No Panic in Detroit
January 29, 2009 12:49 PM   Subscribe

Man found dead [warning, graphic] in the former Detroit Public Schools Book Depository.

I think this question has been answered.
posted by cjorgensen (86 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
It turns out that this explorer last week was playing hockey with a group of other explorers on the frozen waters that had collected in the basement of the building. None of the men called the police, the explorer said. They, in fact, continued their hockey game.

This is unreal, it has to be an exaggeration.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:56 PM on January 29, 2009


The snarky version
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:59 PM on January 29, 2009


more than 1 in 50 people here are homeless.

that frightens me more....
posted by Substrata at 1:01 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Who's Afraid of Detroit?
posted by plexi at 1:01 PM on January 29, 2009


City life is hard. Detroit is one of the hardest cities in America. I kept thinking I'd be surprised at some point in the story, but it's just more Detroit being Detroit.
posted by batmonkey at 1:06 PM on January 29, 2009


...incomplete thought. The rest: I'd love to see Detroit rise out of the ashes and become a more sane place, a less apathetic place. It's heart-wrenching to know how far it has fallen and how long the fall has dragged on. There are people there, for the love of monkeys. They deserve better.
posted by batmonkey at 1:09 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Perhaps it is time to let nature take its course with Detroit. We can't even offer palliative care at this point.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:11 PM on January 29, 2009


HO-LY-SHIT
That picture is one of the most stunning I've seen in a long, long time.
posted by mannequito at 1:21 PM on January 29, 2009


I've got a pretty high tolerance, but I don't see how anyone can look at that picture and still bring the snark. Christ.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 1:23 PM on January 29, 2009 [6 favorites]


Ditto on the photograph's staying power. That one's right up there with Goatse.
posted by resurrexit at 1:26 PM on January 29, 2009


infinitewindow - complete abandonment might be a bit extreme. But downsizing is an option.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:26 PM on January 29, 2009


It was the writing, not the photo, that inspired the snark.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:27 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


That is one of the most horrific things I've ever seen in print.

Everyone should look at this photo when they wake up in the morning and then ask themselves how fucking important the rest of your day feels.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 1:29 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


(after checking filthy light thief's link)

....Hang on a sec.

....On the one hand, one in 50 of the people in Detroit is homeless....but on the other hand, there are vast swaths of the city that are nearly vacant, to the point that the city wants to scrap them all.

...Am I the only one that sees a way to solve both problems?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:35 PM on January 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm being told he's okay.
posted by found missing at 1:37 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jesus, what the fuck, Detroit.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:38 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


There is a bunch of shock and awe going around our local radio stations about the included picture in this article. As a Detroiter and a realist I guess that I am not affected emotionally by the a picture at all. What I am interested in is the reason why the newspaper decided to publish this story (complete with graphic picture) this year when they could have published it every winter for the past two decades. I guess when the paper is hurting it's time to start getting shocked.
posted by fusinski at 1:38 PM on January 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeh, it's too late for me but Christ-on-a-Biscuit that is a photograph that needs the "Some viewers may have sensibilities too delicate to click on this link" Warning. In flaming letters. And a shrill "are you sure" warning.

Anyone got a link to coverage without the horror in picture form?
posted by crush-onastick at 1:38 PM on January 29, 2009


I was originally going to write "Hopefully the most depressing thing you will see today," but thought it sounded a bit snarky, and I was afraid some might take it as a challenge.

I don't even see how they justified running that photo. I'm amazed.

The article didn't seem poorly written to me, but then I have no baggage with the reporter. I'm just dumbfounded. I had a hard time coming up with any tags beyond my first three.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:38 PM on January 29, 2009


No, this picture (WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGE) is one of the most stunning I've seen in a long, long time. The man in ice is a sad reminder that homeless people die, but the writing in the article seems hyperbolic. It's hard for me to believe that a bunch of people didn't bother reporting a body for a week because they thought they'd get in trouble. Is it possible that they just thought they saw it and decided to call the reporter rather than having to deal with the cops? I just doubt that level of callousness.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:43 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


[Added a little heads-up to the post.]
posted by cortex at 1:44 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


....On the one hand, one in 50 of the people in Detroit is homeless....but on the other hand, there are vast swaths of the city that are nearly vacant, to the point that the city wants to scrap them all.

