Detroit Seen


Fifth Estate # 307, November 19, 1981

October marks the 16th anniversary of the Fifth Estate and a little over five years since we’ve been publishing this paper as an explicitly libertarian project (see the Oct. 1979 FE for a brief history), and we are pleased to report that the ship of anti-state remains healthy. We say this even though the Post Office has reduced our status to that of a quarterly. This has served as a reminder of how we’ve let our publishing frequency precipitously slip from that of a monthly to, in this case, once every four months. Readers write to us all too often complaining that they have missed an issue, when it’s just been our sloth. Please be assured, all of you will get the six issues you subscribed to no matter if they don’t fall into a given calendar year. Financially we’re holding our own (contrary to a year ago when we were dead broke), but please, don’t let this declaration act to forestall the generous donations that many of you have been sending to the paper, because it is exactly those extra dollars or two or $20! with a book order or subscription renewal that have carried us in the direction of solvency. We can rarely do so individually, so let us thank all of you collectively who continue to have faith, not so much in this paper, but in the ideas it embodies, Who have helped us so much over the last year. And as usual, a special debt of gratitude must go out to our Italian comrades on both coasts and in Florida who continue their lifelong commitment to anarchist ideals by support of the world libertarian press including this one.

One final business note: A number of you have received subscription renewal letters and the response to them has been excellent, but still a large number remain outstanding. Postage is one of our largest operating costs, so we hope that if you are planning to re-subscribe, you won’t force us to have to send a second reminder. By the way, those who did receive a second reminder and did not respond, probably won’t be reading this since we used their mailing label for this latest issue to post their second letter. We certainly aren’t ruthless about cutting people off our mailing list, but figure if the person doesn’t respond after two reminders that their interest in our publication may have waned. Still, we hate to lose people, so if you like what you’re reading, please send back your subscription renewal.

Detroit needs Curtis Sliwa’s New York-based Guardian Angels like we need the approaching winter. The street-wise, tough-talking head of the junior vigilantes blew into Motown late in October and immediately began posturing in front of the TV cameras with the self-appointed chieftain of the semi-fictional Black Killers (BK’s) and Errol Flynns in what looked like a deliberately staged confrontation. The two punks argued over whether the Angels would need BK permission to patrol the gangs’ “turf,” with appropriate macho threats being traded back and forth. No one will deny that a war-zone climate pervades many areas of the city or that the police have neither the will nor the capability to make the streets safe, but Sliwa’s gang of street toughs in red berets can in no way get to the root of big city crime. Instead, they substitute public relations, media hype and playing on citizen fear of violent crime. In the long run, Sliwa, who now only appears as a loud-mouthed punk capitalizing on the fear of urban crime, has the potential of producing a right-wing goon squad comprised of lumpen youth in much the same manner as the Nazis formed the SA out of the flotsam of the German working class. Send these jerks back to New York City.

Wayne State University’s student newspaper, The South End, has become a racist and conservative rag which is graphically atrocious and ill-written to boot. Under the current editor, one E. Dale Lee, the paper’s ex-sports editor, the paper has become the model for the dull, small-town weekly that Lee will undoubtedly wind up at. It recently has featured such gems for stories as “Urine Hits ‘U’ Secretary” and “Are Chinamen Civilized?” When called upon to apologize for the blatantly racist content of the latter headline, Lee refused, saying he didn’t think the Chinese were civilized. Fortunately, his laughable attempt at journalism is so bad the papers can’t even be given away, and each day WSU students ignore them leaving the school hallways littered with thousands of leftovers.

And speaking of newspapers—The Detroit News—”If you read the News you know”—got caught doing what we have always suspected them of—making up the news. The day the first space shuttle launch was scuttled 31 seconds before the scheduled lift-off, several thousand afternoon editions of the News hit the streets with the banner headline ‘”Encore for the Space Shuttle.” The story described the smooth take-off, what a magnificent step forward for blah, blah, blah, etc., even though the ship had never left the launch pad. Obviously, the story was a product of the re-write desk, a complete phony. Probably no different than most of their material—they just got caught with this one.

Sign of the Times: Liberation News’ Service (LNS), which once served this newspaper and 450 other radical and underground publications, with alternative news sources and graphics, folded recently in New York City citing a lack of interest in its packets and sagging finances.

Return of the Son of the Grinning Duck: Detroit’s community-based, not-for-profit, self-managed club is in operation again, this time at the site of the old stripper joint, The Willis Show Bar, on the corner of Third Ave. and W. Willis. A successful grand opening and Halloween show have already taken place and more is planned including a benefit for libertarian publications, regular brunches, an anti-nuke show, and music. If you would like information send a self-addressed envelope to the Grinning Duck care of this newspaper and we will send you a flyer on the activities that are coming up.