Cracks in the Sidewalk/ Cracks in the Earth

July 31, 2018
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March 2015

I’m a serious pedestrian.  I walk around the city.  I don’t do so as much as I used to but I still do so more than most.  You get a different view of streets when walking.  You see things that you’d miss while riding in a car or on a bicycle.

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July 2016

All photos were taken in Detroit, unless otherwise noted.  That’s my regular beat, but occasionally I get to the suburbs.  I used to bus out to Royal Oak, Ferndale, Dearborn and Warren, yet I rarely do so now.  I wish I could get to Ann Arbor more often, yet that’s rare too.

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July 2018

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May 2016

This pothole was there from March to July or so. It was near my block so I’d see it nearly every day.  It was a deep one.  It probably damaged a few cars.  They filled it in soon after I’d taken this photograph.

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A serious pothole, July 2018.

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The Detroit Hardware Company 1924-2018

June 30, 2018

My favorite hardware store just closed.  I think that they had to be out of there by the end of the month.  I just saw a photo they’d put out of the store all emptied out.  They donated their 100-year-old cash register to the Detroit Historical Society.

I’ve visited this store regularly.  It was in my neighborhood.  In 1985 I worked right across the street from it.  When I first started to work at Crowley’s Department Store, it was located in the former Demery’s on Woodward.

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It was almost like a hardware museum.  They had such cool stuff there and the people who worked there were knowledgeable and nice.  I liked the fact that it primarily women-owned.  The people who ran it were nearly all female.  They knew their hardware.

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They used a bank of old library card catalogue drawers for odd hooks, eye hooks etc.

It sounds like they got a good price for the building.  It’s all cleared out now.  We’ll see what they do with it. Best wishes to all the people who worked there.  To those who are retiring, happy retirement to you!

Closed:

http://www.detroithardwareco.com/

https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/detroit-hardware-co-detroit

https://www.yelp.com/biz/detroit-hardware-co-detroit

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Bins of loose nails.

Their facebook page, in memory:  https://www.facebook.com/detroit.hardware/

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Press:

http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20180509/news/660296/detroit-hardware-sells-building-to-close-after-94-years

https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2018/05/14/detroit-hardware-closing-new-center/602288002/

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The back door in the parking lot.

My Life as a Child

May 31, 2018

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The two photos above were taken on Meldrum street in Detroit in May 1954.  I was still enjoying my short time as an “only child.”  My parents are so young here.   I’ve been going through the family photographs.  They help bring back or stir up a lot of memories.  I’m the oldest in a family of nine children.  Part of my childhood was connected with family activity.  We got to be pretty active.

When I was a baby, we lived by Wayne State University.  When the family started to grow we moved to the west side of Detroit.  We were in the University of Detroit area.  In the early 1960’s we moved.

The three oldest : Thomas, Dennis and Maurice.

At our house on the east side of Detroit we had a huge backyard.  In the colder Winters, we’d flood the backyard and create an ice rink.  The neighbors would come over and ice skate with us.  We had a goldfish pond.  Sometimes it’d freeze over but the fish would still be alive in the Spring.  There were fruit trees.  We’d help pick pears, apples and (for a little while) cherries.  They’d be canned, eaten fresh and made into pies.  My dad built a tree-house in the apple tree.  We used to sleep up there sometimes.

We’d play complicated war games with miniature figures, mostly out in the sand box.  Often cowboys, Indians, knights-in armor and green army men would all be fighting on the same side.  We were near the Detroit River and always heard the freighter ship’s horns as they went by.  We could go down to the park and watch the boats go by.  We’d even go swimming, though this could be dangerous.

The three oldest boys: Thomas, Maurice and Dennis.

It wasn’t all pleasant and magical.  I’d get beaten up by the older kids at school, things like that.  There was some bad stuff.  There’s always conflict.  Generally though, I had a most excellent childhood.  I hope to write it up in greater detail, either here or in the first chapter or two of my memoirs.

I was a reader, early on.  Besides books, I loved music, cartoons and old movies.  Television was a sort of part magic window and part home theatre.  Sometimes we’d go out and see a special movie.  Either my aunts would take us or we’d go out as a family.  Once my dad took some of us to see a documentary film showing in downtown Detroit.  Then there were the neighborhood theatres including the Cinderella and the Esquire.  We’d go to monster movie matinees.  It was always a treat to see a movie in a theatre.

