Out-of-Season TDH: First dual-citizenship TDH ride: The Packard Plant

Back in the fall, I took some visitors from out of town and out of the country (plus a newbie from the area), on a Tour De Hood ride. Being from Switzerland and Boston via Seattle, they wanted to see one of Detroit’s iconic ruins – The Packard Plant. I’m not usually into ruin porn, and lord knows there are enough photos of that collapsing disaster available for your delectation, but the ride turned out to be more interesting than I had thought at its onset.  Here we are, prepping for the ride.

From left to right: The Geomaster, misterarthur, Topsider, The Boston Bomber, and Monsieur Tonton

It was a really windy day – not the best of cycling conditions, and getting to the Packard Plant meant heading right into the gusts. So we zig-zagged towards it.

Thar she blows, matey

The zig-zaginess of our travels were not for naught, as we, typically, passed a couple of interesting TDH-like spots along the way.

There was a (defunct?) motorcycle club headquarters:

“BFF” is not something I usually associate with MCs, but what do I know?

We also passed the Husky Fence Co., which, along with fencing, sells Gates, Guards, and, rather unexpectedly, Dirt.

Topsoil’s for sissies. In Detroit, we prefer plain old dirt

Another motorcycle club soon came into view. This example is clearly going for a more butch motif than the scrambled consonants club noted above. They are also fighting a losing battle to have Detroit take away the title of “Sin City” from Las Vegas. (And by the by, doesn’t that “C” look like a Pac Man ghost?

They’re tough. On the English Language. Deciples? Decipies? Decibels?

I hope they didn’t have the spelling error tattooed all over their arms and chests.

Much of the artwork I encounter on my rides is unsigned or unclaimed by its creator. This fella, however, seems to have spent as much time advertising himself as he did creating the dancing machine he painted.

Area Code 313, if you need to contact Bird

Over on Goss, we passed the Houston Grill, which has what appears to be its whole menu painted on its exterior.  I’ll admit, Ham Hocks and Tomales (sic) are a type of fusion cuisine I had hitherto been unaware of .

You say Tomale, and I say Tamale

Does any city in North America have more tire stores per capita than the Motor City?  I’d wager not.  Van Dyke Tire does other work, too: mufflers and brakes.

Guess they specialize in drum brakes: Those are brake shoes, not disc pads

Should you be interested, Van Dyke Tire seems to have pretty reasonable prices on oil changes and hand car washes. They will also clean your vehicle “In 3out” for $60.

I wonder if yellow used tires carry a premium price

On we went to the Packard plant.  We had a very fortuitous meet-up with a group of fellows who live in one of the abandoned garages across the alley from the ruins of the plant itself.  They know everything about the place. What’s safe. What isn’t. Who put the tvs on the roof. They’ve sort of taken on the role of Packard Plant Docents for visitors. Naturally, they gave us a guided tour. The fellow on the left with the brown hat is a reporter who also happened to be there that day.

Meet the Packard boys. And scribe

The Packard Plant has plenty o’ street art festooning its exterior: Here’s a sample you may not have caught elsewhere:

Comely Graffiti, indeed

I stayed outside to keep an eye on our bicycle collection, while Tonton, the Bomber, the Geomaster and Topsider went in for a look-see.  We happened to be outside the section of the factory where Banksy’s artwork had been “curated” (read: Stolen)  either by Gallery 555 or the mysterious owners of the plant itself.  You can read more about Banksy’s visit to Detroit on the excellent Detroit Funk site. There’s still plenty of stuff to see:

A tree

Trash ‘n’ water

There’s also graffiti er, street art, that isn’t done by Bansky. Like this, mmm fish?

This is for you, Al!

And this somnolent looking guy:

There’s a very alert man to our right (his left).

Tour over, we headed back, our fingers numbed and our faces chafed. The out-of-towners were delighted. I got to see my first Dirt Store. All was well in the hood.

Utopia is right around you. All you have to do is look.

I promise to be a little more regular in my “off season” posts. I’ll try and get in some winter tours soon. Until then, best wishes for a great 2011!


A Delray Kind of Day. Plus some questions that need answering

What a superb fall morning for cycling in Detroit. Glorious skies, (I spotted one cloud formation that looked just like a Mercator projection of the earth), little or no wind, unseasonably warm temperatures, and the ever-delightful companionship of the learned hand himself, the Legal Eagle. Here’s a map he made of our route.

Fort Street is one of the smoothest pieces of pavement in the City, and nearly deserted on Sundays. It also has a lot of abandoned buildings, like this “warehouse”, which was erected in 1897. Seems a shame someone can’t repurpose it into something usable.

It looks like a warehouse for air

Detroit and its environs likes ham. There are ham restaurants all over the place. Lile’s, in Dearborn, may be the most famous ham sandwich place in the area, but I’m partial to the Ham Center in Warren.  Johnny’s Ham King on Fort gets all kind of love on Yelp, but I haven’t eaten there myself.

Is Johnny the King of Ham? Or is Johnny the Ham King’s subject?

Further along, we rode past a ghost sign for a business that started in 1947, and lasted until (I don’t know, but the building looks as if it’s been empty for a while).

I come from the Motor City with a Banjo Housing on my knee

Cheek by jowl with the erstwhile Bond & Bailey, Inc., is a going concern, which specializes in similar automotive type gear. Its mascot features, among other bits ‘n’ pieces, a leaf spring, clutch housing, and, I believe, parts of a banjo housing.


The real man of steel

It really was a beautiful morning – and the Legal Eagle showed off his Great Lakes Shipping nerd mad skillz by identifying the 1,000 footer even before it had glided by.

The white smoke is the signal that they’ve picked a new pope over at Great Lakes Steel

We had to take a quick detour, as Jefferson dead ends into what looks like an abandoned lot. While riding up Scotten, the railroad signal went off, and the barriers dropped. We couldn’t see a train coming (and there’s no worry about getting hit by a TGV on these tracks), so I decided to find out if it’s actually possible to hear a train coming by putting one’s ear on the tracks.

Professional at work: Don’t try this at home, kids.

The answer is, I couldn’t hear anything. (Maybe the asynchronous clanging of the warning bells overpowered the ‘singing of the rails’).  Eventually, a CSX locomotive & cars slowly rumbled by. I liked the mobile street art on this unit:

I cannot say which part of this car is the “anti-pilferage device”

I know of a couple of phony “Yacht Clubs” in Detroit; the Polish Yacht Club on Joseph Campau, and the Motor City Yacht Club on Jefferson, but until today was not aware of this place. Nor do I know its membership requirements and fees. That said, it looks like it’s mostly for sailors.

No young nice people allowed

There was a big Motorcycle Club Rally/Chili contest in Plymouth, Michigan today. (The Legal Eagle and I had seen an inordinate number of leather clad Harley Riders on the road this morning, and my Llama Loving Leatherneck Belonging friend clued me in about the rally).  I guess that’s why the Iron Coffins headquarters was closed.

13 69 is not the address. 1369 (U.S. Code Title 28, Chapter IV) has something to do with multiparty multiforum jurisdiction, and 13 69 also means something rude, according to the Urban Dictionary

I don’t know what the entrance to your home looks like, but I’m guessing you probably don’t have two delivery areas clearly delineated for the benefit of your letter carrier or UPS delivery person.  It also gives me the opportunity to importune you to answer some nagging questions the stencils raise. First, the manse in question:

Delray’s self-proclaimed Crib in the Hood

So, here’s the question. Where do packages from the USPS, FedEx, or DHL go?

Attached to a utility pole in front of the house was a shrine-like compendium of plastic flowers and a bowl, into which had been inserted a clothed Barbie® doll.

I don’t know if this is a Malibu® Barbie®

n.b.: Joe, perceptive as always, has suggested this may be a rare Poconos® Barbie®

Over on Wyoming (BTW, I have now ridden the entire length of Wyoming), we came upon a lunchery. The Mustang Inn offers XX Servers.  I’m familiar with X, and XXX, but XX is news to me.

1/2 pound of ?

OK, so what do you think XX stands for?

More perplexing and important issues awaited farther up the road.

Here is a self-service car and truck wash.  It is, as the sign says, “Under New Management”.

Come on in. The water’s fine.

Here are the philosophical conundrums (conundra?) I’m wrestling with. The first is, since it’s self-serve, how can you actually tell it’s under new management? The second is: What happens if you try it and don’t like it?

The Topless Club Venus probably has the same sorts of amenities as others of its ilk.  The va-va-voomy neon sign is quite nice.

She’s not topless in public

The sign on the side of the building was a little puzzling to me.

Is that all day Tuesday, and until 7 on Wednesday?

Here’s the question. What’s the $5 Kitchen Special? Something to eat or a $10 dance that’s cheaper because it’s in the kitchen instead of the regular $10 dance area?

The Venus is hiring, by the way.

Looking for someone to bounce the bar staff

For some reason, the back gate to the Ford Drive-In was open, so we took a spin in to look around.  Lo and behold, it’s an outdoor Multiplex®! Beyond that, it’s the self-proclaimed largest drive-in theatre IN THE WORLD!  Here’s screen three:

Is this the last drive-in in Detroit?

Spell fail time on the TDH. If you were on Jeopardy, and the answer was “the amount for which the insured is liable on each loss, injury, etc., before an insurance company will make payment”, the correct question would be “what is deductible?”  Like “available”, “deductible” is one of the most misspelled words in Motown.  I see deductable a lot.  On one side of the Eureka Auto Glass building, not only do they spell it deductable, they also promise to “wave” it.

Well, howdy, deductable

Curiously, on another side of the building, they spell deductible correctly, but still misconstrue “wave” for “waive”. See?

Still waving at that part of your policy

However, in a Solomonic display of I-can’t-make-up-my mind-which-way-to-spell-deductible, in yet another location the Eureka Auto Glass company goes both ways at once, and dispenses with the wave entirely: (You can click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Deductible, deductable, whatever, they’ll pay it.

As long as we’re in the covering your bases mode, the nicely named “Holla Dollar” store sort of kind of promises that everything in the store is a dollar. Except for the things that aren’t.

I don’t know if  hair is a dollar or a dollar & more

Finally, a nihilist pov in the street art category. Note to the squeamish: May be NSFW.

Don’t sugar coat it, dude.

But even that downer sentiment couldn’t put a damper on a very nice ride, indeed. I am glad to report that the Lafayette Coney Island whupped the American on last week’s poll, and to celebrate its victory, the Legal Eagle and I brunched at the winner’s location.  (Three on two).

Up Woodward, Down John R, plus the first TDH quiz evar!

