Greetings my friends!
As you may or may not know, I am currently spending a few weeks in Michigan with my family before I fly out to Napa. I have been doing my best to make good of my time and see as much of my family as I can and also do as much stuff that I can. I grew up in central Michigan and like all adolescents, I thought it was tragically lame. Now the validity of that is up for debate, but I wanted to kind of be a tourist in Michigan and see as much of the cool stuff in Michigan as I could. Michigan’s struggles as a state are not secret and it can often be the butt of many people’s jokes. However, I have always loved Michigan and have hoped that it and the amazing city of Detroit can turn it around. Actually, the title of this post is a bumper sticker that was distributed around Michigan at the height of Michigan’s woes in the 80s.
Given today’s news of Detroit filing for bankruptcy, I thought it pertinent to show you some of my Michigan adventures (including some in Detroit) and show you a Michigan that is wounded yet resilient. So much here has fallen apart, but there are people here making brilliant new works with the pieces.
I tagged along with my dad on one of his business trips to Detroit. This just so happened to coincide with the Detroit Tigers playing the last game before the All-Star break and it just so happened that Justin Verlander was pitching. It was a perfect game and a perfect day with my Dad. I couldn’t be happier.
I made a list of a bunch of stuff I wanted to do in Detroit, and thankfully while I was there I got to check quite a few things off. First there was hitting up the great sliders joint called Green Dot Stables. Dad and I went there and had a blast. Everything there is only $2-$4 and it’s all delicious. They were remodeling a little bit, but that didn’t stop the kitchen from pumping out some amazing food. Also, I wanted to hit up Roast downtown which was also great. My buddy John Krohn picked me and another friend Erica up, and Roast was our first stop. They do a happy hour from 4pm-6:30pm. They have a limited menu at the bar and everything again is the $4 range, including an amazing burger and some cool value wines. Late that night we hit up Bronx Bar over by Wayne State University and that place was really sweet too. It definitely worked to keep us out of the downpours that happened every 15 minutes.
Believe it or not, but there were a few things on the list that didn’t have anything to do with food or drink. I really wanted to see the Heidelberg Project, but we didn’t have time for that unfortunately. What we did have time for though is a couple of quick stops at the original Motown headquarters, Hitsville USA and at Hamtramck Disneyland. Chances are you’ve heard of Motown, but probably not of Hamtramck Disneyland.
Hamtramck is a small city that is totally surrounded within the Detroit city limits. It was settled by Polish immigrants and still remains to be a mecca of Polish culture. So much so, when we were looking for the elusive Hamtramck Disneyland, we were forced to ask directions from a group of women on the street who were speaking to each other in Polish.
Anyway, Hamtramck Disneyland is a giant folk-art collection by a Ukranian immigrant named Dmytro Szylak. He started erecting this beautiful display in 1998 and adds to it when he’s able. It was beautiful and inspiring. Seeing the work of someone who creates out of joy and an unrelenting need to express one’s self is incredibly inspiring to me.
I also decided to a little bit of touristing in my hometown of Midland, Michigan. Midland was home to one of the greatest American architects Alden B Dow. I toured his studio and home today. It was pretty inspirational as well to see someone with such a grasp on how to maximize their own creativity through playfulness and curiosity. His house is astounding and amazingly complex. I’ve never seen anything like it. You can look up info about him on the internet of course, and you should! He was a student and then contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright and a contemporary of other great mid-century modern designers like Eames and Eero Saarinen.
And with that I will leave you. There are more adventures to come. If you want a cool place to check out, head to Detroit and support the people doing great work.