November 11, 2007

Detroit Rock Sandi

I had to work again this weekend, this time travelling to my second least favorite city in the U.S.: Detroit. (Houston is my least favorite.)

This is the second city where I've seen the KIDZ BOP WORLD TOUR so far, and fortunately I didn't have to do a lot. But still, I left my house at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday and didn't return til about an hour ago - and after working til 8 p.m. on Friday night and too tired to go out after, that's pretty much the whole weekend.

It's a surprisingly quick flight out there, on a cramped regional jet. I was lucky to be travelling with Sebouh and Kevin, and we all ventured out to Dearborn for an authentic Lebanese dinner. At Al-Ameer, I felt like I was back in the 70s at a family dining restaurant, with stained glass chandeliers in every booth. Except Seb was speaking Arabic to our waitress and half the food was on a stick.

It was great, actually. Seb is our resident Lebanese expert (despite my jaunt to Edgware Road with Claude Chalhoub in 2002) so I let him order for me, getting a nice selection of kabob and shwarma, hummous, salads, rices, falafel, and plenty of stuff to dip it in (like tahini and lebneh, sometimes called "yogurt cheese" and really good). Topped off with some baklava and I had a happy tummy ache.

I was going to go to bed early, but my hotel - the Atheneum, where I stayed the last time work brought me to Detroit about eight years ago - was recently part of a revitalization of Downtown Detroit to include a new casino as part of Greektown. Curiosity got the best of me and I braved the cigar smoke to walk through the entire thing and even play some slots. Competitiveness also got the best of me and I dropped some serious $20s in the PONG-themed slot machine just trying to get to the bonus round where you actually get to play PONG for cash. Silly me - I always forget you can't play slots like they're video games. They're WAY too expensive.

So after losing a wallet-full of money, and being disgusted at how NOT-nice the casino was (and didn't even pretend to be like the Atlantic City casinos do), I headed back to the hotel to do what I'd been dreaming about ever since I booked the room: take a bubble bath in the "deep soak tub." The rooms are sort of Greek-themed like the rest of the hotel (and the neighborhood), so there's a certain hedonism you feel when you walk in. It's not as bad as Caesar's, but I definitely wanted to take advantage while I was there, especially with the way I've been feeling lately.

Sipping some white wine while listening to Mariah Carey was all the relaxation I needed to get ready to work the next day...

This morning I woke up early on my own after hoping to sleep in, but that meant I could forage for breakfast in the very dead downtown area. I found the Detroit Breakfast House & Grill, the only hoppin' spot for miles, at about the moment I was going to give up and go to Au Bon Pain. It's definitely a hometown favorite, filled with post- and/or pre-church worshippers nattily dressed, surrounding themselves with stuffed French toast, chicken and waffles, and cheese grits. I went a little easy on myself and had the turkey sausage benedict, which still came out on a really buttery grilled English muffin with some slippery breakfast potatoes on the side. My first batch of poached eggs came out hard - and the waitress knew that was bad so she put them down and took them right back, apologizing all over the place. When the new wet eggs came out and burst all over my plate, I knew it was worth the wait.

It was a little unnerving because everybody there called me "young lady," but when they could see I was all by myself and I was nice about the hard eggs and the wait (and I think I was a little sniffly too with a cold weather scratchy throat), they started calling me "sweetheart." That was some hospitality I had never before experienced in Detroit.

I had a good full stomach in anticipation of drinking mimosas at the pre-show reception we threw for our colleagues at Dodge, who sponsored the show at the overly-ornate Fox Theatre. The Byzantine gaudiness of the place really overwhelmed my interest in its history - apparently built by the Fox movie studio in the '20s as a movie theater. The live acts that play there now are mostly of the "heritage artist" variety, like Neil Young last night and Kenny Rogers in December. KIDZ BOP really livened up the place. I was still hoping for more confetti.

Back home now to an undecorated apartment, with all Halloween decorations down (except the candy corn lights) and a little too early for the Christmas stuff to go up. I'm always looking for a little more sparkle. And the face painter at the party today told me I wasn't allowed because I'm an adult.


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