Monday, June 21, 2010

Cut it Out, Detroit! The Motorama Motel

A few readers have complained to me that my blog isn't
"cosmopolitan" enough, that it doesn't leave my small world of cereal, Buffy and fashion and venture out into the real world. That it doesn't fit today's jet-set lifestyle of waking up in Toronto one day and flying to Italy the next. Well, readers, I've heard you. And I want you to have the world.

Starting NOW, my blog will feature traveling posts, where I share my tales of traveling the world. I'll discuss cultures, cuisine, airplanes, tips and even practical stuff like the weather. My goal with these new "cosmopolitan" traveling posts is to inspire my readers to see the beauty and wonder that is out there waiting for them in the world, if only they go out and find it.

Ergo, my first travel post is a review of the Motorama Motel located in Detroit, Michigan.

LOCATION: 100 W 8 Mile Road, Ferndale, MI, 48220, USA (close proximity to Detroit)
CONTACT: 1-248-547-9770 (phone)

Some back story first: When my girlfriends Velvet, Heather, Leslie and I were planning a road trip, the obvious choice was Detroit. The only question was "Where should we stay?"

We spent some research time on Google maps and checked out reviews of nearby hotels. Here's a choice sampling of reviews of several Michigan hotels:

The Knights Inn:
"Worst hotel ever! Stained sheets, bugs in room dirty stained carpet, door didn't lock properly. Towels dirty & stained. I would not stay there again if it was free!"

"We ordered a non-smoking room that REEKED of smoke and had two ashtrays in it. There were no clocks...There was hair on my fiance's pillow when we got there that wasn't ours. There was silly string hanging from a lamp and on the wall that never got cleaned previously."

America's Best Value Inn:
"It needs to be torn down and rebuilt. It's dirty doors are broken and dirty carpets needs replaced lighting is bad. I had to clean my own room. Laundry is terrible. Its a not suitable to be even rated. ...‎"

and lastly,

The Royal Inn Motel:

"Employee here rapes woman!‎‎"

Of the same motel: "Reasonably-priced, handicapped-accessible rooms feature king- and queen-sized beds and standard amenities; fireplace and Jacuzzi tubs available at some locations....‎"

Ohh, a Jacuzzi!!!

So after weighing the pros and cons of each establishment (clocks/no clocks, silly string in room/no silly string in room, rape/no rape), we made the obvious choice and decided to book our stay in the MOTORAMA MOTEL. It had zero reviews (that's a good thing, right?!) and after seeing the street view pic which looked like an empty lot, how could we resist?


Here we are, so happy and clean and excited to spend the night in Detroit. We're pumped about the Motorama Motel and all that it potentially has to offer us (we're also a little excited about checking out Butch Walker and the Black Widows that night in a fancy Detroit nightclub, the Magic Bag. Yes, that's the real name. And yes, we felt funny telling the Border officers that we were heading to the Magic Bag for a night o' fun. ).


This was one of the first sights that greeted us after walking into the Motorama Motel's spacious lobby--the broken ice machine. Which was really disappointing, because after a five hour car ride (one hour spent sitting in the massive traffic line at the Border), we all wanted to relax with a bucket of ice. Not meant to be, I guess. However, the front desk DID have single Magnum condoms for $2.00 each. That's way cheaper than in Canada!

The staff man at the desk gave us a key and told us we should take a look at our room before paying. I figured it was maybe like how when you order wine in a fine restaurant, they pour you a bit to taste before you commit to the entire bottle. It was not like that. After struggling with our door for an embarrassing amount of time, we finally managed to bust into our room. We were greeted by the smell of cigarette smoke and wet, possibly moldy dogs, which was strange because we requested a smoke-free room and were told we couldn't bring wet dogs. After realizing we only had about 30 minutes before our Butch Walker concert, we paid our $60 fee (plus a $5.00 deposit for the key and TV remote control).


Velvet and our deluxe platinum suite 128.

So, of course the first thing four gals want to do after a five hour car trip is use the washroom, maybe take some quick showers, wash hands and freshen up for a special night in Detroit.

...Hey! I think we found the source of the wet, moldy dog scent. We could probably also do some CSI-type dusting and find DNA of the last inhabitants of our room, who are most likely in nursing homes now, rocking and reminiscing about the golden years of the Motorama Motel.

...And a closeup. All forms of showers were quickly nixed. As well as hand washing. A pact was also made never to remove our shoes while in the room, even while asleep.

Looks like we're having fun, right? Just a few girls pre-drinking Miller Lite (nice....), listening to some tunes and putting makeup on before a concert. WRONG. We had to get ready in complete silence because a group of men pulled up in a pickup truck outside of our room and began banging on the room right next to ours and yelling for the residents to come out. We instantly froze, turned off our music, pulled our curtains shut tight and ceased all talking, except for quickly devising an emergency exit plan (me lying down on the floor, doing a kip up and then knocking both men out while Heather, Leslie and Velvet run out of the room). You can see the fear in Velvet and Heather's eyes if you look closely.

Here's the device that we placed all of our faith in, our door lock which looked like someone had taken a shotgun to it.

The men soon needed a break from their terrifying antics and took off in their pickup truck to pick up more beer and chainsaws. We used this time to take in more of our room's amenities and quirks.

What's this? Some ketchup on the ceiling? Ketchup looking suspiciously like dried blood? Oh well, no harm in a little ceiling blood. As long as it's not on the mattresses, right?!



After a mild freak-out re: blood bed, we realized maybe we were taking the wrong approach to our room. I mean, we're in Detroit. In a motel that offers rooms by the hour. OF COURSE there's blood on the bed/ceiling! It was time to embrace Detroit and her many customs. So after Velvet and I called the non-blood bed, I went to hang up my coat in the closet, which happened to be occupied by an extremely heavy piece of wood. We played the "what the hell is this?" game with it for awhile before realizing it was the blood bed's missing headboard.

See the bare patches of wood and all the chipped paint above the bed? Missing headboard territory. And yes, Heather and Leslie got stuck with both the blood bed and missing headboard bed. And yes, they are complete slobs. You two deserved the bed of shame.


We talked to some of the band and told them we were staying at the Motorama Motel. They were all like "Ohhh shittt." Instant street cred.

After an awesome three hour concert, we cabbed it home to our sweet abode, drunk but definitely not drunk enough.

You know what's fun? Stains on bedspreads that magically appear when you take a picture of them! Also fun: sleeping fully clothed to avoid any kind of contact with the sheets, using towels as pillowcases and seriously debating whether we should sleep in Leslie's two -door compact car. We did all of these things and more at the Motorama Motel!

Someone broke our "never take off your shoes while in the room EVER" pact and that same person really regretted doing so. Note jacket used as pillow and a refusal to sleep under the blankets.

Finally, the soft sunbeams of morning shone into Room 128. The daylight really brought out more of our room's subtle charms that we had somehow managed to miss the night before in our Miller Lite haze. Like artwork! In a frame! Sure, the glass frame had a huge, jagged crack in it and the picture was a bit unoriginal, but we appreciated the effort.

Motorama Motel, seriously, take the time to thank your interior designer. They served you well.

We decided to get the hell out of there about five minutes after we woke up, so we threw our stuff into bags and hightailed it. Conveniently, we were already dressed head-to-toe (H2T) from the night before, saving us about one minute. Which we actually appreciated.

On the way out, we ran into Motorama Motel's hardest working employee, the cleaning man. Notice how he's equipped with merely a vacuum. Zero clean bedding or towels, no disinfectant spray, no cleaning agents and NO MINTS. That's okay, vacuuming is really important too; most Motorama guests probably rave about the lack of apparent dust balls on the floor. And strangely enough, our room was still somehow dusty.

D plus. They earned the plus because we survived the (terror-filled) night and walked away with only a few suspicious-looking red (bed bug? Towel as pillow marks? ) bites. A Detroit souvenir.

My advice to my fellow travellers considering a stay at the Motorama Motel would be to bring your own sheets, pillows, pillow cases, blankets, shower curtain, shower shoes, snow suit (or wet suit, as long as it encases your entire body leaving no skin exposed) for sleeping, some sort of weapon for protection (unless you're really good at kip ups) and maybe a car to sleep in after you're still grossed out by your beds.

Goodbye, Motorama Motel. I look forward to writing my Google review of you.

Readers, I hope you enjoyed my first cosmopolitan travelling post and that you feel a little more inspired to see the world! If so, I've done my job.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


For those of you who think that the Great Grains saga has come to a conclusion or that it's quietly been put to rest, I say HA! It occupies an enormous amount of my thoughts. When I last updated, Kraft had informed me that they had recently sold Great Grains and it was now under new ownership. Exit Collies & Kim from the story (goodbye, my dear, most unhelpful friends).

Enter a few new characters--Post Foods LLC and a one Micheal Carpenter. To congratulate Post Foods on their new grainy acquisition, I sent them a letter briefing them on my long history with Great Grains, my roller coaster relationship with Kim and Collies from Kraft, the letter-writing campaign, everything. I pretty much spilled my guts and heart to them, hoping to forge a new friendship.

Read it below.

Pretty nice, huh? I tried to make a good first impression--cordial, enthusiastic, yet a bit forward. Goal-oriented. I felt very optimistic that we could turn things around this time.

A few weeks later I received a response from Post in the mail. Any hopes I had of a bright beginning were crushed in the first sentence of the letter. Read on to be dismayed.

Wow, Michael Carpenter. Way to crush my hopes and dreams in a single word.

"We are so happy to learn that you enjoy Discontinued and appreciate your interest."

First of all, he obviously needs a better proofreader, as I doubt he actually meant to refer to Great Grains as "Discontinued" and secondly, I already don't like him. Michael made his biggest mistake when he told me that there are no plans to bring Great Grains to Canada due to low demand.

I beg to differ.

I immediately knew it was time to up my game. I decided to show Michael Carpenter and Post Foods exactly how many Canadians would like to eat Great Grains every single day of their lives. I began a simple petition and spent the next few weeks asking all kinds of people (office managers, dodgeball athletes, artists, theater ushers, men, etc.) to sign my petition. After I received 100 signatures (just a hint of what's to come, Post Foods), I mailed this letter and my petition back to Michael at Post Foods.


As you can see, the petition looks pretty beat-up and worn because it travelled everywhere with me for a few weeks. The most common questions I received were "Is this for real?" (YES.) and "What's so great about this cereal?" (Umm, crunchy pecans and clusters PLUS grains). I also received quite a few requests to do similar petitions for Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Pebbles, Oreo O's, Frosted Cheerios, pretty much any cereal only sold in the USA (one cereal battle at a time, folks). Many other people told me I should create an online petition or a Facebook group, which may indeed happen, but for now I wanted to do a good, old-fashioned handwritten one.

So what's going on right now? Well, I'm playing the waiting game with Post, checking my mailbox everyday for signs of a letter and checking my front porch for signs of a huge Great Grains shipment delivery. So far, nothing. Not even a letter or a tiny, sample size box of GG. I think it would be quite cowardly of Post Foods and Michael not to respond to this and I would be pretty sad after all of that work. But you know what, if that happens, then Phase 2 will have to begin. Which will be a petition with a THOUSAND names on it. Including some celebrities (probably my man Anthony Stewart-Head). If you're a non-Canadian who would like to support the cause, write your name in the comments section and I will put you on the next one. And thank you so much to all of the wonderful people who did sign. And to everyone reading this, I say: