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        January 2006. [Photo] Free Stuff [more]

This last weekend was perfect for messing around with bikes and cameras. After what feels like months of overcast skies the sun appeared and brought on total snap-happyness, racing around taking dumb shots of everything from litter bins to street lamps. But heck - I wasn't the only one :-)

Belle Isle Park Shelter
Belle Isle Shelter

ps. the town's wrecking ball chasers might want to check the concrete silos by Chene Park. Coming down today.

        January 2006. [Photo/News] Second & Amsterdam
The blast of mild weather through the Christmas-New Year period has made this one long biking expedition. Along the Ann Arbor Trail, down to Trenton, up past the Shores and lots of time around the downtown/eastside area. It's striking how much condo development is hitting downtown and midtown and how much this contrasts with the immediately abutting areas. However not all the development is going at the same pace. The elegance of the exposed stairwell and floor of the building at the corner of 2nd & Amsterdam is striking. Stripped of weatherproofing and window boards a few months ago, hopefully the interior is now awaiting the rebuild stage.

Sweet B&W staircase in a stripped building reflected in pooled water
Second & Amsterdam

        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

        January 28th, 2006: The Guardian Building [Map]

Downtown's Art Deco Jewel. I could spend hours in this place my jaw hanging slack from all the Deco gorgeousness. Another one for the must visit list if you're heading downtown for the superbowl. A couple of wonky shots - must go back and try harder!

Ceiling tile in the Guardian Building

Guardian building looking South

Ceiling tile in the Guardian Building


        January 28th, 2006: Hey, does anyone else smell burning ... ?

A Detroit Fire Department firefighter climbs onto a burning roof
More shots here

We almost lost another building this morning (thankfully there were no injuries). DetroitYes will probably have more background. The building was one of the currently vacant blocks in the Cass Park area (I make that 5 fires around CP in the last few weeks). The Detroit Fire Department were on the scene in force with 11 units including 4 ladders and managed to save the building, although with its roof gone it may be only a matter of time before the wreckers working the corner of Woodward & Henry move over here.

We now return you to your scheduled hugs and puppies blog.


        January 25th, 2006: Free Stuff

eLearning: "messing around online". There's so much great stuff that you can spend hours just playing the freestuff and quite accidentally also learning something useful. Today two shout-outs:

iTunes Music Store
Not a whole lot of free stuff here? Wrong. Stanford (slight bias here - Stanford rocks) has continued the trend begun by MIT. In their iTMS home they have a growing collection of great free material.

Rosetta Stone
How many languages can you order a Beer in? This is one true test of the road warrior diplomat or journalist (or drunk, the terms may or may not be synonimous). You don't need to be able to elide your l's like a local, it's enough to be able to get a room a sandwich and a Beer. Rosetta stone is completely addictive and the fastest way to learn your first hundred slurred words in languages ranging from Swahili to Welsh! Check it


        January 22nd, 2006: 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 don't need, now that's civilization. Yup, the Superbowl show is hitting town big time. With two weeks to go there is only one slight hitch. Last year's winter blast aka the Superbowl practice was themed around snow, snow and, hey, snow.

This year it's barely hitting freezing overnight. The river, normally a frozen white corridor between Windsor & Detroit in January, has hardly even shards of floating ice. Cylcing around this morning I passed more cyclists than I've seen since the summer, ancient one gear beaters on the eastside, a couple passed twice going up and down Mt Elliot and the real proof that it's warm out - a big bunch of the lycra wearing crowd cycling up Jefferson. All of which means. Well, probably not a whole lot. But I hope the plans are flexible because with sunshine and a warm breeze, it'll be tough finding last minute ice cream vendors in Michigan at this time of year.

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

One of the region's notable bloggers has pointed out that I need to fix the feedback system so people [possibly those wearing lycra] can yell back. This week, honest!


        January 20th, 2006: There & Back Again
A couple of months back I started throwing this stuff together and putting it online. This was kind of a way to let people back home know what it's like around here but mostly I was hoping to get feedback from others cycling and snapping shots downtown. Just looking for the occasional 'Yeh, I saw that place but you should really go take a look round the corner' or 'watch out for the new potholes on canfield crossing I75' (not kidding on that one).

But this didn't happen, I know I have to throw together some kind of a feedback system like the real blogs have, but over two months I took one feedback mail. So last week I killed the blog. And this week it's back. After killing the blog I got a couple of WAY? mails as well as a request for more posts about Beer crime in Detroit (thanks Dave?!). So if you do drop by, it would be great if sometime you dropped us a note - even just to let me know the address of your blog. That way it would feel less like talking to myself. Ta!

