You have found the detroitblog. This is about my wanderings and debaucheries in Detroit, as well as observations, news, commentary and ramblings about the city itself. I love Detroit, even the old Detroit of blight, waste and emptiness. Hockeytown. Motown. I grew up here, had my best times here. It's my town.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

A quick shot of news:

A new building is going up near Kennedy Square, just in time for some people who obsessively insist that the unique, irreplacable and beautiful 1920s skyline of Detroit desperately needs to be interrupted by some cold, boring, steel-and-glass structures. How this is supposed to beautify things isn't clear. Those kinds of structures are all over Southfield and Troy, and nobody points to those areas as examples of architectural excellence.


There are some neighborhoods in the city that form crime watches where residents band together to fight the first sign of bad behavior. In others, residents band together to defend criminals and prevent police from doing their jobs:

A crowd of more than 200 people taunted police who were trying to make an arrest in Detroit Tuesday night, Local 4 reported.

Officers arrested a suspect, who was inside a vehicle, for carrying a concealed weapon in the area of Harper and Dickerson, near Interstate 94 and Conner, according to the station's reports. Officers called for backup assistance when a nearby crowd converged upon the arrest scene.

Eight people were arrested for disorderly conduct when the crowd swarmed police, the station reported. No shots were fired in the melee. No injuries were reported.


In shocking news, the mayor's name has been linked to corruption:

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said Tuesday he once shook the hand of the man at the center of a federal investigation of possible municipal corruption in Philadelphia, but never agreed to raise $100,000 for him.

This time it's not even in our own city. Apparently Detroit doesn't offer enough options for abuse of public office; he's had to branch out. That's the spirit!

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Living among the Dead

It was Easter Sunday yesterday, and before going to family functions I was heading towards a Detroit church, hoping to take photos as the parishoners cleared out, because no local churches are as beautiful as the old Detroit churches, and as I drove down Canfield I noticed that St. Albertus, a church I'd been eager to get into and photograph, was actually open and had people streaming in. Change of plans.

I went in. Most of the mass was in Polish, fascinating in itself, though most of the congregation was not. Once they were done, I grabbed the camera and tripod from the car and helped myself.

St. Albertus is the oldest Polish Catholic church in the city. Built in the heart of what later became Poletown, it now sits in the center of an east side neighborhood that is probably the worst neighborhood in Detroit in terms of the level of deterioration it has endured over the years, and the degree to which it has fallen from its former state. Whole blocks surrounding the church are empty except for the crumbling shells of one or two houses and long fields of grass. In many ways it looks like any small town up north, except for the feral dogs, roaming crackheads, aggressive whores and their accompanying thugs, and the frequency with which people use the area as a place to dump bodies.

The nucleus of Detroit's first Polish settlement was formed by a number of Poles who arrived in the city during the middle of the 1850s. They came from parts of Poland under Prussian rule, and settled near Detroit's German community. The new Polish immigrants formed the St. Stanislaus Kostka Society and started collecting funds for the building of their own church.

The group purchased part of the old French St. Aubin Farm at what is today the southern corner of Canfield and St. Aubin in 1871, situating the church on farmland surrounded by forests.

Right off the bat the church messed up its own name. In an attempt to find an Engish equivalent to St. Wojciech, its patron saint, the early parishoners took the wrong Latin equivalent — Adalbertus, and translated it as St. Albertus, or Albert. Insert Polish joke here.

The opening of St. Albertus drew recently immigrated Poles into the neighborhood of St. Aubin and Fremont (now Canfield) in order to be close to their own church. This migration resulted in the establishment of Detroit's first Polish neighborhood, called the District of St. Albertus, also known around the city as Poletown.

This population growth necessitated the building of a school, which opened in 1874 with 97 students. The school was located where the present church is, while the original church has been just to the south of the school on St. Aubin.

The original church and school were soon replaced with more ambitious designs, and from 1883-85 the Spitzely Brothers of Detroit built a new church in German-Polish Gothic style at the corner of St. Aubin and Fremont, at a cost of $61,000. With a seating capacity of 2,500 it was at the time the largest Catholic church in the state, and the second-largest in the country. It was also the first in Detroit to be equipped with electric lights and steam heat. It was 200 feet long, 70 feet wide and had a 280-foot-high spire, which had to be shortened considerably after a windstorm in 1913 knocked part of it over.

