business”.  2) While engaged in conversation with a member, one of his colleagues went into the club house and got a camera and took my picture. I asked him if it was because I was the only white guy who’d stopped by the club on a bicycle. “Yep”, he replied.

After dead-ending at McNichols, we returned back downtown via one of the saddest streets in America; Hamilton in Highland Park. I’m sorry to report that it is so ruined that it seems virtually irreparable. I can’t see how it could possibly come back to life. There’s simply no money – either in the hands of the inhabitants, or the city, or the state, or the Federal Government. It’s the kind of desolation that seriously makes me worry about the future of the U.S.A.

Being a glass half-full kind of guy, though, I was perked up by the best ghost sign I’ve seen in the city.  Voila: Honor Bright. The perfect garments for every boy:

Real Boys wear Honor Bright playsuits and blouses

Judging by the style, I can only surmise that this was painted in the ’20 or ’30s. What I also liked was the ad for the Square Deal Hardware store – and its phone number: HEmlock 5896.  I can remember when my phone number was a TUxedo.  The Honor Brite sign is right next to an ad for Black Beauty Triple-Stitched work shirts.

A real thoro-bred (sic.)

The children in the Honor Brite ad seem unusually pleased with their new blouses; a simpler time, I guess.

Nice to see another cyclist in the Hood

The rest of the ride was S.O.P. on the TDH. Back downtown, a stop at the Avalon for (in my case) a Pecan roll and a cappuccino. The Legal Eagle stuck with a healthy slice of foccacia. Then a quick spin through the Dequindre Cut, up Lafayette to Burns, Burns to Kercheval, Kercheval to Lycaste, Lycaste to Jefferson, Jefferson to Conner, Conner to Kercheval, and so back home.  Lovely morning of cycling and history.

ADDENDUM: Sweet Juniper (a really excellent blog you should read) has more backstory on the Honor Bright sign and company.

A Delray Kind of Day. Plus some questions that need answering

What a superb fall morning for cycling in Detroit. Glorious skies, (I spotted one cloud formation that looked just like a Mercator projection of the earth), little or no wind, unseasonably warm temperatures, and the ever-delightful companionship of the learned hand himself, the Legal Eagle. Here’s a map he made of our route.

Fort Street is one of the smoothest pieces of pavement in the City, and nearly deserted on Sundays. It also has a lot of abandoned buildings, like this “warehouse”, which was erected in 1897. Seems a shame someone can’t repurpose it into something usable.

It looks like a warehouse for air

Detroit and its environs likes ham. There are ham restaurants all over the place. Lile’s, in Dearborn, may be the most famous ham sandwich place in the area, but I’m partial to the Ham Center in Warren.  Johnny’s Ham King on Fort gets all kind of love on Yelp, but I haven’t eaten there myself.

Is Johnny the King of Ham? Or is Johnny the Ham King’s subject?

Further along, we rode past a ghost sign for a business that started in 1947, and lasted until (I don’t know, but the building looks as if it’s been empty for a while).

I come from the Motor City with a Banjo Housing on my knee

Cheek by jowl with the erstwhile Bond & Bailey, Inc., is a going concern, which specializes in similar automotive type gear. Its mascot features, among other bits ‘n’ pieces, a leaf spring, clutch housing, and, I believe, parts of a banjo housing.

 

The real man of steel

It really was a beautiful morning – and the Legal Eagle showed off his Great Lakes Shipping nerd mad skillz by identifying the 1,000 footer even before it had glided by.

The white smoke is the signal that they’ve picked a new pope over at Great Lakes Steel

We had to take a quick detour, as Jefferson dead ends into what looks like an abandoned lot. While riding up Scotten, the railroad signal went off, and the barriers dropped. We couldn’t see a train coming (and there’s no worry about getting hit by a TGV on these tracks), so I decided to find out if it’s actually possible to hear a train coming by putting one’s ear on the tracks.

Professional at work: Don’t try this at home, kids.

The answer is, I couldn’t hear anything. (Maybe the asynchronous clanging of the warning bells overpowered the ‘singing of the rails’).  Eventually, a CSX locomotive & cars slowly rumbled by. I liked the mobile street art on this unit:

I cannot say which part of this car is the “anti-pilferage device”

I know of a couple of phony “Yacht Clubs” in Detroit; the Polish Yacht Club on Joseph Campau, and the Motor City Yacht Club on Jefferson, but until today was not aware of this place. Nor do I know its membership requirements and fees. That said, it looks like it’s mostly for sailors.

