Showing posts with label Detroit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Detroit. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Live from the riot

 Not particularly safe for work. It's a riot . . . uncensored.

It's amazing how a situation can go south in an instant. 

Rage is a seductive, untamable beast.

Charlie LeDuff of Fox 2, WJBK in Detroit, documents what's all the rage today in America from news of the non-indictment of the cop who shot Michael Brown to the descent into mayhem on the streets of Ferguson, Mo.

WHAT'S interesting is how LeDuff tries to tell the aggrieved and enraged that, as a Detroiter, he knows a thing or two about riots and how they kill cities dead. What's unsurprising is that rage is deaf . . . when it's not being blinded by tear gas.

Welcome to your future, America. It looks a lot like the 1960s, only with a harder edge and a lot less ingrained hope for the future. Really.

This won't play on the blog. But the video is here.

IT IS at this point that I turn the microphone over to Jeff Daniels, as seen in the opening scene of the HBO series, The Newsroom. Behold some of the most bare-knuckled truth ever in a TV series.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My name is Suh. How do you do?
Now you're gonna die. . . .

The National Football League has its standards to uphold. It's not lawless, you know.

Commissioner Roger Goodell had to sit Detroit's Ndamukong Suh for two games just on account of the flying body parts.

By the way, the Taiwanese are deeply, deeply weird people. Entertaining, granted, but deeply, deeply strange.

You know what? I cannot wait for the guy who taught the Motor City Mauler everything he knows about being out of control -- that's writer Jen Floyd Engel's reasonable-enough assessment of Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini, at least -- to do something worthy of the Taiwanese-animator treatment himself.

I'm just sick that way.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

If wishes were birdies. . . .

Everything's a metaphor. Especially in Detroit.

On the other hand, I think the United States' transition to a banana republic is going pretty smoothly, don't you?

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Failing but . . . winning!

You've just paid $150 for a couple of seats to a stage show by Charlie Sheen, who's three-quarters out of his mind -- maybe more.

You've shelled out this much cash even though the wittiest thing Sheen has ever said during a weekslong Web assault is . . . "Duh, winning!"

What could go wrong?

Well, nothing for Sheen. After all, he -- as he pointed out in Detroit on Saturday night -- already has your money. Once again,
"Duh, winning!"

Then again, maybe he's not as crazy as you think. And maybe you're more crazy than you think -- that is, if you've given Sheen even a dime of your hard-earned money.

In other words, "Duh, MORONS!" Maybe you just need some "tiger blood." That was for sale outside the Fox theater.

AFTER READING this on, my sympathies are with the Vatican-assassin warlock with Adonis DNA:
Charlie Sheen and his "goddesses" took the stage to thunderous applause Saturday night for the first leg of his "Torpedo of Truth" tour. The 70-minute show hadn't even ended when the first reviews were in, and they were brutal.

The former "Two and a Half Men" star showed that comedic success on the screen doesn't necessarily translate to the stage, and the capacity crowd at the 5,100-seat Fox Theatre rebelled before he left the stage, chanting "refund!" and walking out in droves.

Linda Fugate, 47, of the Detroit suburb of Lincoln Park, walked outside and up the block yelling, "I want my money back!"

She said she paid $150 for two seats.

"I was hoping for something. I didn't think it would be this bad."

Fans who gathered outside the theater before the doors opened Saturday — some who had to fly in for the show — said they were hoping to see the increasingly eccentric actor deliver some of the colorful rants that have made him an Internet star since his ugly falling out with CBS and the producers of "Two and a Half Men."

They got the ranting. It just wasn't funny.

"I expected him to at least entertainment a little bit. It was just a bunch of ranting," said Rodney Gagnon, 34, of Windsor, Ontario.
AMERICANS always have had more money than sense, never more so than today. That being what it is, I expect history to rectify that situation eventually.

Welcome to Trollsville . . . losers.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Death in the ruins

This is Detroit.

Charlie LeDuff is on the story for Mother Jones magazine. One place this story of Detroit took him was the morgue.

