A friend of mine is working on a book with a Detroit history angle, and has given me the great privilege of editing it, at least at the first-reader level. It’s great, and it reminds me of another book project I worked on, another Detroit-history volume. I spent a fair amount of time at the library, reading newspapers on microfilm, and was struck by how different history looks at ground level, as opposed to the 30,000-foot view taken in history texts.
It’s one thing, for instance, to write that “Many middle-class residents fled the city, citing fear of rising crime,” and another entirely to look at some of the crimes we’re talking about here.
One incident happened in 1976. The Average White Band and Kool and the Gang were playing a show at Cobo Arena in the heart of downtown. Gang activity was at its peak then (which tracks; my birth year was the largest of the baby boom, and I would have been 19 in ’76). As the show started, a couple hundred gang members managed to get into the arena, easily blowing past security and the few police working the show. During the break between acts, members of the Errol Flynns (they had some great names, these gangs) took the stage and started yelling “Errol Flynn! Errol Flynn!” into the live mics, while others fanned out through the crowd, robbing audience members of their watches and wallets.
Then they fled into the night, and if anything, the situation got worse, as this clipping from the time suggests:
A 16-year-old black girl said she saw 20 to 25 black youths snatch a white girl’s purse, beat her white boyfriend, and then strip her to her shoes and rape her.
Forty-seven arrests, widespread robberies, one rape, one molestation, followed by gang members smashing storefront windows and looting stores. Fun fact: One of the gang members that night? A young man named Greg Mathis, who grew up to be Judge Mathis.
Imagine if your son or daughter had gone through something like that, even if she wasn’t gang-raped in an alley afterward. You’d turn your back on that city so fast you’d spin like a top.
Something useful to remember.
I see some of you are playing Wordle. I played it for a while, deleted it, added it again. Here’s my technique:
The object of the game is to guess a five-letter word in six tries. The board starts out blank, so I’ve learned you start with a consonant blend and as many vowels as you can get up there, although I didn’t follow the rule here. Gray tiles mean the letter isn’t in the word at all, yellow means it’s there but in the wrong place, and green means the letter is in the right place.
So if the H is correct, then the first letter is probably C, T or W. The L can’t be in the third position, so try it second-from-last, then in the last spot, and then you just take guesses. Mine was lucky.
Now I’ve managed to be even more annoying than the people who tweet their results! Now there’s a winner!