Whilst I’ve ridden on Woodward Avenue many times, I thought it might be useful and fun to deliberately ride its whole length – from Jefferson to 8 Mile. For the return, rather than ride back down the Avenue, the Legal Eagle and I thought we’d take John R.

I don’t think you need a map to follow along. Go up Woodward, turn right at 8 Mile, ride past the “State Fairgrounds & Exposition Center”, turn right on John R. until it dead ends, turn left to Oakland, pass the Polar Bears’ football field and the giant pallet cemetery, turn right on Manchester, then left back onto John R. Continue until you hit Tiger Stadium.

Just to prove that we did the whole ride, here’s a view of the base of Woodward:

Don’t let that sign confuse you

On our way north, we did take a little detour to Capitol Park to see the “set” of Transformers 3, which is being filmed in our fair city.  We encountered a fervid rent-a-cop who blew a gasket when he saw me taking a photo while touching a barricade with my toe. “That’s Private Property!” he yelled, to which I responded that I was on a public thoroughfare and I could do whatever I wanted. He kept yelling at me. I yelled back at him. The Legal Eagle, as is his wont, kept his mouth shut.

Nevertheless, I was able to take some photos which led me to create the following series of questions.  You must decide whether the scene I photographed is Detroit in its usual state of disrepair, or made to look disrepaired by highly skilled set decorators.  You get to choose. City, or Set.  Ready?  Here’s visual number one. This one’s easy – to give you an initial burst of self confidence.

Just another Sunday morning in Detroit or Transformers 3?

This one’s a little tougher

Deliberate or Accidental?

Did this façade look like this on purpose, or is it just from the patina of disuse?

Crummy or made to look crummy?

We don’t treat our history with kid gloves here in the Motor City (about which, read more when I get to the Model T Plant, below). That said, was this knocked over for a movie or did it fall over from neglect?

Art or Vandalism?

A small amount of Federal Stimulus money is appearing in and around Detroit (mostly for street repair). Is this asphalt eruption on purpose because we need better streets, or because Transformers 3 needed extra destroyed city optics?

City Improvement or Movie Improvement?

Bonus question one: Is this store front on Woodward part of the movie, an art project, or a remnant of our Potemkin Village “Spruce up Detroit for the Super Bowl” festival?

Shades of Dharma Brand Instant Potatoes

Bonus question number two. Is the club below still the Eros club, which I’ve written about before, or was it renamed Cobra’s for the movie?

Eros v. Cobra

Ok, you can put your pencils down now.  Back to more typical Detroit scenes. A small business is going under on Woodward. Just as unsurprising, the misspelled sign to announce the news.

Hurrey Down for Saveings

I do not know what “Detroit Revolution” is, but whenever it does arrive, I want to be there. This alluring sign is near midtown, on what looks like the site of a former theatre or burlesque house.  If someone knows more about this, please let me know via comments or email. (It reads “Without you I am a battery without a charge”)

Who doesn’t love a rebus?

The next sight is not really Detroit-specific, as the half life of a fully outfitted bike left on the street in any major city is very short. I was struck by the thoroughness with which the parts of the bike were removed.

Need pedals or an alloy crankset?

More typical of Detroit is the site of the former American Beauty Electric Iron Company.

Irons and Art

We tried to guess what kinds of irons they made there. While the name suggests curling irons or the Grateful Dead, a bit of internet snooping around seems to indicate they made irons for ironing your clothes.

Farther up Woodward, in a splendid building, is the Detroit International Academy for Young Women. (Evidently, part of the DPS).


I just wish the sign was connected a little more to the school design, which reeks of “when Detroit was a great city with some money to spend on civic institutions”.

Lovely institution of pedagoguery (which may not be a word)

Assiduous readers of the Tour De Hood Blog will remember my reference to an old-school gang, The “Coney Oneys” in an earlier post. (The gang thought they were naming themselves after those feared mafiosi, The Corleones).  Anyway, some 80’s nostalgia for you.

The “Earl Flynn’s” {sic} gang failed to spell Errol Flynn properly.

nb: BK does not stand for Burger King

I’m sure Mr., Mrs. or Ms. Fudge is a wonderful person. That said, I’m not sure you should always use your name for your business. Something just doesn’t seem right about this:

Maybe they’re from Mackinac Island (Michigan insider joke)

Someone else spent a great deal of time illustrating the exterior of this shop. Considering how many words they had to include, the lack of spell fails is pretty astonishing. (I’ll cut them some slack for EQT). I’ve heard of Odds and Ends. I’ve hear of Odds and Evens. But not this combo:

Odds & Ins? WTF?

The ex McGregor Public Library is a really beautiful building. Der Rechtliche Adler said there is periodic noise about trying to reopen the place, but judging by what I saw on Sunday, it looks like it’s still shut down. I’m dying to see the interior.

“Books Are The Doors to Wide New Ways”

Poor, poor Highland park.  Woodward in Highland Park is truly one of the most depressing parts of our city. Financial ruin forced the elimination of its police department (though it was re-established in 2007), and I’m not sure if the fire department still exists.  It’s a self-contained city that’s virtually completely surrounded by Detroit. (I’ll explain why it even exists below).   It had beautiful municipal buildings. This was the police headquarters:

The roof is mostly missing

Here’s the former parking spot that was reserved for the “Officer of the Month”.

Now reserved for tree of the year

This was the headquarters of the Fire Department. I don’t know where they’re headquartered now.  They have 16 firefighters in the city.

At its peak, Highland Park had 84 Firefighters

This was the Municipal Building. Again, I have no idea where it’s located now.

Sorry. All gone now

Here’s why there even is a Highland Park:  Henry Ford. As you know, since you’ve ready every word of the Tour De Hood, Henry Ford’s original factory was on Piquette. (The building’s still there).  However, that’s not the factory that made Ford Ford. This one is. Right here on Woodward in Highland Park is where Henry Ford revolutionized the United States, and the world, by mass-producing the Model T.

Home of a Revolution

Here’s why it’s in Highland Park.  Detroit was expanding, rapidly (imagine that!), but Henry didn’t want to pay Detroit Taxes on a new factory, so he built this one beyond the city limits, and incorporated a town around it, called Highland Park, where the tax rates would be much more affordable.  Chrysler used to be headquartered in Highland Park, too.

You’d think the location of the factory that literally changed our lives would get a little more TLC, wouldn’t you? After all, as the sign above states, it “set the pattern of abundance for 20th Century living”.  But no.  The front view is blocked by weed trees. The rest looks just like an abandoned factory. (Albeit adorned with what appear to be Pewabic Tiles.) Why do we treat our past with such indignity?

Building with enormous historical signifance? We don’t care

Back on the road, I saw a nice ghost sign. I’m surprised the owner limited himself to Canis Lupus Familiaris patients:

Goodbye, Kitty

I’m sure you can’t wait for this week’s Sign Fail.  At first, you could think I didn’t actually find one, and made this up by holding my camera upside down.

Nice sign if you’re standing on your head

“Oh, Mister Arthur”, you think, “you’re trying to be funny by rotating a photograph so we’ll think someone was dumb enough to go to trouble of making a sign and firmly affixing it to a wall without ever realizing it was upside down.”  Wrong.  It really was put up upside down. See?

What’s the excuse this time?

WTF?  Did they think no one would notice??

We noticed, just past this misery and incompetence, a delightful patio behind a wrought iron fence.  There’s no sign on the building, but riding around the back, we discovered that we had come upon a restaurant called “La Dolce Vita.” I haven’t been there before (duh), but have subsequently found out it’s been around for a while (if my math is correct, about 16 years). L’aigle jurisdique has a partner who really likes it, a friend of mine recommends the patio during our warmer months, and Metro Times gave it a good review back in ’03.  Looks inviting from the outside.

The Perfect Place to Valet Park my Lancia Flaminia Supersport Zagato

By now, we’d nearly reached the city limits. After a right turn onto 8 Mile, we soon came upon a place all too happy to advertise its presence: The Detroit Renegades M/C.

Panhead or Shovelhead?

Truth be told, John R., while a nice place to ride, doesn’t have a lot of visual impact. There was a nondescript strip club, with a terribly uncreative name:

Staple-Free, one would hope

That aside, I was taken by the homey ambience of Advance Steering Column Repair.

Nothing says “picnic” like Ignition Theft Repair

We ultimately had brunch chez The Lafayette Coney Island.  Here’s a photo of the chili cheese fries we ate to toast our successful ride.  It’s also an opportunity to vote for your favorite Coney  Island locale.

Brunch, Detroit Style

Sunday in the hood. Where’d everybody go?

It was a strange morning in the hood. It was as if a neutron bomb had gone off overnight. All the buildings were still there, but the streets were eerily empty. It makes for great riding, of course, and as Toby Barlow points out in the first part of Palladium Boots’  “Detroit Lives” documentary, it makes you feel like this town is mine. Maybe it was the weather. It ran backwards from yesterday – started off poor, and then the sun came out.

With the Geomaster in tow, the Legal Eagle and I decided to take a spin closer to the river than we usually follow. There were also a couple of things I wanted to show the Geomaster. Like our nearest powerplant, the Detroit Edison jumbotron over by Bayview Yacht club.

There were nine chimneys here when I grew up – the ‘seven sisters and their mom and dad’

There are plenty of boat storage facilities nearby. One of them was the resting place for an O’Day day sailer. My uncle had one of these; and a Lightning; they’re the boats I learned to sail on.  This one needs a little TLC or TDH love.

Please note attentive (and barking) guard dog under the sign

The boat was on Freud street. (Pronounced “Frood” in the hood, by the way).

We also wanted the Geomaster to see the Mayor of Detroit’s residence – Manoogian Mansion, which our imprisoned former mayor KK used for his party party weekends.  On the way there, we passed an “every man’s home is his castle castle” for sale.  It needs work.

Everything but the moat

What’s cool about the place is that it backs up onto a canal, so you can tie up the Royal Barge in the back yard.

Our current Mayor, Dave Bing, hasn’t yet taken occupancy of the mayoral digs. Some people were over tidying up the manor.  It’s a beautiful residence – and its back yard is right on the Detroit River.

Manoogian Mansion. Detroit has stately manors, too

The Geomaster has never ridden along the river. Nor has he seen the famous collapsed upon itself former water tank over a building on Iron Street.  This little structure looked about to fall over for years, and then, fortuitously, gave up and just settled down into a tidy little pile of debris.

The Very Considerate Collapsed Water Tower – my new children’s novel

But as I said, the weird thing is that everything looked deserted.  Here’s the Riverwalk, waiting for pedestrians and cyclists.

Yoo hoo! Anyone home?

We did have a barge to keep us company for a little while.

