May 11, 2014
as i’m now officially living in the burbs de detroit,
(think 50s ranch, not 90s ticky tacky subdivision)
i’ve made it a hobby to explore the city a little bit everyday,
seeking out the pockets of fabulosity amongst the more visible deterioration.
[as a side note,
i no longer have any fucks to give
when it comes people's obsession with discussing detroit's decay.
it's almost always people who don't live anywhere near the city,
and i'm really sick of hearing from you.
formed on your 24 hour layover
or decade-expired michigan citizenship
has become overly tiresome.
speak to me only of detroit's slow revival,
of the cool new restaurant or shop you found.
tell me where to go, not where to avoid.]
part of my interest lies not only in my physical proximity to the city, but an emotional one. i am the first of five generations in my family
to not live in the city since immigrating to the united states.
several branches of my family came here from europe
settling generally on the east side and in corktown.
my ancestral ‘estate’ still stands not far from belle isle,
though it’s apparently owned by some shell corporation
of a sleazy slumlord and,
since its abandonment
roughly two years ago,
has been thoroughly looted/gutted.
a neighbor has seemingly illegally appropriated the lot adjacent,
originally my great great grandmother’s garden,
to use for off-street parking.
but i digress.
i’ve been lusting after a shinola watch ever since they relaunched the brand. i cannot afford a watch currently (or for the foreseeable future) but they’ve expanded to other merchandise (the bikes! i want a bike!)
so i wanted to see what i could see.
i’ve been interested in two james because i like the idea of supporting a michigan/detroit company via drinking. every fucking one is into michigan beers, but i generally hate beer and find most of the michigan beers to be extra assay (as in butt flavored). ironically, i hang out right down the street from two james at astro all the time,
but never knew they were there.
boys. gotta work on your signage.
anyway here’s my report:
though i initially set out for shinola, my trip got off to a false start, as i was distracted by two wee stores kitty corner from shinola: city bird and nest
from which i bought these cards
and this air plant,
when i finally crossed the street,
i found there was little in the shinola showroom i didn’t want
but i settled on this wallet.
my old louis vuitton has served me well for 10 years,
and has begun to show signs of wear. it’s time for a pinch hitter.
shinola’s leather goods are made by horween in ste. genevieve, mo.
let’s see how american manufacturing holds up against french, shall we?
(i’ll get back to you in 2024)
i ended up in the two james tasting room. it was a little muggy in there,
and the number of douche-baggy mid-level business people
made it so i could really only tolerate one cocktail.
however, that cocktail convinced me
to take home these six bottles.
(r to l: old cockney gin, 28 island vodka, grass widow bourbon x2, corktown rye dog, & detroit fig leaf old timey drinking vinegar made exclusively for two james by mcclary bros.)
if you do nothing else,
find a way to try the grass widow bourbon;
it’s for real.
we shall see.
p.s. the tulips were my gift with purchase from shinola.
nice touch, shinola.
March 25, 2012
depending on which side of the family tree you look at,
i’m either fifth or sixth generation michigander.
i’m also the first generation
not to grow up in detroit.
my family emigrated from ireland and settled in detroit
and did all those big life things in the motor city:
burial (i discovered our family plot)
all with a particular irish catholic flare.
my grandmother’s grandfather was chief of police.
my grandfather’s grandfather built a house there for a staggering sum.
(though that might be the german side. not as popular in the family lore)
last time we checked, someone’s still living in it.
the same feeling that made me weep when i found my ancestral knock in co. kerry i often feel when i go to detroit.
getting to know detroit
makes me feel closer to my family history.
it may be silly or illogical or whatever,
but it’s something i enjoy doing.
i was lucky enough to make it to john k. king used and rare books.
(sorry for the photo quality. clouds + iphone + no photoshop = reality)
walking around a factory
that purports to have 1,000,000 books. . .
overwhelming just isn’t a big enough word.
being there ignited the hoarder within
and i left with more books that i need.
while i doubt any of my family members went there
it’s still a really cool piece of detroit history.
and now, it’s part of mine.