Tanisha and the Denim Shirt

Tanisha Redefines Thrifty

I was strolling up Cass Avenue today on my way to do some background reporting with my fellow British partner in crime Hannah, when a store front featuring gorgeous shoes displayed across old wooden chests caught our eye.

Tanisha (pictured here) and her husband just opened Thrift on the Avenue, which sells super cool second-hand women’s clothes at affordable prices.

“You don’t have to spend a lot to look good,” I heard one of our new friends declare as I tried a succession of dresses and skirts on.

Classy Tanisha didn’t need to say much to convince me.

Minutes later – and after a few warm goodbyes – I was leaving the store with a new bright purple dress and some “D” for Detroit earrings.

Many a long-term Detroit resident has told me that the Cass Corridor was a hotbed for crime up until just a few years ago. The area has since been rebranded a part of Midtown.

My Detroit Fairy Godmother

My Detroit Fairy Godmother

“After this we are going to get a drink,” Justin announced to me as we made our way to Bagger Dave’s Burger Tavern in downtown Detroit last week. “Because that, Rose, is what adults do.”

Justin and I spent time together on a Wednesday, but to Justin, who works unconventional hours at Ford, it was technically a Friday – the beginning of his weekend.

Justin and I met through an extremely close mutual acquaintance last September. Armed with what seems to be a very Detroit mixture of kindness, generosity and cynicism, he has had my back ever since.

Justin, in short, is my fairy godmother.

Parking Man Sam

Parking Man Sam

Sam, pictured here holding Afie, works at the parking lot opposite the Third Circuit Court on Gratiot in downtown Detroit. We see each other a few times a week and finally got a conversation going today.

Sam came to Detroit from Alabama when he was 13. He says things may be bad here, but he feels they’re still better than in Alabama.

“These things are always temporary,” he mused as we exchanged impressions of the city.

Before Alfie and I got on our way, Sam looked me straight in the eye with one last thing to say.¬†“That’s not your real hair color. You dye it, don’t you?”

I laughed and confirmed his suspicions. Honesty for honesty.

Behind Sam are the remnants of a $300 million county jail project, which was halted last year mid construction.

Ivan the Scientologist

Ivan the Scientologist

I had just settled into a glass of white wine at Great Lakes Coffee the other night, waiting for my iPhone to charge before hitting the road (on foot) again, when I was approached by a bespectacled man with the glossiest of hair.

Meet Ivan.

Ivan is a physicist who trained at UC Berkeley and Sussex University in England. He says his science background is of great help in understanding the teachings of scientology.

He was disappointed to find out I was a reporter.

“I am not allowed to audit you,” he said. “The Church of Scientology forbids us from auditing reporters, military personnel and policemen.”

Erik at Thomas Magee

Erik at Thomas Magee

I walked over to Thomas Magee, a new bar in Eastern Market, this Tuesday. It had been a long day’s work and I needed a beer. A Ghettoblaster beer to be precise.

I was met by a pretty cool team of staff, including Erik, pictured here, who is the owner.

Erik is from the east side of Detroit and his past seems to have involved a substantial amount of traveling due to boxing. He is a Newcastle football supporter (as in soccer) and has quite impressive niche knowledge about the game.

Erik said he wasn’t completely sold on me yet, but was willing to give me a try. After a few beers – yes, definitely more than one – and a chat with a charming firefighter, I headed home. Erik gave me a hug on my way out. Friendship may not have been there yet, but I felt sure I was off to a good start.

Street Stylish Troy

Street Stylish Troy

I was working at the lovely Bamboo co-working space in downtown Detroit a few weeks ago, when one of its members, Xavier, came in looking his usual cool. I think there was a bright red tee-shirt, a necklace and a cap involved. Troy, pictured here, commented on Xavier’s appearance.

“You look like one of those stylish people who get stopped on the street by fashion photographers.”

“It’s a compliment,” Troy said, “no one’s ever stopped me.”

Minutes later, I followed Troy downstairs and asked him to strike a pose. It’s never too late for a first.

Troy owns a Detroit-based business called Corporate Production Services Group, which provides meeting and event services. If you look in the distance to the left, you will see the world-renowned General Motors towers.

Danielle the Activist Mom

Danielle the Activist Mother

I met Danielle the day after Thanksgiving at a protest for better wages and working conditions in front of Walmart. The photo is therefore a few months old (note the telling lack of snow), but smiley Danielle sprang to mind today as I was immersed in researching a story on the labor movement.

Danielle lives just outside of Detroit, in Royal Oak, with her husband and children. She is the founder of a nonprofit group called Mothering Justice, my notes tell me, which seeks economic empowerment for Michigan-based mothers.

She told me the protest brought good memories back as she and her husband had met fighting for a hike in the minimum wage – in Florida, if my memory serves me well. I shall email her now to double check.