04 December 2009

I love you, Detroit (Reprise).

On Monday, Brian and I will be leaving wild and wonderful West Virginia to embark on our epic pilgrimage to Hockeytown, and we are so totally and completely stoked.

The trip is part of our celebration of annivirthdaysmas, which is my way of telling you that I'm a complete fucking nerd who enjoys combining the words anniversary + my birthday + Christmas (oh, boy, and let me assure you that this is not the first year I've used that little ditty). Basically, those three occasions fall in the course of fewer than two weeks, so we like to do one big, awesome thing to acknowledge the entire triumvirate.

I've been working on this post here and there, but honestly, I've tried to put it off as long as possible because I want to be able to deal with the final days back home as calmly as possible (like that's going to happen). Anyway, here it is; my apologies for the loquacious title, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

Itinerary for Detroit/Things I Love About Detroit/Awesome Things That Need to Happen in Detroit While We're There

1. Starting with the obvious: Holy shit, we're going to see the Wings play IN PERSON. Typing that, it sounds ridiculous to me to be flipping out about seeing the team that I write about on an almost daily basis, but I feel like an ADHD-diagnosed six-year-old when I think about it. Sigh. Words can't express how excited I am for this.

We'll be at the St. Louis game on Wednesday, the 9th, and the Anaheim(!!!!) game on Friday, the 11th. A couple of notes on this:

a. I can't tell you how utterly disappointed I was to discover that only the first couple thousand kids get a Wings Zamboni toy at the Blues game. My first thought is that I'm pretty good at passing as a twelve-year-old, so I know I could pull it off, but that opens the door to starting a ruckus when it comes time to start downing some brew. My next inclination is to bribe and/or intimidate a unlucky recipient of said toy. Anyway, if you hear of any weird arrest stories that night, you'll know what's up.

b. I can't wait to be able to boo the Ducks in person. I'm girding my loins for this--gearing down and keying up.

c. Give me enough drinks, and I will star in a video that will promptly go up on this blog under the tag "dance dance assholes". (You know how I feel about dancing fans.)

2. Tim. Motherfucking. Hortons. Yes, I have done this before. So what? I have no pride. I don't care if it makes me sound like Ken Hitchcock's long-lost daughter (or lover...or both--OK, that's too gross, even for me). But the chocolate Timbits = the best thing in the entire fucking universe. The closest Tim Hortons to where we live is in Wheeling, which is almost 3.5 hours away. And the thing is, people from here who have never experienced the awesome goodness of Tim Hortons have no idea; they look at me like I have seven heads when I insist that they've never had a donut like this before in their entire lives. All we have are Krispy Kreme and Dunkin' Donuts. Not. Even. Close. I can't wait to stuff my face with Timbits. (Sickos, I said Timbits, not Tim's Bits...I don't even know who the fuck Tim is. Calm down.)

3. We get to spend approximately six hours on the PA and OH Turnpikes! [Item #3 intentionally omitted.]

4. Oh, Michigan, you call your liquor stores "party stores". I like to party. One word and one word only: Kismet.

5. Speaking of hooch, I don't know if you guys have any idea how ridiculous alcohol laws are around these parts. West Virginia itself isn't so bad, but because we live in the eastern part of the state, we often find ourselves out of state and therefore subject to the ridiculousness that is Virginia and Pennsylvania. Virginia makes you buy your stuff at state-run ABC stores--imagine being an underage college student and trying to pass off your fake ID with the stringent bitchfaces they employ there. Pennsylvania's even weirder: Imagine you want to buy a six-pack of your favorite brew. (Or, you want to buy me some, in which case, I'll take some Saranac Adirondack Lager, and good luck finding it. If not, Molson Canadian will do just fine, especially since we'll get to ask each other amazing would-you-prefers.) Anyway, you waltz into what appears to be a full-tilt liquor store and peruse the coolers looking for the goods, but alas! None to be found--only liquor and wine are available at such places. To purchase beer, you have to seek out a bar that does off-premises sales.

Michigan, I love you: Beer, wine, and liquor are available in your neighborhood Meijer. (For us back East, Meijer = all-purpose fun store, along the same lines of Target or K-Mart or Walmart.) Amazing. Haven't had this much exposure to the ability to get my drunkface on, snag a jumbo box of extra-special ribbed condoms, browse greeting cards to send to my grandma, stock up on Oodles of Noodles (you know, for the apocalypse), and pick out an entirely new wardrobe since visiting Brian during the early days of our relationship when he lived in Omaha, the only other place I've ever been where liquor is sold in box/grocery stores. God bless the Midwest.