There’s a barge in the shadows. If you look closely, you’ll see it

We had been riding into a headwind for a while, which is as good an excuse as any to have a couple of Coney Dogs, so we decamped to the Temple of Tube Steaks, the one and only Lafayette Coney Island for brunch.  I don’t need to post a photo of the place. It’s an icon, after all. Our Eiffel Tower, Washington Monument, Gateway Arch, Brandenburg Gate, and Big Ben rolled into one. That said, I don’t think many of you have seen the accommodations at the LCI. They’re down a narrow staircase, and, very, very clean.

Clean ‘n Green

Up at street level, you can see how few people (actually, no people) were around. Some abandoned furniture was available to passersby, had there been any.

This appears to not have been Scotchgarded(r) before use

Off we went towards Mexican Village. Crossing over the train tracks behind the Michigan Central Ruin Porn Station, we caught a train coming out of, and another going into the train tunnel that passes under the Detroit River. (Bet you didn’t know we had one of those, did you?) According to an article found and read by the Legal Eagle, the tunnel “leaks”.

Here’s a train loaded with hazardous chemicals, headed south into Canada.

We get Canadian Bacon, they get chemicals

I saw a nicely decorated building across the street from the Matrix Theatre – there were no identifying signs on its exterior, so I can’t tell you what it’s for, but the lily sculpture was quite entrancing.

3D Beauty

Finally, a sad mural cheek by jowl with the Michigan Central Building. Perhaps the person being honored here was in an accident in the nearby underpass.

Requiescat in pace, Yvette

Don’t mean to end on a down note.  We had a nice ride down Michigan and through Lafayette Park on the way home, nudged by a wind blowing at our back. Oh, and the guys driving the Hazmat Fire Truck from the Station at Mt. Elliot and Lafayette beeped the horn and waved at us.

Dally in the Alley Day in the D

I had a really nice ride on Saturday, and made it back before the rains hit.  Or should that be I had really nice ride on Saturday because I made it back before the rains hit? Or both? Both it is. The ride through my old stomping grounds (the East Side) was TDH as usual.  I did discover this building, which I haven’t seen before. From what I can tell, the letters that used to be there spelled out F. M. Sibley Lumber Co. Sure enough, it’s got an interesting history.

I think that sign advertised an event on Belle Isle

Sibley’s was Detroit’s second largest lumber company. (This was its office building.)  The interesting bit is that Mr. Sibley, along with a certain Mr. Freuhauf, is credited with inventing the semi trailer. Nifty, eh? The building itself is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Sad that it sits empty – I’m a sucker for Corinthian columns.

Michigan State was playing Florida Atlantic University (?) at Ford Field downtown, and the Sparty Faithful were out in droves. A fellow was playing alto sax to serenade the crowd. While he stuck to improvisations over the Michigan State fight song, I gave him a dollar, and was tempted to ask him to play “Hail to the Victors”. We agreed that a dollar wasn’t worth the potential injury from wrathful Spartanites.

This guy can really play. That jacket color’s not an accident

The bars around the area were hopping. (Duh). On the other side of Ford Field (actually across the Fisher Freeway between Clifford and Park), I rode by a couple of places I had not visited before.  One featured a sort of urban bowling alley; a peculiar combination of 10 pins, bocce,  and petanque.  I don’t know the rules. Or what you strike the pins with.

Maybe you have to bounce the ball onto the pin platform

Another bar around the corner had a name that made me scratch my head at first. Given the retro-ish nature of the logo, the letters AFB could’ve stood for many things: American Federation of Barbers, Alert Firefighter Building, Accidental Federal Bureaucrats. I could go on. My inventions aside, the real name is superb.

Everything you need, all in one place

The truth, as they say, shall set you free. Or in this case, make you laugh, I hope. Just around the corner (on the bar’s window) the acronym’s revealed:

Hooray! Another effin bar!

The Comet Bar looks as if it’s been around for a while. I don’t know how long this decorative yard art has been uplifting the back area, but it looks suspiciously like Tina Fey imitating Sarah Palin to me.

Shame about the stumpy feet

A couple of weeks ago, I noted that Slows to Go was coming soon. Phil Cooley, Detroit’s one man renaissance machine, is the guy behind Slows. The people behind Phil were hard at work inside the soon-to-be take out and catering headquarters.  I think the husband and wife I met were Phil’s parents. They’re just delightful, parents-of-Phil or not, and graciously showed me the uncompleted space. Here’s where the (giant) kitchen will be:

Smells like sawdust: Will soon smell like dinner

I for one, can’t wait. Aside from the new Slows, Midtown appears to be gathering some development momentum (knock on wood) in general. Toronto’s Globe and Mail had a very complimentary article about Detroit in Saturday’s edition – it concentrated primarily on the Midtown area, and the writer was/is spot on with his recommendations. (Even though he never mentioned this invaluable guide to our fair burg. Boo hoo hoo) I concur fully with his pick of the Avalon Bakery’s Sea Salt Chocolate Chip cookies.

The Saturday after Labor Day is the traditional date for Detroit’s own oddball urban street fair, the Dally in Alley.  Way back at the head of this post, I mentioned that I got home before it started raining. I’m sorry to say that it rained all afternoon and evening, but while I was Dallying, things were in full swing.

There was a band playing on the Forest (street) stage.

I believe Tune and Niche were playing while I was there

Moms against War were parading to the sound of a muffled drum:

What’s a street fair without a silent protest and Polish sausage?

And, in an interesting coincidence, Theatre Bizarre was putting on a show. (Coincidence, because I rode by their, er, headquarters, last weekend, over near the ex State Fairgrounds).  There was a very long line to see the show. I also fell off my bike.

I didn’t see any sign of  Larva Girl, I’m sad to say

I did get to meet one of Detroit’s great poster designers, Carl Lundgren.

Following an aggressively caloric ganache-stuffed brownie at the Avalon, I sped home, abetted by a SSE wind and a strong desire to get back under cover before the rain hit.  Along the way, I was happy to see that the Helen Newberry house for Nurses (across the street from the DMC on John R.) is being rehabbed into what will be, I believe, apartments. It’s a lovely building, and will add to rebuilding Midtown.

Nice old building being reborn. Hooray!

The Hood was alive this early afternoon in September. It’s a nice thing to see.

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.

A gallimaufry of visual delights: mostly on Conant and Outer Drive.

The Legal Eagle and I had a wonderful ride last Sunday. The layout was pretty simple: Mt Elliot (with a slight detour to Lucky Place), which turns into Conant. Left on Outer Drive, left again through Palmer Park, down Second, over to Cass, through the Eastern Market and down the Dequindre Cut to Larned. At some point, I’ll make a map of the route. – nb: The Legal Eagle has graciously made a map of our ride. Google Maps has a new feature that is supposed to help you draw lines down streets. Every time I use it, the line snaps and jerks onto streets where I haven’t been, and stubbornly refuses to stay on the streets I where I have. Or it draws a loop around a block I never rode around. Too much gnashing of teeth, I’m afraid. Perhaps it’s not designed for trackpads.

There wasn’t a lot worth photographing on Mt Elliot. We did think, as a public service, that it would be good to introduce you to “Lucky Place”. Lucky Place is an overpass on I-94. Here’s a service drive view of the sign:

No need to keep your fingers crossed here

Here’s a view of the overpass under which you drive on the Nine Four.

Nothing remarkable here (save a glimpse of the Legal Eagle)

And here’s Lucky Place itself. It’s actually a dead end, but calling it Lucky Cul De Sac sounds kind of snobby. I’d have named it Lucky Lane, if only for the alliteration.

Nothing to see here, folks, just move along.

So, misterarthur, why are you showing me three boring photos in a row? Because the name Lucky Place has a very interesting history. A couple of blocks over is a “party store” that has, for some reason, sold a disproportionately high number of winning Lottery tickets.  To celebrate, the overpass (which I believe was built around the same time as GM Detroit Hamtramck Assembly) was named “Lucky Place”. Nifty, eh?

On to more typically TDH sights to see.

There’s the “Club Coyotes”.  Don’t know if it’s a strip club or a club club. But I’ll bet the name post-dates “Coyote Ugly”, a movie I never saw, but had something to do with Piper Perabo moving to the big city to realize her dreams of becoming something or someone, but wound up dancing on a bar and finding happiness when she met the richest man in the world, who moved her to a private island with lots of pool boys to keep her happy. (I made that last part up)

True fact: There are real coyotes in every county in Michigan

I’m more confident that the following is a bar or club club, not a strip club.

Maybe it’s the Christmas Star. It’s big and low.

As you may already know, Hamtramck has a very large South Asian population. In fact, Conant has street signs along part of its length proclaiming it to be Bangladesh Street. Many South Asians are Muslim;  Ramadan (the holiest of Islamic months) runs from the 11th of August to the 9th of September in 2010. (The Islamic Calendar is a lunar calendar). Hence, it makes sense that this shopkeeper is running a Ramadan sale.

Buy a fish, win a laptop!(?)

I get the Kala Chana (chickpeas), the Masoor Dal (red lentils), and the egg roll. I was stumped by Boal Fish and Rui Fish. At first I thought Boal Fish was a horribly misspelled Gold Fish(r), like the snack, and Rui Fish could’ve been anything from a Manta Ray to a Gorton’s Fish Stick, but I was wrong wrong wrong.

Turns out Boal fish looks like this:

Boaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllll! * *World Cup Announcer pronunciation

Here’s another nifty thing about Boal Fish, direct from Wikipedia: “Its {sic} common to find huge frogs and fishes inside its stomach, when cut for cooking. It has been claimed that in some areas of Thailand the natives fear the species because of its believed habit of eating small ducks, dogs, and small children. (My emphasis) It is thought the Tapah (another name for the fish -ed.) became this aggressive due to natives laying to rest their dead in the water. The catfish would then see this as a ready supply of food.”  Good holiday eating, I say.

As for the Rui fish, (I’m sure you’re dying to see one) it looks like this:

A carp by any other name would smell so fishy

A little more info about Mr. Rui, and we’ll continue up Conant. (Rui is the Bengali name for our piscine friend).  I copied and pasted this from Wikipedia:

Labeo rohita is a fish of the carp family Cyprinidae, found commonly in rivers and freshwater lakes in and around South Asia and South-East Asia. It is a herbivore. It is treated as a delicacy in Bangladesh and the Indian states of West BengalOrissaBihar and Uttar Pradesh[citation needed]. The Kayastha community of Uttar Pradesh treats it as one of their most sacred foods: to be eaten on all auspicious occasions[citation needed].

Now that’s more festive.

Detroit’s pretty inventive at re-purposing buildings. Here’s a bank/mosque.

