Boating Season in the Hood

I’m the first to admit that I’ve let much too much time elapse since I’ve updated the blog. Sorry about that. Anyway, Memorial weekend came, family gathered, and in what’s becoming (if you can count two holidays a trend) a kith ‘n’ kin tradition, we went on a group spin ’round the hood.

It also happened to coincide with Michigan’s traditional boating season – which is celebrated in its own peculiar way in the hood, too.  I don’t know about other cities, but there seems to be a trend of sorts of “storing” your boat in an empty lot, or trailering it where it’s difficult to extract it.

To wit: On the corner of Kercheval and (I swear) Lakeview (!) we spotted this lovely day cruiser

Ahoy, Mateys! Smooth seas ahead.

A bit further downtown I espied this little runabout in a back yard.  Don’t know how long it’s been there, or where it’s headed.

Land yacht

This isn’t just an east side thing.  Down ’round the edges of the Dearborn a “parking lot” was home to this previously-sea-worthy craft:

Yearning for open waters

In a much earlier post, I recorded what I believed (and still believe) is the shortest bike lane in the world, but since then, Detroit has become a veritable Disneyworld(r) of bike lanes. That, coupled with the paucity of vehicular traffic on the weekends makes Detroit more of a cycling heaven.  Voila! The St. Jean Cycling Lane, ready for your delectation.

Smooth riding ahead! (Note family member’s calves)

Even though bike lanes are sprouting, so is the “grass” in the vacant lots.  The city is seriously strapped for cash (again), and is cutting back on services (again), and has been remiss in tending to its greenery.  Note to self: This is what happens if you never cut your lawn.

 Oh, beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of neglected grass

Along with grass growing, I discovered a new record pothole. (I think this one’s an 8 on the misterarthur scale).  Unfortunately, my photographic ineptitude doesn’t show it off to full advantage.  Trust me, it’s a big ‘un.

The Bike-Swallowing Pothole: Not just deep, but long and wide, too. 

Ossian Sweet’s Home (see this post for details), has a nice rose bush in full bloom.

A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell so Ossian Sweet

The Detroit Waldorf School (building designed by Albert Kahn) is a wonderful institution (depending upon how much you buy into Rudolph Steiner’s er, somewhat oddball philosophy/religion/farming technique beliefs).  Truth is, my son had a wonderful experience there.  It’s a lovely building.  (Mr. Kahn also designed the Belle Isle Conservatory, the former GM building, Detroit’s crowning glory of ruin porn, the Packard plant, and many other famous edifices around our fair burg.)

The inside is beautiful, as well

The Waldorf School is on Burns and Mack, in Indian Village, and a block from a new-to-me-and quite-lovely garden.

The Indian VIllage Centennial Garden. Lovely

A bit further down Mack, things were a little more dodgy. The great Spanish poet, Garcia Lorca wrote: “La vida es sueño”. So is el former ice cream shop, now but a memory of frosty treats.

I don’t think Garcia Lorca ever saw the Dream Twist

We pressed forward to our destination (the Avalon Bakery), diverting through the Eastern Market to get there.  Along the way, I spotted two customized stop signs:  I guess both are warnings of sorts. The first suggests we keep our eyes lowered.

Roger that

The second, put there by either a philistine or an über-ironic urban hipster:

Oh, the irony. (Note family members in background)

Following some tasty treats and cappucini  at the Avalon, we meandered our way back home again.

I saw this nice typography on an electric substation.  I miss the days when cities used real designers to select municipal fonts. These days they just seem to slap Helvetica on everything and call it a day.

Note: Nothing to do with Submarines or the U.S. Navy

It was the day before Memorial Day, but we got a head start on matters by visiting the Elmwood cemetery, and more particularly the section honoring the soldiers who fought in the Civil War.  There’s a section of the cemetery dedicated to them; you ought to visit it some time.  One of the soldiers buried there was an adjutant on the staff of Ulysses S. Grant.

Some group or group of people had taken the trouble to mark the section with American flags.  If there can be beauty in a cemetery, it was on full display here in 2012.

Civil War Memorial Section, Elmwood Cemetery

All in all, a lovely family tradition continued, and a great day in the hood.


Happy Fourth of July from The Tour De Hood

I hope you are having fun celebrating the Fourth of July today. I wish I could transmit aromas via the web, for all along the TDH route this morning, I could smell charcoal being ignited for afternoon and evening festivities. (For you non-Detroiters, we have a very weird fourth, as we sort of co-celebrate with our Canadian neighbors to the south, whose national holiday is on the first. The city’s official “big” fireworks display was last week. Today, it’s taken over by individuals and smaller municipalities. By the way, fireworks are “illegal” in Michigan, but that doesn’t stop Detroiters from blowing things up in impressive style.)

Here’s a big 4 to remind you of the date. (And inexpensive tire repair – a hallmark of American independence)

happy4thSuch a Deal

Much of “urban” Detroit is abandoned or on its way to being abandoned. As a consequence, you’re more likely to run into prairie-ish areas than you might imagine. 2 miles from the heart of downtown it looks like wheat is making a comeback.

prairieAmber Wave of Grain – right next to a major thoroughfare

Detroit being Detroit, though, this prairie-like setting is a block or two away from an abandoned factory. (Continental Aluminum).

continentalNot Continental Motors

Nearby, I rode past an interesting exhortation to the local populace:

becoolAll the kids are doing it

What interested me was the addition (you can barely make it out on the left side of the photo) of the remnants of Nancy Reagan’s personal war on drugs.

nancyreaganJust say no to crack

I didn’t pass any dealers – weed or crack, along the way, but it was kind of early, and maybe they were taking the day off to celebrate the 4th, too.

Yesterday, I posted an in-progress mural across the street from Cliff Bell’s. Chris Steve Coy finished the job, as you can see by the photo below.

finishedmuralHygienic Dress League Mural #2

Good news is that the Predator in drag has a man friend now.

terminatrixmateGas mask guy ‘n’ gal.

For those of you who didn’t click on the Chris Steve Coy link yesterday, here’s the Hygienic Dress League’s first mural. (It’s on Cass, not far from the murals shown above).

hygienicdressHygienic Dress League Mural One

Many more people used to go downtown for their entertainment than they do today. This sign, I am sure, used to point to much fun for many people. I have no idea what restaurant, club, bar, or lounge the sign originally lured people into – perhaps someone can weigh in with an opinion or historical fact.


It still doesn’t feel like summer here. Grrrrrrr.  Maybe if the sun would come out for more than a few moments at a time it would heat up. But we’ve been living with semi-cloudy (semi-sunny for you optimists) weather for much too long to get any warmth momentum going.

4thskyLooking up on the 4th.

Finally, I spotted a unique pothole this morning. This photo doesn’t capture its peculiar qualities very well (sorry).  The best way I can characterize it is thusly:  It’s virtually horizontal.

horizontalpotholA non-vertical pothole

The potholes of Detroit continue to amaze in their variety.  I hope you all have a Fourth of July to remember.

Couldn’t ride this weekend, but here’s a pothole for your amusement.

I had to work this weekend, and couldn’t get in a ride. To keep your appetite for exciting TDH news at bay, here’s a 2009 contender for pothole of the year.


Pothole cum crime scene cum tire recycling center.

Back soon with more exciting photos of my fair city.