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!

Posted at 9:11 pm in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' |

43 responses to “Puzzles.”

  1. Icarus said on January 11, 2022 at 10:01 pm

    a lot of my friends have gotten on the Wordle kick , and I’m playing along. You can only play once a day unless you set your computer clock forward (or back). I’m using safari on an iPad but I guess there is an app? I’ve tried using up all the vowels first but those who know words well are probably better suited to use up consonants.

    Man, that news clip!

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  2. Deborah said on January 11, 2022 at 10:34 pm

    I’m steering clear of wordle, it’s something I could get obsessed with.

    We watched Belfast tonight and I loved it. The Irish actor who played Pops, stole the show. It helped that I really like Van Morrison and have been to Belfast.

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  3. MarkH said on January 12, 2022 at 12:02 am

    That was quite the abrupt segue from urban flight/gang warfare/unlikely outcome to wordle. Got me curious about what you left out about Judge Mathis. Here’s more of his story.


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  4. Dexter Friend said on January 12, 2022 at 4:35 am

    L. Brooks Patterson of Oakland County was on WJR years ago and was asked if he was coming downtown Detroit for some big dedication groundbreaking. He said he would never come south of 8 Mile for anything “down into the jungle”. Like many suburb and exurb dwellers, he refused to go to the city. No unfenced barrier in America stands as does 8 Mile Road. It comes and goes. I never lived in Detroit , only visited. I walked all over downtown many times, I’ve been to both hot dog stands, the old Lindell AC bar, Cobo, Joe Louis Arena, Belle Ilse,and only had great times. Every city experiences and has experienced hard violent times. The old news story is shocking, except to we who listened daily to Byron Macgregor on CKLW out in the river booming stories with exquisite alliteration like “mad maniac Detroit destruction in gory ghastly grizzly slayings”, stuff like that. Stories like the disaster at Cobo helped the 8 Mile invisible gate grow stronger.
    Today’s news about Republicans in Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and 2 other states created phony “official” electoral votes stating Trump was to receive their states’ electoral votes went unnoticed in evening newscasts. If this bullshit isn’t enough to imprison a lot of Republicans, what is? They tried to steal the election. THEY did, not Biden’s voters. What the hell?

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  5. Dorothy said on January 12, 2022 at 6:25 am

    I’ve played Wordle since Sunday – only solved it yesterday but came close today. It’s fun, Deborah and it doesn’t take much more than five minutes since you can only play it once a day.

    In 1974 or so my girlfriends and I went to see Average White Band play in Oakland (where Pitt’s campus is). A bunch of rowdy boys came up to us as we were walking to the bus to take us home. I whispered “let’s talk Spanish to each other – maybe they’ll leave us alone!” Yeah that’s me, quick-on-her-feet Dorth – and our extremely limited Spanish vocabulary deterred them pretty fast, which was pretty amazing. But what one of them said made us laugh so hard and I still quote this today: “I ain’t talkin’ to y’all – y’all speak Swahili!”

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  6. Mark P said on January 12, 2022 at 8:49 am

    I went with my brother to see AWB maybe around 1976 in the domed Pittsburgh stadium. After about a half an hour the marijuana smoke was so thick they opened the roof.

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  7. Suzanne said on January 12, 2022 at 9:08 am

    I played Wordle this morning and got the word on the 3rd try! It’s fun once I figured out how it works (funny how reading the directions really does help).

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  8. LAMary said on January 12, 2022 at 9:26 am

    I like Van Morrison’s music from the seventies but he lost me last year when he and Eric Clapton went on big deal anti vaccination tear. They sounded like privileged louts.

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  9. Jeff Borden said on January 12, 2022 at 9:32 am

    As Dexter notes, all great cities experience terrible events. When I ponder the many disasters that have befallen Chicago over the years –the Chicago fire killed more than 300 and left 100,000 homeless in 1871, the Iroquois Theater fire in 1903 that killed more than 600 and remains the deadliest single building fire in U.S. history, the Eastland boating disaster of 1915 that killed 844 and remains one of the worst maritime disasters in U.S. history– it helps me hope our current dire situation will somehow be conquered.

    The gun violence is seeping out of the “bad neighborhoods” with crime way up in Old Town, River North, Wicker Park and other “good neighborhoods.” At lunch Monday, one of my friends insisted the only solution is bringing the National Guard to town and putting soldiers on every street corner, an idea so horrible me and the other guy at lunch gasped. But that’s how a North Shore resident thinks.

