The patient I had just visited husband was a former Detroit area native like I am. Even though I grew up in all white suburbs of Detroit, it was fun listening to his stories of growing up in urban Detroit with multi-cultural neighbors. We both expressed sorrow in relation to the blight of Detroit’s now urban decay due to not only the nationwide epidemic of home foreclosures and the downsizing of the work force in the auto industry but just plain apathy.
Recently, I purchased and reviewed the massive, photography book, The Ruins of Detroit by Vves Marchand and Romain Meffre. This book has haunting an captivating photos of examples abandoned schools, hotels, ballrooms, public libraries, hospitals, apartment buildings, dental offices, movie theaters, recreational centers and police departments. Most of photos also reveal the contents of its previous inhabitants. Personal and public belongings left as if the occupants were vaporized by toxic warfare.
One photo of the basement of the Highland Park Police Department shows the human samples left from the trial Benjamin Atkins. He was found guilty of raping and murdering eleven women. Mr. Atkins died while incarcerated four years later – of AIDS.
The photos that had the biggest impact on me were of the once majestic Michigan Theatre. I saw David Bowie, a favorite artist of mine, perform in the intimate setting of that theatre – an impressionable and lasting memory. Now one can park their car under its roof in what formerly was the lobby!
In tribute to all the local folks here who use to live and thrive in Detroit, I placed, photographed and documented cowboy and indian art piece #130 at an abandoned house on the patient’s street whose home I had just left. This was in memory for those of us who traded in our designer leather pants and facial glitter for leather chaps and the rhinestones embellishing our belts and buckles. Hail to us transformers.