Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Runnin' Wild, Day 2 (Part 1)

Motown’s Hitsville USA – Detroit, sometimes called the Motor City, which can be shortened to Motown, is where Berry Gordy redefined pop music in the 1960s. When you look at the list of classic black musicians that sprung forth from Gordy’s Motown Record label over the years, it’s hard not to feel a twinge of historical spookiness standing on the front stoop of the building where all these legends recorded their music.

The steps we walked up so casually where the same steps used by the following groups and artists to put hits onto records in Hitsville USA’s Studio A: Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, The Isley Brothers, and the Jackson 5, among others.


Sounds epic, right? Too bad the damn place was closed on Sundays and we didn’t get a chance to tour the studio. Last year’s go-round at Sun Studio in Memphis was a highlight, and one has to think this would’ve been cool, too. But what can you do? Closed is closed. At least we got to do the whole walking-up-the-same-steps-as-legends thing.

The Henry Ford Museum – Aside from the fact that Henry Ford revolutionized both the automobile and the assembly line (notice I didn’t say “invent,” because he invented neither), but he also was a pretty passionate anti-Semite. Yup, the hero of Detroit hated Jews, and knowing that I supported the Ford estate by ponying up $12 for a ticket to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Despite my clear aversion to Ford as a human being, this very well could have been the most memorable aspect of this year’s trip, if only for a handful of eerily historical exhibits. If the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile was the centerpiece of the day, then other, more macabre artifacts like the limo John F. Kennedy was assassinated in and the Fords Theater chair Abe Lincoln was sitting in when John Wilkes Booth popped him in the back of the head were both close seconds.

Perhaps the deepest emotions I felt all morning were on the bus Rosa Parks made her famous stand for black rights. The museum actually lets you board the bus (THE bus—not a replica) while a narrator tells the story through speakers. At one point, when the rest of the guys had moved on to other parts of the building, I stayed behind and sat on the bus, listening to Parks share her account of what happened that day. Some call me a history nerd for loving this sort of thing so deeply, but as I sat there replaying the whole scene over with the bus’s interior spread out in front of me, I couldn’t fight back the goosebumps. No joke here. It was awesome, as in absolutely awe-inspiring.

But if you think for one moment that all the four of us did for two hours was walk observantly through old cars with our hands behind our backs, you’re wrong. We’re not refined enough to experience museums in such a way. As part of the “Cars of Rock Stars” exhibit there was a Guitar Hero station set up, and Kyle—something of a Guitar Hero impresario—hopped aboard and rocked the whole west wing of the building. No one was really paying attention, but he pretended like he did, which was what made it so hilarious.

The whole ordeal was enough to work our appetites into a tizzy, so we drove to a nearby suburb to eat what would eventually be the most delicious food of the entire adventure…

The Fly Trap – I’ve had huevos rancheros maybe once in my life previous to visiting the Fly Trap in Ferndale, Michigan, but I can tell you that I’ll probably never have it again. Not because I didn’t enjoy it—believe me, I really, REALLY enjoyed it—but because no huevos rancheros will over hold a candle to what I ate on the morning of Sunday, June 7th, 2009. It was a day I shall never forget.

The building itself is barely bigger than an oversized walk-in closet, and there was a little bit of a wait for us once we got there (it was no surprise for us to see a diner be packed on a Sunday after church services let out), but once we got in it was hard not to be impressed. The special of the day, which Kyle ended up ordering, was biscuits and gravy, except the biscuits were of the cheddar persuasion, and the gravy tasted more like butter sauce than anything. Out of control. Absolutely out of control.
My own dish, which I think I’ve already mentioned, was scrambled eggs served on a bed of black beans, pico de gallo, loads of sticky cheese, and a healthy dollop of sour cream. A few drips of the restaurants signature hot sauce made the dish one of the holiest culinary combinations I’ve ever had the witness to savor.

As if the food weren’t good enough, the owner was so impressed with out awesome road trip shirts (guess who designed those?) and the Fly Trap’s spot on what we were wearing, that they gave us free hot sauce and t-shirts. Never in the history of road trips has our road trippedness earned us free stuff. Talk about a highlight—this was probably the second-best restaurant I’ve ever eaten at, behind only Memphis’s deliciously delectable Cozy Corner BBQ. The Detroit ‘burbs have a real gem in the Fly Trap. I’m salivating just thinking about the food again. Mmm… huevos rancheros…

1 comment:

Nick Ponton said...

Good choice all day. Loved the exhibits at The Henry Ford.....the Fly Trap is amazing though I'm told there's a place down the street that's better.