Al famously lives inside the Packard Plant, an abandoned automobile factory, which stretches across 40 acres on Detroit’s east side. He is its unofficial caretaker and drives around in a white minibus.
Al is full of stories.
“When I was young, kids used to come into the city, wreak havoc, and then get the hell out.”
“But now, with all the nonsense that is being published in the media, nobody’s coming anymore. The kids in the suburbs are too scared.”
“Hello Miss Rose,” I heard from across the street as I was rushing to a lunch date at the Russell Street Deli in Eastern Market.
JJ was in town from Austin, visiting his brother. Not for long though. By the time I write this, JJ will have arrived in Singapore to record an album.
Recording an album in Singapore sounded rather important, I told JJ. “Anything I might have heard of?”
“A few of the records I made with my partner MC Breed went platinum,” he said. “Heard of 2pac? We made a track with him in the early nineties. Gotta Get Mine.”
I was strolling up Cass Avenue today on my way to do some background reporting with my fellow British partner in crime Hannah, when a store front featuring gorgeous shoes displayed across old wooden chests caught our eye.
Tanisha (pictured here) and her husband just opened Thrift on the Avenue, which sells super cool second-hand women’s clothes at affordable prices.
“You don’t have to spend a lot to look good,” I heard one of our new friends declare as I tried a succession of dresses and skirts on.
Classy Tanisha didn’t need to say much to convince me.
Minutes later – and after a few warm goodbyes – I was leaving the store with a new bright purple dress and some “D” for Detroit earrings.
Many a long-term Detroit resident has told me that the Cass Corridor was a hotbed for crime up until just a few years ago. The area has since been rebranded a part of Midtown.
“After this we are going to get a drink,” Justin announced to me as we made our way to Bagger Dave’s Burger Tavern in downtown Detroit last week. “Because that, Rose, is what adults do.”
Justin and I spent time together on a Wednesday, but to Justin, who works unconventional hours at Ford, it was technically a Friday – the beginning of his weekend.
Justin and I met through an extremely close mutual acquaintance last September. Armed with what seems to be a very Detroit mixture of kindness, generosity and cynicism, he has had my back ever since.
Justin, in short, is my fairy godmother.
Sam, pictured here holding Afie, works at the parking lot opposite the Third Circuit Court on Gratiot in downtown Detroit. We see each other a few times a week and finally got a conversation going today.
Sam came to Detroit from Alabama when he was 13. He says things may be bad here, but he feels they’re still better than in Alabama.
“These things are always temporary,” he mused as we exchanged impressions of the city.
Before Alfie and I got on our way, Sam looked me straight in the eye with one last thing to say. “That’s not your real hair color. You dye it, don’t you?”
I laughed and confirmed his suspicions. Honesty for honesty.
Behind Sam are the remnants of a $300 million county jail project, which was halted last year mid construction.