Blackhumouristpress's Blog

December 19, 2011

Occupy Detroit




It sounded silly at first as if someone was trying to be funny but it wasn’t a joke when a protestor by the name of Billy amassed people from all over North America and the world to occupy public space within the city of Detroit.

900,000 vacant lots within the city limits of Detroit and to occupy a blighted big city sounded almost charitable.  Bill was feeling anything but compassion for the city of Detroit and the United States in general.  Bill started off watching crowds of people on television in the Middle East fell leaders like Mubarak and Gaddafi.  It was en vogue to drop heads of state like at no time since the fall of the Soviet empire.  Billy joined people in occupying parks in places like Oakland and New York Cityonly to be returned home by Billy’s father’s deep pockets when it came time to bail him out.  Soon the idea came to Billy to amass as many dissatisfied, disenchanted, and downtrodden; serfs and petty bourgeoisie and set up camp around the General Motor’sRenaissance Center in the heart of downtown Detroit ironically enough called Hart Plaza.

            At first, Bill didn’t have many takers as most of his Detroit buddies who lived in metropolitan Detroit, knew that at night, late night, there were not a whole lot of people around downtown Detroit.  Sewer covers blew off steam like English tea kettles every few feet around desolate streets and sidewalks.  Every now and then you’d see a Chrysler 300 at a red light, waiting for no other cars to pass as the lights quietly turned from green to yellow and red.  Most police officers patrolled several blocks away in the more vibrant Greektown where middle class Detroiters could take a stay-cation at one of the casino hotels, eat at a fairly upscale restaurant and try to win their house out of foreclosure inside the casinos.  Those that stayed at the Hilton at the top of the GM Renaissance Center drove in by taxi or limousine and never had to venture out into the streets of Detroit.  The people the protesters were trying to harass were largely unreachable.  From up high, executives staying for a night or two could see the tents set up in the plaza.  Most thought it was some sort of Hooverville in a town with nearly 20% unemployment.

            The first Occupy Detroit gatherings were sort of pathetic as those who wanted to yell and scream at passersby took note of congregation of homeless men who actually danced to the sounds of a drummer who was leading a chant, “Bring out the 1%, bring out the 1%”.  The black homeless men wondered if somehow the population of white people had actually dropped to 1%.  The thought of white people being only 1% of the city of Detroit lead a few homeless people to wonder if they should pick up and move to other big cities where there was a larger pool of financially stable and generous white folk.  The native Detroiters felt sort of silly when nobody noticed them except a few Red Wing fans that cut through HartPlaza on their way to Joe Louis Arena to catch a game.  The hockey fans thought it was sort of dumb to camp outside in inner city Detroit but they politely ignored the small group.  Within a few days, the Detroit protestors packed up and went home without any fanfare.  No beatings, television crews, cops with night sticks or tear gas. Billy had to retool.  Billy read up on other charismatic leaders like Hitler, Jim Jones, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro and H. Ross Perot to see how it was that they were able to draw people to them.  Billy would never admit to reading Perot’s biography since he was in the top 1% of the top 1% but he read it nonetheless.

            Billy remembered Michael Moore’s movie called Roger and me and how Moore had hounded a GM executive named Roger Smith everywhere in order to get an explanation why it was that he closed GM plants in Flint, Michigan and so Billy wrote a letter to Moore in hopes that he might be willing to help a fellow antiestablishment native of Michigan. Mooreliked the idea quite a bit.  Michael Moore then used his larger base of fans and followers who hated the government, rich people and the mainstream in general and before long, Billy had close to a 1000 people who had descended upon Jefferson Avenue in front of the GM Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. Moorehad chosen a rare time when there were throngs of sports fans out to see the Detroit Lions on a Sunday afternoon and the Detroit Red Wings in the evening. Moore told Billy to get the people together at about five in the evening and think of something that would bring traffic to a screeching halt.  Billy had a great idea.

            Hundreds of football fans on their way to see a hockey game and hockey fans that had just seen a football game, were stopped by a large group of mostly young white people who were throwing metal spoons onto Jefferson Avenue in front of the General Motors building.  Bill felt like Che Guevara and Fidel Castro rolled up into one big Hugo Chavez.  Bill climbed up a statue that symbolized the city of Detroit onWoodward Avenue and spoke through a megaphone.  A few news trucks were out in front of the melee and filmed the action.  Bill was in heaven.

            The crowd quit banging drums and throwing metal spoons onto Jeffersonwhile Bill stood with his ratty looking red dread locks that hung like dirty rope over a Jamaican flag hoodie as he shouted into the amplification device.

            “I’ve been to Seattle and New York and Oakland to help the people of those cities get people to understand that we are being taken for a ride by our government, by the fat cats who own 85% of everything worth owning.  Look at that giant symbol of what the government involved itself in…  General Motors.  General Motors made a shit product and made the people at the top wealthy while working people on assembly lines lost their jobs.  What happened?  Your government gave your tax dollars to save a company that should have never failed.  General Motors was once the largest manufacturer of automobiles in the world and they became in danger of going under.  How does that happen?  Your government bailed out companies that have fucked us all in the ass…  How many people are out of jobs?  How many people have been foreclosed on?  Who has swooped up and bought up all these homes that once belonged to working people?  The very banks that have caused this fucking mess.  You starve and they eat cake with silver spoons in their mouths.  Well if they are in search of a spoon tonight, my friends let them come down to the streets ofDetroitto find one.  Millions of spoons for millionaires.  When are you going to wake up people?  When are you going to get up out of your chair and go to the window and yell that you’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore?”

            It was at that moment that a man by the name of Bob who owned a gun shop and riffle range in Northern Michigan, had decided that since the Lions were in danger of making the playoffs for the first time in years and that the Detroit Red Wings were in danger of making the playoffs for the 21st year in a row, that he would make the pilgrimage to the city of Detroit that epitomized everything that Bob disliked about America; Crime, racial tension, traffic, shopping malls, unemployment and rich white kids with nothing better to do than take up a liberal cause.  Bob decided to rip through Jefferson over the spoons in his large truck, sending protestors flying to the left and right of him.  A dozen or more people had leaned on a sign near the tunnel to Canada that read, Welcome to the United States of America.  The sign snapped off and flew into the windshield of Bob’s brand new GMC truck that had a hand painted sign on both sides and the back window that read, “Bob’s Emporium of armaments- The playground for those believe in the Bill of Rights.

            The windshield looked like a kaleidoscope after the heavy sign hit the windshield.  Bob exited the vehicle as his wife rolled down the passenger side window and calmly lit a cigarette and gazed at the mob that had filled the street.  Bob walked towards the sound of the voice and saw the slight figure yelling passionately into the megaphone.  Bill seemed like the ring leader of the band of misfits and so he pulled Billy down off of the symbol ofDetroitand gave him and ass beating like he had never had before.  The local news caught the whole the incident.  A large man in a Detroit Lions hat and a Red Wings Gordie Howe jersey beat the young man with the megaphone senseless.  Protestors through bottles and rocks at the Bob and before long, large groups of drunken football and hockey fans came to the rescue of Gordie Howe or at least a man wearing his jersey.  When the dust settled,Detroit had made the national and international news.  Possibly a million spoons littered Jefferson Avenue in front of the GM Renaissance Center and brought traffic to a stand still. Red Wing and Lions fans and protestors alike were taken into custody by the Detroit Police.  Billy was given his proverbial one call.  Billy called his father as he always did and expected to be bailed out without question once again.  Billy hated his father for being a rich and successful owner of a flatware company that had moved operations from the United States to China.  The spoons that were scattered all over the streets of Detroit came from a warehouse belonging to Billy’s father.  Billy, well known to everyone who worked for his father, loaded crate after crate of spoons into trucks from his father’s factory for the sole purpose of letting people know that the rich were born, living and dying with silver spoons in their mouths.  Billy’s father attitude had changed towards his son.  He was very firm and to the point with Billy who had cost him a lot of money by stealing his spoons.  Several millions.

            “I’m going to speak plainly to you, son.  The fake Rasta hair, no deodorant, Reggae listening, Haile Salassie is god bullshit was cute.  You thought you’d rebel against having life the easy way and I would just sit back and shrug my shoulders because I should have some sort of guilt for having money.  I have no guilt, son.  I don’t know a man alive who ever claimed to have enough money and today, you cost me a whole lot of money.  Your father is part of the 1% and you thought you might try to punish me at a tremendous expense by taking my spoons.  You’ve dubbed yourself the new voice for the poor and people of color, right?  A modern day Lenin waiting for the revolution to take hold in the streets of Detroit.  It isn’t coming, Billy. Well I want you to know that you are going to work to pay off your debt.  You want to ally yourself with the poor and ordinary man.  You’re going to be right there with them now.  Reading Marx and hating me while I put you through college and this is what I get… A big bill for all your pseudo communist bullshit.  Here’s the deal, son; you will learn what it is like to truly work for one solid year or I will see to it that you spend your time in jail for what you’ve done.  This is America, son.  A free country and one where you have choices and so I give you the choice, if I bail you out this time, you go to work for one year, no days off or you can say no and know that I will do all I can with my pull and connections to see that you do at least a year for your brash stupidity.  When some lifer is lining your ass up in the shower like a Penn State date, you’ll wish you had joined the proletariat…  The choice is yours to make.”

            In a factory in a remote part of China, where people wear medical masks over their faces at all times and are forced to breathe the air that has a strange tint to it when the light of day illuminates the sky, works Billy.  Behind him wearing a suit is a young black man, whose only job is to watch and live with Billy 24 hours a day for a year.  The day after Billy’s father bailed him out of jail; Billy’s father ordered a shake at a fast food restaurant and offered a job to a young man that was mopping a floor who was roughly the same age as Billy.  The young man went from making minimum wage to a half million dollars in a year and his only job was to make sure Billy worked every day, twelve hours a day, loading silverware into boxes to be shipped to the head quarters in Detroit,Michigan.  Hundreds of sullen Chinese stood in front of an assembly line, collecting spoons, knives and forks with one young white American.  Jefferson, who just the week before had to take two buses to make just over $200.00 a week, was dressed in nice clothes, had a chauffeur and a nice apartment that he shared with Billy.  Billy’s father sent Jefferson a text, thanking him for taking the $500,000.00 dollar job that came with a bonus of a new car and a condo if Billy could complete the year without fail. Jefferson replied to Billy’s father.


December 6, 2011

Inheritance Day

“Before we get started, I just wanted to give each of you a calendar for 2012 from our law firm as a token of our sincere condolences regarding the death of your loved one. It has our web address, email addresses and phone numbers in the event that any of you would require our services going forward… Now then I will need a check made out to our firm in the amount of $375.00 for the consultation that occurred between our office and your mother prior to her death back at the beginning of the month.  We generally bill on the last day of the month and with your mother’s passage on the 28th of November, it would have been impossible to bill and collect prior to her passing.  I just want to explain our billing process so that everyone here is aware of the charges prior to the time today…”

            Maricella DiMaria Woechichowski passed on Wednesday in her sleep in her modest frame house in Hamtramck, Michigan, just north of the city of Detroit.  Mary, as she was called, arrived on Ellis Island at the age of two and eventually migrated with her family to Detroit.  Around the time of World War II was when married Maricella married Wochek.  Wochek was a hard working weekend alcoholic who ignored his Italian beauty for the most part.  They had a daughter by the name of Cynthia in 1945 and then James in 1960.  Both children of Maricella were present at the attorney’s office on Monday morning following the wake Friday night and the funeral on Saturday.

            Jimmy sat slouched, chewing his thumb nail in a pair of faded and torn blue jeans with a pair of black high top gym shoes.  He wore a black leather coat and a black t shirt with the name of his band emblazoned in white.  Jimmy slipped off his jacket to be comfortable, showing off an array of skulls, grim reaper tattoos as well as winged angels.  Everyone studied the name of the band, Death March written in gothic, Nazi Germany script.  Jimmy and his girlfriend Zanna never figured out why Cindy, her husband and the attorney, stared at the two of them. 

            Zanna looked like Jimmy from behind in that she wore similar jeans and had an identically black dye job on shoulder length feathered hair.  Zanna wore a brightly colored roach clip from her hair and suede boots that came up to her knees.  She was Albanian with a thick New York City/Brooklyn accent and had been with Jimmy for three years after seeing one of his concerts and buying a skull necklace off of him from his crafts display that accompanied band t-shirts and CDs.  Zanna glared back at Cynthia and her husband as she chewed strawberry bubble gum, careful never to smear the lip gloss from her lips.  Cynthia’s husband Tom stealthily admired Zanna’s firm fake tits that filled out her baby doll T-shirt quite well.

            Cindy looked old enough to be her brother’s mother.  She looked matronly even though she never gave birth to a child.  Cindy had always been in love with Dachshunds so Tom bought her a ranch so that Cindy could breed Dachshunds on the gulf side of Florida.  Cindy’s husband worked as a personal assistant to a televangelist and motivational speaker.  They had two homes in Florida, six cars, a boat and forty Dachshunds.  They had a team of undocumented Mexican helpers watching over the brood of dogs as they made the pilgrimage to Detroit on interstate 75 in their RV from Tampa Bay. 

Jimmy loved skulls and singing about death and Satan and Cindy was part of the Evangelical women’s group at Church that helped raise money for born-again single mothers in Senegal.  Jimmy screamed incoherent lyrics through an octave divider that lowered his voice and distorted it so that nobody could detect that he had no pitch while banging distorted chords on a Flying V guitar.  His fans were angry suburban boys in their teens.  Cindy sang in the women’s choir at church while playing an organ.  Most of the songs she sang were two hundred years old.  Jimmy never moved out of his parent’s home and Cindy moved out at the age of twenty-three.  After three failed marriages, Cindy found god and a wealthy man.  Jimmy never married but had a slew of fragile relationships that one might experience in junior high.  Jimmy believes that Zanna is a keeper.

            “Ok…  So James will be given title to the home in Hamtramck and everything in it as well as the 1987 Lincoln Continental and Cindy will receive $352,000.00 that are in certificates of deposit.  The following messages are to be read to each of you prior to signing any documentation…  Jimmy, you were always such a good boy but so dumb in many ways.  You graduated high school in 1978 and never grew up.  The music you play hurts people’s ears.  You wear clothes that nobody wears anymore and have a haircut that makes you look like an ugly woman.  You got this dog walking thing that you started in Gross Pointe and I think it shows that you are worried a little bit for your future.  Don’t waste all your money on Marijuana.  I know you still sit up in your room and smoke Marijuana.  It is no secret.   After thirty five years of smelling it in my house, I have become accustomed to the distinct odor.  You’re 51 years old and still go to those shows with high school kids, play video games and do drugs.  It is time to grow up.  This New York girl you got now is nothing but a user.  You want some companionship and like your poppa used to say; a piece of ass is nothing but a drain on your life.  You get her pregnant and you are going to regret it.  I’m guessing in her early forties that she could still have a few.  You were always good to me and took care of me despite the fact that you had no ambition.  Never any back talk.  You were a good boy.  You get the house.  I paid the taxes for the next two years.  You have to make enough money and put away for utilities and taxes.  You got to cut the lawn and take out the trash.  Nobody will tell you to do that no more…  Now then, Cindy…  You were an angry child who blamed me for not leaving your father years ago but then went on to marry three men who were angry drunks.  You hated life for not being able to have children.  You hated Detroit so much that you could never come to see me.  I would call you and you would never answer.  I would get blanket Christmas cards addressed to everyone you knew with all those Dachshunds dressed up like reindeer every year with some kind of a re-cap of your life with Carl and all those dogs.  You could never just write me a personal card, it always had to be some long winded thing about you and dogs and your women’s group and about some people you don’t even know in Africa.  Did you really dislike me that much?  You traveled to Alaska in an RV but could never make it to see your mother in Michigan.  You use religion as a crutch for your great unhappiness.  You were a good looking girl with a scowl on her face and have become a lumpy senior citizen with a permanent frown.  I want to thank you for coming to my funeral if you in fact made it and hope that your dogs all cry at your funeral along with the people you’ve never met in Africa.  I suspect you’ll die and a few people at that Protestant Church will sing a few songs and say a few nice things for you and then they’ll have coffee cake and punch and they will need to try and figure out who will play the organ at the services going forward. Sadly, we are all replaceable. My only goal in life was to be a good wife and a good mother.  Once you two grew up, I realized I missed the boat on the most important thing in life which was to make myself happy. 

            So you sat in a foreign Catholic Church in Detroit and listened to some young fellow say some nice things about an old lady he never knew.  Something about god calling his flock home and so on.  While this was all going on, you were probably taking a head count and were wondering what it was going to cost to feed all those people you didn’t know.  For this reason, I want you to have all my money that was really saved by your father who saved every extra cent and never did anything with that money.  We never went anywhere or saw anything.  Money should make you happy, Cynthia.  The only home you’ve ever known should be a comfort to you, Jimmy.  Alright.  I did my job as a wife and as a mother.  You kids were not easy and your father was a bastard but I made it through.  Getting a job seating people at a restaurant in Greektown was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.  I sat trapped in the house my whole life and then when your father passed, I got a job seating people. They asked if I was Greek and I told them that as a Sicilian. I looked Greek.  That was good enough for them.  I met so many people over the last twenty five years.  I met some really nice people and some not so nice.  I met old and young, rich and poor.  People of all kinds of colors and shades.  If I had to do it all over, I would do it differently as would most people.  There is still time on the clock for you both.  Figure out what makes you happy and just be happy.  Happiness is all there really is.  You should not die unhappy because that would truly be sad.  Alright then, enjoy the gifts and don’t squander them.  I had a good life.  Momma loves you.

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