Friday, July 24, 2009

Stay-Cation Day Three: Touring the D

Detroit: Monica Conyers. Kwami-Felon-Kilpatrick. Mary Waters. Martha Rose-Reeves. Synagro. Bernard Kilpatrick. Sam Riddle. 0-16.

Unfortunately, the list is long. However, we countered that list by visiting some bright spots in Detroit on Stay-Cation Day Three: Rocky Peanut Company. Eastern Market. John King Used and Rare Books. The Ellwood Bar and Grill.

Day Three found us in the D enjoying just a portion of this city’s bounty. For those who reside north of Hall Road, allay your fears. There are great places in Detroit. We journeyed over to Eastern Market on a weekday. Some of the shops were open but it wasn’t the open-air extravaganza I was anticipating. We’ll have to visit some Saturday morning to sample all the Eastern Market wares. We did, however, roll into Rocky Peanut Company. Chocolate covered cherries, malted milk balls, cashews, pure cherry pie filling from Traverse City, cinnamon-roasted walnuts and coffee so flavorful you’d swim in it if you could were just a few delights in this Eastern Market store.
If you are a bibliophile or just looking for an adventure visit King Books on Fifth and W. Lafayette in Detroit. This four-story used and rare book repository is incredible. Sure, I teach English so I would naturally enjoy King Books. It’s not just the books, however, that are intriguing. The helpful and friendly faces that greet you upon entering this word-palace will ensure a rewarding experience. The creaking of any one of the four wood floors soothes your mind as you browse row, after row, after row, after row of books. The hand-written aisle markers prove an actual person who lives, breathes and cares for books, has taken the time to guide your literary discoveries. The strings hanging from overhead lights are yours to turn on and off when needed. This doesn’t happen in those big box stores with their antiseptic white lights, processed foods and overpriced, over hyped and over consumed liquid clich├ęs. The building, the sounds, the smells and the people are as rich as the books housed in this literary coffer. If I take my AP Lit class to a play at the Bonstelle this year, we will make a secondary stop at King Books. I picked up a copy of Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf. If you attended Wulf-a-Thon, it was this translation you heard. I also picked up Robert Fitzgerald’s translation of Virgil’s The Aeneid. Willa Cather quotes The Aeneid quite often in My Antonia, using it to reveal Jim Burden’s growing maturity. I’ve only read portions of this epic and in the waning days of summer, I’ll read the entire work. Besides, I need a replacement for Wulf-aThon and this might be it. If you like words on pages sandwiched between soft or hard covers, if you like history, if you like a literary treasure map, if you like the peppery smell of age-ripened books, if you like to visit with people who share similar interests or who just share smiles, if you like to control the amount of light in your book aisle, if you like the creaking of wide-plank, wood floors, if you like the various urban views from any of the four floors, you will love King Books.

We couldn’t hope to best our King Book experience, so we enjoyed a burger and fries at the Elwood Diner across from Ford Field. The only time I’ve seen this place in action is when it’s teeming with chain-smoking drunks hanging out before or after a game in Detroit. The throng of revelers always stirred anxiety. Would all of these people be driving home? Could Obama’s proposed health care plan cover all the ensuing emphysema and lung-related ailments likely to originate from this establishment? However, on a comfortable afternoon and no crowds, The Elwood Diner was the perfect place for an afternoon lunch on the streets of Detroit.
Good reading and good eating made for a good day.

1 comment:

Andrew Fluegge said...

wow, i take three days off from checking your blog, and you put up a slew of posts. i better get reading. here's to blogging...