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Labor Day weekend in the hood.

Ah, the prospect of a long weekend. Plenty of time for exploring and cardio stretching. But the weather didn’t fully cooperate.

Saturday was just plain too windy. You’ve heard of the Beaufort Scale, no doubt, but since that is based largely on observed conditions at sea, I’ve made my own, based on observed conditions around my house. Saturday was too gusty for an enjoyable ride. I rate it a B.O.T.P.F on the misterarthur scale of wind velocity. (B.O.T.P.F. = Blowing Over The Patio Furniture). My neighbor’s bench and etagere had already blown over when I got up. So I skipped a tour on Saturday.

Sunday was glorious. Our stated goal was to visit the abandoned Dorais Velodrome at Mound Road and Outer Drive. That said, there were plenty of unplanned delights en route. You can follow our passage here: (Map courtesy of the Legal Eagle, official TDH cartographer).

I got a hair cut on Friday, but, alas, it wasn’t here: Someone’s retail dreams shuttered and shattered.

Nails? Hair? East Side Madame de la Farge?

The next place I photographed seemed as likely to cause an accident as cure one.

Get injured by falling mortar, get cured inside?

Harrell’s could be many things. Furniture shop. Interior Design Firm. One of those people who figure out your personal color scheme. Wall-painting service. Set Design. I guess part of its charm is its mystery. It turns out that Harrell’s is a re-upholstery shop. Looks like color is one of their specialities.

I’m not sure how you reupholster a coffee table

Across the street and down a bit is the mighty Davezilla’s self-proclaimed favorite store sign.  I can see why he likes it. When you got roaches, the one thing you want is someone to get rid of them, stat! This place makes its expertise immediately known.

Wonder if they can do anything about Detroit’s recent plague of bedbugs?

The first mystery entry of the day appeared shortly thereafter.  Nice new paint, and the store’s purpose is abundantly clear. Pet Supplies. With an accent on dogs. I get that. I’m a little nervous, however, about the offering between “accessories” and “houses”. Look closely at the photo:

I’ll take an ulna, a kidney, and a pair of lungs

There has to be a good, legal reason they’re advertising the fact that they sell body parts. My question is, whose body? Which parts?

Got meat? Need a case? Here’s the place for you. Cases galore, both new and used.  It’s too bad it’s not closer to Shopping Cart World.

The perfect birthday gift: A used meat case

The Legal Eagle, as you well know, is a fan of Fire Stations. As the front door was open, we decided to stop in and say hi to the fire fighters from Engine 46, who were first responders to the unfortunate fire at the historic Eastown Theatre (which I have photographed pre-fire in an earlier post).

Engine 46 of the Engine 46 Station

The firefighters were a gracious, gregarious bunch, happy to invite us in for a cup of coffee.  They were also pleased to show off their self-made recreation area/garden, complete with pond & ice machine. (The two aren’t connected). Almost every fire station has a nickname. The “Double Deuces”. The “Lords of Livernois”. The “River Rats”. Engine 46 is no exception. Their nickname’s taken from decorative water feature mentioned above.

I am a friend of the pond with the cigar-smoking fish

Should you be interested, Engine 46 has t-shirts and patches for sale. I encourage you to support the station by getting one, or both, for yourself. They are truly nice guys.

Getting closer to our destination, we rode by an auto repair shop that may well be a superior fix-it place. Or not. But they will scane your auto.

I read a book called Flowers for Enginon in Middle School

This week’s recycler award goes to this fence builder on Mound Road. He has repurposed a tarp and a billboard into a delightful patio surround.

I hope this isn’t the future

The Dorais Velodrome was abandoned some time in the 1980s. We (the Detroit Metro Area) have a new velodrome,  but it’s way out in the burbs. The Detroit Velodrome, neglected for 30 years, is showing its age. But it could be worse. Detroit’s own “Mower Gang” has at least chopped the grass down in the area, so you can approach it on your bike. Here it is.

