Saturday night we had a party to attend, the cast/wrap thang for the 48 Hour Film Project International Shootout. The party was basically 10 miles due
east west [D’oh! Thanks, Beb] of my house, which means you either take the southerly indirect route via freeway or the northerly indirect route via freeway or the direct route via surface streets on the storied Eight Mile Road. You know which one we took.
Alan drove, leaving me free to soak in the spectacular ugly-loveliness of Detroit’s northern border from the passenger seat. I saw a sign I’d never noticed before: Eastpointe: Gateway to Macomb County, which you may have to live here to fully appreciate. Imagine: Scranton: The Flower of East-Central Pennsylvania, and you’re getting close. Eastpointe changed its name in the ’90s. It used to be East Detroit, and I guess they thought maybe an upgrade would help boost its fortunes. Didn’t work. It’s still the gateway to Macomb County.
But the Eastpointe border is only the beginning of the fun, because soon you’re passing Hot Wheel City, a rim shop with garish neon and a perpetual Open sign in the window. When we passed going home after midnight it was still on, and while I’m not sure you could buy a set of spinners at midnight on a Saturday night, I wouldn’t bet against it. People take automotive accessories seriously here.
Zoom, zoom and you pass two women’s health centers, not quite across the street from one another. I assume they’re abortion clinics, because there’s usually an old woman standing out front, a bloody fetus poster propped on her walker. It seems of a piece with the general scuzziness of Eight Mile, which is anchored by liquor stores, strip clubs and no-tell motels. The abortion clinic is only the last stop on the sad journey.
But that’s not all. The thoroughfare also carries high-tension electric wires down its median strip, and one of them is decorated for the holidays. Srsly. Draped along its exoskeleton is a long rope of white lights, along with a sign from the power company, wishing happy holidays. It’s about as pathetic and ugly as it sounds, but it’s entirely in keeping with the mood of the drive. You can’t help but smile.
Then you’re at the Coliseum, Detroit’s “award-winning gentlemen’s club.” Don’t click that link; the Flash will induce seizures. But if you’re wondering what awards the Coliseum can claim, I’ll lay them out for you: Best Topless Bar 2006 (Real Detroit Weekly), Club World Award “Best Lighting System” (Exotic Dancer magazine) and so on. “No cover for union members,” one of the pop-ups lures, but I don’t know if that’s all the time, or just for the Amber Lynn shows. “Must present proof,” anyway. Solidarity forever!
But it’s not all neon and breast implants. There are dozens of homely office buildings along the way, every other one wearing a For Sale or Lease sign and the distinct whiff of abandonment. Oh, what will become of us? When I moved here the first crazy visionaries were suggesting the city be converted to farms, an idea that sounded preposterous. No more. A series of urban villages surrounded by cropland and an outer ring of affluence — that’s what we’re heading toward.
And suddenly we are upon the Booby Trap, and guess what that is. “LIKE CHEERS, ONLY TOPLESS,” as the sign says. If we are upon the Booby Trap that means the state fairgrounds are not far behind, and it’s time to turn left, which means you get into the right lane. We have a brief squabble over this — it’s not a true Michigan left, but it’s close, and Alan disagrees on how we should execute. I’m right, of course. Left onto Woodward, and we’re practically there.
Woodward — now that’s a book. Don’t have time now.
The party was fun. It’s been a long time since I’ve been introduced to Milla Jovovich’s stand-in, attending as the date of Robert DeNiro’s stand-in. The theme was “now we eat pie,” so I brought three. You know what the secret to great apple pie is? A little lemon zest grated into the filling.
So, bloggage? Maybe:
I’d like to watch the Geminids meteor shower one night this week, but the blanket of gray has descended upon our little Eden, and I’m thinking it’s not going to work. Enjoy, desert dwellers.
Joe Lieberman is a jerk. But you knew that.
Tiger Woods is spending Christmas in Sweden? Nothing like a little Scandinavian bleakness to underline a tragic situation, eh?
Off to take on Monday.