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!

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Hindu, Egyptian, and Christian Deities, Strip Clubs, plus the Pot of Gold at the End of The Rainbow

A potpourri of sights to see on the Tour De Hood today – coincidentally, the same day the Tour De France finishes in my sister’s delightful hometown, Verbier, Switzerland.  That’s not to say, of course, that there’s any resemblance between a fab ski resort and Detroit. (Well, they’re both on same planet, but that’s about it.)

First, the Deities:  I passed many places of worship today, among them a Detroit classic: The Storefront Church.  This one is the Martin Evans Missionary Baptist Church on Gratiot & Outer Drive.

churchcornerStore + Steeple = Church

It was a bit early for services, so I can’t comment on the number of parishioners at this church, but I’m guessing it’s a bit more popular than the Hindu spot I rode by later. The Durga Temple appears to have seen better days. Durga means ‘invincible’ in Hindi, but I guess that power doesn’t cover weeds and awnings.

durgaDurga-philes: This is for you

It’s kind of hard to figure out what the next place is (or was, I can’t tell). Amen Ra’s Place seems a little casual for the God of Creation, but as my son would say, “I’m no expert”.

amenraIt goes without saying, the area code is 313

On to more earthly pleasures. I should probably schedule a Tour De Strip Clubs, as Detroit is chock-a-block full of them, two of which I passed today. One open, one closed. Here’s the open one.

boxxxx means xxtra pleasure

The next appears to be shuttered, I’m sad to say, as it is most excellently named:

pleasestationPlease please, me, oh yeah, like I please you

Today’s Tour De Hood route was at the behest of my cousin Paul. He’s on a mission to photograph every Detroit Fire Station. I don’t want to spoil his party, so I’m only going to show you a couple of photographs of the stations we visited today.  One was Engine Company 60, at Hoover and Manning.

engine60Building started 1931, finished 1936

There’s a plaque inside honoring Roland Martin, a fire fighter killed in the line of duty.

rolandwaters

Engine 60 hero

There were, of course, more typically Detroit-like sights to see.

Detroit may be the only city in America that advertises its murders. Here’s a billboard for an unsolved case:

murderbillboard

Anonymous tips requested

The appropriately-named Mystik Gas Station seems to have mysteriously fallen down upon itself:

mystikcollapseNo gas today

Detroit has a sui generis style of signage that has, it is claimed, helped turn (a) “typical urban landscape into a canvas for some of the city’s most vibrant folk art.”

While the next photo may not capture the pure Detroitness of “Murder Burger” or “Mr. Foote’s Hand Car Wash”,  I was confused for a moment by the portrait on this tire store – not sure if it was of Frank himself or President Obama.

franknobamaFrank or Obama

Here’s a home-made call to action: we come 2 you hair styling. I don’t know if these are reasonable prices or not.

tyzillions-and-mohawksTyzillions

Lest you get the wrong impression, not everything in Detroit is hand made or collapsed or out of business. One going concern is the superbly named Eutectic Engineering, with this fabulous logo:

eutecticGrain by grain excellence

As Eutectic’s workman-like web site says, apropos of its investment casting capabilities,”When a part’s math data is to (sic) complex for most manufacturing methods, or the parts (sic) harsh operating environment requires it to be made from one of the toughest alloys, investment casting offers the benefit of near set shape (? – I don’t know if that’s a mistake or not) resulting in superior strength vs. weight characteristics.”

Got that? Good.  Back to English.

Here’s a gathering space for Good Humor-ish trucks. Business probably isn’t the greatest this year, what with the City of Detroit’s unreal 22.5% unemployment rate, and colder-than-I-can-remember July temperatures, but we’re all optimists, right? Nose to the grindstone, hand in the freezer, and it’ll all be right in the end. Just follow the rainbow.

potogoldGood Humor & Generic Ice Cream Trucks

What the photo doesn’t show is the proximity of Pot O’ Gold to Hamtramck, Detroit’s Polish, Arab, Bangladeshi, Hmong town.

Just imagine looking at this while listening to an amplified Muezzin, and you’ll get a small idea of what Detroit is like.