Ceci n’est pas le velodrome d’hiver

Even if you’ve ever seen a track race on television, you’re likely to be quite surprised at how steep the banking is in the flesh, as it were. (It reminded me of turn one at Daytona). Perhaps this will give you a clearer idea:

Take it to the bank

We took a lap, though our ferocious speed was limited by the cracks and potholes in the surface.  Here’s a shot I took riding on the flatter bits.

The pavement did not inspire the Santana song “Smooth”

The parade of misspelled retail establishments started up again once we hit 8 Mile Road. (There aren’t many photo ops on Mound, I’m sad to say).  Here’s a car parts joint.

Clearly suffering from an ED issue. Viva Viagris

I tried to take photos on the Detroit side of 8 Mile, but was drawn to this spot (which, technically, isn’t Detroit. I hope you’ll forgive me). This could be a sister company to the Anointed Hands Salon on the East Side, but I could be wrong. Unfortunately, the shadow across the window kept me from being able to get a clear shot of its slogan/promise.

I’ll spell it out for you: “Where Dance is in God’s Hands”

While I have photographed a number of strip – er – Gentlemen’s clubs on my tours, 8 Mile is the reputed king o’ the strip clubs street in Detroit. I’d have to say, given the front deck of the Colosseum, the rep is right.  Behold the mighty entry way to the splendors of Roman Sybarites, D – style.

Veni, Vidi, I was stunned

Now that’s a Gentlemen’s Club. Upon closer inspection, it seems clear that the owners of the Colosseum care not a whit for historic accuracy. The Colosseum (the real one) was Roman, no? And even though there was that Marc Antony/Cleopatra thing happening, the reign of the Pharaohs had nothing to do with Caesar, et. al., did it? So then why were these Egyptian maidens decorating the facade of a romanesque building? I don’t know.

That column looks Egyptian to me

Around back, we espied more day-to-day splendor, like these ( lap dance?) chairs being chastised for their impertinence.

Have a seat, make it rain

Best of all were the signs in the parking lot. The Colosseum owners have installed devices to slow vehicular traffic. In every case I have ever seen, they’re called “speed bumps”. Not at the Colosseum. Perhaps they refer more precisely to the services you can look forward to within its walls of temptation. Your guess is as good as mine.

Your headquarters for Speed Humps

Anyone caring to invest in Detroit’s future should know there’s a building for sale on 8 Mile. Use it for a business, or for your new home. Evidently, it’s zoned, (but not spelled) for both.

I also dig the random capitalization

Over on Gratiot, an insurance firm seemed to be preternaturally optimistic.  What happens to you or your car, though you may think is bad news, could well be cause for rejoicing.

Everything’s dandy

The other side of the sign, while carefully painted, is yet another example of professional-painter-without-a-dictionary. 6 letters, and two of them are artfully transposed.

Qiute the misspelling. And you can qoute me on that

I don’t know why this street name made me laugh. It isn’t intrinsically funny. But it seemed to fit with the neighborhood.

We went down Pfent

50 cent is a famous fellow. His little brother may be the owner of the now-defunct establishment we spotted below. However, if you’re being technical about it, the decimal point intimates that this is a rare 1/4 cent and up store.

Gods Seven, misterarthur Zero

The weather was more like fall than Labor Day, so an ice cream cone wasn’t something I was hankering for. Should you be in the mood for one, you could stop by here:

Careful! That ice cream’s driping on me

This week’s “Stump the misterarthur winner” is a beauty supply store.  I leave it to you to decipher what, exactly, you get for your $5.99 or $7.99. Nor do I have any sense of whether those are good prices or not. You decide. And decipher.

I prefer chicken Teriyaki, myself

There was more to see, of course. A couple of splendid murals; one of Captain Metro Man knocking out his competition, AT&T, Verizon, Nextel, and T-Mobile.

Nextel’s in the trash heap!

Another, a luxurious and enticing display of beauty products.

Those eyes follow you as you move around

Finally, a store with a very uninhibited selection in stock. Everything from Toys to Jewelry to Coach Purses, no less, to Nacho’s. {sic}

I wonder if Slush is only available in the winter.

On Monday, Labor Day, we attempted to have a family tour. First we had to pump up the Legal Eagle’s brother’s tires. Then the Legal Eagle’s sister-in-law had a brake pad rubbing on the rim issue. (This was within .2 miles of departure.) Once under way, all seemed to be going well.  The Geomaster was having fun, as you can see. (That’s the Legal Eaglet behind him.)

The Geomaster, racing up Grand Blvd.

Then things kind of fell apart. The Geomaster picked up a shard of glass. I patched the hole, but tore another one in the tube putting the tire back on the rim. Then the pump didn’t work. So we rode the wheel over to a gas station on Mack and pumped it up. By the time we got to the ex-Pfeiffer brewery, it was clear the fix wouldn’t hold. While the rest of the party continued on, Geomaster and I walked/rode down Beaufait, where we were lucky enough to spot this altered signage. (I can’t believe it’s accidental)

What the eff do you want polished, anyway?

The Geomaster and I made it (mostly on foot) to the Tim Horton’s on Grand Blvd. His rear tire was officially kaput.

Well, at least we enjoyed a donut

Mademoiselle misterarthur was gracious enough to pick up the Geomaster while I continued home on my bike.  Halfway back, I saw the Legal Eagle and Eaglet by the side of the road. Poor little Eaglet had run over a safety pin, and the Legal Eagle’s pump was totally kaput, too. Fortunately, L.E. (bro) and L.E. (S.I-L) continued on and came back to pick them up.

Ah, well. Sunday made up for it all. I hope you had a great weekend, too.

Avant le déluge, moi, monsieur arthur.

Short TDH today, I’m sorry to say.  I don’t like riding in the rain, much less thunderstorms.  Here’s what greeted me on Wunderground’s radar this morning.

radartwoColor = Bad Weather

Fortunately, I got a short ride in and got home before the big weather (and predicted thunderstorms) hit.

menacingcloudsNo tanning opportunities today

I have some advice for Dish Network or Direct TV. You have a lot of unused dishes you should probably collect.  I see them all over the TDH, and a largish number of them are on houses that are (or at least appear to be) completely uninhabited.  To wit:


dishtwoWorking Dishes. Unworking houses.

I am happy to report that one of my sinkholes now comes complete with its own body guard. The City of Detroit’s Water & Sewerage Department put up a couple of saw horses to protect it from vehicular traffic.


Sinkhole: Now with personal bodyguard

The City of Detroit’s concern for its citizens doesn’t seem to extend to protecting them from electric shock. Below, for example, is an unfortunately typical Detroit streetlight base. Seems to me it would be easy to electrocute yourself. On the other hand, if you’ve got the right Leatherman tool, this could also be seen as a source of free electricity.  If you’re not worried about frying yourself it might even be a way to hook up your computer AC adapter if you’re caught on the east side with a dead battery and have to finish a Powerpoint presentation.

freeelectricityRaw power. Detroit style.

Not all was bleak and cloudy on the TDH this morning. I think the people of Detroit have come to the conclusion that no outside agency at the local, regional, state or federal level is going to do anything to help improve the city, so we’ll have to take matters into our own hands.  The citizens of Shipherd Street have planted a community garden on an abandoned corner, and invite all to come visit.

gardenCome visit any time

A Detroit “Renaissance” has been attempted many times before. Perhaps it will come back, but at least for the nonce, it is still, as this local tagger seems to have put it, in its embryonic stage.

embryoRight to choose?

The rain is now coming down. I hope things let up enough to get in a spin tomorrow. Happy cycling, wherever you are.

Gold vs. God

No big discoveries on the TDH today. A great day out on the road, though it was a bit breezy headed downtown. (Plus half my back is seized up). That said, I did run by some points of interest.

First, the house that comes with its own graveyard (see prior post, please) is no more. I don’t know if they plan on pushing all the debris into the big hole – but maybe next week I’ll be able to report back to you if that turns out to be the case. Voila: The ex-house.

knockeddowonhouseNewly-dead house

The owners of said house had a clearly non-effective sign trying to keep the area tidy:

nodumpingCareful! Security Camera is watching!

A couple of weeks ago, I pointed out a couple of sinkholes. The lesser of the two appears to be destined for repair. (At least that’s what I think, judging by the paint. It could also be an alert to walkers, riders, and drivers).  If you’re on Kercheval, and you see it, you can tell your friends you saw one of the Tour De Hood landmarks. Gives you instant street cred.

fixsinkholeFamous sinkhole

I think Detroit has general issues with its sewage system. While I’m not a civil engineer, I believe most of the sinkholes and enormous potholes I see are because of busted sewer lines and/or water lines leaking into the ground and eroding support for the pavement.  On the opposite side of leaking is clogging, as demonstrated by this sewer, which by my lights is a seweren’t. (I had to put this picture in just so I could include that jeux de mots). Or, if you prefer, it’s a Storm Drain that Drain’t working.

sewern'tStorm Drain’t.

You’ll notice it’s lost its ability to actually drain water.  A bit further along I rode by the erstwhile “Peace in Heart Crusade Church of God”.  Looks like the neighbors prefer lucre to the promise of eternal happiness.

goldoneThere’s Gold in that there Hood.

I may be wrong, as I passed another building (a former restaurant supply shop) that is much more blinged out.

gold2Gold, Cutlery, Scales and Meat Hooks

You’ll notice on the upper left “MOCAD 3/29”.  MOCAD stands for Museum Of Contemporary Art Detroit. So this Gold stuff may actually be some kind of conceptual art that I’m too much of a philistine to appreciate.

Until today, I hadn’t known there was a downtown Synagogue. Here it is, or was. I can’t really tell if it’s still in use for that purpose.

synagogueThe Downtown Synagogue – must be the only one

I love the door handle.

mogendavidMagen David

Right across the street is a new (to me – I don’t spend much of my time looking for, or frequenting, adult entertainment enterprises) place to spend some time and money.

erosGenerous drinks for fat white guys

Looks new to me. Maybe this is the result of the Stimulus Money Detroit is supposed to be receiving from the Federal Government. If anyone knows if this place has been around for a while, and I’m just ignorant, please weigh in.

That said, there’s one thing for sure. The Tour De Hood is always filled with interesting things.  This graffiti just about sums it up.wackshit

No kidding

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.

Tour de Hood Pothole Archaeology

Yogi Berra once said: “You can observe a lot just by watching”.  Or, in my case, by riding by it.  Today’s lesson: Every pothole tells a story, don’t it?

These two sister potholes are on Lycaste between Jefferson & Kercheval.


Pothole one


Pothole two

You see? Tracks upon which wheeled vehicles can travel.  There used to be trolley lines up and down Jefferson, so these could be part of our former trolley system. Or they could be a spur from the train tracks that still cross Kercheval and Jefferson just north of St. Jean.  Any railroad/trolley/Detroit history buffs want to weigh in with an opinion?

Closer to downtown, I noted this road hiccup, (on Concord near Lafayette) which reveals Detroit just as removed layers of ash reveal Pompeii.


History of road construction, exhibit one.

Looks like Concord Street used to be paved with what we call “Belgian Blocks” around these parts. Then they were patched with concrete, and finally, smothered in asphalt. I like the original better, myself. And you?

It was a beautiful day on the TDH.  Downtown was calmer, as the Michigan State Spartan Fans are gearing up for the Final Four Final Two. The NCAA needs a catchy phrase for the championship game: Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four….and then? Tremendous Two? Totally Awesome Two? Someone help me out here.

Enjoy your week. It’s supposed to snow here (4-6 inches) on Monday.

As someone (wish I could remember so I could give proper attribution) wrote recently, our State Motto ought to be “What did we do wrong?”  Indeed.