...Am I the only one that sees a way to solve both problems?


America is too busy making sure rich people don't have to resort to renting an apartment to do anything about unimportant problems like making sure that poor people don't have to resort to sleeping in frozen abandoned buildings.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:45 PM on January 29, 2009 [9 favorites]


City life is hard.

Nah, that's just TV detective jabber. It's poverty that's hard, no matter where you live. But Detroit is indeed the poorest and shittiest city in the US right now.

It's ripe for a takeover by a large group with common goals and some extra money. A few hundred thousand somethings (some religious or ethnic group?) could buy it up, turn it around, make it into a place they love, and earn money on their investment.
posted by pracowity at 1:53 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


...Am I the only one that sees a way to solve both problems?

You could spend $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ to fix up all those houses, and then spend $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ to replace the copper and pipes that are ripped out yet again. Or you could spend $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ and build yourself some projects. Everyone likes to live in the projects right? Just tell me where you are getting the money first.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:05 PM on January 29, 2009


WTF is with "WTF Detroit?" We're blaming the entire city for this sad story? You don't think shit like this happens in other cities, but without the Shocking Photo and Oooh Detroit Is Tough angle?
posted by desuetude at 2:07 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


desuetude, one would hope that any city this happens in would respond with a "WTF?"
posted by cjorgensen at 2:17 PM on January 29, 2009


Maybe I've just been jaded by over a decade of the internet, but how is two clothed feet sticking out of the ice with nothing else visible in any way graphic?
posted by ymgve at 2:18 PM on January 29, 2009 [7 favorites]


I was more offended by the single sentence paragraphs than the photo of a dead guy's legs, or the story itself. If it had been a half-buried-in-ice kitty, though, my BP would be through the roof and I'd already be trying to drink the memory away. I guess I'm kind of inured to human callousness. And it's a good thing or I'd loathe myself.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:19 PM on January 29, 2009


Greatest, grimmest irony of all: the article in question features this image as a sidebar advertisement. Who needs satire when you've got capitalism?
posted by ford and the prefects at 2:21 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


*Looks at Potomac Avenue's picture*

*Reads Potomac Avenue's comment*

what
posted by piratebowling at 2:21 PM on January 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was going to post something similar to ymgve. I'm easily bothered by pictures of dead people, but this didn't strike me at all. I'm trying to figure out why that is... I guess because there is no face to see, or even any skin. When I saw the headline on CNN that a body was found in a frozen block of ice in an elevator shaft, it freaked me out more than the actual picture of it did.
posted by Nattie at 2:24 PM on January 29, 2009


I was making a very subtle satirical point about how the image in the article wasn't really graphic and was in no way just looking for a place to post my sweet new desktop wallpaper.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:26 PM on January 29, 2009


CNN video of the story.
posted by lilkeith07 at 2:27 PM on January 29, 2009


In communities across our land, we must trust in the good heart of the American people and empower them to serve their neighbors in need. Over the past 7 years, more of our fellow citizens have discovered that the pursuit of happiness leads to the path of service. Americans have volunteered in record numbers. Charitable donations are higher than ever. Faith-based groups are bringing hope to pockets of despair, with newfound support from the Federal Government.... And so long as we continue to trust the people, our Nation will prosper, our liberty will be secure, and the State of our Union will remain strong.
-- President George W. Bush, on the State of the Union, 28 January 2008.
posted by orthogonality at 2:28 PM on January 29, 2009


No, this picture (WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGE) is one of the most stunning I've seen in a long, long time

It's kind of hilarious, but is this something where we have to know those people?
posted by delmoi at 2:28 PM on January 29, 2009


...Am I the only one that sees a way to solve both problems?

Yes, but you see, homeless people don't have any money to pay for those houses, so they just stay empty.

Ain't capitalism fucking grand?
posted by dunkadunc at 2:30 PM on January 29, 2009


I guess it really is "so cold in the D." [warning - sad tribute with really awful and much parodied singing]
posted by cashman at 2:30 PM on January 29, 2009


pracowity:
"Nah, that's just TV detective jabber."

