Monday, July 06, 2009

The beat goes on...

As Detroit collapses into rubble around them, kids somehow still find time to commit traffic violations & drug misdemeanors, scare old folks, and make bad mating decisions:
In the late afternoon one recent Friday, the parking lot adjacent to the Belle Isle bathhouse was half full with people around charcoal grills loaded with chicken and steaks.

"We've been coming here for 40 years, but we make sure to leave before it gets too late," said David Zane, 52, a retired city worker. "When it's starting to get dark ... it's time to go."

That's about the same time Sakina Ali, 18, and her girlfriends arrived. "It's really all about the boys," said Ali, who lives on the east side of Detroit. "There really is nowhere else to go in this town."

Ali's car was nearly sandwiched between two beefed-up vehicles vibrating from the pulse of the sub-woofers and the traffic.

"Hmm, he looks good," said her friend Carla Davis, 19. "Maybe I can find someone decent."

One half expects the Jets and the Sharks to dance across the scene, snapping their fingers in unison. (Although, given the pre-post-apocalyptic setting of Detroit, there would be some horrible twists, like Riff has a colander strapped to his face and the rest of the Jets are wearing spiked and studded leather like extras from Mad Max, Bernardo is a loyal attendee at a Wahhabist mosque, and Sgt. Krupke is in the National Guard instead of the DPD.)


(H/T to The Shekel.)

5 comments:

BryanP said...

Great. Now I'm going to have Gee, Officer Krupke running through my head all morning.

Oh well. Distraction while I wait for the appointment for my first post-40 physical. O_O

Nathan Brindle said...

Think that's bad. Wait for 50.

Bob said...

From The Omega Man, starring Chuck Heston:

My God, it's almost dark! They'll be waking up soon!

(I use this .wav on Windows to signal a shutdown).

And, of course, Anthony Zerbe from the same movie makes a great .wav for emptying your recycle bin:

You are discarded. You are the refuse of the past!

Anonymous said...

Dee-troit is a really mixed bag, not necessarily defined by any single personal factor.

The Jazz Fest, the Techno Fest and other events will draw out as polyglot a peaceful crowd, as the mos' Leftie Everybody's Rights Wanker could ever want.

Entertaining mix, very often. From Grosse Pointe preppy or old money, to polite ethnicies I can't even identify, co-mingling does good, OK, and sometime even better.

When Stevie Wonder held the stage in Hart Plaza, against the functionaries who said the 300th Anniversary Fest was over, he continued to make music for nearly a million folks, SRO. We wus done, when he was READY to be done.

That's the good Detroit.

The other Detroit makes post apocalyptic movies look like the nonsense fiction that they really are. All you need is to see pure predatory human evil walking around singly or in packs, radiating the goood ol' ultra-violence.

The general 'go anywhere and be safe' civility went out fifty years ago, when civil rights switched from something one earned by emulating and joining Western civilization, into something one was given in exchange for temper tantrums and violent acts for gain and pleasure.

It continues to change for the worse since, except that the grievances of true dis-enfranchisement have been exchanged by substantial numbers of remaining urban dwellers, for a mass rejection of the traditional American ideal.

And strangely enuff, all over this Beruit of America are colonies, and holdouts, and returning urban pioneers, and old line church ladies, and Alt-whutevah musician co-ops, and God knows what else flourishing in unlikely 'hoods and out of the way spots. Arts and music are healty, there. The Detroit Institute of Arts is supported heavily by the city folks.

It is, however, nearly a hallucinatory town, of vast tracts of dead industrial building, wastelands, frightening decayed housing and people on streets even cops avoid, interspersed with small new-growth oasis's.

O'course one must not overlook the famous Sonic-speed Freeway Traffic and endearing city street driving habit's, which assume that the other driver recognizes Kinetic Rules and the Theory of Self Preservation.

Along with such jarring discordance, one may experience the stark horror of realizing that you are stuck in traffic jam. Right next to a jumped-up SUV, with megaton speakers going fullblast, piloted by an agitated individual obscenely raving at nothing and homicidally swatting the air with his paws, looking around with malevolent glares.

If you are one type of true Detroiter, you might be thinkin', "Wow, where can I get some'o that shixx?" Or you might just think of it as the local wallpaper, and as long as he stays where is, who cares? Or you may have the family sawed-off, laying across your lap.

One thing for shure: the Olde Auto Zone of Michigan is beginning to look a bit run-down, in the city or the rural areas. In fact, last week I thot for minute that I'd just passed a flea-market-on-a-two-lane, heading up to the Clinch Mountain Pass, replete with ominous banjo music.

Then I saw that I was merely in a normal small town, just North of Flint, where the remaining inhabitants are having a permanent closing homes and garage sale.

For all that, there is in Detroit a raw energy that continues. In some ways, it's as American as a frontier. It has a creativity and resilience that may see it arise in a different format, someday. Or, not. In the meantime, watch y'r topknot, pilgrim.

verify: is this legal? -- pygmcuti

PS: the recession of 1982 was WORSE in Mich, than it is now. Don't see that on the N'atl hanky-honkin' news. People just migrated or dug in, and the state motto was, "Would the last person leaving Michigan, please turn out the lights?"

John, the Red.

Loyal to the Great Black Swamp farmland at the West End of Lake Erie, and the glory that was downtown 1950's Detroit. Ave.

Aaron said...

Thanks for the hat tip Tam.

I'd have to respectfully differ with the above Anonymous poster.

Everyone around me in Michigan is busy telling me they've never seen an economic environment this bad. Were at 12% unemployment with no end in sight, what's scary is the rest of the US is trying to play "me too".

Belle Isle is one interesting place - pretty and pastoral in the day and it makes you happy that Michigan recognizes the carry permits of every state in the nation at night.