The phone videos don’t do it justice, but we have been passing through some ridiculously intense storms.  You can see them coming:

And then:

It’s like a thousand waves crashing on you at once, a thousand times in a row.  Up is down, down is up.  Both hands on the wheel, flashers on, nose pressed to the windshield.

Mostly, though, the driving has been fine.  Here are just a few of the places we’ve visited the past few days (with back-of-a-postcard synopsis).
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Buffalo.   What I’ll remember most about Buffalo is the unsettling silence.  We stood dead in the center of the map, in the center of a wide street, in the middle of the day…and nothing.  Just the sound of an ambulance wailing the distance.  The suburbs were busy…makes me imagine electrons circling around a dead nucleus…no gravity holding them there anymore, just the normal routine.  That may be a bit depressing…but it is.

Some important stories to be told, I’m sure.  And some great people, too.
        
Cleveland.

Such a wonderful surprise!  The people of Cleveland were incredibly warm, welcoming, and proud of their city.  We were given a VIP tour of the amazing public library.  We also visited a phenomenal, innovative school called The Intergenerational School that’s entire mission revolves around developing connections between generations.  

Toledo.

I’d love to come back sometime and see a Mud Hens game!  This was the view from the street, if you can believe it.  Any slugger worth his signing bonus should be blasting them into traffic on Monroe Ave. 

We stayed in a bizarre, dirty motel at the edge of town in between a glitzy casino and a hulking grain silo.

 You can imagine what the rest of the room looked like…  

And here’s what I was singing in the disgusting, moldy shower as I coughed up strange mucus from my lungs: 

Ain’t no Purrell strong enough…
Ain’t no shower long enough….

Ain’t no stranger right enough….
To keep me from gettin’ the flu babe.

(Feeling better now!)

PS – Had one of the most surreal experiences at an art center here… the place was like an old castle that had been re-purposed into art space…very cool, awesome people…on our way out, we met a man in the hallway…he asked if we wanted to see some of his work…of course we said yes…he led us into his amazing studio: huge 15 foot windows, full of natural sunlight and…naked people…just massive 15 ft. oil paintings of naked people from wall to wall…beautifully rendered….so of course we started talking about the project…his mother has Alzheimer’s…and we had the most sincere conversation…totally surrounded by huge wangers, which we never acknowledged.

Okay, moving on…
  
Detroit.  We drove up the coast of Lake Erie, entering from the south west.  I’d never seen anything like this.  Just mile after mile of decaying 20th century industrial infrastructure.

I have to say…it was pretty jarring to drive through…here’s one way of thinking about it….if you smashed all the thousands of years of human civilization together, so that centuries are like mere days, you can see how civilizations migrate from one place to the next, leaving behind relics and monuments…now imagine this happening in just a generation. 

Okay…now that we got the stock description of Detroit out of the way…there were some amazing stories to be found.  In the morning we found our way to the bustling St. Patrick’s senior center…and within 45 seconds of arriving, this happened:

(I love the moment in the end…when I had to read the next bingo number…they were on the edge of their seats!)

The line between ultra-bleak city and the ultra-green suburbs is…again this word…jarring.  Near the end of the day we drove out to leafy Grosse Point and met a wonderful, down-to-earth woman named Amy, who runs the local art center there.  She invited us for a home-cooked meal with her friends and children…and of course we accepted!

The next morning we had one of our scheduled workshops at the Maple Heights Retirement Community, run in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association.  I can only describe this as the project functioning at its very best: people of different generations connecting, laughing, opening up, and sharing stories.  (Pictures and details to follow in subsequent posts.)

And finally we drove west to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I’m currently writing this. 

 That’s shot of the lobby of the Michigan Theater, where we ended a long hectic week with the 9:45pm showing of The Intouchables…a French film I had never heard of and which I implore all of you to go see immediately.

Au revoir, pour l’instant.              


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