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Stories written by Detroitblogger John

130 stories found. Showing page 1 of 5.

Poletown saints: A beautiful 125-year-old church lives on despite faith-testing circumstances

By Detroitblogger John

Published: 10/6/2010

Types: Culture, Spirituality

It's hard to hear the priest. His voice has softened with age, he's got a thick Polish accent and his microphone keeps cutting in and out. Still, Father Edward Kaszak pushes forward with the Mass, a little in fluent Polish, some in halting English, giving the most unique liturgy in town.  There ar...[MORE]

Cycles of change: An inner-city bike squad wheels toward community in a falling neighborhood

By Detroitblogger John

Published: 9/22/2010

Types: Cover Story

One has a Heineken mini-keg behind the seat. This one has a TV on it. That one has a PlayStation affixed to the back end. Pastel colors glow, polished chrome sparkles. They're among the dozens of custom bicycles lined along the curb in front of this one house that has no neighbors on either side of...[MORE]

Little bar on the prairie: An iconic restaurant keeps a piece of old Detroit alive

By Detroitblogger John

Published: 9/15/2010

Types: Culture, Lifestyle

Mike Harnett leans back against the hood of his car, arms folded, eyes alert. It's early afternoon, and everything is still and quiet in the fields around him. His job is to watch over the cars of the customers at the Ivanhoe Café, better known as the Polish Yacht Club, a 101-year-old bar an...[MORE]

Down on the corner: One man's grill is another man's hangout

By Detroitblogger John

Published: 8/25/2010

Types: Culture, Lifestyle

His barbecue stand is stocked with two grills, a hot dog cart and a group of men who seat themselves at his side every day. Charles Gaither can be found on the corner of East McNichols and Hoover six days a week, from just before lunch until the sun sinks away, standing over two barrel grills that ...[MORE]

Signs of faith: A Detroit mother’s grief is transformed — one nail at a time

By Detroitblogger John

Published: 8/11/2010

Types: Culture, Spirituality

What can it actually accomplish? It's just a sign, stark and simple, and it declares, in the kind of religious language that saturates the city's culture, that "God said ... Thou shall not kill." And suddenly it was appearing on trees and poles all over town. The woman behind it says t...[MORE]

Soldiering on: A real horseman keeps history alive and brings some country to the city

By Detroitblogger John

Published: 7/28/2010

Types: Culture, Lifestyle

His office smells like horse manure. But James Buchanan doesn't mind at all. He's standing behind his small desk on a sweltering July afternoon, putting on a heavy wool uniform worn by soldiers long ago. Buchanan is in charge here at the Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Center, which lies at the edge of ...[MORE]

Graveyard shifts: An east side headstone store has an uncommon empathy for its patrons

By Detroitblogger John

Published: 7/21/2010

Types: Arts

Four people with grim faces walk into the tombstone store. They've come here, to Otto Schemansky Sons Monuments on Van Dyke near McNichols, to get a marker for the gravesite of a 7-year-old girl shot and killed by Detroit police in a bungled raid several weeks back. These four, a mess of street man...[MORE]

Bird's eye: How an east side artist brings life to dead buildings and bed sheets

By Detroitblogger John

Published: 6/30/2010

Types: Culture, Lifestyle

The place was a dump. It had been the office of a used car lot that was left to the weeds years ago, fodder for a bulldozer if anything were ever to replace it.  So a fellow named Bird came by one day with a few brushes and some cans of paint and put two paintings here; one on this ugly shack and a...[MORE]

The roads less traveled: Off-the-path spots that you won’t find in any Motor City guidebook

By Detroitblogger John

Published: 6/16/2010

Types: Culture, Lifestyle

For many people, Detroit is synonymous with its downtown. But there's a whole city outside there, one that's wilder, weirder, a little less safe, but a lot more interesting.  Whether called the "inner city" or simply "the neighborhoods," it makes for a great unplanned tour, with...[MORE]

Van hailin': At this club, only one kind of ride will do

By Detroitblogger John

Published: 6/9/2010

Types: Culture, Lifestyle

There's a group standing in a vacant field in a rough part of the city. Tough-looking guys with nicknames like Ghetto and Shonuff wear leather vests over their club's colors and check out one another's wheels. Their clubhouse, across the alley, has a sign by its door warning, "Private Club. Mem...[MORE]

Band of brothers: Detroit Vietnam vets build a home and stay there

By Detroitblogger John

Published: 5/26/2010

Types: Culture, Lifestyle

After Mike Sand returned home from Vietnam in the early '70s, his dad took him to the local VFW Post. The old man had been a commander in World War II, and now that his son had served overseas, it was time to join the other vets at the hall. "When I came home, my dad, you know — 'You got...[MORE]

No place like home: This west side folk artist fashions his vision of a dream world

By Detroitblogger John

Published: 5/19/2010

Types: Culture, House & garden

The road winds past crowded gardens and flowering trees, past the horse barn and the pool, and up to the gated mansion. It's a beautiful place for someone to call home. The main house has 16 rooms, a wide balcony on the second floor, plush furniture on hardwood floors, and lots of space in which to...[MORE]

Southland: Aged country bar up the 'hillbilly highway' is home away from home

By Detroitblogger John

Published: 4/28/2010

Types: Culture, Work

A bluegrass song plays on the jukebox. The banjo and fiddle duel it out. A biker named Spanky waits his turn at a pool game and loudly taps out the rhythm of a washboard beat on his pool stick along with the song. He's pretty damn good at it too. The bar owner, an old Southerner who's been sitting...[MORE]

The hard luck café: Downtown coffee shop gives the homeless a place of their own

By Detroitblogger John

Published: 4/14/2010

Types: Culture, Work

The smell inside the Canticle Café is unmistakable. It's an odor that clings to the homeless, one of long days spent out in the weather, of dried sweat and unwashed dirt.  It gets them kicked out of most places, keeps people at a distance and relegates them to a handful of spots like shelte...[MORE]

Nothing but a G-string: Jay Thunderbolt boasts his very own strip club ... in his house

By Detroitblogger John

Published: 3/31/2010

Types: Culture, Work

There's no stage at this strip club. No pole. Not even a bar. And the music comes from a boom box. Welcome to Club Thunderbolt, the strangest place in the city to get a lap dance. It's located in the back room of an old house in an east side neighborhood of working class bungalows. "Everybody...[MORE]

Petal pushers: Old-fashioned florist counts the days ... until the end

By Detroitblogger John

Published: 3/24/2010

Types: Culture, Work

Once Valentine's Day passed, things got slow again at the flower shop. Life here is marked by flower-driven holidays, and between those busy dates, it gets real quiet. There's no radio on, not much traffic is heard passing down the street, and people don't often walk past the front windows anymore....[MORE]

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