It's Not Easy To Burn Cinderblocks

W Jefferson Ave, Detroit, Michigan (Map)

Spring 2006/Summer 2013.


Look at all of these abandoned buildings! Look at the graffiti and those shady characters! This is a dangerous place, let this be a warning to you two!

I've now heard this story recited by Donnie approximately a dozen times, about driving with Steve's Dad in the mid 1990s, hearing his warnings, while the two boys gawked at graffiti covered buildings along Jefferson Avenue. The most interesting part being that this one specific building he remembered from years ago, somehow still stood vacant in 2006 while Donnie & I were now ourselves driving around Delray.

The two of us elected not to listen to Chief Keith, going inside for a quick look in 2006.

Back then there were still walls which weren't entirely covered in spraypaint, providing clues to this building's history as a medical center. There were even a few receipts and prescription notepads which gave us a name for the place - the Delray Medical Clinic.

Donnie had already been here with Dylan before, where in a time of film and more attention paid to each picture, Dylan captured stolen vehicles inside the medical center itself. Of course there was now a different stolen vehicle in the building & we'd notice different ones parked inside during hundreds of later drives down Jefferson.

(That stopped around 2010 - not sure if there's just too much trash now, or if it was only one guy's favourite grand theft auto spot, or what...)

I also discovered these awesome embankments out back & planned to eventually ride them...and it's only been 7 years and I haven't managed to ride anywhere near here, so no procrastination at all.

Nowadays the groundskeeper has lost the fight to shrubs, vines and weeds anyway.

That's right, I was back home for a weekend in 2013 with only a single day to go over to Detroit and while waiting on plans to come together, I asked Nail & Sloop if they'd mind checking this place out - to take some better pictures and get some last coverage.

Entering off Jefferson, one must walk past the KOSEK spot that's been KOSEK's spot for as long as I can remember.

Seven years hadn't been kind to the old medical clinic, although I still think you could drive a stolen car down this corridor.

We plopped Sloop's cooler down on the front desk, wandering about and peering into rooms which were always too dark when we didn't have flashlights back in the day. Almost all of them were filled with only trash and cinderblocks, although a few were a bit bigger and might have been more interesting 7 years ago.

Eventually we'd grow tired of the main floor & want to head up to the roof, which would mark only my second time up there.

The original metal staircase has long since been scrapped away, where it then used to be a wood ladder until someone borrowed said ladder for other matters (cough, cough), it was then a series of rubber bungee cords made into footholds, up until now, where someone has broken out intermittent holes in the cinderblock wall, making small climbable ledges of a certain difficulty to one in large boots and/or with large feet.

On the right side of above picture, there's a glimpse of Herr Sloopness working the doorway to pull himself upwards.

Walking around on the rocky tar, it was one of those orgasmic midwestern summer days, with warm, heavy winds blowing the leafy trees all around us with weather straddling the formation of a thunderstorm, as it typically does during Detroit summers.

If only we had some barbeque supplies or camping hammocks.

Anyway, while the Delray Medical Clinic was on Kwame's Double Dirty Dozen Demolition List, I think the window for that meaning anything has long since passed (only 8 out of the 24 buildings were ever demolished - and that's in 6 years at random times).

What threatens the Delray Medical Clinic today is that it stands right in the way of where they're proposing to build the new international bridge across the Detroit River.

I suppose I can't say it's going to look really strange without the old medical center there - since it's going to look awfully weird with a giant futurisitic bridge there!

So with only being home for a weekend and not knowing if this building would stand at Christmas, I thought it worthwhile to make "one last" visit. Although as of this writing (May 2014), the bridge is still held up in planning as even though the Canadians want to pay for nearly everything, the Americans continue to waffle on budgeting for only their $250-million dollar "Customs Plaza."

So everyone waiting for some relief from Matty Moroun's $10/trip toll fees, is left waiting in ruin like the Delray Medical Clinic.

We'd leave for some incredible pizza at Buddy's, before hitting another roof and watching lightning crack the Essex County skies behind downtown Detroit. This day & night - combined with PRP - easily made sleeping on those awful Halifax airport benches worthwhile during an overnight air miles layover.


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