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Scenes from the D.
Tobin Anderson: Good Morning, Hank! It's supposed to be Monday.

John: But in fact, it's Saturday. Hank, that is Tobin Anderson, world famous children's book author and winner of the 2006 National Book Award. This is the guide.

Guide: (nods, waves) What's goin' on?

John: Some quick background information. Before Tobin and I met up at a book festival in Kalamazoo, Tobin spent a day in Detroit looking at abandoned buildings, where he randomly met our tour guide. When we tried to fly back to the East on Friday, our flights got cancelled, so we called the guide up and he offered to take us on an urban exploring tour through the ruins of Detroit. As you will see, the guide is something of a genius.

Guide: Chicago School style is down the street further, which is the Lawyer Building, which is currently abandoned. Also, Bonnah & Chaffee building, but, yeah, best example of Chicago School architecture. 


Guide: He made a building that could be seen from, like, miles away, that made an impression on people, that didn't just blend in. It stuck out. 

John: Hank, that's the Eastern Wig and Hair Company. We're gonna go in it, I think. But not...not in a traditional way.

(Tobin hangs from a fire escape to pull it down while the guide watches)
John: Okay, so that didn't work, Hank, and I'll tell you why. Uh, the owner of the building happened to drive by while Tobin was pulling down the fire escape and then I pretended that were making a movie, um, presumably entitled "The Story of Tobin pulling Down a Fire Escape", and then the woman let us go. (as he enters a dark room) Hank, I'm in an abandoned building. I'm feeling some anxiety. Yeah, I wonder what that says on the (?~1:53) on the -

Tobin: Honor and Family


Tobin: Uh, the question of abandonment.

John: Yes.

Tobin: I wonder why there are so many lights on?

Guide: It means there could be a caretaker. You know, it could come on and check on it. I mean, not every day.

(John looks scared) John: A quick disclaimer, although I assume this goes without saying: Just because I broke into an abandoned building doesn't mean that I generally consider it to be a good idea. The circumstances were extraordinary. I mean...okay, here is the deal, if you find yourself with the reining National Book Award winner and a 17 year-old architectural genius, then you could break into abandoned buildings. Otherwise, it's not ethical.

(Is amazed) Oh, man.

(Tobin is lying in an old bathtub) The Printz honor winner eats a nutrient grain a a Detroit.

Tobin: I am cold.

John: Is it a happy place, Tobin? Does it feel safe?

Tobin: No, cause there are holes at that end of the floor. Look.

John: Oh, shit!

The guide is a photographer and he comes to these buildings partially to shoot them. (looking at a column; Tobin enters with a blue and grey toy football) Tobin, someone in here has played repeated games of tic-tac-toe. (Xs have won all games)

Tobin: Clearly the O's have mad skills. (outside the building) We heard people walking around; we heard people talking. We had to flee. You can tell John...John's anxiety from the fact that the camera is shuttering like a dove giving birth.

Guide: (in the dark) Okay, we're now entering the United Artists Theatre designed by C. Howard Crane in a Spanish Catholic style. We're currently in the lobby so take a couple of steps in here.

John: I'm using the camera light to see where I'm going. Everything is covered in ice. It's actually, uh, thin.

Tobin: We are in a kind of a rotunda with a line of mirrors around the upper edge, the floors and all...

John: The light is starting to come through and you can see the skeleton of the building with plasters off/on away. All the - did you hear that..that screeching, I think that's rodents (close up of John trying to look spooky) or is it vampires?

Tobin: I'm on the stage now. Dies irae, dies illa, solvet sæclum in favilla. Teste David cum Sybilla.

John: Hank, this is some of that stuff that has fallen already which have probably made me think twice, come to think of it, but it is just layers and layers of rubble. Hank, once I got past the anxiety of being someplace I shouldn't be, I started to think about the ruins themselves, the eerie beauty of the ice-encrusted decay. To the tour guide, the ruins seemed to represent a failure, a failure to recognize and use the gifts of the past. To Tobin, they also spoke of the inevitability of it all, the stark reminder that one day, every building will be ruins. I felt a mix of anxiety and reverence that I haven't felt since I worked at the hospital. I kept slipping up and calling it the cathedral instead of the theater.


John: Hank, we are in the office building next door now, our...tour guide has taken us here.

Tobin: National Geographic from 1968. (reads from cover) “Iran's Shah crowns himself in glittering Tehran.” It was a very different time.

John: All right, go ahead, guys. Uh, man! It is like never-ending ruins. Look at this Tobin, the staircase to nowhere.

Guide: Now pull it back open, it should do the same thing.

John: It's heavy, huh? Look at all these safe deposit boxes, some of them half removed. So how are we going to get out of here?

Guide: We are gonna open up the door, walk out of the door, walk down the sidewalk to a fence that will lift up and we slip under.

Tobin: There will be trouble.

John: Oh, right, first we have to go through the troll hole again. (outside the theater) Hank, we just came through a hole in that fence and went into that theater and then into this office building. (looking at pictures) Hank, this is what the theater used to look like that we were in today. Wow, it doesn't mean you can tell that it is the same place, but just barely.

Guide: Yeah, I mean that's...that's decayed beyond recognition for the most part.

Tobin: Oh there you go!

John: There is...there is the stage.

Guide: You could see-

John: Wow, look at that-

Guide: You could see me in there. You could see the details that were stolen out by the scrappers or whatever and that like-

(in an airport) Hey, Hank, tell me if this place looks familiar. (shot of a red Hummer; John flips it off)

(back home) Tobin: Man, you know, the, um, most frightening thing about that whole experience in the theater was, uh, there was one point at which I came around the corner and I saw a kind of like a Quasimodo-like figure, you know, kind of like this (imitates figure) and, uh, I just-oh! Oh, I am sorry. Oh!

John: I don't know what he is talking about.