Detroit Seen


Fifth Estate # 313, Summer, 1983

The chaos of a hundred packing boxes has finally been cleared away, lost correspondence found and misplaced book orders filled, and our new office space is beginning to take on the feeling of home. It’s quite a change since the paper was in its last office for 12 years, but the fact that we are sharing quarters with three other groups has made the transition one of positive expectations. The large building we are occupying is just a few blocks uptown from the old address (in the shadow of the General Motors world headquarters) and features office space in front with a large performance area in the rear. The latter will be utilized by the Layabouts, a new wave band (three of whose members also contribute to the FE), the Dramatic Research Company (the old Freezer Theatre Players), and the Duck Club Players (from the infamous club of the same name), so music, satire and plays will abound. We had a big, bang-up, Detroit style grand opening and May Day celebration (Workers of the World Relax!) and a small Fifth Estate open house to show off our new quarters and bookstore. A full schedule of events is not yet set, but with the above crew situated, events in the manner of the old Grinning Duck and Freezer Theatre can be expected.

Our new address is printed on page one and in our staff box [Masthead], while our phone number remains the same. We invite you to come down and say hello and to see our bookshop, but please call first as our hours are erratic to say the least.

Due to the paper being severely shorthanded (caused mainly by staff travel and its opposite, full-time employment) this issue appears several weeks late. We hope the intervening time was filled by the FE Newsletter (see book page) and the arrival of Against Leviathan (see below). Thanks to the many people who sent in donations along with their subscription renewals; because of your sustained support our financial situation remains in good shape. A special thanks for the donation from Left Bank Books, 92 Pike St., Seattle WA 98101, who each month sends a portion of their income to publications or political prisoners. Left Bank has an extensive listing of publications available upon request.

Although we mentioned above that we had our office pretty much back in shape, our collection of back issues still remains a disaster area. To those of you who have had requests in for papers for several months now, we ask for your patience in the matter. We will send them off as soon as we get them sorted into some discernible order.

By the time you read this hopefully you will have received the just-printed copy of Fredy Perlman’s Against His-Story, Against Leviathan, a section of which appeared in FE #311, Winter 1983. It is now a 300-page book and Black & Red, the publisher, has sent it to all FE subscribers. Since the book is being sent gratuitously, no price is being asked, but the book will sell for $3 plus postage, so we encourage donations to B&R by those who can afford to do so. If you entered our list after the mailing was prepared, B&R may be contacted at Box 02374 Detroit MI 48202.

A mistake in our address was printed in the FE Newsletter which was sent to those whose subscriptions were expiring as well as a few who ordered books. We think they were all forwarded to us, but if anyone received mail back, that is the reason. The address contained herein is correct. The only other mistake we noticed in last issue was that Letters of Insurgents was listed in our book ad at 50 cents rather than $4.50 which must have appeared to be quite a bargain for an 831-page book.

Our attempt to have subscription renewals be self-regulating fell flat so if you still have an asterisk on your mailing label don’t fret; it means nothing. As usual we appreciate those planning to renew sending in their forms quickly so as to not necessitate a second mailing. Also, please notify us of any address change as the Post Office will not forward Second Class mail and charges us for the return.

Adding Insult to Injury Department: It’s easy to recognize the oppressive role of the political state when observing its more gross features such as war, police repression, etc., but its authoritarian character can even extend to such mundane things as traffic jams. Overcrowded streets and expressways are considered just “part of life,” another horrible way to spend part of your day. But we should not ignore the hand of government in the planning of a transportation system which ultimately cares nothing for those who use it. A good case in point is Detroit’s I-94 expressway which has constantly snarled traffic due to several lanes being shut off so as to facilitate the construction of several new overpass bridges. Patience, you say, construction always causes problems and things will be better when they are completed. The enraging factor here is that these bridges are being built for the primary use of a new Cadillac motor car assembly plant which has been constructed on the land seized from an area called Poletown. Longtime residents were expelled from their homes and forced to sell their land to the city. The neighborhood (one of the few remaining ethnic areas in the city) was razed to make way for the auto plant which will make cars exclusively for the rich. Add to this the fact that everyone is now forced into endless traffic delays, and it is maddening. Are there really people who think anarchy would be worse? A film depicting the (losing) struggle for Poletown is available from Information Factory, 3512 Courville, Detroit, MI 48224.