Roadtrip: St. Thomas, Detroit, Montreal

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October is my favourite month of the year. Not only is autumn in full swing, with colourful leaves everywhere, but it is also my birthday, thanksgiving, and halloween. In other words, everything good in one month. This past October I went on a birthday road trip week.

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It all started with the purchase of tickets to see Louis CK in Detroit at the Masonic Temple. Detroit's Masonic Temple is the largest in the world, and it contains two ballrooms, three auditoriums, a drill hall, a swimming pool, racquet ball court, gymnasium, pool hall and bowling alley. Incorporated in 1894, the organization broke ground on this building in 1920.

The theatre space originally had 5000 seats, but to improve the sight lines and acoustics, 600 were removed. Now the theatre boasts some of the best acoustics in America and the theatre claims that the sound is perfect in every seat. I have to say, it was a great venue, sound and sight, considered.

On the way to Detroit, we stopped in St. Thomas to visit the Railway City Brewery and had a mini tour and samples. St. Thomas is a railway town south of London. I captured a bunch of signs here and blogged them on my Sign After Sign blog. I hadn't been to Detroit in about ten years and I was surprised at how many wind turbines there were between St. Thomas and Windsor.

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Of course Louis CK was hilarious. I have never seen a stand up comedy act in person before nor have I seen one in a theatre quite like this. It was a lot of fun to sip on a fancy vodka and soda in theatre seating, while laughing so hard my face hurt.

After the show we checked into our hotel in Dearborn and went back out for dinner. The people seated beside us at the comedy show recommended Slows BBQ in Corktown.
This award-winning eatery was a great choice. Huge American-style portions of pulled pork, mac and cheese, cornbread, sweet potato and a selection of delicious hot, sweet and savoury sauces are served up alongside a wide range of craft beers, wines and a wide selection of other bar beverages. The highly-recommended food wasn't overrated in the least, and I ate until I couldn't anymore. I'd go back in heartbeat.

Read more about Slows in the New York Times.

Rivera Court, DIA
The next day we went to the Detroit Institute of Art. It's one of my favourite galleries in America. An incredible collection, including a great selection of African-American art and interesting pop-art, the DIA was showing a collection of Picasso and Matisse drawings.  Among the DIA's impressive holdings is Rivera Court, so named for the artist who painted it, Diego Rivera.

Read more about Rivera Court.

check out more on Sign After Sign

Detroit is pretty much the perfect city for seeking signs for the Sign after Sign blog.

On the way home we stopped in Toronto to visit friends and in the morning went for a meal at Caplansky's Deli. I had the Caplansky's breakfast burger that had Montreal Smoked Meat on it as well as a fried egg. So basically, it was heaven on a plate.

Afterwards we returned to Oshawa, and relaxed for a movie (not driving anywhere) day with the films Argo (good, funnier than expected) and The Master (long, artistic, and without resolution), and then it was onwards to eastern Ontario, as I had tickets to see the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in Montreal at the Corona Theatre.

This was a big deal for me. Though the JSBX have been one of my favourite bands since highschool, for some strange reason I've never made it out to see them perform live. Needless to say I was very excited.

photo by eddy earwigg

The Corona Theatre was built in 1912, and was originally for silent film. It went through a number of owners and was almost demolished in the late 60's. The restoration project began in the 1990's, and was completed in 2004.

Read more about the historic Corona Theatre.

Before the show, we had dinner at Dilallo Burgers.
It's just a basic burger joint, except it has delicious poutine, and some interesting spins on the basic burger lineup. I tried the Buck Burger, which had capicollo and spicy hot red peppers on it. An excellent find conveniently located across the street from the theatre.

And, best of all, Mr. Spencer did not disappoint. I stood in the front row the whole time...what I called sweating distance. It was loud, explosive, and energetic. I loved every minute though afterwards I couldn't hear my own thoughts. Note to self: start wearing earplugs at rock shows.

This vacation was a much-needed break before a work trip to Ottawa to present at a OAAG conference, a halloween party for my mom, then my own annual halloween party, which all rounded out one of the busiest, and most fun months I've ever had.

Read more about the recent millage campaign resulting in huge attendance numbers at the DIA in the Detroit Free Press.
Read more about the ongoing revitalization of Detroit in the New York Times.
Read more about the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

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