Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Detroit B.Z .

It is Time

The nest is almost empty. #3 leaves for school this fall. #2 is wisely taking his time towards graduation. #1 is busy doing his best to avoid growing up. I taught him well.

So the 'Rents discussion has been the debate between rural and urban We've spent 18 years in a suburb and that has been more than enough. The problem has been too many options, but we made the decision and started looking for a condo in Detroit.

Okay, get your chin off the floor, it looks silly.

Since moving to the metro area in 1996 we've spent a lot of time in downtown Detroit. Tiger games. Concerts. Plays. The DIA. Restaurants. A MILS from Wayne State. One of us ran the marathon. DUFL. An anniversary at the RenCen Marriott. A few hockey games. Restaurants. Motor City Brewing and Atwaters. Eastern Market. There's a lot to do and our hope is that Detroit's rebirth will continue from the downtown out.

Woodward Place
We have been driving past these town homes since they were built. They are just across I-75 from Comerica Park, Ford Field, the Fox Theater, the State Theater (now the "Fillmore") and HockeyTown Café. Just a short walk north on Woodward and you are in Midtown. Condo hunting took us to Lafayette Park, and New Center, and the area near the DIA. We even toured the Riverfront condos, those white towers west of Joe Louis Arena.
66 Winder as seen from St. John's Episcopal
The view from the condo at 66 Winder was fantastic, but it was small. It would have been fine for a couple of 20-somethings, but at $225K  it cost too much money for too little space. Lafayette Park has better prices and much of it was designed by Mies Van der Rohe, but other concerns were always present. We looked at one co-op with an asking price of $40K. The size was right but the place was trashed. We would have had to do a total gutting and remodel. Riverfront had great views of Canada, but had a real Marriott feel to it.

We did find a place we like in Brush Park, between Woodward Ave. and John R. I am especially happy because we are three short city blocks from our seats at Comerica Park. We can leave our front door and, with a short stop for stadium security, be in our seats in 6 minutes.
Walk out our front door
and around the corner to Comerica.

Adelaide Before Z

Today was the second game of the season. More importantly, it was the first day since we closed on the condo that the weather was nice enough to walk around and get some before pictures. There is a lot of change planned for the area, so let's take a moment to document what the neighborhood looks
like before we move in.

Brewster Towers - These are being demolished

 Parking for games now. A new hockey arena in two years

Looking South on Woodward

The M-1 light rail will be very accessible for us.   The initial route will go up Woodward from Larned to West Grand Boulevard, that is from Hart Plaza to New Center. If we really want to, we will be able to walk to the station on the corner, head north to the Amtrak station, catch a train to Chicago, grab an El to Wrigley, watch the Cubs lose while drinking ourselves silly, hop back on the El back to Union Station, back to Detroit, back on the M-1 to the Sibley Station, and home.

With our condo we got the original plans for the entire development. Like so much else, the bank crisis of 2008 put a stop to plans for the east side of John R. With all the good stuff happening, especially the Hockey Arena, I hope more is done with the other side of John R.

 Above is an example of a property that was clearly great at one time. A hexagonal turret, a Gothic arch detail, an interest in details that are pleasing to look at. Will it be renovated? Or will it come down? To the right we have what looks to be former school building, probably mid-century construction. Like the towers behind it, the sooner it is demolished the better.

Finally, two more shots from around the corner on John R. This part of the neighborhood is an older building that has been refurbished. The building was hopping on Opening Day, otherwise it always seems very quiet. Our condo is 21st century Townhouse - well laid out, attractive enough, but missing the charm of buildings like this.

The building on the left is one of two neighborhood B&Bs. This B&B has a parking lot that charges competitive game day rates as long as you are willing to walk through the B&B. What I have seen of the interior is well done, As you can see in the foreground, though, the scenery is hardly charming. We don't have a lot of extra space, but if you want to visit and catch a game, you can stay right around the corner.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Tigers Opening Day 2014


Victor Martinez homers to right: An easy swing that didn't look like it had the distance coming off the bat easily carried the high wall in right. He followed this with a long foul in his next at bat that had the fans holding their breath.

Triples: Action Jackson and fill-in shortstop Alex Gonzalez bookended an Avila walk and a wild pitch/strikeout to Castellanos to tie the score at three in the 7th. Royal centerfielder Cain was playing shallow all day and got burned twice because of it. You expect triples from Jackson (38 in four seasons) but not from Mr. Gonzalez (31 in 16 seasons). Cain's positioning stole a single from Hunter in the sixth, but turned two doubles into triples in the 7th. We'll see where he is positioned on Wednesday.

