Ann Arbor Edition

Posted July 23, 2008 at 6:59 pm ·

Out by 430
Eerie tribal drums on CBC radio
Good for me to be up @ this hour
Retracing troy work drive, 1996
15 mile & livernois
Erica (the boss) is very cool
114 bundles, big route
Heritage Newspapers in the warehouse too
Wrote & edited for them when I was 22
After Paul Tull sold & retired.
Flirty guido guy, delivers too: “You need some help?”
Chats erica’s ear off:
“McDonald’s job just ain’t workin out, man.”
114 bundles & 20 minutes later
Paper load just fits in truck!
Paper shreds stuck to orange shirt
Hands inky black
Truck filled ah, with that smell,
That hot off the presses smell.
Hope I counted right
I’m a words, not a numbers, person these days
Breaking a sweat by 530
Flirty guido guy winks as I drive off
They look @ me with sly smiles
Like, u go, girly. Erica nods, knew u could do it.
Truck groans, hesitates, not used to the weight,
Adjusts. Good ole girl.
And we’re off.
Sun just warming through the clouds.
Good 4 me to have a “regular” job
How far I’ve come, so much has changed
The suburban geography I’ve traced
In so many directions
The years, jobs, & loves of my life
crisscrossing the local map
1996: 15 & Crooks through royal oak .. back 2 Ypsi
GM dealers who used to get my racing magazine
Pontiac, Chevrolet
Troy Motor Mall
Our advertising client Arvin Meritor
Through Birmingham
Down Woodward
Bike shop Bob used to frequent
Duggan’s where Jeff fondled me in the parking lot
12 Mile, Berkley
Shrine of the Little Flower
Stronghold of the 1930′s ku klux klan,
Led by Jeff’s aryan grandfather.
Past the zoo.
Chrysler Financial corporate
“I hope I’m never that special.”
The Oakland Center.
Off to ann arbor we go,
Me, my good ole red chevy girl,
& 2,850 alternative news weeklies.
620, first stop, hotel just off plymouth road
Old stomping grounds
Parking lot just in time for sunrise
Pause to enjoy
15 minutes later already
Than when we enjoyed it on the deck
A few weeks ago. Our hemisphere tilting away.
Birds sing to greet the morning sun.
635: first delivery made.
Will be a good day.
Maybe thousands of people can read
Headlines: about the band The Hard Lessons
Foreclosures & politics in Wayne County
This week, because of me.
Maybe they can line their birdcages,
Start their campfires,
Feed the recycling centers.
Stop 2: five recycling returns from last week ..
“A porn star’s best-laid plans:
How a local boy built a mini-empire in smut.”
Traver Village: my old neighborhood, circa 1997-8
Zoup! Site of one & only miserable
First blind date with crazy woman nine months ago.
Wait … open at 11 am? Epic fail, rack inside.
To Michigan School of Music
Home of my forgotten operatic dreams
Opera playing on CBC radio. Nice.
Won’t let me forget.
Closed til 730? And the student commons til 7?
Since when do I get up before anyone at all?
Sitting here by the brand spankin new awesome
Arthur Miller Theatre. Site: crappy blind date, part 2.
At least they were two mind blowing short plays.
Thanks for the free ticket anyway, wacko.
Duderstadt Center: the Dude!
Infamous U president when I was here
Now made rich fat cat emeritus.
Shoulda wore my runners – getting in a good one.
Now to Music School. Bursley Hall,
Where my freshman year chem lab partner lived.
How the hell do I remember that?
Northwood family housing, where married Mormons
Ben’s church friends, smiled & hosted
& tried so hard to draw me into the fold. 1992!
Earl V. Moore Music. Such a plain ugly building
All about what goes on inside.
Music, theater, dance. Fine arts indeed.
Drop three paper bundles here .. that’s a lot.
Ah, artists. Bald man with guitar & coffee in hand.
