This just in: I dropped a half-gallon pitcher of orange juice on the floor this morning. Did the lid come off, allowing all 64 ounces to go all over the goddamn place? Do you even need to ask?
In a sign my luck may be changing, however, Alan was there to help me clean up, and I had a back-up in the fridge. For those of you keeping track at home.
When I was a Hoosier, two of my favorite people in town were Jerry and Linda Vanderveer, who ran an architectural salvage business on the unglamorous south side. If an old house was slated for demolition, they’d go in, strip everything that could be carried away and take it back to the Wood Shack, corner of Baker and Fairfield. If you were restoring a house and wanted some 1912-era vent covers, or pocket doors, or crystal doorknobs or whatever, you went to see them. Their place didn’t look big from the outside and was claustrophobic within, but it had its own kind of order. Doors were in one room, moldings in another, eight or nine fireplace mantels leaning up against a wall in various states of repair/restoration.
A business like that depends on a certain amount of ongoing demolition, and like most rust-belt cities, the Fort had its share. But when you’re talking about vacant old houses waiting to be torn down, Detroit is Mecca. And where Jerry and Linda were one of only a few, if not the only ones, doing the job in Fort Wayne, here there are dozens.
I stopped in at one of these places in Royal Oak last year, run by a woman with more artistic sensibilities. She not only stripped the stuff, she restored it, recombined it with other pieces and did a brisk business making a lot of cottages up north look very shabby-chic. But considering the abandoned-building business here includes not only houses but architectural masterpieces from the glory days, I really shouldn’t be surprised by some of the stuff that turns up. And yet, I always am.
DetNews columnist Neal Rubin offers an atypical, but by no means unheard-of example today: What am I bid for a pair of solid bronze, 9-and-a-half-foot doors once used on a bank vault and designed by architectural legend Albert Kahn? They’re in good shape, considering they spent the last half-century in some guy’s garage. They now reside in Toledo, where a salvage expert took them after retrieving them from the garage, but they’re still underutilized. She wants $38,000 for them, pocket change for the sort of hedge-fund plutocrat who’d go for such a thing. Shipping is steep — $1,000 — but likely less than what UPS would charge you to move 1,200 pounds of bronze from Toledo to your front house.
This is like when the peasants lopped the heads off the statues on the Notre Dame cathedral during the French revolution, and they found them in some guy’s basement a couple hundred years later. Sorta.
Are you in a Friday mood? I’m in a Friday mood. So take 9 minutes, 28 seconds and enjoy this clipfest of 100 movies, 100 quotes, 100 numbers. Once you get the idea, see if you can anticipate the big ones. The only ones I predicted accurately were 50 and 44 (big clue in the freeze frame below). “Ben-Hur” fans will be at an advantage in the 40s, too:
Are you having fun? Good. Because I have to get some work done. Enjoy.