My friend Camilo Vergara was in town for the week (with preservationist Tim Samuelson, Chicago's "original crazy white man") and the last few times he's visited I've tried to figure out a way to get him into some of the shuttered buildings where he took some of his early 1990s shots of Detroit (as seen in American Ruins and The New American Ghetto) without much success. I'm not an "urban explorer" and I don't have much interest in breaking or sneaking into abandoned buildings these days. This time I enlisted the help of Geoff George and Dan Austin from Buildings of Detroit to get rare permission to legally tour the Broderick Tower, which has been secured for potential rehabilitation (which the current real estate market has stalled indefinitely). Although I'm not all that interested in this stuff anymore, buildings like this are part of what makes Detroit so unique and interesting. With the David Stott building recently added to the list, what other city has more than three abandoned 35-plus-story 1920s skyscrapers?

The building has been heavily vandalized by idiot "urban explorers" over the years, but plenty of its original glory remains:

I love it when you find wallpaper or murals with an ancient ruins motif in modern ruins (The 1970s Gary Sheraton is my favorite example). The illustration above hangs in the lobby of the Broderick Tower. I also noticed this fallen wallpaper on one of the lower floors:

This chair has been sitting in this hallway just like this since like 2003. I totally checked flickr.

One of the most interesting parts of the Broderick Tower are the old dentist offices scattered across the various floors. Apparently at one time there were a lot of dentists working here:

Some of them looked like they hadn't updated their medieval equipment in a long time when their offices closed or the building was shuttered:

The building was full of ephemera from the 1940s through the 1970s. I really liked this old issue of the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis:

This was creepy:

These were the studios of WJLB, currently Detroit's big urban contemporary radio station, which had its offices in the tower back in the 1940s (when it ran foreign-language radio shows for Detroit's immigrant populations):

A group of Canadian tourists were trying to get into the Broderick Tower around the time we gained access, and they went over to the unsecured Metropolitan Building (right) when we told them they couldn't come with us. We kept stopping to see if they made it up to the roof and noticed how the masonry was about to collapse from the top floors of the Wurlitzer Building (left).

Tomorrow: the view from the top.
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Chelsea Farmer's Supply

Posted by jdg | 8:47 AM

It's fairly often that I dream about living in the country, Romae rus optas and all of that. When I see some place like this it makes the fantasies worse. I'll bet they don't even bring that stuff in at night, they just leave it there, protected only by trust.

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Posted by jdg | 11:01 AM

Last Saturday I walked around the market delirious with the peaches and melons. We pulled enough tomatoes out of the garden for ten pints of pasta sauce. We saw this guy from the side of the road, watching over his bounty. You'd be hard pressed to convince me this isn't one of the best times of the year.

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At first this looks just another one of Jim's depressing and overexposed photos of nature taking over a formerly-nice middle class neighborhood, right? But see that tree growing in front of the porch of that house on the left, just a few feet from the orange sign warning that the houses will soon be demolished? Look closer:

It's a feral peach tree. The girl is a huge James and the Giant Peach fan, so it was a treat to pick these (even if she was sure Spiker and Sponge were about to come out of one of the houses).

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The Scat Mobile

Posted by jdg | 5:23 PM |

So I was intrigued enough by this broke-down Louisiana hovercraft I saw in Cheboygen that I actually inquired about its price. I figured once you've built your kids a bicycle built-for-three and a dog wagon, if you're going to impress them next summer you can only go HOVERCRAFT.

When I got home, I googled "scat mobile" to see if I could get any information about the model, and was as revolted by what I found as I was impressed by the diversity of pornography available on today's portable devices.

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Obligatory Kid-Throwing Shot

Posted by jdg | 4:25 PM | ,

We were up north for a few days, on the shore of Lake Michigan, swimming three times a day.  Not a lot of time to update the site, but plenty of time for lots of fun. Now that we're back I'll be posting regularly again, soon. [photo by my wife, belly by mozzarella cheese]

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"I built it myself"

Posted by jdg | 10:21 AM | , , ,

I told him it was way cooler than a Ford F-250.

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The wife and I jetted to New York for our first weekend without the kids since well, since before we had any. While she was at a bachelorette party, I caught a great (and free) evening of classic Detroit blues/garage rock outdoors at Lincoln Center after meeting up with Zan and her husband Jonathan. I saw about half of Death's set, and made sure we were right up close to see the rare performance by The Gories:

I was also surprised by how much we enjoyed ? and the Mysterians. I loved watching the combination of hipsters there to see a rare live performance by this legendary Bay City proto-punk/garage band and all the middle-aged people there to hear "96 Tears," (Ronnie Spector joined the band late in that song). It was a really fun performance:

[thanks to Sandy Kramer for letting me know about the show New York Times review of the show here]

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