Pure Michigandering

With the following disclaimers: that I am an Ohioan by origin, that I’ve never attended a camp or college in Michigan, that I don’t own a cottage or condo ‘up North,’that I’ve crossed the Mackinac Bridge only once, that I still have to check how to spell Mackinac vs. Mackinaw, that I’ve never been trout fishing in the U.P, and that it’s taken me a decade to adopt Michigan as my present state and Detroit as. . . well, sorta my kinda town...I submit to you that I’ve come to understand what Michiganians -- or Michiganders (?) and even some Yoopers out there are talking about when they tell you what makes Michigan so peculiarly Michigan.

Off the top of my head, (and with no particular order in mind) here’s my short list:

Sweet,tart, dark,light, cherries are Michigan’s signature crop and ubiquitous fruit. Come to Michigan for cherries in salads, cherries in salsa, cherries in bread, cherry lemonade, cherry wine, cherry picking everywhere you can possibly get ‘em. World’s largest cherry pie pan, with a 17,420-pound capacity is on display in Traverse City, home of the National Cherry Festival.  Absolute Michigan!

Myohmy, Cherry Pie (slightly burnt!)

Fast Drivers own the road in Michigan. 
Watch for them. They know where they’re going, and they use colorful hand signals when vexed. Best to stay out of their way.

  (Well, perhaps not this fast). MotorSports Hall of Fame cars on display, Dream cruisin' at the Detroit Science Center
Sure sign of recovery: a Ford concept car makes its appearance sportying scramble pattern camouflage. 

Michigan Turns
Where else but Michigan do you turn right to make a U-turn to go left? Drives me and my GPS crazy.

Coney Islands, the chili-dogs. 
What I would give right now for a coney smothered in raw onions -- not much. Coney Islands (known in New York as Michigan-style hot dogs) are legendary in Detroit. Coney Island restaurants, found in abundance, serve cheap and plentiful greasy-spoon diner food, Mediterranean-style, and according to Chowhound, are predominantly owned and operated by Albanians - and Chaldeans. (If you must go, order the Greek salad. It's still a pretty good deal.) Fancy Mag

John King's Books
You can't be in a hurry here. Over a million rare and used and well-used books spill off the shelves on four dusty floors of an old glove factory, standing as a Detroit landmark visible from the freeway.  For the real treasures of John King's Rare and Used Books, you need a secret handshake and an escorted trip to the "back room."  A mecca for readers and collectors who love the thrill of the hunt. 

John King, himself.

Hitsville, U.S.A. 
Home of Motown Records and the world-famous Studio A, still stands on West Grand Boulevard, like oooo baby, baby, sunshine on a cloudy day. 

The Heidelberg Project
Twenty-five years ago, artist Tyree Guyton picked up a paint brush and a broom with the determination to clean up and transform vacant lots and abandoned houses in the heart of the city. Today the Heidleberg Project stands as an international symbol of the power of creativity to provoke thought, inspire action and heal communities.  

Artist, Tyree Guyton (candid shot on the street, taken with the artist's permission and a donation to the Project.)

The Ruins of Detroit. 
Athens has the Acropolis; Detroit has the Michigan Central Station. Some call photos like these porn.  But there are the dreamers among us, who still believe that the city can rise out of its monumental urban decay, out of the ashes. In its depth, Detroit may be just the place to show us the way for all cities to renew and survive. 
The photos below are mine.  For the coffee table book of note, see Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre.

Starlight Lanes, a theater turned bowling alley, now gone. 8 Mile Road.

The famed and infamous: Michigan Central Station

Beyond restoration, a terrible beauty is born

The Mitten. 
A map of Michigan for dummies. Only in Michigan can you describe your location by pointing to spots on the palm of your left hand, uh, or is it the back of your right hand?

(Image: Wikimedia+Photoshop_)

The Big House
The biggest, baddest, loudest stadium in the Big Ten, third largest stadium in the world. To be seated in the House for a U of M game is an out-of-body experience. Go Blue.  

Way beyond a heavenly deli, a mecca for foodies, listed among the Top Ten Food Markets in the World by Food and Wine Magazine. Artisan breads and cheeses, chocolates and munchies, kugels and killer brownies, holiday fare, name it and you can taste it there. You must go! On Kingsley Street, downtown Ann Arbor.

Check out and bread counter: Zingerman's, Ann Arbor

Rivera Court 
The art, the soul, and very center of the Detroit Institute of Arts, Diego Rivera’s fresco masterpiece stands today, just as it did when it was unveiled in 1933 -- an iconic and haunting tribute to the industry and technology and workforce that built the city. For a panoramic view of the work, see DIA - Rivera Court

Detroit Eastern Market. 
One of the largest, one of the oldest, and one of the most entertaining places to be in the city as you shop for produce. On a busy summer Saturday, more than 40,000 people flow through the market sheds, and surrounding eateries, specialty food shops and retail boutiques, covering over 40 acres of prime real estate in midtown.

Note: for best BBQ and live jazz, take a seat on the street at Bert’s Market Place on Russell. Smokin' hot.

The Dream Cruise 
There are auto people, and there are auto people who own garages larger than their houses. For these people, there’s the Cruise -- a once a year rite of passage whereby their classic vehicles come off their blocks, to be driven with security escorts and displayed in guarded lots charging $200 a spot. For the rest of us, the Dream Cruise is one big tailgate party -- drivin’ and gawkin’ around Woodward Ave.

In case you've missed the news,between Caterpillar (earth moving equipment) and the Kindle, Fortune Magazine has  named Detroit #14 on its "Top 100 GREAT Things About America" heralding "Motown's rise, fall, and --we hope-- rise again."  

On another positive note, a recent article in the New York Times featured "Young Muscles Building Detroit," siting census figures that "indicate a 59 percent increase in the number of college-educated residents under the age of 35, nearly 39 percent more than two thirds of the nation's 51 largest cities

Photos: VHenoch
UM Stadium: wikimedia.com

Thanks for driving by. . .


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