In my experience as a resident of Houston's wards & Dallas's inner-city, I'll testify that city life is hard. Poverty, apathy (or downright antipathy), fury, frustration, wasted potential...but we've gone over that a lot, here. My time in the burg of Seattle showed me how easy some cities have it, so maybe I should have clarified a specific type of city.

Builds character, though, if you can keep yourself moving. I can only imagine how much more intense it must be in a city that gets way colder than the cities I'm from...the people who make it through coming up in Detroit somewhat intact must be as gods.
posted by batmonkey at 2:32 PM on January 29, 2009


Maybe I've just been jaded by over a decade of the internet, but how is two clothed feet sticking out of the ice with nothing else visible in any way graphic?

It gets you thinking about how a human being could have ended up that way. Somebody who started his life with the same potential as any of us, who then finished it buried under a few inches of frozen water - with other people going about their business nearby, ignoring him. It's hard to ignore the callousness and waste.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:36 PM on January 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


I remember the first time I bought my father a pair of shoes. They were black sneakers, similar to the ones in the photo. He loved those shoes and wore them until they were scuffed and falling apart, often with white socks and blue jeans that were a little shorter than they should have been. I mean, he loved those shoes. Who doesn't love a pair of shoes? I have a pair of black shoes that I love.

Anyways, my point is that those feet belonged to a man. A human being that could have been your neighbor, your uncle, your former coworker. And there he is, dead, ignored, pathetically submerged in filthy, murky ice, with only his socks, shoes and pants cuffs embarassingly sticking out. If you have trouble seeing the tragedy in this, remember that the guy wasn't just a 2-D "homeless person" (what a shameful label); he was a person. I wonder if he loved his shoes, too.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:38 PM on January 29, 2009 [17 favorites]


I wonder what Detroit's squatters' laws are like. It's precisely such a situation of available vacant housing combined with people in need of homes which such laws are meant to address.
posted by ooga_booga at 2:42 PM on January 29, 2009


A man's dead, and that sucks. Agreed. That said, prepare for indignant snark.

It's pretty fucked up for the "friend" of the "caller" to continue playing hockey--and that is one anonymous third-hand that's not the least bit implausible--but it's not as if the guy was going to get any deader.

If anyone should be pilloried for being cold-hearted, it's the writer of that horrible article. Phrases like suspended into the ice like a porpoising walrus have no place in a professional newspaper. For one thing, that's just a terrible cluster of words, but even worse is the way it replaces dignity with filigree.

But it's not the reporter that doesn't care about the homeless. Why, it's the homeless that don't care about the homeless. He's not exploiting those persons "waiting for the warm winds of spring" by spinning Dickensian yarns about their plight and including a sensationalist picture of "popsicle sticks" himself. Oh no.

There's one other thing that strikes me as a bit odd about the article: There seems to be a hell of a lot of sneaky shit going on. The "caller" has a "friend" who found the body? Uh-huh. So then, instead of immediately passing that information on to the police, Charlie LeDuff here decides to takes it upon himself to trespass into a decrepit warehouse in the most dangerous city in America, in the freezing cold, because he thinks there's probably nothing there. Yep, that makes sense. While he's there, he takes a picture, since luckily he happened to have his photographer with him. And, oh yeah, good thing there's a clear shot since the area hasn't been cordoned off by police who still don't know anything about it.

So Mr. LeDuff has effectively cast himself as the hero. He's all "this reporter" this and "this reporter" that. Of course he called the police (i.e. "made a discreet call to a police officer"--and of course it couldn't possibly be the other way around), because he always knows just what to do! "Bring a jack-hammer," he says. "That's what we do," reply the police. A lesser reporter might have asked what the police might do in that situation, or just report what that might entail, but not Charlie! And sure, he could have just called 911 like a common citizen, but he's special! He has a glowing red telephone in his office, and pressing its only button connects him with someone on the inside. Sure, they just tell him to call 911, but still: Special!

I might expect this in Baltimore...
posted by Sys Rq at 2:50 PM on January 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


The author of the article, Charlie LeDuff won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting. He is also no stranger to controversy. His style grates on me a bit, he doesn't use conventional context-setting transitions for example. As a consequence, it comes across as disjointed, forcing me to go back and re-read.

