A circle of Detroitly delights

You just never know what you’re going to ride by on the Tour De Hood. Case in point, the ride the Legal and Eagle and I did the other day.

Here’s a link to our ride: (Thanks to Legal Eagle) LINK TO ROUTE

Mack Avenue is looking both up and down. While there’s some new signage, other buildings are still decomposing at various rates.

Alley Scratchers looks pretty new-ish, if you’re on the look for a new tat or some piercings. (Note: They don’t appear to be open in the morning)

$20 seems like a deal to me

Mountain Tire, on the other hand, appears to be permanently shut. (I’m not certain, but I think I can state that with some authority based on the price for that tire).

I’d say 90% of the tire stores in Detroit are painted yellow (or yellowish)

The Peace Lutheran School is, I think, similarly shut down.  Nevertheless, it’s a pretty good Cliff Notes version of building conctruction, as you can easily see the layers that make up its facade and structure.

Not too many Lutherans left on this part of Mack, I guess

Here’s an interesting retail “outlet”. You are offered the possibility to buy “Bank Foreclosures”.  Given the arcane means banks have been devising to artificially inflate their bottom lines (See: Barclays Libor Scandal), I doubt this is an opportunity to buy a foreclosed bank at a bargain price.

Get ’em while they’re hot

I’m reasonably positive this is NOT a retail establishment. And I’m not sure if it’s dissing or supporting our local Crip Club.

Yep,that about sums it up

If I had the time, I’d do a post that only had photos of barber shop/hair stylist establishments I’ve ridden by. Here’s one with a spiritual dimension

Better a Fade of God than the alternative

There’s a curious sign in the nail shop next door.  It probably violates a number of federal statutes (ask the Legal Eagle for details, if you must), but I can see the validity of its message.

Sorry boys, gotta stay outta here

Things were looking a little more upbeat a bit further towards downtown. An ice cream shop looked pretty spruced up. (With a nod to Albus Dumbledore?)

I confess: I’ve never actually purchased snow before

The Legal Eagle wanted to try and check out a former interurban train station (or it may be a bus station; I can’t remember which), so we turned onto Gratiot.  The building is still there (more or less), but we couldn’t figure a way in through the fencing. However, we did spot another interesting shop.  It makes a rather grandiose claim about itself on one of its signs:

Here, it claims to be “Michigan’s Best Kept Secret”

The next version of the claim is a little more toned down, perhaps on advice of counsel:

O.K., maybe we’re only “Gratiot’s Best Kept Secret!” 

There wasn’t much worth noting on Conner over by the Detroit City Airport, but new delights awaited us a bit further on:  To wit: A motorcycle club headquarters.

Any guesses what The “FW” stands for? I know MC = Motorcycle Club

 

There’s a semi-open (I honestly couldn’t tell) Chrysler axle plant over on Lynch Road. At one point, the parking lot must’ve been pretty crowded.  Here’s a photo of one of the turnstiles to enter the lot.

We also passed turnstiles 5, 6, and 7

Our ride came to an unplanned halt, as a very very long train had stopped (literally) in its tracks.  It sat there for a while, which gave us the opportunity to examine some of the mysterious signage on the car carrier cars: Here’s another quiz for you all

What the heck does this mean?

As I said, the train stopped for a very long time, which gave me the opportunity to snap a somewhat oxymoronic photo:

 Please note: While Union Pacific is building America, it’s falling apart at the same time. (See power line/phone pole in rear)

Once the train finally got moving, (It did make a really cool sound as the cars started dragging each other forward) we trundled onto Caniff. (Hi Tim Suliman!) We passed a video store with all your international needs covered.