It's a busy place. It's a crowded one, too.

Life is extraordinarily cheap in America today. Funerals, however, are not:

Dr. Carl Schmidt is the chief medical examiner there. There are at least 50 corpses on hold in his morgue cooler, some unidentified, others whose next of kin are too poor to bury them. So Dr. Schmidt keeps them on layaway, zipped up in body bags as family members wait for a ship to come in that never seems to arrive.

The day I visited, a Hollywood starlet was tailing the doctor, studying for her role as the medical examiner in ABC's new Detroit-based murder drama Detroit 1-8-7. The title is derived from the California penal code for murder: 187. In Michigan, the designation for homicide is actually 750.316, but that's just a mouthful of detail.

"You might say that the homicide of Aiyana is the natural conclusion to the disease from which she suffered," Schmidt told me.

"What disease was that?" I asked.

"The psychopathology of growing up in Detroit," he said. "Some people are doomed from birth because their environment is so toxic."

"BUT IT'S DETROIT!" you may be tempted to scoff. Detroit, though, wasn't always an epithet. Something had to make Detroit into Detroit.

It might be a stretch to see anything more than Detroit's problems in Detroit's problems. Still, as the American middle class collapses, it's worth perhaps remembering that the East Side of Detroit—the place where Aiyana, Je'Rean, and Officer Huff all died—was once its industrial cradle.

Henry Ford built his first automobile assembly-line plant in Highland Park in 1908 on the east side of Woodward Avenue, the thoroughfare that divides the east of Detroit from the west. Over the next 50 years, Detroit's East Side would become the world's machine shop, its factory floor. The city grew to 1.3 million people from 300,000 after Ford opened his Model T factory. Other auto plants sprang up on the East Side: Packard, Studebaker, Chrysler's Dodge Main. Soon, the Motor City's population surpassed that of Boston and Baltimore, old East Coast port cities founded on maritime shipping when the world moved by boat.

European intellectuals wondered at the whirl of building and spending in the new America. At the center of this economic dynamo was Detroit. "It is the home of mass-production, of very high wages and colossal profits, of lavish spending and reckless installment-buying, of intense work and a large and shifting labour-surplus," British historian and MP Ramsay Muir wrote in 1927. "It regards itself as the temple of a new gospel of progress, to which I shall venture to give the name of 'Detroitism'."

"It is the home of mass-production, of very high wages and colossal profits, of lavish spending and reckless instalment-buying, of intense work and a large and shifting labour-surplus," British historian and MP Ramsay Muir wrote in 1927. "It regards itself as the temple of a new gospel of progress, to which I shall venture to give the name of 'Detroitism'."

Skyscrapers sprang up virtually overnight. The city filled with people from all over the world: Arabs, Appalachians, Poles, African Americans, all in their separate neighborhoods surrounding the factories. Forbidden by restrictive real estate covenants and racist custom, the blacks were mostly restricted to Paradise Valley, which ran the length of Woodward Avenue. As the black population grew, so did black frustration over poor housing and rock-fisted police.

Soon, the air was the color of a filthy dishrag. The water in the Detroit River was so bad, it was said you could bottle it and sell it as poison. The beavers disappeared from the river around 1930.

But pollution didn't kill Detroit. What did?

No one can answer that fully. You can blame it on the John Deere mechanical cotton-picker of 1950, which uprooted the sharecropper and sent him north looking for a living—where he found he was locked out of the factories by the unions. You might blame it on the urban renewal and interstate highway projects that rammed a freeway down the middle of Paradise Valley, displacing thousands of blacks and packing the Negro tenements tighter still. (Thomas Sugrue, in his seminal book The Origins of the Urban Crisis, writes that residents in Detroit's predominantly black lower East Side reported 206 rat bites in 1951 and 1952.)