No young nice people allowed

There was a big Motorcycle Club Rally/Chili contest in Plymouth, Michigan today. (The Legal Eagle and I had seen an inordinate number of leather clad Harley Riders on the road this morning, and my Llama Loving Leatherneck Belonging friend clued me in about the rally).  I guess that’s why the Iron Coffins headquarters was closed.

13 69 is not the address. 1369 (U.S. Code Title 28, Chapter IV) has something to do with multiparty multiforum jurisdiction, and 13 69 also means something rude, according to the Urban Dictionary

I don’t know what the entrance to your home looks like, but I’m guessing you probably don’t have two delivery areas clearly delineated for the benefit of your letter carrier or UPS delivery person.  It also gives me the opportunity to importune you to answer some nagging questions the stencils raise. First, the manse in question:

Delray’s self-proclaimed Crib in the Hood

So, here’s the question. Where do packages from the USPS, FedEx, or DHL go?

Attached to a utility pole in front of the house was a shrine-like compendium of plastic flowers and a bowl, into which had been inserted a clothed Barbie® doll.

I don’t know if this is a Malibu® Barbie®

n.b.: Joe, perceptive as always, has suggested this may be a rare Poconos® Barbie®

Over on Wyoming (BTW, I have now ridden the entire length of Wyoming), we came upon a lunchery. The Mustang Inn offers XX Servers.  I’m familiar with X, and XXX, but XX is news to me.

1/2 pound of ?

OK, so what do you think XX stands for?

More perplexing and important issues awaited farther up the road.

Here is a self-service car and truck wash.  It is, as the sign says, “Under New Management”.

Come on in. The water’s fine.

Here are the philosophical conundrums (conundra?) I’m wrestling with. The first is, since it’s self-serve, how can you actually tell it’s under new management? The second is: What happens if you try it and don’t like it?

The Topless Club Venus probably has the same sorts of amenities as others of its ilk.  The va-va-voomy neon sign is quite nice.

She’s not topless in public

The sign on the side of the building was a little puzzling to me.

Is that all day Tuesday, and until 7 on Wednesday?

Here’s the question. What’s the $5 Kitchen Special? Something to eat or a $10 dance that’s cheaper because it’s in the kitchen instead of the regular $10 dance area?

The Venus is hiring, by the way.

Looking for someone to bounce the bar staff

For some reason, the back gate to the Ford Drive-In was open, so we took a spin in to look around.  Lo and behold, it’s an outdoor Multiplex®! Beyond that, it’s the self-proclaimed largest drive-in theatre IN THE WORLD!  Here’s screen three:

Is this the last drive-in in Detroit?

Spell fail time on the TDH. If you were on Jeopardy, and the answer was “the amount for which the insured is liable on each loss, injury, etc., before an insurance company will make payment”, the correct question would be “what is deductible?”  Like “available”, “deductible” is one of the most misspelled words in Motown.  I see deductable a lot.  On one side of the Eureka Auto Glass building, not only do they spell it deductable, they also promise to “wave” it.

Well, howdy, deductable

Curiously, on another side of the building, they spell deductible correctly, but still misconstrue “wave” for “waive”. See?

Still waving at that part of your policy

However, in a Solomonic display of I-can’t-make-up-my mind-which-way-to-spell-deductible, in yet another location the Eureka Auto Glass company goes both ways at once, and dispenses with the wave entirely: (You can click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Deductible, deductable, whatever, they’ll pay it.

As long as we’re in the covering your bases mode, the nicely named “Holla Dollar” store sort of kind of promises that everything in the store is a dollar. Except for the things that aren’t.

I don’t know if  hair is a dollar or a dollar & more

Finally, a nihilist pov in the street art category. Note to the squeamish: May be NSFW.

Don’t sugar coat it, dude.

But even that downer sentiment couldn’t put a damper on a very nice ride, indeed. I am glad to report that the Lafayette Coney Island whupped the American on last week’s poll, and to celebrate its victory, the Legal Eagle and I brunched at the winner’s location.  (Three on two).

Up Woodward, Down John R, plus the first TDH quiz evar!

Whilst I’ve ridden on Woodward Avenue many times, I thought it might be useful and fun to deliberately ride its whole length – from Jefferson to 8 Mile. For the return, rather than ride back down the Avenue, the Legal Eagle and I thought we’d take John R.

I don’t think you need a map to follow along. Go up Woodward, turn right at 8 Mile, ride past the “State Fairgrounds & Exposition Center”, turn right on John R. until it dead ends, turn left to Oakland, pass the Polar Bears’ football field and the giant pallet cemetery, turn right on Manchester, then left back onto John R. Continue until you hit Tiger Stadium.

Just to prove that we did the whole ride, here’s a view of the base of Woodward:

Don’t let that sign confuse you

On our way north, we did take a little detour to Capitol Park to see the “set” of Transformers 3, which is being filmed in our fair city.  We encountered a fervid rent-a-cop who blew a gasket when he saw me taking a photo while touching a barricade with my toe. “That’s Private Property!” he yelled, to which I responded that I was on a public thoroughfare and I could do whatever I wanted. He kept yelling at me. I yelled back at him. The Legal Eagle, as is his wont, kept his mouth shut.

Nevertheless, I was able to take some photos which led me to create the following series of questions.  You must decide whether the scene I photographed is Detroit in its usual state of disrepair, or made to look disrepaired by highly skilled set decorators.  You get to choose. City, or Set.  Ready?  Here’s visual number one. This one’s easy – to give you an initial burst of self confidence.

Just another Sunday morning in Detroit or Transformers 3?

This one’s a little tougher

Deliberate or Accidental?

Did this façade look like this on purpose, or is it just from the patina of disuse?

Crummy or made to look crummy?

We don’t treat our history with kid gloves here in the Motor City (about which, read more when I get to the Model T Plant, below). That said, was this knocked over for a movie or did it fall over from neglect?

Art or Vandalism?

A small amount of Federal Stimulus money is appearing in and around Detroit (mostly for street repair). Is this asphalt eruption on purpose because we need better streets, or because Transformers 3 needed extra destroyed city optics?

City Improvement or Movie Improvement?

Bonus question one: Is this store front on Woodward part of the movie, an art project, or a remnant of our Potemkin Village “Spruce up Detroit for the Super Bowl” festival?

Shades of Dharma Brand Instant Potatoes

Bonus question number two. Is the club below still the Eros club, which I’ve written about before, or was it renamed Cobra’s for the movie?

Eros v. Cobra

Ok, you can put your pencils down now.  Back to more typical Detroit scenes. A small business is going under on Woodward. Just as unsurprising, the misspelled sign to announce the news.

Hurrey Down for Saveings

I do not know what “Detroit Revolution” is, but whenever it does arrive, I want to be there. This alluring sign is near midtown, on what looks like the site of a former theatre or burlesque house.  If someone knows more about this, please let me know via comments or email. (It reads “Without you I am a battery without a charge”)

Who doesn’t love a rebus?

The next sight is not really Detroit-specific, as the half life of a fully outfitted bike left on the street in any major city is very short. I was struck by the thoroughness with which the parts of the bike were removed.

Need pedals or an alloy crankset?

More typical of Detroit is the site of the former American Beauty Electric Iron Company.

Irons and Art

We tried to guess what kinds of irons they made there. While the name suggests curling irons or the Grateful Dead, a bit of internet snooping around seems to indicate they made irons for ironing your clothes.

Farther up Woodward, in a splendid building, is the Detroit International Academy for Young Women. (Evidently, part of the DPS).

Rawr!

I just wish the sign was connected a little more to the school design, which reeks of “when Detroit was a great city with some money to spend on civic institutions”.

Lovely institution of pedagoguery (which may not be a word)

Assiduous readers of the Tour De Hood Blog will remember my reference to an old-school gang, The “Coney Oneys” in an earlier post. (The gang thought they were naming themselves after those feared mafiosi, The Corleones).  Anyway, some 80’s nostalgia for you.

The “Earl Flynn’s” {sic} gang failed to spell Errol Flynn properly.

nb: BK does not stand for Burger King

I’m sure Mr., Mrs. or Ms. Fudge is a wonderful person. That said, I’m not sure you should always use your name for your business. Something just doesn’t seem right about this:

Maybe they’re from Mackinac Island (Michigan insider joke)

Someone else spent a great deal of time illustrating the exterior of this shop. Considering how many words they had to include, the lack of spell fails is pretty astonishing. (I’ll cut them some slack for EQT). I’ve heard of Odds and Ends. I’ve hear of Odds and Evens. But not this combo:

Odds & Ins? WTF?

