Oh, Oh, Oakland! And that’s just the beginning of the idiosyncraticity that is Detroit. (I made up one of those words.)

This TDH was a little longer than usual (as I remember, about 40 miles), but it repaid itself over and over again in maybe-only-in-Detroit visual thrills. Get ready, there are a lot of photos in this post. The Legal Eagle has been threatening to garnish my pay check if I don’t get a post up. He’s found some archaic Michigan law that he believes applies to overdue blog posts, so I could be on the verge of some time in the clink if I don’t get something up on the intertubeswebthing pronto. Which raises the question – do you actually read this blog, or just look at the photos? It’d be a lot easier if I just threw up some photos and let you have at it, so: First poll of the post:

On the way to Oakland, we passed this tagged building on Milwaukee. That’s nothing unusual for my fair city, but I was struck by the verve of the taggers who manage to make their marks on what appear to be relatively inaccessible portions of the building.

Perhaps the “n” is backwards because the painter was disoriented

The recently reopened Tangent Gallery and Hastings Ballroom (now featuring Booze!) was where we right handed onto Oakland. If you were paying attention in math class, you’ll recognize the significance of the sculpture that adorns its exterior

Please note the intersection of the line and the circle. It’s called a ______?

Directly across the street is a sort of homage to a venerable printing facility. The facility itself appears to have disappeared, unfortunately.******

Any backstory, Night Train: Detroit?

**** I was misinformed about Rusas Printing.  I received a very nice note from Mr. Rusas himself “I was contacted by a friend to check out your site and found that you have a photo of my sign posted. You mentioned in your post that the printing facility has disappeared. Although the buildings surrounding me have been abandoned and completely covered in tags, We continue to operate out of the hood & have for over 40 years! The blight of our city has been wide spread throughout, there are still companies doing our best to battle the elements without the help of the city or the police. Recently, I was contacted by the “Better Block” organization & they choose our city block out of all the city blocks in Detroit for a beautification push to be spotlightedduring the Detroit Design Festival Sept. 22 & 23. After 2 30 yard & 1, 10 yard dumpster along with the help of multiple volunteers. Joe at the Tangent Gallery, the Better Block Organization and myself have managed to clear the debris and clean up the abandoned buildings and clear the empty lots that have been left by their careless owners of the abandoned properties.

I think I’ve found my new pied a terre in the city. Looks comfy, n’est-ce pas?

Just right for the single man on the go

Once on Oakland, a veritable yellow brick road of unusual sights began to unfold before us.

Here’s a cool building that clearly has a commissioned exterior decoration (it’s signed by the artists)

Dig it? I do

Someone has re-imagined the City of Detroit flag on another building. For reference, here’s the “official” version:

The flag of our fair city

The version on Oakland has additional built-in Detroitness: For one, our motto is actually in English, and there’s a nice nod to the Tigers. (The Old English “D” for those of you not from around here.) And a reminder that we’re not all white.

Dig that Caddy in the upper right quadrant

A little further up, we cycled past a building I should’ve heard or read about before. Alas, I hadn’t. It’s a retail/educational facility the likes of which I’ve never run across before. Voila:


Other artwork abounds on Oakland. Should your interests lie in the plastic arts, there’s this triptych:

I wish I could give you more details about this, but I’m drawing a blank

Ride around Detroit a while (or even for a short spin), and you’re pretty much guaranteed to pass by some spell fails: Like so:

I like the $ at the end of “Dollar Items”

Did you notice anything special about the bricks on the top of the building? This used to be “Charlie The Pencilman’s” {sic}, which according to some cursory searching online used to sell incense and dream books. This whole block was populated in the 1930’s by European Jews, which explains the location of Detroit’s Russian Banya, or as we’ve always called it around it around here: The Schvitz. It’s still open.

For Men Only

It’s no secret that there are many many many abandoned homes in Detroit. This building’s owners made their feelings pretty clear:

And you’re probably never coming back

Not to worry, as this building will provide you with some reassurance about outcomes, if not word spacing:

God decided not to open the store today

Next up, a building with a certain amount of panache, of braggadoccio, if you will. There are innumerable buildings in Detroit, but this one is the one according to its owners:

Accept no substitutes. This is the real deal

I am not blessed with a thick, rich head of hair, so the possibility of it actually “breaking” is something beyond my imagination. It must be an issue amongst others, as evidenced by this beauty salon’s promise:

What can you do if it’s all falling out?

This next sign will probably only make sense to a real Detroiter, as it makes reference to our very own wacky billionaire.

Maybe he’ll swing by after he straightens out his issue with the new bridge

One of the things I enjoy most about cycling around Detroit (particularly on Sunday mornings) is the virtual lack of automotive traffic. It’s just a great place to ride along and enjoy the scenery. Like so:

Every wall’s an easel

Someone went to a great deal of trouble to paint the 10 Commandments on side of a building on the corner of Manchester. Wish they’d gone to the trouble of bringing a dictionary along with them.

The Sabeth? Adultry? And, what, exactly, am I not supposed to covet? Anything?

In an earlier post, I wrote about the Satan’s Sidekicks M/C. But I neglected to show you a photo of the mother chapter: Here it is, over on Fenkell.

Don’t know if they still sport red helmets with devil’s horns

Back in Detroit’s early days, the St. Francis Home for Orphan Boys was founded. At one point in time, it must’ve been a beautiful building. It’s just tragic that it’s fallen apart, with no evident sign that it’s going anywhere but further down. Here’s the cornerstone, still intact:

9 years in the making

And here’s the building, in its current sad state

What a disaster

My spirits soon picked up after I passed a very special car wash.

I can only imagine how clean my car would be

For those with a less spiritual bent, just down the road is a more civic-oriented car wash:

President vs The Lord for top car wash

I have no idea what this business is (or was), or what it does (or did). All I know is that it’s got a pretty bad ass logo:

Panther _________

This company:

Back when I was wee lad, the two great jazz clubs in Detroit were Baker’s and Watt’s Club Mozambique. Clearly the jazz road didn’t work out for the owners of Watt’s, which is bad news for jazz lovers, but potentially good news for those of you looking for some exotic manliness

Only the finest in exotic male dancers

As mentioned above, I am somewhat follicly challenged, so I have almost no need for this salon’s speciality:

I’m more in need of a slim fade

As we got nearer to our turn around point (Schaefer Highway) I heard “Jesus Loves the Little Children” being played on a saxophone. The player turned out to be an affable gentleman named “Jack”. “Black Jack”. Being just down the street from Watt’s, we reminisced about the olden days when it was a jazz club. (Black Jack talked about seeing Roy Ayers there). When I asked him which Alto players he admired, he said: “Me”. Then he launched into a very nice version of “Satin Doll”. Thank you, Jack. Nice to meet you.

“Black Jack” Alto player supreme

There was still a lot more to unfold along Fenkell. (BTW, Fenkell is not, I think it’s fair to say, the best place to show off our city to out-of-towners). I passed one of my side businesses; I just added the tattoo sign to try and snag some hipsters. (That’s not actually true. I don’t own this place.)

My attempt to get some street cred (that part is true)

This establishment will try anything to make sure you come in and shop; even pointing out which door you’re supposed to use to get in, in case you’re confused.

Neither a side door nor a back door be

If you’re a regular Tour De Hood reader (see poll above), you’ll remember that I’ve noted a number of hair-type stores I’ve passed on my rides. This seems to be the place to get the best bargains. Either that, or something that must smell truly disgusting.

Liquid Hair: The greatest invention since sliced bread

There wasn’t a whole lot to see on Schaefer Highway, though I did dig the wheel setup on the car featured here, at yet another car wash.

Caprice Classics rule the road in Motown

Grand River presented us with a plethora of interesting things to view. There is a lot of nicely-executed curated street art along its length. For example, this exuberant celebration of dedication to the Queen of England (I think)

Perhaps it’s dedication to the King of Belgium

A bit further along, there was a lot more to see – but first, I wanted to point out a nicely recycled gas station, taking on new life as yet another beauty salon. (Detroit’s gas station architecture is pretty recognizable. I think it’s safe to say this actually was a gas station at one point.)

