Tag Archives: Michigan

Don’t Give Up The Fort ► A Pastoral Letter

One block south of 8 Mile is the intersection of Gilchrist Street and Hessel Avenue

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Dear Pastor Kenny:

Remember the fort we built in the backyard behind my garage on Gilchrist?

I distinctly remember scrounging some of the lumber for it from the excavation ditch that later became the Southfield Freeway. I can’t remember who was with me that day, you or Dean Donaldson, but if it was you, it’s safe to admit it. The statute of limitations on that crime has long expired.

It was a pretty sweet fort, as I remember. With the liberated plywood as a roof and walls, it was water-tight when it rained. We spent a fair amount of time hanging out in there, but I spent more. There were many times I’d sit in the fort reading comic books. It became my refuge away from my sisters. As you may remember, I had 4.

My old backyard showing the room my father added to the
back of the house, taken on August 2, 2016. The first thing I
noticed was that the cherry tree next to the garage was no longer
there. It was beautiful in the spring and you could sit on the
garage in the sunshine and pick cherries all the doo dah day.

Did you ever wonder why we still don’t have that fort to sit within and ponder the world?

I destroyed it in a fit of pique.

My parents were bothered by the mess we left behind and ordered me to clean it up. I walked across the street and tried to get you and Dean to help me. Neither of you could be bothered, so I decided the fort had to go. With tears in my eyes, and filled with childish rage, I ripped it apart within minutes, demonstrating how shoddy we were at fort building and how I can, at times, be my own worst enemy.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

In the last 8 months my life has been on a metaphoric fort busting bender, until I find myself beached here 13 miles from the beach — right back where I started.

Don’t give up the fort.

Just when things seemed at their lowest ebb, I hastily prepared another of my epic Road Trips to visit Pops. Knowing we’d meet again on my swing through Michigan, I had a lot of time to think over what I wanted to ask you during all of that driving. I was telling my friends along the way, most of whom have read my previous Pastoral Letters, that I was going to see you again. Most of them also knew of my troubles of late. I started to make the joke that with all that was going on in my life, I needed to be Pastor-ized.

Your house still looks picture perfect, Ken

I had hoped to meet you in our old neighbourhood, where your house still looks picture perfect. However, time constraints meant we only had a small time together and I was on vacation, for the most part. I didn’t mind traveling to Ann Arbor to meet you.

I wanted to share everything that occurred since the beginning of the year, but we certainly didn’t have time for that, so I shared the highlights lowlights — including the heartbreak I experienced just days earlier in Toronto. I even told you the joke above about needing Pastor-ization. Then I popped the question that had been on my mind since I left Florida. It started as a far more complex question, but during all those miles on the road it became simpler and simpler until I boiled it down to 10 words:

“What is the answer when Jesus is not the answer?”

Your answer was very Zen: Connections.

I am still processing what that means for me. I’ve come to the conclusion that not all connections are real connections. Nor do I really want to be connected to all those who are connected to me. The contradiction is that my writing at the Not Now Silly Newsroom, as well as my oversized presence on the facebookery and Twitterverse is all about making connections to many people I have no real connection with. Heavy, eh?

On my most recent road trip in front of my
former Kensington Market house on Nassau

IRONY ALERT: The person/place I truly wanted an improved and stronger connection with has gone cold and I have no idea how to rekindle it.

Ken, your other suggestion — to get back to Drum Circles — is a good one. Pops’ hospitalization kept me busy since early June, and there was no time. One of my favourite ones is tomorrow. It’s the monthly Drum Circle where I actually composed most of my first Pastoral Letter to you. However, here’s another contradiction: I’m not a joiner.

Speaking of joiners, I have always . . . what’s the correct word — envied? coveted?– someone who has a God to believe in. When life turns to shit, there’s an entity to pray to. Atheists don’t have that. Without those connections of which you speak, I’ve got to tough it out on my own.

The last time I believed in something bigger than myself was, in reality, not all that long ago. It was only last year and I wrote about it in a previous Pastoral Letter which I titled Before and After Synchronicity. Now I’m not sure if what I believed was real. It all seemed so right and this feels so wrong.

I no longer know what to tell the crows.

