06 Jan 2014 /
DAY #444: THE PERFORMANCE NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT
When I was in New York a few weeks ago, someone asked me where I was from. "Detroit," I said. "Oh sorry." Sometimes I chuckle to myself. Like last night, when I was walking around Eastern Market and seemingly out of nowhere, a troupe of modern dancers and jazz musicians begin weaving their way through the crowd, putting on a pop-up performance like nothing I've ever seen. I think to myself, my city, we will keep our little secret for now.
DAY #441: SUNDAY MORNING
The mass was given in English and in Spanish. I didn't expect that, even after having been to many masses like this in Detroit in the past year. Each time, I've felt like a kid peeking her head above the pew to take it all in. Or the traveler just arrived, looking on a new place, equal parts fear and wonder.
DAY #439: WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?
This whole story is about coming home but the fact of the matter is I've never even lived in the Detroit until now. Never really walked more than a few blocks in it. But sometimes I feel like these streets have a memory of me. They could recite the whole plot. Maybe some places are meant to belong to you. Waiting for you to arrive.
DAY #438: PERHAPS
“since the thing perhaps is to eat flowers and not to be afraid” ― E.E. Cummings, Complete Poems, 1904-1962
DAY #434: BRIDGE VIEW
I crossed this bridge many times as a teenager. Always looking to the fun night on the other side. Now it's fun just to cross it and look out the window
DAY #432: "MARK MY WORDS"
I try to fool myself into thinking that I'm an observer. Just a little fly on the ground. But I'm right in there, creating conversation. Make-believing words and stories.
DAY #430: MY GRANDMA GIVES A DANCE LESSON
I've spent the last few years trying to define what home is. Is it a structure, is it a person, a moment. Or maybe it's a dance. This one. "Dance, dance, wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the Dance, said he, And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be, And I'll lead you all in the Dance, said he."
DAY #428: STILL KICKING
“You can search the world over for the finer things, but you won’t find a match for the American road and the creatures that live on it."
DAY #427: HOW DID I GET HERE?
I like finding them. The places that look like they're from a different era. They're not fashioned that way. In this city, they remained that way. Like people or time forgot about them. A memory I never had.
DAY #425: CLOSE TO HOME
How'd you learn to sing like that? "From him." Is he kind of a legend? "He kind of is." Who is he? "My dad!"
DAY #423: COACH
Coach, what is it that people don't get about Detroit? "You watch the news, you see the politics, you believe it. We're not politics, we're real people."
DAY #422: A MICHIGAN ORIGINAL SINCE 1866
This is a group that gathers every Saturday in Eastern Market in Detroit. They come to "karaoke" Motown and R&B classics. This isn't your typical karaoke. These people bring down the crowded house. This man just finished his performance and gets a high-five from a friend. Detroiters through and through, even down to the jacket flung across the chair, touting Detroit's original soda since 1866.
DAY #421: YOU ARE WHY I LOVE THIS CITY
Bert's is a place where people gather on a Saturday afternoon to karaoke Motown and R&B classics. These people are originals. In their style, their character, and in their history. They are the original patrons of this legendary jazz and blues joint. Their conversation carved into the walls.
DAY #420: JUST BEFORE MIDNIGHT
In Southwest Detroit, Mexican families gather for music and food late into the weekend evening, celebrating community, children in tow.
DAY #418: DANCE TEACHER
Don’t you think that when you find what you were meant to do, you have an obligation to do it? The world stops arguing with you. I can see in class that you were meant to dance. There’s no distance between you and everything around you. The air lets you be.
DAY #417: WHAT SHOULD I SAY ABOUT YOU?
"Say what's in your heart." These books are in my heart. "Well, we're so glad you came by. Come again." Wait a minute, you seem to know an awful lot about this place, is your last name King? "Maybe."
DAY #416: PICTURES SPEAK TO ME
Sometimes I have no idea what they’re saying, except that they feel right in the moment. Or sometimes, months later. One time I told a friend that it was comforting to finally find a place for my sensitivity. A rectangle. A different home of sorts.
DAY #415: NIGHT OWL
I even tiptoe around it at night. That giant husk that keeps watch over our comings and goings. It reminds me of things, people, memories we have lost to time, somehow still there, haunting and beautiful.
DAY #414: LET ME CALL YOU SWEETHEART
"It was the first time I laid eyes on The Redford, The marquis a dazzling sight against the night sky. Passing through the lobby, then through the red doors, 'Let Me Call You Sweetheart' was playing on the Barton Theatre Organ. White-haired men and women holding hands and singing along. I am caught up in the sweetness of the melody as I enter the theatre; with just one look, I am in love.” - Renee Tadey, Detroit Dvotion, http://detroitdvotion.com/
DAY #412: DEMOLITION SONG
A few days ago I read about the final demolition of the Brewster projects. I read about a celebration. Somewhere amongst the cheering and the rubble, I can hear Diana Ross whispering a lullaby.
