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.
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.)
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.
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.
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