Both my parents encouraged our imaginations and creativity.  My dad would make up bedtime stories for us.  I started drawing and making little booklets.  These were often colored with crayons and stapled-together.

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We had a baby alligator, a bat, numerous chickens and roosters, various snakes, turtles, lizards and a few parakeets and canaries.  Some of the pets were due to the fact that my dad was a science teacher for the Detroit Public Schools.  Students would catch things and bring them into class.  Then they’d end up at our house.  We had one dog, named Sox.  We had one cat, Meatball.  We didn’t name him.  He arrived, already named.  He was a big black cat with a white spot on his neck.

I was sort of loner but got along OK with my classmates.  In the family, we’d have our fights and troubles, but generally we got along.  Once, one of my brothers heard the call for dinner but he could not come, as he was tied to a tree.  The three oldest kids were in one small bedroom, in a triple-decker bunk bed.  I was on the bottom bunk.  Eventually, I got my own room.  I could see the Detroit River out of the window.

Thomas, Matt and myself, right.

I was in the Boy Scouts of America, patrol leader of the Pine Tree Patrol.  We had plenty of boy scout camping trips.  I really loved nature, being out in the forest and under the stars.  I’d also got to go to Camp Ozanam, a Summer camp not connected with the Boy Scouts.  We had a few family trips and camp-outs as well.  The main trips were to Washington D.C. and to Charleston, South Carolina.

I generally didn’t care for sports, though I did enjoy swimming, hiking and playing softball.  With our Boy Scout troop, Troop 4 we once walked from Detroit to the Charles Howell scout camp, a hike of over 50 miles!

When I was freshman in high school, I dislocated my hip.  I don’t even know how this happened, but it did.  I had to have a major operation.  They put pins in my hip and I had to go around on crutches for a while.  That was sort of the end of my childhood.

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J.J. Grandville

April 27, 2018

For the past few years, I’ve been doing some serious research into the life an work of  J.J. Grandville.  This post will be the first of several.  His work is amazing.  Animals take on human postures, movements and attire.  Plants grow faces.  It’s a pre-surrealist fantasia where everything often seems to be upside-down, inside-out and backwards.

J.J. Grandville was a pseudonym.   It was an abbreviation of Jean-Jacques Grandville.  His full name was Jean Ignace Isadore Gerard Grandville.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Ignace_Isidore_Gérard_Grandville

https://manyinterestingfacts.wordpress.com/2013/11/08/j-j-grandville/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/boria-sax-/the-phantasmagoric-world-_b_4956006.html

https://www.oldbookillustrations.com/artists/grandville-j-j/

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Some of my 1980’s New York City Photos

March 31, 2018

A mosaic designed by artist Edward Meshekoff.  This building was an information center.  Playland is in the background.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art, from above.

 

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The Apollo Theatre on 125th Street.

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Broadway and 95th Street.

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ATLAS Screws, Bolts and Nuts.

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The Statue of Liberty, circa 1984.

http://www.bygonenyc.com/tag/edward-meshekoff

 

 

Other Detroit Buildings Which Have Recently Been Torn Down

February 27, 2018

On Martin Luther King Boulevard, 2013

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On Martin Luther King Boulevard, 2015

 

On Martin Luther King Boulevard, 2013. This was torn down in 2017.

This abandoned building (above) stood next door to a hotel.  It was always architecturally interesting to me.  It looked like it was built in the 1800’s and I’m sure that it was a grand building in its day.  It was probably so badly damaged that it couldn’t have been saved easily.

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The Barat House, demolished in October 2017

The Barat House was in good shape and it went down with some clamor and controversy.  The problem was that the Detroit Institute of Arts underground parking garage is unusable.  Combined with that, they share their parking lot with visitors to other nearby venues.  Thus, it was often parked out.  Now and then, I’ve planned on attending an event but ended up not doing so because there was no parking anywhere.  That said, I’m sorry that this building went.

http://detroiturbanism.blogspot.com/2017/10/a-eulogy-for-barat-house.html

http://preservationdetroit.org/statement-on-the-barat-house/

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Torn down in 2017, on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

This building was always covered with graffiti and, occasionally art.  Some one put a sign on the second floor saying “Phone Inside.”

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I believe this was a former children’s day care center.  I loved that it had a tree growing inside of a metal climbing toy.  It may not be good for the tree but it’s an unusual sight.  This was not a great loss and it was likely not easily renovated.  Still, it seemed like an interesting building.

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Torn down in 2017, on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Besides the Dexter Bar, this interesting building was also demolished last year.  It had good tile work and detailing up on top.   I wonder what stores and restaurants were here?

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Torn down on April; 12, 2017.  This was on Dexter Boulevard.

Last but not least, this abandoned church was torn down to make way for a new structure for Henry Ford Hospital.  A curious old diner and a bank also were taken away.  They saved the KFC.

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On Grand Boulevard, November 2016.  This was torn down in June of 2017.  I liked the red vines and the mystery sign.

The Dexter Bar

December 29, 2017

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July 2016

In October of this year, they tore down the old Dexter Bar.  It’s hard to find very much information about it.  I’ll do another post about it eventually, if I manage to locate any information.

It seems like just another neighborhood bar.  I haven’t found any evidence of  there being live music there.

I shot the following sequence of photos in May of 2017.  It was the one time that I actually got out on the street, walked up to it and got some close-up shots.

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I loved the tile work on this building.

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The bird’s head had been knocked off.

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It Looked Good On Paper

November 30, 2017

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Here in Detroit, on Cass street, they’ve recently installed new bike lanes and middle-of-the-street-parking for the automobiles.  There are all these little green-striped poles everywhere, to guide people.  It’s confusing and dangerous.  Maybe someday they’ll dismantle this mess and redesign the street.

It’s horrible for the bus riders and, probably, for the bus drivers.  For one thing, there are only about two-thirds of the bus stops that there used to be.  It seems as if they’ve cut the amount nearly in half.  One bus driver told me “They did it for you.”

I don’t see how.  If there’s any increase in bus speed and efficiency, I’ve yet to see it.  I suppose they’re thinking that less bus stops will make the buses run better.  Yet that’s not the situation here on the ground.  After they got rid of my bus stop, I had to start using a new one.  On my very first trip, under the new system, I found the bus stop sign flattened.  This seemed to be an omen, not just a sign.

I used to be able to get to a mail box, mail my letters and still catch a bus.  I can’t do that anymore.  If I walk to the nearest mail box, the new system puts me at serious risk of missing my bus.  That’s just the half of it.  These so-called “little inconveniences” tend to pile up.

I recently saw a car stalled out in the street near Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.  A bus and about twenty cars had to go through a lot of fancy moves to get around it.  That car likely caused a few more traffic jams there, before it got moved.

The primary problems seem to be a sense of disorientation and the creation of many new blind spots.

The disorientation may be intentional.  Perhaps the designers thought that by creating confusion, they can get people to driver more slowly and more cautiously.

If this is so, I believe that any good effects are cancelled out by the blind spots.  As a pedestrian, I have to walk around a lot to see what’s coming.  It’s more difficult to see around corners.

They seem to have done it for the bicyclists.  Yet some of the bikers that I know, hate it. I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that the bicyclists also suffer from serious blind spots which it harder to pedal through in safety.   If you use the Cass bike lanes, do you like it?

Maybe the planners designed it for the motorists, but I doubt it.  Parking in the middle of the street had to be unsafe.  I don’t drive, yet it seems obvious that when cars are parked in the middle of the street, it makes it harder to see around them in order to see the oncoming traffic.  There are likely other blind spots for motorists as well.  If you drive and park on Cass, do you like it?

I can only hope that not that many people are killed, seriously injured or merely hurt due to this strange design.  I bet that it looked  good on paper.

 

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A Tribute to Tuesday, the Peahen

October 17, 2017

Tuesday, the Peahen, 2016.

What happened to Tuesday the peahen?  I’ve not seen her in over two months now.

We hope that she was taken by peacock fanciers and is having a good time on some peacock farm somewhere.  There were other tribes of peafowl in Detroit, besides the one on my block.  Maybe there still are.

It’s doubtful that she died of natural causes.  The lifespan for peafowl ranges from 15 to 40 years.  I think that she was between 15 and 20 years old.

Hopefully, nothing bad happened to her.  Someone said that they saw a coyote.  There are also dogs, cats and other animals around.   She’d have given any attacker a good fight.  If they ganged up on her or caught her unawares, she may have lost the fight.  I hope not.  I also hope that no people had any part in her demise.

I remember when she was just a chick.  There was a flock of baby peafowl.  She was the one who survived.  This was likely due to a mix of toughness and of luck.  I saw her grow up and, eventually, she was the only one left.  Tuesday is the last of a curious and storied tribe of Detroit peacocks and peahens.

She had a lot of personality and was often very funny.  She had a nice gait and her head bobbed up and down as she walked.  She liked to sit on cars.  Sometimes I’d give her peanuts, which she especially enjoyed.   Sometimes she’d come running toward you, in hopes that you were giving out food and she could move pretty quickly.

She’d also prowl around, looking for bugs and other treats.  She roamed the whole area.  She’d turn up everywhere.

Sometimes she’d make a lot of noise.  She’d honk, whoop and holler some.  More rarely, I’d catch her nesting or spreading her tail feathers into a fan.

At night, she’d often sleep in her favorite spot in her favorite tree.  She had an elaborate means of getting there.  This included some climbing, some hopping and a little flying.  She used someone’s house as a sort of ladder.  We’d see her up there sleeping, rain or shine.  She’s even be there in some very cold weather.

I don’t know how she survived some of those rough Winters.  Maybe some of my neighbors helped her.  On hot Summer days I’d put out little trays of water for her.

I don’t really care about any of the other animals or pets that live on the block now.  She was the only one that I liked.  So long as my neighbor’s animals don’t attack me or keep me up at night with their noise, I can either take them or leave them.  It must be nice to have a pet, in ways.

The only animals around that I like are the wild ones, especially the migratory birds.  I like to see them bouncing around the trees and to hear their morning songs.

Some of the squirrels are pretty funny too, but I wouldn’t let one in my house.

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Tuesday, up sleeping in her tree.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peafowl

https://www.reference.com/pets-animals/lifespan-peacock-49a328311e53d70d

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Have You Seen this Bird?

September 8, 2017

Tuesday, the peahen

Many strange birds end up on Fourth Street, here in Detroit.  I used to joke that they were flying by, stopped at the block and decided that they liked it!  Actually,  I think some of my neighbors and former neighbors are bringing them in.

Tuesday, the peahen, was born in my backyard.  She’s the last of a tribe of peafowl who once lorded over the block.  She’s named Tuesday because she was born on a Tuesday.  She’s very funny at times and has a lot of personality.

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In a rare pose with her tail-feathers fanned out.

She’s gone missing before, but there are usually some signs of her. So far it’s been close to three weeks since I last saw her, sometime in mid-August.

One possibility is that she’s hiding somewhere, nesting.  She’s done this occasionally. With no peacock around, the eggs are not going to hatch.

Hopefully, this is what’s happened.

The other possibilities include bird-napping.  She might have been stolen. If so, send us a ransom note, or let us know that she’s OK.

Then too, there’s a history of violence against birds on our block. They can make a lot of noise.  Some people get upset if a large bird is sitting on their car.

Several birds seem to have been killed outright.  One peacock was shown on the front page of a local paper, with an arrow through his neck. Amazingly, he survived.  The injury may have contributed to his death a year are two later.  Let’s hope that Tuesday, the peahen was not attacked.

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Car-sitting.

Have you seen this bird?  If so, let me know.

I keep looking up at the tree she slept in, but she’s never there.

If it does prove that she’s gone, if she never returns then I’ll write a further remembrance of her.  Let’s hope that she turns up healthy and as strange as ever.

Update: Today, August 10th, one neighbor says that she’s seen her in the last ten days.  That’s good news.  Everyone else hasn’t seen Tuesday in 3 to 4 weeks.  Maybe she’s just being shy or reclusive.

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Supplemental material, this bird is similar:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peafowl

 

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Tuesday the peahen’s footprints.