    My adopted city breaks my heart at times, but I’m not betting against her. Chicagoans have overcome much in the city’s history. It’s going to take time, but I think we’ll figure a way out of this violence at some point. I just hope I live long enough to see it.

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  10. Deborah said on January 12, 2022 at 10:01 am

    OK, I played Wordle and now I’m hooked even though it took me until the 6th try and 16 minutes to finally get the word.

    Sorry to hear that Van Morrison made a stink about vaccines, that’s discouraging.

    Also saddened to hear about the increasing violence in Chicago. Yikes.

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  11. Suzanne said on January 12, 2022 at 10:15 am

    Gun violence in Chicago sponsored by Indiana with its lax, and soon to be more lax, gun laws which encourages bad actors to drive over the border and buy, buy, buy. As long as the money flows, Indiana won’t do a thing.

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  12. Jeff Borden said on January 12, 2022 at 11:55 am

    Which is why I so strongly dislike Indiana, Suzanne.

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  13. Suzanne said on January 12, 2022 at 12:59 pm

    I don’t blame you Jeff. I don’t much like Indiana these days either.

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  14. Julie Robinson said on January 12, 2022 at 1:13 pm

    Wait, Florida is trying hard to keep up with Indiana. Texas, even, with the proposed abortion law of no abortions after 15 weeks, and no exceptions for rape or incest. Yay, Florida!

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  15. Mssr. Coffee said on January 12, 2022 at 3:17 pm

    Consider: Indiana may not like you, either. There’s an easy solution.

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  16. JodiP said on January 12, 2022 at 4:09 pm

    Minneapolis has seen a big uptick in violent crime as well, in many parts of the city which hasn’t seen it. This is certianly happening where I live. on 12/04, there was an armed home invasion at 3 a.m. Then last Saturday there was as shooting which ended in the death of a young man a half block from my house. Carjackings are also way up all over. There are a lot of community group trying to hold the community together and make peace. I hope it works.

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  17. alex said on January 12, 2022 at 4:21 pm

    I’ve been hearing that people don’t feel as safe at night on the el and in public spaces in Chicago and that it started with the pandemic. Fewer people in public means more room for crimes of opportunity.

    When I lived there I felt safe 24/7 in the Lakeview/Lincoln Park neighborhoods because there were always people around and I would never have hesitated to use the red line at night. It’s hard for me to fathom from afar that there’s a different consciousness about it now.

    Hey, sounds like Danny the Troll is back in the guise of Mssr. Coffee.

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  18. Jeff Borden said on January 12, 2022 at 4:32 pm

    Oh, hey, hi Danny! Buy any new MAGAt shit lately?

    There is only one reason for me to ever enter the Hoosier state: When I’m visiting family and friends in Ohio the only possible route goes through it. Otherwise, I’d happily never set foot in it.

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  19. Deborah said on January 12, 2022 at 4:47 pm

    We’re picking up our rental car in a bit for our roadtrip to SoCA to see my husband’s granddaughter, we’re staying in Flagstaff tomorrow night.

    Have you all seen this yet? It’s probably made the rounds already about God’s tech https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BwaQRTo1Efo

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  20. Dexter Friend said on January 12, 2022 at 4:48 pm

    I remember a few years ago when flash mobs instantly gathered in The South Loop and on the path beside LSD and went on terror runs, robbing and beating everyone. My nephew’s wife’s friend had her phone snatched out of her hand by a bicycle-riding thief in The South Loop. For a while the close-in Ann Arbor neighborhoods had a crime wave of robberies and assaults, a few years ago. Mayor Adams in NYC promises to get spiraling subway crime under control. For sure, crime is generally increasing all over the USA. San Francisco is seemingly out of control, as criminals stroll into retail stores and run out with stolen merchandise and the security guards are, by policy, not allowed to confront them. Best wishes for a safe 2022. Luck, too…we’ll all need it.

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  21. Dexter Friend said on January 12, 2022 at 4:55 pm

    But then Al Bowlly loved the damn place:


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  22. Sherri said on January 12, 2022 at 4:55 pm

    I know Indiana doesn’t like me. Otherwise, they’d get vaccinated and wear masks and do their part to end this pandemic, instead of blathering about freedom.

