We dabble in the arts.

On Saturday mornings, I take a class at the Detroit Film Center. Like most things in life, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey. Let’s take a quick tour.

The center recently relocated from the Wayne State area to the Eastern Market, where lots of artists are setting up in the ancient-but-cheap warehouse/loft space. The address is on the Chrysler Freeway service drive, which is confusing to some people. Fortunately, there’s a helpful sandwich board and, this being Detroit, a smear of graffiti (I think it says, “butout”):


But the Hollywood glamour really starts when you step into, um, the…I guess you’d call it the foyer:


It’s a lot murkier than the picture suggests. I think it would be an excellent set for a serial killer’s lair. There’s another sandwich board at the end of this passage, which directs you to take a left turn, and please close the door behind you to save heat. Then you enter the glamorous anteroom:


The incredibly steep staircase is the next leg of your journey. Last week I got there early and took a closer look at that pile of moldering banker’s boxes:

closed appeals

The one on top was labeled “closed appeals.” (Apparently there’s a lawyer’s office elsewhere in the building.) A shameless snoop, I plucked one out at random and started reading a very sad story about a man who loved marijuana more than paying child support. Drama is all around us; all we have to do is look.

But at some point you have to ascend two floors at a sharp angle. I always take note of the chandelier:


Every time I see it I reflect that if it were featured in the New York Times Thursday Styles section, it would sell for $3,000. But keep climbing. Now you’re halfway there:


You’ll notice it starts to look significantly less grimy at this point. By the time you get to the top, it’s actually pretty nice, in a shoestring-budget, kindness-of-strangers, scrabblin’-for-grants kind of way. And the view is great.

I’ll always remember this place as the first time I ever heard actors read lines I’d written. We had auditions for our group project this week, although “group project” probably makes a three-minute narrative film sound a little grand. Not film, video. But it has a story, and two actors, and two locations, and a script. Seven people answered our Craigslist ad, which promised only lunch in return for a day’s work. But this was the strange part — one couple presented themselves as a package deal, so we had them read together. They put a lot of energy into the lines, and it worked very well. Then the next guy came in, and played it just the opposite — very dry, very low-key, and it worked equally well.

We cast the first couple, but told the other guy we wanted to keep him close, because the teacher wants the next class to write something specifically for him. (Just like in Hollywood, only with no money or recognition whatsoever.) On just these Saturdays, I’m getting a little of the newsroom back — that sense of collaboration and teamwork.

Of course, production isn’t until this weekend. I may feel very differently after that.

So, another busy morning on not enough sleep. (Thank you, God, for coffee.) So short bloggage today, but some:

Flash fun to be found here. Load and wait two seconds for the fun to start. If anyone reads Dutch, let me know what it says.

If you’re in a Super Tuesday state, tell us a little about E-Day where you are. An experience in collaborative citizen journalism, eh?

Off to run six errands and make eight phone calls. Back eventually.

Posted at 8:23 am in Same ol' same ol' |

28 responses to “We dabble in the arts.”

  1. ashley said on February 5, 2008 at 8:52 am

    Tuesday will indeed be super. I want a coconut.

    48 chars

  2. MichaelG said on February 5, 2008 at 9:18 am

    I mailed my vote in a week ago. I keep the ballot stub and post it outside my cube as my “License to Complain”.

    Whadda you mean you can’t read Hema’s cute web site? The ghetto blaster is right there, just next to the confetti which is next to the feestvlaggetjes which is just above the feestballonnen.

    307 chars

  3. John said on February 5, 2008 at 9:35 am

    No lines here in mid-suburban Connecticut. But lots of cars and people coming and going in the elementary school parking lot. My precinct showed 38 votes (800 voters in recent city council election) by 7:20 am. Zero campaign signage outside of school and no toadies passing out litature. Most candidates ignored Connecticut during this primary season as it is seen as a safe blue state.

    Only registered Republicans and Democrats are allowed to vote in Connecticut. Over 50% of all voters are listed as Independent. If registered as an Independent, you are allowed to change affiliation on the day of the primary, but I can’t see a lot of people willing to take the time to do this.

    690 chars

  4. Dorothy said on February 5, 2008 at 9:48 am

    If I were you I’d keep a working flashlight in my pocket when entering that building. It looks cool, but be prepared “just in case.”

    I love going to auditions. It’s nerve-wracking but a thrill just the same. Wish I could do that stuff full time instead of what I do now.

