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Out From Under

Shakiya Robertson thought she had found a way get her family a home. She moved in, fixed the place up, made all the payments. Then she, like thousands of others in Detroit, was told that the house she thought she had purchased wasn’t actually hers.

Fiction Pick of the Week: The Electric City

A group buys the city of Detroit with lottery winnings.

"We stayed on our street all day for a couple of weeks, doing all the work we needed to do to convince people we weren’t a problem. We never got around to telling anyone that we’d bought the city, because we weren’t having the kinds of conversations where you’d bring that up. We told people we’d lost our jobs instead, that Detroit was cheap. They’d nod. We smoked up a lot and drank plenty of the lemonade stuff, which was yellow Crystal Light mixed with water and vodka."

Birdie

A woman's involvement in an unstable Detroit activist movement.

"The houses we set out to destroy had already been inscribed by the city. The city had earmarked them as tear-downs during the first stage of a larger urban planning initiative – a large ‘D’ for Demolition had been written in white chalk on the front doors of the dilapidated multi-family structures, veterans of a time when Detroit was still a factory town, a place where the music of Motown fumed larger than the gusts of exhaust unleashed from the chains of cars which tumbled off the assembly lines at the auto factories and straight onto those glistening American freeways. The electric streetcar line along Woodward Avenue had been replaced by gas-powered buses. There’d been the great race wars. Even still, at the time those houses had been erected on that tender Northern riverbed which skirted the Canada border, the word future seemed more a promise than an urgency."

Do You Want New Wave Or Do You Want the Truth?

A punk heroin addict navigates 1980s Detroit.

"About an hour later, Harwell and Rollo were squatting (literal) in their squat (figurative) on Broadville, about a mile from the convenience store that had just fallen victim to their considerable wrath. They hadn’t said a word longer than four letters to each other since sprinting away from the Quality Dairy, and for the last thirty minutes they’d been listening for any movement outside, not sure if they’d been followed, or if Chavo and the night manager had enough information about them gathered from their several months of patronage to know where they hung their heads."

Some Real Shock and Awe: Racially Profiled and Cuffed in Detroit

A first-person account of an arrest:

I stared at the yellow walls and listened to a few officers talk about the overtime they were racking up, and I decided that I hated country music. I hated speedboats and shitty beer in coozies and fat bellies and rednecks. I thought about Abu Ghraib and the horror to which those prisoners were exposed. I thought about my dad and his prescience. I was glad he wasn’t alive to know about what was happening to me. I thought about my kids, and what would have happened if they had been there when I got taken away. I contemplated never flying again. I thought about the incredible waste of taxpayer dollars in conducting an operation like this. I wondered what my rights were, if I had any at all. Mostly, I could not believe I was sitting in some jail cell in some cold, undisclosed building surrounded by “the authorities.”

Teamster Boss

An interview with James “Jimmy” Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters which had recently been described by Attorney General Robert Kennedy as “the most powerful institution in this country—aside from the United States Government itself.”