It's not the kind of writing you "get" immediately, but not because of technically complexity. It's just abrupt, like a raw unpolished story you might get from an eyewitness, unedited for clarity, with the emotional impact and confusion typical for first-hand reports.

Finally, if Detroit is the city that the automobile built, where goes the whole country? And is Detroit the city of the future?
posted by subatomiczoo at 2:52 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


A news photographer friend of mine who worked for the AP in Detroit used to have a saying: Detroit - you'll love it for all the wrong reasons.

Detroit is hell on Earth.
posted by photoslob at 2:53 PM on January 29, 2009


As far as I know, homeless people fall into two very broad catagories. Mentaly disturbed people who cannot function within society so they simply fall out of it, and people who game the sympathies of others for a free ride. The solution for the first group is manpower, not buildings. I work with I guy who used to work in a men's mental health facility out in Ohio who basically kept mentaly disturbed people off the street an at least doing something nominaly productive.

Detroit is lacking people, not buildings, to help its homeless. It also makes sence in a sort of callous way that when the people left they forgot to pack up their homeless with them. Thus the concentration is higher.
posted by The Power Nap at 2:53 PM on January 29, 2009


It turns out that this explorer last week was playing hockey with a group of other explorers on the frozen waters that had collected in the basement of the building. None of the men called the police, the explorer said. They, in fact, continued their hockey game.

How positively Raymond Carver-esque. (See the Huey Lewis scene in Short Cuts.)
posted by fungible at 2:56 PM on January 29, 2009


LeDuff was featured in an earlier FPP, chunking express's The City Where The Sirens Never Sleep.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:00 PM on January 29, 2009


What's the difference between staying in a ruined factory and a ruined house? Homelessness is not the lack of shelter, it's the lack of a home. Shelter is plentiful, but the money for heating, drinkable water, sewer, electricity, and all that jazz is the pinch.

Why move to Detroit when you can move somewhere that's warm(er)? Even Motown, named for the Motor Town of Detroit moved to Los Angeles back in the 1970s. Sure, it has a long and glorious history but rebuilding historic structures costs a lot more than starting from scratch. And if you're not rebuilding some of the history, what's so great about moving in? People who want to work? Build something good and people will come to you.

While the rebirth of Detroit would be nice (I like keeping historic areas alive), there are too many places that are nicer to be, with less to fix up. There needs to be something unique in Detroit that makes it grow back. Otherwise, it's just another old industrial town that failed to keep pace with change.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:01 PM on January 29, 2009


holy shit is right. man.
posted by mwhybark at 3:02 PM on January 29, 2009


pracowity:
"It's ripe for a takeover by a large group with common goals and some extra money. A few hundred thousand somethings (some religious or ethnic group?) could buy it up, turn it around, make it into a place they love, and earn money on their investment."

(I thought I was about to leave, but got a reprieve, so this more interesting part of your comment now gets the attention it deserves)

When the post about the pictures of inside the book depository first went up, I had a very similar thought. The entry prior to this one got me really spinning on the idea - who? how many, precisely? could it be done without ruining what makes Detroit worth saving? - and this post just intensified that by a million.

Maybe not a specific ethnic or religious group (that seems, perhaps oddly, somewhat un-American to me), but it would certainly be nice to see it claimed by a group with the best interests of the humanity still there in mind and as a place where we can show the indomitable spirit of our people.

Personally, I think an immense influx of hardcore creative/survival types would do the best job of it, and would make it a city worth visiting, generating a whole new tourist focus (and the dollars that brings).
posted by batmonkey at 3:03 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have to agree with the "not graphic or stunning" crowd.

"Somebody who started his life with the same potential as any of us, who then finished it buried under a few inches of frozen water - with other people going about their business nearby, ignoring him."

I've seen people picnicking in cemeteries. Ewww! The horror!
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 3:10 PM on January 29, 2009


Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Robert Frost
posted by found missing at 3:12 PM on January 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've seen people picnicking in cemeteries. Ewww! The horror!

