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.


Short post: Own your own school + Lay lady (?) Lay.

The weather last weekend was just delightful. Just gorgeous. Perfect for enjoying a spin ’round the East Side.

As you may know, Detroit is busily trying to shrink itself – the city’s too big for the population that lives here. The disastrous Detroit Public School system has issues as well. They’re trying to “right size” it, by closing more schools, adding to the abandoned ones you may have seen already on the blog.  Here’s a newly-closed one for sale or rent. It looks well built.

Be your own school marm – Kercheval and Beniteau

I began to notice there were a number of hyper local festivals going on. One on Kercheval near Coplin.  Given the fact that it was put up next to a liquor store, I couldn’t figure out what the occasion was.

We like our cars in primer here

A couple of minutes later, I passed some members of the Martin Luther King Marching Band waiting for a bus on Lafayette. When they told me they had just finished a performance it dawned on me: Saturday was the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.  (Yes, I know all about Glenn Beck’s tea-partyrama. Sigh).

The flugelhorn player’s sitting on the drummer’s drum

Moments later, I came upon the Episcopal Church of Grosse Pointe’s annual watercress and cucumber sandwich festival. Just kidding. There was a party in front of the Church of the Open Door. Line dancing to secular music. Kids having fun. Me taking photos.

Outdoor dance fest

I have decided that my major dance impediment is a congenital inability to have my hips move independently from my thorax. Hence I always look like the most uptight guy in the room. I am not, unfortunately, the man with the four-way hips.

I am somewhat of an aficionado of “ghost signs” – elderly wall paintings of businesses or enterprises long since gone under. Here’s one for the former anchor of Detroit’s so-called “China Town”, Chung’s.

The “TE” could stand for TEmple, TEnnyson, or TErrace; I’m not sure which is correct

On a happier note, over on Cass and Alexandrine, Slows is (w00t!) opening up a Slow’s to go. I can’t wait for opening day.

Soon, slowly, slowly

On the way back, I chose to (egad!) ride the wrong way down one-way Second – and was rewarded for my illegal activity by the sight of this street art. I can’t decide: Man or Woman? I lean toward man – like a painted version of the emasculated Ken Doll.

Lady, (?) I’ve got a window where my heart is

Here’s a blast from our printed past: “Michigan’s Fastest Growing Weekly” The Michigan Chronicle, an African American-centric newspaper, which you can now read online.

I don’t know if the headquarters are still here or not

Then it was over to Belle Isle for the “Hear Bell Isle” event. The link will send you to Handmade Detroit – it was a fundraiser (donations accepted) for the Friends of Belle Isle.  I made it by in time to hear Maunder Minimum, and ran into Phil Laurie – he of the Detroit Lives blog, and tireless Detroit Promoter. I was hoping to see the hyper talented Angela Duncan, who claimed (via Facebook) that she would be in attendance, but no such luck.  Here, on stage, Maunder Minimum.

Scorching Telecaster solo

Finally, some good news for those who live near Indian Village. The ladder 14 fire station is about to re-open. They’re moving the Medic 12 vehicle from Jefferson and Lycaste, probably because the residential density along Kercheval is much higher.

Nice new doors.

Lovely day in the hood. Not a cloud in the sky, and there was only a gentle zephyr helping to speed me home.