Van Dyke Avenue, The Atmospheric Training Academy, and the world’s best name for a barber shop

Saturday’s ride took me the length of Van Dyke Avenue; actually its length within the Detroit City limits. (We turned around at 8 mile, not wanting to venture into the wilds of Center Line.) Van Dyke is named for a former mayor of Detroit, James A. Van Dyke. Were the world a perfect place, the street name would be kept the same, but to honor the great Earl Van Dyke, keyboardist and bandleader of the Funk Brothers, the great Motown house band.

erlvandkNot the eponymic Van Dyke, but the Van Dyke

First up on view, Michigan’s Oldest Bank. Until recently, it was a Domino’s Pizza outlet (hence the busted sign).  You know it’s the oldest bank in Michigan because it says so, right on the edifice itself. (You won’t be able to make it out in the photo, but should you want to verify the claim, it’s on the corner of Kercheval and … yes, that’s correct, Van Dyke.)

oldestbankNo money, no pizzas, no buyers

Until you cross Gratiot, Van Dyke is mostly residential.  Like a number of severely depressed parts of the City, this section of Van Dyke it trying to drag itself up by its bootstraps.  Here’s an exhortation to the locals:

self-helpWork, Earn Money, Spend Money

There’s a nicely painted bench near the sign – I think it’s a bus stop, but these days it’s hard to say for sure, because the city is cutting back services left, right, and center, including bus services.

benchFor your own safety and comfort, please hold the hand rail

I passed a boarded up theatre – I’m positive I saw a King Crimson/Procol Harum concert here when I was a tadpole, but for the life of me, I can’t remember the name of the venue. UPDATE: It was the Eastown Theatre.

theatrewideMystery Theatre

There’s a wonderful detail above the former Marquee – something you don’t see at today’s octoplexes.

theatretightShakespeare subservient to comedy. Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of humor

I asked a local passerby if he remembered what the theatre used to be called, but all he could recollect was that the last time the building was open, it was a methadone clinic.

Detroit seems to have more than its fair share of tire stores (could be related to our giant potholes), but perhaps no other has a paint job to match that of D.O.T. tires

nousedtireguaranteeMonsieur Michelin meets Mister Sponge Bob

Once again, my photo doesn’t do it justice.  It’s an honest shop.  As it says above “Blow Horn”:   “What’s up Doc?  YOU KNOW there’s NO guarantee on Used Tires.”

Cooley’s Lounge, is, as far as I could see, shut down. But after looking around on the internets, crazily enough, there’s a web listing for Cooley’s Lounge online. While the building promises Blues & Dancing, the web site I linked to claims “Gay/Lesbian Lounge Music”.  I like the guitar, which looks like the ill-begotten love child of a Gibson Explorer and a Super 400.

cooleysloungeLooks closed to me, but who knows?

There’s a schizophrenic (or is that multiple personality disorder?) quality to many of Detroit’s main streets, and you’re apt to see strip clubs right next door to day care centers. True! Continuing the trend, the next thing I noticed after passing Cooley’s was this reminder:

salvationfreeHurry Up!

Every city has cranky citizens; Detroit is no exception.  We do need help here, so the sentiments behind these signs aren’t completely unwarranted.

sqrewedWhere’s that stimulus money, any way?

I like the novel spelling of “sqrewed” and “communiies”, but I still miss the possessive in “wheres”. After all, I am still a member in good standing of the grammar police.

Stroh’s was our local beer. The Stroh family owned and made Detroit’s “Fire Brewed” beer, but then sold out to some faceless conglomerate that ran the brand into the ground. A note of interest:  Stroh started making ice cream during Prohibition, as means of keeping the company running during the dry years. (p.s.: You know the song “Jailhouse Rock”? There’s a lyric in it: “The whole rhythm section was the Purple Gang”. That was a Detroit gang of bootleggers.)

strohsAmerica’s “Favorite”

Back when I was in college, I worked at Dodge Main, the original Dodge Brothers’ factory in Hamtramck.  Just down the line from me were some members of a motorcycle gang named “Satan’s Sidekicks”.  They had red helmets with attached red Devil’s horns. As a young naif, I thought they’d be meanies and try to thrash me. I was wrong, of course. Satan’s Sidekicks was really just a social club.  That said, I’m not sure about the socialness of a motorcycle club with the following motto:

libertyfreedomdeathCognitive Dissonance, anyone?

Sir Mix-A-Lot had a boffo hit a while back: “Baby Got Back”.  I’m sure you remember it. If you got back, and you’re looking for a place to shop, you may want to check this place out.

biggirlsYes, indeed, they do

OK. Next up, the best-named barber shop anywhere in the English-speaking world, and singularly à propos for my fair city.

illcutyaThe Demon Barber of  Van Dyke?

Continuing the tradition of misspelled Detroit signage, I present to you “Pittbull” (sic) Tattoo’s (sic) & Body Piercing.  I noticed a number of lawn-sign type ads for the Pittbull company along my ride. Business is either slow, or they’re making enough profit for marketing. The painting that is the focal point of the shop mystifies me to some degree, it looks (to me) like a combination of a V-8 engine cutaway (I think those are pistons), a heart pierced by thorns, flames (hell?) and a bunch of skulls.  It’s like Hieronymus Bosch meets Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. You decide.

pittbullTats ‘n’ Holes

More of the piston motif can be found by carefully scrutinizing the Mojo Auto Parts sign. I believe that’s a piston behind the wheel. And there’s a Jolly Roger in there for good measure.

mojoautopartsHope this mojo works on you

Next, another strip club. It was called (The) Duchess Lounge – here’s the old sign. The thong is for the prudes in the area, I guess.

duchesssideDon’t know why there’s a 2 x 4 nailed across her head

Either it’s under new management, or the name wasn’t packing them in like it used to, as the club is now partially renamed Minx, or if  you take the uncovered part of the old name and combine it with the new, “DucMinx”.

duschessminxOpen for your pleasure

Once again, and true to form, the next thing I ran across was a church with a fantastic message board. I’d love to meet the pastor, who clearly has a sense of humor.

signbrokenAll are welcome to…find out inside

The uplifting spirit continued on to the impossibly-optimistic towing service next door. I guess if you’re sitting in your car while it’s being towed, all you could see is up.

upwardvisiontowingEver-alert auto towing service

Scroll back through my older posts, and you’ll soon discover that much about Detroit mystifies me. I have another piece to add to my collection of establishments whose purpose is not quite clear to me. I guess the Atmospheric Training Academy could train you for lots of things. But what, exactly?  Pilot’s license? Weatherman? EPA Air Quality Monitor? Just thinking karmic thoughts? I honestly don’t know. Please feel free to add your guesses to the comments. Anyway, here it is.

atmospherictrainingStump the misterarthur winner for this week

By now, I had just about run out of Van Dyke, and it was time to head home. Not too far from the ATA is the famous (I hear) 007 Gentlemen’s Club. No question about its purpose.

007RAWR, as my friend Mandy would say

If you decide this might be a place worth visiting, you should know that there are some things you cannot bring along with you for your evening’s fun:

noweaponsTrès Civilized

While weapons and guns are not permitted, everything else appears not just to be accepted, but encouraged.

007poster8 p.m. ’till you drop

A couple more interesting sights presented themselves before I got home. There’s the flaming tire tire shop (which also, curiously, has a rainbow in its logo, though you can’t see it from this angle.)

flamingtiresHot Tires, anyone?

There was the almost-correctly spelled Jamaican Restaurant, which may or may not be open for business. (Looks like a new paint job, so I’m betting on the former.)

trippleII, eye, aye

Back in the olden days, there was an “adult entertainment” establishment called, with a full sense of the irony implied in its name, “The Grosse Pointe Athletic Club”.  It went out of business, but was reborn as “Cover Girls”.

covergirlsDig that dated art style

Judging by the style of the art, I’m guessing Cover Girls closed its doors before the turn of the century.

Then it was time to grab something for lunch. Three options presented themselves:

oxtailporkchopfishOne of each, please

As the establishment was closed, I went home and ate a hot dog. Dearborn brand natural casing,  if you must know. Gotta help the local economy any way I can.


9 thoughts on “Van Dyke Avenue, The Atmospheric Training Academy, and the world’s best name for a barber shop

  1. Outta this world, kick ass, bad ass martial arts is my guess for the Atmospheric…..on 2nd thought, maybe they are all about ambience

    • I know our comments are a long time coming however, we are a School of Martial Arts! Thus was a temporary location we used several years ago to provide “free” services to low income youth! We still provide “free” services to low income community residents through our over 15 year collaboration with the DPL’S Monteith & Chandler Park Branches!

      Our new Dojo/School is located at 7958 Schaefer Hwy corner of Tireman conveniently located at the Detroit/Dearborn border. We are a combative school which focuses on practical self defense applications, although our priority is youth centered we also work with adults, women, senior citizens, and all interested in personal safety!! If you would like more information about our program and services, please visit our website!

  2. Arthur, I grew up right down the street from “Cover Girls.” Used to be called the Pointe Athletic Club. Still a gentlemen’s establishment, just a high-falutin’ name.

  3. Just realized you already called out the old P.A.C. name. Always thought it an odd location, right in the middle of a fairly normal (back in the day) neighborhood. My brother (nine years my senior) would go there in its heyday. Apparently, they would hand out little drumstick-like “knockers” to bang on the tables to call the ladies over. Too much P.A.C. info maybe?

  4. Atmospheric Training Academy appears to be a Self-Defence School.

    I found this in a listing of classes from the public library: (Search the document for ATMOSPHERIC)[It is on page#9 of the PDF]


    Here is what the inside of the Easttown theater looks like.

    [CLICK ON PIC to view images of the interior} It was beautiful!

  5. Atmospheric Training Academy is a martial arts school that has been moved to Tireman and Schaeffer. They teach mixed martial arts with a focus on ninjutsu (ninja arts). Highly recommended for people looking for self defence training.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s