Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Motor City Is Burning


I moved to Detroit one dreary day in October, right before Halloween, my favorite holiday. Of course, the pre-cursor is Devil's Night, the depiction I'd only seen in Brandon Lee's last movie, The Crow. Greg Allman looks out at burning Detroit and makes a comment that I cannot recall, but he had good hair and that carried the film. That and images of a city on fire. So you can imagine my amazement when the city embarked that very year on "Angel's Night," an attempt at heavy patrolling to keep the fires at bay. And it seemed to work -- hell, I lived in the city and only saw one lousy car torched. It was not the free-for-all I was led to believe.

It seems to be my fate to happen onto things as they are dying. In this way, I am a good match for the city -- the day I hauled my belongings from the U-Haul into my new upper flat in the grayish rain, a man pulled up and said, Are you moving into the city? I nodded and he yelled, I'm getting the hell out! I've been here twenty years and not a minute more. With that, he beeped his horn and cruised down the street. An omen? I didn't have time to contemplate it as my landlords told me to hustle it up or my stuff would be stolen. And it began to rain in earnest. As for Devil's Night, I only have my friends' stories to make me nostalgic for all that I never saw, especially the woman who said -- I miss when the whole city was on fire and nobody could put it out.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"Little Johnny Lee is clearing out/ I don't know what started it/ but I ain't staying around to find out." John Lee Hooker, "The Motor City Is Burning"

Cocktail Hour

Devil's Night Shot in the Dark

2 shots of vodka
1 dash of grenadine
1 cup of crushed ice
Fill with club soda and garnish with cherries.

Benedictions and Maledictions

Happy Devil's Night!

10 comments:

Laura said...

I remember when the biggest thrill of devils night was going out with a group of friends and sneak around soaping peoples windows and toilet papering trees.

Cheri said...

You should have lived here in the late '80s, when people poisoned candy and put razor blades in apples and passed it out to children. One year I couldn't eat any of my candy. My mom had bought us bags to replace the stuff that we got. But this was my mother, who told me that I would get AIDS from stickers. lol.

Native Detroiter said...

Happy Halloween, Michelle! I've really gotten a kick out of your costumes. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

And with that the AP reports Detroit has the 2nd highest crime in the country. Tigers and crime... both in 2nd.

Slow learner said...

I think J.L.Hooker's quote refers to the Detroit riot(s) of the late 60's. I was returning from a suburban Detroit golf outing when I found out about the rioting. A guy got out of his car at a stoplight and asked for directions into Detroit. He was in the National Guard. "Haven't you heard," he said, "there's a riot going on and I'm reporting for duty." The rest, as they say, is history.

Vincent Price said...

One of my college roomies had a brother in the national guard during the Detroit riots. His brother had to bayonet a rioter, killing him with a thrust to the chest. When I asked about the outcome, my roomie said there wasn't one. The body was disposed of in a burning building.

Michelle's Spell said...

Dear AP,

You are correct about the history of the JLH song. But as Hank said, I can never be trusted not to misuse other people's metaphysics (in my case, it's titles!). And thanks to Laura and Cheri for the great comments of holidays of yore. As for our second place standing that Jason reported, what's that about? I think we got beat by Camden, New Jersey last year; this year we're one ahead of them.

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