That is kind of odd, IMO. But at least the people in the cemetery had some attention paid to them. Ceremonies, wakes, relatives weeping and the other rituals we use to remember the dead, etc. They didn't just fall down and get covered up by natural deposition.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:21 PM on January 29, 2009


subatomiczoo: "The author of the article, Charlie LeDuff won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting."

What happened to this person, one wonders? Murder in Motown is a definite possibility.

The Pulitzer Committee is really letting its standards slip.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:28 PM on January 29, 2009


Quoting Frost will almost always get a favorite from me.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 3:29 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's okay, Potomac Avenue.

The truth is I am a robot and I get concerned, because when a "DOES NOT COMPUTE" error lingers for too long, my head will explode. I now see that it is, what you humans call (and I hope to one day fully experience) humor. Ha! Ha ha ha ha!

I shouldn't be on the internet when my sarcasm/wit meter is so busted
posted by piratebowling at 3:35 PM on January 29, 2009


What is the deal with book depositories? Do they really need to build large buildings just to hold schoolbooks?
posted by smackfu at 3:36 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


desuetude, one would hope that any city this happens in would respond with a "WTF?"

Sure, it's a sad and terrible thing to know, let alone see photographed. But labeling it as some sort of overall characterization of an entire city seems to me to be a possibly disingenuous distraction. By the third or so such iteration of what a hellhole worthless place Detroit is, I guess it was just combining into a whiff of "at least where I live we're not FUCKED UP LIKE DETROIT MAN THEY'RE SO FUCKED UP THERE IN DETROIT."
posted by desuetude at 3:40 PM on January 29, 2009


Regarding the photograph, jabberjaw and Kevin Street had it right. I didn't personally find it graphic (though I showed it to my girlfriend right before she went to bed and she worried about seeing it in her dreams) but rather, as I said, stunning. As in breathtaking, horrific, and most importantly, memorable. When I say horrific, I mean more for the set of emotions and circumstances that must have led to that being a reality for a man's end. But really, you want to make an impact in an anti-homeless advertising campaign? Put that fucker on a billboard.

And regarding this comment,

As far as I know, homeless people fall into two very broad catagories.

Please stop right there, no matter how broad you intend to make your categories, because as far as I know, every homeless person is just that, a person. With their own set of circumstances that led to them being there, and their own level of motivation and ability to get themselves out of situation, should they have the will.
posted by mannequito at 4:05 PM on January 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


*anti-homelessness
posted by mannequito at 4:06 PM on January 29, 2009


As far as I know, homeless people fall into two very broad catagories. Mentaly disturbed people who cannot function within society so they simply fall out of it, and people who game the sympathies of others for a free ride.

You might want to look again at what you know. It doesn't go far enough.
posted by jokeefe at 4:22 PM on January 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


I gasped. That it could happen in America is terrible. I agree, put it on a billboard.

Bad writing? Sure. But how many other reporters would have found that story? Very, very few.
posted by atchafalaya at 4:22 PM on January 29, 2009


desuetude, Your comment makes more sense to me now. I live in small town Iowa and would be mortified if that happened here. It could. It's cold. We have drunks and the poor (no homeless that I know of), and I know if it did happen here I'd be questioning my town with "WTF, Slater?"

I really don't think anyone should feel superior because this happened in Detroit. WTF US? (or "WTF world?" if you prefer).
posted by cjorgensen at 4:34 PM on January 29, 2009


Did you even read my comment mannequito? or did you read what you wanted to in the first sentence?
posted by The Power Nap at 4:47 PM on January 29, 2009


I read your full comment, was disagreeing with the first two sentences.
posted by mannequito at 4:53 PM on January 29, 2009


The Power Nap, he was was taking you to task for the "two broad categories" part of your comment.

There are also the homeless that choose to be homeless (and before someone pipes in with "No one chooses to be homeless!" I attended a talk by one such individual), some by circumstances. 68,000 US jobs gone last Monday. Even if 1/10th of 1% of them end up homeless that's still a lot.

There's drugs, violence, natural catastrophe, war, job loss, mental illness....

Or like mannequito says, as many reason as there are homeless.

I also read your comment like you meant it to be read. It's a bit much to quibble over your first two sentences (even though they stuck me as odd as well). I know if you were to sit down a write a list of all the reasons a person could become homeless you'd have more than two. Whether you feel comfortable shoving these reasons into the above stated categories is up to you.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:56 PM on January 29, 2009


hmmm also, I didn't mean to imply 'stop right there' as in stop commenting, because you had some valid ideas/points about solutions, but my point was more to stop the categorizing. And obviously, you are free to know what you know.
posted by mannequito at 5:04 PM on January 29, 2009


NPR talks to Charlie LeDuff.

posted by cjorgensen at 5:05 PM on January 29, 2009


Perhaps it is time to let nature take its course with Detroit. We can't even offer palliative care at this point.

Remind me to drop you down an abandoned elevator shaft if you ever accidentally show up to our "shithole." Alternately: fuck off, we live here and some of us are doing the best we can. You're damn right this town makes you tough. It also makes you resourceful, resilient, and - yes - think-skinned when suburban softies squawk on the internet about letting it slide into the river or whatever.

Everyone else, come. Seriously. I'll buy you a beer and show you what's really vital about this "shithole."

Sorry. This is all anyone's been talking about today, locally. I mean, for obvious reasons. And it's been a long week. I formally extend my beer offer to all, even those of you being so goddamned smug about what some of us are struggling to improve. You may now commence snarking about how you don't want to risk your life hanging out with a thin-skinned Detroiter for a free beer. :) See, we even have smileys. Shit.
posted by joe lisboa at 5:25 PM on January 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


*thin-skinned, of course. I'm done teaching for the day, so no more think-skinning for me.
posted by joe lisboa at 5:25 PM on January 29, 2009


And, yes, for the record just about everything in this story is downright horrifying. Even to us.
posted by joe lisboa at 5:27 PM on January 29, 2009


My whole reason for listing the 'two catagories' was to make a point of the predetory element amongst the homeless. There are individuals amongst the homeless who pray upon their peers. My comment was aimed at the 'Hey, Detroit has empty buildings! why don't we put all the homeless people there! problem solved' comments. It's not 'TEH EVAL CAPITALISTS' keeping all the homeless people down in Detroit by buying up all the buildings and not letting people live in them. It's the lack of proper facilities and the people to man them that is keeping the homeless down in Detroit, and everywhere else in the U.S.

The homeless can and do take up residence in all those abandond buildings, which this article points out. It's the well placed mistrust umongst the homeless that lead to dead people frozen in ice.

So yes, someone without any issues can lose/has lost their job and ended up on the streets. More than likely these people AREN'T the preditory kind and need a suport system to protect them. A support system needs manpower, and manpower is something that Detroit lacks. I've been there, and it is by and far the best set for a killer virus movie. Love it or hate it there just isn't anybody there.

I just didn't expect to be admonished over what I considered a trivial phrasing. I was trying to expidite my point because I'm at work and I have a deadline.
posted by The Power Nap at 6:08 PM on January 29, 2009


It's poverty that's hard, no matter where you live. But Detroit is indeed the poorest and shittiest city in the US right now.

It's a dream of mine to visit Detroit in the summer. Detroit is the epicenter of community gardening, with over 200 gardens. It's actually a model city in terms of urban gardening, food security, and self sufficiency.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:14 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know if the frozen guy was homeless - his socks were clean and his shoes fairly new, and his jeans (what can be seen) also looked clean and in good shape. I'm betting he was your average Detroit thief scavenging for copper wire who lost his balance and fell. I'm surprised, though, that none of the homeless people squatting there took his shoes and socks. And no one in the "comments" section seems too outraged that it took some five calls to 911 before a direct call to the fire department finally got someone out there to look at the situation.
posted by Oriole Adams at 6:34 PM on January 29, 2009


I live an hour away, my grandmother in Wyandotte, and many more relatives somewhere in the Metro area. I also knew a great math teacher who lived in Detroit and taught at Willow Run.

One word: wow...
posted by JoeXIII007 at 6:39 PM on January 29, 2009


Detroit is ... a model city in terms of urban gardening, food security, and self sufficiency.

That's cool and all (we bought our urban home largely on the basis of the huge backyard garden), but in the context of everything else it sounds a bit post-apocalyptic. I almost expect a homebrewed system of fuel gas from pig manure.
posted by exogenous at 6:40 PM on January 29, 2009


the people who make it through coming up in Detroit somewhat intact must be as gods.

