A day in Detroit

IMG_0787My posts are a little out of order these days, largely because I haven't been very good about blogging lately. I've been too busy getting my Real Work done so that I can spend hours on end obsessively learning how to sew things. So I'm only now posting some photos of a brief trip we took last week into Detroit while our good pal Thomas Crone was in town for a visit.

It's about a 45 minute drive from Ann Arbor to Detroit and just a handful more on to Canada, a trip we thought momentarily of making but passed on since we didn't have our passports. Instead, we kind of winged our way around downtown, hoping for some signs of life. We started by checking out Comerica Park, which has something to do with tigers and baseball. I didn't ask specifics.

IMG_0801 Comerica Park is located, of all things, in the Detroit Theater District, across the street from the Fox Theatre, with its beautifully faded neon signs. It's the nation's second largest theater. What's the first? No idea. I'm just copying what the websites say.

Next door is the Fillmore Detroit, in the Palms Building. Previously (and better) known as The State Theater, a movie theater dating back to 1925. It has clearly come a long way, as the marquee was advertising an upcoming GWAR show.

IMG_0812 Right next to Comerica Park, crowded by the buildings around it, is the Elwood Bar & Grill, an art deco gem that dates back to the 1930s. Turns out that's not its original location, however, as it was moved to make way for the beheamoth ballpark next door. Apparently the inside has been beautifully restored to its originally deco splendor but, like most of Detroit, it's closed on Sundays so I didn't get a chance to look inside.


With a little hunger gnawing at us, we hopped in the car thinking we could find our way to one of the many imaginatively-named ethnic enclaves I'd read about -- Greektown, Mexicantown, Thai Town. But Detroit is laid out a tad wonky and our instincts were getting us nowhere. One map and about 20 minutes later, we'd circled around downtown and drawn several conclusions, not the least of which is the fact that desolate downtown Detroit makes St. Louis look HOPPIN'.

IMG_0819 Nevertheless, we did find our way to Greektown, which would probably be more accurately dubbed as Greekblock. While I imagine the technical boundaries of Greektown extend a ways, the "scene," as it were, all takes place on about a block of Monroe Street. There's a block of restaurants, some of which back up to the obscenity that is the Greektown Casino. Greek music was piped into the street from sights unseen and strings of little US flags hung across the road flitting in the breeze.

We took our pick of restaurants and totally misfired, deciding that any place named Olympia couldn't be that bad. It was the logic of people so hungry no blood was being delivered to their brain. There I had what may be the worst Greek Salad I've ever had, and that's coming from someone who's eaten a lot of bad Greek salads in her day. Fortunately, the pita was warm and pillowy, the hummus perfectly fine and the waitress loud 'n friendly. Almost made it worthwhile.

IMG_0824Next, we wandered across the street and allowed ourselves to be lured in by the trays of sweet promises in the window of the Astoria Pastry shop. It's one of those magnificent bakeries that you could spend ages in just looking at everything from the chocolate covered marshmallow mice to the cakes piled with whipped cream and strawberries to the traditional greek pastries which, compared with their neighbors, looked more like punishment than dessert. Fun!

IMG_0826 Chris and I split a goodie and Thomas had some ice cream which clearly made him very, very happy.

IMG_0831 Also, I have a deep and abiding love for tin-type ceiling tiles and the copper ones at the bakery were a thing of great beauty.

We finished our afternoon -- which was a stunner, I tell you -- by driving out of Detroit on Jefferson into the Grosse Pointe neighborhoods to see how the fancy pants live. I'd been told by friends that it's an absolutely stunning and sudden transition -- in the space of an intersection you go from desolate Detroit 'hood to the verdant mansion-dotted streets of Grosse Pointe. I assumed, however, this was a bit of an exaggeration. It's not. You literally cross from one block into the next and the rotted out storefronts and patched up homes are replaced with some of the most ostentatious gated homes you've ever seen, interspersed with private yacht clubs. It's like being transported from one world to the next in the blink of an eye. How does that happen?

I have no answers. And I have no more to add. Thus, this concludes this blog posting.