Walk off Victory: With one out Alex Avila walks and Nick Castellanos singles him to third. The Royals play the infield in rather than at double play depth. Mr. Gonzalez singled sharply past the drawn in shortstop. If the shortstop was back could he have fielded the ball and turned two? It is hard to know. Kansas City fans have to wonder, though.

Tiger Pitching: The box score shows Justin Verlander pitched 6. I give him credit for 7 1/3 strong innings (more on that in "The Bad"). His first 8 pitches were strikes and the first should have been over after those 8 pitches. Until the "double" by Hosmer I was wondering if we were going to have one of "those" days. Really? After 8 pitches? Yep. Verlander is the kind of pitcher where every time he starts you wonder until the first hit happens. He was touched a little in the fourth, with the last run following a Gonzalez error. Still, a strong start from our Ace (Scherzer is the Tiger's "other Ace" and Sanchez is the "other other Ace).

Verlander was followed by three strong innings from Reed, Alburquerque and Joe Nathan. 36 pitches, one single, and nary a worried moment for the home fans. Just the way Ausmus drew it. He can put away the Marlboros for now.

The Bad

The Tigers' defense: On the 8th pitch of the game Eric Hosmer hit a liner to center. Jackson broke back too far and had to make a diving effort. Did Jackson underestimate the wind blowing in? Did he not pick it up cleanly in the bright sunlight? It was hard to tell. What was not hard to see was that Jackson had misplayed the third out of the inning into a double. In the 2nd Torii Hunter made the mistake of trying to throw the ball before he had finished catching it. Later, Castellanos lost a foul ball in the sun and Gonzalez booted a routine ground ball. Errors happen and pitchers need to overcome the occasional miscue. However, if the Tigers insist on having to get 31 outs every game winning the division will be difficult.

The Ugly

Stadium Security
Opening Day is a holiday and downtown Detroit has lots of revelers who don't actually have tickets to the game. So, it really isn't unusual to see empty seats at first pitch. To see big patches of vacant seats in the third is another thing altogether.

9/11 paranoia has finally caught up with Major League Baseball. Barricades to keep away car bombers. Metal detectors to keep out the random mass murderer. Shuttles from the bars are now a quarter mile from the front gate, I guess to give the sloppy-drunk-terrorist a chance to sober up before getting to the park. The result, long lines to get into Comerica. And the security result? I've been going to Comerica since it opened. I've never felt less safe than I did today.

Tigers Win
And this guy was getting a lot of attention from the happy fans as we left.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Earthquake Puzzle June 12, 2000

For those of you who missed it the first time:

If you want, you can solve this online at the New York Times puzzle archives. The visual effects are not part of the .puz file

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Ben Harper and Charles Musselwhite at ROMT

Closing the opening set with Zep's When the Levee Breaks got the house jumping.  With Ben doing double duty singing like Robert Plant and making his steel guitar sound like Jimmy Page, it was a great ending to a very good show.

Early on I was waiting for Jake and Elwood to appear as the band moved through a classic Blues vamp. The crowd barely even noticed the less than crisp endings on a couple of songs.

My personal preference would have been down on the floor, but Sal prefers to actually see the performers (the difference between being 6'4" and 5'3") so we had bar stool seats in the balcony. ROMT is a small enough venue that these are actually great for viewing and the sound was great. That is, until Ben and Charles tried to do a couple of quieter numbers during the encore set. I still don't know why people spend $75/ticket for a concert and then insist on talking through it. If you want to talk - go to a bar, a restaurant, a park, the lobby - any of the many many places where your conversation doesn't ruin the experience for others. Also, yelling, "SHUT THE F$%K UP," at the offenders really doesn't help. This has happened before at ROMT (while Guster sang an a capella version of Jesus on the Radio) but also at the State (aka The Fillmore) during Nick Lowe's opening set for Wilco. This means I've paid more for a worse concert experience, as I've never had this happen when I've been standing on the floor. $50 for a diminished experience stinks.

One nice bonus of the bar stool seating is that we shared our table with a couple who made the trek from Bloomington, IN for the show, and are heading for the Chicago show. Back to back nights of Ben Harper and Charles Musselwhite. What a fun way to spend a weekend. I recommend it to anyone, just don't pay the extra money to sit near the idiots.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Blindauer October 2011

Thomsons Gazelle to Thomsons Gazette
Formal Education to Format Education
Knock on Wood to Knock on Hood
Pinky Swear to Pinky Shear
Magic Wands to Magic Hands
Wire Service to Hire Service