Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Drawings of Nain_5541There’s an evil little red devil that has haunted Detroit for over 300 years. He’s known on the streets as the Nain Rouge. The dwarf-like creature lurks about the city spreading ill tidings and heartache upon the good residents of the city. He’s been doing his evil deeds since the days of Cadillac, the founder of Detroit. Legend has it that the red devil crossed paths with Cadillac and his wife while they were out walking one evening. Cadillac yelled at the dwarf to get out of his way and struck him with his walking stick. The little red monster vanished into the darkness with a wicked, evil laugh and placed a curse on the city. Since then he has rained down ill tidings and anguish upon Detroiters.

For the past few years, thousands of costumed revelers gathered and marched through the Cass Corridor neighborhood of Detroit on the first Sunday of spring to drive the evil Nain Rouge out of the city for the upcoming year. This year’s Marche du Nain Rouge was held this past Sunday. Like past Marches, revelers dressed in colorful costumes to hide their identity, so when the evil red devil returns next year he won’t hunt them down and cause heartache in their lives for having him exiled.

Some costumes seemed surreal and bizarre

Some costumes were surreal and bizarre

This is great, I love it

Gotta love this plane costume

Probably the warmest marcher there

Probably the warmest marcher there

After opening ceremonies at the corner of Second Avenue and Canfield, the parade (led by the popular Detroit Party Marching Band) wound its way through the surrounding neighborhood streets to the cheers of those lining the parade route. The Mardi Gras style parade eventually ended at the Historic Masonic Temple where the evil Nain Rouge made his appearance on stage and was quickly banished from the city by merrymakers.

Participants sported an array of colorful costumes

Participants sported an array of colorful costumes

This lady took advantage of the large crowd to get her message out

This woman took advantage of the large crowd to get her political message out

An estimated 3,500 to 4,000 participants took part in the annual Marche and they included men and women of all ages, toddlers, older kids, and dogs. Most sported a variety of costumes, with red appearing to be the dominant color. Prior to the Marche, there was a 5K run appropriately named Run du Nain Rouge.

Thousands jammed the street in front of the Masonic Temple

Thousands jammed the street in front of the Masonic Temple to get a glimpse of the red devil

Afterglow party in the Fountain Room of the Masonic Temple

An afterglow party was held in the Fountain Room of the Masonic Temple

This annual lively event is always a blast and a great way to kick off spring-time in Detroit!

Read Full Post »

On the corner of Newport and Canfield Streets in Detroit is an old school. It’s an elegant old school, constructed of brick. The land it sits on takes up a full city block. The sturdy multi-level building has stood there since 1924, and like many schools in the city, is no longer in use due to a shrinking population. The surrounding neighborhood was once packed with small wood framed homes, full of families the school once served. However, only a few of those homes remain there today.  The lots where the homes once stood have reverted to fields, and some of them are now being used as community gardens.

I’ve ridden by that vacant school many times over the past couple of years, and it has always been well maintained. The doors and windows were always secured as a deterrent against vandals and scrappers. Unfortunately, that has recently changed. Sadly, George S. Hosmer Elementary has recently been victimized by scrappers. The window coverings have been removed, and every window on all floors of the school has been taken out. I assume the windows’ steel frames were ripped out and sold for pennies on the pound at a scrap yard.

Last fall the building was completely sealed

North side of the large school

Looking at the place closely, I was amazed at the building’s craftsmanship. The tall window openings are surrounded by stone, and the few arched windows in the building have subtle carvings. The entrance door frames are quite decorative. The school’s name and build date are incorporated at the top. They appear to be hand carved. Stone also highlights the overall exterior, and the impressive brick work incorporate some nice round designs, adding architectural interest to the building.

The uniformity of the arch windows are similar to bridge supports

Beautiful carved name and date above an entrance

The south side of the 1924 building

Peering through the open window casements, I spotted a beautiful fireplace in what I think was the library. I saw plaster crown moldings that looked like new in an auditorium. Most of the rooms had oak paneling and shelves, some with books still stacked on them. The bathrooms contained solid marble walls and the gymnasium floor looked to be in great condition.  It’s a shame to see such a well-built, outstanding building now standing open; an openness that will surely lead to further vandalism and decay.

The library had a good sized fireplace

A classroom with oak panels and shelves

As I was poking around, one of the neighbors walked by and said, “It’s a damn shame isn’t it? This place was boarded up not that long ago. Now look at it! They should have turned it into a rec center for the kids.”  I had to agree, it is a damn shame.

Read Full Post »

I saw some murals the other day while riding through a couple of Detroit’s neighborhoods. They weren’t large murals like those found in Southwest Detroit. They weren’t religious in nature; nor were they as intricate as some of the huge graffiti paintings I’ve seen on walls along railroad tracks or on the sides of manufacturing facilities. The murals I’m referring to can be found on abandoned homes throughout the Morningside Neighborhood and parts of the Creekside Community. Both neighborhoods are on Detroit’s far eastside.

The colorful murals are small and located on vacant, blighted homes that are scattered throughout the neighborhoods. They have been painted on plywood that now cover the openings of the homes where windows and doors once were. Their intention, I’m sure, is to diminish the harsh reality of the numerous deserted homes found in their respective communities.

The painting on this house is kind of a mirror image, like a folded piece of paper

Reminds me of a butterfly

Nice, clean color selections

A few of the blocks I rode appeared to have more unoccupied homes than those lived in. On those particular streets, it was uplifting to see one of the mural covered homes among the abandonment. The murals seemed to soften the bleakness of the abandoned homes, adding interest, freshness, and a little color to the forlorn structures. The feeling I got while looking at the many murals was that there are people in the neighborhood who care about their surroundings and quality of life in Detroit.

Nice job of creating windows on this stone beauty

Close up of the window paintings

Check out the dog, appears to be standing on two legs like the kids

Unfortunately, I don’t know who painted and installed the murals, but they should be commended for making a difference in the community. Not only are they helping the image of the neighborhood, the murals might also be an inspiration to some kid living in one of those tough neighborhoods, to pick up a paintbrush and explore his or her creativity.

I like the happy expressions on the kids faces

A stare down between the dog and bird

The cats are having fun in this house

Reminder – You can click on the photos to view them larger.

Read Full Post »

While riding my bike through a far eastside Detroit neighborhood, I came across an interesting office. It wasn’t the typical office where employees may be seen answering phones, meeting with clients in a conference room or sitting at desks busily at work staring into a glowing computer screen. From what I could tell, this particular place had none of that. In fact, the spray painted name on the outside of building read “the office”.  I’m not sure what this office is though.

An overall view of the office

Based on the variety of spray painted words and names found on the weather-beaten, run down commercial building, and on an adjacent garage, it almost appears to be some type of counseling center. Many of the words seem to be names of people with dates right after them. Based on the RIP tombstone crudely painted on one of the walls near the names, I would assume they are individuals that have died. Also on the building, was a makeshift spray painted sign with directions to Grosse Pointe, Downtown (Detroit), the river and to I-94.

There are a variety of messages spray painted on this section

All four directions are accounted for by the 'V' pointers

In addition to the many spray painted messages and names found on the exterior of the one-story building, there is also a large section where many color photos have been posted. Most of the ones I saw were of kids and teens. Perhaps they play on a community sports team, are part of a church group or merely from the neighborhood and have been counseled in some way at this office. It could also be a place for mentoring young people, teaching them the right things to do in life. It’s hard to tell what this curious place’s mission was.

Note the clock and wording above it to the right of the wall of photos

Whatever this may be, near the corner of Freud and Clairpointe streets, it appears those involved are trying to make a difference for those living in that old, tattered Detroit neighborhood.

The garage has an urban, folk art look to it

Read Full Post »