Friday, April 8, 2011

Wrapping up 1st Year

So, I went out on my last car ride of the semester on Saturday April 2nd with another professor at the University of Windsor, Julie Sando. I had a studio visit with Julie approximately a month and a half ago when I was just getting started with this project and she had offered to take me over to Detroit once the weather got better - Saturday turned out to be that day. We left the Lebel building around 2:00pm, and as we drove to the Detroit Windsor tunnel, one of the two access points, we discussed what we would tell the border patrol about our reason for going over. They tend to interrogate, so a simple reason is usually best, like going to a bookstore, and then out for dinner, which is the answer we gave.

But instead of going to a bookstore, we immediately got on the I-75 and continued driving until we reached 11 Mile Road. Julie said that this was an important part of the interstate in her opinion because it is where Detroit city limits end and Royal Oak begins. After passing this point the houses tend to be in better shape and most of the interstate passes are steel and painted, instead of chain link fence. Since we couldn’t just pull over on the side of the interstate, we took the next exit and parked as close as we could. From here, getting to the best possible shooting location involved hoping a couple fences, and crossing the interstate at two locations. But it was totally worth the effort. It was actually quite peaceful hanging out on that little hill, listening to cars, and shooting photos.

After going back over the fences and interstate, we got back in the car and headed towards Mexican town to the Hotel Yorba, on Lafayette Boulevard. The hotel was made famous by the White Strips song, Hotel Yorba, and Julie said she hadn’t been here for a long time and wanted to show it to me. Jack White grew up in Detroit, and apparently in this part of town, explaining why he used this location in one of his songs.

From here we headed into the heart of residential Mexican town. We stopped at some beautifully painted houses, and got out for a walk. On our walk, we came across a wedding that was going on, and more importantly, a mechanic shop, which I took a pano of.

We were both pretty hungry by this point, so we went to a small restaurant where they were cooking chickens on an outdoor grill. It was so cheap, and really really good! After eating, we went for another walk around the neighborhood and stopped in at an amazing Laundromat. It smelled so good, there was great music, and plants everywhere. I felt like I was in a tropical paradise!

From here we were getting ready to leave, but first we decided to stop by Detroit’s abandoned train station, also known as Michigan Central Station and then the Imagination Station.

While in the area, we also walked to Michigan Avenue, a street I have been eyeing up every time I come to Detroit to shoot. Finally as given the opportunity to shoot a pano of it…

We were both pretty exhausted by this point, so decided to head back to Windsor but instead of taking the tunnel back, we crossed over on the Ambassador Bridge. At immigration, we stated we had been over for 5 hours, and declared our leftovers. It’s always easier getting back into Canada, then leaving.