6. Brian gets a front-row seat to a concert featuring Natalie's covers of all the greats, including, but not limited to, Britney Spears, Cher, M.I.A. (I do the gunshot part on "Paper Planes" REALLY ridiculously well, pretty much a carryover from my days in the 'hood), Lady Gaga, and well, you can imagine the rest. Interpretive dancing via "seat grooving" will also ensue. [Item #6 also intentionally omitted, although not for lack of existence--mostly so Brian doesn't back out on this awesomely long road trip upon experiencing a massive case of cold feet after reading this. Shhh...]

7. I want to get a bicycle thrown at our moving car again. I am not joking. This happened to us the last time we were in Detroit--actually, it happened after we left the bar after the game. We were driving back to our hotel, and some alleged homeless (but not immobile!) dude slugged an empty glass bottle at the moving car, but when he missed (by a mile), he proceeded to pull the bike out from under him, and we thought he was just doing a stunt and that he'd hold on to the handlebars, but instead, he let go of the handlebars and straight up threw the bike at the car. We were driving fast enough that it missed. Sure, laugh if you want, but come on, what would you have thought in a situation like that?! I mean, really: Have you ever met a homeless person who didn't try to entertain you endlessly with his/her glorious feats, such as reinterpreting the Flobots' greatest hit? And you want to judge me...

8. I want to go to Pegasus Taverna again and get the flaming cheese and have people yell "Opa!" at me. I love that so much. Now that I think about it, I might apply "Opa!" to my everyday life. It would be the perfect antidote to tedious days at work. Exhibit A: Some sumbitch attempts to give me the business on the phone by demanding last-minute that I pull some paperwork out of my ass? And now I want to tell him to go fuck himself? Why do that when I can just light something on fire and scream "Opa!" instead? (Just the thought brings a smile to my face--never mind the fact that crazy rednecks would have no clue what the hell I'm talking about. Win-win situation for yours truly.)

9. I saw this thing on Anthony Bourdain's show No Reservations about feather bowling at Cadieux Cafe. Can somebody please shed some light on this for me? What the fuck is feather bowling? Can anybody do it? Is it fun? Lame? Sketchy? All of the above? I'm totally intrigued. I mean...it's called feather bowling, and it's not even played with balls, but with these crazy cheese wheel thingys. Amazing. I fucking hate regular bowling, but I could really get behind this if it's half as excellent as its name implies.

10. Basic enough, but I want to see snow. Lots of it. It hasn't snowed here yet. I love snow.


Despite my wisecracks about hillbillies and whatnot, I love where I live. West Virginia is an amazing and beautiful place. But there are so many things equally wonderful about Detroit and Michigan at large. Brian and I cannot wait to return. I haven't slept in a week, I've been so excited. (And we ran out of quaaludes because Brian went overboard. Damnit!)

If you guys have any suggestions about restaurants, bars, landmarks, etc., that we should check out while we're there, please, please, please comment away. We'll be there for almost a whole week, so we'll have plenty of time to explore.

Also, if any of you scrappy people are going to be at either of the games, definitely let us know so we can say howdy to you during intermission or something. And fear not, young grasshoppers: Sure, this blog is ridiculous, but we're not sketchy individuals. As far as we know, neither of us has any relatives in Michigan, so you don't have to worry any bodily inappropriateness--we are second cousins West Virginians, after all. Oooooewwww...


  1. Fuck yeah! That sounds like a hell of a trip. Might I also suggest heading into Windsor, which - aside from being a hell of a cool town - is the only part of Canada you'll have to drive SOUTH to get to.

    This year, for the first time, my fiancee and I are driving to Michigan for the holidays (from New York). Usually we fly, but this year logistics were not our friends and we decided to do it the old fashioned way (although, not VERY old fashioned, like trains or whatever...). We're equally as excited as you guys are (though, replace "Cher" with "Stevie Wonder"). We're heading to the Wings/Jackets game on the 26th and on the way back to the East Coast, we're going to stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because, let's face it, when are we ever going to willingly be in Cleveland again? The correct answer is "never."

  2. You should def pregame it over at The Town Pump and then wobble over to Hockeytown for a few more before catching the free shuttle to the Joe. Always works out well for us.

    Bonus points if you can find and take a picture with "Smitty" the beer guy. We always find him, no matter what.

  3. I like to do pre-game dinner in Mexicantown. There are a ton of good restaurants there if you're into that sort of thing. My friend from El Salvador maintains that I'm clinically insane for doing that, but it's quite tasty.

    And I totally agree with the Opa thing. When I was waitressing during college, I seriously considered quitting my job at a burger joint and getting hired at the Greek Coney Island next door just so I could light the cheese on fire.

  4. Wow, thanks for all the suggestions!

    Michael, that's awesome that you guys are going to catch a game at Christmastime. I'm excited to see Xmas lights/decorations everywhere. And re: Cleveland? On behalf of Brian (who's lame and has a job where he can't waste time on the internet), I'm going to put this out there: You mean you don't want to go back and look at both of their buildings? (Those videos are his jam.)

    Chris, we went to the Town Pump after the game during our last trip there! It was the bar we were coming back from when we got the bicycle thrown at the car. That place was fun and not terribly expensive. We were going to go to Hockeytown immediately after the game, but the host told us they were closing up...at 10 pm. on a Thursday night following a home game. We couldn't believe it. Is it always like that?

    "Smitty" the beer guy? Please explain.

    Kris, Mexicantown dinner sounds amazing. Any particular places that are your favorites? I would type more right now, but I'm trying to get this lighter to work...oh, wait, there we go. Opa!

  5. I'm envious of your trip. I still need to respond to the comment you left on my Red Wings post...basically to say that I might be a Hawks fan but I love Detroit as a city, I'm aware of the problems it's having, and I like how much they like hockey there. My basic suggestions, some of which you've probably done already, are:

    Ride the People Mover even if you have no need to use it to get anywhere; it's only 50 cents and you get great views of downtown
    Wander into whatever skyscraper lobbies you can, but I especially recommend the Guardian Building
    Elwood Grill is an adorable building, and a decent place to eat
    I tried Detroit Beer Co. on my last visit; good pumpkin beer
    Hockeytown was practically empty when I went by after the (Tues. night) Bruins game, so I still haven't been in there

    West of downtown:
    John King used books is the biggest used bookstore in Michigan. Has some vintage postcards and collectibles too
    Slows BBQ is quite popular, has good stuff for both meat-eaters and vegetarians
    The also very popular abandoned Michigan Central Station is there; great views from the roof for people that are adventurous/reckless...

    Buddy's Pizza
    Eastern Market
    New Center--more great architecture
    Belle Isle, but I'm not sure how exciting it is this time of year
    Woodlawn Cemetery is where the big names of Detroit's history are buried, but I haven't seen much of it
    I still haven't been to DIA or the history museum, but the main library near them is nice
    Lots of stuff I'm forgetting right now!

  6. You asked who Tim was:

    Tim Horton was a hockey player with the Leafs and Sabres.

  7. p.s. Wayne's World's donut shop "Stan Mikita's Donuts" was a spin off of Timmy Ho-Ho's (what we call it up here in the north)

  8. @ K, thank you so much for all the recommendations; that definitely helps us out. Maybe I should have waited to post this until Sunday, though, because I am getting more and more excited with the more suggestions I receive.

    And thanks to the anonymous commenter for the explanation. I actually looked up Tim Horton after falling in love with it because I wondered (A) why a donut franchise was named after an actual person and (B) why something so amazing didn't exist anywhere around here. I probably know way too much ridiculous information related to the chain, more than any person should ever know about anything, ever. Wow, this post and subsequent comments have really highlighted how nerdy I truly am. You know, I never put two and two together on the "Wayne's World" reference, though--very funny, no doubt.

    You guys are rocking my socks with all this helpful information. Keep it coming!

  9. I live in Ann Arbor, MI so when I first hear of West Virginia I think of the school with that name from which Rich Rodriguez comes from...

    I hope the Wings play a nice game for you during your stay. To be honest, Detroit is indeed a dying city but our love for hockey shant fade! I also recommend Mexican Town. Most of the places are at least decent tasting but I liked El Xocalo. It's a bit touristy but the food was actually pretty good. I liked the chiles rellenos with zesty beef cubes, and fajitas or breaded chicken/beef with tomato sauce are good too.
    I hope you have a fun trip! I'll be watching those games on a tiny TV taking a break from my exams... I'm looking forward to your posts once you return!

  10. Definitely utilize the People Mover! You can make the rounds & hit all the great spots, including the Hard Rock. http://www.thepeoplemover.com/Home.id.2.htm

    *Don't forget about Cheli's Chili!!! Right next to Hockeytown Cafe & Comerica Park. Or, if you're going to be in the suburbs at all, there is another Cheli's in Dearborn & one in Clinton Township.

