This is the Archive. Click here for the most recent posts.

        March 25th, 2006.[Photo] Brenda

Dumb macro shot. Count the heads of state.

old store
Three Nations.

        January 2006. [Photo] GoldFish Bowl XL

The tents are going up, the roads are closing down and there are even shops downtown where you can buy stuff you didn't know you needed, now that's civilization...

Detroit from l'Isle au Cochon qui set la fort.  No ice in Jan ... those pigs will fly
Detroit from Belle Isle

Mr C has pointed out that I need to fix the feedback system so people [possibly those wearing lycra] can yell back. This week, honest! [Done ... well at least somewhat]

        February 2006. [Photo/Bike] Lauhoff

Here's a dumb shot but I thought I'd blog it as the posts of late have been depressingly sepia. A door set asymmetrically into a wall and painted a vivid green. Founded in 1882, Lauhoff continue to distribute specialized machinery worldwide.

Lauhoff Corp 241 Chene

        February 2006. [Photo] Hothouse

Belle Isle's Anna Scripts Whitcombe Conservatory remains open besides the shell of the recently closed aquarium. Designed by Albert Kahn in 1904 several decades before his monumental Fisher Building it remains to this day a most welcome shelter from the wind and lightly blowing snow.

If you want the DBB take on the whole Zoo issue [although why should you] check the Jan-Feb Archive here. News items tend not to stick around for long.

Dark clouds ahead?
Belle Isle Hothouse

        March 2006. The Great & Mighty Og

Faith in Google was shaken a bit on Saturday when I decided to do some online investigating into the background to those Murals in MexicanTown. On googling the subject the definitive #1 ranked page returned was ummm ... this one. This got me wondering what the heck else google thinks this site is rambling on about. You can actually find this out. Google has a section called sitemaps where you can get all kinds of stats about the top searches google returns for your site. Looking through these I found out that this site is #1 for those searching "Toronto Bike Blog" ... yikes. Sorry I went there once and blogged a shot, that's all. It was also highly ranked for "the elliot building", again news to me, which one is that? But most strangely of all for "any vaccancy in news channel as news reporter" which completely throws me! However now that I've reiterated all of those phrases this strange indexing will have been strengthened, either that or I'll be BMW'd and things will suddenly get very quiet indeed. Questions? Go Ogle...

Anyway, took the leg stretch Sunday down to Trenton and Back. Mainly looking for possible property in the Wyandotte area but it was a glorious cool day for a ride. It did bring home how out of shape I am. Only a little over 30 miles and I was well saddle sore at the end of it, last summer I was doing twice that. Passing the Fort Wayne Area the Angels were looking in need of some spring repainting. But the buildings still managed to show some Detroit flavor, albeit that with more and more lots returning to grassland this flavor is increasingly cereal.

Around Fort Wayne
Angels nr Fort Wayne

Grasslands south western detroit
The Plains Slowly Reclaim Detroit

        March 14th, 2006. New Nikon P1 Pocket Camera

Oh, sod it. I'm going to have to go back on that promise to post shots from the St Patrick's parade. I went through and all I could see were shots of crowds, nothing interesting just dense madding crowds. This I guess is good for Detroit. From what I hear about previous years it seems like more people are coming downtown for entertainment. But personally I was screwed because on the bike the SLR has to stay in the backpack. Count the time to get to the pavement, unsling a shoulder bag, get out the camera, check camera settings haven't been randomized in the bag and then line up a shot. Well. Icebergs and old buildings were just about the only things slow enough to shoot. Downtown is suffering a dearth of icebergs at the moment, global warming I'd guess. So if you want the parade go to DetroitBlog, DB at least managed to get a few good shots before it all went blurry ;-)
But today [finger crossed] a solution for this kind of thing has arrived. I've owned a load of small cameras, Fuji, HP and Sony. But none of them lasted long before either failing or, and this one hurt, getting left in the back of a taxi. However on reflection I've decided I do need a pocket camera. So today a Nikon P1 c/o RitzCamera [who I've always had good service from via amazon] arrived. My only worry is that it may be a slow starter - my old fuji was a fine pocket camera but seemed to take forever to get from power-on to shoot-ready. I'll let you know how the new one is, the P1's battery is charging as I write. The thing I can say up front is that it's tiny, but has 8Mpixels (D70=6MPixels), however the penalty is going to be in the ISO and stop I guess. But we'll see ... and I'll blog what I find.

ps. Battery charged. No light with which to try any shots but what I can say is that it's got a damned fast startup and the backscreen is huge. Playing around with the menus I have to say I'm impressed. Everything seems to be there and most functionality is available via the pushbuttons with more advanced options relegated to the readily accessible menu screens. On a related note you'll see that the CCD cleaning operation on the D70 seems to have worked well. If you can stand the horror take a look at a shot taken just before I cleaned the sensor [here] in which the censor grunge is the only thing in focus.
Nikon P1
Yes - The Nikon P1 really is slightly smaller than my pocket radio

        March 7th, 2006. [Photos] Toronto/Detroit

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, this weekend was somewhat lost to a conference up in Toronto. But this was my first time in the city so it was at least a chance to have a nose around. I wish I'd had more time as there was plenty to see, what really rocked was the night life. Very different even to the lively streetlife downtown D has at the weekends. To top it all there were numerous buildings both old and new to see, very few o f which I had a chance to explore.

Lines lines lines
Toronto, Mall

Detroit Warehouse District
Detroit, Shanty Town

Meanwhile the vacant lots of Detroit's warehouse district are opening up new entrepreneurial housing opportunities.

ps. The time has come. I'm retiring the daily cycling report as the winter season is about ended.

        February 2006. [Photo/Bikes] Detroit River

As the winter that wasn't creeps out of Detroit I'm hearing from groups planning their spring rides.

blackcustard moment
Looking towards Canada

There'll be a dedicated page for this, but here are a few starters (check links on the far right for info).
  • Beat The Train: Every Saturday Morning 6am, starting at Fort Wayne. First ride April 1st.
  • Detroit Bikes! Bike to Work Day, May 19th.
  • Critical Mass Detroit: Meets last Friday of the month, 5.30pm Campus Martius. Next gathering Feb 24th.
So, shout out if you're planning a Detroit ride and we'll try to get a ride page together here.

        March 2nd, 2006. [Visit] TriCentenial Harbor Park

Well this on-off pic a day blog seems to have been running for a while now and I think without a single shot of my favorite place in Detroit. It's one of the reasons I moved down from Midtown to the River on the East Side. At any time of year it's worth visiting, in summer for the boats, the fishing, the parties, the atmosphere. In winter for the solitude, if not currently the silence. Sometimes I bike into work along Atwater then up John R just to have a chance to spend a few minutes here by the light. Tricentennial Harbor Park. At the weekend it's a good quick run from here to Alfred Brush Ford Park on the far East side, past the marinas, past the pits, skirting the moorings the whole way.

The Light at Tricentennial Harbor Park

        January 2006: The Project [Map] [iTMS]

No shot taken under overcast skies can do justice to the ever changing vibrant Heidelberg Project. Check their site, or better still, visit.

Hiedelberg project - holding back the gray.

Hiedelberg project - holding back the gray.

        February 2006. [Photo/Bike] Return to the Spirit Garden

This is another of the spirits in the wonderful spirit garden in the Monastery on Mount Elliot (just north of Larned). I'm not entirely sure which one this is, but I'm going to with the Spirit of the Wind for now. I'll check back next time I go through.

There is some discussion on the time of this evening's Critical Mass ride. I have 5.30pm at Campus Martius but others are asking if it might be 6.30pm. If you've got a bike join in! Correction 5.30pm is the right time, but the venue is Grand Circus Park - 1 block North of Campus Martius.

Spirit of the Wind
Spirit of the Wind [possibly]

        February 2006. [News] Silo Departure

The last of the tough old silos are being wrecked by the river. An end to the riverbarges tying up downtown. A beginning of clear views across empty lots. An end to godawful Cemex & LaFarge trucks on Atwater. Basically change happens.

LaFarge Plant
LaFarge Plant Demolition

        February 26th, 2006. [Photo/Bike] BikeBlog

Yours truly caught in shot, one warped individual.

One Kool Bike
A Kool Mirror

        February 2006. [Photo] Historic Elmwood

What day spent wandering around town would be complete without a walk through a snowy graveyard!? This was my first time inside the Historic Elmwood cemetary on Mount Elliot. It's deceptive how large the grounds are, encompassing a hidden glen complete with lake and a bridge across the stream. I was also surprised to see many early 20th century monuments still being regularly tended with flowers. Overall a peaceful and reflective place.

Nothing here is real, nothing here is right
Mt Elliot Cemetary Lake

House of Alger
Hic Situs Est

On a final note, the building that the Detroit Fire Department turned up to a few weeks back opposite Masonic Temple has now been demolished - More here.

        February 2006. [Photo] Connecting the Dots

Finding one of Tyree's dots on a building is not such a good sign. Discovering similar dots on a D70's pics is an equally unwelcome discovery. Some dust must have got back behind the mirror and settled on the sensor. Maybe deciding to change lenses in the lee of a collapsing buildings wasn't one of my Einstein moments. Anyhow, until a cleaning kit arrives things will be a bit slow around here as I only usually blog what I've snapped in the previous day or so. Here's one from December then, from the Wellcome Trust's Genome Campus outside of Cambridge.