The ex McGregor Public Library is a really beautiful building. Der Rechtliche Adler said there is periodic noise about trying to reopen the place, but judging by what I saw on Sunday, it looks like it’s still shut down. I’m dying to see the interior.

“Books Are The Doors to Wide New Ways”

Poor, poor Highland park.  Woodward in Highland Park is truly one of the most depressing parts of our city. Financial ruin forced the elimination of its police department (though it was re-established in 2007), and I’m not sure if the fire department still exists.  It’s a self-contained city that’s virtually completely surrounded by Detroit. (I’ll explain why it even exists below).   It had beautiful municipal buildings. This was the police headquarters:

The roof is mostly missing

Here’s the former parking spot that was reserved for the “Officer of the Month”.

Now reserved for tree of the year

This was the headquarters of the Fire Department. I don’t know where they’re headquartered now.  They have 16 firefighters in the city.

At its peak, Highland Park had 84 Firefighters

This was the Municipal Building. Again, I have no idea where it’s located now.

Sorry. All gone now

Here’s why there even is a Highland Park:  Henry Ford. As you know, since you’ve ready every word of the Tour De Hood, Henry Ford’s original factory was on Piquette. (The building’s still there).  However, that’s not the factory that made Ford Ford. This one is. Right here on Woodward in Highland Park is where Henry Ford revolutionized the United States, and the world, by mass-producing the Model T.

Home of a Revolution

Here’s why it’s in Highland Park.  Detroit was expanding, rapidly (imagine that!), but Henry didn’t want to pay Detroit Taxes on a new factory, so he built this one beyond the city limits, and incorporated a town around it, called Highland Park, where the tax rates would be much more affordable.  Chrysler used to be headquartered in Highland Park, too.

You’d think the location of the factory that literally changed our lives would get a little more TLC, wouldn’t you? After all, as the sign above states, it “set the pattern of abundance for 20th Century living”.  But no.  The front view is blocked by weed trees. The rest looks just like an abandoned factory. (Albeit adorned with what appear to be Pewabic Tiles.) Why do we treat our past with such indignity?

Building with enormous historical signifance? We don’t care

Back on the road, I saw a nice ghost sign. I’m surprised the owner limited himself to Canis Lupus Familiaris patients:

Goodbye, Kitty

I’m sure you can’t wait for this week’s Sign Fail.  At first, you could think I didn’t actually find one, and made this up by holding my camera upside down.

Nice sign if you’re standing on your head

“Oh, Mister Arthur”, you think, “you’re trying to be funny by rotating a photograph so we’ll think someone was dumb enough to go to trouble of making a sign and firmly affixing it to a wall without ever realizing it was upside down.”  Wrong.  It really was put up upside down. See?

What’s the excuse this time?

WTF?  Did they think no one would notice??

We noticed, just past this misery and incompetence, a delightful patio behind a wrought iron fence.  There’s no sign on the building, but riding around the back, we discovered that we had come upon a restaurant called “La Dolce Vita.” I haven’t been there before (duh), but have subsequently found out it’s been around for a while (if my math is correct, about 16 years). L’aigle jurisdique has a partner who really likes it, a friend of mine recommends the patio during our warmer months, and Metro Times gave it a good review back in ’03.  Looks inviting from the outside.

The Perfect Place to Valet Park my Lancia Flaminia Supersport Zagato

By now, we’d nearly reached the city limits. After a right turn onto 8 Mile, we soon came upon a place all too happy to advertise its presence: The Detroit Renegades M/C.

Panhead or Shovelhead?

Truth be told, John R., while a nice place to ride, doesn’t have a lot of visual impact. There was a nondescript strip club, with a terribly uncreative name:

Staple-Free, one would hope

That aside, I was taken by the homey ambience of Advance Steering Column Repair.

Nothing says “picnic” like Ignition Theft Repair

We ultimately had brunch chez The Lafayette Coney Island.  Here’s a photo of the chili cheese fries we ate to toast our successful ride.  It’s also an opportunity to vote for your favorite Coney  Island locale.

Brunch, Detroit Style



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.