Tues., April 5, started at 7 am. (Kill me now; that’s the middle of the night for me.) Thank God there was a Yum Yum (my dictation software just typed that as Young Dumb) Donuts open in Southfield, the suburb of Detroit where Fox News is located. So I hit Young Dumb for a quick sugar infusion and rolled up the street to Fox in time to be on the morning news. Thank God the Green Room, one of the few actually painted green I’ve been in, had a nice, squishy couch. The donuts hadn’t quite kicked in yet.

The lighting in the studio definitely woke me up…

…though unfortunately, not quite enough.

The anchor interviewing me, Anqunette Jamison, was really nice and definitely had done her research. Nothing worse than waking up two hours after you’ve gone to bed to be interviewed by someone who wished that Reese Witherspoon was sitting across from them.

Driving back we passed this sign on a building, which emulated the discombobulated feeling I still had from being up before the crack of dawn and having to sound coherent.

We also passed vintage gems like this. I love that the pigeons have checked in.

I love any and all Deco/Streamline Moderne architecture.

Other than that second story looks like an add-on. Way too boxy and wrong kind of windows.  But excellent color scheme and at least the occupants had the good sense not to knock it down.

This wall killlllled me:

I took photos next to everyone and then it was on to Mumford, my high school and the main reason I was in Detroit that week, to conduct the marching band playing a medley of seven of my greatest hits with the cast of my musical, The Color Purple, that was playing at The Fox, the theater I grew up in.

My best friend from high school, Sherry (Erman) Stewart, went with me. Which was completely appropriate as it was Sherry I wrote my first song for at 15. She was running for class secretary and I wrote her campaign theme – “Oh vote for Sher-ry/fur (erman is a mink-like animal) sec-re-tar-ry”, kind of to the tune of “This Land Is Your Land” but not really. (Even in those days I thought about copyright infringement.) Here we are standing over the plug that was our mark to position ourselves over on stage for that most auspicious musical debut.

I hope someone saves me that plug when the wrecking ball hits the school next year (don’t get me started on wrecking balls hitting gorgeous Deco buildings…). I art-directed Sherry’s campaign as well.

It’s shocking looking at that from five decades ago how little my style has changed…. Sherry, btw, won the election!

Next it was watching the marching band, pom pom girls and twirlers rehearse for our big extravaganza coming up at The Fox on Saturday.

I was shocked (and awed) at how together they were.

Then John Wilkins, Mumford’s band conductor and arranger for over 20 years, asked me to come up and conduct the band.

First I warned the kids that despite selling over 50,000,000 records I still had no idea how to read, notate or play music.

Then we swung into action playing “September”, “Boogie Wonderland”, “Neutron Dance”, “Stir It Up”, “In the Stone”, “I’ll Be There for You (theme from Friends)”, and “The Color Purple”, the songs we’d be preforming.

Here I am with the Pom Pom Girls and Twirlers. This was, of course, what I always wanted to be when I was in high school. But this photo is as close as I ever got:

I know you’re going to ask me what “GRAMMI” is. I don’t know. Perhaps a misspelling of Grammy, which I misspelled constantly myself – Grammie – after receiving one for Best Soundtrack for Beverly Hills Cop, the film that I not only had songs in but that immortalized my high school after Eddie Murphy wore a Mumford Phys Ed shirt throughout the movie, linking Mumford and I forever.

As we drove back to the hotel I finished the Young Dumb donut from this morning, though I was tempted to stop here, which I hear are the best donuts in Detroit:

I’m happy to report that my own recently operated on left  knee is finally allowing my leg to return to its natural state such as modeled by this fantastic “First Leg ‘O Trip’ Washington souvenir pen. Although my own appendage is not as shapely and slim as this perfectly poised on-point gam, it’s just about at the point of where it looks more like an ‘I’ than a ‘V’ and is allowing me to hobble around rather than setting up permanent camp in bed.

I have no plans to go to Washington but, rather, to Detroit, the trip that I suspect sent my knee into hyper-gear and caused my meniscus to rip. Not known for my disciplined exercise regimen, in April I’m heading to the Motor City, my hometown, to conduct my high school band playing a medley of my greatest hits in the lobby of the historic Fox theater before a performance of the musical I co-wrote, The Color Purple. In efforts to bounce around as if I were four decades younger, I got a little overaggressive as I rehearsed, conducting every TV commercial that came on and threw my knee so out of whack it was a lesson blaring in neon signage that one can never let themselves turn so fully into a couch potato that they’re more likely to grow sprouts before being able to function as a fully exercised human being.

Why, you might ask, was I rehearsing to TV commercials when I’ve actually written the songs that are to be performed?  That would be because I never learned how to read, notate or play a stitch of music so even if the Mumford marching band arranger scanned his arrangements onto my skin I’d have a better chance of deciphering Chinese than the musical notes and rhythms before me.

So long ago I developed my own technique of being able to jump on a note and rhythm at the first milliseconds of its sound so that it might appear I know what I’m doing. I’m the same way with melodies. Nine times out of 10 I can sing along with something despite never having heard it before. It’s a weird skill I know but I can’t say it hasn’t come in handy:

But back to the leg at hand:

I love my little leg pen and, if I remembered where I put it after I shot these photos, I would have most definitely had it at bedside to psychologically aid in my recovery. That’s one of the beauties of being a collector. The objects around you aren’t just there because that’s what ought to be sitting on an end table or where there’s a chair there’s also an ottoman. The objects and you are one, all manifestations of energy in a world that’s largely up to you to create. Now it’s my job as a diligent patient, and one who has a marching band to conduct to boot, to manifest having a left leg as strong and shapely as my souvenir Washington leg pen and to stay on point forever.

Thank you all for taking this weeklong knee/leg journey with me. It actually made it feel like fun and that’s a lot to be said for surgery! This is, indeed, the ‘last leg’ of this journey.