For some time now, I’ve been mulling the idea of writing a piece on the Fearsome Wildlife of Detroit. Nature is red in tooth and claw everywhere, but I’m convinced it’s a little redder here. At least by the standards of the Midwest; we’re not talking Montana here.
I’ve mentioned the comeback of the pheasant in inner-city neighborhoods, where they find the vast unmowed plots of vacant land a fair approximation of their native prairie. Coyotes long ago found their way to the outer suburbs, and surely a few have followed rail lines or the riverfront or some other efficient route into the city, where many tasty pheasant live. When I did that rowing camp in July, the coach spoke of seeing fox at daybreak along the river.
But there’s more spice in the stew. The other day I stopped in the Eastern Market, where a collarless pit bull bitch, pendulous teats waving, trotted right through the middle of the place, a bowl of some sort clenched in her jaws. (There was a woman in Fort Wayne who walked a pit bull through our neighborhood sometimes; the dog was never seen without a stuffed crab plushie held in its mouth. Must be a breed thing.) A TV reporter told me that several times she and her crew had to wave off the 11 p.m. live standup on breaking news in the city, because the wild dogs were menacing them.
And don’t even talk to me about the black squirrels. After three seasons of observation, I’m convinced these suckers are genetically modified for extra craftiness and boldness. A while back I noticed one on the street outside my house, acting oddly — it kept jumping on and off the tire of a parked car. After about five jumps, it had figured out how to get from the tire to the fender, and up the windshied to the roof, where it entered the car through a two-inch gap left by a cracked window.
I thought the neighbors might want to know a live squirrel was plundering the car, so I went over and knocked on the door of the house the car was parked in front of. It wasn’t their car, but we watched together as the squirrel emerged from the car with a slice of stale pizza in its mouth, taken from a Little Caesar’s box on the floor of the back seat.
And, of course, we’re the birthplace of “Animal Cops.”
I’m interested in what happens when all these critters get together, the coyotes and the pits and the ballsy squirrels. I’m thinking it’s pretty amazing. I’m thinking it’s Sharks v. Jets. I’m thinking that observing such things will probably require a blind, an infrared camera and hours and hours of freezing my butt off. For 50 cents a word, maybe not.
I had a job interview in Houston last summer. Didn’t get the job. (The job didn’t get anyone; it was reabsorbed into the company, I think. Just so you know I’m not a total loser.) Well, thank God. Although I’m kind of sorry I won’t be covering it — I’ve never done a hurricane before. I would take a vow not to call them “whirlygirls,” as Travis McGee does, from back in the day when they all had women’s names.
Over at the DetNews, Nance gets her rant on.