I hope it’s not another year before we see each other again, Kenny, but I expect it will be. In the meantime, feel free to reply. I told you that I write these more for myself than for getting a reply. However, this time I’d love to read your thoughts.

Your childhood friend,
Marc Slootsky

The 2nd Annual Sunrise to Canton Road Trip For Research



Last year’s Sunrise to Canton Road Trip For Research was such a rousing success, that I am doing it all over again in 2014. However, this year I’m adding a week to the festivities and YOU’RE ALL INVITED!!!

Fun fact: Canton is a township, not a town
Official Wesbite
Wikipedia Entry
Canton Weather
Public Safety Office
Public Library

Observer and Eccentric – Canton
Plymouth-Canton Patch
Canton Videos
Canton at ClickOn Detroit

Things to do in Canton
Attractions near Canton
IKEA Canton

Canton Township
Cornerstones: A History of
Canton Township Families

Seven Fatality Christmas Tree Fire
Encyclopedia of Invasive Species: From
Africanized Honey Bees to Zebra Mussels

Leaving Home to Find Home


HERE’S HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED: I will be leaving Sunrise, Florida on the 13th of July and heading north to Michigan. While in the Wolverine State I will be conducting some research, collecting more documents, exploring the 8 Mile Wall, and gathering further historical context for Farce Au Pain.
Naturally I’ll be traveling up and down the I-95 and/or I-75 corridors. If you live somewhere not too far off those beaten tracks — and want the full Aunty Em experience — then get in touch with me privately. We’ll exchange info and I’ll add you to my itinerary.
DON’T BE SHY: Maybe you live too far from those highways, but still want to meet. Why not suggest a halfway point somewhere along the road? We can see if that’s doable. Speak up. Now’s your chance. I’m open to suggestions.
A FUNTASTIC OFFER TO ALL MY MICHIGAN FRIENDS: Just as I did last year, I will be setting up a “Meet & Greet” for all of us to get together. It will probably take place at a coffee shop to be named later. However, I’m open to other suggestions for a Michigan Meet Up because I know my Michigan friends know some incredible places.
NB: I’ll be putting together my intinerary between now and just before I leave on July 13th. However, it won’t get ‘locked in’ until the day before I leave. If you can handle that uncertainty, you’re the kind of people I want to meet.
MAY 28 UPDATE: There are already 5 separate stops booked on the 2014 Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research. So far the trip totals 3050 miles, for a total driving time of 5 days, 6 hours and 4 minutes, give or take a rest stop, or two.

MAY 30 UPDATE: Not Now Silly has added 1 more definite stop — and one possible — on the 2014 Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Research. Amazingly, this adds only 27 miles to the road trip because they are so close to the highway. Confirmed stops on the Sunrise to Canton Road Trip for Researchinclude: Bonita Springs, FL; Tallahassee, FL; Miamisburg, OH; Columbus, OH; Canton, MI; Elyria, OH; and Morgantown, WV; with Cleveland, OH as the possible.

I’ve also recalculated the driving time. That was based on 8 hour days. I tend to drive until I drop, so I’ve asked the computer program (Microsoft Streets & Trips) to calculate the trip based on 11 hour days, which is more realistic. That puts my driving time at 4 days, 2 hours, and 9 minutes.


Read: Not Now Silly and/or Road Trips

The Sunrise to Canton Road Trip For Research

Dear Readers: I am taking a road trip
north for some very deep research into one of my ongoing writing projects in a few weeks. I’ll be leaving Florida on June 11th and visiting folks along the way.

I’m calling this The Sunrise to Canton Road Trip For Research because the bulk of my research (although not all of it) will be in Canton, Michigan. I will also be dragging along my not-so-trusty laptop because — and I’m excited by this — I am in final negotiations to blog my trip for a popular Detroit area web site. Details to be announced. I also plan to blog some separate adventures here at Not Now Silly.

Canton, Michigan Fun Fact:
It has an Ikea.

A FUNTASTIC OFFER: While on this drive I will stop and visit you, provided you don’t live too far off the beaten track.
Message me privately if you’d like the full Aunty Em
experience. I already have 4 people who have signed up. There is still room for 1 or two more, depending on your location.