Music prof? Babyfaced students coming in
For morning practice? Look at the metro times girl ..
She once was one of you, bright eyed & naïve.
Down sterile hallways, to practice rooms,
Where I’ve not stepped in for 15 years.
The regret was just too painful to face.
But now, I’m calm. Serene, happy even,
To be here where my young dreams had their roots.
Where I auditioned, so brave & cocksure.
Feels like some of my essence remains here,
Even after all these years. Good to be back.
Jerry Blackstone, my conductor still here? Yes.
Good. Some things haven’t changed,
Just like the ugly sterile hallways,
Classrooms with grand pianos
Music staffs, treble & bass clefs on the blackboard
At which I peer through tiny windows.
And onward again.
Past the university hospital where in 1997
I got the morning after pill to prevent Bob’s kid.
Dude that kid would be 10 years old now.
To Angelo’s Restaurant, on Catherine Street
Ann Arbor’s best breakfast since 1956
Raisin toast that makes you crazy.
Main campus just starting to come to life.
Down to Village Corner party store
Or as we lazily called it, VC.
Where vienna sausage Kevin worked
& gave me free clandestine cigars, cloves, & booze.
Then to Middle Earth. No, seriously.
Right across from famous Pinball Pete’s.
Then the Safe Sex & Birkenstock stores.
Gotta love Ann Arbor.
Headquarters of the national chapter
Of Students with a Pedestrian Deathwish.
SWPD. Yes, you guys are just like me.
Jogging between libraries, undergrad –
And Hatcher Grad, much furtive love in the stacks
Amongst musty old grad school books.
Dominick’s!
Old house with a patio made for merriment!
Ah, the memories here.
Sangria that makes you woozy
& flush with pleasure.
Homemade pesto, Dom’s secret recipe.
9 a.m. After 5 a.m. bagel,
Feels like lunchtime already!
Or at least, a refill on this coffee.
Blue Front Kegs – oh the inebriations I’ve enjoyed
Because of this joint.
Cheap quarter barrel kegs
Of crappy beer
Guaranteed to make a freshman’s night.
PJ’s Used Record shop.
Student Union, cool, first place I ever read
The Metro Times, 16 years ago.
Seven bundles?!? 175 papers! Friggin students!
How’m I gonna carry these?
On my head like a washer woman.
Michigan Union ticket office. Buy G Love tickets.
Wendy’s coffee, unreasonable crabbiness
From woman behind the counter.
Does she think I’m a spoiled, pampered rich grad
Living off my trust fund? Lord.
Amer’s Deli. Salt bagels, yes!
Ann Arbor street parking ….. um, no …
But my luck runs in
Chick leaves with 30 minutes on meter
Three more stops @ shops & I’m outta here.
Michigan Book & Supply, Shaman Drum too,
Where my undergrad knowledge was purchased.
On the street, smiles & nods, I head-carry bundles,
Man the things us working folk do in the a.m.
Washing windows, delivering food, supplies, & mail,
Minding parking meters, making your change.
Keeping these rather invisible things going.
Is it like this every day? & I’ve just never seen?
Get Up! Vintage Clothing Shop
Piercing
Foggy Bottom incense & hippie stuff
Businesses I didn’t know were here.
Kid walking down the street in skeleton costume
Followed by two friends with camcorders.
Run into small boy with t-shirt:
“Wish my lawn was emo, it would cut itself.”
Encore Records, hipsters posers & wanna-bes
Lovely dusty smell of old sounds
Herb David Guitar Studio
& Seva for vegans & vegetarians.
Aut Bar, not so out, in my humble opinion.
And the world famous Zingerman’s Deli!
Where at 1130 on a Wednesday
There’s a hungry line out the front door.
Crazy Wisdom teahouse & bookstore:
Peace doves love & overpriced zen baubles.
Conor O’Neill’s – Guinness stop!
No seriously – it says that on the delivery sheet.
