Sk8terz, Pizza, A Hospital And Journey:

I had lunch yesterday with my brother who was visiting from out of town. We dined at a local pizzeria that has a cool vibe and atmosphere that’s located inside of a re-purposed hospital that was abandoned in 1965 . The old Sacred Heart Hospital opened in 1915 and was built in an imposing Romanesque architecture in the Gothic Revival style that features stone work and arched door and window casings. The building now houses several restaurants, businesses and a small theater that stages productions. I have eaten at this restaurant many times including a lunch with a former employer who has lived in the city his entire eighty years. While we were dining he looked up from his meal and glanced around the room and stated, “You know, this used to be the morgue.” Not a very appetizing statement but greatly added to the creepiness of the dimly lit dining experience.

Anyway, my brother and I were seated at the bar enjoying drinks and music waiting for our meals to arrive when two teenaged sk8ter punks walked in with their sk8te boards in tow tucked under their arms. These little guys were cool sporting baggy pants, ragged t-shirts, unkempt hair and ball caps. They checked out the game room first for their friends but eventually settled in a booth directly behind us. Our bartender was engaged in a conversation with a couple that featured snippets like, “It smelled like ass,” and “My dream is to sail around the world,” and “Isn’t that the best cd ever, it’s perfect.” I was letting my eyes wander around the room which is sub-basement level admiring the antiseptic white subway style tiles that wrap around the room at a chair rail height and above that the familiar hospital green paint that’s flaky and peeling. I noticed an ipod that was plugged into the sound system and at the moment was broadcasting some ambient sounds.

The two little guys had ordered their meals and were sitting patiently waiting for their pizza to be served. I hadn’t really noticed but after awhile the music changed and the song Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey had suddenly come across the airwaves ending the ambient cool jazz tunes that had previously subliminally gone unnoticed. The melody and the lyrics started coming back to me:

Don`t Stop Believin`
Just a small town girl living in a lonely world
She took the midnight train going anywhere
Just a city boy born and raised in South Detroit
He took the midnight train going anywhere

I have always been indifferent about Journey and their songs. Remembering high school nights driving around town looking for things to do and listening to the radio with friends occupying every available seat in the car. When Journey’s Open Arms would come on the girls would always squeal with excitement and crank the volume full blast. I’ve never liked the song. I’ve never been a fan.

Enjoying my meal as best I could trying to ignore the Journey soundtrack that accompanied it I couldn’t help but overhear the two sk8ter punks singing loudly for the entire room to hear. They had ignored the song up until it got to that particular verse then they chimed in placing emphasis on particular words:

“A singer in a Smoky room the Smell of wine and Cheap perfume,”

They were shaking their heads and holding invisible microphones as if they had sung this verse for crowds before. The whole room turned around and laughed and with that they produced some cash and dropped it on the table exclaiming to the waitress, “Keep the change!”

Big spenders.


  1. One of the songs I sang in high school to the delight of all the "hood" girls was OPEN ARMS. If I sang that at a talent show or whatever the event happened to be, those girls would listen and force the entire room to listen. I have to admit, I love me some JOURNEY. :)

  2. Oh how I *loathed* Journey in high school. I think it's partly because they were so ubiquitous and so popular with people I hated.

    Now, however, I view them with less hatred....not love or anything, just less hatred....
    It's sort of like that beautifully renovated convent....once hated and feared, now appreciated for its beauty.


  3. Journey is enjoying somewhat of resurgence after the series finale of "The Sopranos" last year featured "Don't Stop Believin'" being played on a jukebox in a dingy diner before the ominous, inconclusive ending. How appropriate to hear that song in a dingy diner that used to be a morgue. I still can't stand Journey, though.