Back in the fall, I took some visitors from out of town and out of the country (plus a newbie from the area), on a Tour De Hood ride. Being from Switzerland and Boston via Seattle, they wanted to see one of Detroit’s iconic ruins – The Packard Plant. I’m not usually into ruin porn, and lord knows there are enough photos of that collapsing disaster available for your delectation, but the ride turned out to be more interesting than I had thought at its onset. Here we are, prepping for the ride.
From left to right: The Geomaster, misterarthur, Topsider, The Boston Bomber, and Monsieur Tonton
It was a really windy day – not the best of cycling conditions, and getting to the Packard Plant meant heading right into the gusts. So we zig-zagged towards it.
Thar she blows, matey
The zig-zaginess of our travels were not for naught, as we, typically, passed a couple of interesting TDH-like spots along the way.
There was a (defunct?) motorcycle club headquarters:
“BFF” is not something I usually associate with MCs, but what do I know?
We also passed the Husky Fence Co., which, along with fencing, sells Gates, Guards, and, rather unexpectedly, Dirt.
Topsoil’s for sissies. In Detroit, we prefer plain old dirt
Another motorcycle club soon came into view. This example is clearly going for a more butch motif than the scrambled consonants club noted above. They are also fighting a losing battle to have Detroit take away the title of “Sin City” from Las Vegas. (And by the by, doesn’t that “C” look like a Pac Man ghost?
They’re tough. On the English Language. Deciples? Decipies? Decibels?
I hope they didn’t have the spelling error tattooed all over their arms and chests.
Much of the artwork I encounter on my rides is unsigned or unclaimed by its creator. This fella, however, seems to have spent as much time advertising himself as he did creating the dancing machine he painted.
Area Code 313, if you need to contact Bird
Over on Goss, we passed the Houston Grill, which has what appears to be its whole menu painted on its exterior. I’ll admit, Ham Hocks and Tomales (sic) are a type of fusion cuisine I had hitherto been unaware of .
You say Tomale, and I say Tamale
Does any city in North America have more tire stores per capita than the Motor City? I’d wager not. Van Dyke Tire does other work, too: mufflers and brakes.
Guess they specialize in drum brakes: Those are brake shoes, not disc pads
Should you be interested, Van Dyke Tire seems to have pretty reasonable prices on oil changes and hand car washes. They will also clean your vehicle “In 3out” for $60.
I wonder if yellow used tires carry a premium price
On we went to the Packard plant. We had a very fortuitous meet-up with a group of fellows who live in one of the abandoned garages across the alley from the ruins of the plant itself. They know everything about the place. What’s safe. What isn’t. Who put the tvs on the roof. They’ve sort of taken on the role of Packard Plant Docents for visitors. Naturally, they gave us a guided tour. The fellow on the left with the brown hat is a reporter who also happened to be there that day.
Meet the Packard boys. And scribe
The Packard Plant has plenty o’ street art festooning its exterior: Here’s a sample you may not have caught elsewhere:
Comely Graffiti, indeed
I stayed outside to keep an eye on our bicycle collection, while Tonton, the Bomber, the Geomaster and Topsider went in for a look-see. We happened to be outside the section of the factory where Banksy’s artwork had been “curated” (read: Stolen) either by Gallery 555 or the mysterious owners of the plant itself. You can read more about Banksy’s visit to Detroit on the excellent Detroit Funk site. There’s still plenty of stuff to see:
Trash ‘n’ water
graffiti er, street art, that isn’t done by Bansky. Like this, mmm fish?
This is for you, Al!
And this somnolent looking guy:
There’s a very alert man to our right (his left).
Tour over, we headed back, our fingers numbed and our faces chafed. The out-of-towners were delighted. I got to see my first Dirt Store. All was well in the hood.
Utopia is right around you. All you have to do is look.
I promise to be a little more regular in my “off season” posts. I’ll try and get in some winter tours soon. Until then, best wishes for a great 2011!