Last weekend I drove from Indianapolis to Detroit to visit my Persian-American friend in Southfield, a Detroit suburb. Southfield' southern edge is the well-known 8 Mile, a dividing line apparently made famous in a movie by Eminem; I haven't seen it or knowingly listened to him.
Apparently it is not the best idea to arrive in Detroit when it's late at night and you don't know your way. I knew I had to change from I-94 to I-96. The latter was not well-marked, so I only made its ramp by hooking across three lanes of traffic. My friend said this is normally not a problem, since Detroit is financially stressed, so the police don't really go after reckless drivers when there are serious crimes being committed. Not sure where I was on I-96, I eventually took an off ramp that looked like it would lead to a safely depopulated after-hours industrial par; however, it led to a merger with a ton of cars from somewhere, so I made a U-turn at an intersection where a Detroit cop was sitting. Not knowing at the time that intersection U-turns are apparently infractions in Michigan, I cut up some unlit three-lane one-way , the cops behind me close. We drove slowly together down the potholed road, passing vacant office buildings with smashed windows and missing doors on the left and streets with dark houses in various states. My Rhode Island plates might have kept me from getting a ticket, but we passed one street on the right that was lit up with house lights, people partying in the street, and a bunch of cars, all with their light on. The cops turned there while I kept going, hoping I wouldn't get a flat. At some point I turned on a road with a section of streetlights visible blocks ahead. That led to Evergreen Road and eventually my friend's house. He was glad to see me and we promptly went to eat at an Arab-run coney joint that had a huge menu with pretty good food and prices.
The next day we hung around his house before going to a Persian restaurant, Rumi, in Farmington. We met another Persian there, had a good meal, and gabbed until quite late.
On Saturday, my friend and I went downtown to the superlative Guardian building, built in 1929 in a style mixing Pre-Columbian and Art Deco. The website contains photos that impress. Inside, the Pure Detroit store was offering free tours around the downtown at 1 and 3, so we went for a beer each (I had a Ghettoblaster) at the Grand Trunk Pub. We returned in time to join the first two, on which we befriended a couple and the wife's Russian friend. We all stayed together to go on the 3pm tour then wound up mid-town for pizza at a brewery, after which we strolled along the edge of Wayne State University. Outside a library we saw one of seven original Thinker statues by Rodin.
Sunday was another trip downtown en route to Belle Isle, where we enjoyed the views across the water of Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. We also enjoyed the large Victorian greenhouse, but hunger eventually forced us to leave for Polish food in Hamtramck. We opted for Polonia, which was very good, nicely priced, and served by an amusing waitress who told us people often noted she resembled Shelly Duvall. The dill pickle soup was particularly superb!
I look forward to visiting Detroit again! It is nice to see that the city is on the rebound, at least in places. But there is still plenty of ruin porn, collapsing decaying homes and buildings in depopulating areas.