Wasn’t this a glorious Michigan summer? In my lifetime here I’ve never seen more sunny days or spent more time in or on the water than this summer. I suppose I'd be singing a different tune if I was a farmer. A tourist's delight is a farmer’s drought.
One of the grand things about living in southeastern Michigan is when summer comes to its unofficial Labor Day end we throw a few parties that ends the season with a big bang.
Judy Davids and Patch diligently reported the big fun at the in Royal Oak. I made my way down to Hart Plaza for our annual visit to the Detroit Jazz Festival, which seems to be getting better every year. I heard a New Orleans-based jazz band rock the riverfront with the big crowd dancing and singing enthusiastically.
Our neighbors Carol Sprague and Jim Carnagie hosted a splendid Labor Day brunch to meet new and current neighbors. Folks like Jim and Carol make our neighborhood a special Royal Oak kind of place to live.
We had joy. We had fun.
In addition to the big events and neighborhood get-togethers, living in the greater Detroit area presents a variety of interesting and somewhat unusual activities to participate in.
I have tendency to reach out to some of the more unusual offerings and the results have been a bit unpredictable.
Let's see: there was the sensory deprivation tank experience, which my pal Scott Ouellette took me to on my birthday more than a few years ago. We're still laughing about floating in complete darkness in a coffin-like contraption for an hour.
Then there was skydiving with my youngest daughter Moira. The pilot's name was Hotdog and yes, he was eating a dog dripping with mustard while piloting us to 10,000 feet in a plane that resembled my 1967 Chevrolet Corvair with a propeller attached to it. I was attached to my guide, who was named Hippie, in a rather compromising position and when I balked at putting my feet out on the plane's strut, he simply threw both of us out of the plane.
There's a picture of me just before we jumped, all the color drained out of face as I wanly gave the requested thumbs up. I had puckers where none should exist on a human being.
I've tried acupuncture, which went fine until the acupuncturist asked me what my sign was. I tried hypnosis, but failed to see my previous six lives the hypnotist was leading me to. Plus, I was pretty much faking the cluck like a chicken thing.
It's fun trying new things. The lovely Kathy tries her best to keep her eyes from rolling as I head out the door for the next potential boondoggle, although recently I happened upon a new experience by accident and it turned out to be quite satisfying.
Get it on. Bang a gong.
I was taking an evening bike ride through my old haunts on the south side of Royal Oak before winding my way north on Maxwell towards Meininger Park. I heard this deep rumbling and looked over and smack dab in the middle of the park was a small group of people lying in the grass and at either end were a man and woman gently massaging gongs.
Yes, that's right, gongs.
I parked my bike and soon found myself in the gong circle. For the next thirty minutes I found myself drifting off into a very nice place where all my stress was forgotten and nobody knew my name. After the session, I met Carol Damoth and Christopher Davis, a delightful Royal Oak couple who turned Meininger Park into a restful refuge on warm summer night.
Ok, we'd better get the humor angle out of the way before continuing. Yes, it was a Gong Show. You can be dog-gonged sure of it! Christopher and Carol have heard them all and have even coined a few themselves, because although they love their craft, they also have a warm sense of humor.
I talked with them for a while and found they are among the gentle people who have looked and found ways to help people heal their bodies and souls through a variety of natural methods. Christopher has been a natural health practitioner for over 25 years and Carol is clinical psychologist and a highly educated practitioner of holistic medicine.
They have an office on Fourth Street and their face book page is: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sacred-Wave-Gong-Immersions/356178034443549?sk=info
It might seem a bit strange that a budding curmudgeon like me would embrace outside-of-the-mainstream approaches to health and happiness. What I've found is that holistic practices have been in practice for centuries around the world. Who's going to argue the benefits of yoga or meditation? If you think of the meditative qualities of Gregorian chants or prayers from the Christian faiths, it's much easier to open up to the deeply rhythmic tones produced by gongs, which have been practiced for centuries.
(Disclaimer: I’ve tried yoga, but I found I may be the most inflexible person within three counties and regrettably you can’t win at yoga.)
I spent part of Friday evening at the Shanti Yoga Center on Coolidge in Berkley enveloped by Christopher and Carol’s gong vibrations with a group of about 15 other folks and it was extraordinarily peaceful. I would recommend the experience and I’ll leave it at that. As Carol noted, their job is to facilitate your individual immersion. What you do with is up to you. Whether you’re wound a little tight, like me, or a naturally relaxed, it’s an interesting way to spend an evening.
Tell me more. Tell me more.
One more recommendation before I go. Patch has reported on the opening of Italian restaurant on Catalpa just west of Main Street. It has to be one of the best dining values in town and the take-out pizza is outstanding. It’s a great neighborhood restaurant.
That’s all from the land of gongs and pizzas!
It’s Monday: Let’s go!