Dave in Northridge came to Detroit for a conference in late March, and his visit was a great pretext to have a Motor City Kossacks meet-up. So that's what we did, on Saturday, March 22, at the Golden Fleece in Greektown, downtown Detroit.
Almost all of our Motor City Kossacks meet-ups for the next few months will be in places worth scouting for folks coming to Netroots Nation in July. Of course, we can't hope to cover them all, but along with the meet-up reports I can provide some short restaurant reviews, to provide a personal touch besides the information that is already available elsewhere, online or in print.
The core of Greektown is a block of Monroe Avenue in downtown Detroit, a little northwest of the riverfront, between St. Antoine and Beaubien Streets. Here is a nifty little map of downtown that shows the area, including the Cobo Center, Ren Cen (where the Marriott is), and the People Mover route (the red dotted line with the stations as red squares). As you can see, it's a reasonable walk from the riverfront, and accessible via the People Mover as well.
And here's an exterior view of the Golden Fleece, one of the few older establishments still in operation on the original block:
Now, I beg your indulgence as I recount in brief the story of my own very long acquaintance with the Golden Fleece, one that I did not have the chance to share with those at the meet-up.
As many of you know, I grew up in suburban Detroit, and I then moved to the city proper when I was a very young adult. Even as a teenager wild in the streets, I liked to hang out in Greektown. It was a known quantity in part, since I had a Greek-American friend in high school whose mother was a mover and shaker in the city. But it was also a funky, slightly disreputable neighborhood back then, and a place that suburbanites then didn't frequent. One of the truly distinctive and long-closed restaurants, the International, was another favorite, but it was a step up from the Golden Fleece. I'm pretty sure the first (and last) time I ever tasted ouzo was when I and a group of my friends were at the Fleece for a quick gyro dinner before heading to the river to watch the Freedom Festival Fireworks. I must have been about sixteen at the time; I don't recall being carded.
They're decidedly less seedy now, but I admit my fond memories linger. So that's why I put the Golden Fleece on the list. That, and the ratings on sites like urbanspoon where people raved about the gyros. Please join me after the jump for photos and discussion about our actual meet-up.
A visit to a Greek restaurant would not be complete without ordering saganaki, which is typically kasseri cheese flambéed, accompanied by the exclamation of "Opa!" then doused with lemon juice. It is so common that our charming server probably does this twenty times a night.
All right, enough food pr0n for now. Time to get down to business regarding the meet-up proper--who was there, and what we discussed.
We came at intervals, some a little early, some a little late. I think we win the prize among ALL Kossack groups however: we had not one but TWO pairs of sisters in attendance! Is that cool, or what? (Unfortunately, that didn't occur to me till later, so we don't have any group shots of the four of them together.)
The seating and the noise level in the restaurant were not terribly conducive to group-wide conversation, unfortunately. I'm hoping that the others who were there will supplement this part of the narrative in comments. At my end of the table, we tended to talk about Detroit and about the NN coming up. (Just in case you need the nudge, here's the link for NN registration. Please Note: There is a SPECIAL RATE of $195 for "locals," which they are defining as any Michigan resident. To get that rate, scroll down on the page to see the "Locals Registration" rate.) By the way: the hotel rooms at the Marriott for the convention rate are starting to disappear. I reserved ours last week, and oddly enough the rooms for Wednesday night at the convention rate were already sold out. To be clear, they do have plenty of rooms, it just means that the non-convention rate of $239 plus tax will apply for Wednesday and soon for other nights, I assume, instead of the convention room rate of $159. Word to the wise.
One of our sisterly duos, poe and toneilda, are NN veterans. If I recall correctly, they've attended all but one or two, and they are thrilled to be able to host it in their own home town. We'd talked about it at other events already, and they both have lots of ideas. Please watch this space for announcements about these ideas, and how you can help out.
That's my cue to add another request: If you are in the metro Detroit area, defined very broadly, and you'd like to take part in host committee activities for NN14, please drop me a Kosmail ASAP. Specific tasks will be listed and described in a forthcoming diary, to appear by the 15th of this month. Pre-NN duties will be relatively minimal. But, if you volunteer at the event, some or all of your convention registration fee may be waived, depending on the number of shifts you cover. Pretty good incentive, no?
The other topic of conversation I promoted that evening had to do with Detroit history, particularly in Dave's honor, since he is an historian but not necessarily familiar with Detroit history and politics. I don't tend to toot my own horn about this, partly since I am far from an expert about every neighborhood, politician, corporation, movement, or significant historical event in the city. You know that saying about the more you know, the more you realize what you don't know? I feel that keenly, despite having an extensive academic background in the history of Detroit, especially the 20th c., on top of my own lived experience there. Still, I also feel an obligation to make some recommendations when I have the opportunity to do so regarding some excellent histories and studies of various periods and events in the city. To that end, I brought several of my favorite texts about Detroit for show-and-tell. I promise that I'll write up a diary about those great resources and others of current value very soon.
Let's see some group shots, shall we? My apologies in advance for the less-than-perfect photos. The lighting was not great, and we didn't have the room for a proper photo including everyone at once.
Thanks to poe for sharing her photos with me for this diary. Thanks for all the Motor City Kossacks who were able to turn out on a rather dreary evening for this meet-up. I look forward to our next time to get together.