Home of the mini minarets

Strip Clubs pop up next to the most unlikely establishments.  I’m boggled by how many of them are next to day care centers, for example. Here’s a Starvin Marvin’s (a “Platinum VIP Gentlemen’s Club”) smack dab next to The Full Gospel Church of the Sons of God. Starvin Marvin’s is a chain, by the way. Its web site, such as it is, is pretty weird. It’s full of press releases about things like its entanglements with the City Council’s forbidding of lap dances.

Part of the Starvin Marvin’s Empire

Should Starvin Marvin’s not suffice to fulfill your prurient interests, another fine establishment a little way up the street may interest you.

I’m pretty sure this is a strip club

Chubby’s Car Care may well provide the highest quality car service around. That said, the Chubby probably should’ve modeled for the sign painter before he went on the South Beach Diet:

I’m not sure if he’s toting a turbo charger or a hair dryer

A hardware store we passed had a hard working plumber to advertise its wares, though he seemed to be suffering from a slight case of amblyopia.

Watch out for that falling faucet!

Faithful readers of the Tour De Hood will, no doubt, remember the “I’ll Cut ‘Ya” barber shop. This appears to be its ecclesiastical twin.

Yow! I’ll be there next Sunday

The next oddly-named item was on the next block. It too, shared a similar theme. How’d you like to have this company manage your apartment?

The legacy of Robespierre writ large

While the name may be threatening, their spelling capabilities are probably not going to qualify them for the next Scripps National Spelling Bee. Here, along with what I can best describe as semi-justified type, is proof that “available” must be one of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language.

What do you think they blanked out on that door?

That spelling error was pretty trivial. The next one, however, may rank very high in the badly-misspelled-yet-professionally-executed Tour De Hood Signs Hall of Fame:

Pronounced heavin’ lay’s place? WTF?

Over on Outer Drive (called State Fair Ave for a short distance), a different issue with the language appeared – though I think this is caused more by omission than commission.

I’d like to buy a vowel, please

I have to believe more than one black-owned Coney Dog place exists in Detroit. Willie Bee’s, however, lays claim to being the only one with soul. That seems awfully presumptuous to me. Then again, it wasn’t open when we rode by, so I can’t give you my personal perspective on the relative level of its soulness.

Home of the soul dog. (Maybe)

Directly across from the ex State Fairgrounds (no deep fried butter for us Michiganders this year) is a place that, at first, I took to be just another example of local strangeness. There was something about this sign, though that raised my suspicions.

It’s a fake!

While you may think you have stumbled into someone’s unorthodox back yard, this isn’t innocent strangeness.  It’s planned. By Artists! With its own web site. (Well, place on MySpace). I guess you’ll have to look for a real Larva Girl somewhere else.

We had a very very pleasant spin through the always-delightful Palmer Park, past the Detroit Golf Club, and down Hamilton (in Highland Park). I found this building’s sign reasonably amusing. What do you do when the word you’re painting won’t fit into the space where you want to put it? You could a) paint it in a slightly smaller size, or b) what the heck, just leave off the letter that doesn’t fit.

Big Pop’s missing part of his rear-en

You know how SOHO stands for SOuth of HOston, and Tribeca is the TRiangle BElow CAnal street, right? Well, there’s an irregular, tiny neighborhood on 4th Street. It doesn’t do it justice to call it the block of Fourth Street. It’s nestled in the elbow where I-94 meets the Lodge,  so I’ve dubbed it: NINEFOLO. Here’s the deal. It’s one (1) block long. There are some nice wooden houses, an old car with chrome teeth welded onto the grille, a hearse, and this sign:

4th Street? Positively. (That’s a Bob Dylan song reference for you young ‘uns)

It turns out there used to be (and may still be) a Positively 4th Street Fair every July. The chrome-fanged car breathed fire; hippies said OMMMMM. Here’s an article from a 2005 issue of the Metro Times, if you’re interested.

Finally, the self-proclaimed “Big Book Store”. While the visuals are a little, um, different,  I can’t argue with the sentiment.

Read, everyone. Read

That was it for last week. I hope to find something interesting to pass along over the Labor Day Weekend. Enjoy yourselves, ok?

Frozey day in the Hood – Meet the Hendersons

Thursday, it was 80 degrees fahrenheit. Saturday, we had flurries. Sunday was 41 degrees and slightly windy. And, at least in the morning, overcast. Not the most pleasant of aspects for cycling. Ah well. I don’t plan any of these rides with a theme in mind – but this week, it was coincidentally filled with Hendersons or Henderson-related items.

The sights soon warmed me up. Like this STF (See Through Factory – see earlier post).  If you look closely under the awning, you’ll see that the owners have painted “No Copper” on the building.  Copper on abandoned buildings in Motown has a shelf life roughly equal to the time it takes for someone to next me on Chatroulette.

Metal Thieves, hie thee to another landhold

On the other side of the street sits a lonely pink building. This is not the pink building in which The Band recorded its famous album, “Music from Big Pink”.

Vigilance uninterrupted

This little structure was a guard house, built to keep bad guys away from the valuable contents once kept fenced and razor wired securely within a giant lot. There’s very little left to guard these days, I’m afraid, unless you’re looking for bits of mica or quartz.

Well, at least the grass is growing

A bit further along, I ran across a boarded-up building, painted in nice, bright colors.  My super fantastic camera misfired, and so I only have one shot of the building. Since you can’t see much of it, I should point out that it is boarded up, locked, barred, and fenced.  Just in case you think it’s not, (and I can’t imagine why that might be) the owners have underscored the obvious by painting its status multiple times on its side. (By the way, there’s some monster graffiti on the side. I’ll snap a photo next time I go back.)


