Detroit Seen


Fifth Estate # 266, September, 1975

Sorry to be so late with this issue, but the FE staff had a lot of its time and energy sapped by Michigan Bell’s efforts to prosecute us out of existence. (See story elsewhere in this issue.) We just couldn’t pull the paper together after sitting in Recorder’s Court all day. However, our tardiness fueled more speculation (some of it gleeful) that we had finally gone under, but, after a rocky three months, the project has stabilized itself financially and has a functioning staff which is prepared to go ahead with long-range plans for the FE’s continued existence….We particularly want to extend our thanks to the many people who have shown their appreciation and support of our “new” direction by sending in subscriptions and donations–the money has helped cut into the still-large backlog of debts…Another reason we certainly don’t want to go under is that we want to be here to celebrate with you the 10th anniversary of the Fifth Estate. We are tentatively planning a dinner/music celebration for Halloween evening, October 31st at the Earth Center in Hamtramck. The first FE appeared in October of 1965–whew!

The Fifth Estate coinboxes are all gone now, purchased and picked up by the Sun. The Sun people finally admitted that the main reason they bought our coinboxes was to take them away from the FE, hoping to further guarantee their hold on the market for “alternative” publications. The Sun parody that appears on the back of this issue of the FE was not done out of vindictiveness, as some people have charged; instead, we saw it as an effort to make transparent an institution that professes to be alternative, but which instead is merely another agent of capital. It’s also a self-criticism of directions the FE had taken in the past year, attempting to do the same thing the Sun is doing now. We actually had a difficult time making up an issue of the SUN that took positions more ridiculous than those that appear in the real Sun

Some readers have called in wondering where they could pick up one of the “Eat the Rich” T-shirts which have been appearing around town. Several people at the FE office made up the silk screen for the design and then ran off about two dozen shirts. Thanks to your demand, we will be doing more of them on Friday, September 26, 2 p.m. at the Fifth Estate office, 4403 Second, corner of W. Canfield. All you have to bring is any light-colored garment on which to screen the image, or, if you prefer, we will have new T-shirts available, at cost….

If you are reading this issue, you should also have received an Ammunition Books catalog/poster stuffed inside of it. If you didn’t, send us a stamped, self-addressed envelope and we’ll send one out to you. The poster had to be produced separately because our printer isn’t big on printing large-size four letter words. Plans are to make the catalog/poster format a regular feature of the paper. The bookstore itself has been going along nicely with a small but steady stream of people coming in to check out our books and pamphlets. Best selling publications so far are The Dollmaker by Harriet Arnow (a fictional story about a Southern woman’s fight to keep her family from being swallowed up by Detroit during World War II), and The Mini-Manual for Urban Guerrilla Warfare by Carlos Marighella. The latter book’s popularity, which is sort of a relic from the ’60’s, rather surprised us, but it may suggest what some people have in mind for political solutions in the Motor City. One of the best things about the bookstore is that it gives people who want to discuss libertarian communist ideas a place to meet and talk. Members of the FE staff and a few friends have decided to begin reading several of the publications together as a study group and see if we can share insights. Books selected for the first group are The Reproduction of Daily Life by Fredy Perlman, The Dollmaker and The Wandering of Humanity by Jacques Camatte….

Political spray-paint vandals have been making a big splash around town lately. We’ve seen “Kill Cops” on John R, “Eat the Rich” on the Eight Mile overpass, “Tired of Boredom?–Fire your Foreman” and “Cops Eat Shit” on the Lodge Freeway. In Ferndale the huge Kojac/Ferndale cops billboard has had the damage from the paint bomb which hit it repaired….

Not that we expected anything but racism from Wayne County prosecutor William Cahalan’s office, but we are surprised that no one made mention of the fact that the man responsible for setting off the Livernois mini-riot with his cold-blooded murder of a black youth was charged with only second-degree murder and released on bond while the three black men who brutally beat a white motorist to death were charged with first-degree murder and held without bond.