Monday, August 16, 2010

BeckEye's Days Off, Part 1

While I realize that I took some time off from this blog due to plain ol' burnout, I did have a valid excuse for not writing for at least six of those days. (Unless my being the last living blogger without a laptop is unacceptable.) Near the beginning of this month, I spent a few days visiting my old NYC roommates in Chicago. My original plan to make an exciting road trip out of it didn't exactly work out, although I did return home feeling like I'd been on the road forever.

Wed. 8/4
After leaving work around 2-ish, I drove to Detroit. Now, if you're geo-savvy, you may realize that the quickest way to Chicago is NOT through Detroit. However, I'd never been there and thought it would be awesome to check it out while I had the opportunity. Any time I told someone that I was going to Detroit, they would always reply with a disgusted "Eeew...WHY?" The more of these responses I got (often from people who'd never even been there), the more determined I was to get to the maligned city, see some wonderful sites and report back that Detroit had been given a bad rap from know-nothings, much like my beloved Harlem had.

"Detroit Rock City," KISS

Unlike Harlem though, I quickly found out that Detroit deserved every insult hurled its way. I parked my car downtown near the riverwalk and thought it looked OK from there, but my opinion quickly changed when I walked up to the main street. About a minute after I took a picture of "historic" Hart Plaza, a woman approached me and asked where I was from. I don't think she really cared where I came from; she just wanted to issue me this warning: "Be careful around here. Most of the people in this park are homeless...and probably desperate." Yay! My blissful ignorance had suddenly become gripping fear. Especially when I started to notice people looking at me (the unaccompanied girl with the deceptively large purse) like I was a giant, delicious rock of crack. Making it all worse was that I really had to, you know, go. When I asked (rather foolishly, considering the previous warning) the unofficial Welcome Wagon if the public bathrooms there were safe to use, she looked at me like I just asked if it was safe to share a needle with the skeeziest guy I could find. My brain took my bladder aside for a little chat and, once it realized the seriousness of the situation, it promised to behave. So, I took a few more pictures of lame landmarks and got the hell out of there. Luckily, my hotel was about 20 minutes north of the shitty in Roseville, MI, so I was actually able to sleep through the night.

"Shit Towne," Live (This song was actually written about York, PA. However, I've been to York and, while it may not have been very exciting, I never felt like an assault was waiting around every corner.)

Hart Plaza's historic murder section.Hart Plaza's historic rape section.
The Joe Louis sculpture. Because all this city needs is a monument to violence.The "Spirit of Detroit," which depicts a junkie holding a crack rock in one hand and his shattered soul in the other.

Thur. 8/5
I checked out of my hotel around 10:30 and headed to a little area called the Nautical Mile in St. Clair Shores. I took a bunch of pictures of this tiny little patch of land called Wahby Park just because it was pretty. It had been a while since I'd seen anything pretty. I really don't think the area was much of a tourist attraction though. I was kind of expecting it to be like an outdoor market/mall sort of thing, so I was kind of disappointed that it was literally just a mile-long stretch of road with the park, a bunch of stores, restaurants and a marina. I get very excited around boats though, so it wasn't a complete waste of time.

"Six Months in a Leaky Boat," Split Enz

The Nautical Mile, obvs.BOATS!!
Wahby Park. I should really be a photographer.More Wahby Park.

After that rather pointless pit stop, I got back in the car and headed for Chicago. At some point, I noticed that my cell phone time was an hour behind my car time, which confused the hell out of me. It didn't dawn on me until much later that Chicago was in a different time zone. Up until then, I was worried that I'd actually checked out of my hotel late and was marveling at how the traffic heading into the city wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting. DUH.

Route 69. Huhhuhuhuhuhuh.

That extra hour ended up presenting a bit of a problem. I was supposed to meet some bloggers at a local bar, Hopleaf, around 6:30. I was planning on getting into town at 5:30 and figured by the time I found a parking spot near my friends' place (who weren't going to be home from work until around 6:00) and meandered up to the bar (about a mile walk), it would be right around that time. But with an extra hour and nowhere to go, I basically had to walk around Andersonville, which was a cute area (and apparently a hotbed of Swedish activity), but it was as friggin' hot as a crotch outside. I figured that I would make a great impression on my bloggy friends by showing up looking like a sweathog. (Epstein, not Barbarino.) However, I managed to get to Hopleaf a bit early and do a few touch-ups. As always, my hair decided to do whatever the hell it wanted anyway.