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  23. tajalli said on January 12, 2022 at 5:25 pm

    Just finished reading Richard Powers’ latest – Bewilderment – which is a thinly veiled commentary on our current predicament from the perspective of an astrobiologist.

    Together with Deborah’s tech link and this fine offering,
    I’m looking forward to 2022 dressed in pink, maybe even re-watching Big Bang Theory to keep up my amusement level.

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  24. Dexter Friend said on January 12, 2022 at 5:31 pm

    I check daily to see if the film “Belfast” is off the $19.99 buy list. I just want to stream it. I can’t pay for all the services and then pay for the high-priced rentals and buys too, as I kept cable for all my sports.

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  25. alex said on January 12, 2022 at 6:01 pm

    RIP Ronnie Spector:


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  26. beb said on January 12, 2022 at 6:45 pm

    Saw this this morning and I wonder if it’s really true or just another horse paste / drink your own urine story,

    WDIV is behind Clickondetroit so I would think they would apply the same journalist standard as they do to their broadcasts. The story is that two chemicals found in hemp act as antivirals for covid. It;s source from the University of Oregon but who knows. It would be nice if a chemical that could be easily extracted from easily grown hemp could help treat covid. Of course there’s no indication that the chemicals in hemp are also in marijuana. Nor is there any indication whether the drugs persist from ingesting pot or hemp. But I imagine that there will be a big surge in pot sales as people try to self-medicate. At least the MAGAts will be a lot mellower.

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  27. tajalli said on January 12, 2022 at 9:19 pm

    With regard to hemp-related cures for COVID, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-factcheck-coronavirus-marijuana/false-claim-marijuana-kills-coronavirus-idUSKBN2133TZ

    Other items I’ve read lately but timed out for adding to my earlier comment: well-researched with exquisite use of language The Love Songs of W.E.B. duBois (poet laureate Honorée Fanonne Jeffers), the gorgeous graphic novel Grass (written and illustrated by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim), historical fiction The Elephant of Belfast (Kirk Walsh).

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  28. Sherri said on January 12, 2022 at 9:44 pm

    A question for you all to ponder…

    As I was sharing some of my haul of antigen tests with a friend, we were chatting about the state of the pandemic, and how some states were doing much less than others, and why. My friend (who grew up here in western Washington), speculated that those states have a different perception about risk, are more tolerant of risk. I, as a product of one of those states, disagreed. I think it’s because of who is more likely to die-the poor and brown-and those states don’t care about those people.

    There are the obvious political differences, but that’s a chicken and egg question. What do you think?

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  29. Suzanne said on January 12, 2022 at 10:15 pm

    I don’t think it’s a matter of risk assessment but mindset. I am surrounded by ardent but naive Christians and Amish. Their view of life is that Jesus loves them, we are all going to die but then we’ll be in paradise, so the risk of COVID deaths is not that big of a deal. If you die, you die. There is no internal thinking, no pondering. For the non-Amish Christians, you vote GOP to save the babies and make sure you can own a gun and when your time is up, it’s up.
    It’s really that simple.

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  30. MarkH said on January 12, 2022 at 11:54 pm

    Indiana disagrees.


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  31. Dexter Friend said on January 13, 2022 at 2:01 am

    Damn. I was truly as taken with little Veronica Bennett as I was with The Beatles back then in 1963-1964. I loved The Ronettes. Nobody was a turn-on like Ronnie. Her group was the feature on European tours; The Rolling Stones opened. In New York, The Stones crashed in Spanish Harlem at the Bennett home. All The Beatles adored Ronnie. My point is that she was Rock and Roll Royalty, High Exalted Queen. All the while, the coolest best celebrity ever. In past years she would come on for an hour on my favorite XM radio show, just before Christmas. The past few years she wasn’t able to make it. Of all the rock stars, I adored, loved, Ronnie more than all the others.

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  32. David C said on January 13, 2022 at 6:06 am

    As others have pointed out, the Jesus is in control, if I did, I die squad often have an arsenal of weapons ’cause someone might kill them. I guess it’s bad form to meet Jesus with a hole in you but not with lungs so scarred they’re useless. I truly believe it comes down to no more than “You’re not the boss of me”.