DAY #411: MAN IN THE CITY
Early on in my experiment I asked, "who is that little red man I see everywhere around Detroit?" Watcher of rooftops, keeper of dreams.
DAY #407: WALKING HISTORY
Sometimes when I’m walking I like to do what the Buddhists do and really feel the ground under my feet. It is kind of liberating. Sometimes I start talking to the ground… do you know me, do you remember me as a child? When I go back to places I’ve lived temporarily, it seems like the ground has already forgotten me. It started moving into the future the second I left. In Detroit, I can feel my own history underneath me. Do I know you? Do I know you? What kind of question is that? I gave birth to you.
DAY #406: THE PLACES MEMORY REMEMBERS
Do you remember, when I was a kid, you used to tell me you were taking me to Donkey Joe’s and you’d drive me around for a half hour looking for it. You’d point to someone’s house and say, “There’s Donkey Joe’s,” and we’d laugh and drive off. We never found Donkey Joe’s. But eventually we’d pull into A&W, and have a root beer float at the drive-in. It’s a drive-thru now. And just today I got curious, I looked up Donkey Joe’s. It has a Facebook page, but no address. "Hey what street you live on in Detroit?" Trumbull. "Oh, Trumbull. I know Trumbull. There used to be a bar on Trumbull and Michigan. We’re not bar people, but I used to pick up your grandmother there after Tiger’s games. It was called Toot’s. Still there?"
DAY #405: THE BEAUTY OF A LONG HISTORY
John. Organist at Redford Theatre since the 1970s. "Here's a picture of me from back in the day."
DAY #404: LIFE BEING WELL LIVED
Bob. 83 years old. Volunteer popcorn popper at at the Redford Theatre for 43 years
DAY #400: MOON OVER CHICAGO
Chicago feels like a second home. Maybe it does to most Midwesterners, many of whom flock here after college, looking for the future.
DAY #399: "WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE A VOICE?"
"Terry Tempest Williams’s mother told her: ‘I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me you won’t look at them until after I’m gone.’ Readers of Williams’s iconic and unconventional memoir, Refuge, well remember that mother. She was one of a large Mormon clan in northern Utah who developed cancer as a result of the nuclear testing in nearby Nevada. It was a shock to Williams to discover that her mother had kept journals. But not as much of a shock as what she found when the time came to read them. 'They were exactly where she said they would be: three shelves of beautiful cloth-bound books … I opened the first journal. It was empty. I opened the second journal. It was empty. I opened the third. It too was empty … Shelf after shelf after shelf, all of my mother’s journals were blank.
DAY #397: MAN & MYTH
Some pictures I go back to a lot more than others. I have a wall of pictures like this in my home. I look. I look again. I could look at these people forever. I was trying to figure out why. Why these pictures and not others? They aren’t conveying anything specific, except maybe mystery.
DAY #396: THE SMOKE GOT IN MY EYES
Last week I took a photo of a parking lot. Same parking lot I shot about three years ago. I remember it was part of a series of pictures I took on a short visit to Detroit. All very sad... very, very sad. No one can deny the disrepair. Even people like me who love living here. But now when I see smoke, even when I see fire, I see smoke. I see fire. I see a bunch of half-written headlines, stories in the making.
DAY #395: TO BE ALIVE
These days, I haven't felt compelled to take many pictures. Maybe the cold is freezing the life out of me. But sometimes, like this time, I see something, I pull my car over, I jump out and I run to the side of this building. Who is that man up ahead of me? I don't know why all the sudden things pull me awake. I asked someone last night, what is the secret of life? He said, "to do what you were born to do." I said, and what might that be?
DAY #393: GENTLE MEN
Father, son, son, father, as time unravels the roles move around in a circle, the exchange of care realizing equilibrium. This is what no one can take from us—the holding of hands in every hour, a silent promise families make, and true men honor. — at Hygrade Deli.
DAY #392: REWINDING MYSELF
"You’re back!" Of course I’m back, I told you I’d be back. I go back to places I like. "It’s been awhile though. We said, ‘she said she’d come again but where is she. You still taking pictures?’" Yeah, you still lovin’ Kid Rock? "Uh, am I alive? ‘Course I do." You know I listened to him when I was in high school. We had one of his cassette tapes. Haha. Waita minute, waita minute… ‘I been sittin’ here… "Tryin’ to find myself…" I get behind myself. "I need to rewind myself…" Lookin' for the payback…
DAY #391: ICE BATH
"Instead of being the warm centre of the world, the Middle West now seemed like the ragged edge of the universe.” ― F Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
DAY #389: LEAVE THE LIGHT ON FOR ME
I never bump into anyone from my past when I’m walking around town. Probably because they’re scattered everywhere, most of them with kids about to start crawling, walking, driving, taking off to wherever. Time has a one-track mind and it is on a mission. But there’s an interesting thing about this town. It feels like it’s been waiting around for me, for anyone, forever.
