Thursday, December 22, 2016

Public Access Santa Call-In 2006

This may not be to everyone's liking but for the holiday time I thought I'd post this clip from a "Santa Call-In" show I produced with the local public access station, GRTV 10 years ago.

I think it's probably the most fun if I present it with no background info and let you guys just enjoy it for what it is....

Merrrrrry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Goodbye Kmart!

 It's become a real pattern here that when I post a new update, it's about another cool, old thing going away.  2016 was quite a year, huh?  Things I can think of off the top of my head that closed this year- Flying Bridge Fish Market, Great Lakes Shipping Company, Konkle's Bar, DJ's Lounge, Elliot's News Stand is about to go.... And now Kmart!

I've posted before of my love for Kmart. Trips to that store were a big deal in my childhood.
In my mind's eye, it will always look like this....

And not this.....

Byron Center Kmart on it's last day, December 11th 2016

Also, this time of year will always make me think of this.....

As of December 11th, Grand Rapids Kmart on Plainfield- the last remaining piece of North Kent Mall- is closed. Same with Byron Center Kmart on 68th St.

Byron Center Kmart opened October 3rd, 1994 and the Plainfield location opened February 23rd 1978.  The longest running Kmart in Grand Rapids, 38 years of business!

There are still locations open in Muskegon and Hastings, if you feel like a nostalgia road trip! Not like it would really be the same, but sometimes if I find myself in one of these stores I like to daydream about them good ol' childhood days.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Some ancient civilization is visible while they're working on this building downtown...

I was walking downtown and came upon some work being done on the 50 Monroe building.  When I moved here in the 80s I remember it being white with mirrored windows. At some point in the last few years it was redone to charcoal. Right now it looks like some of the exterior has been removed and underneath some very old architecture is revealed! ....

So from what I could find, this is actually three buildings joined together, dating from 1890 to 1911. 
It once looked like this:

And also this....

Here you can see the "Chic University" sign which is partially visible in the new photos above.
Apparently the reason the pieces of building are being removed is that the building was recently purchased by a real estate company 4 1/2 years ago and they are considering historic renovation.  That would be pretty amazing if they could bring it back to looking like it did in these old photos!

Anyway, I really like "Elliot's News Stand" that still resides in the building and has for 30 years.  I often stopped in there for a coffee and donut and sometimes a copy of "Heavy Metal."  I hope they are able to continue.

Also, apparently Chic University of Cosmetology still exists.  I was aware of them because a couple girls I knew in the 80s were going there but also, it seemed like they were running TV ads all the time.  I actually found one of them on one of my VHS copies of Pepsi Dance Trax.

Here, I uploaded it to youtube for you...

Friday, October 28, 2016

Happy Halloween Retro-GR!

The other night me and my friend and fellow "80s DJ" Dana West, aka "DJ Silvahalo" played some records at Harmony Brewing for their vinyl night. We made a fun Halloween mix and I thought I'd make it available hear to listen to and download.

I wasn't keeping a track listing but in this pretty eclectic 2 1/2 hour mix you'll hear John Carpenter, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Skinny Puppy, Ministry, Bauhaus, Depeche Mode, Front 242, Berlin, David Bowie, Oingo Boingo, sountracks of Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Rocky Horror picture Show, Fright Night, Lost Boys, Ghostbusters (but not that song), Monster Squad, Halloween, The Fog and a bunch of vintage Halloween sound effects records. Amazingly, neither of us "80s DJs" brought Michael Jackson Thriller but that's okay. Having to play only from vinyl changes what we have available to play and personally I think it's fun working with limitations. Also, the little pops and scratches and all give it a nice organic feel that's different from digital. Well, I mean even though you are now listening to it as a digital file!
 I like how this came out and I hope you get some spooky enjoyment out of it!

You can stream from the widget below or download the whole MP3 file here:

Friday, July 15, 2016

Great Lakes Shipping Company restaurant

So this one is a little late. I took quite a few photos for it with my "film"™ camera, a Minolta SR-T101, and it was a little while before they were developed. Anyway, lateness doesn't count so much on a retro blog right?

I got to go the Great Lakes Shipping Co for the first and last time May 27th, the day before they closed for good. It was very charming and historic and I really felt disappointed to hear it was closing, even though I'd never gone there. Quite a few places around this city have gone under due to not having enough business to keep going and when they'd close, I could feel mildly guilty for not supporting them. In this case, it seems like they were a victim of  "progress."  The historic building didn't fit with the plaza owner's vision of a bunch of generic concrete boxes I guess. Great Lakes had to either close or move and they couldn't afford to relocate.  Such a shame.

The restaurant is the longest-running tenant for Breton Village, built in 1971 and opening as The Starboard Tack by West Michigan restaurateur Richard DenUyl, who died in 2008. He opened nearly 20 restaurants in his career, including the Point West Inn overlooking Lake Macatawa in Holland.

I won't really get into trying to review the food. I am not somebody who frequents steak-houses and has high standards. My girl and I both got the "Surf and Turf" and drank some Old Fashions and we thought it was damn fine.  I'm sorry to see this place go but glad to have had the chance to experience it once before it's gone.

Here are photos from our visit. There's quite a lot. I was trying to capture as much as I could as something for people to see down the road after it has been demolished.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Renovating The West Side Signal Tower

I've always liked that old railroad signal tower on Bridge Street in front of El Sombrero restaurant.  A cool piece of history that has been there as long as I can remember.  Come to find out it's been there 125 years!
There is a ton of new development happening on the West Side lately and quite a bit of the old is leaving to make room for the new.  I am glad that some of the plans try to respect the history of the area.
The new owners of El Sombrero took down the old signal tower the other day with plans to restore it.  It'll be cool to see what they do with it...

Photos by Maxwell Crosby, We Are Westsiders

Monday, March 28, 2016

Schmidt's Show Bar

Here is another round of local archeology prompted by a postcard....

Another charming place from a bygone era. Check out the curved ceiling.

The address on the reverse shows 41-43 S. Division.  That would make this the recently demolished building that was Pub 43.

Once demolished, some 100+ year old signage for Battle Ax Tobacco was visible on the side of the building housing Republic next door!

Word is, Pub 43 is still looking for a new location to re-open. I really only ever had been in there once before but I do remember the curved ceiling....

I believe before Pub 43, it was called Joey's for a long time. Anyone out there have any knowledge of this place?

In it's day, Schmidt's looks like it could've been a happenin' spot!  Or maybe not, I have no idea. Cool building though!

Also, just wanted to say thanks for some of the kind comments from people enjoying the blog. It's good encouragement to keep it going.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Scottie's Lounge

Some Grand Rapids archaeology.

I found this postcard, showing this very charming looking place...

The address on the flipside put it on this pretty desolate South Division Corner. Can't really see any remnant...

Then I found this picture from 1950 of the same part of the street (GR Public Library collection)....

There it is, down on the right....

Never heard of "Scottie's Cocktail Lounge" but it looks pretty cute. Wish I could step into this photo and check it out.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Wurzburg green stamp bank

This is a charming little green stamp bank I found at Eastown Antiques.
I sort of remember "green stamps" being around when I would go to some stores with my grandparents shopping. I imagine they were something like a paper version of the "rewards program" most places have nowadays.