Tonight is Devil's Night in Detroit.
October 30, 2001 5:10 AM   Subscribe

Tonight is Devil's Night in Detroit. There have been measures taken in recent years to reduce the number of arsons on this night. From 6pm curfews to 'officially' renaming it 'Angel's Night'. Can a city that is known for this sort of behavior ever grow out of this image?
posted by tj (40 comments total)
maybe this is related to 'mischievous night' celebrated in yorkshire.
'a night of humour and hooliganism', scroll down second link or find 'mischievous' on this page.
posted by asok at 6:03 AM on October 30, 2001

Ah, yes. Going into the motor city this evening, myself. Not to burn anything, though. Maybe.

Gee, if this Angel's Night doesn't do it's job, people will move out of the city to the suburbs, leaving an empty, decayed husk of a downtown.

Oh, wait- Kind of late, I suppose
posted by ice_cream_motor at 6:27 AM on October 30, 2001

'humour and hooliganism'. yep, detroit is exactly the same
posted by clavdivs at 6:34 AM on October 30, 2001

*sigh* Devil's Night has been around ever since I can remember. When I was a kid, Devil's Night meant soaping windows, toilet papering neighbor's trees, childish stuff like that. How it came to mean burning, I don't know. I do know that that one year it made the front pages worldwide (1984?), was the worst, and the number of fires has decreased ever since. The past eight years, there were no more incidents of fire on Devil's Night than on a regular night in Detroit. But that sort of news doesn't get reported.
posted by Oriole Adams at 6:45 AM on October 30, 2001

I moved to Detroit that year (1984) and left ten years later. It was always about what you said: TP in the trees, mischief and all that, but what I want to know is why on earth burn down your own neighborhood? There are a great many things like that in Detroit that are simply unexplainable.
posted by adampsyche at 6:51 AM on October 30, 2001

I grew up in the Detroit burbs, and we always did Devil's Night too--soap, TP... a legendary prank was to deposit a burning bag of dog poop on someone's doorstep and ring the bell, then laugh when they stomped on it to put it out. Don't know if anyone was ever bold enough to actually do that, though.

One Devil's Night I got caught and had to clean eggs off Mark Rogers' dad's garage wall. It was humiliating.

Don't remember any arson until the 80's though. Of course, the rest of the world now thinks that Detroit is an insane anarchy, thanks to stories like this getting played up. It's insane all right, but in a much more low-key way than the media would have you believe.
posted by rodii at 7:26 AM on October 30, 2001

I think some people just watched "The Crow" one time too many!!
posted by deviant at 8:10 AM on October 30, 2001

Uh, the Devil's Night tradition was an influence on the crow's story. The comic book for that came out in 1990 or 91. Movie not until 94.
posted by adampsyche at 8:27 AM on October 30, 2001

We moved to the Detroit 'burbs in the mid-80's, and I don't remember too much pranking going on when I was a kid. Of course, my mother was pretty strict, too. But even the 'burbs have ridiculously early curfews on Devil's Night and Halloween

I really hope that Detroit is able to get beyond that image--it's a great city, with great food, great museums, and terrible traffic. Even though I no longer live there, when people around here (here being Nebraska), I am proud to say that I am from Detroit.
posted by eilatan at 8:28 AM on October 30, 2001

I am proud to say that I am from Detroit.

Me too. Go Wings! No, really, it is a great city, I was back there in 2000 for my five year high school reunion, and it was my first time seeing the new casinos (hey, look how great they made Atlantic City's slums!!!), and didn't like it. But, I guess they create jobs and all. The museums there are great, the local bands are outstanding, and there is just something about the town that I really like and won't forget.
posted by adampsyche at 8:38 AM on October 30, 2001

I am proud to say that I am from Detroit.

Me too. Go Wings! No, really, it is a great city, I was back there in 2000 for my five year high school reunion, and it was my first time seeing the new casinos (hey, look how great they made Atlantic City's slums!!!), and didn't like it. But, I guess they create jobs and all. The museums there are great, the local bands are outstanding, and there is just something about the town that I really like and won't forget.
posted by adampsyche at 8:38 AM on October 30, 2001

damn damn damn!!! I swear I hit it only once!!! Gremlins, gremlins I say!!!
posted by adampsyche at 8:39 AM on October 30, 2001

I recently moved from metro Detroit to a susburb...and dammit, I miss it!

In just the four years I lived downtown, there has been a markable upswing.

Of course, it *was* fun to tell people from out of state that I lived in Detroit and have them get big eyes, thining I must be a bad-ass. LOL
posted by Windigo at 10:22 AM on October 30, 2001

WINGS are taking home Lord Stanley this year!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by jmd82 at 10:35 AM on October 30, 2001

I was in Detroit for the first time last December, and when ice_cream_motor said " empty, decayed husk of a downtown.." I knew what he meant, it was the 13th of December a workday, at noon, and there was no one on the streets, and a few blocks away from the baseball stadium, was as close to "the hood" as I would want to get. I'm not sure what you guys are fond about your home town for, it seems pretty abysmal to me. Just a tourists observations.
posted by cburton at 11:17 AM on October 30, 2001

I too, grew up in the Detroit 'burbs (still live there), and remember looking forward to "Devil's Night" more than Halloween itself (but, like deviant, my Devil's Night revolved around TP and soap, not molotov cocktails).

I have been downtown Detroit all week. There is an amazing amount of construction going on, but I'm afraid it's all just window dressing. The essential problem -- total lack of a middle- or upper-income residential base -- isn't likely to change anytime soon. It's really too bad. For those who just see it from afar, believe us when we say there's a lot to like about Detroit and Detroiters.
posted by pardonyou? at 12:53 PM on October 30, 2001

If I didn't grow up in Detroit (closer to Pontiac, actually), where would I have acquired this inexplicable attraction to rusty metal things?

Seriously, while downtown Detroit has begun a desperately needed revival, there is indeed a long way to go. But in the time I've been away since the early 90s, it certainly has come a long way from the soot, rust and decay it was when I left.

There's something about telling people you're from Detroit. You get some respect immediately, if not revulsion. And there's some odd pleasure in that. It's got a bad rep, Detroit, but unfortunately, much of it is deserved, thanks to Coleman Young (RIP)'s rather checkered legacy.

Some of it, however, is not. The greater Detroit Area is a great place: Royal Oak, Ferndale, parts of Berkely -- all very cool places. Detroit's churches (wish I had a link here) are plentiful and gorgeous buildings, the RenCen is nice, there's cool stuff around Wayne State University, museums.

And don't forget, all you ravers, WE gave you house music before anyone else did (I know 'cause it ruined all my lovely Goth haunts prematurely).

Go Wings!!!
posted by keith at 2:17 PM on October 30, 2001

cburton, I think you have to be from Detroit (or the 'burbs, since that's where I'm from) to really understand the allure. I really grew to love the city when I finally had my own place (in Utica), and I'd go down on a Saturday and wander about the Detroit Institute of Arts, catch a movie at the Detroit Film Theatre, and get some books from the Detroit Public Library (it's a state library, so anyone who lives in Michigan can get a card). And, of course, there are the Red Wings. (Who are NEVER on TV out here, argh argh argh.)

There's just something about it, something that is totally missing from Lincoln, Nebraska (not that Lincoln is bad, it's just that it can be very provincial--DOMA, anyone?). I don't know if I'd ever want to live in the Metro area again (I really like the lower cost of living, the thriving downtown, and the lack of traffic here), but it's not the same at all.

Now--to talk my folks into taking me to a Wings game when I get into town on Friday (my first visit to the area in 18 months). Think I'll have any luck? ;-)
posted by eilatan at 2:21 PM on October 30, 2001

WINGS are taking home Lord Stanley this year!!!!!!!!!!!

Leave it to those hooligans from Detroit to steal poor Lord Stanley's corpse as a prank - where do you think the Cup will end up?
posted by RevGreg at 3:15 PM on October 30, 2001

I was there recently with friends; we drove in and ate at Greektown/Trappers Alley. That section was fairly busy and nice but it was clear only by contrast. We rode the People Mover around once; I guess it had only recently fully reopened after the Dayton-Hudson building demolition damaged the track. There were too many holes in the ground, too many swank buildings turned to seed, too many parking lots in the middle of skyscrapers. There were just a few nice, new developments that promised to stand the test of time in reviving the urban landscape. RenCen itself -- seen in the Robocop movies -- still reminds one too much of that movie, an arcology unto itself walled off against the decay.

I think they've been on the upswing, but boy did they hit rock bottom first.

Cleveland, to cite another rust belt icon, saved its downtown and managed to re-adjust to a smaller urban population much earlier and more successfully. I'd heard so many horror stories, but by the time I visited, I thought it was quite nice.
posted by dhartung at 4:22 PM on October 30, 2001

i've been thinking on and off about trying to move to detroit for some time -- abandoned buildings, etc? sounds like a good place to be young.

is it possible to get large spaces there on the cheap -- or have those all been torn down??? I tried to do some research on the web, but the only places i could find out about were apartment complexes ... can any of the expatriates or current residents make a guesstimate to availability and price? (and, if applicable -- advisability -- although i've usually found people are often more afraid of "ghettos" than is reasonable. case in point: oakland.)
posted by fishfucker at 4:29 PM on October 30, 2001

Boy, this makes fun reading!

Detroit has one often overlooked asset that many US cities don't, namely the fact that another country is a ten-minute trip away. When you add Windsor into the package, Detroit isn't so bad. Also, don't make the mistake of thinking it's a poor place here. Detroit actually has one of the most affluent metro areas in the US, taken as a whole, with some concentrations of real money. It's just that not many of them are in Detroit proper.

Oh, and you can go Belgian Feather Bowling at the Cadieux Cafe. ;)

fishfucker--try Ferndale or Hazel Park, or maybe Wyandotte instead. There's not a lot of housing anywhere near downtown, and much of the city is as spread out as any suburb. The inner suburbs are as grungy and urban as you could want, and more interesting. Ann Arbor's great too, but it ain't cheap here.

I grew up in Waterford, back when it was the outer edge and it was called Drayton Plains. How about the rest of y'all?
posted by rodii at 5:09 PM on October 30, 2001

Detroit's a great place to say you're from, because if you're from there, it means you're now somewhere else, and anywhere else is better than Detroit.

(Born in St. Joe's hospital on Moross, now somewhere else....)
posted by geneablogy at 5:49 PM on October 30, 2001

My goodness, we were neighbors! I grew up in Clarkston (class of 1992)--very near to the Waterford line (Sashabaw & Maybee area).

I don't get up into that area very often anymore (my dad and stepmother live down in Mt. Clemens now), and whenever I do, I'm always struck by how built-up and congested it's gotten over the last 10 years. And all the tract mansions. Ugh.

Where is the outer edge of the 'burbs these days? Holly? Davisburg? Fenton?
posted by eilatan at 5:55 PM on October 30, 2001

I never thought I'd read that anyone else was actually from Waterford. I grew up just off of Williams Lake Road near Airport.

And while I'm waxing nostalgic, does anyone remember that fine, fine nighttime haunt the City Club on 2nd and Bagley in downtown Detroit?
posted by keith at 6:59 PM on October 30, 2001

Whoa. *I* grew up just off Williams Lake Road near Airport. Corner of Rowley and Airport, on the sunny shores of Huntoon Lake.
posted by rodii at 7:17 PM on October 30, 2001

How could there be so many Waterford MeFiers?

Hey, can I get a shout-out from any of my homeys from Livonia?
posted by pardonyou? at 7:48 PM on October 30, 2001

Is Westland close enough?
posted by Nikolai at 9:11 PM on October 30, 2001

I used to take Williams Lake Road to get to M-59, to get to US-23, to get to M-14, to get to I-94, to get to Kalamazoo. I'll be damned if I can remember how I got to Williams Lake Road, though.

While we're waxing nostalgic, does anyone other than me remember that lame-o teen club that was right next door to Area Code 313 on Dixie? I went there once and it sucked. Of course, going to Area Code 313 wasn't much better, as I have no hand-eye coordination, and watching one's quasi-boyfriend play Mortal Kombat isn't a whole lot of fun...
posted by eilatan at 9:12 PM on October 30, 2001

umm.. i use to chill in hamtramck?
posted by lotsofno at 9:41 PM on October 30, 2001

I'll be damned if I can remember how I got to Williams Lake Road, though.

You went down Sashabaw to Walton. Walton turns into Williams Lake when it crosses Dixie Highway.
posted by rodii at 10:00 PM on October 30, 2001

keith ...

Remember City Club? Was there just last week!

Still full of goths and punks 99 percent of the time, though it now has also become techno-star Richie Hawtin's venue of choice.

Also, fishfucker, I have a friend that lives right next to Wayne State. It's actually a rather decent area, though it's considered to be in "Cass Corridor". He rents a two story house for 500 a month. The only catch is that most houses of this nature need repairs.
posted by Windigo at 12:50 AM on October 31, 2001

My car got egged last night, almost fifty miles from Ground Zero.
posted by rodii at 5:45 AM on October 31, 2001

Windigo: Wow. I was part of the furniture at the City Club during the late 80s, beginning when it was still called Liedernoch's and you had to walk through the Ramada lobby to get in, frightening the occupants therein.

Is the house drink still the "Pink Fuck?"

And you're right about the Cass Corridor, btw. I had several friends -- who produced the Fifth Estate newspaper -- who lived there. Some might still think it's a scary place, but if you knew some people and your way around, it's one of the best places in Detroit.

And to my Waterford Alum: I'm going back to mom's for Thanksgiving, c'mon over for dinner. :)
posted by keith at 5:48 AM on October 31, 2001

Drayton Plains?, hell i lived in grand blanc for a while, almost down the road.
posted by clavdivs at 6:27 AM on October 31, 2001

Cadieux Cafe

I worked there!!!
posted by adampsyche at 7:15 AM on October 31, 2001

Keith, I'll be at my Aunt Joyce's, next to the 7-11 at Airport and Williams Lake.

(Sorry, MeFi, but this is too cool.)
posted by rodii at 9:48 AM on October 31, 2001

30,000 angels quiet devils. Detroit volunteers patrol streets to curb blazes, protect city.
posted by Carol Anne at 12:54 PM on October 31, 2001

God bless them. Just don't burn down St. Andrew's Hall (haven't been there since 94, but I hope it is still cool...)

The mussels at the Cadieux Cafe (lived on Yorkshire...) were the best. But working there, it STANK in that basement...the Almighty Lumberjacks of Death used to come in and play darts there, and I got to talk to Jimmy Doom about shows, etc. That was fun for a 14 year old.
posted by adampsyche at 1:59 PM on October 31, 2001

Wow. ALD. I used to see them all the time. Weird, small, small world.
posted by keith at 8:09 AM on November 1, 2001

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