DAY #388: IT IS WHAT IT IS WHAT IT IS
Sometimes you drive around and somebody's truth will be staring at you, right there in the face. Their poverty or flash, their fear or resilience. Sometimes all of it at once. In one person. There's not a lot of hiding places in this town. Everything's written on people's faces.
DAY #387: THAT’LL BE $2, SWEETHEART
I am the only woman customer surrounded by 25 men drinking $1 coffee in Donut Villa in Southwest Detroit. Spanish is ricocheting off the walls in a way that even feels familiar to a non-native speaker like me. The owner yells out, “Hey! Quiet over there.” “She’s Macedonian,” says Amber, from behind the counter. I nod my head. How long you been working here? “16 years. I know Spanish, just from being around it all day.” You live here? “My whole life.” Huh. Why? I've moved all over the place. I want to know why people stay here. What do you like about this place? “Hmmm, I like that everyone’s together.” What does that mean? “Take the Cinco de Mayo parade. Been to it? It’s Mexicans. It’s Puerto Ricans. Europeans. Vietnamese.” Huh. Hey, is this place always filled with men? “Yeah. It gets packed before they go to work. It used to be all Vietnamese who would come here. Han’s been coming here for a long time.” Later I tell my boyfriend about it. I tell him about Han. How he fought in the war. The shrapnel still in his body. A daughter at U of M now. Full ride, he told me. My boyfriend says, “Did it feel like a little community in there?” Yeah, they all seemed to know each other. "Not like your Starbucks where everyone’s floating alone in their own java dream." No, not like that at all. It seemed like they’ve been talking for years.
DAY #384: ONE-WAY TICKET
There’s a book I got about 15 years ago. It was in one of those bargain-priced bins you used to find in Barnes & Noble. I still pull it out occasionally. It’s called “The Meaning of Life, Reflections in Words and Pictures on Why We Are Here,” from the editors of Life Magazine. They asked everyone from Desmond Tutu to Maya Lin to John Updike to a bookkeeper in a doctor’s office and even an eight-year-old boy to contribute their thoughts. Here’s what the young boy had to say: The meaning Of Life flowers growing you me taxes birds trees Love feeling mommy, Daddy, Bouther, sister, unkl, red, grean, yellow mickey mouse white, orange, blue, clows houses man woman phones John Adams akanomicks The End. - Serin Marshall, third grader who plays piano and video games
DAY #383: TURN THE LIGHTS OUT
Yesterday at Fisher Building the main chandelier wasn't working. It looked so different. This was a delight. I could see all the little details. I had never seen the red bead-like ornamentation before. I started taking a flurry of pictures of something I've seen a million times. Someone passed by and said, "Did we get a new light?" I had a little chuckle. No, I'm just looking harder.
DAY #382: SPIRITED
"The Spirit of Detroit is a city monument that represents the city of Detroit. The bronze statue was commissioned for $58,000 in 1955 by Marshall Fredricks and was dedicated in 1958... The 26-foot sculpture was the largest cast bronze statue since the Renaissance at the time it was built. In the statue’s left hand it holds a gilt bronze sphere, emanating rays to symbolize God, and in its right it holds a family group symbolizing all human relationships." -Detroit Historical Society
DAY #381: CONTEMPLATING NEXT STEPS
It would be nice to peek around the corners of time to see what will happen. But then I think, why? Why do I care about the outcome of things? Every decision I’ve made with my heart has been a brilliant one, even when it ended in disaster.
DAY #380: LETTER PRESS
"Every moment of your life, you're writing. Even in your dreams you're writing. When you walk the halls in this school you meet various people and you write furiously in your head. . . . You see someone you like and you say, Hi, in a warm melting way, a Hi that conjures up splash of oars, soaring violins, eyes shining in the moonlight. There are so many ways of saying Hi. Hiss it, trill it, bark it, sing it, bellow it, laugh it, cough it. A simple stroll in the hallway calls for paragraphs, sentences in your head." - Frank McCourt, Teacher Man @Signal Return Letterpress, 1345 Division St, Detroit, MI 48207
DAY #378: NO WAFFLING
Last year was the year of the chicken and waffle. This year, I'm working it off.
DAY #377: TIME PRESERVES SOME THINGS
How long have you been working here? "Oh honey, years." How long has he been eating here? "Years." Comes in every day? "Every day."
DAY #376: MY LITTLE PONY
"Where are you?" I'm in Del Ray. "Have you been to house with the miniature pony in the front yard?" Funny, I just left it.
