I'm not sure quite what to say about Detroit. I'm sure there are wonderful aspects to the city that I may never see. I'm sure there are a lot of great people that live and work there. But I'm sure that while most of you have never been there, you've heard plenty about the state of the once booming city. As we rolled into town, traffic got worse on the interstate so Craigs decided to take an exit and see what the neighborhoods were like. Whoa. It was like nothing any of us had ever seen. Perhaps you've driven through a depressed Southern city upon whose curbless pothole-filled roads sit broken down vehicles in front of junk covered porches. Or maybe perched high above the streets on a Brooklyn freeway in the comfort of your vehicle you've considered what it'd be like to live in a graffiti covered row house or low-income high rise. Maybe you've traveled to a pour nation on this or another continent and seen abject poverty and desperation. Those images and realities do not have quite the same impact as the utter abandonment and decay we witnessed in Detroit. That's not to say some of the aforementioned realities aren't much more serious and perilous than Detroit's condition. What we saw was an apocalyptic scene in the sense that beautiful old homes had become burned out, dilapidated, piles of rubble. There were many clusters of buildings that reminded me of the bombed out Dutch towns in Band of Brothers. The streets were bare aside from an idle pedestrian once every mile or so. It seemed quite uninhabitable. Plywood for windows. For those of us wrapped up in living in the cool part of town or having to decide which new bar or restaurant to visit this week (there are just too many choices-OMG!), life without amenities, hope, and choices isn't ever-present. What we saw was the disintegration of America. Atrophied capitalism. Dissolved dreams and prosperity. Depression. A very real representation of life in America. A reality that could be right around the corner for Americans if things don't change in a big way.
Our experience changed even more when we got to where we were staying. Upon arriving at the Motor City Hotel and Casino, we had one helluva time parking our van+trailer. The whole reason we were booked at this place is because they told us there'd be secure parking. Right outside the lobby entrance there were about ten empty guarded bus parking spots and they wouldn't let us park there, even for thirty minutes while we checked in and dropped off our bags. We were sent to the "Ohio Lot," which was empty save for two security trucks and the guards that sat in them for eight hours at a time. They wouldn't let us park there. It was empty!! We needed a lamppost to back up to and not only was that difficult for them to understand, they were completely unable to accommodate. So they sent us to the lot at the very back of the property and in an unpaved half-lit unfenced lot we hesitantly and frustratingly left our rented raison d'etre. The rooms and everything was really nice. However, James made the observation it was all kinda creepy that some assholes plopped this huge money suck of a shiny entertainment complex down right in the middle of this depressed economy, to give mindless jobs to many and rob everyone else's wallets.
The shining spot of the day was our gig at the Lager House. The place was packed, the food was great, it sounded good on stage, the greenroom was adequate, the sound guy was for the most part on his shit. What a great crowd! Seriously, the energy in the room was palpable and we definitely felt it. If a bar is meant to be a place where one can temporarily escape their everyday woes and bullshit, the Lager House might be the best bar in the country. While we were there, it was if none of the sadness we saw earlier in the day existed and rock and roll was all that mattered. All hail The Lager House!
Before the show, Mount Moriah's rhythm section, Ricky, and I went two doors down to a sewage scented bar called Nemo's to watch the Carolina-Duke game. None of us got to watch the whole game because of our set times and the outcome of the game sucked, based on what I saw on Sportscenter when I got back to the room. I think we all went to bed praying our van, trailer, and gear would still be backed up against a construction barrier when we walked out there in the morning. It was.
Here are some photos from our drive to along Southern Michigan.