English Blog

Detroit & Book Two April 6, 2010

Filed under: Detroit,Middlesex — writing4english @ 7:46 PM

Detroit was once a booming metropolis on the Detroit River across from Canada. That was the days of when Detroit was the home of Ford and the Rogue Plant. Ford was the workhorse that drove the city. People moved from all around the country, particularly the south, for a job oppurtunity in Detroit. Not many people were turned away as there was a surplus of jobs at the Rogue Plant. Ford could hire people and basically make them interchangeable parts. “Through the hanging smoke, Lefty saw other streetcars letting off other workers, hundreds and hundreds of gray figures trudging across the paved courtyard toward the factory gates. Trucks were driving past, and Lefty let himself be taken along with the flow of the nex shift, fifty, sixty, seventy thousand men hurrying last cigarettes or getting in final words – becauseas they approached the factory they’d begun to speak again, not because they had anything to say but because beyond those doors language wasn’t allowed” (Eugenides 94). The Ford Motor Company made people into lifeless, gray, robotic humans. They were trained to do their job efficiently enough to coincide with the tasks being performed around him. “Every fourteen secons Wierzbicki reams a bearing and Stephanides grinds a bearing and O’Malley attaches a bearing to a camshaft” (Eugenides 95). If this task took longer than fourteen seconds Ford had the power, and the supply of lifeless humans, to find the problem, get rid of the problem, and get a new person to take over to solve the problem. If one person worked too fast co-workers would take notice. “After the foreman had gone, O’Malley looked both ways and leaned over to whisper, ‘Don’t try to be a speed king. You understand? We all have to work faster that way'” (Eugenides 98). People didn’t want to work faster than they already had to, and so, made sure that everyone knew each others work intentions.

-Jeffrey Senecal


Middlesex:Book Two

Filed under: Detroit,Middlesex — writing4english @ 10:41 AM

As I read Book Two of Eugenides “Middlesex”, there were several topics mentioned in his novel that were also mentioned in our class’ lectures and esaay, like Detroit. In Book Two, Desdemona and Lefty have reached their destination, Detroit, Michigan to escape from turmoil and war in their home country. It is clear that Detroit was quite different from where these two foreigners were from. For instance, Detroit’s environment seemed to be more crowded and culturally diverse, whereas the small village they were from, everyone knew everyone and were all the same. However, I have also notice that the city of Detroit had its’ problems back then as well. Despite the city’s “Cadallac Tower, the New Union Trust Building and Fisher Building”, Detroit’s housing shortages and segregation amongst whites and blacks were some of the “seeds of the city’s destruction” (Eugenides 88). Book Two also mentions the Depression that affected the city, which Desdemona could not discuss without “wailing” and saw as “manic depression” (136). It seems that Detroiters back then were suffering from the economy like we are today, such as the laying off of jobs. Like now, this affected everyone living in Detroit, one way or another. Eugenides “Middlesex” definitely shows readers that the city has always struggled to some extent. It is a shame that even throughout history, Detroit has suffered because it has potential to be a good city. Despite Detroit’s bad reputation, the city has promise. Overall, Eugenides shows us readers that Detroit seems to be suffering from the same problems as it is presently. I feel like this city keeps going through a continuous and unstoppable cycle of segregation, destruction and depression.

Danielle Harteau


Detroit has fallen and cannot recover April 5, 2010

Filed under: Detroit — writing4english @ 4:48 PM

As Lefty and Desdemona progress throughout their story it starts to unfold as they move to Detroit, MI. They move in with Lina and Jimmy Zizmo and adapt to their new lifestyle just as they leave their past behind. Lina and Desdemona happen to both get pregnant the same exact night and are both expecting their first child. Lefty knew that he needed to find a new job after he was fired from Ford’s plant because his Sociological Department did not approve of Jimmy. During the five dollar days Ford made the workers into robots that could work and try to live up to a certain standard. He expected so much out of them and gave them no more than a wage in return. As workers shuffled out each day “they descended out of the America of factory work and tyrannical foremen” (Eugenides 132). Ford was a dictator in his factories and did not accept less than the best of the best. He did not accept Lefty because of the people he was living with which was unjust.  So as that door closed another opened for Lefty and he decided to help Jimmy out in his illegal work of rum running during the prohibition period. One evening Jimmy has a meltdown while driving on the frozen lake; Lefty escapes the car but Jimmy got stuck in a soft spot and “a loud crack, followed by a scintillation spreading underfoot, as the Packard hits a dark patch on the frozen lake. Just like ice, lives crack, too…Because the ice is screaming. Zizmo’s front wheels crash through the surface…and, with a shower of sparks, everything goes dark” (Eugenides 125). I believe this is foreshadowing what is about to happen to Detroit. There are several small cracks in the city and the pressure of the city causes a large crack which consumes the city. The pressure of blacks and whites trying to live within the same city when there is tension between the two races. Causes the city to fall through the large crack and is drowning in its own water. As time moves on, “the ice had refrozen during the night and a few inches of new snow had fallen” (Eugenides 126). Furthermore, the city is just looked over because the lake freezes over the chaos. If everyone just looks over the problems and tension in the city that is building up; how can there be change? If the people of Detroit are not willing to help solve the problem, what makes other people willing to help? The tension of African Americans moving into city filled with whites is being masked by its own citizens, until the ice breaks and does not refreeze. As stated by Eugenides the low class area of Detroit was called, “Black Bottom, for all the whites’ attempts to contain it- and because of the inexorable laws of poverty and racism- would slowly spread , street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood, until the so-called ghetto would become the entire city itself” (142). As the migration of African Americans moved into the city the whites moved into the suburbs. When most of the citizens moved out it caused an economic quicksand; dragging the poor in and sucking them under unable to escape the wrath of the city. Even the white citizens felt like they were being pulled under, not by the city but because of the African Americans. In the book Desdemona was at a shop and the clerk would not take change from an African American customer and told them just to leave it on the counter. Detroit was in bad shape before the laws of segregation, and even now many people have assumptions about the different ethnicities living in and around Detroit. Detroit has fallen into a hole and has never really come out of it. It just gets shrugged off and ignored but now is the time to step up.

Olivia Lewis

I would like to use this in my final paper please =]


Detroit– My home. January 28, 2010

Filed under: Detroit — writing4english @ 12:04 PM

Detroit has always been my home. I am proud to say that I have been born and raised in here. It really sucks whenever I hear something negative about my hometown. Sure, it is known for its extremely high crime and poverty rates, but that is not all it has to offer. If you truly take the time to peel away all the negative aspects then you will be able to find the real beauties of Detroit. “It may surprise you that a place with such a tough and gritty reputation is home to many fine attractions, world-class entertainment, and a cultural fabric unlike that of any other city” (http://www.experiencedetroit.com/). 

Downtown Detroit, in my opinion, is so much fun to hang out. There are so many great restaurants and awesome landmarks. Here in Detroit, there is the DIA, the Science Center, Tigers Stadium, Joe Louis Arena, and so much more! If you know where to go and how to get around then you can really have fun and still feel safe. 

Detroit may not be as clean or productive as it used to be, but is anything truly what it used to be? It’s not fair to put Detroit down all the time. If all anyone can do is put Detroit down then how can we make some change? We must appreciate what we have and work with it. If everyone that lives here can truly love it for what it is then maybe Detroit can one day rebuild itself. The way we see certain structures allows us to associate them with economic and social class (Silverman and Rader 480). It is so easy to pass judgment when all we immediately see are broken down houses, abandon buildings and trash on the roads. However, that is not all Detroit has to show for itself. We must accept this city as a whole and give it the great reputation it once had.

Nayeli Garza.


Art on Heidelberg St.