DAY #375: THE WAY OF THINGS
Our family are our neighbors. My grandmother lives across the street. My aunts two doors down. My father has fourteen relatives in this neighborhood. Why would we go somewhere else? This is all we know.
DAY #374: THINGS FALLING
"As the mayor counted down, 78-year-old Rosanna Johnson of Detroit clasped her hands…. 'It just takes my heart away,' says Johnson, who lived in the projects from the time she was 19 until her relocation and the abandonment of the townhouses in 2008. She recalls a happy, bustling community now replaced by blighted, charred brick carcasses. ……. Several-foot-high piles of debris line the entrances to the townhouses. Johnson points south toward a forlorn and fire-scorched unit on the end of one of the townhouses. That’s where I lived, she says.” - MLive.com
DAY #373: THINGS TIME REVEALS
Going back through some pictures from last year I wonder why I am attracted to different shots of the same person? I think, how could I not have seen this before? What has changed — me, the other person, the way I see that person. Time gets a kick out of telling me new secrets, dismantling, reconfiguring the mystery of people.
DAY #372: MORNING SONG
I don't often orchestrate the moments I capture. Things capture me. A busy smokestack. One lonely tower. A wire flung across the sky. Beauty arranges itself all over the place. You can shut your eyes to it, or open them.
DAY# 371: BRING YOUR OWN ROSES
Feast of the Virgin of Guadelupe, Mexicantown, Detroit "The apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1531 on Tepeyac Hill, near present-day Mexico City, sparked a conversion of unprecedented proportions among the indigenous peoples of Mexico. The shrine erected in the Virgin’s honor still contains the miraculous image imprinted on Juan Diego’s cloak and is the most popular site of Catholic pilgrimage in the world."
DAY #370: HOW DO YOU PICK A HOME?
Why did you choose to move to Detroit 35 years ago? “It’s complicated.” Ha. My reasons for moving to Detroit are complicated too. “One of the reasons is we wanted to raise our kids in a diverse neighborhood.”
DAY #369: CHOOSE AN IMAGE, ANY IMAGE
Last weekend, I watched a viral video about skiing in abandoned Detroit buildings. This weekend, I went on a Detroit home tour.
DAY #368: CROSSROADS
I said, let's start this story again, somewhere in the middle, where all stories begin. I want to sit in the questions I never asked as a kid. I want answers. There's a barricade at the border. I get a good chuckle out of that one. I have to stop my car and get out. Here it is. Grosse Pointe. Detroit. Detroit. Grosse Pointe. I am a teenager again, "Don't go over that line."
DAY #366: SOME STORIES CONTINUE
Dear Amy thank you for the pictures and I hope you have a good Christmas Dewaunte' Have a wonderful Christmas, Dewaunte! Amy
DAY #365: A LOVE STORY
This is how my story ends. Or maybe, begins? I fell for the most unthinkable city in America. I fell for its people, its grit, its underrated amazing-ness. I've decided to stay awhile, and call it home.
DAY #364: THE WAY NATURE INTENDED
I don't know why fate comes in and drops bombshells on our experience. Think you're headed that way? Ha ha ha very funny. For me, it's grace that makes difficult change bearable, hopeful, even extraordinary. Rearing its head with a plan of its own: a cross-country move, 365 clicks of the shutter, a new love. Grace found me over and over this year in Detroit, in brilliant, unexpected colors.
DAY #363: FOLLOWING IT
It took me three years to decide to move to Detroit. An inkling turned into a stirring turned into a nudging turned into a full-on shoving. At that point there was no static, no more questions. Something said, come and get it, you fool. Come and get your heart. "In his later years, Joseph Campbell, the American mythologist, was fond of recalling on how Schopenhauer, in his essay On the Apparent Intention in the Fate of the Individual, wrote of the curious feeling one can have, of there being an author somewhere writing the novel of our lives, in such a way that through events that seem to us to be chance happenings there is actually a plot unfolding of which we have no knowledge."
DAY #362: THE GIFT OF SEEING PEOPLE
I am not the most technical photographer. In fact, I pretty much fail when it comes to knowing what to do in poorly lit circumstances. But one thing I turn to instinctively is empathy - "the ability to share someone else's feelings." Certain pictures jump out at me not because they're perfect, but because they're real.
DAY #361: LOVE
“A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.” ― Annie Leibovitz
DAY #360: 5,4,3,2,1...
Only a few more days left of my project and sometimes it feels like instead of being at the finish, I’m back there at the start line. Floundering around with the same old question: what do I do with myself now? But then I think, isn't that the point -- our continual re-creation. Things end. Start again.
DAY #359: PARKING IT
I left Michigan, I traveled the world, I lived in foreign countries. I couldn't get enough of new, different, exotic. I will always have restless feet and a curious heart. But there's something relaxing about coming home to the Midwest, planting roots, breathing out.
