Monday, November 21, 2011

arena report: the Joe

three months ago, my friend zak took a trip to detroit. amongst the decay and hardships of the rustbelt, he felt an underlying potential and a true sense of community, and that the city's eventual rebirth would be something truly incredible... he wanted to be a part of it.

within weeks he had an immigration lawyer, a house, and season tickets to the red wings.

november 2nd, i flew into windsor and made it cross-border on public transit's "tunnel bus" in one hour flat. i would've been quicker, but the homeland security agents were (to put it simply) a bunch of fucking douchebags. i don't think they bought my "i'm going to catch the flames play the wings" story until they saw the gio captain jersey in my suitcase.... ;)

the thing with detroit is that it has a pretty bad rap. i'm not saying that there aren't areas to avoid, and i'm not suggesting that there aren't sweeping changes that need to be made or that entire neighbourhoods shouldn't be torn down, but i think zak is onto something. there's a certain optimism in the air and the bittersweet smell of opportunity...

the flames seemed to notice, too, as they took to the ice at the Joe with reckless abandon and a rarely-seen ferociousness, and came away with two well-deserved points. like the city, the redwings fans were hopeful yet beaten-down; acutely aware of the grim desperation of the team's current losing record.

we pre-pre-gamed at the legendary marge's earlier in the day, then we pre-gamed at detroit's anchor bar, and even hit the post (yeah, we did) just before puckdrop. postgame, we wandered to tommy's and had a pint with tommy himself. at the rink, you can get a black and tan for under a tenner, and why wouldn't you !?! who wants to drink bud or molson or labatts when you can get a serious arena pour:

as for the arena snack, well there was lots of talk of the coney island dog being a big draw in hockeytown, but i had myself a little caesar's pepperoni and that certainly felt right on the money. for those unaware: mike ilitch started the pizza company in metro detroit (garden city) in 1959, and used $8mil of his fortune in 1982 to buy the redwings (and the tigers, but this column is about HOCKEY).

[editor's note: i had a great pic of my pizza, the black&tan and the ice surface / lower bowl of the Joe, but i lost my camera in NYC. i apparently lose cameras. it's my "thing"].

the rink is old and storied and dark and, like the other aging arenas in the league, feels like it's all just metal-wrapped concrete. the rafters are dripping with championship banners and the concourse boasts some pretty cool statues (ted lindsay stands out, here) and the pillars are "camouflaged" with player photos that can also be used to recall your section ---i used joey macdonald to find my seat after a quick run to the restroom during a tv timeout.... and while most of the newer league venues have painted their concourses in shades of butters (excel ctr) and creams (prudential), the wall colour of choice in motown is black. hm. go wings.

anyhow... it's a pretty incredible joint, i gotta say. you sortof have to see it to believe it....


KingJafi said...

I <3

Sarah said...

Heh. Nationwide has...none of this!

awildermode said...

i feel pretty much the same way about homeland security. i think homeland security feels the same way about homeland security.