Archive for October, 2009

Between Heaven and Hell, Michigan

To work on a feature film, my return to Detroit (it used to be called MoTown, now it’s more like NoTown), which is the land of my birth or so it says on my birth certificate, has been a shock in several ways.

1. A very visible culture shift can be seen as I travel around in the area that was Dearborn and now is known to the locals as Dearbornistan. Everywhere I look there are  Arabic signs in the store windows, and so many of the women are wearing a head wrap and long sleeved shirts, with ankle length dresses. It’s a bit like when I worked on a film in Goshen, Indiana where the WalMart had hitching posts for the horse and buggys that the Amish rode to go shopping. Walking through the interior of that store was like being on the set of a western film set in the 1800′s, with extras wearing period wardrobe. But here it’s more like being on the set of “Alienation”, it looks almost normal, but there’s something a bit off kilter. I do have a new description of what’s terrorizing, and that would be a 5’1″ tall 93 pound Palestinian woman driving 3 tons of Ford Expedition with her eyes barely able to see through the steering wheel and over the dashboard to know what’s on the road in front of her. For me, the only thing that could make it more scary would be if there were a few pounds of C-4 bouncing around in the baggage area. This is an interesting idea but  I think I’ll pass on inspecting for that. Especially when said SUV is  parked in the lot of  the “Beirut By Night” (this is the true name) restaurant. There are no IED’s allowed on the premises, or so I hear.

2. The temperature’s also a bit off, at least after living in Los Angeles for a few decades. Oh yeah, that’s off in the colder direction, with indications of more of the less (heat) to come soon.


We’re in the mid-season here, caught between summer and winter in what’s known as the season of road repair, indicated by orange barrels every few feet on the freeway expressway.

orange barrel1 Fast Angry Driver + 1 Slow Moving Barrel = Orange Road Kill!

The trailer mounted car rig shot we did tonight was not exactly a pleasure cruise, since there had been enough rain today to flood the picture car (missing window glass in a few places) with about a half inch of water sloshing around on the floorboards. There would have been more, but being that this was a true “Detroiter” car with copious amounts of BodyCancerByFisher rust outs that gave the old car the appearance of crying as a flood of  big tears flowed out on each turn.

3. The real worry pressing on many of the local crews minds? “Devil’s Night” is approaching, and according to our “on occasion correct” call sheet advance schedule it seems that we will be working on night exterior shots. I’m sure it’s going to be cold enough that the heat from the burning houses will be welcome to us. But to the newly homeless, perhaps not so much.

4. The drivers!!! For a place so full of people that have no where to go, they sure seem to be in a hella hurry to get there. And the local un-official sport (perhaps replacing Devil’s night?) now seems to be tailgating, wherein they allow a bit over one car space for every 100 miles per hour they drive. Most of the drivers seem to be agressive angry actually hostile to whoever is unlucky enough to be blocking the road in front of them, it’s amazing that there aren’t more traffic pile-ups but I guess they’ve learned to deal with it. I hope that I never do that, except for while I’m driving around here in what seems to be the nation’s leader in unemployment where, to paraphrase an old Ford commercial, “Finding A Job Is Job #1″.

October 24, 2009 at 2:05 am Leave a comment


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