You might blame postwar industrial policies that sent the factories to the suburbs, the rural South, and the western deserts. You might blame the 1967 race riot and the white flight that followed. You might blame Coleman Young—the city's first black mayor—and his culture of cronyism. You could blame it on the gas shocks of the '70s that opened the door to foreign car competition. You might point to the trade agreements of the Clinton years, which allowed American manufacturers to leave the country by the back door. You might blame the UAW, which demanded things like full pay for idle workers, or myopic Big Three management who, instead of saying no, simply tacked the cost onto the price of a car.

Then there is the thought that Detroit is simply a boom town that went bust the minute Henry Ford began to build it. The car made Detroit, and the car unmade Detroit. The auto industry allowed for sprawl. It also allowed a man to escape the smoldering city.

AND THOSE THINGS that made Detroit into a slur -- into a basket case . . . into a place where some humans have gone feral and nature has started to reclaim its turf from the ruins -- also are turning parts of where you live into little Detroits.

Somewhere near you, hope is dead and humanity itself ain't feeling so good.

Somewhere, some fool on cable television, or on talk radio, is telling you the biggest problem the country has right now is big government and high taxes. That what ails Detroit -- and what ails all the little Detroits just down the road, in all the neighborhoods you dare not enter after dark . . . or ever -- will be fixed by private charity and good morals.

Some say condoms are the answer. Others, Jesus.

A half-century into the collapse, however, neither the Trojan man nor the Savior of the World has made much of a dent. Not only that, charitable contributions these days are as down as the leading economic indicators.

Public policy in these anxious times seems to consist of hoping for a miracle in a world that doesn't believe in prayer. And while it's true that Jesus has no hands and no feet apart from our own, it also is true that Jesus' hands have taken to wringing and His feet have taken a hike.

In an emerging banana republic run by the rich men of Wall Street, it really sucks to be Lazarus. Detroit knows this today.

You will discover it tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The campaign against epic a-holes

While gay and lesbian activists were busy politicizing bullying and telling America that stopping some bullying is more crucial than stopping the other 85 percent (or whatever) of bullying, this was playing itself out in Trenton, Mich.

Watch the video. Contemplate the sick, sick spectacle of the Neighbors From the Bowels of Hell ridiculing and harassing a dying 7-year-old girl, all because of a neighborhood feud. Consider going so far as to fill your yard with tombstones.

Picture hauling a fake coffin past the dying girl's house. In a pickup painted as a ghoulish hearse.

Imagine posting a picture of the dying child's dead mother in the arms of the Grim Reaper on your
Facebook page. Which also features a picture of little Kathleen Edward's head replacing the skull in a skull and crossbones.

People all across the Detroit area, and all around the world, are outraged. They've been holding candlelight rallies at the girl's house.

And the tormentors, Scott and Jennifer Petkov, now are national pariahs.

FOR SOME REASON, the Petkovs now say they're sorry. Very, very sorry.

AS FAR as I know, the swift end to those bullies' reign of terror was not the work of the National Coalition to Stop the Torment of Dying Children. It was the work of "You don't do that to children. Period. Much less dying ones."

It was the work of "How dare you treat people that way?"

It was the work of "You're a couple of cruel scumbags, and now we're going to kick your miserable asses."

IT WAS the work of common human decency.
Remember that?

If we want to stop bullying -- if we want to prevent tormented kids from killing themselves and all manner of societal awfulness -- maybe what we need is just a single campaign . . . a single advocacy group. Call it the Campaign for Common Decency.

face it, common decency needs all the help it can get these days.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Head-case nation

I wish to associate myself with Mitch Albom's remarks in the
Detroit Free Press:
Note to journalism students. When we celebrate investigative reporting, it's for issues like war crimes, nursing home scandals or police corruption. It's not to report that LeBron James has opened a Twitter account.

But that was a "major" headline Wednesday. And James' first Tweet was Hello World, the Real King James is in the Building "Finally."

Honestly, who calls himself "King"?

Which brings me back to the man himself, who, after a few years of relative humility, now seems, at 25, to be stepping onto some assumed throne atop the world, like that "Airbender" kid, as if the rest of the planet naturally should step aside.

Excuse me if I turn my back. I no longer care less where LeBron James plays. I'm sick of the whole story. The number of supposedly respectable people tripping over themselves to hand him $100 million should make all of them and many of us ashamed.

