Exactly a year ago, Alexis and I returned from a trip to Detroit. We took the the train to Windsor (Ontario), then went under the Detroit River by tunnel and spent about ten magical days in the city before a day and a half Toronto. I’m not sure why I never posted anything about the trip. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t happy with the photography, all taken using my cell phone’s camera, or that there was no way the pictures or text could capture the magic of what was quite possibly my favorite trip ever. I’ll mention some memories that come to mind before the pics.

  • A three-hour stop in Winnipeg, where we got to see the Forks beneath the Forks beneath the Forks; the Lap (from Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg, which oddly enough we saw in NYC the previous year), and ended up in a great blues club called Times Change(d) to warm up, where they made an exception to their usual members-only policy for us. And the very cute (lady) drummer who was flirting with Alexis.
  • The Hiedelberg Project, a two-block mostly-abandoned part of Detroit that Tyree Guyton turned into art to keep crackheads out.
  • The walk from Hiedelberg to the cultural district, through still-viable neighborhoods, urban farms, urban prairie, and what we call “Murder Zone” (this was spray-painted on a wall), which had stuffed animals attached to just about every telephone pole (indicates that someone was killed there).
  • Alexis’ love for the Wurlitzer Building. It made her very happy for some reason.
  • The way nobody uses sidewalks and instead walks down the middle of the road. The way that in the rare case of seeing someone else walking, you size each other up like it’s a Western.
  • The way people are very wary initially, but become so warm and friendly once you smile and ask how they’re doing. The opposite of the forced politeness with nothing behind it that is so common here in B.C.
  • The Detroit Institute of Arts. The best museum I’ve been to in North America (maybe the world), full of knowledgeable and dedicated staff who obviously love the place.
  • Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry murals in the Rivera Court at DIA.
  • Dinner at The Whitney, which despite its hoity-toity reputation had mediocre food (did they think we wouldn’t notice that a dish which was supposed to have chanterelles came with common white mushrooms instead?) in a beautiful old mansion. I tried to write more about the experience but it was all so surreal that my poor writing ability cannot do it justice, but there was a bodyguard attempting to order spicy scrambled eggs from a befuddled waitress, a drug dealer rehearsing his wedding, Dr. Dave and his old-money Detroit godmother, and the ghost that haunts the mansion.
  • The pizza at Motor City Brew Works. Best I’ve ever had. The beer was good too.
  • Slows Bar-B-Q, where I’ve finally had proper BBQ.
  • Norris, who worked for the Inn on Ferry Street (where we stayed part of the time) and showed us around Detroit, full of stories. One of those geniuses who ends up driving a shuttle bus (the best kind).
  • John K. King Books. What a huge used book store should be. Powell’s doesn’t hold a candle.
  • The love that many Detroiters have for their city against tremendous odds.
  • Exploring Toronto by street car. Just hop on and hop off whenever it looks like you’re in an interesting neighborhood.
  • Korean food in Toronto at some place where nobody spoke English after walking for hours looking for the perfect place for lunch in a city full of restaurants.

Anyhow, I’m going to leave it at that because if I try to make this post perfect it’ll never get done (which is why it’s already taken a year before I managed to write anything).

Photo of: A token view from the train while crossing the rockies
A token view from the train while crossing the rockies
Photo of: The Hiedelberg Project
The Hiedelberg Project
Photo of: The Hiedelberg Project
The Hiedelberg Project
Photo of: Demolishing the beautiful Lafayette Building. The trial of the "underwear bomber" was taking place in one of the buildings on the right side of the street.
Demolishing the beautiful Lafayette Building. The trial of the “underwear bomber” was taking place in one of the buildings on the right side of the street.
Photo of: View of downtown Detroit and Windsor over the Detroit River, from Belle Isle
View of downtown Detroit and Windsor over the Detroit River, from Belle Isle
Photo of: Alexis in front of the old stables at Belle Isle
Alexis in front of the old stables at Belle Isle
Photo of: Alexis on the tire swing at the Toledo Museum of Art
Alexis on the tire swing at the Toledo Museum of Art
Photo of: One of many lovely houses (in various states of upkeep/decay) in the Woodbridge area west of the Cultural District.
One of many lovely houses (in various states of upkeep/decay) in the Woodbridge area west of the Cultural District.

 

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