    *Hockeytown Authentics. Located in JLA, but they also have a free-standing store in Troy. http://redwings.nhl.com/club/page.htm?bcid=20317

    *I've never been Feather Bowling, but I've heard that it's hilarious. http://www.cadieuxcafe.com/featherbowling/

    *After the game(s), try to make your way up to section 212A. That's right next to the press area & if you hang out for a bit, you may be able to get autographs, including (possibly) Ken Daniels, Mickey Redmond, Kenny Holland, & Stevie Y!!!!

    I'll be at the game on the 9th (in that section) & we usually luck out...especially with Ken & Mickey.

    I hear ya on the Zamboni. Screw the kids!!!!! I want one!!!

    I hope all those links work. Have a fantastic trip!

  11. Gander: Geez, now I want Mexican food, like right NOW; it's like a full on craving, and I'm not under the influence OR pregnant. That place sounds amazing! We will definitely check that out. I forgot to mention this earlier in response to Kris's comment, but when Brian and I first arrived in town during the last trip, our directions to the hotel we stayed at were so jacked up that Mexicantown was the first place we ended up. Needless to say, that was NOT the most efficient way to find Roseville. Sigh. The way Mapquest rapes the soul... (And this time, we're not fucking around: GPS. Screw you, Mapquest.)

    Also, I just want to say this re: Rich Rod. If there's one thing, and only one thing, that you take away from The Scrappy Octopus, can it please be that there's more to consider about West Virginia than a really shitty and sketchy football coach? Please? (We hate him. Brian grew up loving the U-M football team. And we're both loyal West Virginians who feel genuinely screwed over by him. You can't really wear any Michigan gear and not get some sort of commentary from WVU fans around here; I won't even tell you about the one time I peacefully tried to buy hair dye at my neighborhood Walgreens. Yikes...) And finally, good luck on your exams! TSO supports any and all educational endeavors.

    Raputa, thank you, thank you for all the links. And THANK YOU^infinity for answering my query into feather bowling. It looked completely insane, but in that awesome way where you just know if you had a few drinks, it could end up being the most hilarious time you'll never remember. Also, I read some reviews that say the bar has excellent mussels?

    We're DEFINITELY going to check out the Hockeytown store in Troy. Didn't get to last time because we were kind of rushed with time, but that's one of the first things on our list this trip. We went to the one in the Joe last time, but we'd heard that the one in Troy is much bigger and has a more impressive selection. Can't wait to check this out.

    Maybe we'll see each other at the game! Appreciate the tip on getting autographs. I need to double-check out tickets and see which sections we're in. I know for the Anaheim game, we're in the upper bowl, but we lucked out and got lower bowl for St. Louis.

    Also, about that Zamboni toy...how do you feel about hatching a plot together to heist a few off some weak-looking kids? It doesn't have to be totally diabolical. Think of it this way: We'll be teaching them some major life lessons, such as you don't always win. Or survival of the fittest, bitches.

  12. Oh, and random question for everybody that I forgot to add to my post:

    Anyone know anything about the following places in Midtown?

    1. Good Girls Go to Paris Crepes

    2. Leopold's Books

    3. City Bird

    I think these are all relatively new businesses, and I read some good things about them, but just wanted to run it by y'all and see what you think.

  13. Armando's, Xochimilco's, and Mexican Village (get the enchiladas) are my favorites. There's another great place on the other side of the bridge, but I can't remember what it's called right now.

    I see a lot of recommendations about riding the People Mover: DON'T DO IT. The last time I rode that thing, it broke down, our bus back to UM was threatening to leave us because we were late, we got off at whatever stop we were at (To this day I don't know where we ended up. I should go retrace our route some time.), ran through 6 inches of unshoveled snow with no coats, weaved through people making ice sculptures in the middle of the street, ended up back at the station we'd come from 1/2 mile later, saw our bus passing on a cross street, ran down the middle of the road screaming and waving our arms, almost got hit by a taxi (probably because we were running down the middle of the road...), my friend fell in a puddle, and we barely managed to catch the bus. Otherwise we would've been stranded in Detroit and probably begging my dad to come return us to Ann Arbor which would've made for the most awkward 50-minute drive ever as he would've taken the opportunity to spend the entire time mocking my friends and me. Never. Again.

  14. Have a great time and a safe trip. Sounds like you have some really good ideas to pass your time. :)

    (And it's nice to hear someone excited about visiting Michigan instead of leaving - I was happy when I got a chance to move back to Michigan from the Baltimore area myself.)

  15. Don't back out into the road and be safe.