Thursday, August 5, 2010
Pit Bull in a Princess Dress takes to the Airwaves
I started the day in what I call the "princess" dress. I thought it would make me feel more professional at the NPR studios in Ann Arbor. I had a serious message prepared. As I pounded this keyboard afterwards at the sweet cafe around the corner from the studio (Jefferson Market), the dress could hardly contain the rough talking, dirty jean-wearing salvage slave too enraged to drive home yet. As my grandmother Eugenia, liked to say to us girls, "you all are so pretty, you ought to look pretty!'" translation: comb your hair, put something decent on and behave like young ladies. I got special "manners" lessons, that's paid off. I had spent hours thinking about the topic NPR asked me to speak about: three things to make Michigan a better place to live. I live near and work in one of the hardest places, but also the coolest. I now realize I didn't pay very close attention to the examples they sent me. I knew the segments were short, but I felt so strongly about my three things I just thought and wrote what I believe to be true. They promised it would edit down and sound fine. I didn't get to say what I wanted to. So I pounded away with righteous indignation, I'm calling up my army. NPR wanted to give people some simple ideas of things they can do, I want them to take to the streets. My friend Peter reminds me that expectations will only cause pain and suffering. I'm not interested in letting myself or anyone else off the hook that easily. I know what's causing pain and suffering, and the cure for it isn't something simple. We need to do more. On the lead topic exercise thrift, I spit out, "If you want to save Michigan, quit buying cheap new crap at Target" and predictably, "recycle, repurpose, reuse." I had a more erudite repackaging of this heavily trafficked mantra, but the host's question instead elicited, "yes you can repaint that table you already have and use that." At 4 in the morning I'm capitulating, it's probably better than I think, yesterday at 11am I was disappointed. They are talking about demolishing thousands of homes and buildings in Detroit. I'm thinking reusing that end table comes up short. I can't even imagine what Detroit will look like after we wipe half of it out, not to mention where is all that stuff going? Am I crazy to want to keep the ruins? roofless and gaping with trees growing through? This is the Detroit I grew up with and love. This princess still believes there's a real possibility that a fairy tale ending is in store for places like our train station. I drive back home through Detroit, Transformer 3's set needs signs and animal rescue Jon has me routed to a sign grave yard. The pit bull Tom greets me at the gate. The owner Michael and his helper Eugene go out of there way to help me look through the pile of signs, nervously holding the ladder I insist on climbing up to get a decent shot on my camera phone. "Maybe you should keep a change of clothes in your car." Tom doesn't look worried at all and flops down in the heat. The sweat is making a stain on my back. I keep climbing. I call the set buyer who's appreciative, I'll be back there tomorrow to see the other warehouse...in jeans. The other two things, community networking and cook at home go a little better, I get my point across that we have become disconnected and its causing joblessness, hopelessness and illness. I hope they don't edit the story about how the lawn mower purchased from my neighbors at Billings instead of from the "discounter" actually ended up being a gift that paid me (years of snow removal, forklift borrowing, real estate mediation and free popcorn from the owner Rick Johnson) nor the shout out to my octogenarian sales help Jerry who lives across from the shop. I didn't get to talk about foraging for the food growing wild and delicious in our city, but I sure "weighed in" on my concern about what we've been feeding ourselves and what people are forced to eat in a city bereft of fresh food sources. I hope I conveyed how important it is to me to share the gift of good food with everyone at my table and that taking an interest in knowing, helping and caring for each other is all Michigan and anyone else out there needs. Rest assured the pit bull in the princess dress isn't done chewing on this bone.