Sara the Danish Reporter

Sara the Danish Reporter

My very good friend Sara came to visit from New York last month. Sara is an award-winning Danish journalist whose extensive reporting on New York’s Stop-and-Frisk policies has been published in a number of outlets, including The Atlantic and AJA. Her two-week visit was part work, part play.

I was reminded of her visit and this photo a few days ago, when I posted a photo on social media of Alfie and me on a morning walk standing in front of a large, tagged, abandoned building – just a few minutes’ walk away from home. The post provoked mixed reactions. Specifically, one of my Detroit acquaintances was angry for the ruin porn representation of the city I was blasting to the outside world.

Avoiding to mindlessly fall into cliche is one of the main jobs a journalist has, I believe. In this city, which is going through such an extreme time, you have to constantly watch yourself. Sometimes reality challenges stereotypes, sometimes a snapshot of reality will confirm them. To the extent that it is possible, the job is to question and document, never to twist or spin.

“The more I spend time here, the more I feel like it’s so complex,” Sara confided in me towards the end of her trip.

Clarissa and the Bike

Clarissa and the Bike

I walked into Shinola – a new luxury watch and bicycle store based out of Detroit – a few weeks ago as I was doing some background research for a story I am writing for British media.

The staff could not have been friendlier, but Clarissa, pictured here, may have been my favorite. She told me she moved to Detroit a couple of years ago after falling in love with the city over the course of a weekend visiting one of her great friends.

Later that night, as I had hung up my reporting shoes and put on my bright blue suede stilettos for a party at the Red Bull House of Art, beaming Clarissa tapped me on the shoulder.

“Tell me the truth,” she said. “Were you in the shop because you were curious, or were you on the job?”

We smiled. No fool Clarissa.