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, August 04, 2005

So it's Freman vs. Kwame, as expected. The final results of the primary came in, a scant 12 hours after the polls closed Tuesday night. City Clerk Jackie Currie is reducing her lag time behind every other community - way to go, lady! Word is, some equipment "went missing" for a while last night, causing the delay in full results until this morning. That's not alarming or incompetent or anything.

It seems Detroiters view a ballot not as a choice among candidates but rather as a multiple-choice quiz in which you simply pick the names you've heard before, judging by the enthusiasm with which voters put almost all the incumbents among the top nine vote-getters. And of course, Detroit wouldn't be Detroit without Jackie Currie, who once again was top vote-getter for city clerk, a victory she celebrated by losing some votes for a while overnight. Let's keep sending her back, Detroit!

After becoming the first incumbent in half a century to come in second in a primary, Kwame made a speech last night that began with a thoroughly hip-hop "yeah yeah yeah yeah," guzzling water like he was loaded up on meth, wiping his big sweaty mug, and sounding rather menacing and irritated while looking rattled. His goon union supporters in their little tent on Grand River shouted with him, less like they wanted to see a continuation of a specific set of policies and more like they didn't want the gravy train for the posse to end.

And after all the bitching about having the right to elect a school board being taken away, one-third of the voters didn't even bother casting any vote at all for school board. Was all the groaning about disenfranchisement just another excuse for the perpetually aggrieved to complain, another gig for freelance protesters?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Today, of course, is Primary Election Day in the city. I'm not going to be one of those self-appointed public service announcers that exhorts people to vote. Do what you want - you're rational adults. Well, you're adults anyway, most of you. Except the ones who aren't alive but who still receive ballots from Jackie Currie, our 141-year-old city clerk.

However, if you think that Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick deserves four more years of living high on the hog at the public trough, more opportunity to bankrupt the city, and still has some relatives and high school buddies who haven't been given city jobs for which they're wholly unqualified, then by all means, please stay home today. There's great TV programming on, including infrequently aired reruns of "Divorce Court" and "The Steve Harvey Show" this afternoon. Besides, it's very, very hot outside today, and you might likely drop dead in the heat in the lines at the polls. No, better just to stay home where it's safe and nonpolitical.

Likewise, if you think that what the city needs is an erratic, conspiracy-minded, multi-election loser and you plan to vote for Sharon McPhail, I feel it's my civic duty to inform you that the city has moved the primary to tomorrow. Yes, that's right, last-minute decision and all, more Jackie Currie madness I guess, but show up bright and early tomorrow to cast your vote. Everything should be fine if you follow my instructions.

This should all be very interesting tomorrow when the results are in, that is, unless electoral fossil Currie manages to botch the ballot counting, as she's done in the past. Plus, there's about 10,000 candidates for City Council to wade through. Good luck crazies! May the best man (or woman) win! Well, OK, may the sort-of qualified, somewhat uncorrupted person win.

Monday, August 01, 2005

In what has turned out to be merely a short respite from this otherwise horribly swelterting summer, we spent part of this weekend outdoors in the temporarily nice weather, enjoying the Mexican Fiesta in southwest Detroit.

Only in Detroit would they move the festival from the wide-open riverfront at Hart Plaza over to the edge of crazy Delray at a pre-Civil War army fort. Smart way to keep the merely curious and skittish suburbanites away, along with their money.

Historic Fort Wayne, built in the 1840s to defend against the then-still-pesky Canadians, wound up being a garrison after treaty signings, and was gradually turned over to the City of Detroit, which gave up on it in the early 90s and left it to rot. Only recently has it reopened for tours and functions like the Fiesta, but is still in desperate need of upkeep.

The Fiesta, in its 71st year, was like most recent fair-type events in southwest Detroit, with a series of Mexican bands on a large stage, dozens of food booths representing the restaurants along Vernor and in Mexicantown, still more booths selling trinkets and crap, and midday alcohol, announced at the entrance to the site by a giant Corona beer bottle balloon. Booths representing the mayoral campaigns of Kwame Kilpatrick and state Sen. Hansen Clark offered magnets, keychains and campaign literature to the disinterested passersby.

I encountered a booth where they were selling splendid examples of bedsheet art, the best featuring a nearly indescribable scene featuring, um, ?? It portrayed a woman’s face appearing as an apparition out of the sky, as an apparent tsunami approached the sandy, clean beaches of Belle Isle, on which were parked some tricked-out hot rods. Apparently acid is still circulating as a drug of choice in southwest Detroit.

The woman manning the booth saw me taking a photo of this surreal depiction and angrily insisted that I pay her $5 for taking the photo. I insisted that she could go to hell. We came to an quiet agreement that resulted in me not listening and snapping the photo anyway.

After making the rounds we explored Fort Wayne on our own, checking out the collapsing roofs and crumbling walls of the historic buildings, for which upkeep has been an on-again, off-again priority over the years. A security guard chased us off the porch of one of the buildings, noting that "if it looks dangerous, it probably is," a not-very-effective tourism slogan. Basically it wound up being yet another tour of yet more historic buildings left to collapse from yet more neglect over the years in Detroit.

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