DAY #358: THANK YOU, DETROIT
If you’re reading this, thanks for making my year in Detroit so much more than I anticipated. “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ― AA MILNE
DAY #357: MINOR MIRACLES
I was born 38 years ago today. I was born again when I found travel. When I found photography, I’m pretty sure I was born again. Tonight, I’m taking three of my photos to the 555 gallery to be a part of an exhibit about Detroit. Really?! I’m not sure how or why things happen, but I’m going to take this opportunity to be a kid again.
DAY #356: THE LAST QUIET PLACES
Detroit can be a quiet place. On weekend mornings, you can walk the streets and sometimes not encounter anyone. To me, the silence is heaven. It teaches me cool things, like patience, and how to see and hear again. "Silence is an endangered species, says acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton. He defines real quiet as presence — not an absence of sound, but an absence of noise."
DAY #355: I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS
”I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou
DAY #354: SOMETHING TELLS ME
I've had a lot of hunches since moving to Detroit. I think I could do this and I could do this, something tells me I could do this. A lot of people move here to chase a promise they made to themselves, some impossibility. Sometimes it's electric.
DAY #353: FINDING THINGS OUT
"You’re always over here taking pictures." Yeah, I’m starting to think I’m wired that way. Just didn’t know it for 38 years.
DAY #352: THE IMPORTANCE OF COLORING
Few things in my year in Detroit touched me more than driving around Brightmoor yesterday. I saw abandon, abandon, abandon but it looked like children had gone around and painted those boarded up homes with flowers and rainbows - this is how it is and this is how it isn't. I also visited a garden tended to by youth.
DAY #351: PARTNERS IN CRIME
Kind of strange to think I have all these pictures of people I don't know. But we are partners now, collaborators. I said, hey, can you help me? Help you what? I don't know - create something new.
DAY #350: ON GUARD
"You live here?" Yes. "I don’t believe it." Why? "Because you’re a white woman." Well, you know, I never really thought I would live here. I was scared of it for years. I want to find out why. "Where are you from?" Grosse Pointe. "I was always scared of Grosse Pointe."
DAY #349: YOU LIVE HERE?
"Yeah." What do you think of it? "It's my city." Why do you love it? "You know, you hear how bad it is. But even in the bad parts, you walk through there and people will give you love."
DAY #348: COMING HOME
For many years, I was very interested in pushing time forward. What’s next, what’s new, where to. I don’t know why currents change, why does picking up the threads of nostalgia and memory suddenly become interesting? The grooves are deeper and more uneven, but richer.
DAY #347: TRADING SPACES
When I look back on my year in Detroit, I see characters. Lots of colorful people with something to say. I listen closely. I lean into their stories with my camera - what is it like to be you for a moment? What is your unique human experience? That is what I'm after.
DAY #345: FINDING MY SIGHT
“It’s like I’ve been dragging along an extension cord unplugged from all compassion and suddenly found a socket. The room comes breathing back to life.” - Mary Karr, Lit
DAY #343: I WOULD FOR YOU
You do this every day? "Yes I do. It takes me three hours to put it out." Wow. "I’m a single mom. This is how I support my family."
DAY #342: PLANTING ROOTS
I like seeing Efe on Saturday in his African bubas, banging his drums in front of the Rocky Peanut Company. I like seeing JJ "my momma told me never lie" standing right there on the corner of Second, faithful as a Sunday morning. I like seeing Brenda in her fine floral patterns, making her way on over to the Senior Center. Hey Brenda, I made you some quiche. "Oh honey, come on by. Come by!"
DAY #341: STAY AWHILE
I only remember the wig store and Tall-Eez Shoes from my trips to Detroit growing up. I remember seeing them whiz by from the car window. I'm inside these buildings now, I'm inside this city. You can look and wave if you drive by, but better to stop, have a coffee. My treat.
DAY #338: WONDER
"Let's go to the Belle Isle Aquarium. Have you been?" No, actually, I haven't. "Do you even live in Detroit?
DAY #337: RESTLESS
It’s so easy to enter a city for the first time and photograph the crap out of it. It’s all gifts of new-ness… but after awhile, and in this case after a year, the slog of the everyday tugs on the frame. This has always been my struggle. The restless, make me new again! Make me new!
DAY #335: COFFEE & WISDOM
I've always thought about having my own coffeeshop. But you just did it. You had your dream and you got it. "It's not that I have a dream. I have ideas. Takes away the expectation."
DAY #334: HOLD FOR A MINUTE
Maybe it's the colors, maybe it's the people, maybe it's all of it that makes me stop. That's what I love about this whole photography thing, the stopping and the noticing.
DAY #331: THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT IT IS
"Sometimes it's a form of love just to talk to someone you have nothing in common with and still be fascinated by their presence." - David Byrne
DAY #330: FLOW
I love watching people do what they love. Everything becomes more fluid, almost like the air starts collaborating with them. You know when you see it, it’s less like doing, more like dancing.
