Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Road Trip: A tale of three cities (Indianapolis, Detroit, Cleveland)

I made a tour through some eastern Great Lakes cities, partly for business reasons.  On Friday night, in Indianapolis, I found a place called Gregs, on 16th St, slightly east of Meridian (north of the monument square about two miles), in an older but attractive street, plenty of parking right on the street.  Inside, I found the main bar packed;  one person from the classical music world (maybe connected to Indiana University) recognized me.  The dance floor is small and the music varied.  It started with country-western and switched to Lady Gagy or Kelly Clarkson.  The CW dancing was more intimate than it is at Remington’s in DC, and the atmosphere was a bit like that of the Roundup in Dallas. 

I had tried to stop by the Unicorn on 13th St, and could not tell where I could park or even if it was open. The neighborhood around it wasn’t so good.

I was checking up on Indianapolis to see what it was like forty-plus years after part of my first employment experience there.  The old RCA plant on Meridian and 30th is now replaced by a Children's Museum.

In fact, on Friday afternoon, I had also passed through Bloomington, and done a quick tour of Indiana University, famous in part for its music conservatory as well as health sciences.  There is a Lesbian and Gay Services Center on one of the main campus streets. 

Saturday night, I was in Detroit, staying in the “safety” of the Airport area of Romulus.  It was a twenty-mile drive on a dangerous freeway system in a t-storm to find the Club Gold Coast on Seven Mile Road.  The neighborhood around it looked awful.  A few blocks away, as I turned around on a neighboring street, a stray cat approached, like she wanted me just to take her home as mine.  It was the best experience of the evening.  I drove westbound on Seven Mile Road and found the tiny valet lot impossible to even get in to.  (Apparently the business has an arrangement to use nearby retail spaces at night.)  I wasn’t going to risk leaving it on the street.

The bar has varied reviews on line. There is a lot of discussion  of gogo dancers (I guess you can “touch” for a tip), and one reviewer mentioned optional clothing.  Some of the reviews venture off onto what went wrong with Detroit – much of which is an empty shell – greed on the part of both the labor unions and the auto companies did it in. Ask Miichael Moore! (He is from Michigan.)  Actually, the area around the bar doesn’t have a lot of vacant lots; the businesses just look run down, third-world-like.  Eight mile road actually has some decent looking older 40s-style houses. The only website for the bar seems to be an outdated Myspace page.

Check this account on the Gold Coast (which used to be the name of a trendy neighborhood in the Motor City) on Blogger, and note the varied, politicized comments, link

Sunday night, I was in Cleveland, staying around the Playhouse area on Euclid (which itself looked pretty “gay” as a neighborhood.)  Some of the bars are on Detroit Avenue, which is the eastbound extension of Superior Ave as it crosses the Veterans Bridge over the flats leaving Public Square (the Terminal Tower had been an annual summer destination during boyhood summers on an Ohio farm in the 50s – they were wonderful).  The bars are pretty close to the bridge.  I found the “Bounce” which on Sunday night seemed to have mostly women.  
Then across the street I found “Man’s World” and “The Shed”, which appeared to be leather during busier hours. 
For all the talk about the decline of Cleveland, it looked like some of the steel mills were still running – you could seem them in the flats and found I-71.

Cleveland, while geographically quite far East, seems like a prototypical Midwestern city, with a showplace downtown, and a political climate that mixes the extreme left and extreme right in a curiously tolerant brew.

At least, it's good to be back from a road trip.  The baseball team, the Cleveland Indians, lost all nine games on a trip they finished, including a meltdown in Detroit before my eyes having dinner in a sports bar.  

The Oberlin area, during my boyhood, was “home number 2” after northern Virginia.  The baseball Indians were good then (we went to games in the old Municipal Stadium, "the mistake by the Lake") when the Senators were bad.  How the tables have turned.  

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