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  33. alex said on January 13, 2022 at 7:20 am

    The Indiana General Assembly is too stupid to be capable of engineering a health policy so dastardly and subtle, Sherri. If they wanted to make it punitive of minorities they’d be up-front about it just like they are when it comes to education policy.

    btw, the education bill co-sponsored by the twit who said Nazism isn’t getting a fair shake in the classroom has now been amended to allow teachers to condemn Nazism; they just can’t talk about anything else that falls under the nebulous rubric of Critical Race Theory. It’s expected to sail right through the Republican supermajority, who just this week abolished the long-standing law requiring gun permits, much to the chagrin of law enforcement.

    Indiana continues to burnish its well-earned reputation as the south’s middle finger.

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  34. Suzanne said on January 13, 2022 at 9:04 am

    The Jesus is in control crowd rationalizes their gun fetish by saying that God wants them to protect their families from harm. If a virus takes them, well, it’s their time but if a criminal takes them, they have the God given right to fight back.
    I know. It doesn’t make any sense. But that’s how it is.

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  35. Jeff Gill said on January 13, 2022 at 9:53 am

    I could offer my own contrarian take on how we’ve romanticized the Amish (not here, but in Christian culture generally), and the significant flaws & sorrows in their worldview, but it’s worth noting they’re not going to say they need to own an AR-15 nor would they see a death from a violent-minded intruder much differently than they would a viral fatality. Witness the Plain Folk’s response to the Nickel Mines killings in 2006.

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  36. Suzanne said on January 13, 2022 at 10:31 am

    You are right on that, Jeff. I didn’t make myself clear that I wasn’t speaking about the Amish being part of the gun culture.
    And having lived for years surrounded by them, you are also very correct that many people romanticize their lives and culture.

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  37. Mssr. Coffee said on January 13, 2022 at 10:50 am

    As Ken Kesey suggested: “Feed the hungry bee.”

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  38. Jeff Borden said on January 13, 2022 at 11:17 am

    “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’” — Isaac Asimov

    The British put Charles Darwin on their money. Imagine trying to do something similar in ‘Murica. If the QOP retakes the federal government, I eagerly await the issuing of new coins featuring the Fox white power primetime lineup, Glenn Beck and the stupid seditionist who got herself killed on Jan. 6.

    These are ‘Murica’s cultural heroes.

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  39. Brandon said on January 13, 2022 at 3:26 pm

    The British put Charles Darwin on their money.

    Darwin £10 note

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  40. David C said on January 13, 2022 at 6:01 pm

    Well, seditious conspiracy charges came down from the DOJ today so that’s good. Everything else today stank to high heaven.


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  41. Deborah said on January 13, 2022 at 6:32 pm

    Currently in Flagstaff, AZ on our way to SoCA. Really shitty what Sinema has done to the voting rights bills. What a complete narcissist she is. I wish I was in a better mood.

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  42. Dexter Friend said on January 14, 2022 at 2:04 am

    On December 25 I was at a Christmas party with Columbus area family and yeah, just found out 6 people there have tested positive for Omicron. Now 3 weeks later, and I already have basically isolated myself since then and didn’t develop any symptoms, I’ll wait for my mailed-to-me test from the government. They are supposed to be mailed by tomorrow Saturday. It’s very difficult to be tested here. My friend and his wife, 75 years of age, went all over town, found an ER clinic, called and were told to drive to a parking lot and call in their vehicle license plate and model make and wait approximately 3 hours and someone would come out and test them in their truck. They both were sick and waited 2 hours in the truck before feeling too sick to stay. My friend said they went home and back into their sickbed.
    Sinema is a traitor to her party. Those phonies make me sick. Why does she have to be a goddam Trumper?

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  43. alex said on January 14, 2022 at 7:44 am

    I read a piece last week — I think it might have been Dahlia Lithwick — who predicted the outcome of the Supreme Court COVID cases yesterday and who explained that the right-wing antipathy toward COVID mitigation efforts only makes sense when viewed as part of a larger long-term Federalist Society effort to dismantle the administrative state. If HHS can’t constitutionally enforce health rules, then by extension OSHA can’t enforce workplace rules, the EPA can’t enforce environmental rules, the FDA can’t enforce food safety rules, and on and on it goes. For each, they’ll raise the same novel argument as they did this time, that Congress didn’t expressly grant the agency the right to do anything regarding this specific case scenario.

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