Filed under: Detroit — writing4english @ 2:58 AM

Detroit has always been a place with opportunities. Starting with Henry Ford and the auto industry, Detroit has given many people a place to transform their lives. On Heidelberg Street, Detroit’s East Side, lies a spectacular and vivid community project that wants “…to inspire people to use and appreciate artistic expression as a means to enrich and improve their lives, and to beautify and preserve the environments in which we all live, work and play.”  (http://www.heidelberg.org/what.html) The Heidelberg Project would like everyone to have a bright vision for the future. ◊

The Heidelberg Project was founded Tyree Guyton in 1986 right on Heidelberg Street. “Tyree was raised on Heidelberg Street and, at the age of 12, witnessed the tragic effect of the Detroit riots – from which he claims the City of Detroit never recovered.” Tyree, his family members and neighborhood kids cleaned up vacant lots and turned them into “lots of art”. He covered the trees, sidewalks and houses to create a “massive art environment”. The space this project occupies shows the community who inhabits that space, what the space is used for and how you are to understand that space. (Silverman and Rader pg. 282) I believe that the canvas they have created as a work of art is such an intriguing and creative way for people to express concerns. Each and every thing created on this street tells a story about current issues within society. All the colors and ideas are symbolic in some way to each individual artist. Recycled items and found things make up a majority of the HP’s art displays. ◊

I believe the HP has so many opportunities for the community to get involved making the space they live in a better place. Just the idea of getting kids involved at such a young age is such a great benefit for them. I thought this would be a really neat thing to learn about. And I will be going here hopefully when it gets a little warmer to walk around and check it out! ◊

♥Samantha Laird


Detroit, The city

Filed under: Detroit — writing4english @ 1:01 AM

Growing up in detroit, I have seen both the good and the bad, along with progress and also downfall. The city itself has tons of potential to be seen as the great place it once was. There are people here that are more than willing to help to rebuild it with the right tools and resources so that we can reclaim the name that we once held. Along with all of the possible positives that our city could have there is also a list of negative things that are bringing the city down. The previous mayor of the city has put us in more than $1 million worth of debt, the public school system was on a downslide with all of the teachers and administrators taking funds that weren’t even theirs, all of these things have caused the city to be in a worst state than what it should be. I believe that with new leaders and also help from the people within each community Detroit can turn things around for a better future, there is violence and crimes that happen every day but if there were more people that encouraged a positive outlook maybe the negative would decrease. We can turn the potential into a reality and use what we have to build bigger and better, in The World Is A Text it says “neglect can change public space, as well as new construction surrounding a previous design”(Silverman and Rader, 482). This relates to our current situation because now we are simply neglecting the space and potential, but with new designs and ideas the possibilities are endless.


Raymond L.


Detroit January 27, 2010

Filed under: Detroit — writing4english @ 8:23 PM

I think we can all agree that when Detroit is brought up in conversation around non Detroiters, they never have one good thing to say about our city. I feel that there are two big reasons behind these sore feelings about Detroit. I think that the true downfall of Detroit started with the 1967 riots. The riots ultimately began due to the ignorance and racism of the Detroit law enforcement upon the people of the city. The police were constantly meandering around, either harassing the black youth on the streets or looking for African Americans to arrest who were making an illegal living because they were repressed so much as to not be able to obtain a normal 9-5 to support their families, I.e. prostitutes, drug dealers. With the hatred of the Detroit Police building up over time, their finally came and event to push it over the edge. When police executed a raid on a speakeasy on Twelfth Street and Clairmont Ave., where there was a celebration taking place for returning Vietnam Vets, these Detroiters had had enough. They felt that these establishments were the last place they could go away from home and not be harassed by the police. This made them realize otherwise and out of anger and frustration the riots began. This information about the ’67 riots came from a book called “The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit”, by Thomas J. Sugrue.
The riots in 1967 permanently scarred Detroit in that there are parts of the city that haven’t been rebuilt to this day. This brings me to the second cause of Detroit being looked down upon. Since the riots, Detroit has not had the money to rebuild or restructure because the economy has been in the trenches. Jobs have left the city since many of the major motor plants have closed. I think that when the economy turns around, and the people of Detroit learn to live together, looking out for each other, instead of in fear of one another, our city will again be one of the greats.
Until then, we have to realize that all of the abandoned buildings will be just that, until they are demolished and rebuilt. So let’s not make judgement calls by noticing what may be “tagged” on all sides of them because “neglect can change public space” (Jonathan Silverman, Dean Rader: 482) as well, and I feel that neglect can change it in a much worse way than an artist expressing him/herself through painting on a building (or defacing property with graffiti).

– Jake Morse