2009.08.26 Crazy times in the big city

Written by David Green.

This old column from 20 years ago is a little sad because it mentions six vacation days. It’s been a while since I’ve had six vacation days. All in a row, no less.

I was granted a day off last week so we took off for a three-day weekend, if you count not leaving until after noon and five hours sitting in the car. Writing Observer stories.

We went north to experience rain and chill. It’s been too hot and dry down here in the south. I recall walking the streets of Traverse City wearing four shirts and wishing I had my sweatshirt from the car.

With that weather, there wasn’t much to do but visit stores and remember that this is called vacation for my wife. For me it was called torture. It was called madness.

I stood in the basement of the refurbished state mental hospital—now stores, offices and condos—staring out the window, wondering if I would ever be released.

Finally I was. The sun came out Sunday and the obligatory dip into Lake Michigan arrived.


It happened in the Village

Sept. 7, 1989

So there I was walking near St. Mark’s Place in the Village. A subway was rumbling away somewhere down below. A man in a delivery truck was screaming at a woman who stopped to get a parking spot.

There was a bag lady looking through the trash and an array of the down-and-out sprawled on benches and asleep in the shade of buildings. A woman with green hair walked by, then a little later one with lovely purple locks.

A man stood in the street pounding a long stick on the pavement and chanting, “Light my fire! Light my fire!” I looked across the street and noticed he was yelling at the fire station.

Then these two nasty-looking guys approached me. One of them looks out of the corner of his eye at me and he says, “Kill him. Bring him back to life. Kill him again.”

Isn’t that the kind of story you expect to hear from someone returning from a vacation in New York City?

It really happened, but I wasn’t too concerned. Those two were just having some fun. They walked right on by.

If you had six days and some gas money, wouldn’t you choose New York City for a little relaxation?

Actually, our destination was the Bronx. There’s always a bed awaiting us at Colleen’s mother’s apartment—that is if her brother Mark sleeps on the couch.

The impetus behind this visit was the marriage of a high school buddy of Colleen’s. That grand event took us somewhere up onto Long Island. The reception was at the plush Swan Club. My attire made it closer to the Swine Club. Someone had to play the role of country bumpkin.

Around 1 a.m. on our first night out of Morenci, in a Motel 6 in Youngstown, Ohio, Colleen realized she forgot my dress shirt. She found this so funny she was forced to stuff a pillow in her mouth to avoid waking up our neighbors. About 2 a.m. she realized she also left my shoes behind. And my belt.

My wedding experiences are limited, but it seems that in Michigan people dress up for weddings and dress down a little for receptions. Loosen or remove the tie. Take off the jacket. Even go without a belt in my case.

We arrived at the wedding and I almost felt overdressed. A lot of people weren’t wearing suits. When we later arrived at the Swine Club, I left my coat and tie in the car and turned over the keys to the attendant.

We went inside and there were the same people dressed to kill. I’m sure there was a lot of explaining going “Oh, he’s from Michigan.” They could have at least said Ohio.

I remember looking over my shoulder at the final glimpse of the New York skyline before it becomes hidden by that low range of mountains in New Jersey. I remember glancing at the Toledo skyline off the turnpike a few hours later and thinking how tiny it looks.

Then came the Morenci skyline which of course is nothing but trees. But you know, it kind of looks like Central Park and that’s where this big ugly guy came up and...

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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