Alan Freed was a Cleveland DJ when he first started using the term Rock and Roll on the radio, therefore the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is located there. I spent easily half a day here, saw Janis Joplin’s Porsche, the piano and most of the equipment from Sun Studios in Memphis, the original lyric sheets from tons of classic songs, so much stuff. Why the hell are The Cars not in the Hall of Fame?
Just around the corner a bit from the Superman house is this house, the house from A Christmas Story “You’ll shoot your eye out!” etc. The house across the street from it is a gift shop and museum about the movie and you can tour the house but it was too early when I visited so this pic is all I got.
Back in the car I googled “quiet bar detroit” and was directed to Tom’s Tavern, I drove there and the place was totally dark with one car in the lot, I went around the block a time or two and finally parked in the snowy lot next to the other car. I couldn’t even see how to enter, walked around the outside a few times and tentatively pushed on the wooden cellar door after some serious summoning of nerves.
Down three steps into an old basement I saw an empty, incredibly rundown bar with two old guys at one table. I quietly squeaked “Are you open?”, the man in the blue shirt replied “Well, I guess we are now, sit down”.
I sat at the bar and ordered a rum and coke from the man in the blue shirt, Bob “I’m not a bartender!”. Bob is amazing, he spent 30 years as a local journalist and now helps his friend who owns Tom’s out with running the place. Bob gave me the century plus history of the tavern and told me about his history with the city over a few more drinks.
There weren’t any other customers at this point, Bob asked if I was hungry, I said I was and he replied that they don’t have a food license but if I wanted he could heat me up a can of chunky soup for free, how awesome that? Soup was great.
A few regulars started to trickle in around 10:30 and eventually there were 6-8 people there telling me about the city and asking why I was there while taking turns picking from the jukebox.
I left around midnight after sobering up enough to drive, this has been one of the best evenings in years, possibly the best evening with only strangers that I can ever remember. If you end up in Detroit for any reason I cannot recommend highly enough taking time to visit Tom’s, it is unlike anything you have been to before.
I had heard about Buddy’s from a few different sources, the place for traditional Detroit Style pizza. Apparently that means square, kinda medium dish, also really good. The bartender and waitress were funny and shy and amused at how happy I was to find their odd little rundown pizza place.
I know Detroit has troubles, big troubles, but really I never saw any reason not to go there, the people who have hung on are for the most part quite positive and really excited to show visitors all the reasons they are still there. I saw no shortage of cool things, enough to easily make a visit worthwhile.