Shouldn’t that read Bosnian?
Here’s something you probably didn’t know about Detroit. Just across I-75 is what is claimed to be something way better than “Michigan’s best kept secret”.  I present to you “The Nation’s 1st ISO 9002 Registered Boiler Rental Company”. Ta da!
Don’t go renting a boiler from anywhere else. Or else
We decided we’d gone far enough down Caniff, so we took 14th Street towards the center of the city.  (As it were). Along the way, I have to report that it’s probably not a good idea to have your out-of-town guests try an book a room at the Pink Inn. Once again, I’m guessing, but I don’t think they’re taking reservations any more.
The light is on (look carefully), but I don’t think anyone’s home
There is some glorious street art on Michigan Avenue and Vermont (I’m saving that for another post), but here’s some words to the wise in the meantime:
Neither a gossiper or a gossipee be
And a hint of what’s to come in a future post
Thank you, Lush, whoever you are
I need some help here, friends.  There’s a headquarters (I think) of a club (I think) that may have something to do with motorcycles (maybe) or ice making (could be).  The whole thing is so complicated, I can’t even invent a poll to help you help me decide. (Please feel free to throw in your suggestions via a comment).
Here’s the building:
Manse of Mystery
Perhaps you can help me decipher this.  Reading from left to right, we have: 1) “Headquarters President Nephew” 2) “Grand National President Mista Sonny Day Founder est 1969” and 3) (Least comprehensible) “Icicles”.
If it helps you, there are also a couple of images of very fierce looking dogs.
Example one:
Mean dog
Example two (as if a stop sign isn’t enough):
Maybe even meaner dog
Oddly enough, we didn’t hear (or see any actual dogs). Maybe they were licking some icicles in the shade.
We also decided to check out Detroit’s now-year-old hostel, which has some newly decorated features painted on its outside.  On the way there, we passed a house that looked as though it had been plucked from the Heidelberg Project.
Very inviting!
We also rode up and down a street that has its original brick pavers.  It’s only for a couple of blocks, but a nice reminder of Detroit’s past.
I’m a sucker for brick roads, even though they don’t make for smooth bike riding
We also spotted a nifty welding shop.  Check out the steel work here. Nice!
I don’t know if “Joe’s” is the real name. But it’s cool.
Before we made our way back home, we stopped at the Astro Coffee shop.  (It’s on the same block as Slow’s.)  I had the best egg sandwich I have ever eaten in my life. (Honest!) And a scrumptious cappuccino.  Definitely give it a try some time.
Here’s the nicely finished-off cappuccino:
Made by hand by someone who cares about what they’re doing
Finallly, someone had added a nice thought to the typical “Employees must wash hands” signs you see in every restroom these days.
Pretty good advice for everyone, I think
That was it for the day. As I remember, we had a nice tailwind back home, so all ended well.

In praise of riding slowly

There’s a nice about the Slow Bike Movement inSFGate today.  The Tour De Hood’s never been about Speed ‘n’ Spandex.  It’s about discovery.  And the pleasure of being on a bicycle.

As it says: “When I think about the Slow Bike Movement, I think of bikes that allow people to sit upright, see your surroundings, be more visible to your environment that you’re riding,” says Public Bikes’ Dan Nguyen-Tan. “As a company, we’re in the middle of this wave of growing numbers of people incorporating a bike into their daily lives.”

 

 

Do you like the new layout?

A Perplexing Paucity of Purveyors of Prurient Pleasures

If there are two streets in Detroit an outsider can name, they’re likely to be Woodward Ave and Eight Mile Road. Woodward from the olden days (think baby boomers and Dream cruisers), and Eight Mile from that rapper fella.  Locally, Eight Mile has the reputation of being Detroit’s Strip Club headquarters.

Eight Mile: The farthest edge of Detroit, shining its adult entertainment lights north towards the suburbs.

We could hardly wait to get there. Even if it was daylight.

The Legal Eagle and I’ve been up ‘n’ down Woodward a lot – but have, heretofore, skipped Eight Mile. Not because we’re prudes, but because Eight Mile isn’t the greatest road for cyclists – fast cars, right turn lanes, pavement eruptions near the side of the road, etc.  However, to celebrate Independence Day weekend, we decided to give it a go, as they our former colonizers put it.

We took the Cadieux/Morang/Hayes route to get there, (map here, courtesy the Legal Eagle) and espied some prototypical Detroit retail establishments along the way.

The Religious-Themed Barber Shop

The one and only Billy Shears’ Brother, Hallelujah

Then there’s the religious-themed car repair/tire store/towing service:

I guess I should get my car towed before the world ends

We also passed Monti E Spank’s barber shop/clothes store. It’s one of the few retail establishments I know of that has both dual functions and two names.