    276 chars

  5. Danny said on February 5, 2008 at 9:59 am

    I got my sample ballot a few weeks ago and was looking at the polling address. It looked familiar. Turns out it is the address of somone we know: the family of the girl who used to rent next to us. The one who had the cops over her house about eight or nine times for violence, theft and other drug related fun activities.

    The girl and her new ex-con boyfriend now live with mom at this residence. Not a big deal, but the mom and us are not on the greatest terms because we had a few of heated discussions about the fact she thought we were making much ado about nothing. Despite all of the destruction of property, yelling and screaming and drunken brawls. “Hey, weren’t you young once.” Why, yes. Yes we were, but our neighbors didn’t have to have the police on speed dial.

    Anyway, I think I will vote at the Registrar of Voters today. Less chance of my ballot getting “lost.”

    892 chars

  6. Kirk said on February 5, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Interesting, Danny. I don’t even know if private homes can be used as polling places in Ohio, but most of the time people here vote in schools, churches, fire houses, court houses and township halls. I wonder how someone goes about getting his/her home designated a polling place.

    280 chars

  7. Jim in Fla said on February 5, 2008 at 10:24 am

    In California they put polls in people’s homes?

    47 chars

  8. Laura said on February 5, 2008 at 10:30 am

    I don’t know about polls, but I’ve heard they put poles in people’s homes in CA.

    80 chars

  9. Jim in Fla said on February 5, 2008 at 10:34 am

    I too was young once, but I never had a pole in my house. It would have been too hard to explain to Grandma.

    108 chars

  10. LAMary said on February 5, 2008 at 10:43 am

    They do put polling places in homes in California. I remember voting for Clinton the first time in a house with a chicken coop in the back yard. In LA.

    What do you need translated from Dutch? The names of the items shown? My Dutch is very rusty but I can still read some.

    274 chars

  11. Danny said on February 5, 2008 at 10:45 am

    My polling place has changed a few times over the years. Last few elections were at a local school, but several people on my block have had their garages cleared out for voting. If it’s at a private residence, it has always been the garage with the door wide open. Never in the living area of the home. That would be odd.

    I’m not sure about the restrictions and regulations, but the Registrar of Voters accepts applications for this.

    440 chars

  12. Jim in Fla said on February 5, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Wow. I learned something new today. Thx.

    40 chars

  13. Sue said on February 5, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Holy Moly, Nancy, where are the building and fire inspectors? That building actually has permission for public occupancy?

    122 chars

  14. Danny said on February 5, 2008 at 11:03 am

    The one thing I took note of in the pictures was that first staircase. There is a handrail against the wall, but none on the outside to protect from a fall.

    I know in the D life is tough and this all adds to N Nall’s steet cred, but we get “safety” drilled into us a lot where I work.

    288 chars

  15. Julie Robinson said on February 5, 2008 at 11:39 am

    I want some of those feestvlaggetjes. They are so darn cute I’m sure they would perk up my life. Was that store a Danish competitor to IKEA? That’s the only place around here that sells such cool stuff. And we have to drive to Chicago. There’s no fun shopping here in the Fort.

    282 chars

  16. LAMary said on February 5, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Dutch, not Danish.

    18 chars

  17. Julie Robinson said on February 5, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Whoops, wasn’t reading carefully! But we still don’t have anything like that within 100 miles.

    95 chars

  18. MichaelG said on February 5, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    I’ve voted at people’s homes many times in California and as Danny says, it’s always been in the garage with the door(s) open. And the residents have no access to anything so, Danny, you can feel safe voting at your old antagonist’s place. You probably knew that.

    There’s no way that DFC stairway meets basic code or ADA requirements from any perspective: treads and risers, railings, lack of landings, nuttin. I can’t imagine an insurance company covering that death trap.

    479 chars

  19. Connie said on February 5, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    I don’t see any picture or link to picture, but obviously the rest of you do. Gotta wonder.

    92 chars

  20. nancy said on February 5, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    I believe some historic buildings can get exempted from some ADA requirements if they have alternative routes to the top, and there is a freight elevator. As for “death trap” — eh. Life is a terminal disease. As long as no one’s smoking and the wiring was installed by non-morons, I’ll take the risk.

    301 chars

  21. ashley said on February 5, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    Yeah, we had a Super Tuesday, but since this is the biggest holiday of the year, you heathens can vote today — we moved the election to Saturday.

    257 chars

  22. Sue said on February 5, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Nancy, you mentioned that the wiring had to be installed by non-morons. Take a closer look at the chandelier.