Cambridge UK not MA
Genome Campus, Hinxton

        February 22nd 2006. [News] Historic Brush Park

Thank the Lord! Detroitblog has blogged something that moves his hideous cartoon out of sight. That thing was starting to give me nightmares. That's not to say that his latest post makes for happy reading. What at first sight seems to be pro-active racism by the city council is causing the usual hand-wringing around the city. The Zoo that looked to be next on the list of institutions to be closed down to heal the city's budget crisis seemed to have been thrown a lifeline by a handover to the Zoological society. But the deal brokered by the Mayor's office was rejected by the city council as reflecting negatively on Detroit's ability to govern itself. In out of context quotes the language of the rejection came across very negatively, although Motor posts a more neutral interpretation based on the extended text.

Left=Sony Coolpax, Right=Nikon D70 (plus dots)
Ransom Gillis Restoration [large]

I daily see people coming (briefly) to this blog having googled variants of "Is Detroit a safe place to live and work". If you googled just that and are now reading this, Hi & welcome! Detroit like any other city has very different neighborhoods and there's almost certainly a place where anyone could feel comfortable. The damage that this row is causing lies in the image it projects of the city as a welcoming place for a diverse and entrepreneurial community. The language of that rejection and the response from the suburbs is likely to foster an ongoing negative stereotype of cultural conflict. This in turn will dissuade some from considering a return to Detroit. What this city needs to heal its budget woes long-term are not the cuts to long established QoL institutions, but more entrepreneurial job creating, tax paying citizens moving down here.

But to end on a high note, if DSP will forgive, the rejuvenation of the Brush Park "Historic" District continues. I think virtually without exception everyone is delighted to see the progress being made on the Ransom Gillis House.

        February 16th, 2006. Spring Rides

As the winter that wasn't creeps out of Detroit I'm hearing from groups planning their spring rides. There'll be a dedicated page for this, but here are a few starters (check links on the far right for info):

Beat The Train: Every Saturday Morning 6am, starting at Fort Wayne. First ride April 1st.
Detroit Bikes! Bike to Work Day, May 19th.
Critical Mass Detroit: Meets last Friday of the month, 5.30pm Campus Martius. Next gathering Feb 24th.

So, shout out if you're planning a Detroit ride and we'll try to get a ride page together here.

a memory of snow
Memory of snow

February 7th, 2006: It's all over

Super Bowl Sunday was a total Blast. Everyone had one heck of a time, security were everywhere but not overbearingly so, the music rocked, the food smelled like smoke, just as good cook-out food should, kids were laughing, the streets were full, it all worked exceptionally well. The steelers were everywhere but the seahawks gathered in smaller groups had the edge in volume.

You guys made it great, you're welcome back any time!

Steelers prepare for the game
Steelers Gather in Campus Martius

But nothing that good can last forever. The hastily opened shops along merchants row are holding blow-out sales and many are closing down, the tents are almost gone and the streets are returning to their winter vaccancy. But I've high hopes that the quality businesses that joined downtown are here to stay. The breakfast grill certainly, enough bars and restaurants to make it well worth people coming back for a second visit, heck, even the new CVS!

Now the streets downtown have reopened to bikes, check the BTT discussion forum for chat about which side of the street people are riding on.

Capus Martius
Campus Martius & Guardian Building

[Update] Feedback from one of the officers at the scene describing the fire near Masonic Temple has been added here

February 4th, 2006: SB Saturday

Well, saturday was kind of a wash-out. I think everyone managed to have fun but at the same time everyone got soaked in the constant drizzle. The hilight of the day for me was the media center in the Ren. The place was buzzing, even for those of us not lucky enough to be validated as genuine media folks

Who watches the watchers.. er .. us.  Who watches us ... [shudder]
ESPN Center

Reporters everywhere scoping out other reporters or hosting TV, or interviewing or catching footage or generally having a fun time

Star quality
ESPN center

I tried to meet up with some of the BTT group, but must have missed the last set of instructions as I hung around the bell at midday but didn't spot anybody nor could I find any bikes tied up. Oh well ... it was pretty damned wet anyway. Tomorrow we'll have snow, so come on down, check out campus martius and the tents, but peak in the Ren as well!

you need to get out more
Dressing an empty shop front         

February 1st, 2006: Press Gang

The All Star game put police officers on every street corner.