DAY #329: MOVING IN ON SOMETHING
Just about this time last year, I was rolling into town. I had only known Detroit from a distance. I had only known Detroit from the borders, from the headlines and hearsay, the pictures of ruin and news of this shooting and that. I didn't know what to expect. But this is what I know now -- you can't know a street until you walk it.
DAY #327: LESSONS IN PEOPLE
"I've taken blues guitar classes, and French lessons, I've studied small engine repair. One time I pulled up to a flower arrangement class on a big chopper."
DAY #326: JUST BECAUSE
I commend people who agree to have their picture taken. I especially like the ones who are surprised that I would ask. There’s something humbling and human about it. “Me? Why me?” That’s why!
DAY #325: HOW WE RIDE
The first time I saw one of these riders was at last year's Tour de Troit. A guy named Bike Mike from GMOB (Grown Men on Bikes). I chased him all around with my camera. I never get bored of it. All sorts of custom flash and character and color, turning up the volume around me.
DAY #324: TRADITIONS
Today I rode my bike in my third Tour de Troit. It’s become a ritual, a kind of annual marker. There’s a lot of abandon I see in 30 miles, but I’m more interested in this: who are the families who gather on the porches? How long have they been here, watching crowds go by.
DAY #323: OL' REDD
"Can I tell you a secret?" Yes you can. "Don't do it for the money." Do what? "Do it for the passion."
DAY #322: GIVING A DAMN
I spent a long time not caring about Detroit. No interest. Nothing. Now I spend a lot of time wondering why I didn't care. I mean, look at it.
DAY #321: WHAT MAKES THINGS GO
This morning it wasn’t the coffee or the run, it was the hmmm, what’s-up-there on that rooftop, the let’s go see, the excitement of a chase that might be a waste of time, or not.
DAY #318: YOU'RE A FOX
I don't get out much at night in Detroit. When I do, it's hard not to notice the dark. Woodward Avenue, half lit. But some lights are on.
DAY #316: ARRIVALS, DEPARTURES
Every time I’m in Seattle, I feel the clock move back. Right there in the heart. Sometimes it takes me back years. But everyone looks younger. And things seem shinier than I remember. For some reason, it was harder to leave this time. Hurt a little more. "Hey miss, where you headed?" Airport. "Where to?" Home. I'm headed home.
DAY #315: PAYING ATTENTION
Sometimes the camera lets me see way more than I normally see. Kind of like experiencing someone in slow motion. I take several pictures in a row, fast, so I don't miss the in-between. The moments when it feels like nothing's happening. Those seem real-er than the grand gestures.
DAY #313: HOLLYWOOD ENNUI
"In the beginning, there were people with their cell phones taking pictures all the time. Now, people are used to seeing movie trucks and sets around here."
DAY #312: DETROIT POETRY
Mountain Dew Commercial Disguised as a Love Poem by Matthew Olzmann http://www.rattle.com/poetry/2010/02/mountain-dew-commercial-disguised-as-a-love-poem-by-matthew-olzmann/
DAY #307: THANKS FOR THE INSPIRATION
"He heard the voices of regular people and used them... " - From MOCAD press release about the death of Elmore Leonard
DAY #305: WHAT BEAUTIFUL FEELS LIKE
"There’s a lady who’s taking pictures of me right now... she's taking a ton. I’m not kidding....What? Yes, yes. I feel beautiful. This is how I’ve always wanted to feel." Funny, when I’m taking pictures of you, that's how I’ve always wanted to feel.
DAY #301: INTERIORS
Most pictures I take of the Fisher are decorative and heartless. Who wants to see what everyone sees? I’d rather close my eyes and bump into things.
DAY #298: BEST PICTURE IN THE HISTORY OF OWEN
Meet Blanche Sacka. Tiger Stadium cashier for 37 years. And my grandmother.
DAY #297: MEETING KEVIN WHITE
"If you live in the city, you love it. It becomes a part of you. You have some people who come down here and they look down on people. Tell a person encouraging words. Don't break them."
DAY #295: FOURTH TIME'S A CHARM
"Oh honey, here you go again." Well, come on Brenda, how can I pass by you and not take your picture? It's our thing.
DAY #288: UNEXPECTED CLARITY
I have no idea why something started tapping on my shoulder last year. Maybe it was you.
DAY #286: PERFECTLY ARRANGED
This has become a lot more than a photography experiment. It's more spiritual. Putting flowers in a vase.
DAY #283: SO MUCH WE DON'T KNOW
I remember when I was you. Just graduated from Grosse Pointe North High School. No idea what was waiting for me. Detroit? Yeah, right!
