Friday, December 17, 2010

My Old High School

I found the book that I want for Christmas. It just came out in English and was originally released here in France. The book is a stunning, horrifying, fascinating album of photos compiled over a 5 year period by
Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre.
The name of the book is The Ruins of Detroit, published by Steidl.
The publishers statement:
 Over the past generation Detroit has suffered economically worse than any other of the major American cities and its rampant urban decay is now glaringly apparent during this current recession. Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre documented this disintegration, showcasing structures that were formerly a source of civic pride, and which now stand as monuments to the city’s fall from grace.
“Ruins are the visible symbols and landmarks of our societies and their changes, small pieces of history in suspension. The state of ruin is temporary by nature, the volatile result of the end of an era and the fall of empires. This fragility, the time elapsed but even so running fast, lead us to watch them one very last time: being dismayed, or admiring, wondering about the permanence of things. Photography appeared to us as a modest way to keep a little bit of this ephemeral state.

The picture I posted was a photo of a melted wall clock from my old high school, Cass Tech. It is a magnificent turn of the century 9 story building with a huge 5 story professional theater in the heart of the building. There is a new Cass Tech Building, but the original hulk is still standing and decaying at the edges of the old downtown area, near the stadium.
Detroit was never an easy place to live, perhaps that's why the music was and still is so damn good. It was never a city of Peace, Love and Harmony, but it was a place of Dreams, Revolution and Hope for a future that never was.....
Detroit is a unique example that captures the essence of the rise fall and decay of American industry and the American Dream. There are many other cities in America that have experienced this social reality, but the drama and passion, pain and desolation of Detroit somehow distills it all.
Yet, to me, every time I vist the city, and I was there only a month ago, I feel that something else on the verge of occurring. A place trying to reinvent itself, a place where dreams and fantasies could just become possible again.


Anonymous said...

I was also born in Detroit (1950), as was my father. He went to Cass Tech '40-'43.
Recently I visited the African American Museum in Detroit and saw several fotos of Cass Tech from that period. There were plenty of black students attending back then.
Tom, in Albuquerque
(I always enjoy your blog)

microdot said...

I went to Cass in 1965/66. I lived pretty far away, out in Redford at the time and it was a long bus ride on the Fenkell (5 Mile Road) Bus e every morning, but to be immersed in inner city Detroit...That was a life shaping experience. I was in love with a girl named Jackie Tapp and discovered real live Detroit music.