Fox Theater

Coming down to the big game the thing that'll grab you will be the media presence. Seriously, there must be over thirty satellite uplinks around town, and on every street corner a crew from a different news channel. And there's so much weirdness going on that there's absolutely no shortage of material. From the indoor beach complete with surf pool and volleyball court in Campus Martius, through dozens of swanky stores where a week ago were boarded up shop fronts. Several dozen classy looking bars that have sprung up virtually overnight and everywhere is eye candy, stage lighting, secuity, cameras, glossy advertising and .... I could go on. The film set has hit town big time, just as it did when they filmed the Island (great film BTW). Fingers crossed a load of it will stay when this show roles out of town.

Supper Bowl

February 2006 . [Photo] Digital Kills v 2.0
Outside the DIA - it really looks like this, honest. Fersure.
Dumb PShop Effect : The DIA

Keeping it not particularly real. If your world looks like this, check your meds.

        February 3rd, 2006: 10 Thousand Thugs

Before getting to today's subject, a few words on the new section of links in the sidebar. There are some damned cool photo sites for Detroit on Flickr and I went looking for more of the same. The site I came to was and looking at a few other sites I felt comfortable adding in the ol' Bikeblog. Having done so I went back and looked at some of their most popular photoblogs. They were awesome, completely awesome, unbelievably awesome. In a moment of rare humility I immediately pulled this ragged dog end of a blog from the listings. But it looked like it didn't really get pulled after all because I was still taking referals. So this morning I put it back in. But this half-post is to explain why it went and came back again - this is just a humble old photo blog generally shot from a slowly cranking Trek. Fuyuki todoki no ten.

Guardian Building - looking north
The Guardian Building

Down to business. One thing about the big game that I don't dig is the security. It seems we've got police from all over the state parked up around the city and guarding street corners against troublesome Canadians (they burned down the whitehouse you know). They're joined by countless numbers of hired security guard thugs bringing the total to over 10,000. What have I got against these guys, as I've nothing but respect for the polce? Basically they have the job of enforcing the will of whoever pays their wages without reference to any civil or criminal code. I've run in with them more than a few times in the past months. Here are a few favorites. "Buddy I'm not letting you into the Renaissance Center carrying a digital camera, there's no cameras allowed", "Buddy you can't lean your bike against this lampost - we don't allow it oustide the Detroit Athletics Club", "Buddy there's no cycling around campus martius" ditto Hart Plaza, "Buddy move along, you can't sit by the river". Bastards. Ten thousand of them ... wonderful

January 2006. [Photo] Something old Something New

Fair's fair. By no means all of Detroit's interesting buildings are venerable ruins. I've started taking a slightly different route into work trying to get a few more miles of road time. Everyday I now pass the Coleman A Young community center. A pretty darned cool place!

the elegant ziggurat relief of the coleman young center in near silhouet
colorColeman A Young Community Center

Eastside, between Mac and Jefferson around about Chene. And to give credit I did start to look more cloesely after reading the metro times' review of Sharoff & Zbaren's book.

February 2006. [News] Wealth

Pay up Dawg
Graffiti in a back alley near Eastern Market

Graffiti has been used as the excuse to remove some fine structures in downtown deemed eye-sores in the run-up to SB-XL. I'm wondering whether a wholsale damning of it is an injustice though. Graffiti and tagging seem to go back beyond written history into a period where they shared an origin with the maker's mark. Early cuneiform glyphs developed from pictograms impressed in clay representing the writer and/or their trade. For millennia before this in unwritten pre-history individuals were leaving their marks (tag) on caves, trees, anywhere they could post the message "I was here". I was here almost certainly originated before "We are Brooks Bros, Purveyors of Sports Coats & Blazers". But by Roman times the now socially more acceptable vendor's signage and back alley graffiti had long-since diverged. And yet in the ruins of Pompeii the real words we hear from the streets are those satirical, sexual or simple "I was here" messages scrawled on walls [read some].

The content of graffiti seems to have changed remarkably little over millennia. I have a picture taken in the high prudery of Victorian England. It shows a misty glen. But carved onto a rock in the foreground can be clearly seen "Neville G was here 1872". And so it continues today. There is probably good graffiti and bad graffiti, as in any art or writing. Equally there is harmful and mostly harmless graffiti. I can't really agree with daubing unwelcome tag in high visibility places or with the vandalization of private property, but neither can I completely ignore the continuation of a long history, particularly when it is done well. The last time I was in London I found places under the bridges by the river that had been set aside for skateboarding and actively encouraged Graffiti. It may seem insultingly tame but it was well received and is similar to some of what we have in MexicanTown. So whilst I'm not going to turn this blog into a graffiti gallery I'll post the occasional shot. [Feedback on this topic welcome



Poison the information machines