Tag Archives: walk

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.

More Spacing walk vids

Here are some more videos from the walk with Shawn Micallef.

I’ll begin by posting Scaledown.ca video that Chris Holt edited and posted on Youtube. It’s Shawn Micallef discussing what we are about to set out and accomplish on the walk, along with his experience walking in Windsor and Toronto, and forming the Toronto Psychogeographic Society. Take notice that this bar is full of people, and almost no one is talking. Just eager listeners. More people who care about Windsor.

This first vid from the walk contains the flags and “torch” for the City of Windsor on Riverside Drive in front of The Hilton and Radisson Hotels. I never really noticed these flags…and I certainly didn’t notice the embarrassing fake paper-fire in the “torch”. Thanks Ryan Fields for pointing it out. This was recorded moments after being “barked” at by someone in the passenger seat of a car using a megaphone. Thanks Windsor.

Below, you can watch the play-by-play of the holiday display in the St. Clair Centre for the Arts. Also, there is a mirror mounted on the stop sign so that drivers leaving the St. Clair Centre for the Arts can see traffic racing up the street behind them. It acts as a rear-view mirror. But it was completely swiveled in the wrong direction, offering little or no help until we moved it back into position. It’s kind of off-putting to see a traffic aid so easily accessed and subject to tampering.

This video shows the CCTV camera mounted on The Windsor Star. There’s a need for a garbage can in this area, clearly. Michelle uses the audio recorder to get some sounds of garbage.

Stephen captures my excitement while looking at a “dressed up” ashtray on the street near The Windsor Star. Also, a stream of newspapers from other cities is available here, and I feel somewhat embarrassed for having not recognized these here before. There’s a city parking lot that I thought belonged to The Windsor Star exclusively, but is apparently for anyone. We encounter some broken glass (light bulb), more street garbage, a suitcase handle (I decided to spike – mimicking the traveler who broke their bag, and it was so cold, it shattered – oops), a dessert fork, and more. Most of this stuff was around the new bus station. Stephen also takes a closer look at Rogues gallery and the signs around it.

Behind Sir Cedric’s Fish and Chips, and the LCBO, there is a massive air conditioning unit…we think…and it seems a little big for anything in the area to be using. Anyone know what this is?

We find a hydro substation, not having known what it was…thinking it was a house of some kind. Ryan Fields recognized it though. Also, a beautiful house that I have never (ever) looked at, even though it is one of the nicest houses I’ve seen downtown. I also realized where the offices for Windsor Business Magazine are located. We also encounter some fliers that peak our interest. I then get ornery about the broken planters and public space defilement. swear a little too much, but it gets increasingly annoying to see these things being broken and then ignored. The costs associated with fixing these things is clearly irrelevant, or an afterthought for the people doing this damage.

The last video for today’s post is more discussion about the damage being done by snow plows in the parking lots downtown, specifically near the Art Gallery of Windsor. The broken public planters, placed strategically to block an old driveway, mixed with busted concrete makes for a sad image of these areas. Just a bit of a downer. If these objects don’t belong here, which ones do? I wonder.

Recap of Spacing Walk

Could I have predicted the turnout? No. Did I hope for it and expect it? Yes.

The who’s who of the walk was beautiful. There were lots of strangers to Phog, and lots of well-known community figures prepared to spend an hour in the cold.

Shawn Micallef spoke briefly from the stage to a full building. No one spoke. No one whispered or interrupted. It was magnificent. He talked about his experience with walking in Toronto and what people could do during their walk to make it as enjoyable as possible.

My group consisted of a few random folks who were not yet in a group of their own. Ryan Fields, Stephen Hargreaves, Marissa Nowlan, and Michelle Wybenga.

We started out by heading west, and our random-walk-algorithm took us in a repeating spiral around the northwestern portion of downtown Windsor.

The best part of the walking event, for me, was actually prior to and after the walk. Seeing the faces of people who care was unparalleled for me. I got a few comments sent to me that evening and the next day telling me that it was the best night that some people had EVER experienced as a part of a Phog event. Matt Baker and Christine Arkell-Rideout were particularly pleased, which evokes a sense of pride for our creative-class community.

Elaine Weeks (Walkerville Publishing, Walkerville Times) was on-hand and eager, and she brought along Heather from a group called Windsor Essex Walks. Yet another joining of active city-loving Windsorites. Chris Holt brought his video camera to capture awesomeness, and Michael Johnson (google map man) came fresh off his successful Big Walk performance to participate in this great night by collecting audio and other stories.

The video below is of our first steps west out of Phog Lounge. Our algorithm was to travel west for three blocks, turn right, travel two blocks, turn right, travel one block, turn right…repeat. This is the beginning.

The video below this follows our group reading some clever graffiti (although terribly ugly), and then hearing Glen Campbell music being played through the outdoor speakers at the new bus station.

This video is of our group cutting through the Hilton/Radisson hotels because our algorithm had us getting stuck at these buildings. Stephen Hargreaves was gracious enough to tape everything, but he was very fond of zooming in…which means some blurriness until he decides to zoom back out. The first bit of the group getting into the building is a little shaky. After that, you see a defunct mall with 1980s and early 90s themed stores until we make our way back out onto Riverside Drive.

Windsor Pshychogeography with Spacing Magazine

picture-54Last night was one of the best nights (community meets entertainment) I have ever witnessed.

That’s saying a lot after booking live shows and events for five years.

Shawn Micallef popped down to Windsor for the holidays, but he reprised his role as “Spacing Magazine guy” and conduit to psychogeography know-how on Sunday. Of course, this all was a success because of Shawn and the help and sponsorship (promotionally) from Chris Holt of Scaledown.ca and Andrew Foot of International Metropolis.

We began by getting chart paper taped together (thank Chris, Nancy, and Andrew) and getting it on a wall where the mapping of our psychogeography walk would end up. Shawn set up a Google Earth Map of Windsor on his computer, and we projected it onto the paper. It shot directly across a normal sight line (and busy space) in the back of the bar. Why would we do this? Shawn thought it was a great way to integrate people at the bar into the process, even if they were not actually participating in the walk or the recording of the walk. It was a very smart move. It connected everyone in the building to this event in one way or another.

Then we waited. Were people going to come? Were the 30 people who RSVP’d “Attending” actually going to come?

The answer was a big fat yes.

Of course, they were mostly late, but they were present. And they were into it.

Roughly 40 people, maybe 45, showed up with warm outfits and eager minds.

We then got a short talk from Shawn, on stage, telling the group what psychogeography is/was, and what we were going to do on our walk. We also learned that when we returned from our randomly chosen walks, we would be recording the routes we took and the “points of interest” on a projected map. Each group was to do this upon their return, and conversation would ensue, based on the things they experienced

picture-61

On the left here, is the map projection of downtown Windsor. My group had all kinds of recording equipment. I used my Moleskine to record the things we saw and the crossroads we were nearest to when we saw/heard/experienced them. I gave my Flip Video recorder to Stephen Hargreaves, and my newly FOUND Zoom H4 audio recorder to a couple of the other member of our small group. Ryan Fields ended up with it…

So when we returned from out 50 minutes, we added as much as we could fit on the map, and we will all be posting more of these images on Flickr and our own personal websites as soon as we do the proper editing.

The Flickr group name was decided to be Windsor Psychogeography. Here’s a LINK.

Needless to say, the results were amazing. So many people, out on the streets with open eyes and keen interests in the state of their city and their downtown core. Personally, I saw all kinds of stuff I never noticed, including the display in front of the Baby House on Pitt Street which showed images of big, well-attended baseball games at Memorial Park in the 60s…which is where I grew up playing baseball to a MUCH smaller crowd.

I also was dragged into a parking garage stairwell, full of new graffiti (seen by very few) and treated to one of the most unique acoustic spaces in the city. it was amazing, and I will share the audio as soon as I edit it down. Another shock…a car of idiots driving with a megaphone, barking at us as they drove by. Nothing says downtown rowdy Windsor like that kind of crap.

But we saw beautiful houses in Downtown West, and apartments, and a Windsor Utilities sub-station that looked amazing, and tons of reflections of the very bright Caesars Windsor sign, and the variant changes in sidewalk design (pavement, brick, cobblestone, etc), and the sound-scapes of the music pouring out of the bus depot…and on and on and on…

As more of these images, videos, and sound bits come into the fore, I will share them with you.

picture-71And here is the same projection map without the projection. The only thing showing is the progress (up to that point) of the mapped routes and landmarks of experience. I’m leaving this up at Phog for a little while longer so people can add to it if they think something is “missing”.

Big Walk

Yeah, I drew this thing.

It’s the “poster” for Big Walk. Big Walk is the realization of my discussion with Scott Knowles…the now-professor who was part of the 24Hrs. trio that began a series of 24-hour walks in American cities (among other things).

It’s unreasonable top make a poster for this, because I’m only taking 25 people with me. And of those 25 spots available, there are actually only 20 spots left (or so) and of those, I am sure that the group helping organize it will be taking up at least 8.

Big Table is a group of people I asked to get together with me every Thursday at 1pm. Why? These mentors of mine, doers in their own right, festival organizers, volunteers, idea-people, resource-collectors, arts-minded, cultural individuals are altruistic enablers. They come together every week to help anyone within the group to realize an event, project, festival, whatever…

Big Walk (the name takes the moniker from Big Table) was put together by the members of the group, and the trail has been plotted by the members of the group. I could not have planned it without them, and now I am super-anxious to see it come to fruition.

Big Walk is scheduled for 8am on November 8, and will finish at the starting point 16 hours later, at midnight. We will be walking across the city back and forth, up and down, north of Ottawa Street primarily…but keeping within the oldest quarter of the city (closest to the Detroit River).

We plan on stopping for four sit-down meals and some short tours of certain select spots. We also plan on visiting several local businesses, some you may know, some you may not, to increase awareness of what they have to offer. Most of these stops will be culturally significant or historically significant stops. So we’re not stopping at a car dealership, or a mall.

What will everyone take from this walk, besides sore feet? I think we will have a renewed sense of our city, in the area researched, because we will be unable to ignore the subtleties we are habitually glazing over when we drive or bike. These walkers will be seeing the trash (or lack thereof) in certain neighbourhoods, the road conditions, the abrupt endings to bike lanes, and the faces of many houses we have never turned our heads to enjoy.

Personally, I look forward to seeing how much environmentally significant spots we discover, or discover ruined. The city life finds us hunting for parks and green spots more and more, and I hope that I can leave this walk with the sense that not all is lost in the natural history of Windsor. My home.

If you want in, e-mail me. phoglounge@gmail.com

I will soon release the locations of our meals, snacks, breaks, etc.

Scott Knowles: Interview

24 Hrs. New Orleans map from Good Magazine.

24 Hrs. New Orleans map from Good Magazine.

A 24-hour walk.

Along with Scott Knowles, two guys named Kurt Braunohler and Calvin Johnson have created a series of psychogeography projects called 24 Hrs., of which I am a huge fan.

I read THIS article in Good Magazine (a wonderful mag you should check out).

In short, these guys take a group of 30-40 people and they walk around the city (New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, etc.) for 24 hours, mimicking a 24-hour road trip, visiting unique businesses, cultural hot-spots, eating, drinking, performing tasks (cleaning a cemetery for an hour) until they are tired, disoriented, and experiencing their city in a mindset and time that they are unaccustomed to.

Since then, I have been having meetings about hosting a walk like this in Windsor. I want to make it a little different though. I want it specifically to be an orientation or re-introduction to our fine city of Windsor. I want it to run from 8am until midnight instead of being 24 hours.

The idea struck me so fascinating that I decided to find one of the organizers and interview them for Not In My Backyard, the new radio show on CJAM.

Scott Knowles, a professor of Urban History at Drexel University in Philadelphia, was an incredible person to talk to, and I felt a kinship to a man who has an explorer within him that has successfully reached the surface in the form of many psychogeographical projects like 24Hrs.

Before and after the recording, we spoke a little longer about the area of Windsor/Detroit and how I hoped his group would come and offer a walk in the Detroit area. Scott encouraged my participation in having a walk of my own, which was a fairly uplifting suggestion.

We discussed liability, which was a concern for the walk, and he offered his experience as an example. He tells his groups what’s a stake with their physical health, but he does not require a waiver to be signed. Why? Well, he feels similar to me on this, as the legality that people jump to when they are simply going on a friendly, organized walk is part of what ruins events just like this. It’s a sad commentary on society as a whole when the first thing you have to consider on a walk that will find you immersed on a ground level to your dwelling is liability waivers.

We talked about his other projects, including disorienting groups of blindfolded people by dropping them off in the middle of an urban centre, in the middle of a park or parking lot, and asking them to find their way back, as a group, to a particular spot. It is mostly a unnerving time when they first remove the blindfolds and try to figure out where they are. Secondly, it is a challenge to envision the city and the easiest route to the final spot. It’s a wonderfully fun idea I also plan on borrowing after the Big Walk.

Another event involved people keeping track, on paper, of every single minute that passed (in a given time frame of an hour or two) while walking through the city. It was an experiment and observation of the passage of time. The amount of things that occur in a given minute that we don’t bother consciously recognizing because of our haze of hurry we immerse ourselves within.

The last event he told me about was equally incredible. Artists, urban planners, etc. go to a venue (restaurant, coffee shop, McDonald’s, whatever) with tons of drafting paper and pens and markers. Then they decide, individually or in groups, what SHOULD be in the place of the building they are sitting in. They tape up the designs and ideas on the front of the building and debate the worthiness of their designs/arguments. It’s a beautiful concept because it’s an imagining. It allows those capable of envisioning better, to dream. It encourages wild-eyed hope and appreciation for a city, a surrounding that we want.

Talking with him was as uplifting an experience that an interview can be because of the clarity of his intentions and penchant for the less ordinary.

My interview with Mr. Knowles will run on October 7th at noon.

As it stands, with some unexpected and expected obstacles, the Big Walk will happen on Saturday, November 8th. I am only taking 25 people on this walk, and it will be first-come, first-serve. Interested? E-mail me at phoglounge@gmail.com