I will warn you…this is a long one. But my god what a weekend. Plenty stories to tell.
7am seems earlier every time I have to get up. Although I’m used to getting up at 0630 for work, 7am seems so much earlier here. Friday morning was the exception though because we were heading off to Detroit, with a little detour through Cleveland. The alarm goes off, showered, dressed and out of the door to go meet Tim and Mabel. Mabel found out a few weeks back that her Art department, as she is doing a graphic design degree, were running the semester art trip to Detroit. Tim and I, keen to visit as many cities as possible, jumped at the opportunity and signed up for the trip too. We were on the bus by 8am and off to a city that I dreamed off coming to however never really thought I would have the chance, unless we had hired a car and made the trip ourselves. Being a Detroit Lions fan, a lover of the music that had come out of the city in the last twenty years and fascinated with the story behind the rise and decline of the motor industry, I was buzzing! On a side note, for anyone that was at my wedding last year, the mellow hip hop music playing as we awaited the bride was by a Detroit hip hop producer, Apollo Brown, if you get a chance check him out. Anyways, we travelled for around an hour before stopping for breakfast at a service station. Egg McMuffins and Starbucks coffee tanned, we were back on the bus and off to Cleveland. For the next hour and a bit, we chatted away to some of the guys and girls on the trip, watched the ‘Blues Brothers’ and got more excited. We rolled into Cleveland in good time and hit up the Cleveland Museum of Art.
The museum was fantastic and after checking out all the artworks from all over the world Tim and I both struggled to find any works from a Scottish or Australian artist. I did however enjoy the small collection of African Art and the set up they had there. There was a small glass room in which you could share your experience of the Museum and give your thoughts on improvements.
Tim decided to share his praise in his best impression of a American citizen from the deep South. This was the start of my many laughing fits I had during the weekend listening to what comes out Tim’s mouth. He is some boy!
After the Museum we headed to the Cleveland food market, not to far from the Indians baseball stadium and Quick’n’Loans Arena, home to the 2016 NBA champion Cavaliers. We were advised to grab a sandwich or something and hang out for the next hour until the bus came back, we decided however to find a bar and stick a few beers back before the next three hour part of our journey. We hit up a great craft beer spot called ‘Townhall’ where we had a few beers and some tacos and burgers. Fed and watered we got back to the bus and got comfy for the next three hours. We watched ‘The Shining’ and listened to some tunes. I introduced Mabel to grime music and she smiled and nodded before I put some more mellow tunes on her us to enjoy. We arrived in Detroit around 17.30 and we quickly got up to our room, copped a spray of deodorant and out to try and catch the end of a happy hour somewhere. Tim and Mabel had been briefed in full before arriving the first thing we had to do was to walk over to Ford Field, home of my beloved Lions, to get a photo before It got dark. I loved it…
After that we made our way around the center of Downtown, passing through Greektown and back to the main drag to find some good food. It was cool to see so many sights that I recognized from seeing online including the sports fields, the MGM grand casino, the Obey Watertower, the ford factory on our way in and the headquarters for GM motors. An extremely cool city.
We made into a Mexican restaurant for more tacos, burritos and beers. After we headed to a alley way called ‘the belt’ where there were several hipster style bars and a club. It reminded me of a mini Ashton Lane from Glasgow. Hitting a bar and grabbing some $3 cans of IPA we were sorted. We drank, met some locals and laughed at many of Tim’s unbelievable stories. This boy could have his own TV show, hilarious. One guy we met, with a cool mustache pointed us towards a bar called ‘Café D’Mongos’ and said we would be guaranteed a great night there. He was not wrong.
We walked in to be greeted by the bouncer…a 60+ year old woman wearing silk gloves, a tan trench coat and large diamond earrings. She directed us towards the bar and I picked up two beers each for us totaling $18. Bargains. We quickly grabbed a seat at a six seater table and offered the remaining seats to a couple and an older gentleman that looked lost. We got chatting and it turned out that the young couple were taking the girls dad on a night out to show him some of the sites Detroit had to offer. Super nice people that were interested in why a Mexican, Scottish boy and Australian had ended up in their company. After a photo, a fireball whiskey shot and beer courtesy of the dad we said our good byes and planned the rest of our evening. Before we left though we decided to start April fools as we had passed midnight.
Mabel’s friend Alexa was first. Mable text her in her native Spanish saying that Tim and I had dragged her to a house party and were trying to get her to snort Cocaine and she was scared. Now…Alexa is a great friend of Mabel and makes sure that she is safe in big bad America every day, therefore within about 20 seconds had replied frantically telling Mabel to get out! We let six or seven messaged before I sent her a video from Mabel’s phone, demonstrating some of my newly learned Spanish phrases and we assured her we were all safe. Alexa if you read this, sorry about that, when you visit Edinburgh in August I’ll get you a drink for that! Secondly was our Belgian friend, Thomas. He was two states South at the Uni when Tim called him, blocking his number first, to say that he had been arrested, only had one call and needed Tim to wire him $300. Without a though Thomas asked him to remain calm and asked his bank account details. That is a good friend. After that we realized that we were just a bunch of bad bastards with good friend. Off to a club! We rolled into a night club around the corner called ‘Blue’. We skipped the entrance fee by squeezing past the crowd at the front door and danced the night away while a DJ screamed in the mic and interrupted every song. Tim and I were comfortably the only two people in the club. Being a majority black city (81%) we had found the real Detroit. About ten mins before the club shut we headed to the Greektown casino for a flutter and food. About 0430 we decided to call it a night and head around the corner to the hotel. What a night!
We managed to get four hours sleep after getting home, chucking a bag of sick in the bin outside provided by our room mate and headed down for breakfast at 0930. I met Mabel for a painkiller and orange juice breakfast before we headed out to the bus. Tim decided originally not to get on the bus, however after the organizer made it clear he was to be there he showed up, fifteen mins late and we departed. We drove to a leafy suburb to pick up guy that used to attend Slippery Rock Uni and he was to give us a tour of some of the cool sights and community art projects in and around about Detroit. First we passed Wes Borland’s house (guitarist from Limp Bizkit), then down to see some of the buildings built in the 1920’ and 30’s paid for by Henry Ford. So many cool sights. My personal favorites were the old abandoned train station that was built to bring in the thousands of commuters making their way in Detroit to work in the Motor industries. You may recognize it from all of the Transformers movies.
I also loved the ‘Heidelberg Project’ which has been created in an old abandoned neighborhood, that unfortunately had been victim to many burn outs and repossessions. The project was a fascinating display of art created from reusable objects. Entire houses were also decorated after being emptied or burned out. It was interesting to see how a once such vibrant city had come to be overrun by poverty and deprivation. The one positive that can be taken from the area is that art on display is a sign of hope. People still care, even if the Government and other decision makers don’t. The people of Detroit are not willing to let areas of their city fall to crime and disorder.
After that we made it too the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). Tim, Mabel and I headed along the road to enjoy some Greek Gyro (Lamb Kababs) for lunch and bottomless coffee, which by this point was necessary. After Mabel and I went to check out the museum and Tim jumped in an Uber to explore…more on this soon. The DIA was fantastic! We explored all three floors and saw some really cool, older, newer and modern art.
Another highlight was seeing the Diego Rivera Murals that had been on display ever since being painted by the man himself in the 1930’s. He had been commissioned to paint his murals depicting the ill of Capitalism on the everyday man and women. As he was painting during the great depression, you could see the emotion and relevance that had been poured into them. It was great to see some of the original art that helped start the Mural movement in Mexico, something you can see in many cities across the world today.
This is when Tim returned. After spending $40 on four Ubers and not getting into the Detroit Motor museum, he decided to visit 8 mile, famed by Mr. Eminem. I firstly asked him how it was and he was quick to say he would never visit the place after 6pm. Not only did he see 8 mile, visit the world famous ‘Hard core pawn shop’, he also came back with new trainers. $20 from an 8 mile liquor store. By this point Mabel and I were struggling to breath we had laughed so much. Then it was time to go home. We posed for a quick photo outside, just after our bus driver had run over a cyclist. What a weekend. Detroit you have been to kind to us and I couldn’t asked to have met nicer people to enjoy it with!
Another long bus journey, stop for chicken stripes and chips, we watched ‘The Big Labowski’ and nodded in and out of sleep. Home and bedded by midnight, apart from Tim who made it out again until 0430 again. Whats next? New York to see Alison on Wednesday! Cannot wait!
What I am reading: Skagboys – by Irvine Welsh.
What I am listening to – New Found Glory – Sticks and Stones & The All American Rejects – All American Rejects (2003).