A new school building went up in 1892, and a replacement, three-story school was built in 1917 directly behind the church, where it still stands, a victim of vandalism and decay, in stark contrast to the church.

Not long after its dedication, the church split into two factions. Trouble began when the Bishop removed a popular priest and replaced him. Many of the parishoners reacted angrily, so much that they prevented the newly appointed priest from saying mass. A protest march to the diocesan office on Christmas Day 1885 culminated in a riot that resulted in one parishoner, John Lewicki, being shot to death.

After a civil court reaffirmed the diocese's decision, many of the parishoners created a new parish of their own just down the street, founding Sweetest Heart of Mary parish at the corner of Canfield and Russell streets. The two factions contined to fight for a while, ending in another death when things once again got physical, this time of 19-year-old Joseph Bolda on Christmas Eve 1891.

St. Albertus continued on with a new priest, the church's first Polish pastor, John Lemke. By the turn of the century the church had 2,000 families it minstered to, as Poletown grew exponentially, promting Polish churches like St. Josaphat, St. Stanislaus, St. Florian and St. Hyacinth to open in the area.

But as Detroit changed, so did the fortunes of churches like St. Albertus. The number of families attending was halved by the 1930s, and was down to 700 by the 1950s. The school closed in 1966.

The church was declared a State of Michigan Historic Site and placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior. In 1975 its State Historic Marker was dedicated.The Archdiocese finally closed the church in 1990.

A year later, a group of parishoners intent on preserving the church purchased it - as well as the school and rectory - from the Archdiocese of Detroit for $1. The group has had to raise money painstakingly for upkeep, most recently purchasing a new boiler for $45,000 after conducting lengthy fundraisers. The church had gone several years without heat, and the frigid winters caused some of the plaster to crack and fall from the walls and ceiling. But the church is in otherwise remarkable condition.

The red-brick exterior, which is done in the Gothic style prevalent in Prussia at the time it was built, is relatively nondescript. But the interior of the church is breathtaking, almost baroque in its profusion of detail. Designed in the medieval tradition, color and texture leap out from every angle. Photos don't do it justice, because they can't capture the overwhelming sense of being surrounded by such intricate beauty.

The altar and communion rail are marble, as is the baptismal font. Large stained glass windows, also done in medieval style, pour colored light into the church, which contains 63 distinct pieces of large, painted, plaster sculpture. The plaster ceilings, painted blue with small gold stars, suffered damage during the years the church was closed but remain intact for the most part. The old wood pews are uncomfortably narrow by modern standards.

A large, plaster St. Albertus looks down from above the main altar, surrounded by angels of various hierarchies. The church also contains the bizarre - the altar is flanked by two illuminated glass coffins containing life-sized mannequins representing the corpses of St. Stanislaus and St. Hedwig. The symbolic portrayals of death are appropriate in a church that's struggled hard to stay alive in a neighborhood that's mostly dead.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

One day after Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's State of the City address, touting progress both real and exaggerated, Detroit takes another step on the road to receivership - the city's bond rating has been lowered to near junk status:

Citing financial deterioration and "ongoing structural imbalances that could take years to cure," the agency lowered the city's unlimited-tax general obligation bonds to BBB+ from A-, and lowered the limited-tax bonds to BBB from A-.
The action complicates the city's ongoing financial crisis by tending to increase its borrowing costs -- something it can ill afford as it struggles to match spending with declining revenues.

At this rate it won't be long before the city loses control of itself. And people were mad about the schools takeover. That was nothing compared to what this will be like. Nowadays, if you're a city and you can't run your affairs competently, someone else will run things for you before you drag everyone else down with you. That time is quickly approaching.

How to deal with that? Well, if you're Kwame, you put off the big decisions. If you're a dissenting council member, you use fantasy math to continue the madness:

In their response Wednesday to the mayor's State of the City address, the four members -- Council President Maryann Mahaffey, Barbara-Rose Collins, Sharon McPhail and JoAnn Watson -- say they want a budget that meets the needs of Detroit's citizens.
"We believe our government can do more with less and still not balance the budget on the backs of our city workers and low income, tax-paying families," Mahaffey said.
Instead, they called on the mayor to focus his cuts on reducing the number of supervisors and outside contractors and consultants.

