It's 5:54 am. I'm in a dark motel room in the Shorecrest Motor Inn in Detroit. Can't sleep. Despite the long day's drive and 5 beers last night the smoke from the previous guests in here makes it heard to breathe. Unlike all the corporate hotels that line the interstates, I feel the presence of other people in this motel. Years of guests' perfume lingers, I see traces of their outbursts left on the walls and indented in doors (the bathroom of the last place I slept in had a thin kind balsa like wood door that was left with a fist's crater in it) but most of all, it's the smoke from years of guests who have passed though that linger heavily. Who was smoking those cigarettes what where their lips doing, saying, concealing, revealing, desiring, fearing?
This room embodies the essence of Detroit which I had hoped to escape at least through sleep, but the smoke woke me. In this room Detroit creeps in through every crack. It flows through the tap where fetid water flows, its metallic pollution wafts through the cracks of the window, swppes in under the bottom of the door, it clings to my clothes.
My clothes smell of shuttered factory plants, still smoldering burnt down houses or abandoned ones, bacon grease, butter, corn oil from greasy spoons, industrial cleanser picked up from the bathroom in the two motels I've tried to sleep in--it's a heavy duty cleanser that looks like pink Pepto Bismol and smells like bleach covered up by a fake strawberry citrus blend and instead of covering up the grime embedding itself in the fat that has picked up all the other industrial particulates that surrounded me.
In the darkness of the room abstracts of the foreclosed, burnt and empty homes are in my thoughts. Detroit is full of these forlorn structures. After years of factory closings that's all that's left of the city. A singed shell that was once called the Paris of the West. Earlier this evening I had hoped to find a club, a decent restaurant to dine in, but there's so little. So, what to do except drive around? Against my imploring friend's wishes (carry a gun, watch out for people sucking on a crack pipe while driving through an intersection while you have the green, beware of carjackings, etc., etc., etc.) I decided to drive through this empty town.
By seeing Detroit this way I feel that it is one of the truest ways to convey the city since so much is seen though the car's window. The only way I can really grasp the spectral loneliness of the place are through these blurry photos.
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