In a country where people are out of work or out in the streets, LeBron's basketball home was never important. But spilling money on his head is downright insulting.


Still, the final cherry on this ego sundae is the televised event tonight, an hour-long ESPN special at 9 o'clock (an hour?) in which James will announce who wins the right to wrap its money around his arrogance.

Only in America could we keep inventing reality TV that fantastically outshames the previous low mark. A prime-time event? To announce a free-agent signing? And don't point out that some proceeds go to charity. You want to give to charity, quietly write a check. Don't get a network to do it for you so it gets to pump its shows and you get to shower yourself in international coverage -- while calling it philanthropy.

The NBA has embarrassed itself here. The media have embarrassed themselves. And a guy who calls himself "King" may be beyond embarrassment, which is truly embarrassing.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Daughters of Jerusalem . . . weep instead
for yourselves and for your children. . . .

Well, yeah, unclaimed corpses are piling up in Detroit and half the city has been abandoned, but at least it's not facing a Miley Cyrus crisis.

Think what could happen to such a place if such a horror befell it at a time when bodies are already stacked like cordwood.

Here in Omaha, brave souls set their faces like flint against the horror of preteens cut down and crestfallen at Hannah Montana's strep-throat crisis. Yet . . . and yet . . . one walks these eerily quiet streets and feels that this city is acutely on edge -- at the breaking point despite a steely determination to soldier on in the face of a pop-culture apocalypse.

Parents are being brave . . . mostly. But one wonders what horror may come with the morning sun. How long can this brave and scrappy city hold it together in the face of such cruelly delayed bourgeois diversion?

Oh, Miley! Say it ain't so.

I THINK this from KETV television is the kind of thing Edward R. Murrow might have reported had he covered Omaha, fall 2009 instead of bombed-out London, fall 1940:
Sweet and Sassy Salon, Spa and Celebrations for Girls was gearing up to be pre-concert headquarters Friday night, then the star got sick.

"Unfortunately, we were the news breakers for some people, so we had one woman cry; one woman called us a liar. Some reactions weren't good," salon owner Marie Yakes said.

Other moms took the news in stride, changing their plans to the new date.

"Tuesday night's really not bad for us, but a little inconvenient the next morning for her to get up and get ready for school," parent Annie Kircher said.

Parents immediately have concerns about how they'd deal with the new schedule. When Cyrus performs, as herself or as Hanna Montana, she draws big crowds. But Tuesday is a school night, and it may put her legions of fans into flux.

Still more parents respected the performer's decision to postpone the show.

"Miley is only what, 16-years-old? I'm amazed at the schedules they keep anyways. They're just going to get sick like the rest of us sometimes, so we'll just deal with it and be glad to go on the 13th," mother Karen Sumpter said.

Yakes said most moms eventually learn to deal with it.

"They calm down, then they reschedule, and I would say 90 percent (reschedule,)" Yakes said.
AND FOLKS in Detroit think they have it tough. Our new Chinese overlords have no idea the kind of dis-feng-shui-nal situation they're getting into.

The biggest problem in the world


Miley Cyrus has strep throat.


THEY RESCHEDULED the Omaha concert for Oct. 13. That's a school night!!!


Little darling will be upset! Can't Miley lip-sync with strep? WHY A SCHOOL NIGHT!!!


What will I tell Child Who Must Be Obeyed???


Child Who Must Be Obeyed is gonna pitch a fit! I'll have to buy her a new iPod to make it stop! This is a travesty! Injustice! Reschedule the show for this Saturday!

Can't they give Miley some dope or something so she can sing? Sync? Whatever?


Sunday, May 17, 2009

You know it's coming to this eventually

I think I have just the guy to fill this job in the Motor City (below).

Because we're all on a metaphorical motorcycle running from the bad guys, seconds away from being sent flying up into a parking gate's downstroke. Insufficient "max headroom" will get you every time.

Detroit Free Press seeks Digital Host as anchor for Television and Internet broadcasts.

