the scenic drive that ticks off the neighborhood:
You turn left off Bonnell Avenue in East Grand Rapids
onto a one-way stretch of unpaved road that winds
along Reeds Lake. The lake is glistening to your left.
The mansions of the people who wanted to make this
a private drive crown the hill to your right. Sometimes
its great to be one of the unwashed. For additional
fun, dont wash your car either.
Its the jukebox you dont
mind losing your quarters to:
In the basement of J. Gardellas at 11 Ionia Ave.
SW is a noble machine that stocks vintage Springsteen.
And who knew (besides us): Grand Rapids is the home
of Rowe International Inc., the No. 1 manufacturer
of commercial and home CD jukeboxes.
Its the noseprint-worthy
... with unsurpassed views of Grand Rapids. The
city lights twinkle at night from a table at Cygnus,
an aerie at the top of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.
And the venerable neighborhood
The Pickwick Tavern, 970 Cherry St. SE, has adorned
its location for decades. No food. No atmosphere.
Just booze. Your grandfather probably drank there.
Its the weird and wonderful
at WYCE (88.1 FM on your radio, wyce.org
online). Where the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Tragically
Hip, D.J. Spooky and The Waterboys live in harmony.
Its the pottery and art
at the 25-year-old Urban Institute for Contemporary
Arts, the states largest multidisciplinary contemporary
arts center. Inside the 41 Sheldon Blvd. SE facility,
art types can immerse themselves in dance performances,
exhibits of various media, poetry slams, music and
most all things arty.
Its the fast food without
the guilt or indigestion
at local D&W salad bars, each stocked
with a mélange of vegetables plus dressings,
croutons and a choice of soups. Its green. Its
fast. Its cheap. They could slice the cucumbers
a shade thinner, but whos going to quibble?
And your choice of decks.
The deck at The BOB has a nice big city
feel to it. And I like to dine on the deck at Roses
in East GR, writes Matt Dowdy.
Theres a place to
watch fireworks up close:
Lay on your back on the middle mound at Ah-Nab-Awen
Park (between Pearl and Bridge streets downtown)
during July Fourth or Septembers Celebration
on the Grand festivities. You can almost feel the
sparks touch your face. How appropriate that this
6.5-acre park - once home to an American Indian
village - means resting place.
Theres an answer to big-box
Gallery 154, the gift shop of choice at Christmas,
when every rafter, every rack and every table is
festooned with ornaments. And this aesthetically
pleasing shop at 1456 Lake Drive SE is the perfect
place to buy a tea set or an ornamental mermaid
all the year round. Owners Christine and Ron Lichtenstein
represent several local artists and give you a little
of their own art in the form of painted brown paper
bags that serve as gift wrap.
And theres a way to pretend
youre cultured when what you really want is to
Grand Rapids own Festival of the Arts. Yakitori,
souvlaki, walk-around tacos, Swan Lake Cake. Yeah,
yeah, yeah, and paintings and performances and artsy
fun for the kiddies (who demand a little excitement
in the first week of June).
We have a shoe store that
The footwear purveyor of choice for basketball players,
aliens and Sasquatch with triple E feet. Van Hoecks
Shoes, a fixture at its 95 Monroe Center St. location,
will even special order to fit the unwieldy womanfoot
and the ungainly manfoot.
We have a coffeehouse that
Kava House hunkers down on a little peninsula of
Eastown property at 1445 Lake Drive SE and draws
students, strollers, suits and sweethearts. Yeah,
the coffees good, but theres something else about
the place. Its warm and convivial and filled with
the best sort of in-jokes.
And a DJ couple who chatter
while breakfast is served:
Ah, Steve and Sabrina, the duo at WSNX 104.5. FM.
Shes a little bit gospel. Hes a little bit rock
n roll. The good girl and the evil older brother.
Then theres the great
bar burger that isnt a Cottage Burger:
The olive burger at Teazers, 819 Ottawa Ave. NW.
Its served on a sourdough bun. What else ya need?
And those staircases we
love to hate:
The sometimes-too-revealing, open-to-below winders
in The BOB and at Grand Rapids Community Colleges
Applied Technology Center. We see London. We see
And the weirdest thing
weve done lately:
We converted the former Herpolsheimers Department
Store into the headquarters of the Grand Rapids
Police Department. Downside: Theres a motor pool
where the Santa Train used to run. Upside: Residents
of the Peck building get to see men in uniform 24/7.
And the bartender worth
A reader says Ben at Zs. Katie Oquist, the
office manager at the 168 Louis Campau Promenade
eatery and drinkery, explained why: He just
does a good job. Hes fast. Hes efficient.
And the rinky-dink tradition
The Hollyhock Parade that files down Calvin Avenue
on the citys southeast side every Fourth of July.
Kids on bikes, scooters and in wagons; floats; fire
engines; bands; politicians in cars; Miss Liberty
and Uncle Sam; Popsicles; coffee; cookies. Its
a slice of 50s Americana.
And the coolest thing named
DAVE! Nah, the arena. That whole curing cancer thing
theyre doing at the Institute is really great,
too, but you cant buy tickets to it. (So kidding.)
And those parts of town
with brick streets:
They have so much personality. Theyre
just so charming, writes Amy Campbell-Patterson
about Ionia Avenue and Eastown.
How to Play Hooky No. 1:
A sandwich at the Schnitz Delicatessen, 1315 E.
Fulton St. We recommend the sublime tuna melt: dill,
havarti and white albacore on rye. Oy. Walk off
your lunch while shopping at the Fulton Street farmers
How to Play Hooky No. 2:
A leisurely lunch at Charleys Crab (63 Market Ave.
SW) served by the peerless Doug-the-waiter. Dessert?
A chocolate martini at Bistro Bella Vita (44 Grandville
Ave. SW) with Doug-the-waiter. Charleys number
is 459-2500. Dougs number is available upon request.
How to Play Hooky No. 3:
Eat wherever you want. Then take an afternoon to
count the headless statues (they call them sculptures)
at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.
Bonus points for anyone who can explain how "Summer
Dances" is more than a funky pair of speaker
How to Play Hooky If Youre
Obsessed With Your Swing:
Eighteen holes at the Rees Jones-designed Thousand
Oaks Golf Club, 4100 Thousand Oaks Drive in Plainfield
We want to be stuck in
an elevator with:
Jim Rinck, the cool jerk (and we mean that in a
good way) of Grand Rapids politics and the newly
anointed president of the school board. Eminently
quotable and perennially ornery. Great glasses.
And theyd have the elevator fixed before he got
What We Love:
** Ultradogs at Yesterdog, 1505 Wealthy St. SE.
Dont try to look up the phone number. They dont
** The view of the downtown bridges over the Grand
River at night.
** Morris Avenue in Heritage Hill.
** People-watching at Blues on the Mall.
** Beer. Specifically, the local availability of