"Change of Time," Josh Ritter

As it turned out, I didn't have as many folks to impress as I'd expected. Although there were supposed to be five bloggers joining me, only two showed up: Scope and Dr. Kenneth Noisewater. (To protect the anonymity of the three blowoff artists, let's just call them Donny Zen, Blotchy and Tenacious F.) Scope arrived first, sans new wife Cora, who hadn't yet moved from Seattle. I did get to talk to her on the phone though, and she sounded lovely. We almost missed Dr. Ken because I was confused by some hair color inconsistencies in his Facebook pics. Luckily, we caught him just as he was about to walk out of the bar and probably swear off blogger meet-ups for good. Unfortunately, I forgot to get pictorial evidence of his presence, but he was there, I swear.

When BeckEye met Scope (and Dr. Ken, not pictured)

At some point (and I was drinking Belgian beers on a fairly empty stomach, so things got hazy early on), my friends joined us and the bloggers soon dispersed. I got drunker, my pals took me out for some late night tacos and then I slept like a baby on their reasonably comfortable pull-out couch.

"Chicago," Sufjan Stevens

In the next installment...Lollapalooza!


Scope said...

It was fabulous to meet you, I just wish Cora could have been there (she's here now!).

Folks, she is just all around more fantastic is real life than you can even think possible. With an encyclopedic pop-culture knowledge like no other.

(Now do I get me $20?)

I just hope my city left you with a better impression than Detroit.

Cora said...

I'm still bitter I wasn't in town when you were.


*pouting like a crybaby*

MJenks said...

If you had taken that exit for 69 and gone to Fort Wayne + 20 miles, you would have found the ancestral homelands of Clan Jenks.

Cormac Brown said...

You know that this year, Manhattan wasn't the same without you.

BTW, that statue is about Joe Louis??? The first time I saw that thing in the beginning credits of "Hung," I thought that was the workers telling the corporations what to do, in Italian.

Workers: T'o'!

Heff said...

No picture of Dr. Kenneth Noisefarter ?

Disappointment sets in....

Flannery Alden said...

Girl, I know you had to drive through Ohio...and we have a FABULOUS bathroom. I'm just sayin'...

STOP next time.

red said...

God I love that town.

I'm sure Scope and Dr. Nosewater are lovely, but do they really compare to meeting moi?!?!?! I mean, I took you to a musical improv show, for chrissakes! Where was my special post? *sniff*

Just kidding! Glad you weren't murdered in D-Town.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

Much to your anonymous friend's chagrin, I enjoyed this post greatly. Becks, what an adventurous soul you are.

You met Scope and the DR??? Jealous, I am...

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You realise that you wouldn't need to drive through Detroit to visit me, don't you? Just putting that out there...
I love reading about blogger meetups almost as much as I love having them. Way to meet, folks!

cube said...

That woman who warned you about Detroit was probably Mr. Cube's great aunt who has lived there for a long time. She keeps us informed about how bad it's gotten over the years.

Glad you survived to blog about it.

Ed said...

69 is my interstate. And position.

Seriously though, I live about two hours straight down 69 from where you were.

You should have stopped by.

words...words...words... said...

I'm glad you didn't wind up on an episode of 48 Hours Mystery while in Detroit. (Although I might want directions to the historic rape section of town.)

Next you should come to the blogger hotbed of LA, where there is me, and...uh, me. Yeah. Probably not then.

Malcolm said...

As a Michigander, it pains me over what's happened to Detroit. However, I am hopeful that Mayor (and NBA Hall of Famer) Dave Bing will get things turned around. Although present-day Detroit as a whole is hard to defend, I will stick up for the sculpture which honors the legendary Joe Louis. As sportswriter Jimmy Cannon said about Joe, "he was "a credit to his race, the human race"

If you ever make it back to MI, you should check out places like Ann Arbor or Kalamazoo.

dmarks said...

Detroit has a few good spots, but so much of the city is a wreck.

You should have checked out the train station. It's the empty building that appears in the foot chase up an abandoned building in downtown LA in the first "Transformers".

Ann Arbor? Check out the half mile long pizza office building at the outskirts of town.


Who Does This Broad Think She Is?

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I am a winsome muse who was sent to Earth to inspire an artist to turn a vacant building into the world's coolest disco roller rink. We fell in love along the way, and I foolishly gave up my immortality. When the disco craze ended and all the roller rinks were shut down, that lazy bum wouldn't get a job. We broke up and I was stuck on Earth with nothing to do and no one to inspire. So, now I write a blog.

What Do Others Think of BeckEye?

"You're like an idiot savant of terrible garbage entertainment." - Falwless

"You're my hero." - Candy

"Get yourself a life. Better yet.....eff off." - Ann Onymous

"There's no one like you." - Klaus Meine