My First Urbex !

I finally got to go on an urbex adventure! (Ubex is slang for urban exploration, and pretty much means going into abandoned buildings to explore and take photographs.) There is a lot of urbexing to be had in Detroit and I've been longing to tag along with some urbex photographers. I especially wanted to go to the Eastown Theater, one of Detroit's legendary rock venues from the early 70's, and finally got that opportunity this past weekend. Rob Monaghan a local photographer and really sweet guy, took me there and gave me the grand tour.

Opened in 1930 as a movie theater on Detroit's East side, the Eastown became one of Detroit's premier rock venues in the early 70s. From 1969 to 1972 the Eastown featured bands such as Jefferson Airplane, Alice Cooper, Jethro Tull, The Stooges, Savoy Brown, Procol Harum, Johnny Winter, and many, many more.

This was during my high-school years and I was often taken along to concerts at the Eastown by my boyfriend who was a few years older. Each weekend's lineup would include two or three bands - and the tickets were only about three or four dollars!

The place was always jam-packed and heavy with the scent of pot. The seats on the main floor had been removed, so concertgoers sat on the floor, or stood, or danced. There was always a psychedelic light show that I enjoyed, and an MC who wore a top hat - Stanley T. Madhatter.

I have very distinct and fond memories of the Eastown and it's sad to see the shape it's in now. It's beyond saving. I'm sure it will be razed, or simply fall down sometime soon. I wish I'd gotten in there to look around before it got as bad as it has, but I'm grateful for the visit just the same.

Following a 1973 expose in the Detroit Free Press about the easy availability of drugs in the Eastown, it was forced to shut down by the City of Detroit for failing to meet health and safety codes. After that it briefly became a jazz venue, then a performing arts space, and in the 90s it hosted raves, but its mostly been left to rot. There are holes in the roof, it's littered with trash, it's wet, stinking, and raped of it's metal by scrappers. I was amazed that the ceiling above the balcony was still in such nice shape:

I was intrigued with the idea of walking into an abandoned building, and I was thrilled to be inside the Eastown, but I must admit I had moments of wondering "what the hell am I doing?!" while there. The lobby and halls are dark and littered with who knows what ( I learned that a flashlight is an essential tool for an urbex explorer,) and I'm sure I was breathing asbestos. My first urbex experience might well be my last. I mean, is this something a grandma should be doing?!

Here's the Eastown on the day of it's grand opening as a movie theater in 1931:

The Eastown as I remember it:

The Eastown today:

After exploring the Eastown, Rob took me to the ruins of the Packard Automobile Plant - but that will have to wait for Part Two of "Hilarywho: Urban Adventurer" ! Stay tuned.


If you enjoy NPR you'll get a kick out of this:

Betty Jean Lifton

I was sorry to hear that Betty Jean Lifton, the quintessential author of books about the psychology of adoption, passed away on November 19. A writer, psychologist, speaker, and advocate for adoption reform, her books were profoundly illuminating to me, and countless others like me.

She believed that all members of the adoption triangle - adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents - are traumatized by their losses to some degree.

An adoptee herself, BJ Lifton was one of the first voices to speak out out about the complications and complexities of adoption, and the closed adoption system, which she called, "a socially engineered arrangement that was designed to cut us off psychologically as well as legally from our genetic and cultural heritage."

Although I am not a product of the closed adoption system, I know what it's like to be cut off from genetic and cultural heritage. Reading Journey of the Adopted Self helped me understand myself in fundamentally important ways, and led me to form many of the views I have today about the adoption industry and the adoptee rights movement.

I'd say I'm going to miss Betty Jean Lifton, but she'll always be here in the books on my shelf - heavily highlighted and underlined. Her work was a wonderful gift to those of us who make the quest for wholeness.

For her NY Times obit click HERE

Lee Broom Products


Benny & Natalie

Benny is two & a half now and Natalie is seven months old. Ben loves trains, especially trains that go into tunnels. He can count to ten, recognizes some letters of the alphabet, and likes to make "tents." Natalie is almost crawling, loves people, and enjoys being tickled. Their grandma wishes she saw them more often and enjoys the opportunity to post photos of them on her blog.

