Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Chilly Fort Wayne Morning

About a month or so ago, I had the opportunity to visit Fort Wayne, Detroit.

For me, this was a big deal. I would drive down Jefferson by the now defunct base on my way to the city, nestled in a neighborhood of abandoned houses and truck yards. A fort that has been around since about 1860, and here it still stands, far longer than the more recently built homes around it. You can see a few barrack buildings from the road, and the rest is lost to view.  Great iron fences surround the grounds, and I always wanted to go behind the gates and see these buildings up close. It has personal meaning to me as well - when my father shipped off with the Marines to boot camp during the Vietnam War, he left from here.  I could just picture my young idealist father standing in the gym, waiting to leave his family and his home, anxious and nervous but wanting to serve his country.

The day we went it was raining, and I didn't want to take my actual camera. So it was iPhone to the rescue once again.

View from the hill overlooking the old barracks. I feel like this looks like it could be England!

My friend Hippy walking through the tunnel

The armory

The back of the old barrack. 

The fort now hosts many different events, including war reenactments and ghost hunts led by Metro Paranormal Investigations. This sounds terrifying, but I might just have to do it.  Restoration work has also been happening on the grounds, which is evident by the differences between a few of the buildings. Some are fallen in like the ones you see pictured here, while others are fully restored, and either open to visitors or being used as offices by those who work at the fort.

For more information, visit Fort Wayne's website. Or better yet, visit the fort itself! It is an amazing place to visit, and you will be glad you did. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Detroit Institute of Arts-Impressions from my recent visit

The DIA caught in a cultural crossfire of politics and budget deficits? Possibly. The future of her artwork remains to be seen as Detroit enters emergency management as years of chronic corruption, spending, and mismanagement has finally caught up. Reading all the articles recently about selling off artwork of the DIA has given me pause to reflect on my most recent visit in March.

I wanted to spend the day with my little sister and expose her to the world beyond the mall and movies. Our day started at the DIA, walking and talking amongst some of the masters, exposing her beyond the perfunctory group school field trip.

We walked the museum, pausing to reflect on certain paintings or sculptures that caught our eye for whatever reason.  Explaining to her the difference between certain periods of artwork, showing her how art evolved over the centuries. Walking through modern art and the dogged question of "Is that really art?" when looking at simplistic solid  lines of color drawn across a canvas.

One that both struck us was by Jean Dubuffet, "Shot in the Wing". It appears to be a brick in the foundation of modern street graffiti. Edgy and colorful, evoking you to stand and be entranced by the seemingly organized chaos of the haphazard shapes.

A more traditional and famous portrait is Henri Matisse's "The Window." 
Matisse blurs the lines, mixing abstraction and depth. It shows the tree and reflection of the light through the window yet you can't discern where the floor ends and the wall begins. It's minimalist with richness of color. Stunning.

I left the DIA that day, with the feeling that the DIA is like "The Little Engine that Could." Yes, it may not be The Louvre or the Met or Musee d'Orsay but dammit, it's not bad at all. Quite respectable if you ask me.
Selling off her treasures won't solve Detroit's fiscal woes. It would be like putting a bandaid on a broken arm. Let's hope a bankruptcy court addresses the real issues.

In the esteemed words of George Washington, “The Arts and Sciences, essential to the prosperity of the State and to the ornament of human life, have a primary claim to the encouragement of every lover of his country and mankind." 

Long live the DIA!

Sugar House ~ Corktown

We spent last night at the Sugar House.

One of our favorite places to imbibe right now, we headed down there after watching The Great Gatsby. Cocktails were definitely called for.
The ambiance at the Sugar House is low key, all dark wood and taxidermied animals, bringing to mind Teddy Roosevelt or an English lord's trophy room. Perhaps the room of a big game safari hunter. Music streams out in hushed tones, and in the late spring and summer the room is hot.  I feel transported to New Orleans almost, but this is Detroit. Detroit at its finest, with craft cocktails and local ingredients when possible. I could while away hours there every weekend, if I could afford it every weekend. The drinks however are well worth their price tag, and sometimes I even feel like I am not paying enough.
We had a super nice bartender named Nick. (please excuse my iPhone pics, it was all I had with me) He was imbued with knowledge about the large array of options and ingredients, and could perfectly describe  a flavor and recommend a drink.

I started off with a Moscow Mule. (terrible photo I know)

After my first sip, I pronounced this drink to be breathtaking.  Jill and Chrissy found this amusing until they too, tasted it and said it was the perfect description. And they actually still thought it was funny. A Moscow Mule has a few different ingredients, one of them being ginger. Yum.

Next, I moved on to the Vieux Carre.

There is a reason you shouldn't pick something based on the name alone.   I chose this because I love New Orleans and the actual Vieux Carre - however, this drink was a bit too manly for me. Nick said that this drink is a commitment, and it was a commitment I wasn't ready for. I passed this drink on to Billy, and ordered a new one.

Nick then suggested a Havana Sour. I had told him I am a fan of Whiskey Sours, and the Corktown Sour, so I took his advice.

Always listen to the experts!  This drink was amazing. Perfect for me in every way. I adored it. Tart and pink, I liked it so much I ordered a second. The Havana Sour is a definite winner.
Chrissy and Jill enjoyed their drinks - they both found two new drinks they fancied as well. Chrissy would not let go of her Whiskey Smash, and Jill found the Aviation to be fabulous.

Going to the Sugar House is an experience - one that allows you to appreciate all that goes into the making of a drink, the quality of the ingredients, the knowledge not only of how to make them, but sometimes how that drink came to exist in the first place.
 It is a place for savoring. To not just guzzle down your cocktail, to throw it back like you would a shot, but to truly enjoy it. They proclaim themselves to be a place for the discerning drunk, and while I am not that well informed about what they do, I certainly see the value, and I learn a little something every time.  

Hello Hello..

{Hillary Bird, Etsy}