A short Bleat today to balance yesterday’s slab of gush. Nothing much happened of note; grey day, which is fine. December in these parts is a tenebrous time. Light fluffy snow. Did the weekly movie podcast, which turned out to be about Star Wars - a subject about which I can speak with
strange passion. I’m not a SW Total Fan; never read the novels, winced though the prequels (except for some good moments), do not have an overriding fascination with the Skywalker clan. I’m a Star Trek guy. But I love Star Wars - and the rise of good SW movies at the same time that STs new TV iteration is leaving me bone-cold feels odd, but welcome. I don’t trust ST to be great anymore. I feel a certain giddy tingle realizing that SW probably will be.
Other news: in Sherlock terms, it was another example, Dear Watson, of the Dog that did not barf. The bloodwork has come back and there is nothing wrong as far as they can tell; no reason he’s the skinny rib-by dog, other than a peculiarity of whatever breed is mixed in with the lab. He’s negative for anything bad, his white blood count is outside of perfect but within the normal range, and there isn’t any blood in his stool. I had her test for that because it was dark, and she thought it meant he might have an ulcer.
So now he’s on ulcer medication, just in case he has upper GI tract or stomach bleeding. My dog is a 1950s advertising executive cliche.
Remember that? It was a sign of success. Men with black-frame glasses gulping milk and complaining about their ulcers. You look back at those days and think how could you possibly have been so stressed. Okay, the Bomb, but no computers, no social media, no always-on-fire news cycle. Every portrayal of the Stress of the Age of Anxiety looks almost quaint and self-indulgent now. Unless you factor in The Bomb, which had the effect of making all your troubles seem pointless - but didn’t relieve the pressure to address them. It’s like getting a toothache the week before you went to the electric chair.
One thing happened of note, though; just happened before I put this to bed. Some DMs on Twitter from a guy who read yesterday’s Coco piece. Gave me the biggest smile I’ve had in a long time. See, while you were reading that piece yesterday . . . so was Coco’s director. So I’m just going to screenshot the tweets and die happy.
Picked Daughter up from the gym, let her drive.
“How was the grocery store,” she said.
“It was $37.”
“What did you get.”
Closed my eyes. Saw it all.
“Well. I had the small two-basket cart, the cuck cart as it’s called. Bypassed produce. Got the store-brand shredded cheddar cheese, which is good with eggs; a sweet-cream coconut milk coffee creamer you like. Mom had taken all the yogurt to work so I got four more, Berry and Kiwi, pureed and blended as she liked. Four bottles of Blood Orange Mango Lifewater for my mixer. A gallon of low-cal no-pulp calcium fortified orange juice and a half gallon of milk.”
“Okay, I get it -“
“A packet of taco powder, on sale; a bottle of Taco Bell hot sauce, likewise; a container of red Alfredo sauce, because we had Alfredo sauce for dinner and I needed to replace the stocks. A container of Bounty napkins that would have been described as ‘gay prints’ fifty years ago. I am sick to death of Raisin Bran, so I settled on a box of Life, a rote cereal of no distinction that now had a vanilla flavor that sounded acceptable; it was four for ten dollars.”
“You sound like Garrison Keillor”
“Child you wound me”
“No you are like saying this in a monotone.”
“Ladies and Gentlemen, step right up and see the miracle of the ages, the bounty of science and nature, the one the only the fantastic Pam butter spray. By appointment to the crowned heads of Europe. You there, sir, are you tired of dry popcorn why of course you are. You there ma’am do you wish there was a way to make your potatoes sing in the pan instead of singe? Of course you do. Well lay-dees-and-gennelmen I stand before you as the sole representative in this territory who is authorized to bring before you the one, the only, the Pam butter spray - but wait! How much do I have to pay? You ask. Some would say the better part of five dollars, but I am here to tell you that this can, this bee-you-ti-ful cylinder, this tall shaft of compressed buttery goodness can be yours for a mere dollar and ninety-nine-cents. One to a customer. Don’t push, don’t push. Here you are, sir, spray in good health. Here you go, ma’am thank you kindly.”
“Okay that was pretty good. But can you do an action?”
“An auction, where they talk fast. I never understood why that was so dramatic in movies, it’s just people holding up a finger or a sign.”
HEY THERE ALL RIGHT SIR HERE THEY COME AND WHAT AM I BID FOR THEM. I BID TWENTY DO I HEAR TWENTY TWENTY TWENTY FIVE TWENTY FIVE THIRTY ON THE DOLLAR
By now we were in the garage, and I was trying to connect to home wifi to pull up the song.