Representing the Area Code 313

I’ve never heard of Mr. Spank before – and oddly enough, neither has Google®.  Here is the result I got when I entered his name into that famous search engine:

Monti e Spank: Internet privacy expert and barber

Fatu’s Hair Braiding has a very nice mural. It’s very wide.

Half the Mural

Aside from its width, there’s something else that’s quite extraordinary about the mural, and that’s the map of Africa depicted on the left side. I blew up the photo a bit so you can see what I mean.

Africa: The Colonial Years

Nyasaland? (Now Malawi) German Southwest Africa? (Now Namibia) Belgian Congo? (Now Democratic Republic of the Congo) Anglo-Egyptian Sudan? (Now Sudan and, on July 9, 2011, the newly-independent Republic of South Sudan). Various Rhodesias, French West Africa, etc. etc.  Quite a history lesson, considering German West Africa ceased to be in 1915.

Visuals soon reverted to type. For some reason, Detroit tire stores have a fondness for flames.  Here’s an example. (You can find more by visiting some of my older posts.)

Vroomy!

We saw another (unfortunately defunct) towing service before we hit Eight Mile road. Not what I’d name my towing company, but what do I know?

I guess it’s a better promise than “demure towing”

Sure enough, before we hit the Eight, we saw another tire store. (What a surprise!)

Rainbow’s the name, rainbow-ish color’s the game

If I owned a jewelry store, and stated so proudly on my sign, you’d think I’d spell it correctly. Sure the big version’s correct, but that doesn’t excuse the slipshod execution of the word on its lower left:

Jewely repair. Eally?

By now, we’d made it to Eight Mile, and were prepared for a veritable parade of merchants of fleshly delights. Alas, such was not to be the case. There were only three adult entertainment establishments from Hayes to Livernois.

1) The Colosseum. Detroit’s Egypto-Roman palace of pleasure.

Strippimus Maximus

2). Trumpp’s.  Or maybe not Trumpp’s.  I’m not sure, as it was undergoing cosmetic enhancement surgery.

This might be called “All-Stars”. I’m not sure

3) Tycoons. Where Trumpp-like people hang out, I imagine.

Where the elite meet

That was it.

What a catastrophe!. (To quote Hans Rosling). I thought it would be more like Detroit’s own version of the Vegas “Strip” (figurative meaning of the word). One Exotic Entertainment Venue cheek by jowl with another. What happened? Did they all move to Dearborn or Michigan Avenue? Was there some sort of anti-strip-club-spotting veil over my eyes?

While we were saddened by only riding by three clubs, we perked up at some other retail establishments.  The way-over-the-top rim shop, Hot Wheel City:

No flames, but torrid nonetheless

Riding by Hot Wheel City, you could be in many places in the United States; but the next couple of stores had a certain home-grown quality about them. Like this place, which appears to be trading on a certain Swiss Watch manufacturer’s aura of excellence.

Don’t just repair your whip, rolex it!

The Legal Eagle proved his disclaimer chops when he noted the escape clause built into the sign in Rolexus’ window.

Please note: Not all

I think I discovered the source of Marshall Bruce Mather III’s stage name. You might think Slim Shady’s other name came from his first and last names’ initials, but I think he was really inspired by Cathy’s Appliance, and its misspelled slogan. That, or a former printer who can’t get em and en spaces out of his head.

Stacking em and selling en, Marshall

Up where Eight Mile (the road, not the movie) crosses I-75, the cyclist faces a choice: Take the fearsome climb, or skirt it and stay on the flats. As prudent tourers, we chose the easy way.

The Hors Categorie Col de Tourmaleight mile (a Tour De France Joke)

We could’ve ridden Eight Mile further west, but decided, given other weekendly obligations, to take a turn on Livernois. Right on the corner is the (claimed to be, and I have no reason to doubt it) oldest Jazz Club in the World, Baker’s Keyboard Lounge.  I used to go there when I was in high school.  A great club with great music, and, according to the reviews online, still a great place to go.  You can read the upcoming schedule, and more about the club, right here. So do so.