*blush* No, really...it was nothing.
posted by BinGregory at 6:42 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


"As far as I know, homeless people fall into two very broad catagories. Mentaly disturbed people who cannot function within society so they simply fall out of it, and people who game the sympathies of others for a free ride."

I was homeless for a relatively short time in Phoenix in the winter, a few months. I was hitchhiking and got stuck there for a while. There are a lot of homeless people who flock to Phoenix in the winter. I slept in the alley in back of a day labor place downtown. The cops pretty much left you alone if you did that, if you're working or at least giving it an attempt. The people I met didn't fall into those categories. Of course, we're there to work. I met a lot of men who found themselves ousted from their relationships, for one reason or another, and who were struggling making it on their own, who didn't have anyone to take them in for a while. There were people who had substance abuse problems, people who were laid off and without steady work for a while, with kids to feed and clothe, people who were just unlucky or not very good at building a foundation for themselves. Some of them undoubtedly had untreated mental illness, but sometimes it's something like clinical depression, which is not a permanent condition but can be very debilitating without any resources. Most of the lazy people I saw whom you refer to spent their time asking for change and trying to wheel and deal, but if you're sleeping at the day labor place, you pretty much don't have much contact with them.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:54 PM on January 29, 2009 [6 favorites]


Just a friendly request from a squeamish reader: if the story includes a graphic picture which deserves a warning, could someone please summarize the story in the early comments? I can usually get my wife to check out the link and vet it for me, but it would be nice to know what everybody is talking about when I'm too scared to click the link.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:57 PM on January 29, 2009


Damn. That's some hardcore shit.
posted by wherever, whatever at 9:32 PM on January 29, 2009


I, too, doubt the guy was actually homeless. From what I understand, there is actually a good sense of community among street people, partly as a survival tactic. They would probably recognize the clothing of someone known to be homeless. Although sometimes people get new clothing from a shelter or Goodwill, they would probably even have a sense that someone was missing, even if they didn't know them very well. You have to communicate to know where the shelters are, where the security guards chase you out or don't, where there's good food thrown in a dumpster, where to panhandle enough for a cup of coffee during the morning commute. So they would probably know.

It could be a thief, or it could turn out to be an amateur urban explorer or scavenger. The article certainly alluded to that sort of traffic and the homeless guys wouldn't know them and they would be less likely to have a sense of community.

I was reminded of Richard Nickel's death (someone my parents knew slightly). I wonder if he was drawn to the building in the same way.

Anyway, Detroit is in the Midwest, and there's always a few people who freeze to death under less steampunk circumstances. Here's a place near Detroit the same day that even mentions the other story.
posted by dhartung at 10:28 PM on January 29, 2009


The Power Nap:
"I just didn't expect to be admonished over what I considered a trivial phrasing. I was trying to expidite my point because I'm at work and I have a deadline."

For those of us who have been homeless or have had loved ones become homeless, that's not a trivial phrasing.

Sacrificing accuracy for expediency doesn't work well here when dealing with complex issues of the human condition.

I'm one of those with doubts that the person was homeless. If they were, I feel like they couldn't have been so for very long - those are nice, clean clothes. But you never know in those situations. There's so much information missing. I hope, at least, that some family gets closure.
posted by batmonkey at 11:08 PM on January 29, 2009


It's curious how peaceful it all is, like modern art or some clever stagecraft rather than a very real person's tragic end.

Also, I cannot help but admit that the composition of the photo reminds me of the Wicked Witch. Just instead of a farmhouse that crushed him, it's a generation of urban blight and broken dreams.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:17 AM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


.

Not exactly an obit thread, but I doubt the man will ever get a proper obit.
posted by LMGM at 1:49 PM on January 30, 2009


What do you mean? That was John Updike.
posted by found missing at 1:53 PM on January 30, 2009


Update: Identified as Johnnie Redding, an itinerant drug addict and former steelworker whose family insists "please don't call him homeless".
posted by dhartung at 11:26 PM on January 30, 2009


« Older The Jesus Project, established by The Committee fo...  |  Jiu-Jitsu legend Helio Gracie ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments