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The Trippy Tunnel of Lights

October 11th, 2010 | 1 Comment

At the Detroit Metro Airport, there is a trippy tunnel of lights that connect the “A” terminal to the “B/C” terminal.  There are several internet videos of this mesmerizing, psychedelic surprise that lurks below the hustle and bustle of this busy airport.   Here is one example of The Light Tunnel.   Many travelers never know it is there because it mostly serves the smaller regional airlines.  My first experience with the Tunnel was when I was picking up Julius, a fox terrier puppy, in Elmira, New York.  Slightly irritated that I had to change terminals, I proceeded with the mindset that I would drag my suitcase into a crowded tram and hold on for the ride.   I can barely describe my surprise when I descended the escalator and found the Light Tunnel.

I am from Detroit and I don’t mind saying it either.  The outsider may scoff at this old city citing the race riots, urban blight, and the fall of the auto industry among it’s many flaws. Detroit has had it’s share of crooked politicians too such as Coleman “Nacho Daddy” Young and everyone’s favorite,  Mayor Kwame Kirkpatrick, orchestrator of the famous Manoogian Mansion party complete with strippers and one angry wife.   All of these are truths about Detroit and the list of it’s problems extends well beyond what has already been mentioned.  It’s going to take time and a great deal of leadership to pull Detroit out of it’s latest funk.

Even so, there is a spirit in Detroit that  is quirky, brilliant, and colorful but it lies below the surface waiting to be discovered, much like the Tunnel of  Lights. There is an eclectic mix of people and experiences that is very uniquely Detroit.  I recall taking my daughter Chrissy, to Lafayette Coney Island, open 24 hours and located near the police station,  at 1am (in our pajamas)  prior to Game 1 of  the World Series in 2006.   Greek immigrants have run this restaurant for the last 70 years and they still use old fashioned cash registers.  There is nothing fancy at this place, just a slice of uniqueness that you may not find in more polished, trendy cities.  Detroit has many of these oddball places and they all tend be operated by some one of a kind proprietor who can make the simple act of selling a hot dog, a memorable experience.  Moreover, there is nothing like a Red Wing hockey game at the ramshackle Joe Louis arena or night at Comerica Park where we are expected to pay in “dollas” and not dollars. In the old days, we used to joke with the Canadian Immigration as we passed through the Windsor Tunnel or the Ambassador Bridge to Windsor, Canada.   Since 9-11….not so much.  It’s still amazing that you can drive in an 80-year old tiled, tunnel and end up in another country!

Perhaps I am delusional and Detroit really is an old, run down city that is merely a pass through to other wonderful destinations.  And maybe the Light Tunnel is just a way to get from Terminal “A” to Terminal “B/C”.  However, there are always unexpected surprises in life and upon closer inspection, grow richer and more interesting if one is willing to slow down and have a look.   The Light Tunnel in Detroit is one such experience and within the city itself, lie many more.

Posted in Michigan and Motown

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