Detroit Seen


Fifth Estate # 326, Summer, 1987

Good news! The Fifth Estate has a new office and bookstore quarters with public access, plus it provides a better atmosphere for working and receiving visitors. The move has provided the spark for increased activity around the bookshop, with one of us taking responsibility for expanding its book selection and starting regular hours.

The name of the building we’re in is Sutton Place; which we eagerly assumed was named after Willie Sutton, the famous bank robber of two generations ago, but alas, nothing so romantic was the case. Our address is 4632 Second Ave., Detroit, MI 48201, although we prefer that mail still be sent to our post office box. We are frequently at the office, but official bookstore hours are Tuesday and Thursday, noon-5 pm. A call at 313—831-6800 is probably always best, unless you are in the neighborhood.

We usually begin this column with an explanation for not having printed an issue for so long, but perhaps it’s time to stop the apologies. We don’t see ourselves exclusively as newspaper publishers, but also as people involved in a community of resistance which has undertaken numerous projects. Things like our continuing opposition to the Detroit incinerator and traveling to Minneapolis for the anarchist gathering, keep us from a schedule most commercial publications would deem a necessity.

Almost all publications have as a major goal the maximization of circulation. However, we at the Fifth Estate have always been content to let ours find its own level without energetically seeking additional subscribers or distribution outlets. Although our circulation has been steadily growing over the last several years, our joy in this is confined mainly to the feeling that this represents increased interest in anti-authoritarian ideas rather than visions of success for our paper.

Perhaps, as the radical movement grows, so will our desire to publish more frequently, but until then, look for us to appear only sporadically (at least three times a year).

Unless you found this issue of the Fifth Estate in a bus terminal, we should assume you already know how to get a copy, right? Still, we thought we would list our outlets over the next several issues to let readers know where it is available. All problems in this regard are nullified by the purchase of a mail subscription.

Where to Get The Fifth Estate in Detroit: The FE office, 4632 Second Ave., Cass Corridor Food Coop, Cass at W. Prentis, Alvin’s Twilight Bar, Cass near W. Palmer, Paperbacks Unlimited, Woodward south of Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale, Marwil’s Books, Cass at W. Forest, The Bagley Cafe, 3354 Bagley.

Hey, we won! Michigan was selected in July over six other Mid-Western states as the regional site for a low-level radioactive waste dump. It may be only “fair” since our state produces a full one-third of the 200,000 cubic feet of the dangerous waste yearly by the seven states. The site would accept radioactive by-products, mostly from nuclear plants, hospitals and research facilities for the next 20 years.

Then, although most of the material would be considered “safe” within 100 years, the site will have to be maintained for 400 years for total safety. The danger to the already threatened Great Lakes is staggering in its lethal potential, but the question must be posed. If you are going to produce it, where are you going to dispose of it?

A location has not yet been selected, but perhaps a spot which would create a perfect triangle with the incinerator and the Fermi II nuclear plant would be appropriate. Say Yes to Michigan? Pack my bags.

It’s disheartening to realize how, consciously and unconsciously, we are totally domesticated beings hopelessly tied to the numbered hours of the day. Most of us can’t function without knowing the time, and many of us have been so carefully conditioned that we can tell the time almost to the minute without looking at a clock (and this does not mean that we’re looking at the sky instead).

It’s bad enough that we have clocks in our heads; for the past couple of years those of us who live in the Cass Corridor/ Wayne State University area have had to deal with yet another insult—the very poorly recorded tolling of the bell every hour on the half hour from the Greater King Solomon Baptist Church at the corner of Forest and Third Avenues. Some of our neighbors, having no critique of time, work or religion, actually think the bells are quaint and only bemoan the poor quality of the tape (the gongs sometimes sound like bells under water, echo discordantly and hurt your ears), but the rest of us are going absolutely insane. It seems there’s no escape from time! An added indignation is the church songs and spirituals the bells ring out in the morning and evening on the weekends, calling all the faithful to church services.

But recently we’ve realized we have an ally, and a very powerful one at that. Who’s that dangerous agent of the devil? What is god spelled backwards? You’ve got it! The new dog next door. The bells hurt his ears more than they hurt ours, and he starts to howl and howl, and his howling gets another dog going, and another and another, and soon the whole neighborhood is howling in protest. We’ve started joining in. All this howling has brought us to our senses and given us creative energy we didn’t know we had. We haven’t figured it out just yet, but somehow we’ll stop those bells!