Monday, July 09, 2007

Motown and Surrounds

Well, I'm back from my trip to the opposite end of the state. Had a great time -- especially at Comerica Park, watching the Tigers beat the Red Sox. (Curtis Granderson rocks the house -- what an outstanding ballplayer.) The next day, Saturday, Fellow Traveler and I spent a marathon day at Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn -- at the latter we sat in the back seats of the same bus where Rosa Parks made a stand, or actually a sit, for civil rights. (You may not know this, but the Henry Ford isn't connected with the Ford Motor Company -- it's run by a nonprofit corporation -- and the museum isn't just about automobiles, although obviously the auto industry and American automobile culture are predominant themes of exhibits. Oh -- and this museum complex is also home to a charter school whose students, all from Wayne County, are chosen by lottery; the classrooms are right on premises for full-immersion, hands-on learning. How cool would it be to go to high school here?
On Saturday evening we went to dinner in Greektown -- had absolutely fabulous stuffed grape leaves, hummus and lemon chicken soup. On Sunday we headed into Ann Arbor for our periodic visit to Whole Foods Market, where we provision for those hard months back up in the boonies where hell will freeze over before a Whole Foods ever opens for business.

I've been to Detroit before, as a much younger person, but this was the first time I spent any significant time right in the city. It's a bittersweet experience -- Comerica Park, for instance, is an incredible ballpark, from the tiger statuary at the entrance to the "walk of fame" inside the stadium featuring statues of famous Tigers ranging from Ty Cobb to Hank Greenburg to Al Kaline. Greektown is fun -- the kitsch factor aside (using faux Greek lettering on a store sign does not guarantee actual Greek food or merchandise inside), it's nice to see a lively, prosperous area in town. But seeing the slow, sad demise of all the wonderful architecture of old Detroit -- all the buildings familiar to my mother when she worked downtown at the old Michigan Consolidated Gas Company -- is extremely depressing. It's a shame of epic proportions. We drove past one venerable building, empty except for the ground floor, that housed a preschool -- door and windows heavily barred, like a jail. What's it like to drop your kid off there in the morning on the way to work, or to work there, or to be a child looking out of the barred windows at the ravaged downtown? Terribly, terribly sad. On the other hand -- some institutions, Detroit-tough, maintain; the beautiful old Episcopal church next to Comerica Park sported a large banner on its side advising, "This Is the Place To Pray For the Tigers and the Lions."

It was, overall, a good vacation -- recreational, educational, social, relaxing, stimulating; everything a vacation should be. And a reminder of how much I need to be out of my current job and into some endeavor that can help me feel as if I'm not looking out through barred windows at the world.

1 comment:

David said...

I grew up just outside the city in the small town of Northville. We used to go to Tiger Stadium several times during the summer, Bob-lo island, Cobo Hall and of course to the old J.L. Hudson store at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Greenfield Villiage and The Henry Ford Museum were also staples of any summer outing as was the Detroit Zoo.

I love Detroit, always have, always will. You are absolutely right when you say how depressing it is to see so many parts of the city fading away.