Today's Special

I got to see a free sneak-peek of a movie last night at my local "art-house" theater. Today's Special is about Samir, a young Manhattan sous chef who quits his job when he doesn't get an expected promotion, dreams of traveling to Paris, but ends up running his family's restaurant when his father has a heart attack.

In an act of desperation Samir hires a taxi driver named Akbar who says he used to do some cooking. Akbar turns out to be a very engaging character and an incredible cook who not only teaches Samir how to make his native foods, but how to make them with his heart.

I would have liked this movie even if I'd paid for the ticket. Staring Aasif Madvi of The Daily Show fame, I enjoyed the acting, the story, and the way it made me hungry for Indian food! It was fun to see Dean Winters, the guy who plays "Mahem" in TV commercials for Allstate, in a supporting role, and the actor who plays Akbar is great.

my broken heart

I spent two days in the hospital recently and came out feeling a lot worse than when I went in. The reason I went in was because of a wee pain in my chest. I have learned that when you mention the phrase "chest pain" to medical professionals they tend to get pretty intense.

I failed a stress test which resulted in my being admitted to the hospital where another test revealed a blockage in the branch of a small artery. It was too small to require a further procedure, so I was just given medication and encouraged to make healthy lifestyle choices.

My first reaction upon learning that something might be wrong with my heart was to click "undo." I wanted to press "delete." To edit this chapter. Cross this out. Begin again.

During my echocardiogram I could hear my heart. It sounded like something moving through murky water, or like wind whooshing through trees. My heart sounded like a dream sound, an otherworldly sound. And I didn't like the way the sound made me picture my heart, there, in my chest, actually beating.

Thinking about my beating heart reminded me of thinking about the universe - the endlessness of it. It's so hard to imagine: a place without edges, without beginning or end. It's nearly as hard for me to imagine my heart, this complex muscle, beating away, day after day. It hurts my brain to dwell on it, to think of the job it must do in order for me, for any of us, to remain alive.

I was only in the hospital for two days, and I'm glad for the excellent care I received but I'm not too thrilled with how crappy the ordeal made me feel.

I went into the hospital feeling fine, and came out tired, headachey, nauseous, and temporarily unable to drive, climb stairs, or lift anything heavier than three pounds.

And, the result of all this medical care? Well, I've still got the chest pain. But now I've also got a handfull of medications with an astounding list of side-effects.

View from my hospital room window, 5:30 AMish, 11/11/10 :

Toasted Cheese

A short story of mine has been accepted by the online journal,
It will be in the December issue.

I'm happy that one of my stories is being published by a literary journal, but I can't help wishing it was a journal with a more impressive name. Like maybe, The Toasted Cheese Literary Review. Or maybe, Cheese Quarterly. But I'm proud of my accomplishment just the same.

I stole this photo from a site devoted to grilled cheese sandwiches. Can you believe there is such a thing?

Falling backward

Okay, so it's hard to complain about the extra hour we're gaining as Daylight Saving Time comes to an end, but I'm still not happy about the whole crazy idea. I mean, time is time. You can't change it. When the sun is highest in the sky it's NOON. Not 11:00.

I think it's mean and unhealthy to mess with people's circadian rhythms the way Daylight Saving Time does.

It's a pain in the ass. And what's the advantage? Who does it profit??? For what greater good are millions of people forced to go around sleepy and cranky every Spring?

I used to think Daylight Saving Time was put into place to help farmers, but I've learned that's not true. Daylight Saving Time was put into place for the simple, selfish reason of giving us more evening hours of light in the warm months. This was meant to allow for more daylight leisure activities. But does that one hour really make that much difference? And is it really worth all the trouble it causes?

Personally I love a lovely summer night. I like to look up at the summer stars - and I'd like to be able to see them before 10:00 or 11:00 PM.

My point is, Daylight Saving Time is not natural and it doesn't seem to have much advantage. So Why? WHY?

Too busy to blog

Lately I'm either working on my stories, fooling around on flickr, or playing Scrabble on Facebook - three activities that can pretty much eat up a day for me. And that doesn't even count going to the gym (oh yes, I do that SO much) or grocery shopping, etc...

BB discovered the Scrabble app on FB and now we're both hooked - her more than I. I'm playing maybe four or five games with friends right now, but I think she's up to something like twelve or more.

I'm sure I'll get back to writing incredibly fascinating blog posts sometime soon, but in the meantime here's some photos I recently took in downtown Detroit: