January 2011: I am preparing for my first real visit to Detroit, the city of my birth. I am a Californian, where I have been since age one when my parents packed me into a car to seek fame and fortune in LA. It is strange to be defined by something unknown but when asked if I am a "native" Californian, I answer, "No, I was born in Detroit." It seems time to investigate what that means. So I have come "home" on my birthday to photograph Detroit.
This blog is part of an accompanying journal about the project.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Home is key. In researching Detroit these past months and becoming increasingly overwhelmed by the breadth of this city's complexity and concerns, home feels like the natural first focus. It is where I first started and where, again, I will start.
A telling irony: In West Los Angeles where I have lived most of my life, my two childhood homes are now gone, the victims of upscale demolition making way for mini-mansions. Yet in Detroit, so recently notorious for its burned out and empty buildings; the solid home full of hope that my parents purchased a few days before my birth still stands. Even the slanted address sign affixed to the front doorpost remains.
In less than two weeks, on my 65th birthday, I plan to be again in front of my first home. The drawing above was quickly sketched by me in Detroit decades ago while on a music gig at a time when I managed performers.
With luck this trip or next, I will be able to photograph the interior of the house and perhaps the Northwest neighborhood. I have located the owner, a hard-working UAW worker whose work and family generations in the auto industry have been profiled in USA Today in terms of a life characteristic of what is best about Detroit and best about America: Even with economic downturns, the hard work and increasing success and education of each generation. It is a strong story, not dissimilar to mine, and it feels good that this family owns the home.