Detroit still on my mind.

My brain hasn’t entirely left Detroit.  There are still many, many things that my not-even-a-full-week’s visit left me to think about.  And many of those things are serious and solemn.  But then there the rest of what’s in my head.  Even on the bus tour that drove me to despair, there were distractions.  As if I could have forgotten what Detroit is famous for, we stopped at a light and in my face out the window was this:

 

And then there was the fabulous confusion of knowing that when I looked south out of my hotel room at the Renaissance Center, I was looking at Canada:

There was also this wonderful Cesar Chavez mosaic outside LA SED:

 

(LA SED is Latin Americans for Social and Economic Justice … and “thirst” all at once, which I love.)  I’ve forgotten how many tiles are in there, but each square in the mosaic is a mosaic and the tiles are super tiny.  It’s an amazing piece of work.

There was also this Frida piñata, which was weird, but I liked it all the same.  I’m still not sure I like the idea of beating Frida with a stick, but no one was going to be using this piñata that way, so I guess I’m ok with it:

  The piñata and the mosaic photos came from the last two stops on that bus tour, two of the nice moments from that spin around and through the neighborhoods of the city’s southwest side.  Sadly, sandwiched in between those two lovely bits was being caught in slow traffic and having the unfortunate display of seemingly half the police force arrive en masse to apprehend a kid who looked young enough to be my grandchild, forcing him off his bike and holding him face down on the sidewalk, towering over him as they crowded around his very small, thin body.  No, I have no idea what that child was supposed to have done.  I will acknowledge that he could easily have been a) much older than he looked, b) much harder and tougher and more dangerous than he looked, and c) totally guilty of something.  I will say, however, that he was already subdued before the legion of officers arrived and there was no reason to mash him into the sidewalk like that.

Wait.  I’ve gone off track, back to the dark side.  This is supposed to be about some of the nicer bits of my trip.  And so …

Though I took no photos — too busy marveling at the wacky wonder of it — there are the tigers outside Comera Park (Tiger Stadium):

       

But my most favorite thing of all, even more wonderful than that crazy collection of tigers was the gorgeous and fabulous sculpture down the street from the hotel:

Yes, that’s right: Joe Louis’ fist.  Joe Louis’ fist!  It’s outstanding.  It’s ginormous.  It’s beautiful and strong and silently powerful and bizarrely moving.  I can’t  explain why I like it as much as I do, but I do, I do, I do.  And maybe you’re thinking, “Joe Louis.  Big deal.  Joe Louis.”  Sorry, people, but yes: big deal.  Go watch his knockout reel on YouTube if you honestly don’t get it.  Seriously.  And this sculpture had my heart from the first second that I saw it.  Can’t explain it.  Don’t feel the need to.  Simply stunning.

Had a really great conversation tonight with my coworker about Detroit, about the work we do, about the choices we’ve made in terms of where we live, what careers we’ve chosen, what it means to work in certain neighborhoods and not others, to look like the people you serve or to look nothing like them.  She’s from Detroit (the suburbs of, as she often quickly points out) and still struggles with the fact that she’s not there but here in Brooklyn.  It made me think about the things I’d written in my last post, reminded me that I’d never put up my photos of this magnificent sculpture, reminded me that I still have so much to think about, so many things to wrestle with.

Detroit. Still on my mind.

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8 thoughts on “Detroit still on my mind.

  1. I love what you said about seeing the kid with the police. That’s how I feel whenever I see a scene like that.

    I think it’s good you’re still thinking about Detroit. In my experience when something won’t leave you like that, there’s a good reason even if you don’t know it yet!

    Thought about you tonight because we went to that food place in Berkeley (Three Stone Hearth) we walked through with you during VONA. 🙂

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    1. I agree with that idea of things staying with you when they need to, even if you can’t figure out why they need to.

      I loved Three Stone Hearth. I kept telling people about it when I got home, wishing there was something like it here.

      I just checking out the VONA page for 2012. Thinking …

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  2. Jules

    There are those moments that are stunning, like Joe’s massive fist, that continually demand our attention. Keep working it out…here is nice, because (selfishly) I get to hear your gorgeous voice as you continue to grapple.

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  3. Detroit is a remarkable and devastating place–there is nowhere else like it. I’m not surprised it had such a profound impact on you. I grew up not far away. I’ve been reading about how it is unique in that it’s being reclaimed by nature–all the vacant lots. Therefore, it might actually end up being in the vanguard when it comes to urban gardening, and it’s also a place with a whole lot of artists, since you can buy a house for about $5,000 in parts.

    Linda

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    1. Linda, I don’t think I knew you were originally from Michigan. Detroit definitely seems to be in the vanguard with urban gardening. Just heard an excellent piece about this on NPR last week, nice companion to the reading I’ve been doing.

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