DAY #282: PHILIP STREET
My mom grew up on this street. Her house is now a patch of weeds. I wonder what it's like to see things that aren't there anymore.
DAY #281: NATURAL GRAFITTI
I like to scribble flowers on the skyline. Or pick some and hand them to you. Here is my offering.
DAY #279: TAKING IT ALL IN
When I hear bad news about Detroit, I'm not going to lie, it makes me nervous. Don't go here. Don't go there. Don't even breathe, you hear me.
DAY #278: WHY IT MEANS SOMETHING TO ME
I see stuff like this every day. Crazy colors busting out of everywhere. I don't feel that in the walls of other cities. Something burning out of nothing.
DAY #277: THIS IS REAL
"Real wealth is not material wealth and real poverty is not just the lack of food, shelter, and clothing. Real poverty is the belief that the purpose of life is acquiring wealth and owning things. Real wealth is not the possession of property but the recognition that our deepest need, as human beings, is to keep developing our natural and acquired powers and to relate to other human beings." - Grace Lee Boggs, The Next American Revolution
DAY #274: QUEEN POTTER
Seriously, you won’t tell me your first name? "Nope. I hate it. It might as well be Rumpelstiltskin. You can call me Queen." I want to make you look like a queen then. What’s something important in your life that’s happened to you? "Oh, I used to be in talent shows. And I would sing." What would you sing? "Oh, Etta James. You know that song Tell Mama?"
DAY #273: TENDER
I don’t know what it’s like to be a young black man. I try to understand through my pictures.
DAY #272: HOW FAR WE'VE COME
When I moved here, I was thinking, Detroit, I'm scared of you. I don't know you, I don't know anything about you. And I have fear. Great fear. Now, I'm nearing day #300 and I'm thinking that was kind of crazy talk. Kind of.
DAY #270: THE TRUTH
"I never tell a lie. My momma told me when you lie, you lie again and again and again and then you can't remember anything."
DAY #264: NOT WHY, BUT WHY NOT
"You a photographer?" Kinda. "What do you charge?" Nothing. Why don’t you get out of your car and we’ll take some shots in the middle of Woodward?
DAY #262: SOME THEMES IN LIFE REPEAT THEMSELVES
LOST & FOUND IN DETROIT/DAY #47: BEST Why do you like each other? “We just get each other, that’s all.”
DAY #261: INSPIRING
You live around here? "Yes. I've lived here for 35 years. But today my kids are helping me move to a retirement community. My place sold in three days." Wow. Have you ever been scared living here? "No." This is so peaceful. You live in a Mies Van der Rohr unit? What do you love about it? "The trees. Want to see?"
DAY #255: EVERY PHOTO IS A LOVE STORY
With this city. These people. This moment. Thanks for sharing it with me.
DAY #252: BEAUTY LESSONS
So, normally I put a caption with my photos. What's something I should write by these photos I'm taking? Teach me something. "Pretty... that's more on the outside. Beauty... that comes from all sorts of places." Noted. @ Dabl's African Bead Gallery, 6559 Grand River Ave, Detroit, MI 48208
DAY #250: SOME THINGS TAKE YEARS TO LEARN
In certain scenarios, fear comes easily to me. I can feel it on my face. I’m starting not to care if you can see it. Maybe we can share it.
DAY #249: IT'S A MYSTERY
I don't understand the hows and whys of circumstance and fate. Why you and not me? Why me and not you? I try to get my head around hope though. Sometimes.
DAY #248: I'VE NEVER MET A SIKH I DIDN'T LIKE
There was a time when I was mildly obsessed with Sikhs. One morning I woke up at 3 a.m. to meditate with Sikhs, because hey, why not? I said, three hours of chanting? Not a problem. At the half hour mark, I was out. They paid me no mind. Best 2.5 hours of sleep in my life.
DAY #247: THE NAME'S L.A.
L.A.? Cool. Everybody knows you around here, L.A. "They know me on the four corners of the earth, hell, they know me on the moon." — at Bill's Recreation Pocket Billiards.
DAY #246: REARVIEW
People say, don’t look back. Look forward. But I say, hell yes, I’m looking back. I’m going to turn around and look for my grief. Where is it? I can barely see it back there shifting the wind.
DAY #243: UNMISTAKABLE
Hey, can I take a photo of you? "Honey, you already did. A few weeks ago for the cancer walk." I did! That's right. Your hair looks different. But yes, I remember I thought you were beautiful. I just thought it again.
DAY #240: LET'S KEEP PRETENDING WE'RE ADULTS
The Lamb By William Blake Little Lamb who made thee Dost thou know who made thee Gave thee life & bid thee feed. By the stream & o'er the mead; Gave thee clothing of delight, Softest clothing wooly bright; Gave thee such a tender voice, Making all the vales rejoice! Little Lamb who made thee Dost thou know who made thee Little Lamb I'll tell thee, Little Lamb I'll tell thee! He is called by thy name, For he calls himself a Lamb: He is meek & he is mild, He became a little child: I a child & thou a lamb, We are called by his name. Little Lamb God bless thee. Little Lamb God bless thee.
