Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Detroit Public Library Main Branch - Splendor on Woodward

Click photos to enlarge

      It is one of those places that I have driven past for so long and always told myself that I should check out, I'm talking about the Detroit public library's located on Woodward Ave across from the DIA. Well, finally I did. The building was constructed between 1915-1921. Construction was delayed because of world war I. It opened on March 21, 1921. It was built with funds donated by philanthropist in 1910. The building was designed by architect in the Italian Renaissance style. Gilbert also designed the famous in New York. The building is faced in white marble.










 
      The interior of the building is decorated with stained glass, murals and Pewabic tile. The third floor features a large center hall with a soaring ceiling and beautiful murals. I did notice some water damage in a couple of places. I also noticed the front porch is collapsing and they have most of it railed off with a straight path to the front entrance. North and south wings were added and opened on June 23, 1963. The wings were connected on the rear of the building and a new entrance was created on Cass Ave. The Cass Ave entrance features a mosaic by artist entitled .









     
      This branch also houses the . The collection is one of the best in the country and if you are doing genealogical research on your family you may find important documents in the collection. The collection has old maps, photos, manuscript collections, personal papers and the governmental archives of Wayne county and Detroit. The library also has the rare book collection. In this collection they have the Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) collection which includes the original manuscript of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer among the Indians! 
 
      The building is ornate and you can spend a lot of time just walking around enjoying the beautiful architecture. Don't delay any longer, check this place out!




Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Midtown Detroit Booster

      My friend Jeff Cowin is one busy guy. A little more than a year ago he bought a big house on  that was a foreclosure and needed a lot of work. He fixed that house up and moved in. Since then he bought another one just down the street that was in even worse shape and has been working like a mad man to fix it up. He already has renters waiting for it to be finished. This is the house behind him in the photo. Jeff is a midtown nut, he is always telling me about new and cool things happening in midtown. He has other rental properties in midtown as well.

      If that wasn't enough to keep a guy busy, Jeff is also a BMW mechanic, he worked for a local BMW dealership for about 12 years and now works for himself fixing almost exclusively BMW's. His phone is always ringing with people needing to get their BMW's repaired. Jeff is the kind of person that midtown is attracting these days, highly engaged in his community and determined to see it thrive. I've long had my own doubts about the recovery of Detroit, but I'm really seeing that the midtown to downtown corridor is the place that is gentrifying. Oh, I used that word, Gentrification! It is a word that can stir up controversy and heated discussion. But lets face it, it is what Detroit needs.

      The shear excitement of the renovation of the  and other properties in the downtown/midtown area is creating a lot of buzz about Detroit. There is actual new construction happening in midtown, a new building called  located at the corner of Cass Avenue and West Canfield is almost finished. It will be home to  new store . Now some of you know I'm a gay bar aficionado, I would love to see a large gay dance bar in midtown. We'll see what the future holds, but I'm optimistic about Detroit like I've never been before, finally after all these years it is happening.

      One final note about Jeff, if you need your BMW fixed, you can contact him at jeffcowin58@gmail.com. Also, I know, he is one handsome bloke, he has a boyfriend, so don't get any ideas!



Monday, February 27, 2012

John King Books, Detroit- Something Unique





(Click to enlarge photos)


     You've probably driven past it on the Lodge freeway and have seen it for years and told yourself that you should check it out someday. I'm talking about John King Books at 901 W Lafayette blvd, downtown. It is located in a four story building that used to be the Advance Glove factory. Who knew there was once a glove factory in Detroit? John King has been in the building since 1983. There are four packed floors of used books. They claim to have over a million used books! It is something truly unique, and is probably the largest used bookstore in the country. He also has two other smaller stores, one in the Wayne State area and one in Ferndale. With Boarders closing and the rise of E readers like the Kindle, it is something to be treasured. Something that I find amazing is that this four story building was actually moved 600 feet in 1949 to make way for the freeway. I would like to see the pictures of that!



     I can spend hours in this place and always find some really cool stuff. Some of you may know that I am a amateur history buff (My other blog is: ) One of the things that I love about this store is, you find cardboard boxes mixed in the shelves of books. You never know what you are going to find in these boxes, sometimes old magazines, sometimes old pamphlets from long ago defunct Detroit organizations or clubs. I always find myself saying “Oh wow!” The staff is very friendly and helpful. They have a decent sized LGBT section on the fourth floor. They even have a section of old high school yearbooks dating back to the 1920's, I love flipping through these old yearbooks, they are a unique time capsule.



     John King also bought the building behind the main bookstore which was the old Otis Elevator building. In this building he houses his rare book collection. This is available for viewing by appointment only. However, the rare book collection is indexed and you can see what is in the collection on the . I have not yet been to see the rare book collection because I am broke, but it would be fun to get a few people together and make an appointment to see it. In this collection he has more than just books, he has old posters, maps, metals, just a unique collection of really cool old stuff. How about a printed invitation to Coleman Young's birthday party at Cobo Hall in 1985? He has it, only $5.50! I think it is great that we have something so unique that I'm sure other cities don't have, at least not a big and as cool as this place. You owe it to yourself to check it out.




Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Gay Heroes: Bill Clinton and Elton John



Bill Clinton

      When Bill Clinton was first running for president in 1992 I had heard from someone that he had gone to some gay fundraiser for Democratic candidates. I couldn't believe it, an actual candidate for president acknowledged the existence of gay people in a positive way? Could this be? Up until this time I had never heard of any politician on the presidential level say anything other than gays are the dregs of society. I was completely floored. Here was a candidate for president who wasn't saying that gays needed electroshock therapy and needed psychological treatment? At this time I never thought I would ever see in my lifetime a candidate for president or a president that would acknowledge gay people in a positive way. We had been through the awful Reagan years and the AIDS crisis when Ronald Reagan did not even say the word AIDS for years. This all may sound trite to some of you younger people, but things have changed a whole lot in a relatively short time. Bill Clinton started it, so for this he is one of my heroes. When Bill Clinton first took office one of the first things he did as president was try to end the ban on gays in the military. I couldn't believe it, I thought, 'This takes balls!' The resulting policy was “Don't ask, don't tell” which was a bad policy. The problem was congress, namely a Democrat named , yes a Democrat strongly opposed ending the ban and he was, well, anti-gay. I don't fault Bill Clinton for this, I give major credit for even trying. Bill Clinton gave me dignity as a human being, he didn't have to do it, and it was largely unpopular with a lot of people. If you are a gay person, you have a lot thank Bill Clinton for. 

 



Elton John

      Elton John first came out as bisexual in a 1976  article. It wasn't until his divorce in 1988 that he then told the magazine that he was comfortable being gay. I guess I really remember the 1988 thing, I can remember the huge flack that this caused. Here was a rock star coming out as gay? I couldn't believe it. I can remember rock radio stations saying they would never play his music again. They made crude nasty gay jokes about him. I thought, 'this takes guts'. This was also around the time that  died of AIDS and the world was shocked to find out that he was gay. I can remember all the nasty, hateful jokes I had to listen to about Rock Hudson. I was already a huge fan of Elton's music, and his acknowledgment of his sexuality made me love him even more. Like the things Bill Clinton did, Elton coming out of the closet also gave me dignity as a person and as a gay person. Both of these men had an impact on me as a young gay man, for that reason they are my gay heroes.



Monday, February 20, 2012

The Gay Bar: The new place to pick up women?

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      Maybe it is just me, but I have noticed a lot more straight girls in the gay bars lately. Also for the few smart straight guys, the gay bar has become the new pick-up joint to meet single women. Why? Because the girls come to dance and have fun with their gay friends, they feel relaxed and can let their hair down. For the straight guys, the gay bar offers young single women who have their guard down. It used to be that any guy I met in a gay bar I could and would assume that he was gay, not anymore. The straight guys have discovered that gay bars are full of young attractive single women.

      The younger generation of straight males are not intimidated by going to a gay bar full of gay men. They can handle being hit on, and simply tell any guy that does that he is straight. But it has brought something new to the dynamic of my gay bar experience, pushy drunk straight girls. Yes, just last week I was standing at the bar with my friend waiting to get a drink when this girl slammed into the back of me, pushed me out of the way, and didn't even say 'excuse me'. I don't mind women in my gay bar, but they should behave themselves.

      Progress has brought straight people to the gay bar. Now, if only they can not turn it into something like a scene out of . What do you think?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Out on the town Party Pics 2-18-12

Backstreet









The Works




Click photos to enlarge. Note: Appearance in photos does not mean the individuals are gay. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Out on the town Party Pics 2-16-2012

Menjo's
Click photos to enlarge.










The Works










Thursday, February 16, 2012

Light Rail Blues

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     I'm sure many of you were as disappointed as I was when the light rail project was canceled. Personally I think it is vital to the revitalization of the Woodward corridor. All hope is not lost however, there are still many people working on getting the project back. I think eventually it will be built, but only after the city gets it's finances in order. What Detroit needed was momentum, which I think it has now in spades. Dan Gilbert is buying up buildings, the  building is finally going to be renovated, there are just so many positive developments recently.

     Here is an interesting article from  about rust belt cities without rail.



I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cool old picture from the 50's

     I found this cool old picture of a Chrysler sign that was taken somewhere in Detroit in the 1950's

Click the photo to enlarge.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Saugatuck

     It always amazes me when I meet people from Detroit who have never been to Saugatuck. Myself and my friends have been going there for years. In fact, to me it is one of the rights of summer. It is something that is not to be missed every summer. I know what you're thinking, "Isn't that the place with all the wild sex orgies?" The answer is yes and no. There is some wild stuff that goes on, but you don't have to partake in such things if you don't want to. Saugatuck is so, so much more than that. Saugatuck is located on Michigan's western shore just south of Holland. It is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Detroit. There are actually two little cities where all the action is at, Saugatuck and Douglas. Many people call it "The Provincetown of the mid-west." Downtown Saugatuck is located on a harbor from lake Michigan. It has a marina on most of one side of the city. It is fun to walk up and down and look at the boats. It also has many great restaurants. Some of our favorites are ,  and .

     It would not be summer without a visit to a great beach right? Saugatuck has Oval beach which has been voted one of the most beautiful beaches in north America. One of the things I personally love about it is, because it is on the western shore and the sun sets in the west, the sunsets are breathtaking.

 


     The "Dunes" as it is known is the only gay bar in Saugatuck (It is actually located in Douglas). The Dunes is a resort. They have a outdoor pool with a bar. They usually have a DJ playing music on the weekends. They have rooms, little cottages and even some houses for rent. They have stuff for most budgets including "The Dunes Rooms" for the budget restrained. The Dunes rooms are little rooms that share a common bathroom and showers. They rent for pretty cheap. Unfortunately,  the Dunes bar is 21+ only. I think you are allowed to be at the pool if you are under 21 but not inside the bar. If you are under 21 you can always stay at the gay campground for very cheap and go tent camping. The camp ground is called and has it's own outdoor pool. I have stayed at both places as well as some other motels in the area. You can find accommodations no matter what your budget is. The owners and staff at the Dunes are just wonderful, I've have gotten to know them over the years and they treat you like family.





     My personal favorite weekend has to be the 4th of July. It is very busy and just so damn much fun. There used to be something called "The Farm Party" This guy owned a large farm not far from town and had these huge after parties on his farm. I mean these parties were legendary. I think they drew more people, I wish the owners of the Dunes would do something to replace the old farm parties. Check out the website because they have special weekends throughout the summer. The Marti Gras weekend is also popular. One of the things myself and my friends always say about our trips to Saugatuck is that it is so relaxing and we forget about work and we always hate having to go home.

Here is a little video I made a few years back:


I can't wait for summer...........

Urban Exploration

     I know plenty of other people have taken photos of Detroit ruins. But, I think everyone takes their own eye and perspective with them. A while back I went out and took a bunch of photos of things that caught my eye.


To see the entire collection of my photos (Will open new window) click