Nunc mihi loquax esse videor

        January 19th, 2006: Setting an Example [Map] [GEarth]

Rodeo was here, Mr Teeth too, and more recently Mr Apple, but before all these were Mr WINE and Mr BEER

Abandoned corner store covered in familiar tag - but the first taggers were the owners

                ... to answer one question, the blogging tool here, just Textpad



        January 12th, 2006: I Don't Think We're in Kansas Anymore

A flower from summer.  Not taken in Michigan.  Sure is a warm winter.

                Hey ... Spring is here already!


        January 2006: Home Game

I once had a job at a great little university research center. A really neat place full of toys and gadgets. One day we met some guys from a really large software firm, let's call them Micro$oftware. This firm dug our technologies and decided to invest big. This was a huge coup. We organized a launch and invited all the local, national and specialist press. This was all handled by press officers of Micro$oftware and the university. The Secretary of State for Education attended the launch and gave a high profile policy speech video-conference’d to more press in London.

Did a single word make any of the local press? Take a guess. In this city that largely supported the University no one heard anything. A few months later I was on an early commuter train. This train dropped a bunch of passengers off at a station that it turned out no-one had opened. We were all stuck inside until a few of us climbed a spiked fence to get out. I sent a short note and some photos to the local press. They ran both photos and made this into a two column story with interviews. Jeez, there has to be a lesson in this!

B&W shot of a rusting door in downtown detroit - the gin bottle is probably unrelated. Probably.

January 9th, 2006:Hey dude, where's Needle Park? [Map]

        Named for Senator Lewis Cass, Cass Park is the defining point of the Cass Corridor spanning the blocks
        between Downtown & Midtown. There are relatively few who feel safe walking here
        late at night. A few may bike but the majority, well, this is the motor city.
        As SB approaches Detroit has some fine venues but as in most cities you can fall a long way down the cracks between
        them. Cass Park remains one of those deep cracks. Below is not a good shot, but a rare shot. The only time I felt safe
        enough to quickly use a camera. This was when it was so darned cold that Needle Park was mercifully empty.

Robert Burns statue in Cass park detroit.  Snow and sky, no pimps, junkies or panhandlers
Cass Park, Robert Burns, late 2005

        So, the autoshow is here again, and as I hope you'll have guessed by the title of this blog
        we're not big on cars here, never owned 'em, never wanted to drive 'em, nope, not at all interested.
        Umm ... that's an almost. Those 2006 Jeep Wranglers. They Ouch. Well they kinda rock!


        January 8th, 2006:Spelling Bee Champ

        Moved to the archive because it was whiney - available [here]


        Januray 8th, 2006:A Heightened Sense of Paranoia
        Spent a few minutes down by the river today grabbing shots around the Ren. As I was
        taking photos I got a bit of attention from security staff who began to watch.
        Also a security boat drew up on the river that I duly photo'd. After packing up the camera I
        headed inside to see if GM had set up anything special for the autoshow. At the Ren Center
        entrance where I normally see a bored security guard with whom I exchange a few words, there were
        three security, one with a prominent gold badge (I think this had something to do with spelling).
        Exchange at the door went as follows:

        Security1:    Can I help you Sir?
        DBB:   Is the building open today?
        Security1:    Yes sir, can I check your bag?
        DBB:    Sure.
        Security1 [to security spelling Bee champion]:    He's got a camera in here sir.
        Security SBC:    No cameras in the building
        DBB:    Er... is that new?
        Security SBC:    No cameras in the building, always been that way
        [feel free to check the links to my main site that show numerous shots from inside]
        DBB:    Isn't that a bit strange, what with there being a hotel & museum inside the building?
        Security SBC:    [looking straight ahead] No sir. Can't let anyone in with camera equipment.
        I should note that as this went on the patrol boat on the river started zipping around merrily
        in tight circles.

        Now what makes me think these guys really don't like people taking their pictures?

        On the other hand they could be just annoyed that they didn't get the cool boats (above)
        that were all over the river during the all-star game!


        January 7th, 2006:S Dragoon & Hussar

B&W abandoned factory.  Steel rusted but sound in fore & bent/fallen in back


        Januray 7th, 2006:Oops
        One of us is going to have to call this in ...

DFD trailer, oops moment.


        December 31st, 2005:Urban
        Sprayed onto the side of a (rapidly) passing train wagon - guerilla blogging.

If we can talk we can dance, talk we can sing (actually shot outside LA)


        January 1st, 2006: Happy New Year
        Wishing everyone a safe and happy 2006, especially KP!

Happy NY, Detroit's flower

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