BUT WAIT!!! THAT’S NOT ALL!!! ANOTHER FUNTASTIC OFFER: Once I am in Michigan I will also be setting up a get-together for all my Detroit-area peeps at a local coffee shop. [Who am I kidding? It’ll be at a Starbucks.] Details to be announced. If you’d like to be kept informed, just let me know.

The return trip will begin on or about June 17th.

I have started testing out all my electronic equipment, making sure all these devices will talk to each other. So far, it’s not going well. I’m glad I started early.


Unpacking My Detroit – Part Two

Detroit, once the fifth largest city in ‘Merka, is home to some of the greatest architecture among ‘Merkin cities.

It’s sad to see it today. The decline of Detroit began as innocent urban sprawl in the mid-to-late ’50s, when I was just a kid. This was followed by early White Flight acerbated by the 1967 riot, followed by a total collapse of the tax base, leading to the elections of some very dubious mayors with dubious ideas. Today Detroit is an urban wasteland and, while that sounds like a cliche, it is not an exaggeration. Whole blocks—whole neighbourhoods—are falling apart. The city is considering turning land over to farming, just like in the good ol’ days when Detroit was a little settlement along the river. Oh! Wait!

On my last trip to Detroit I took dozens of pictures like the following:

© Headly Westerfield, 2012
Drive along any street in Detroit.  Eventually you will see houses like the above. You might see blocks like the above and below.
© Headly Westerfield, 2012
The housing stock that has gone to waste, and is now rotting before our eyes, is a national disgrace. It was within ‘Merka’s power to see that Detroit didn’t fall into the shithole. Now it’s too late.
© Headly Westerfield, 2012

Yet the same city produced Motown before it went into the crapper.

© Headly Westerfield, 2012

Not many cities can boast a Frank Lloyd Wright house. Detroit can:

© Headly Westerfield, 2012
© Headly Westerfield, 2012
© Headly Westerfield, 2012

© Headly Westerfield, 2012

Detroit is a city of extreme contrasts, which become more contrasting each day.

Other entries:

Unpacking My Detroit ► Part One

Unpacking My Detroit ► Part Three

Unpacking My Detroit ► Part Four

Unpacking My Detroit – Part One

This is the first in a continuing series about Detroit, Michigan, my home town. I believe Detroit is emblematic of everything wrong with ‘Merka. At one time Detroit was the 5th largest city in these here United States. Overnight in the ’40s, Motown became the Arsenal of Democracy, building the machines that saved Truth, Justice, and the ‘Merkin way for trash such as Rush, Fox “News” and Johnny Dollar.

Click to enlarge

Yesterday, while doing some research, I came across the following map of when the various parts of Detroit were annexed.  The diagonal line starting at the upper left (and which is really on a due east-west orientation) is the infamous 8 Mile, which was the dividing line between Detroit and the suburbs in 1926…and still is. [Coincidentally, 1926 is the year of Pops’ birth, elsewhere.] The oldest parts of Detroit, are at the bottom of the map, on the river where settlement naturally started. Look further down to Canada, my adopted country. Windsor, Ontario [not labeled], Canada is the only Canadian city where one drives due north to get to ‘Merka. As a teen I often took the shuttle bus to Windsor to be able to say I spent the day in another country.

I grew up in the orange shape in the upper-left hand corner, which was annexed in 1926. The line that extends south from the eastern edge of that block is Greenfield Road. My house was 0.5 miles from that intersection, which is right where Hard Core Pawn takes place. That building used to be the bowling alley where my mother played in her Wednesday afternoon league. I spent so many hours there as a kid.

The Little House I Used To Live In

The area where I grew up was developed after the war and it had the designation “Madison Park” although that was apparently something only on a map because no one ever referred to it as such. Apparently the entire neighbourhood went up virtually overnight to help serve all those GIs coming back from the war.  This area, and many other parts of Detroit, were redlined, a practice begun by the Feds in the ’30s that continues in various forms today. Redlining, in one of its forms, restricted Blacks and Jews from purchasing in certain neighbourhoods. This was just one factor that led to Detroit’s eventually decline. This series will explore all the various ways in which Detroiters, Michiganders, and ‘Merkins systematically destroyed the city that helped save ‘Merka.

If you would like to share your stories or impressions of Detroit, please do.

Other entries in this series: