April 25, 2010

Book Merchant

Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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Miss Jones is the proprietor of the Source Booksellers in Detroit's Cass Corri.., er, Midtown neighborhood.*

I used to live up the street from Miss Jones' establishment. I would stop in from time to time. Miss Jones would ask how I was doing and I would reply enthusiastically  that I was "ahh, ya know. Still not dead..."

The conversation would often shift to the state of affairs in Detroit. I would complain about how un-cosmopolitan Detroit was; how businesses closed too early in the day; how there was a general lack of ethnic, cultural, and intellectual diversity. I would then fantasize to Miss Jones about moving to some other shining, bustling metropolis that had everything Detroit lacked.

Maybe then I would feel more like I was living as opposed to just circumventing death.

After all my bellyaching, Miss Jones would just matter-of-factly reply,

"No matter where you go, there you are."

That response lightweight aggravated me at the time. I've since come to see the wisdom in it.

Your outlook is the lens through which the world around you is focused. Open that lens as wide as you can, and you will see the light in any situation.

(^ That was good, right? Watch yo ass Wayne Dyer. Watch yo ass. Naw, but for real, that shit is true.)

* Midtown was formerly known as the Cass Corridor.  Most of the homeless shelters, soup kitchens and missions in Detroit are concentrated near this area.  As a result, the Cass Corridor became a synonym for for broken hopes - especially before the decline of the American auto industry; before the rest of Detroit's problems became more accute and generalized.

Sometime early this decade, the city decided to re-brand the Cass Corridor as Midtown. Changed the freeway exit signs and hung artisan crafted signs in the neighborhood and everything.

In many ways, the re-branding is with merit.

In addition to being populated by semi-homeless, recovering heroin addicts, it's also home to hipsters on Fixie bikes, organic bakeries , microbreweries, and lofts with floor to ceiling windows with their attendant Range Rovers and Infinti coupes sheathed behind wrought iron, automated gates.

Wayne State - a highly regarded research university -  is also about 4 blocks from this neighborhood. As is the Detroit Medical Center with its cadre of medical professionals.

All these factors conspire towards a ever interesting juxtaposition of Detroit's best hopes and most tragic disappointments.

It's still one of my favorite neighborhoods.

[View the weekdaily blog and meet more of: The People of Detroit ]

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