Everybody who’s anybody in Jazz has played here

The section of Livernois we found ourselves on has been known for a long while as “The Avenue of  Fashion”, and there are still banners stating that assertion hung from street lamps in the area. What caught my eye, however, was the unintended humor of the name of this, um, medical facility:

How apt, if you’re having a colonoscopy

We then swung homeward on 7 mile – which, if you’re on a bicycle, is a much better place to ride than Eight Mile.  Less traffic, fewer “I hate bicycles” vibe, more fun sights.

We stopped at a fire station to see if the firefighters who work there have a nickname, as is the case with most fire stations in Detroit.  Sure enough, they do: The Seven Mile All-Stars.

18 + 44 = All Stars!

A special shout out goes to Lieutenant Dexter Dixon, who not only told us the nickname, but turned out to be a real deal cyclist, and former racer, who not only knows how to lace up wheels, but also raced on a track bike with tied and soldered spokes. (You old-timers will know what I’m talking about). Anyone else wishing to find out what the heck that means can find out more here.  Lieutenant Dixon currently rides two Cannondales and a Klein.  And he’s a really cool guy, too. Stop by and say misterarthur said hi.

Back across I-75, a welcome sight for Rastafarians everywhere –  or, I guess, anyone with a valid Michigan Medical Marijuana license. Need some pot? Go here:

Meds, dude

Just don’t go wandering in without the necessary forms and documents. Or you could wind up in the clink;

For “Alternative Health Wellness Center”, read: Marijuana store

We didn’t stop in, as neither of us had the necessary paperwork, and, anyway, it was closed.  As was an, ahem, interestingly named dual purpose shop.

Pharty Hard? There’s a med for that. Or go to Cheeks Colon Care over on Livernois

Even though we saw very few strip clubs on Eight Mile, one hove into view just up Seven Mile.  At least it could be a strip club. With a name like this, who’s to say?

I’m guessing it doesn’t cater to women

Over on Harper, you can find the “Anointed Hands Christian Hair Temple”. Over here, the reigning middleweight champ:

Check those pecs! Blessed hands, indeed. 

Sorry about the off-angle photo. The sun was coming up behind the building, and shooting straight at the sign, all I could get was a giant lens flare.

Over on Conner and I-94, there’s a small triangle of grass and trees, a tiny fence, and a very small plaque. The plaque memorializes the Detroit City Cemetery, which may or may not have been here for a while, after the original Detroit Cemetery was displaced by the Eastern Market (!). If you’re confused, ask the Legal Eagle. He can explain.  Anyway, here’s the plaque:

Only problem: No Cemetery here. We looked

Closer to home, we took a spin down Manistique Street, which, sadly, is looking pretty grim.  There’s a fire station near Manistique and Warren, where we found a friendly firefighter cleaning his personal rig.

Engine 52. Home of the “Manistique Madmen”

In a land of oddball barber shop names, you can add one more to the list.  I present to you:

No small-timers need apply

Aside from the strip club fail, it was a great ride, on a beautiful day, and we met a great firefighter.  There’s always something worth seeing on the Tour De Hood. Ride a bike in Detroit some time. It’s fun!

There’s no little hotel called “The Shady Rest” on the Junction (street)

Looking for long-ish roads to cover on my rides, I decided to ride Junction Street from its foot to its head, mostly to discover the Junction for which I assumed the street was named.

(BTW, the title of this post will probably mystify anyone younger than a baby boomer – it’s a reference to one part of the “Hooterville” trilogy – “The Beverly Hillbillies”, “Petticoat Junction”, and “Green Acres”.)  All TeeVee Klassics.

On the way down to the start of Junction, I passed a “coming soon” sign for what I can only imagine is a motorcycle club:

Brick City? A nickname for Detroit that’s new to me

“Brick City”, according to Wikipedia, is the nickname of Newark New Jersey. Maybe this is a franchise of some kind.  Over at the Urban Dictionary, the claim is made that the nickname “is derived from the large amount of crack bricks that can be purchased” [there].  Your guess is as good as mine as to the truthiness of that claim.

The Mies Van Der Rohe memorial on Lafayette is looking pretty sharp, though I can’t tell for sure whether the foliage is on purpose or is just weeds.

Sadly, “Less is More” appears to refer to the number of empty shops in the plaza

To get to Junction, I rode down Fort Street.  Along the way, I passed McCarthy’s Pub. From what I can tell, via a cursory internet hunt, it’s open for business.