DAY #238: WHY IS EVERYONE SO AWESOME
I say, hey, I can't even get over you. I was sad before I saw you, but look at you, you're just magical. You make me happy. "We do? We're so glad."
DAY #236: CERTAIN PASSIONS
“I immersed myself in books and rock 'n roll, the adolescent salvation ...” ― Patti Smith, Just Kids
DAY #232: BONDING MOMENT
What you need to do is put the fish over the camera. I'll be down here on the ground. "Huh?" Yeah! Sweet.
DAY #231: LET ME LOOK AT YOU UP CLOSE
On Saturday, I had my telephoto lens and I thought, really, what am I going to see that I haven't seen before? And Detroit said, oh honey... honey, you haven't even come close to seeing anything yet.
DAY #227: LITTLE TEACHER
Excuse me ma’am, you seem very happy. Can you tell me the secret to your happiness? “Well, I’m an Aries. And Aries are always happy.” Hmm, can you rub some of that off on me?
DAY #225: ROBE
Excerpt from "ROBE" - Myriha Burton, Detroit InsideOut Citywide Poets graduate …I said “Robe’, What do you want to be when You grow up?” He didn’t say that he wanted to be A doctor, A actor, Or a lawyer, Some Tom Sawyer writer, Or a fire fighter. Hell I would’ve been fine If he would’ve told me he wanted To be a puppy. At least then would He be expecting a great change From himself. My nephew looked at me And said, “Auntie Riya, When I grow up, I just want to be alive.” The only thing more startling Than his response Was its validity. So yea, Every morning I walk my Nephew to school. And I stay two steps behind him Hoping that somebody else Will join me on this journey So I won’t be the only one Who has His Back.
DAY #224: OUTSIDE THE HOTEL YORBA
What are you reading? "Genesis." Mmmm. Why do you read the Bible? "I sing gospel music. That's one reason." Will you sing for me?
DAY #223: NEXT TIME
Flash back 8 months ago... Hey, can I take a picture of you? "Nope." Maybe next time?
DAY #220: WELCOME TO MY PLAYGROUND
Look at all these lines, shadows, triangles, all sorts of mish-mash. I am a kid playing. Building little empires in a silly box. A box! Try it.
DAY #219: LOST AND FOUND
"I found all this stuff. Discarded or whatever.” I have my own lost and found for people. I say, you can all hang out here with all your baggage and worn edges and I’m not going to Photoshop that stuff up. I’m going to sit here and wonder... how did you do it? How did you make it through whatever it was? Your unpolish is really appealing.
DAY #152: REARVIEW MIRROR S
Sometimes I think, what the hell was I thinking moving here? Other times I think, what the hell was I thinking moving here? And still other times I think, can you believe what everyone’s missing?
DAY #217: RABBIT HOLE
“I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night. Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!” - Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
DAY #215: CHEERING FOR A CURE
God, kids are cool. I like bundling them all up and putting them in my camera. Then they bust out with all this energy. I think, stay that way for a little while. A long while.
DAY #213: HOW I KNOW I'M IN DETROIT
Flag wavers. All over the place. How many parking lots are there in the city? $8 here, $5 there, 20WHATDOLLARS there. What do you think this is? Our flag wavers tell us to come in, go out, back in, pull out and by all means, enjoy the game.
DAY #210: UNGUARDING
This is the thing that drives me. The moment, however brief, when there is no lens or shutter or barrier. It's me, you and the whatever that is.
DAY #208: LADY NIKKI
Me to Nikki's husband: Waita minute... what do you think of these eyelashes? "Oh, I just let her do her thing." Good man, good man.
DAY #205: TO THE WOMEN IN OHIO
This is what I wish for you: Pinatas. Popcorn. Grassy hills where you can sprawl out on a beach towel. And chill. Really chill. I wish you a margarita with an umbrella in it. A good s’more. And tons of family time. I wish you a milkshake. Or maybe a malt because that’s more exotic and you deserve it. I wish you peace, quiet, happiness. And a lifetime of Charles Ramseys who will swoop in and set you free.
DAY #202: DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE PICTURE
"I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know how to pose." Don't worry. Neither do I. But who cares, this is really fun. I don't know you, you don't know me and we're hanging. That's it.
DAY #201: THE INDIFFERENCE OF TIME
Sometimes I watch time march past me like little soldiers. Not paying me any mind because hey, I’m not creating a ruckus. Until I do mind… and then I stomp my feet and say hey time, hey fate, don’t forget about me…. there are things I want, make them happen! Now I say! Do you hear me?!