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.
Not 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.)
No 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:
Work, 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.
For 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.
There’s a wonderful detail above the former Marquee – something you don’t see at today’s octoplexes.
Shakespeare 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
Monsieur 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.
Looks 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:
Every city has cranky citizens; Detroit is no exception. We do need help here, so the sentiments behind these signs aren’t completely unwarranted.
Where’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.)
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:
Cognitive 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.
Yes, indeed, they do
The 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.
Tats ‘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.
Hope 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.
Don’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”.
Open 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.
All 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.
Ever-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.
Stump 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.
RAWR, 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:
While weapons and guns are not permitted, everything else appears not just to be accepted, but encouraged.
8 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.)
Hot 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.)
I, 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”.
Dig 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:
One 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.