You’re never too old to learn new stuff, and it wasn’t until I moved to Detroit a year ago that I learned about urban exploration. Which is? Trespassing in abandoned buildings, for purposes of just looking around. (Urban explorers have a code of conduct similar to that of those who explore wilderness. Unfortunately, there are bad apples, many of them armed with spray-paint cans.)
As you might imagine, Detroit is the Mecca of this practice. No other North American city has the number and variety of abandoned buildings, many of them architecturally significant and most badly secured. There’s a hotel of some sort next to Alan’s office that’s just standing wide open; when you walk by you can smell the building’s exhalation of mildew, rot and something else — wino, I guess.
I talked to a few urban explorers when I wrote a story earlier this year on Flickr for Hour Detroit magazine. Lots of them post their pictures there. Because this is pretty obviously illegal, some keep a lower profile. (And some don’t care who knows, because when people leave abandoned buildings wide open, they’re asking for this sort of activity.)
But one of my favorites is the anonymous journalist who runs detroitblog and posts accounts of his explorations there. What a find he had recently, exploring the Donovan/Sanders building before its demolition earlier this month. This is where Motown’s studios were housed — after Hitsville U.S.A. but before they pulled up stakes for L.A. Detroitblog apparently found Marvin Gaye’s office, and posts a couple of items found there, including a “be right back” note in M.G.’s handwriting, and a bill for his wife’s fur storage at Hudson’s; it cost $7 to store and insure a “yellow coat with lynx tuxedo collar and cuffs” in 1967.
Detroitblog notes that Mrs. Marvin Gaye c. 1967 was the former Anna Gordy, Berry’s sister. The breakup of their marriage years later is a pretty good story by itself, but whether there was any inkling of it in the abandoned office in the Donovan/Sanders building, we’ll have to wait to find out.
One thing that’s clear is, Anna Gordy Gaye loved coats made of dead animals: In the handful of documents I grabbed from Marvin Gaye’s overturned desk were receipts for his wife’s purchase and/or storage of an autumn haze mink coat, a Russian sable coat, a chinchilla coat, a chinchilla hat, a tiger coat, a morning light mink coat, a dark brown dyed baum marten shrug, and a tip-dyed sable coat, in addition to business cards from various furriers around the country.
Tiger. Wow. It sure was a different time.
Mindy wrote earlier today and said I haven’t been talking much about the dinner menu lately. Oh, but all I need is a little encouragement, doncha know? Tonight: Crock-pot beef stew, salad and crusty bread. I don’t need to tell you it was good, do I? But I just realized I don’t remember removing the bay leaf, and it wasn’t in my portion, or Alan’s portion, or the stuff I put in Tupperware for tomorrow’s lunch. Those crock pots are amazing, aren’t they? They can tenderize the cheapest cuts and vaporize the bay leaf.
Yesterday: Beef stroganoff. I seem to be self-medicating an iron shortage. Tomorrow: Spaghetti. Just because it’ll be Thursday.
Any more bloggage? Sure: Defamer shows us why women larger than a natural C cup shouldn’t go braless. I always thought that gal was sorta half-trashy, anyway.