Free Poo

More incendiary delights awaited, as further along, I spotted a plume of smoke to my right.  It so happened that I rode past a fire station shortly after I saw the smoke, and spoke to a firefighter who informed me it was a car fire.  Sure enough, on Military & The Fisher Freeway service drive, a Mustang GT convertible was being doused with water.

Move along folks, nothing to see here

Making a detour onto Military turned out to be a good thing.  I spotted this nice sign for a defunct appliance dealer:

Does a happy owner make for happy customers?

I also pedaled by an interesting metals provider.  Devoted readers of this site will know that I have a particular fondness for misspelled signage.  In this case, however, I suspect the word in question (you’ll spot it) is probably not a mistake as much as it is some nomenclature peculiar to that industry. You decide.

How much is that fine, anyway?

Back at the junction of Junction and West Jefferson, I began my trek up the street. I wouldn’t call this intersection a junction.

Riding in the Shadows of Mistersky

I began the hunt for whichever junction that was the inspiration for the street’s name. The junction of what. I don’t think a railroad crossing qualifies.

Not exactly a junction

Nor does a Mexican seafood restaurant.

Mmmm. Seafood. Not a junction

A bit further up, I passed one of two beautiful churches on Junction.  This is Holy Redeemer.

A junction betwixt heaven and earth?

At the intersection of Junction and Vernor, I spotted some tracks in the pavement – but I think these were street car tracks, and, since they’re curved, seemed like an oxymoronic junction anyway.

Tour De Hood philosophical question: Can a curve without a stop be a junction?

At the same intersection, I spotted this nice Coney Sign. Not a junction.

Duly noted

Crossing under 4 railroad tracks near Junction and McGregor was the closest thing yet to a junction – but even they didn’t seem to be the inspiration for the street name.

Not a junction. Maybe an intersection

The second beautiful church I passed is St. Hedwig. Saint Hedwig, the Duchess of Silesia, was married at the age of 12(!) to Henry I “The Bearded”, had seven children, then took a vow of chastity. She’s the patron saint of brides and Bavaria (among other things).

Two towers do not a junction make

While junctions were difficult to find, riding up Junction Street led me past another great ghost sign.  This one’s for Finck’s Overalls.  I’m going to post a couple of photos.  One of the sign itself,

Always look for the Union Label

the other, a close-up of Finck’s great advertising slogan:

“They wear like a Pig’s nose”. That’s a good thing

As usual, the superb blog Sweet Juniper got there first, and researched the company. Please pay the site a visit to read more.

Still, a mighty ghost sign is not a junction.

I was beginning to believe that there was no junction to be found on Junction Street.  Detroit did have a Milwaukee Junction (about which you can read here), and there is a West Vernor-Junction historical district, but no actual junction that I could see.  And I was running out of Junction Street.

Before its terminus, I cycled by this place for tots:

Nothing up my sleeve. Including a junction

The Kronk Community Center (on Junction & McGraw), looks as if it hasn’t been open since our former Mayor,  Kwame “The Disreputable” Kilpatrick was in office.

Kwame Kilpatrick, jailbird

At Warren, Junction Street ends. Across Warren you’ll find Hazlett Street. But at the end of the road, no Junction. No Shady Rest.  Just a do-it-all auto repair store.

Virtually no spelling errors! (Maybe there should be an “s” on “hose”)

Riding down Warren, I passed this nice community billboard

Look closely – there are ghosts on the swing set

Another sign attracted my attention. Simple and to the point.

I’ve heard of Parker House rolls, but not the sausage to go in them

I stopped, as is my wont, for refreshment and sustenance at the Avalon International Bakery.  I had, unfortunately, missed their anniversary party.  My cinnamon roll (with pecans), and a double short cappuccino were delicious, as always.  I did espy this mysterious tag on the Avalon’s wall.

Paging Dr. Brule

Junctionless, but sated, the rest of the ride was over grounds that I’ve covered before, so I won’t bore you with repetition.

Afterword.  Douglas Grant was kind enough to send me “The list of streets in Detroit, the names of which have been changed, with the dates of city ordinances changing the same”, published in 1891.  Until March 19, 1887, Junction Avenue was named “Lover’s Lane”.  Awww.