Flames Favorite Music & Things
Aarrgghh. Treasures in this town are so easy to find. Yesterday was the special Noel shopping day and night in what people here lik to call Mid Town, an upcoming part in town that had to do away with its’ old name of Cass Corridor because that reminds too many of the not so beautiful last twenty years. The organizing body for the Noel Day Midtown Detroit’s University Cultural Center put quite some energy in having the market succeed.
And it did. The streets were busting with people. Not so common here, as you’d imagined by now. When I spoke to someone waiting at the take away Chinese later on that eve, he just said: “Wow, to see people on the street. That made me think of years gone by. And you don’t know half how happy it made me seeing our pavements all used for what they are intended for: walking people.” So I suppose the day was a success.
But as you all know that in days of success you happen to have those very special moments. The uber success. While following one of the Detroit’s marching bands performing on the street I passed yet another second hand store on Hancock Street. Now there’s plenty more of second hand shops, be it for clothing, for house materials, or for records. This one looked liked it was for clothing, but they did have some records in there as well. So, logically, I stepped in. Then it turned out they didn’t have a few records, they had a dollar dungeon filled with the best sorted jazz and soul collection I’d seen here.
Owner Jim and employee Lerrol took their time for a little talk. They explained me the shop wasn’t the main income for Jim, however the parttime job has to provide for Lerrol. That the shop wasn’t that known in Detroit itself [whereas the record shops in Hamtramck are heralded all over the local media], but that they do attract visitors all the way down from Japan and Germany and England. The 45’s collection of Northern Soul is well worth that visit apparently. But what struck me most and really took the guys in for me was that they weren’t doing the selling for themselves; profits are all donated to an invisible group in town: the retarded. Once a year Jim told me, they even do organise an outdoor concert where local bands donate their time for a over enthusiastic audience. An audience which also climbs the stage to perform themselves. And so Jim said “We have had blind singers climbing the stage. We have had tough cases shining all over when singing on stage.” Now stories like these are exactly why Detroit is in my heart. It has nothing to do with the upcoming Cork nor Midtowns – it has to do with regular people taking care of eachother. Sharing life. Sharing stories. If only all could be so simple.
And that it is not that simple always is proven in the stories of the Detroit blogger John Carlisle. His book 313 is by far the most insightful book on Detroit bottom up that I have read. No stories on government, no stories on companies, no none of that. John went out to meet some of the special characters living in this town, listening to their stories, and then writing them down in a tender way. It made me laugh a lot as well.