The Detroit Free Press seeks a Digital Host to be our on-air anchor for television newscasts and video segments on and other outlets. We’re seeking a friendly, conversational person to report Free Press stories on-air and online. Top candidates must have the ability to write, produce and anchor news segments on television and be comfortable with technology. Use of social networking tools is necessary.

Job responsibilities:

Write and anchor segments and shows for broadcast, online or other delivery
Conduct live on-air interviews
Edit segments and packages
Write scripts for videos and broadcasts
Record voiceovers
Coach other staff when needed

This is a new position. We seek a person who can adapt to change and will continuously innovate.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

3 Chords & the Truth: Feel like a number

Hard times keep calling us back.

Calling us back to explore the subject one more time, at least, on 3 Chords & the Truth. Why not? We're in them . . . just as well plumb the depths of where we find ourselves.

What interests me this go around is the death of "livin' large." Or the death of that notion for some -- the ones not taking the bonus money and running. If you listen to the news, or the cultural zeitgeist, you can be forgiven for thinking we all were riding high . . .
and then something happened.

THE TRUTH is more complicated. Truth is, the American Dream has been under assault for the better part of two generations. For that long, great American industries have been on the skids, and the Americans who worked in them have been progressively thrown away.

Now we watch as the government goes about
"shuttin' Detroit down" -- which may or may not be a mercy killing -- and the loss of industrial jobs kicks into overdrive. Pedal to the metal.

Used to be, you could work in a factory (or plant) make a good wage, support your family, send the kids to college, then retire with a comfortable pension. Used to be.

Global competition and the quest for short-term returns killed that notion dead. We've thrown away workers' security, and now we're busily throwing away the workers themselves.

Job retraining, in too many cases, is learning to say "Would you like fries with that?" in both English and Español.

First, we began to import throwaway products. Now we have throwaway workers. Check out the tent cities of the homeless all over California.

REALLY, is there anything -- or, for that matter, anyone -- we don't throw away these days? We have disposable plates, disposable utensils, disposable containers and disposable appliances.

Disposable napkins, disposable clothes, disposable bags and disposable lighters.

Disposable relationships, disposable contracts, disposable jobs and disposable workers.

Disposable music, disposable culture, disposable arts and disposable media.

Disposable lovers, disposable kids, disposable marriages and disposable morality.

AGAIN . . . CAN SOMEBODY tell me what we don't discard?

Well, banks do seem to have some difficulty in disposing of "toxic assets." And we fervently hope you won't chuck this week's episode of the Big Show.

Such is life in a world where people serve the economy, and not the other way around. Maybe that's why we keep returning to this theme in these times.

Or, as
Bob Seger once sang:
Feel like a number,
Feel like a stranger,
A stranger in this land,
I feel like a number,
I'm not a number,
I'm not a number,
Dammit I'm a man,
I said I'm a man
THAT'S KIND OF a Motor City translation of a Christmas sermon Pope Leo the Great once gave. The money line: "Christian, remember your dignity."

It would be nice if the suits remembered our dignity once in a while, too. "Dammit, I'm a man. I said I'm a man."

And, as always, it's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Shutting Detroit Down

Sometimes, it takes a songwriter to distill into digestible form what's been happening to a people.

For a generation in this country, we've seen the rich get richer and the poor and working class get the shaft. By and large, we have been too distracted with bread and circuses to notice what's been happening in Novus Rome.

But the bubble has burst. The fit has hit the shan. We notice.

And now, as country singer John Rich notes, we're bailing out the bankers while we're
shutting Detroit down. And throwing the working man under the limousine.

If, as many fear, the worst is yet to come -- and if Americans have any civic-mindedness and fundamental concern for justice left -- there's going to be a revolution in this country.

You can take that to the zombie bank.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Everything is on YouTube

Somebody, back in the 1950s, recorded WJR off of the Detroit radio on what was an antiquated piece of equipment even then . . . a home disc recorder. And today, that scratchy old recording has shown up on YouTube, allowing the analog past to meet the digital future.

What a country!