Deadspin's own A.J. Daulerio is in Detroit, trying to find things to do. He files this report; check out all his reports right here.
Yes, it's invigorating reporting from Detroit with absolutely no agenda, limited press passes or knowledge of the city. Some things turn out better when there s no real planning or thought involved. However, as I found out yesterday, it s best to take a little bit of time to familiarize myself with surroundings in a strange city. After running around in a harried, unkempt pace for the three days I ve been here, it finally caught up to me.
I dashed out the door at 4 p.m. to run over to Cobo Hall to participate in an AOL Sports Bloggers Live radio broadcast at 5 p.m. I sped down I-75 toward Detroit - a route I ve become a comfortable with in the past three days - and after detouring from my usual exit, found the first $20 parking "lot" I could, to get away from traffic. The parking lot was more non-descript than the previous places I d found in the now heavily congested downtown area, but I was in a rush. I took a quick mental picture of the surrounding area and figured I'd worry about the exact location later.
At 6 p.m. I left Cobo Hall, exhausted, looking forward to a night off of party crashing since I d been here. By 6:55 p.m., after walking through the streets of Detroit and the whole area of where I thought I parked my pseudo-SUV, the Mitsubishi Endeavor, for close to an hour, it slowly dawned on me that I had no idea where I parked my car.
Rest of the story after the jump.
I remembered a few cross streets I thought I had seen while sprinting to Cobo, but they were scattered —- at best. I had no ticket for from the lot because I had no time for such matters. I walked up to every police officer and parking lot attendant I could find, and they did the best they could, based on my scatterbrained information ("No, I don t remember the cross streets ... no, I don t have a parking stub ... no, I don t remember what landmarks I parked near ... um, I think I remember it being near a street called Grand-something."). They all responded with the same exasperated apologies and wished me luck.
Then one officer laid it out for me: You re trying to find a needle in a haystack, man."
I walked through the WinterFest on Woodward Street 12 times. I passed by Comerica Park and Ford Field another 20 times. I walked up and down Congress Street, retracing my frantic steps from Cobo. I saw my old friend the RenCen, and I remembered how hopeful I was, just three short days ago. Now, I hated the city. All of the newly lit streets with their Super Bowl XL banners became taunting symbols of failure. The streets were completely packed with Steelers jerseys, Lions jerseys and groups of people wearing company windbreakers (Comcast, Pontiac, AOL, so on), all of which I contemplated punching at varying points.
"Detroit Rock City" was blaring from every outdoor speaker at Winter Fest. I was going to lose my shit. Spending a night in jail was much more appealing than having to walk around downtown anymore.
I became desperate. I paid two homeless people to help me find the car. Basically, they just ran 10 feet ahead of me and pointed at every parking lot they came across and yelled "Here! Here it is!" But even they gave up after 20 minutes. Plus, I was carrying thousands of dollars worth of video equipment in downtown Detroit. Even though the city is active and heavily policed this week, it is still not the best idea to walk around with two guys wearing beat-up trench coats, slippers and urine.
Then I found a well-lit area and decided to go over my videotape; I thought I remembered taking some footage as soon as I ran out of the car to show where Cobo Hall was. I scanned the footage and, yes, indeed I had taken some shots on my walk over. But, as we all know, my videotaping skills are somewhat suspect, so according to my tape, I had much started my journey at the corner of a "Half-Curb-Sidewalk" and "Jacket Sleeve."
At 9 p.m., after traversing the area and much further for another hour, I finally had to call for a ride. My legs were exhausted, and I was becoming delirious. I started following a family dressed in Steelers jerseys because they seemed so happy and content, far from my exhaustion and defeat. I got picked up, drove around for another couple hours and then took a break. I spent the rest of the night trying to figure out exactly what to tell the rental car company the next day. What could you say? I lost the car? I misplaced it? Should I fax them over a map of the general area and just leave it at that?
Finally, at 2:30 a.m., with the assistance of friends more knowledgeable of the downtown area, I finally found the car. The lot was completely different than I d remembered it. The city is so busy closing off streets to keep up with the surging crowds that it completely cloistered off my parking area. Sure, if I d remembered the street it was on (Randolph), I could ve found it, oh, seven hours earlier. But the city should be cognizant of the people covering the Super Bowl who pay not attention to things such as "street signs" and "landmarks." It s just not fair to me, or you, the readers. I plan on sending Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick a strongly worded letter this afternoon.