My grandparents lived on Bewick, not far from Mack Avenue. On the corner of Hurlbut and Mack stands what is probably a reasonably typical gas station from the 1920’s. I imagine my grandfather stopped in here more than once. The Legal Eagle said he used to drive Studebakers. I think. I do remember in his last years he drove a light metallic blue Plymouth Valiant 4 door, sometimes with the parking brake on.

Check the oil for you, Dr. Henderson?

There’s a nice piece of landscaping that’s just been redone in what I had always called “Harmonie Park”. But this parklet is named “Paradise Valley”, for the historically African-American cultural center of Detroit. Here’s a link to a more thorough history of the locale. (BTW, the link mispronounces Gratiot. It’s not “Gray-sha”, people, it’s Gra-shut. So there.)

Nice new park

I’ve had a link to Wheelhouse Detroit on my blog for a while. Here’s what it looks like from the outside.  Should you ever feel the urge to take a two-wheeled spin around downtown Detroit, and need the bicycle to do it, you can rent one from them. They also sell bikes and parts, lead tours around town, and they’re very very nice. Stop by and see them sometime.

You can’t rent the bike on the left, it’s mine

I wrote last week about my great-grandfather’s business, Detroit River Iron Works. Here’s a shot of the building (it’s on Atwater near Jos. Campau) that I wanted to capture before it collapses or is knocked down.

Notice the Arthur Henderson & Sons – my first two names are Arthur Henderson

Finally, I took a brief stop at Erma Henderson (no relation that I’m aware of) Park – which is on Jefferson across from Indian Village. In the middle of the park is an Armillary Sphere that features the signs of the Zodiac.  Just in time for Taurus, here’s the one on the Armillary Sphere. (Actually, Taurus starts on the 20th of April and, in case you’re interested, The Sanskrit name of Taurus in Hindu Astrology is Vṛṣabha.)

I’m a Taurus, by the way

Here’s hoping for warmer weather, calm winds, and a fully functioning camera for next week.

STHs. Strucks {sic}

The Legal Eagle has come up with a new name for abandoned buildings. He calls the ones in the worst state of repair “See Through Buildings”.  I have stolen his idea, and subdivided it into:  STH (See Through Houses) STB (See Through Businesses) STF (See Through Factories). On the 11th, the Warden (my new accomplice) and I passed a fine example of a STH:  Voila:

STH: Example 1. Note Sky Through House

Here’s an STH in its incipiency: The owner has tried to stave off see-throughness by the liberal application of blue tarping.

Can’t see through the first floor yet

Over on  Conner between Mack and Warren, I espied the Temple of the Black Eyed Peas. Or Popeye. Well, not really,  but close enough:

Will, I am, I yam

You will probably find this hard to believe, but just around the corner on Warren was a particularly apropos graffito. I think it needs no further introduction.  It’s a pretty apt descriptor of the state of the neighborhood.

Indeed. Note the care with which the cross is inserted into the “O”

One of the real (and I mean it) pleasures of touring the hood on Sundays is listening to the choirs in the churches I ride by. While I can make no claims as to the nature of the pastor’s sermons, the choir at Second Timothy Baptist Church rocks. The organist appears to have channeled the soul of Jimmy Smith into religious music.  If the Episcopal church had drummers and B-3 players, I think its long membership decline would reverse itself, pronto.  Here’s the church of which I speak.

I wish I could provide you with an audio sample

Dateline NBC is preparing to do yet another story about Detroit and its dismal condition. I’m truly tired of the endless loop of stories about Detroit’s demise. For an alternate perspective, I encourage you to check out the excellent piece posted at The Urbanophile, which nicely debunks some of the fallacies about our fair city.  Included in that piece are a number of what will, I am sure, be surprising photos of the nicer parts of our city. In that vein, I present to you the newly-renovated, just-in-time-for-spring Shed 3 at the Eastern Market. (The Urbanophile has a photo of a shed, too, but not this one).

Shed 3 at The Eastern Market

Some things in Detroit will remain constant, of course. Here’s a buyer of houses that isn’t interested in the building where he’s placed his ad:

Will buy your house; just not this one

And we will, no doubt, continue to mangle the English Language:

Shocks + Struts = Strucks?

Need a new muffler? I feel you.

One can only hope our distinctive signage style will continue to stay true to its roots. Here’s a tempting call for snack lovers:

Red always = hot

While on the subject of peanuts, back in my college days, I volunteered for an organization that put on jazz concerts. One time, I was sitting backstage waiting for a Dizzie Gillespie show. Prior to his entrance, he sat down next to me, stuck a mute in his horn, and warmed up by playing “Salt Peanuts”. It was one of the greatest experiences in my life. (I also drove around Ann Arbor with Sonny Rollins, but that’s for another time).

My great grandfather owned a company on Atwater called Detroit River Iron Works. It made parts for ships. The building’s still there. I have to get a photo of it before it goes away. Meanwhile, Addison Iron Fabricators is still a going concern, still showing that metal who’s boss.

Making things: An honored Detroit Tradition

That’s it for the week of April 10. We’ve had wildly varying temperatures lately. If it gets warm enough to get out on the saddle, I’ll post some more tomorrow.