    110 chars

  23. jcburns said on February 5, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    ‘laden 100%’ –uh, I think that means ‘Loading 100%’…

    56 chars

  24. Danny said on February 5, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Ash, usually one would snidely comment “Hey, at least your priorities are straight,” but given the fiasco that continues in terms of the rebuilding effort and little support from the Feds, I’d say you DO have your priorities straight.

    Party on, Wayne. Party on, Garth.

    On another note. Have any of you been following the story of these massive undersea internet transmission lines that are getting cut in the Middle East? Odd. I am typically not a conspiracy guy, but something doesn’t smell right here. It is probably just a coincidence, but I was also thinking about the elections today and all of the hub-bub in recent years about the (in)security of electronic voting and it just briefly crossed my mind that what if the two things were related.

    Not enough for a feature movie there, but maybe enough for part of a plot line on several episodes of 24.

    868 chars

  25. MichaelG said on February 5, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Oh, don’t get me wrong here, Nance. I’m not being censorious. I’ve certainly hung out in worse places. Still do. I was just observing. There are some exceptions in historic buildings for some ADA requirements. There are variables such as the bldg itself, its usage, the type of shortcoming and the degree of renovation that is being undertaken. I also have no idea what Michigan or Detroit or local county codes require. In my country, that stairway would need work.

    474 chars

  26. brian stouder said on February 5, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    A comment from the cheap seats, here in May-primary Indiana (we may be late and irrelevant…but still valid, which beats Michigan’s and Florida’s early, tainted, and potentially anti-democratic trainwrecks-in-progress)

    After today, both Senator Clinton’s and Obama’s realistic chances to win the nomination will STILL be alive, and this begins to raise the possibility of a really destructive primary battle…WJC has already shown his unflinching willingness to play that game…and indeed, 2008 is probably HRC’s only chance at the brass ring (especially if another Democrat wins the White House in 2008, tying up the D race for that place until 2016), whereas Obama almost certainly has at least one more major run at the White House in him, even if he has to wait all the way until 2016 and the end of a second HRC term in office.

    Therefore, if it comes right down to a slash-and-burn fight to the finish, or a graceful exit, I think Obama is more likely to choose the latter, IF his trend-lines turn decidely south. But if Obama gets the upper-hand – meaning – a win in California and a win in New Jersey (regardless of the closeness of the delegate counts in these proportional contests), going forward from Tuesday – I think HRC/WJC might see NO real down-side to playing every last card they have….which could lead to a genuinely disappointing anti-climax to this otherwise uplifting exercise in democracy

    Regarding Super Tuesday, this site offers an up-to-date buffet of polls (all ‘name-brand’ surveys) for every state


    which may not mean anything at all*, but which are fun to look at (like reading the National Enquirer headline while you’re in line at the supermarket)

    So as the sun sets, my Tostito scoops and fresh-made guacamole and icy cold Diet Coke await

    *the poll numbers vary so wildly – especially in California – as to make them all nothing more than talking points. One wonders when the big expose’ of how polling companies make their money will come out)

    2060 chars

  27. paddyo' said on February 5, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Here in the host city for the Dems’ convention this summer, there are no lines because there’s no balloting, per se:
    Coloradans are caucusing at 7 p.m. Mountain Time (The Time Zone That Time Forgot And Decades Cannot Improve) in homes, schools, etc.

    As a recovering newspaper journalist, I’m caucusing tonight for the first time since curiosity in ’92 led me around the block to an across-the-alley neighbor’s living-room meeting.

    (There was a bit of a row last week over the two competing daily papers’ restrictions here on staffers going to caucuses. The Rocky Mountain News described them as party organizing sessions and forbade all editorial staff from attending, while The Denver Post restricted most on the News side, discouraged the rest but said it couldn’t stop people. Gee, ain’t citizen participation grand?)

    Anyway, interest in Clinton-Obama is so high that the Denver Dems are predicting HALF the city’s 95,000 or so registered Democrats will attend their caucuses, something absolutely unheard of. Forrest Whittaker came to town the other day to help Obama-ites practice how to run and participate in their caucuses — and yeah, to sign a few autographers.

    The robo-calls from Obama (I’ve had a few the past week from both him and Hillary) list the starting time at 6:30 p.m. in anticipation of giant confuso-cluster-jams at the doors, since the caucuses close doors and start promptly at 7.

    1419 chars

  28. Mitch Harper said on February 7, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Eastern Market is now headed by Dan Carmody, immediate past director of Fort Wayne’s Downtown Improvement District.

    115 chars