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Posted: Feb 1, 2011 2:56 am
Hey goners,

I will be in Detroit later this month, working on research for a history paper. Earlier this semester I read Dancing in the Street by Suzanne E. Smith and became fascinated with Detroit and particularly the subject of Detroit's black mayors.
I've never been to Detroit before....but in my mind I picture it to be something like a level in Streets of Rage or Final Fight.
I'm planning on checking out the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and probably the Detroit Public Library, but I'm still trying to figure out if there are any other archives or museums related to civil rights history, black history, or Detroit history in general that would have primary sources related to election data, that might be worth looking into.
Besides my research topic, I'm also interested in Detroit because of the city's musical history. I'm planning to go to the Motown museum but are there any other cool musical locations I might be interested in?
Even if I don't get a chance to do much sight-seeing, I'm still psyched to be going to the city that produced J Dilla, the Supremes, Destroy All Monsters, the Pleasure Seekers, Funkadelic, the Stooges, the Dogs, Martha and the Vandellas, the Funk Brothers, Death, the Gories, the Temptations, Andre Williams, and the MC5. The city where Aretha Franklin grew up and Joe Louis began his boxing career, where the Nation of Islam was founded, where Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. spoke, where John Lee Hooker started playing electric blues, and where techno was born.
I won't have very much down-time but I would also like to check out any decent record stores - particularly stores that would carry recent releases because I'd like to pick up a copy of the new Go! Team album and no store in my city is cool enough to sell it. Is Record Graveyard my best bet?
I'm also pretty sure that Detroit has some decent sneaker stores. Has anyone ever been to Burn Rubber in Royal Oak?
Oh, and I'm also interested in not dying during my time in Detroit - are there especially dangerous neighbourhoods that I should be aware of?
I get the feeling/the internet has told me that 7 and 8 Mile, Highland Park, Michigan Avenue, Lodge & Linwood, and Livernois are some of the worst areas.
It seems like part of the city's problem is an enduring sense of fear. I get the impression that a lot of the people that live in the city centre and surrounding areas have strong feelings towards the mostly white Detroiters that fled to the suburbs during the industrial decline. Subsequently, certain parts of the city have become notorious for crime. In a way, purposefully avoiding those areas perpetuates the perceptions of racial segregation and crime that Detroit has been suffering from for the past few decades. Of course having never lived there my impressions aren't worth much - but I think it's a shame that most of what I've heard about Detroit reflects this perception.

Anywho, any assistance/recommendations/tips/insight would be well-appreciated. Who better to ask these type of questions than such sophisticated individuals as yourselves?
Posted: Feb 1, 2011 9:56 am
I've a couple of questions first: where are you staying? do you have a car? when, exactly, will you be in town?
Posted: Feb 1, 2011 1:09 pm
I will probably be staying in Shelby twp; Yes, I will have a car; and I will be there approximately the last week or two of the month.
Posted: Feb 1, 2011 3:24 pm
whew - ok, a car would be essential in that case. The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Detroit Public Library are both downtown, not far from each other, and not far from Wayne State University. I'd suggest you hit the Walter P. Reuther Library there as well. Beyond that, as far as research facilities, I'd assume staff at all three could point you wherever else. Since you're already there, Peoples Records is on Woodward just south of Mack, and an essential stop - no new records, just mind-blowing bin after bin of soul and jazz records. Record Graveyard in Hamtramck is still going strong (last word was until the Spring), but again, no new records. For new records, I think you'd have to hit Stormy in Dearborn? I actually can't remember the last time I bought a new record in Detroit that didn't come off a merch table. And yeah, hit Motown, because unfortunately, that's about all there is. Detroit's not big on preservation, so most all of the Music Landmarks are boarded up, with trees growing out of them (Grande Ballroom) or are vacant lots (Fortune). I've spent a lot of time driving around town with a map and a list of addresses of record labels, and it's shocking how many buildings are long gone...come to think of it, Detroit is a good place to have GPS. It is a huge city, with a mildly confusing layout (the good news is the freeways can get you around town quickly) The neighborhoods you don't want to be in are obvious - there's nothing there. Don't leave stuff visible in your car when you park, etc. Detroit's shattered for sure, but show some respect, and you'll get some back. I'm sure I'll think of more stuff later...
Posted: Feb 1, 2011 3:27 pm
oh yeah, the Hamtramck Blowout is March 2-5 and always a lot of fun - but it doesn't look like the schedule's been released yet
Posted: Feb 1, 2011 3:42 pm
Posted: Feb 1, 2011 7:53 pm
That looks like a fantastic resource Adam!

Thank you, The Driver, for the excellent information and a timely response.
-I wish I had time to check out the Hamtramck Blowout, but I will have left by then.
-I will definitely look into the Walter P. Reuther Library, it seems that I was checking into it before but had forgotten about it and it looks like they hold records that will be relevant to my research.
-From the sounds of it, I might end up spending far too much time in Peoples Records and Stormy Records. Thanks for the heads-up!
-The Grande Ballroom was one of the musical locations that came to mind, another would have been the Brewster Projects, but I guess both spots are unrecognizable these days.
-And yes, thankfully I will have GPS.

Thanks again for your insight!
Posted: Feb 1, 2011 9:18 pm
Record Time is Roseville is huge. Go there if you want Detroit hip hop/electronic music as well as anything rock n roll from obscure labels to whatever label Go! Team is on. Plus they have tons of used cds/vinyl.
Stormy Recs is also badass. Owned by legendary Detroit psych/space rock duo Windy & Carl.

Go drive by the ghost of the old Tiger Stadium and hit up two of the best restaurants in Michigan 1) "Slows" might not be mindblowing bbq compared to Memphis, but they have the best macaroni & cheese in the entire fucking universe. 2) "El Barzon" is mexican/italian, which might make you think of Fazoli's/Taco Bell gas station combo restaurant, but you would be dead wrong.

Royal Oak has become yuppified to the max, but tucked away in the city is Gusoline Alley. Great jukebox and pinball. Similar vibe to the Buccaneer. And while you are there, see beer thread to realize that you must drink as much Bell's beer as you can during your trip.

Local music happenings are relatively easy to find. Two weekly rags, Metro Times & Real Detroit are quite comprehensive.

Baker's Keyboard Lounge on 8 Mile & Livernois is the oldest longest surviving jazz club in America. That place is a true american melting pot. Wonderful soul food and amazing atmosphere. Go on open mic night to see a bunch of local kids slay.

Please stay away from Highland Park. As a teen tripping on lsdz I witnessed a cop dealing drugs out of his squad car. That was maybe the third most fucked up thing I saw in Highland Park that day.

and yeah, motown museum!
Posted: Feb 1, 2011 9:27 pm
oh oh oh, this!

oh man, I miss the D.

Pleasure Seekers info:
http://pistons.basketball-news-update.com/quatro-sisters-celebrate-suz is-60th-and-their-girl-band-roots-in-detroit/

I don't know what kind of neighborhood it is these days, but if you want to roll by the house where the Hideout used to be:
google map: 20542 Harper Avenue, Detroit, MI
Literally a half mile from where I was born!
Posted: Feb 1, 2011 9:55 pm
Baker's is likely not open - it was just sold in bankruptcy court.

Heidelberg - yeah - that's not too far from where you'll be downtown, you can just cut across town on Mack - definitely worth a drive by, even if you don't have time to stop

rayultine - I don't think Harper Woods has changed a whole lot, and Car City Records is still out there - also, good call re: El Barzon
Posted: Feb 1, 2011 10:26 pm
Posted: Feb 2, 2011 12:53 am
Actually, I stopped by the Grande Saturday night. It's still there, just beyond repair. The corner of Grand River and Beverly one block south of Joy Road. A door in the back alley is open so you could go in if you wanted to check the stage out. The Brewster Projects are still there as well, just boarded up. The Eastown Theater on Van Dyke and Harper is legendary as well. Much of the Grande crowd and bands of the era graced it's stage. Hitsville is a must, as is People's records. Car City Records on Harper near 8 mile is wonderful too. I go to Wayne State and can say that the Reuther library will be very helpful in your studies. An old MC5 house is on Canfield on the historic one-way portion. It's the only house on the street boarded up. Coming off 3rd St., it's the first house on the right. Really cool sight. Also, the Eastern Market is a sight to be seen on Saturday mornings. Hope it helps a bit.
Posted: Feb 2, 2011 1:33 am
-I will add Record Time and Car City Records to my growing list of record store stops for sure - seems like Record Time might be my best option for new releases.
-I'm not sure that I will have time to take in any shows but thanks for the tips about Baker's Keyboard Lounge - sounds really cool, and the weekly papers.
-Also, thanks for the restaurant/bar information. El Barzon looks classay.
-Please stay away from Highland Park.
Duly noted!
-And thank you for letting me know about the Heidelberg Project. I've seen some photos of public art displayed like that in Detroit, but I wasn't aware of this particular initiative. I will definitely make an effort to stop by.

Thank you for the tips Rayultine and The Driver, you have been very helpful.
Posted: Feb 2, 2011 1:42 am | Edited by: stealth387
-The Eastown Theater on Van Dyke and Harper...An old MC5 house is on Canfield on the historic one-way portion
If my schedule was more flexible I would love to check out those locations. Thank you for putting them on my radar.

-the Eastern Market
I will definitely be in Detroit on a Saturday and would love to check this out. Thanks for the info Tee Shirt!
Posted: Feb 2, 2011 8:13 am
Sadly, the Eastown was torched at the end of the summer.
Posted: Feb 2, 2011 9:08 am
np! have fun & stay warm
Posted: Feb 2, 2011 10:10 am
Just the apartments that were connected burned down. The actual theater and ballroom are still (barely) alive. You can go right in the front door!
Posted: Feb 2, 2011 1:51 pm
Just the apartments that were connected burned down. The actual theater and ballroom are still (barely) alive. You can go right in the front door!

That's cool. I figured Bing would've torn down whatever was left standing. But then again, it's not like anyone in that neighborhood pays taxes.

stealth387 - yup, El Barzon's a classy joint, but it is also affordable and friendly (there's usually a dude outside keeping an eye on cars as well) - you gotta love a place that serves credible Mex and Italian. Mac 'n' Cheese might seem like an odd reason to hit a BBQ joint (Slow's), but if you're a fan, you'll appreciate it. I'd also suggest The Bronx Bar (2nd and Prentiss) for burgers and beers (or the spinach sandwich, if you're vegetarian) as it's close to WSU. So is The Traffic Jam & Snug (Canfield at 2nd - Brewpub - John Brannon from the Laughing Hyenas was flipping burgers there, last I heard) Ask Brad at Peoples for suggestions, there's always something new (or something closing)
Posted: Feb 2, 2011 7:26 pm
One last word to mention there used to be a few Record Time locations. The one in Roseville is the largest, and has the huge DJ room (if you want to follow the footsteps of J Dilla during your trip)
Posted: Feb 2, 2011 8:46 pm
-The Bronx Bar...The Traffic Jam & Snug...Ask Brad at Peoples for suggestions
Awesome, I'll definitely keep those tips in mind.

-The one in Roseville is the largest, and has the huge DJ room (if you want to follow the footsteps of J Dilla during your trip)
Cool. I'll make sure to stop by the Roseville location.
Posted: Feb 2, 2011 9:49 pm
Hit Record Time as soon as you can because Mike plans on closing the place down soon. I worked there for many years. Good people.

I'm up in Port Huron and I'm kinda out of touch as to what goes on there much except for the obvious anymore.
Posted: Feb 2, 2011 9:52 pm
Car City is still around and the newer record store VHF in Ferndale seemed to quite happening the day I stopped in there too. The Record Time in Ferndale closed a few years back.
Posted: Feb 3, 2011 11:24 am | Edited by: stealth387
Thanks for the info, Dale!

-Hit Record Time as soon as you can
The store's website states that they are having a liquidation sale right now, so hopefully there will still be some stock to look through by the time I get there.
-the newer record store VHF in Ferndale
I can't seem to find anything about this store on the internet.

Has anyone been to Athen's Coney Island in Royal Oak?
Also, is Melodies and Memories in Eastpointe worth checking out?
This also looks like something I might want to check out:
Posted: Feb 3, 2011 11:44 am | Edited by: The Driver
I can't seem to find anything about this store on the internet.

dale - you sure you didn't mean UHF in Royal Oak?

Posted: Feb 3, 2011 11:46 am
heh - just noticed Mike Hurtt in that photo inside UHF
Posted: Feb 3, 2011 11:54 am | Edited by: The Driver
Melodies and Memories - I drop by if I'm in the neighborhood, but have never made a special trip. They do have a lot of stock, but it's mostly CDs, mostly over-priced, and even though I have found records there, it's not much fun to browse. Call first if you're looking for something in particular.

Hamtramck Disneyland is fun if you find yourself in Hamtramck. It's a couple of blocks from Record Graveyard, in some geezer's backyard, so you approach via the alley. Hit The Hoard House and Detroit Threads as well (both on Jos. Campeau).
Posted: Feb 3, 2011 12:00 pm
Heck, might as well stop for lunch - dill pickle soup at Polish Village (around the corner from Detroit Threads)
Posted: Feb 3, 2011 12:09 pm
dispelling myths, while we're at it:
Yes There Are Grocery Stores in Detroit
Posted: Feb 3, 2011 12:15 pm
Yes There Are Grocery Stores in Detroit

Farmer Jack's at 7 & Livernois no longer there?!?
Posted: Feb 3, 2011 12:22 pm
- gone for awhile now (A&P shut 'em all down)
Posted: Feb 3, 2011 3:23 pm
i looked on Google ---- that corner looks desolate. no surprise, i guess
Posted: Feb 4, 2011 1:57 pm | Edited by: Useless Eater
Thanks for the info everybody. My bud is going to Wayne State for grad school so I'm trying to find some cool shit for us to check out when I visit.

If you want to smoke in an establishment please visit one of the city's many casinos and the Paintedd Ladiy in Hamtramck didn't give a fuck. Ripped in half dollar in the urinal is my favorite thing ever.

Bells beer is brewed in Kalamazoo and Comstock (both of my hometowns) and is distributed in 18 states. Michigan makes beer and wine and movies now.

I really dig this http://www.detroitblog.org/. I think that Dale showed it to me. Check out some mural advertising.

Also, try not to take too many pics of decay pr0n while you are visiting.
Posted: Feb 5, 2011 9:56 am
dale - you sure you didn't mean UHF in Royal Oak?

Yeah, that's the place. Cool store for newer stuff.
Posted: Feb 6, 2011 4:06 pm
Tuesday, April 12 at 9:00pm
@ Magic Stick
Detroit, MI

Davila 666:

Terrible Twos:

Peoples Temple:
Posted: Feb 7, 2011 1:33 am | Edited by: stealth387
Thanks for the clarification, The Driver.
-Hit The Hoard House and Detroit Threads as well (both on Jos. Campeau).
-dill pickle soup at Polish Village
Cool, I'll keep those places in mind.

-Bells beer
I'm curious.
-try not to take too many pics of decay pr0n
I'll restrain myself.

Thank you to everyone for all the great tips and suggestions. I don't know if I'll get another chance to go to Detroit in the future, so I really want to make the most out of my trip. Thanks again!
Posted: Feb 7, 2011 6:57 am
stealth387 - good luck with your research and visit - feel free to email me if you have specific questions, when you hit town (address is on my profile)
Posted: Feb 8, 2011 12:34 pm
why not just stay home and watch that Super Bowl Chrysler ad (featuring everybody's favorite wigger, MnM) over & over?
Posted: Feb 8, 2011 5:18 pm
eminem's actually a bit more "12 mile" than "8 mile." Get my drift?
Posted: Feb 9, 2011 12:53 pm
Stealth, I can't think of any more valid research topic than Mayor Coleman Young's tenure and what transpired in Detroit in it's wake.

why not just stay home and watch that Super Bowl Chrysler ad

Absolutely slick ad, and the featured architecture reminded me of the inspiring Italian Fascist futurism.
Posted: Feb 9, 2011 1:46 pm
Greek Town..Parthenon Resteraunt good greek food! with old school waiters! not too x-pensive. It's near Woodward. COmerica park etc.
Posted: Feb 9, 2011 1:48 pm
Posted: Feb 9, 2011 3:45 pm
Get my drift?

Since I'm 7 Mile, I sure do...
Posted: Feb 9, 2011 9:34 pm
7 mile goon shit!


I'm from 7 and Strasburg.
Posted: Feb 9, 2011 11:39 pm
-Bells beer
I'm curious.

Bell's is the big craft brewer in the state. They're really good but I demand equal time for Founders, Short's, North Peak and New Holland too. Michigan takes it's beer making seriously.
Posted: Feb 10, 2011 12:07 am | Edited by: eric o
Stealth, I can't think of any more valid research topic than Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's tenure and what the fuck he was thinking.
Posted: Feb 10, 2011 12:34 pm
he was thinking he wanted to make a lot of money and get his dick wet all the time
Posted: Feb 10, 2011 12:42 pm
Posted: Feb 10, 2011 1:07 pm
I'm from 7 and Strasburg.

near Schoenner, right?

I am West Side ... when I was living there I don't think I crossed I-75 more than 10 times. funny.
T., what do you think about that Paul Clemens book?
Posted: Feb 14, 2011 11:08 pm
-Stealth, I can't think of any more valid research topic than Mayor Coleman Young's tenure and what transpired in Detroit in it's wake.
For this paper I have narrowed my focus to Coleman Young specifically, but in the future I hope to research and write about the 4 mayors that followed him as well. Actually I'm much more interested in discussing Young in reference to the mayors that followed him because it gives a sense of where Detroit went and where it might be able to go and would also allow me to compare and contrast the study of Detroit with other cases like Gary, Indiana and Washington, D.C.

-NEW Parthenon
Thanks for the tip Dutch!

-Founders, Short's, North Peak and New Holland
Thanks for the info Dale, I'll keep my eyes open.
Posted: Feb 14, 2011 11:22 pm
"Aloha Motherfuckers!"

my favorite Coleman Young quote.
Posted: Feb 15, 2011 11:31 am
Wish there were more Archer's in the world and less Kilpatrick's and Herenton's
Posted: Mar 6, 2011 10:32 pm
Thanks again to everyone for your tips and suggestions. Detroit was wonderful. I wish that I had been able to stay longer, because there were so many things that I didn't have time to do. Hopefully I'll get to go back sometime soon. I completed all of my research, which was the most important aspect of my trip. I ended up spending most of my time at the Public Library and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The staff at both of these establishments were very friendly and helpful, especially at Charles H. Wright where the staff went out of their way to make me feel welcome and comfortable while I was performing my research.
Unfortunately I didn't get to go to most of the record stores that I wanted to, but I did stop by UHF in Royal Oak - which was fantastic. They have an excellent selection, decent prices, knowledgeable and friendly staff, and clean records in great condition. I picked up the Psychedelic Aliens' Psycho Alien Beat LP, Child Bite/Big Bear split 7", and a back issue of Down Beat from the 60s. I also stopped by Burn Rubber while I was in Royal Oak. It's a small store but definitely worth checking out. I also made a stop at Bob's Classic Kicks on Woodward. The people there were super friendly. Anybody with a passion for sneakers should make the effort to hit them up if you get a chance.
I'm really glad that I made it to Hitsville which was awesome. I also drove past Fox Theatre, the Joe Louis fist, Hart Plaza, and traveled along the great stretches of freeway where Black Bottom and Paradise Valley used to be. I wish I could have made it to American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney, but at least I got to Athen's Coney Island in Royal Oak. I also made sure to get some chili cheese fries before leaving the city.
Thanks again to Rayultine for the tip about Real Detroit and the Metro Times. The issue of Real Detroit that I picked up had the Best Of everything in Detroit from the best bar with a patio to the best attorney.

While I was in Detroit I noticed some of the same tropes at play in that Chrysler ad: a rivalry with bigger cities like New York and Chicago; but also the spirit of determination, strength, and a will to succeed. Detroit is busted but unbowed. These tropes run counter to the overwhelmingly bad press that has surrounded the city since being named murder capital in the 80s. I haven't completed all of my research yet, but I already feel that I have learned some valuable lessons about race, class, the historical discipline, and the nature of major American cities. I learned that you can't fully understand the history of a place that you've never been to; that visiting the place that you are studying can allow you to appreciate its history on a whole new level and that living in that city opens up an even deeper level of understanding. I think that living through certain historical events can also earn oneself a unique vantage point but I don't believe that it is essential because I think that a historian can adopt a useful perspective by being personally removed from the event as well.
I also realized how complex the issues in Detroit are. It's easy to read about Coleman Young and look at Detroit's history in an idealized way that favours residents living in neighbourhoods below 8 Mile and demonizes everyone who abandoned the city, but I realized that the white suburbanites have their own side of the story which also deserves some attention.
I went to Detroit with many preconceptions, but my greatest impressions of the city were of how friendly and nice everyone I met was, and the feeling of a sense of optimism. It's all love in Detroit.

I haven't finished all the reading that I plan to for my paper, but I noted two passages that I thought people here might enjoy while reading through Coleman Young's autobiography, Hard Stuff, which isn't all that entertaining of a read but has been invaluably informative and useful for the purposes of my research.

p. 47
Monday, one of the old union hands, Pete Perry, informed me that the strike had been broken while I was off satisfying my urges. "Son," he said, "the human race is perpetually involved in two separate struggles-the class struggle and the ass struggle. If you want to make a difference in this world, it's important not to get your struggles mixed up."

p. 138
I've always considered it a necessity to have a new car and decent clothes. Some people might regard this as a middle-class affection, but if they do, fuck 'em.
Posted: Mar 6, 2011 11:10 pm
Awesome! You're welcome
Posted: Mar 7, 2011 2:10 am
"It's easy to read about Coleman Young and look at Detroit's history in an idealized way that favours residents living in neighbourhoods below 8 Mile and demonizes everyone who abandoned the city, but I realized that the white suburbanites have their own side of the story which also deserves some attention."

It's important to understand how hostile the urban center felt to whites after the riots, and it's easy to judge them as callous and racist for acting on their survival instinct. Crime was sky-rocketing and law enforcement was overwhelmed. Frosty Woolridge's essays on his experience as a Detroit resident and school teacher provide a counterbalance.

Posted: Mar 7, 2011 6:10 am
Cool - glad to hear Detroit treated you right and that you got your work done. I'd suggest a holiday visit in the summer, when you can more fully experience what feels like America's most northernmost Southern City.

Essential Coleman Young: The Quotations of Mayor Coleman A. Young
Posted: Mar 7, 2011 1:55 pm
Glad the trip was a success!
Posted: Mar 7, 2011 2:11 pm
Frosty Woolridge's essays on his experience as a Detroit resident and school teacher provide a counterbalance.

i didn't see anything on that subject by "Frosty". Everything he writes appears to be about "overpopulation" and "disease ridden immigrants" with a decidedly teabagger slant.
Posted: Mar 7, 2011 2:20 pm
It's important to understand how hostile the urban center felt to whites after the riots

I lived in Detroit before during and after the 1967 riots, and what I remember is the great sense of abandonment we felt observing the backs of scared whites as they tripped over each other trying to flee.

The other thing I remember is being shocked at the racist vitriol expressed in a casual manner that I would hear everytime I crossed 8 Mile Road. And the racist vitriol I caught from the other side.

Bad times, but they got a lot worse, thanks to crack cocaine. That was what made a lot of the city untenable for many people of all colors.

Here's a souvenir of bad times you may want to peruse:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0679735917/ref=dp_olp_used?ie=U TF8&condition=used

sorry to plug Amazon
Posted: Mar 7, 2011 3:47 pm
I'm not sure if the essays you were referring to are on that website, but I found some of his articles easily enough elsewhere. I've learnt that it is important to consider opposing perspectives seriously, even if they seem extreme or misguided. Thanks for the tip.

-I'd suggest a holiday visit in the summer
That sounds like a great idea! It would probably make a lot more sense to take in the Heidelberg Project and architecture around the city when they aren't covered in snow.

-Here's a souvenir of bad times you may want to peruse
I heard about this book recently, but I wasn't sure what to make of it. I'll probably look into it. Thanks for the tip. Have you read John Gallagher's Reimagining Detroit?
I'm currently interested in reading that as well as B.J. Widick's, Detroit: City of Race and Class Violence.
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