Change the oil, and just a little off the top, please

As for the aforementioned street art, there’s a super nice cluster on Grand River and Vermont. Example #1:


Example #2: (This is actually part of the signage for a barber shop)

And perhaps my favorite of the bunch: a trenchant observation on the general flabbiness of our nation, as well as our indefatigable dedication to eat anything that comes in an extra-large size, example #3:

Sad but true. We’re a flabby old bunch, aren’t we?

Before we stopped for some nourishment, we passed yet another motorcycle club. I don’t know if they’re a “good” motorcycle club or a “bad” motorcycle club. Do you?

A suggestion for Mr. Toro (Or is that Toros?) A little more consistency with the ‘s (or not) would help give your brand some added punch

We repaired to the Lafayette Coney Island for a richly deserved brunch, Motown-Style.

If you’d like to duplicate this tour yourself, here’s a Google® Map to show you where we went.

Back to my question at the beginning: did you read this, just look at the pictures, or both?

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).

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?

Nipples & Boobs & Bunns, But it’s all Squeeky Clean.

Following a week of depressing, wet weather, Saturday turned out really nice – perfect for cycling and enjoying the sights of autumn around our fair city.

The Legal Eagle had a nifty route planned, which you can see here, on this approximate map of our travels.

On our way downtown, we passed a business that’s open, if you look closely, 23 hours a day. Which hour it’s not open is not made clear, but I guess it’s around 10 – 11 am on Sundays.

1twentythreehourNow we’re open

I say appears, because the owner was either closing for that specific hour, or disturbed by my photo-taking, as he spotted us and pulled the garage door shut.

2twentythreehourNow we’re closed

(ps: I like the pluralization of “Tire” on the left-hand side of the door frame)

Earlier this year, I wrote about Rosa Parks’ funeral home. This time, when we rode past, the proprietors had parked their LaSalle Hearse in front of the building.

4hearseRosa Parks’ hearse

For those of you not up to speed on Detroit’s moto-industrial past, LaSalle was a line of vehicles designed to fill a perceived gap between Buick and Cadillac. Luxury, in other words, but not quite as luxurious as Cadillac.  The hearse pictured here has a custom body, and this device on the door, which I think could be a cremation urn or some other funerary symbol.

3hearseSwanson Door Ornament

Pfeiffer beer used to be one of Detroit’s favorites. We passed by two buildings, one that looks like its original home.

5oldpfeifferThe “office”

Another, larger building is across the street. It was built in the 1940s.  Interestingly, one of the directors of the Pfeiffer Brewing Company was an ex-FBI agent who was the guy who captured Bruno Hauptman, the infamous Lindbergh kidnapper.

6pfeifferOwn your own brewery

As you know if you’ve read any of my earlier posts, the Legal Eagle is a scholar, not just of the law, but of Detroit Fire Stations.  We rode by two former stations, one of which is abandoned:

7exfirestationEngines 11 and 28 (now deceased)

The other one was recycled at some point into a residence, but appears to have been abandoned as well.  It looks like a ‘regular’ house,

9firestationhouseMore than your everyday house

but what gives its origins away is the lettering above the front door.

10housestationSee? It’s number 35

I can’t remember if this was a ladder or engine company; regardless, it’s empty now.

I’ve puzzled over the seeming absence of “Stimulus Funds” at work in Detroit. I think I’m not the only one. This church is holding out hope from a higher authority.

11stimulusplanHope he’s got some jobs for the unemployed

Back in the “summer” (it never got hot enough to qualify to summer this year) I rode by the unfortunately-named “Last Chance Academy”.  I think it dawned on someone that there might be an more inviting moniker for the school, because the sign’s been changed.  Here’s what it looked like in August:

lastchance2Last Chance Then

But that was then. Everyone’s feeling more optimistic now:

12newlastchanceLast Chance Now

Right around the corner from the newly-named Detroit Cares Academy is what looks like a feeder school for the Academy. That or a reform school for toddlers

13obedientdaycareRule #1: Sit down and be quiet

I usually post photos in a linear fashion – that is, by the order in which I pass the sights. Today, however, a couple of sets of natural groupings presented themselves.


