Intro to the Tour De Hood for a relative Detroit Newbie

The Legal Eagle and I hosted a guest on the Tour De Hood on the 19th of August, whom I will henceforth refer to as WCC(B). You’ll have to ask the Legal Eagle to explain the name; just remember, he’s a Legal EAGLE, and is not likely to say much.

The Tour covered some ground we’ve seen before on the TDH, offering up a simple ride round Detroit’s inner ring of beauty, Grand Blvd. We started off heading past John King Books, a great place for bibliophiles.

Used book-a-rama

We then continued down Fort Street and took a slight detour to introduce the WCC(B) to Le Petit Zinc. The misterarthurs, en famille, had eaten there the night before. (I enjoyed a toothsome Salade Nicoise). Here’s a shot of LPZ  from the inside.

Le Petit Zinc. From the inside. Friday evening

Need something shredded? What better place to go than “Shred Me”?

Me Shred Good. You call. Me Shred

We introduced her to St. Anne’s (our most venerable Catholic parish), which I’ve written about before, but, fortunately, it being a Sunday, we were able to go in and look around before services started.  Here’s a shot toward the altar:

Our very own Pillar of the Earth

Here’s a tighter shot of one of the stained glass windows. It’s really a superb church.

Stained glass windows illuminating the story of ___________

Our next stop was the Detroit River end of Grand Blvd., at, appropriately enough, a less-than tidy park called, in a fit of civic inspiration, “Riverside Park”. We went there, not for the litter, but to show WCC(B) Detroit’s two unique bateaux (wait, I’m not at Le Petit Zinc anymore, make that boats): Our very own fireboat, (yes, it’s part of the Detroit Fire Department) as well as the JW Wescott II, the only mailboat in the country that delivers mails to passing ships. Isn’t that cool?

The Wescott II even has its own zip code

I believe the Fireboat is named the Curtis Randolph

Along the way up Grand Blvd., we rode under this gaily (original definition) decorated underpass. If you’ve got anything taller than a van (like a car with a bike rack on the roof), I’d consider a detour. While perky, it’s very low.

The little underpass that couldn’t

I hate to bore my readers with yet another photo of the African Bead Museum, but it is an essential part of any Tour De Hood. We had to show it to the WCC(B) to make her initial ride complete. Here’s an effigy (scarecrow?) I haven’t shown before:

Welcome to the intersection of Grand Blvd and Grand River

There are many experts in the fields of urban planning and people friendly architecture. I wish someone in either field would weigh in on the relative goodness of welcoming you to high school (Northwestern) with what appears to be an antique example of Naval weaponry.

Damn the No Child Left Behind! Full class schedule ahead!

The Legal Eagle showed the WCC(B) the interior of the Fisher Building. (Another do not miss part of Detroitdom), and we passed by some interesting street art (I’m going to use that phrase now to avoid misspelling grafitti er, graffitti, um graffiti any longer) en route to the Mother of All Ruin Porn, the Packard Plant. (Always guaranteed to blow an out-of-towner’s mind). Here you go: Word and Pictures:

It’s a limb! Nice toenail polish, too.

Here, someone is irritated with cyclists (can’t imagine why), and encourages racy behavior:

Any bike shop owners care to tell me exactly which part of my bike that is?

We made our mandatory stop at the Avalon Bakery, which was crowded with a clot of Wolverine club cyclists. This led the  WCC(B) to observe that road cycling appears to be the only amateur sport wherein the participants deem it necessary to kit themselves out with gear loaded with sponsor logos. Do runners do that? No. Golfers? No. And let’s not get into the it-seems-to-be-a-rule-that-you-have-to-wear-Spandex(r). (Well, she didn’t say all that, but the gist is accurate).

After a brief inside tour of the Guardian building, we went our separate ways. Back on Jefferson, I had to get a photo of another of Detroit’s sui generis fusion cuisine establishments. Scroll down through the past posts, and you’ll catch a shot of the “Asian Corn Beef” restaurant over on Wyoming.  Dr. Dre’s combo takes it to a whole other level. I leave you with this combo for your imagination to consider:

mmmmmmmmm. Now that’s eatin’

Map of the ride: Courtesy of Der Legal Eagle. Click here

Mind-blowing storefront, plus no muff to tuff (sic)

Grand River is a street of many delights. And I’m not talking about the Motor City Casino. (About which I have no opinion, having never been in it, though it is on Grand River). Should you be so inclined, you can ride it all the way from Downtown Detroit to East Lansing (over 90 miles).  I wasn’t. But that didn’t stop me from witnessing many wonderful sights.

I’ve never seen the MBAD\ABA African Bead Museum before, which is curious; its exterior, in my opinion, is one of Detroit’s wonders of wonders. And really difficult to miss.

beadmuseumcornerView from the corner

It’s at the intersection of two Grands; Grand River and W. Grand Blvd. Absolutely mind-blowing decoration. It’s entirely covered with shards of mirror and wild painting. I couldn’t capture its splendidness in a single shot. Here’s more detail of the mirrors and decoration:

beadmuseum2I’m reflected in there somewhere

Here’s a shot down its length. Again, I really suggest you go see it for yourself to get the full impact.

beadmuseum3Shiny and colorful

There’s an outbuilding of sorts, (I guess), which is equally eye pleasing.

beadmuseumoutbuildingIt’s shiny. Very shiny

There’s even a back yard “sculpture garden” of sorts. Here’s a glimpse of what awaits you:

beadmuseumbackyardMask ‘n’ Clunker

People like to bring out-of-towners to the Heidelberg Project, (and rightly so), but I strongly urge you to take them to the Bead Museum, for the full Detroit experience.

There’s more to see on Grand River, of course.  There’s the Architectural Salvage Warehouse of Detroit, for example – which has one of the more exuberant murals I’ve seen on my rides about town. It is a 503 non-profit whose stated purpose is to “keep materials out of landfills through architectural salvage”.

architecturalsalvageThe entrance is on the other side of the building.

One of Detroit’s former temples of gastronomy was Carl’s Chop House – which received some notoriety by sparing the life of an enormous lobster a couple of years back. Googling it might give you the impression that it’s still open. Sadly, that’s not the case. (Unless a van with a flat tire is someone’s idea of a welcome mat.)

carlsnomowideCarl’s is no more

Here’s a better shot of the sign:

carlsnomotightCarl evades the grammar police.

I was struck by the proper use of the possessive apostrophe; Detroit seems to have an undue share of oddball misspellings.  This place, for example, is clearly an auto repair shop. Or maybe a combo auto repair shop and figure skating academy.

axelsThe perfect Tonya Harding headquarters

Death Spirals and triple Lutzes aside, I was quite pleased by the advertising copywriter who developed this slogan. (I think it’s a slogan. It could be some arcane admission that they have no muff to tuff connections on hand.)

totuffRing bell for clarification

Better news awaited. It appears that the Organization of American States has an under-publicized Detroit Headquarters. That, or it’s an out of business bar.

orgofamerstatesBar or NGO?

I also ran into a self proclaimed “sports dive w/food” called TV. I’m going to ask for some hipsters to help me out here. (I’m not much of a clubber myself) I did dig the sign.


Teevee paradise

What leads me to believe it’s more than a run of the mill sports dive was the moderne patio design. (Gotta love those booths)

sportsdivepatioTV’s patio

In all, a lovely day en route on the Tour De Hood. (Well, I blew a hole in my front tire’s sidewall, and had to repair it two more times which wasn’t the most pleasant way to start the day.) But the memories. Ah, the memories.