This is simply nonsense. There are only so many supervisors. The problem is an excessive number of employees on the city's payroll that the city simply does not need:

Detroit ranks fourth among the nation's 15 largest cities in number of employees for every 1,000 residents; none of the three Michigan cities that follow Detroit in population -- Grand Rapids, Warren and Sterling Heights -- have even half as many employees per capita as Detroit.

The presence of such a huge workforce is helping to bankrupt the city, pure and simple. But the council members make no mention of how to deal with that, other than McPhail's temporarily sensible suggestion to cut the workforce by one-third, an idea so politically suicidal in Detroit that she withdrew it 24 hours later. Is this the kind of "leadership" being offered by people like McPhail, more delaying the tough decisions until a state takeover makes those decisions for the city? What bravery!

Monday, March 21, 2005

The latest Scan of the Week is a relic found in the famed Book Cadillac Hotel before crews went in last year and scraped everything out of it in preparation for either renovation or demolition. It’s a sticker the hotel put next to the light switches in the rooms. It hails from the Jimmy Carter era of energy-conserving malaise, when old President Cheerful would address the nation every now and then to tell us how the country was crumbling in some way or another. His sunny optimism was exemplified in an April 1977 speech asking Americans to conserve energy or else the country would be brought down by energy woes, a request that found expression eventually in a dying hotel in Detroit, in a little red sticker that remained on the wall for 20 years after the hotel closed, miraculously staying intact and indeed staying sticky, with only minimal fading of its alarmist red hue. It also showcases the hotel’s latter-day logo, likely a victim of the shortages at the time, which apparently included a shortage of capital letters.

Friday, March 18, 2005

There's a new documentary about Detroit showing here this weekend. By here, I mean nowhere near the city, but actually in Ann Arbor:

In the latest attempt to decipher what has happened to Detroit during the past 50 years, some of the most thoughtful observations come from a European professor who is visiting the city for the first time.
"Where is the rebirth?" French sociology professor Loci Woiquart asks as a University of Michigan professor drives him past blocks of abandoned buildings in a documentary film that is scheduled to premiere Friday in Ann Arbor and be shown in other cities worldwide in the coming months.

I heard the filmmakers on local TV news this week and saw them in some clips from the movie, droning on in pedantic, haughty tones, lamenting the ruin of a city they’ve never been to before and apparently know nothing about. One of them referred in condescending tones to the Michigan Central Station as a “monument to political impotence.” Unlike the European Union, I suppose. Typical Euros — wave the magic wand of government and voila! Everything will be better. Forget decisive factors such as population loss, economic collapse, etc. It's the lack of will on the part of our bureaucracies that's at fault here.

Also noteworthy is the fact that the article refers to the quite-famous Fisher Body 21 plant as “Carter Color,” based solely on a subsidiary logo painted on a water tower. Great local reporting skills as usual, Freep reporters. Nice to know you put in the time on research. Jeez, even a quick Google address search could've clued you in on some history.

But all you need to know about the film is this – there is not one mention of Coleman Young. It’s like doing a film about space travel without mentioning Neil Armstrong.


And of course, a week wouldn’t be a week without Sharon McPhail doing something erratic, crazy or stupid. This time, she takes her shovel and digs a bit deeper in a hastily assembled editorial printed earlier this week. Here's the key excerpt, in which she tries to explain telling the Detroit News editorial board she'd cut 6,000 city jobs if elected, then telling Mildred Gaddis on the radio one day later that the News lied and she never said that:

When Benny Napoleon and I met with The Detroit News' editorial board on March 8, indeed we did have a vigorous discussion about the issues of the city of Detroit and our campaign for the Detroit Mayor's Office. Part of that discussion centered on staffing levels ("McPhail's 'One-third' Plan Deserves More Attention," March 9).

When I told WCHB that "I didn't say that" relative to reducing city staffing levels from 18,000 to 12,000 in one year, it was an unfortunate choice of words on my part that misrepresented my intent.

This is lawyerly obfuscation. The question isn't her intent, it's her actual statements to the editorial board, followed by her subsequent denial of those statments. To try to reframe the issue as one of "intent" is a further attempt at deception. Nowhere does she address the fact that she made two statements in total contradiction to each other, and then called the editorial board members liars to explain away her own untruths. Still lingering is how she reconciles the fact that she was caught lying in public. Keep digging, Sharon!


She's not alone, though, in the confusing statements department. Ever since the Navigator controversy, the press has been paying particularly close attention to what the mayor says, and now takes delight in putting his contradictions right atop each other in articles:

"The financial reality is that we can no longer afford to operate a 24-hour bus system," he said in a speech televised Jan. 12. Kilpatrick said the city would hold public hearings before making changes, but added: "This much I can say ... Buses will not run 24 hours per day."
This week, however, Kilpatrick said the media wrongly reported that buses would not run in the wee hours.
"We never said we were cutting service overnight," the mayor said Monday, during his weekly news briefing. "These are things that we never said."

Note to McPhail and Kilpatrick - You might want to start taking note of all those oddballs scribbling into notebooks and holding tape recorders while you speak. It's not so easy to lie when someone keeps a record of what you say.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Green Day

So it’s 1:30 a.m. Friday/Saturday and as has become my new pastime, I’m wandering the streets of downtown with a camera and a tripod after being the last one standing following a bar hop. Nobody’s around so I’m driving like usual but worse, swerving, going down one-way streets the wrong way, driving British-style in the left lane, and all this was apparently too much to bear for a cop behind me, who pulled up alongside my car once I stopped.

Despite being — how shall I say this? — not sober, I explain to the two cops in the car quite frankly and in speech free of slurring what I was doing and they listened and even showed friendly interest and let me go on my way, at one point even returning and hovering nearby to make sure I don’t get jumped or something. Irony of ironies, detroitblog with a police escort. This is why I like Detroit cops. Had I driven up to someplace like Royal Oak that night and done the same thing I would’ve gotten about four tickets, a Breathalyzer and a trip to jail. In Detroit they have bigger priorities, and they know it. They don't need to assert themselves every chance they get. Boo Royal Oak cops!

Sunday was the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Corktown, down Michigan Avenue. The day began with the Corktown Races, which is a sort of jog, followed by the parade itself. And despite winter entering its ninth month or so around these parts and the temperatures remaining thoroughly uncomfortable, the Celtic gods graciously granted a blast of sunshine to carry the day and soften the edges of the cold.

Parades have always been a traditional venue for candidates for public office to make themselves available for handshakes and smiles and promises, and this one was no different. Shortly after the parade commenced, Freman Hendrix came walking down the street, working the line of people on the sidewalk, shaking hands, politely asking for support later in the year.

Not two minutes later, late for the damn parade comes Sharon McPhail, taken by car past the bagpipes and floats and let out of the car mid-parade to begin her walk. She’s so daffy she can’t even get to a parade on time without messing up. All politics aside, it was an apt snapshot of the current state of the mayoral race - you’ve got Hendrix, well-dressed, professionally interacting with the crowd, right on cue, then you’ve got ditzy McPhail, late, harried, choosing not to mingle with the crowd but instead marching down the center of the street with the floats, as if she’s there to be showcased to the peasantry.

It didn’t take long for the first drunk to run into the parade route and wipe out on his ass, beer splashing all over him, head hitting the old red bricks of the road, dazed momentarily but struggling to his feet in an attempt to regain some dignity. Many more soon followed, I'm sure.

The bars along the route were absolutely loaded, including the fire-damaged and now much-smaller Corktown Tavern, where it appears they threw up some drywall just to be able to open for this day. Nemo’s was thronged, Gaelic League had a huge crowd in front, and those not interested in standing in lines at bars had their own brown bags of hooch, including a hobo or two who invited themselves into the parade itself.

Included with the marchers were high school bands from Cody and Northern High School, among others; Irish bands playing bagpipes; Irish organizations waving flags; random drunks with no discernible allegiance piled into buses and onto trucks, throwing candy and beads; and a odd contingent of people wearing full Star Wars costumes from the R2-Detroit Star Wars fan club. Lots of green-painted dogs wagged their tails, bumbling Irish clowns stumbled about, a priest or two wandered by solemnly, thousands of drunks drank and hollered, and lots of hipsters stood around being ironic, deliberately not enjoying such a crass display of fun and happiness. I'll say this, though, drinking at noon gives the day an entirely different perspective.

Oh, and boo Royal Oak cops!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Sharon McPhail seems to be the most error-prone candidate for local public office in recent memory.

Now she's got the Detroit News going absolutely spastic because she apparently blatantly lied to them, and now they're going to be out to get her all year. Smart move!

It began when she told the News' editorial board that she had a plan to cut 6,000 employees from the city's workforce, a commendable and sensible move considering the current budget crisis and how bloated the public employee rolls are in Detroit. But then, hours later, she told Mildred Gaddis that she said no such thing. Huh? This wasn't a row of drunks at a cocktail party she was talking to, it was a bunch of journalists whose job is to carefully note what people say. It once again suggests she is totally off her rocker. What sensible person does things like this, let alone someone who wants to lead a city?

Now the News has its dander up:

It's hard to say whether Sharon McPhail is a racist or just plain stupid. But for sure, she's a liar.
Harsh words, yes. But there's no way to sugar-coat the Detroit councilwoman's character lapses. To do so would be a disservice to the voters of Detroit, who will see McPhail's name on their mayoral ballot this fall.

She claims not to be a nut, but she keeps acting like one.
And yet in the current mayoral campaign, she asks Detroiters to "erase what you think you know about Sharon McPhail."
It is impossible to erase those negative impressions when McPhail keeps reinforcing them.
This page tried to give her a little credit in Wednesday's newspaper after she stopped by for an introductory visit.
McPhail started her on-the-record comments by saying the city's 18,000-person work force was too large for its population. We agreed and asked for her thoughts on the appropriate number of employees.
"Twelve thousand," she answered, without prompting and later added she would accomplish the one-third reduction in her first year.
She then spent the next 15 minutes talking about ways to carry out the cuts, and the impact her willingness to make "tough choices" would have on the mayoral campaign.
Her sidekick, Benny Napoleon, even calculated the savings of the work force reduction, saying that at an average wage and benefit cost of $70,000 per worker, "we'd save $250 million to $300 million a year." (We leave it to Napoleon to explain the math.)
We applauded McPhail's willingness to put such a bold number on the table.
But then she went on the radio Wednesday morning, telling WCHB's Mildred Gaddis that she never said what she said. She accused The Detroit News of making it all up.
Sharon McPhail is a liar.
She is also apparently a racist. And not too bright.


This wouldn't happen if she didn't blatantly pander to whomever she was speaking with at the time. When she's talking to a conservative newspaper editorial board, she's suddenly a fiscal hawk. When she's on the radio talking to the paleo-socialists for whom Detroit city jobs are an entitlement, she says the opposite. One day later. Truly, it's a toss-up between whether she's seriously mentally ill or just plain stupid.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Council member and mayoral candidate Sharon McPhail's judgement, already suspect, is again worth calling into question:

Sharon McPhail, the Detroit City Council member who is running for mayor, participated in a so-called Sambo awards ceremony last month that used the racial epithet to mock her opponent, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and other black leaders.

According to a spokesman, McPhail read a list of nominees at a Feb. 24 dinner sponsored by the Call 'Em Out Coalition, which also gave Sambo Sell-Out Awards to Detroit businessman Dave Bing, schools Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Burnley and council member Lonnie Bates.

The Sambo Sell-Out of the Year Award went to Kilpatrick. The homemade trophy features Barbie-size dolls and a miniature SUV reminiscent of a red Lincoln Navigator -- to illustrate various Kilpatrick administration scandals involving the leasing of the controversial vehicle and never-proved allegations of dalliances with strippers.

McPhail's participation riled some of her colleagues on the City Council, and injected race into an election in which McPhail, the other major candidates and the sitting mayor are all black, and African Americans constitute 82 percent of the city population. It also echoed scenes from her failed 1993 mayoral run, when McPhail sought to portray Dennis Archer as a pawn of white suburbanites.

