Fabulous Fox.

Sunglasses were the order of the morning today, not because of any self-induced morning-after situation but simply because it was SO damn bright. The repercussions of that Popeye grease injected chicken-part gluttony last night on the bus left me feeling queazy to say the least and a cloudless Chicago sky, a dry, icy wind blowing off the lake and burning bright sunshine didn’t help as Mark, Pete and I wandered up North Michigan Avenue for a browse in the Apple Store. Have you ever noticed that no matter what day or even time of day, there always seems to be the same number of people in any given Apple Store. Except Sundays, when it’s rammed. We had a look at the new bits and bobs in particular the new mini iPad which one of the ‘blue’ Apple folks told us were out of stock for the day. They get new ones in each day but sell out by lunchtime. Even a hardened Apple-ite, I never would have imagined such a success story as the one Steve Jobs created.

Back at the ranch, it was time to pack the bags after a very extended stay and say farewell to our beloved Chicago for the last time on this trip. Until next time.

On board the plane at Midway airport we set about devouring the delicious Cobb salad Diane had prepared for us on the short 40 minute flight into Detroit. Cobb salads dutifully devoured, we approached downtown Detroit and a lesser known airfield called Coleman A. Young International airport although quite why it has an international tag I don’t know. We were collected by Saen on the bus once more but once we were on board the bus Saen was allowed to drive on the actual runway! I’ve never seen that before. There’s not a lot of air traffic here.

Clearly the airfield has seen better days along with vast areas of this amazing city which has suffered since the downturn in the automobile industry and subsequent global financial crisis. Detroit has been in a state of financial crisis for the past 30 years and with a population drop of over 2 Million (25% in the last ten years) it’s difficult to imagine a recovery in the near future. However there are signs of a growing creative art scene in Detroit as cheap rents and an urban pioneering spirit are attracting young artists, and new restaurants, nightspots and even urban farms, serving this growing community and its hipster fans. It’s still the early days, but change is palpable. To quote a recent article in the Guardian in the UK, “There is a new spirit of rejuvenation running through the once fated Motor City that promises a cleaner environment and prosperity”. It seems that Detrioters are taking their city back by means of their own devices. Detroit may even end up being a model for aging cities in need of re-definition.

The Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit is surely the most opulent and beautiful of a series of grandiose shrines. Built during the pre-depression euphoria of the 1920’s, amazingly, the Fox opened just as the Great Depression began. After 125 weeks of talking pictures and elaborate stage entertainment, the theatre declared bankruptcy. After a temporary revival through city ownership, the Fox scraped by during the 1930s. It’s no surprise that today, the Fox is a fiercely protected landmark and nationally acclaimed theatre. Having survived the Great Depression, mortgage foreclosure, bankruptcy, competition, television, real estate development, and age, the Fox is impeccably intact and aggressively preserved. The Fox is proud to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark having the highest national ranking.

The Fox Foyer..

The auditorium..

The Men’s Bathroom!!…

It was great to do a show in a theatre again and memories of the last time we were here in 2010 were on everyone’s mind. While Bob and band were sound-checking, we wandered around this beautiful venue, taking in and photographing its delights. After a quickish sound-check for us, we readied ourselves in the tiny 4th floor dressing room and set about our business. As we go on stage promptly at 7:30 pm, there are obviously many latecomers and there was a steady stream of ushers and ticket holders making their way to their seats as we played our opening songs. A great venue, a fantastic atmosphere and a warm and appreciative Detroit crowd made for a great evening before Mark took to Bob’s stage performing another four tunes. We were back on board the bus by 10pm and heading back to the run-down airfield. Once Saen had pulled up alongside the plane, the pilot came on board telling us that we needed to wait on the bus for immigration/security. Now in all the years we’ve done this, none of us have ever been asked to wait on board to be checked before LEAVING the US. After ten minutes, two particularly surly, armed individuals boarded our bus and checked our passports for reasons that I’m sure will remain unknown.

They weren’t particularly pleasant and I’m not even convinced they were exercising any form of correct protocol, it seemed they were just plain moody, possibly not happy about having to travel to this remote location from the main airport? On an otherwise deserted airfield in Detroit, there we were, ten yards from our plane being mildly interrogated before leaving for Toronto. Maybe someone can enlighten me as to what all that was about. I’m sure there must have been a good reason. I just hope the crew boys made it into Canada without too much inconvenience.

Anyway, all’s well that ends…and we were soon off on our merry way back into Canada and the wonderful city of Toronto. A short flight and we touched down. A short taxi to our general aviation stand and customs and immigration officers were waiting. They boarded as soon as the aircraft doors were opened and quickly and efficiently checked our passports and we were officially in Canada. A short ride to our brand-spanking new hotel and off to bed. Another great ‘3 cities in one day’, day.