Tag Archives: Detroit

Phog Walks Detroit

I have put out a Facebook invite for an incredible walk taking place in Detroit.
Bob Goldsmith of Detroit Tour Connections is hosting the two-hour tour.
The tour will be in the area of Cass Corridor…a richly interesting space, which will lead us to the Dally in the Alley festival.

Here’s the details of the walk, according to Bob:
“I think we should meet at the main branch of theDetroit Public Library. The address is 5201 Woodward. Let’s meet at the rear (west) entrance, which is on Cass. People can park on Cass, or on Kirby. “Midtown” is a pretty large area of Detroit that includes the Cass Corridor, Brush Park, the Detroit Medical Center, the large campus of WSU, and the Cultural Center area.

We’re mostly going to tour the Cultural Center area. Our two hour tour will include: Hecker mansion and other homes from the late 1800s; the DPL, DIA, Park-Shelton and Maccabees Bldgs from the 1920s; the Historical Museum; the Detroit Science Center; the Charles H. Wright Museum; the Scarab Club; the College for Creative Studies; and a few of the buildings on WSU’s campus.

The Dally has a website — http://www.dallyinthealley.com. It includes a map and directions … but the best bet is probably to mapquest 5201 Woodward if we are going to meet at the main branch of the Detroit Public Library. People can take I-75 north to Warren, and then take Warren west to Woodward or to Cass,
or they can just take Woodward from downtown Detroit to the Cultural Center area.”

We will meet initially at Phog Lounge at 9:45am. We will leave by 10am on our way to the Detroit Public Library. If you want to come, you must e-mail me at phoglounge@gmail.com or message me on Facebook (Tom Lucier). If you can drive…good…if you can’t, we still have room in some cars heading over. And you need your Passport to attend.

THIS SATURDAY!!! We already have over 20 people coming, so there will be tons of opportunities to make friends from Windsor along with the endless opportunities to meet your American reflections during the walk. I think it’s going to be an important first step in creating a very important community that is almost non-existent…the cross-border cultural community.

Personally, I feel that this is a KEY and CRUCIAL event for community leaders to be a part of, in order to initialize, strengthen, and solidify our relationships and understanding of our American brethren.
If you find yourself to be a leader here in Windsor, I really think it’s a good time to start thinking about sharing your strengths with people across the way, who know little or nothing about this community of artists, musicians, and doers.

Green Shift in Detroit?

picture-5I listen to Detroit Today (on WDET 101.9FM) most mornings. It’s right in my wheelhouse between my writing hour and my Phog band-booking hour.
Today, from the time I turned on the stereo, Quinn Klinefelter was interviewing Rick Bowers. The City of Detroit has created its first office of Energy and Sustainability. Rick Bowers is the new chief of that project.

I was audibly laughing in my living room (even being stuffed-up) because they were talking about bringing green collar jobs to Detroit, and how incredibly attractive the City of Detroit is to people wanting to make these changes. I laughed because their conversation consisted of precisely the bits I was able to cram into my little Windsor Star article the other day.

And for some reason, I doubt that Quinn Klinefelter will get the responses I got on the Windsor Star website such as:

We need to abolish the WTO and NAFTA. Then we can start a green industry. The way China keeps its regulations illegally low compared to us makes it so all manufacturing goes there. E-waste goes there, so why wouldn’t “green collar” jobs? We are overlooking the structural problems in our country and think that environmentalism will solve it all when it has nothing to do with it. The bankers control everything with their fractional reserve banking.

or

To Tom: Manufacturing will never stay here because labor can be done cheaper in China. What we need is to setup recycling plants here to recycle e-waste, but right now that stuff goes to China. We have to take care of the financial structural imbalances (China’s keeping their currency/labor/enviro laws lower than ours) before we dream of setting up a green industry. Wake up Tom. We do not buy your humanist agenda to depopulate the city of Windsor thru scaling down.

or

Global warming is a fraud. Tens of thousands of scientists signed the oregon declaration to prove it. The earth goes thru cold and hot spells and this is normal. Water vapor is more of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide is, but you know why they chose carbon? Because you breathe it! Eventually they will tax life itself if we get a carbon tax. Don’t be an extremist, please.

or

The green concept is based on putting the economy first, like to building a park to save it (instead of just letting it be.) By that (foolish) definition, that won’t work after the “big 3” leave. Ironically though, the air will be cleaner, and the poor will still be poor.

I mean, these comments are completely welcomed, as they get conversations started, but I have an extremely hard time getting into the mind-space of these people. I mean, when you hear about people wanting to bring green collar jobs to Windsor or Detroit, how can you think of China? Green industry jobs (installing solar panels, cleaning up toxic spills, landscaping/urban gardening, organic farmers, tidal/wind/solar energy farm technicians, etc.) are grassroots in design. Green thought is local thought. If a green energy push is made, China is the last place people are looking to go IF (big if) they have an infrastructure and a willing local government to implement these kinds of objectives.

Sure they make TONS of solar panels in China. No one here has made enough of a push to lure in these companies. Bitterfeld Germany certainly has, and look at them!

I think people find an issue they have a feeling about, and then they try to connect any given topic or story to their agenda, and then they harp on it at every chance. They have a pre-formed view of anything “green” and when they see it pop up, they go into their mantra about NAFTA, China, or what-have-you. You can’t please everyone, I get it, but to go off on a tangent about the WTO and NAFTA, when what I’ve written is clearly about is self-sustainability using local people to create LOCAL solutions…People are so funny!

I thought it was funny that this discussion was happening on WDET, which for some Star readers, might be a “more legitimate source” than some kid on The Scene page. I just wish that more Windsorites were dialed-in to this movement, which is not as hidden and unknown as it once was in the past. What can I do to make this clearer? Deliver the New York Times to every house in the city for free for a week so they can see how many of these positive changes are happening…written by the most reputable news source I can think of?
Who knows?

To hear more about this idea of greening the crappier parts of the country…the hurting urban spaces…see Majora Carter’s TED Talk here

But beware naysayers!!! There are NEW IDEAS on this website! Aaaaahhhhhhhhh!
By the way, this is one of the best websites I have ever visited.

Khari Has Been FOUND!

Yes, it’s crazy exciting!

Khari McClelland is no longer M.I.A.

My old pal is alive and very well, living in Vancouver, performing music and working three jobs!

I love this!

If this post makes no sense to you yet, read my past posts –

https://tomlucier.wordpress.com/2008/06/28/khari-mcclelland-where-are-you/

https://tomlucier.wordpress.com/2008/07/01/khari-mcclelland-update/

I was at Phog, working, and the phone rang. I answered as I usually do, “Phog…”

“Hello.”

“What can I do for ya?”

“It’s Khari!!”

Which I followed by looking wide-eyed at my patrons, cursing and fidgeting, confused and thrilled.

Khari laughed on the other end of the line, which reminded me of how his laugh used to light up a building.

I asked him immediately if he finally Googled his name. I knew he would come across my blog posts one day or another.

“No, my friend Melissa, from work, asked me if I’ve ever Googled myself, and I was like, nah.”

Melissa decided to do it immedietely, right then and there. At work.

Melissa, I owe you a gargantuan debt of gratitude! Jesus Christ! How can I thank you for offering this tech-denying buddy of mine a glimpse into the web, and how people are looking for him!?

He read the post, and told me on the phone that he was touched by what I wrote, and expressed reciprocal appreciation for my friendship. We chatted for about 20 minutes, rushing, with me cutting him off several times with more questions.

It was a whirlwind, and will continue to be when I chat with him next, as I now have his phone numbers, e-mail, etc.

I feel like a missing piece of my life was put back today. Something far-gone was achieved. The unlikely was realized tonight, and I feel like there’s a reverberating magic on me, like when you get slapped on the arm and the ringing skin stays there for a long while afterward.

I’m thrilled. It took almost five months for the web-ring to reach him. I feel like I got a MAJOR Christmas present today, and THANK YOU KHARI for reacting to the post and getting in touch.

If you feel like reading his reactions…comments can be found on the past Khari McClelland posts.

Now to catch up.

Ballgame

I just want to revisit my Ganatchio Trail post quickly by saying, since I posted it, many people, including Matt Baker (frequent commenter and great guy from Windsor living in Red Rock, CA) and my own mother have told me that they have been riding this “hidden” trail for YEARS. Again, I was dumbfounded when I was riding on it, and here I am, a troglodyte imbecile, having missed the obvious for what seems like decades. Too funny! Thanks for all the comments on the posts here…really love them, one and all.

Onto “Ballgame”:
Over a year ago I had tickets to a Blue Jays game in Detroit. It was in April or May sometime, I believe. The game became an afterthought, because I was planning on taking my Dad to see the game. You see, for those not from the area, the Tigers and Blue Jays games are a special rivalry built around nationalism. People who love Canada and Canadian teams, even though they live 20 minutes from the stadium of the Detroit teams, race over to Detroit to fill the stadium with Blue Jay fans. Often times, there are just as many Jays fans as Tiger fans. Yuck.

So this game was going to be a fun one that my Dad was going to want to see. Alas, he was in the hospital at the time, having had a small heart attack, and waiting to get test results etc., to see what the next course of action was going to be. It took weeks. He was in the hospital, waiting, waiting…and nothing. The doctors could not decide what to do with him, because he had already had a quadruple bypass surgery 10 years earlier. They wanted to make the right decision. When they finally made the decision, he was shipped to London, to have yet another bypass surgery done to allow more blood to flow to his heart.

Mission accomplished. We all saw him come out of the surgery, waiving groggily, and we all went to see him afterward, telling him we loved him, wishing him well. We were out of the woods. We all went back to our homes from London, Ontario to Windsor and surrounding areas.

Next morning I get a call early. Dad is in bad shape. Congestive Heart Failure. They did not know it then, but he had a major heart attack during the bypass surgery (there was a 10% chance of this) and he was complaining after the surgery that he was dizzy, exhausted, couldn’t lift his head, and so on. Within a short window of time, the blood work showed his blood was full of markers that indicate a major heart attack during the time of surgery. He quickly faded to unconsciousness and was on a one-way ticket to the great Beyond.

Someone in a decision making place (his surgeon) told the staff at the hospital where my Dad was recovering, “Get him over to University Hospital NOW. I know he’s unstable, and he likely won’t survive the trip here, but get him here, and we’ll operate immediately. It’s the only chance he has.”

The staff did this reluctantly. They feared he would pass on the drive over…as my brother Rodd and my step-mother Eileen were watching him being loaded onto the ambulance, they were told to say goodbye. I mean Good Bye. We got update calls on a cellphone in the van we were riding in as the Windsor family sped toward London, early morning, fearing our father would die while we were in transit. It was the quietest, fastest drive I’ve ever experienced. No radio. Just praying. Crying. Sobbing. Breakdowns. Hugging. Nurturing. Support. Yearning for another moment with Dad.

When we arrived, he was still alive, out of surgery, and hanging on by a thread. Being in Intensive Care (ICU) we were unable to see him all at once. When we did get to see him…he was glossy, bloated, and being kept alive by breathing machines, a host of chemicals, a heart pump, and 24-hour tweaking supervision by Super Nurses.

Without going into the details…my father was going to die. The doctors knew it, the nurses felt it…but it didn’t happen. He fought. He made progress at rates they weren’t expecting.

Flash forward from those weeks in April to September 10, 2007.

My Dad is not only out of the hospital, but he is almost fully recovered mentally, and is making big steps physically. We are together, making our way from the parking lot to Comerica Park to see the Detroit Tigers play the Toronto Blue Jays. It is the make-up for the very game I intended to bring him to in the Spring. I have the same tickets from the day it was supposed to be played on, but I caught wind of a rumour that you needed to have a make-up game ticket, which was to be procured at a MUCH earlier date from the ticket booths located outside of the stadium.

When we arrived, they were not letting people in with the tickets they originally had, and the line to exchange was 200 bodies deep, and was more like a row of plants than a thoroughfare of progress.

We were not happy. The game was starting. They were screwing with my destined game with my death-defying Dad. Suddenly a ticket rep comes into the crowd offering to trade, immediately, “standing room only” tickets for anyone with tickets still to be exchanged. My Dad was not in ANY position to stand for the game. No way. He was still winded from walking at the time. When I yelled to the ticket guy that I was a willing taker, my Dad was not pleased and he seemed worried. I had a plan, something he didn’t know, and I told him we’d be okay, that it was far more important to get into the park.

As we walked, with worthless “standing room only” tickets, I had a back-up. I took another set of tickets, for the exact same seats (as these were PART of a season-ticket package), and headed for the familiar aisle on the first base line. “How are we going to get down there?” my Dad asked me, and I simply told him to stay at the top of the aisle, and I would go get him after I tricked the ticket guy.

I KNEW no one would be in our seats, because the ticket reps do not sell season tickets…as MOST season ticket holders are given “rain out” substitute tickets, which I didn’t even bother to look for…had I brought them, we would have simply walked into the park, and subsequently, our seats.

As I came to the usher, I simply covered the top five-sixths of the ticket, showing ONLY the seat location, and he pointed down the aisle, giving a vague description of where my seats were. I was so elated, that I almost shouted. I knew we were home free.

I walked back past the usher a moment later saying, “My Dad was just behind me, but I lost him up there somewhere, I’ll be right back with him,” making a connection with him, eye contact, coming from the direction of a legitimate ticket holder. This way, when I resurfaced with my Dad in one minute, he would smile and move out of the way for us to take our seats. It was story-book. It worked.

We sat down in our seats, and rejoiced that we simply made it. My Dad was not convinced that we would not get kicked out. I tried to reassure him that no one else held our tickets. They could not be sold.
As the game trickled on into the night, the lights became brighter, our skin cooler, and our hopes bigger. The Tigers could not lose, or they would be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. However, as the 9th inning approached, they were down 3 to 1.

Hope arrived in the form of a lead-off base hit. But the hope was dashed when the next batter grounded into a dreaded double-play. If there weren’t already many Tiger fans gone, they were making their way to the gates. My Dad and I were making comments like, “Well, it was a nice night at least.”

Without warning, and without many pitches wasted, there were a string of hits being put together. Casey, Inge, Granderson, Sheffield walked, Polanco, knocking in runs to tie the game, leaving Magglio Ordonez at bat with a man in scoring position on second base. Two outs.

When the ball headed into the outfield, clearly a base hit, everyone already standing on their feet, I first leapt as if I were skying for a rebound. My keys sprung from my pocket and hit the peanut-littered ground, and I instinctively grabbed my Dad in a bear-hug, his arms wrapping around me, and we jumped, shouted, and screamed for at least ten jumps. We were empowered! We were enthralled! We were experiencing the best baseball game we had ever been to in either of our lives. Keyword: Lives.

We were not just alive, together, but alive inside in a way that the healthiest of body do not often get to experience. It was, and will continue to be, one of the benchmark moments of my life.

Below is a video of my Dad and I at the last game before the All-Star break. The Tigers played the Minnesota Twins, who are ahead of them in the standings, and who had previously beaten them three games in a row. Justin Morneau (Canadian) won the Home Run Derby tonight (Sunday). The Twins are solid. Dad and I went to the game a little late, but we saw Matt Joyce hit a 426-foot home run to go ahead 4-2 in the 8th inning, giving Detroit an insurance run, and a two run lead.  It was a fun game, and I got some video of us in Comerica Park, and some commentary to those who have not made it to the stadium yet.

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1084435&dest=-1]

Khari McClelland: Where are you?

Another reaching out.

A story about how I met Khari (pronounced car-ee).

He rolls in the front door during our first month of business, when I was still apprehensive to pour a beer from the taps. You see, I had never even wiped a table in a restaurant or bar before opening Phog, and now that I have five years under my belt, I am still a shitty bartender. Ask Jessica.

Khari is wearing checkered pants, something Sammy Davis Jr. would’ve worn on All in the Family, and he had a leather jacket that runs down past his knees, with a huge fur collar. The jacket was tan. The tabby cat around his neck was a shade darker. He smiled warmly when he greeted me, and he seemed as if I was the most important person he’d come across all day.

“Can I get a B-52?”

Oh shit. What the hell is that? Will I have to get the “drink book” out in front of this cool guy? He sees me hesitate and tells me step-by-step how to make one. I would list the details here if I knew, today, how to make a B-52 properly. There’s Kahlua and Bailey’s, and other stuff.

After making him one, he decides that he wants a beer. Within our inaugural chat, I find out he’s from Detroit. We talked about his time in Windsor, and about how he loved places like Phog, with it’s atmosphere becoming for a guy in a fur-collared coat, black-rimmed glasses, in checkered pants. When he was through with the beer, after we’d been laughing a little bit, he wanted me to pour two shots of Jameson Irish Whiskey.

“I can’t do that,” I told him. Bartenders are working. They aren’t supposed to have a drink, I told him. He looked at me with the look I can only describe as the Khari look of surprise and disapproval. He giggled, letting a “pfft” out of his mouth. “You ain’t been here long have you?”

I pleaded with him to have mercy on me, as I had truthfully been nursing a brutal sore throat for almost a month at that point. I didn’t know what Jameson tasted like, and I did not want to aggrevate my viral throat-keeper.

“This’ll fix that shit! C’mon!” he said, holding his shot in the air.

Okay, but I have to come around to the other side of the bar.

I threw it back, and while it was still circumnavigating my Adam’s apple, I could hear Khari howling with delight. Smacking the shot glass down on the bar with a resounding clank, I knew I did the right thing.

I had forged a friendship over a shot of mighty Jameson, which today has become lovingly touted as “J Juice”. His influence on me, Frank, and the rest of the patrons within the lucky windfall of making his acquaintance, led to the popularity of this lovely liquor.

I wish I could emphasize how true this next part is, but many still think I’m full of it, but before Khari was finished his next drink, my throat was clear. No pain, no searing, no swelling. I told him so, and he shrugged with pleasure, knowing the result was as sure to come as tomorrow’s sunrise.

In the time Khari was a fixture in Windsor, he was gathering patrons, dragging them OUT of Phog, and into venues where salsa dancing was happening or where an art opening was occurring. He was a harbinger of levity. He knew what true fun was to be had, and he actively sought it out from Ouellette Avenue in Windsor to Woodward Avenue in Detroit. I loved that about him. When I saw him coming down the street, I was affected with a contact high. I knew he had a hug waiting, and a bizarre gadget or photo to share. One day he had a bag of hotel soaps that had been collected for YEARS that he bought at a second-hand store in Detroit. We inspected them for 20 minutes one afternoon laughing at how phone numbers used to only have five digits.

Khari was the guy who could make your head spin with jealousy if you knew enough about him. He was not only the life of the party, but he was one of the most well-read individuals I had ever met. He would wax philosophical about life, love, liberty, justice, music, friendship, and anything else you could muster. I looked to him for laughter and for the repose of intellect.

He was always telling people to go to John King Books in Detroit, and the Detroit Institute of Arts, or to the Nancy Whiskey in Corktown (which Neil also championed), or to any number of restaurants and cafes and art shows happening in Motown.

His infectious attitude was dearly missed the day he decided to leave for Vancouver, British Columbia. Frank, my business partner was especially crushed, as he had grown closer to Khari in the waning months of his time in Windsor/Detroit.

When he was gone, we stayed in touch with phone calls coming in late at night in the bar, or through the odd e-mail.

Finally, in November of 2005, my wife and I took our honeymoon and headed west through the States. We knew our destination was Vancouver, and I wanted desperately to surprise him. After talking to his then-girlfriend, Kathy, we knew he would be working at the flower shop on Granville Island. There may be several, but we had directions on where to find him.

When we came within visual range of him, unloading a truck outside, I was worried he would see me and spoil the surprise. But, I thought, he’s not looking for familiar faces, and he’d likely lose me in the sea of faces that is the shopping public of Granville Island.

I walked briskly up behind him as he unloaded a shoulder-high tree, and I said quietly, “Do you have anything native to Detroit for sale?”

The look on his face was not confusion, as he explained later that he thought his boss or coworkers were screwing with him. He turned unceremoniously and without warning screamed skyward while jumping and grasping my shoulders. He did the laughing-holler while running away from me and circling the cube van twice, finally coming to an abrupt, solid, welcome hug. He was flabbergasted, beyond my expectation, and my new bride and I were able to spend some time with him in the coming day before we sadly went back home to Ontario. I have not seen him since.

To say I miss this guy is an understatement, and anyone who remembers the glowing, beaming essence that Khari brought everywhere likely misses him too. I met a guy in Kingston this past week while attending a podcaster convention called Podcasters Across Borders (PAB) who had the same level of energy as Khari. His name is Tim Coyne. He’s from Los Angeles. He had the same ability to make you feel like, while you had audience with him, that you were the only thing that mattered at that moment, while he was the most interesting go-getter in the area.

Today, Frank and I do not know how to get a hold of him. We have lost touch entirely. He began moving around a lot after I returned home. There was no steady number or job where he could be reached. Today, I want to find my friend. I have been looking for him online with little luck, and it would bring me great elation to reconnect.

Khari! Where are you, my man?!