“The Auctioneer. My dad had it. I loved it so much when I was a kid. There was a boy from Arkansas who wouldn’t listen to his paw when he told him that he should go to school. He’d sneak away in the afternoon, take a little walk and pretty soon, you’d find him at the local auction barn.”
Damn! No signal. We went upstairs and I stabbed the phone to find the song. Found it. Played it.
“That’s not it,” I said. “That’s the original but that’s not the one I mean. The one I mean.”
Hit iTunes; no. Hit Spotify; no. Just the original. Not the one my dad had.
A while later I searched something that sounds so archaic you’ll laugh, but bear with me. I searched my drives. I found it.
THIS I cried from my studio to Daughter down the hall. THIS IS THE ONE.
And it is. It's the booming voice that sets this one apart
. . . and the faaaaantastic geetar.
If you recall yesterday's entry, I noted a couple of packages that used the word "Christmas," and was struck by how they stuck out. Did I miss the return of the word? Had it never gone away from prefab industrial cakes?
I may be wrong. If I'm right, it's an interesting change.
The big-box hardware store had a huge quantity of branded candy canes, made in the hues we associate with the product. The hue suggests it will have the same taste as the brand.
This, however, is wrong.
Swedish Fish aren't really a taste. They're a texture.
No one wants a hard Swedish Fish.
This is one of those JJMMOG streets, in the sense of Jesus, Joseph, Mary Mother of God stretches of urban despair that seems to beg for demolition.
But this isn’t bad.
You can see the ghost of the old prosperous street, a place with stores and customers and a variety of goods. It’s battered and shopworn, but keeping its own.
Let’s move along.
A firehouse in hell.
A regrettable typical structure:
You could say it was "third world" except even in the poorest countries you'll see a storefront painted bright hues to liven up the street.
Painted white and given over to God, its neighbors gone. No retail, no windows.
The words seem to hover in the air, apart from the ruined structure:
The building next door says housing is coming soon, a rehab’s in the works.
Great, but I don’t know why anyone would want to live on this street, unless you want the thrill of being an urban pioneer. And then you start to despise the people who move in after it's cleaned up and safer.
The metal structure on the door held a sign once.
There’s no way to tell if they’re still open. Next door: Another structure for a sign that’s long gone.
Alll these Detroit streets seem fixed in an eternal Sunday morning.
Good Lord, what’s behind those doors?
It's like the store is full of mindless zombie appliances waiting to be released so they can feast on the rust of the light pole.
Yes, a community is always improved by one of these.
If aliens came and built a facility that converted the locals to ash and fertilizer, it's hard to see how it would look different.
Each dot was a daub of glue that bonded the facade to the old brick wall. When they're gone the building looks as if it has the worst acne.
The pieces may have been pried off by vandals and sold for scrap.
Another example of a ripped-off metal facade, next to an old brick commercial structure blinded with white paint - with reminders that there are no services, either medical or law-enforcement.
I just hate that this happens. Hate it. A nice old bank building . . .
The Michigan State Bank. The people who worked here - the tellers, the clerks, the manager, the gals in the steno pool - never thought this would happen. Who would?
I’ve no idea. But it’s proof again that the happenstance of urban decay is sometimes indinguishable from modern art.
There was money and pride here once.
I’d love to get inside and see when it was renovated. Fifties, I’d guess. Early 60s. Might be some details left - or imagine if it wasn’t renovated at all, and still held the interior spaces and details of the 20s.
Another lonely bank; decades since anyone dropped by to make a deposit.
Ah: a going concern.
They have a Facebook page. Looks like a neighborhood institution, and congrats to them for hanging on.
Finally, the one thing on Michigan Avenue that sums up the city more than anything else, at least for me. The Train Station.
It's an amazing ruin. Wikipedia:
Restoration projects and plans have gone as far as the negotiation process, but none has come to fruition. Since 2011, demolition works, minor structural repairs, repairs of the roof structure, and covering the glass roof openings in the concourse have been performed. The basement, which was once full of water, has been fully drained, and a barbed wire fence has been installed in an attempt to keep out vandals and the windows in the tower have been replaced.
But there's hope. And for a positive end to this miserable account: take a look at the little video on this page.
From the story on the event that spotlit the building's possible future:
A small group of protesters gathered outside the razor wire fence that surrounds the train station. They held signs that said "tax the rich" and "education not gentrification" and led chants decrying the newly opened Little Caesars Arena.
Yeah, keep Detroit Detroit.
Thank you for your visit, and if you're interested in more Detroit - there's five weeks of one street coming in 2018. Have a grand day, and I'll see you tomorrow. Friday!