An injury – cut & bleeding
Right middle finger bears a deep metro times gouge.
Ow.
The Ark: amazing, legendary folk music venue,
Requests special delivery: “top of back stairs.”
What back stairs? I can’t even find a back door
And neither can this nice chef who ducked
Into this back alley to help me.
Stuck behind liquor truck for 20 precious minutes.
Fuuuuuuck what is this guy doing in Gratzi?
A little afternoon delight in the backroom?
Two martini lunch?
Run around the block, front door locked.
Drop the damned papers here. F you, Ark.
Used to love ya.
40 precious minutes gone & I’m instructed
To do a two-wheelie truck versus semi maneuver
Over a 12-inch wide curb. So I do.
Delivery guys cheer me on, as my truck door
Comes within a centimeter of an 18 wheeler.
Free at last,
Halleluiah
Free at last. Heart pounding action,
On the job excitement.
Next: 18 stops to go. 57 down. Really.
Firefly Club! All that jazz.
Two townie haunts, then the Blind Pig,
Where many great bands have played –
Like my band Five Dollar Touch, Mudhoney,
& that little group named Nirvana.
Boy dribbling basketball on street corner,
T-shirt: “tell your mom 2 stop txtng me.”
The Grizz! Grizzly Peak brewpub & kickass food!
Man haven’t been there for years.
Used to be the center
of my microbrew & gorgonzola burger universe.
Wait, is that the liquor truck guy
parked in front of me again?
Forgive him, he’s wearing a Detroit Tigers cap.
Starting to see familiar delivery faces.
Select, special group of rugged folks
Who haul boxes & bundles of shite for a living
Just like me.
130 pm, on the homestretch, 12 stops to go.
So long downtown, campus, Michigan Stadium.
Now to the old west side.
Past the Lutheran Church where we prayed
In memory of our dearly departed class president
Brian Eric Graham
Who messed himself up royally, driving drunk
17 years ago.
Service engine light on? Oh no!
Too much downtown idling on a warm summer’s day.
Almost outta gas – both fuelly & physically.
Gotta fill the tanks.
Music Go Round: tempted to buy that glass slide
For my newish red bass guitar.
Oak Valley shopping center, where I’ve held 2 jobs:
Videowatch, now Hollywood – first post-college,
And then CopyMax, both of which are no more.
Godaiko japanese restaurant,
another former lunchtime favorite.
8 stops to go & I am starving.
Freeway exit, homeless vet gets all my change
Collected from a day’s worth of parking fees,
Coffee & iced tea.
Hampton Inn, where my Antonio & I last met
If you know what I mean
Before he moved back to Chicago.
Sigh.
Beijo – Portuguese kisses –
As you taught me, Antonio.
Only 6 stops to go.
Cherry Blossom, used to be Chi-Chi’s
Man what good times we used to have here
Family birthdays, high school kid hangouts, first dates
Just a stone’s throw, as they say,
From the best writing job I ever let get away.
Borders headquarters – corporate mecca
Land of the free books room
& ecologically sound everything.
Why are these “conscious” businesses
Such a royal delivery pain in the ass
For guys like me?
Sign in, visitor’s pass, frickin blood test & firstborn
To hike 10 minutes & deliver two bundles
To an empty cafeteria.
Is that Dave Tellas I pulled in front of
Turning out onto State Street?
Nope, that dark haired chain smokin
green Jeep drivin guy who gave me the evil eye
must be his twin.
Dave answers my text question: “I’d never give you the evil eye”
4 more uneventful stops, & my truck is empty
Save the mountain of discards in the front seat
Set for recycling.
Filthy, tired, happy, hungry .. I head for home.
Drove 120 miles,
Walked about five,
Made 155 bucks.

Birmingham Edition

Posted October 1, 2008 at 7:14 pm ·

Out @ 430
Five hours sleep
Lots of coffee
Disturbed scruffy stray dog
Having his quiet predawn poop
On our front yard.
Where are the rats? Too chilly?
Up the Lodge, up Livernois.
Mo’ Money Taxes
BBC Radio – “onscreen” show
Story about Warner Brother’s book
You Must Remember This
“Out now”
I got my prize copy weeks ago.
It’s Randy Quaid’s 58th birthday today
The things you learn when you get up early ..
Up Woodward, 12 Mile
Shrine of the Little Flower
To Birmingham
Baseball news
Two Chicago teams in, as predicted
Cubs play Dodgers today
White Sox thank poor Tigers
For win in makeup game
One game over the Twins
Gets them in.
20 miles down
I’m in Troy
10 miles from my love
Who slumbers sweetly
As I’m tracing backwards the route
Predawn to Ann Arbor
Two months ago.
Central Warehouse Operations
194 E. Maple Road, Troy
Found.
Loaded and ready by 530
90 paper bundles strong
That’s 25×90 = 2,250 metro times
“Sonny Days” headline this time,
“A D-town Odyssey.”
Erica again is so cool
Chain smoking & chatting
Maybe a permanent route for me
In Corktown.
Corktown! Tiger Stadium!
Just two miles away.
I envision effortlessly paying the rent
With four half-workdays a month.
On the Road.
Again, covered with newsprint shreds
Newsprint all over my hands
I love it.
Back to Birmingham.
Great Harvest Bread,
Bagel Factory. Time for breakfast.
Pumperipple bagel, honey walnut cream cheese.
11 stops down, 48 to go.
Rich folks live here
Fancy Kroger, “Fresh Fare”
Narrow, winding Birmingham side streets
Give a cozy feeling.
Crazy what rich folks get in their grocery store
Feels like someone’s fancy clubhouse
Operated pre-dawn
By a small group of teenagers.
I drop off two bundles on the newsstand
Next to the New York Times
Newspapers from around the world
I steal a copy of AutoWeek
Just for good measure
2.99′s too much for a bunch of ads anyway
And an article about the new Chevy Volt
Finally, an electric car.
And we’re off.
Solomon Friedman Advertising
A lone holdout
In a deserted Bloomfield Hills office park.
Unbelieveable
Unthinkable
Previously inconceivable
How many “For Lease” signs I see.
Hard times trickling down already to this tier
Big business to support like ad agencies
Former bastions of waste, excess,
And 1990s fun and prosperous good times.
Under construction. Wonder if they’re hiring?
Lots of building going on,
development dollars thrown around
In the midst of a crushing recession.
I study the schematics on the office wall
And wonder about so many things.
The opportunity, motivation,
This little job gives me
To peer into so many local worlds
Just here, but infrequently noticed.
Gives me more news, more of an idea
Of current events
A finger on the pulse, if you will
Than the latest issue of
The Wall Street Journal
The New York Times
CNN and MSNBC
Combined.
Wall Street Journal guy’s been here already
Dropped his stack of papers in the lobby
Gotta get up early
To catch that worm.
Back to Woodward.
Mowers and weedwhackers
Lawn guys still have their jobs at least
No early October weeds and overgrowth
Threatening the wealthy northern suburbs
Just yet.
It’s 8 am.
14 stops down, 45 to go.
Back to B-ham
Aunt olive’s good food 2 go.
NPR all things considered
The Model T is 100 years old today
Thanks, Henry Ford
For the legendary, wonderful Tin Lizzie,
An unstable economic system
Fragile through profit and loss
Jobs lost and gained
New ways to make the rich grow richer
And the poor grow poorer.
Comedian Paula Poundstone
On how she’s thinking of The Grapes of Wrath
Families loading up their Ford Flivvers
And taking off.
Touch Spa, ah
On Old Woodward.
The charm of this neighborhood.
Starting to rain
Oh shit.
Birmingham folks skitter with their dogs
Trying to duck the light, quick shower.
B-ham has station bathroom
Even those are nicer here
Potpourri & blue skies
White clouds skylight on the ceiling.
Newsprint handwashing #1
With pretty flowery foaming gentle handwash.
For lease
For lease
For lease.
Dick O’ Dow’s irish pub
Was here once with bob
Downed many pints
Another life
Another life.
NPR again
Drinking ban for title games
In the windy city
Let’s hope.
Cinderella’s Attic.
27 stops down, 32 to go. 930 am.
Birmingham Borders.
Haven’t been here for a couple years
Since evening readings and book signings
With local authors I know
Exam studying, reading for endless hours
In the upstairs cafe.
Lonely Friday nights, checking book after book
Off a monstrously long list.
Get treats for my sweet,
Who needs them today.
Back to truck,
flipping lucky pennies on the sidewalk
An attempt to spread a little good karma
In a weary world.
11 am
Troy corporate
Pink kitty gift dropoff
A surprise to cheer.
Ted RIP. Memorial starting now.
Sorry couldn’t be there today
You’re not really there yourself anyway
Gone to a better place, as they say.
I love you so, kind soul. Will miss
White truck down the dirt road, waves and smiles,
Gentle gallant sweetness like Jimmy Stewart
but somehow even more mellow.
Son of a minister and father of four.
Someone to trust without reservation
Earned wisdom embodied.
Farewell old friend.
Good Food Company
5 bundles! That’s a shitload of papers.
This requires a shopping cart
Friendly, rather bored folks
And slightly stinky health food.
Whole Foods. Wooden rack
With hundreds of papers, all kinds
Driver for another publication clears his rack
Smiles and glances at my two plastic-wrapped bundles
Pulls a jacknife from his pocket
I flinch
With two swift slashes, he frees my papers.
Newsprinty plastic strap-cut fingers saved
“As long as I’m here, why not?” he says.
Thanks.
Back to b-ham for two forgotten stops.
Honk honk. Lordy Oakland County folk
Are masters at hurried impatience.
So hungry. Finding food then off to 14 Mile.
Kako’s Market, edge of b-ham on Woodward
Wait
Is this still Birmingham?
Things change south of 15 Mile
Sign in window:
“NO
Change for bus
Public restroom
Loitering in store
Loitering outside
Littering.”
Empty Jim Beam bottles
Crammed in metro times box
We’re not in Kansas anymore.
Stop for Thai House lunch
Pork pad thai! Royal Oak.
12:30, 40 down, 19 stops remain.
1:15 – she found my gift.
Off to beverly hills, 13 & greenfield
We’re where the $ ain’t now
North edge of Southfield
Dingy storefronts & outdated signs
The extravagant, useless beauty of b-ham
A distant thought.
Back to the other side of the tracks
Street Corner Music
Cool tattooed guy with Obama t-shirt
“Nice shirt,” I say.
“Heard John McCain on NPR this morning.”
“Oh yeah, what did he have to say for himself?”
“He was defensive and crabby. Typical.”
“Oh yeah, like ‘get those kids off my lawn,’ stuff like that, yeah?”
Smile and a laugh.
To Borders.
Wait, this Borders? Aw man.
Another ghost of rendezvous past.
Is there any stop on my past escapades tour
Not within the metro times lines?
Big arms bill, blind date
Meeting by the newspaper stands
Mistook an older, geekier guy for him
But then was relieved – he was hot.
Hours of conversation at a nearby cafe,
And on my truck’s tailgate.
And onward.
Cycleworks in Clawson, Royal Oak Thai.
An observation. After hours of semi-idle thought.
Corporate’s going down.
More modest, neighborhood, small town’s
Going up. Or at least holding steady.
These suburbs seem to be in better shape
Than the corporate bloomfields & such right now.
Small businesses & service industry doing okay
Or even thriving
“Now Hiring” signs everywhere.
Salons, bike shops, restaurants.
Few more stops, 3 pm and done.
What a day.