All you need to know about the prevailing tone in Detroit politics is in this sentence:

Bates was lampooned at the ceremony by host Tatum Eason, a radio talk-show host. Eason was quoted in the Michigan Citizen as saying that Bates won third-place in the Sambo awards for "his starring role in 'I Talk Black But I Vote White.' "

Is voting white in the same league as kids telling other kids they're "acting white" for reading books? Or political figures suggesting in crude remarks that former mayor Dennis Archer (he won the Sambo Lifetime Achievement Award last year from the same gathering) is acting white for trying to mend fences with the suburbs and bring business back to a city utterly devoid of meaningful commerce at the time? Or doing the same to Dave Bing for involvement with a white philanthropist who wants to donate money to fund charter schools in the city and at least try to lift hundreds of kids out of probable lifetime poverty at the hands of the DPS?

The original article contains this quote:

“Our mandate is to raise community awareness and get rid of these Sambos, who have forgotten that they are citizens of a rich city which in its richness is being misused,” said keynote speaker Dr. Lyn Lewis.

Lewis, a professor of sociology and criminal justice at University of Detroit-Mercy, opened with a disclaimer that she was speaking as a private citizen. She said the school’s administration told her to do so since she publicly supported African Town, a project combining a Black business district and development fund, at a city council hearing last month.

Once you note the contrast made here between people like Archer and Bing versus the people who championed African Town, you can see the mentality at work here. Rather than educate kids, let's open a fish factory in what amounts to a race-based, open-air mall (African Town). Rather than reach out to the hundreds of thousands of people surrounding the city who sincerely want to help Detroit, let's demonize them and those who associate with them. And rather than thank people who actually try something like alternative schools and sububran alliances, let's hurl racial epithets and slurs at them, give them sarcastic awards while at the same time proposing little else besides idiocies and demented fantasies (see: African Town).

The self-defeating stupidity of people like this, who are essentially modern-day segregationists, is mind-boggling. And people wonder why progress in Detroit moves at a snail's pace. Who wants to keep or move their business or residence into a bigoted, negative and backwards climate like this?

Monday, March 07, 2005

Man, you know you’re drunk when you wind up in another country and can’t quite remember how to get out.

Such was the case Friday, as a lead on a faraway party turned into a sudden and unexpected drive through Windsor, Canada. Found the party, did the necessary party things, left in a different state than I arrived in, and did my best to follow the river to the tunnel and back past the gruff border guards, who were unamused by my drunken jokes. All that unpleasant contact with officialdom sobered me up a bit, so it was back to the bars. Some time later, finding myself the last man standing and too drunk even to eat (which is normally exactly the thing to do when I am too drunk), I found myself once again at the University party store at 1:30 a.m.

The store, actually called University Village Market and located at Forest and Third is, for some reason, always packed at 1:30 a.m., It seems to be its busiest hour. And it always has been during the years and years I've been going there, filled with a bunch of drunks who like me, at 1:30 a.m., opt not to sensibly end the night but rather to add to the drunkenness. The line was so long I started snapping photos (seen above at left) with the camera phone and speaking loudly about it to nobody in particular.

All this was merely groundwork for the Hamtramck Blowout, a bewildering array of bands and shows occurring simultaneously, forcing the wishy-washy to focus and choose among dozens of bands at a given time. Choose we did, seeing, among others, the Singles, the Vamps and the Dollfaces, but far more importantly, the legendary Nathaniel Mayer, old-time Detroit R&B singer, who at 64 is still more energetic than just about most frontmen in area bands today, and who put on yet another killer show, this time at Small's (right). I can't gush enough about him.

The only drawback to the publicity the Blowout gets is the out-of-towners who venture in and mistake the binge atmosphere for an excuse to get drunk and act like a stereotypical suburban jackass. At each show I went to there were a couple of them, usually much older jerks who don't quite fit in the usual crowd at these shows, standing at the front, clutching a drink, slurring their words and yelling stupid things at the band, embarrassing the women they came with and making everyone else uncomfortable. Where are the pistol-whipping carjackers when you need them?

Friday, March 04, 2005

What's that I feel? Temps nearing the 30s?! We're only about 10 degrees below average today. At this rate spring should arrive maybe five months from now, making exploration and photography much more appealing and giving me something original to post. In the meantime, I'll just shuttle everyone off to other people's hard work:

So many places to buy drugs in the city, and these two dingbat chicks go one of the handful of places you can get shot doing so:

Two middle-aged suburban Detroit women who drove to the city's west side to buy crack cocaine were shot Wednesday night during an attempted robbery, Detroit police said.
Police are looking into whether the men who shot the women were the same people who had arranged to sell them drugs, Aguayo said.


Max Fisher, R.I.P.


It didn't take long after they eliminated the city's residence requirement for employees that workers such as cops and firemen would pack up and hightail it to the suburbs. This one made it all the way to Macomb Township. Not far enough, apparently.


The Belle Isle Aquarium gets a brief stay from its original execution date, but not much. Supporters tried raising money, but it's too little too late to counteract years of fiscal incompetence. It's a shame, because scenes like this, where kids can take a short field trip to what has been, despite its recent low visibility, a city landmark, will never happen again.

Not everyone is so short on cash. Kwame's rolling in it, using it to plug holes in a sinking ship.

Kwame Kilpatrick raised more than $1.3 million last year -- nearly eight times more than his closest fund-raising rival in the 2005 race for mayor of Detroit. But Kilpatrick's prowess in raking in contributions was nearly surpassed by his spending. The mayor shelled out more than $1 million last year to bolster his bid for a second term.

Does all the fundraising and damage control advisors add up to a whiff of panic? Maybe this does:

Farmington Hills attorney Richard Bernstein sued the city last year on behalf of five disabled Detroit residents, claiming half the city's buses lack working wheelchair lifts as required by federal law.
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick lashed out Friday during a radio interview, calling Bernstein ignorant, and the lawsuit deplorable.
"It's one more time with suburban guys coming into our community trying to raise up the concerns of people when this administration is going to the wall on this issue about disabled riders," Kilpatrick told WWJ-AM (950).
"All I want to do is fix the city buses," Bernstein said Monday. "Mayor Kilpatrick wants to make this a suburbs versus city issue. That is a sad and tired argument. My clients are all city residents who want to ride the bus. Even if they were suburban, they still have a right to ride the bus.

You can tell the mayor knows he's in trouble when he tries to turn a lawsuit about fixing broken wheelchair lifts on buses, of all things, into a city vs. suburbs issue. Last refuge of a scoundrel, as they say.


I'm soon off to the Hamtramck Blowout. They can add sponsor names all they want, it's still the binge-drinking-fueled Hamtramck Blowout to me. Same for Montreaux Jazz Fest, damn it. Pine Knob too. And Cass Corridor is still more real and evocative than "Midtown" ever will be.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

It’s the beginning of March, the month that ushers in spring, and it begins with yet another Michigan snowstorm. How grand. We've had 52 inches of snow so far this winter in Detroit, compared with 19 at the same point last year. The whole thing is beginning to wear on me considerably.

So for the latest post, in lieu of going outside, we fall back on the old standby – scans! This Scan of the Week (I’m still calling it that even though I’ve dropped all pretense of it being anything resembling weekly) is an old photo found somewhere, a Velox print not dated or identified, but judging by the clothing the subjects wear it can’t be much later than the early 50s, and is probably older than that.

It shows a young couple in front of what is perhaps their new home. You can see thousands of homes of similar style throughout the neighborhoods of the city, but rarely do you see one like this in this condition, i.e. not dilapidated, torched or eroded, apart from in a few select neighborhoods. At least not ouside of old photos. Featuring intact balustrades on the second-story porch, itself flanked by flawless columns; a decoratively striped brick wall pattern; well-manicured lawn; and a thin but new awning over the window; it's remarkable to see one of these homes in its original, crisp state. Not to mention the sunny cheer and optimism of a couple getting a home in booming Detroit.

The smile’s a bit toothy, the sun’s in their eyes causing them to squint, but all of that adds to the awkward charm of the sunny scene, a climate as far removed from today's snow-mired reality as the condition of the house pictured there likely is.

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