First up, the Club Temptation, which, unusually, isn’t a strip club, just a lounge for adults with dancing and spirits. I really like the assiduousness with which they decorated the facade and its environs.

14clubtemptationJust look for the purple rocks

A recurring theme which is sprouting all over the city is a claimed link to President Obama, who may or may not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, but is certainly worthy of having a burger named for him.

15temptation$4, or only 4 available for public consumption

Next up, what I believe to be a women only  Motorcycle Club social society:

17motorcityfoxesFoxes inside – watch it!

Detroit has always been in the business of making things – some of which have peculiar nomenclature. There’s a “broaching” shop not far from my office, and at the top of the heap, the ought-to-be-famous Detroit Nipple Works. (Boy, do I hate Bookman with swash caps)

8detroitnippleworksNot for babies

There are plenty of places to get your car washed in Detroit. The front-runner for best-named hand wash place is the appears-to-be-defunct Yetta Boos:

21boobsandbunnsBoo Hoo. It’s closed

Yetta Boo’s claim to fame must’ve annoyed some of the neighbors. But at least one denizen of the neighborhood stood up on her behalf, and was not shy about making his feelings known.

22makingshitlookbetterYetta Boo’s fan club

The second category is another common Detroit sight, the “play fast and loose with the english language” department.

Spelling Fail

One auto shop will fix your fram. (If you have one)

20framrepairMaybe they’re referring to Nat King Cole’s song “The Frim-Fram Sauce”

Here’s a place to go if your vehicle comes from overseas:

19forignPronounced: Furrin

Yet another car wash. I guess I should cut this place some slack – for one, the sign painter did a fantastic job, and maybe they were trying to copyright the name.

18sqeekycleanSail right in, matey (they detail boats, too)

The Clairmount check-cashing facility will cash any sized check. Just to make sure you understand that, they make the claim on three sides of the building.

24tobigtoNo check to big (emphasis on cents)

In case you miss that sign, they took the opportunity to misspell too again on another facade.

25notobigNote the emphasis on the $ in this version

I wonder if this is where GM will cash the check they get from selling the Hummer brand to Tengzhong

(By the way, I’d have posted a photo of the third sign, but that would’ve been overkill. Or, as the owners of the Clairmount would probably put it: “To much”.)

The NU-MRK pest control shop (which has t-shirts for sale) has, in a reversal of typical practice, added a hyphen where none was necessary, instead of leaving out a letter where one is needed.

26numrkWhat about the ones that just fly or wiggle?

Another academic location has services for children of working parents.  Summer camp, too.

16afterschooAfter Schoo, I’m going hom

The third category into which things sorted themselves I can only describe as

Detroit Oddness

Perhaps this entity is supposed to carry you across the rivers of Babylon:

23shipofzionIt begs the question: Is there a lesser ship?

Another shop (with a very limited inventory) somehow links Rosa Parks to a nut.

30pecansI like pecans, but don’t get the connection

Meanwhile, back on earth…

There’s a lovely neighborhood near midtown in Detroit called Woodbridge, it looked particularly inviting in the fall sunlight

27woodbridgeThis is Detroit, too. See? What a nice neighborhood

We stopped at the Avalon Bakery for some sustenance – I went with a yummy piece of sour cream coffee cake; the Legal Eagle ate something healthy.  I forgot my camera inside, but one of the Avalon-ites was nice enough to bring it out to me.

28avalonFantastic Food and Camera retrieval services

We had another interesting experience on (in?) the Dequindre Cut. An artist named “GAME” was in the process of painting a mural. It’s all on the up and up, according to Tom Stoye – who’s the curator of the graffiti art in the Cut. Here’s a work in progress:

29legalgraffitiMural in Progress

Tom sent me some more information about the project, along with some cool photos of finished mural art – I’m going to do a separate post about the subject when I get a moment free. Until then, take a trip downtown before it gets too cold and snowy. There’s lots of great stuff to see.