Friday, November 27, 2009

A Whole Lifetime of Living

"When I lived in the Detroit area . . . I taught at the University of Detroit and I had a whole lifetime of living in Michigan -- you can get a whole lifetime very quickly living in Detroit, just a few years there adds up to a long time." -- Joyce Carol Oates, 1996.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Photographer Gregory Holm, a native of Hamtramck, Michigan, and Architect Matthew Radune want to make a statement regarding Detroit’s high foreclosure rate with an art installation called The Ice House Detroit -- that is, if they can raise $11,000. It certainly isn’t going to have as lasting of an impression as Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project. Perhaps sometime in the near future the economy will improve and people will find work. If not, we can always count on spring to melt away our hopes of a recovery. By then the Ice House will be a figment of our imagination as we enjoy a reprieve from the cold.

Monday, October 5, 2009


It's no longer called The Driftwood Review, however it has returned! Driftwood is accepting flash fiction stories of exactly 100 words from Michigan writers. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Prepare yourself! Mark your calendar! The Moth is coming to Cliff Bell’s, 2030 Park Avenue, Detroit, on October 1st. They will be hosting five-minute story slams, some of which will air on WDET 101.9 FM. Click HERE to learn how to participate.

Upcoming themes at Cliff Bell’s are:

October 1st: Firsts
November 5th: Blunders
December 3rd: Cars

There's a $5 cover charge. Story slams start at 7:30 p.m.

Watch the above YouTube video of Adam Wade, a previous Moth Grandslam Champion, to get an idea of what it’s all about.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


With Fall fast approaching—the changing of the weather and color of leaves—comes the arrival of NFL football and, sadly enough, the Detroit Lions. After last season’s .000 winning percentage (excluding the preseason), I’m not sure Detroiters are willing to call the Lions’ mediocre play a form of entertainment and/or escapism, even with Michigan’s nation-leading unemployment rate.

At the beginning of last year’s professional football season, a neighbor proudly displayed the Detroit Lions’ NFL flag at the top of his flagpole. Around midseason it flew at half-mast. Then after a few more losses, it flew at half-mast and upside down - the emblem of a Lion waving in the wind, flat on its back, paws in the air.

I’m not sure what’s in store for this season. I don’t really care about the win-loss record. I’m more interested in what my neighbor will do with his flag. Will he proudly fly it like past opening football seasons, or will he start what may become a new tradition?

If you’re a Detroit Lions' football fan I recommend you read Todd Hasak-Lowy’s short story "Silver and Blue" from Five Chapters. Click HERE for the link. I first discovered his story in "Best of the Web 2009" published by Dzanc Books in Westland, Michigan. Hasak-Lowy knows all too well what it means to be a loyal fan of the Detroit Lions. Get ready for heartbreak; get ready to cancel your DirecTV.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


With all the hoopla regarding healthcare, with all the hoopla giving tax credits to movies shot in Michigan, you would think "Ocean of Pearls" would be a box-office success; let me make myself clear: it’s definitely worth seeing and it deserves every penny it gets. Unfortunately, I counted nine folks in the audience (eleven if you counted my brother and me). Granted it was Sunday morning, a holiday for people of Indian descent, but I’m willing to bet most people reading this post have never heard of it. Until now.

How did I discover “Ocean of Pearls”? Trailer on television? YouTube? Newspaper article? Nope, nope, nope.

A coworker, someone I carpool with, someone with the same urologist as I, mentioned the movie on the ride to work. Without getting into his health issues, let me just say my passenger-friend sought out a doctor for a second opinion, and if he hadn’t, I’d probably be driving to work alone. Thanks to Dr. Neelam, my friend is still with us.

Dr. Neelam is also the movie director of “Ocean of Pearls,” most of which was shot in the Metro-Detroit area thanks to his access to hospitals and medical centers. There are also some familiar City of Detroit scenes as well. (Incidentally, he did not receive a tax break due to filming in 2006).

I’m in total shock that a main distributor has not picked up this film. Although the storyline is about a young doctor who questions his Sikh faith while moving from Toronto to Detroit, it’s also about the discovery of a seriously flawed United States’ healthcare system.

If you have the opportunity to see this film, please do. You will not be disappointed. In fact, if Dr. Neelam directs another full-length feature film, I’ll be first in line to buy a ticket.

Posted by JR

Sunday, August 9, 2009


If you pass through this page, and we know you do because there is an embed counter to monitor traffic, nothing serious. it is a numbers only collector and not a tracking widget, I would like you to take an extra few minutes for me and answer a question or nine.

It doesn’t matter if you comment anonymously or with your call back logo because I am only interested in the answers provided.

  1. Are you native born to the Detroit area, a transplant, or currently living somewhere else?

  1. Did you leave Detroit and Michigan and would you move back?

  1. What conditions made you leave and what conditions would have to happen before you would move back?

  1. What is your impression of Detroit, when the word comes up what does your gut tell you?

  1. Compared to where you grew up/live does Detroit compare favorably or unfavorably and briefly why?

  1. Have you ever visited Detroit as a tourist destination? What did you come to see? Did it meet your expectations?

  1. Did you encounter any violence while here either as a resident or a visitor?

  1. What is your impression of the people you met or know in Detroit?

  1. What would it take for Detroit to lose its reputation as a hardcore city?

OK that’s about it. I’d like to thank you for taking the time to answer and thank you for stopping by. I am working on a few pieces of writing and I am trying a new tact in formulating them. I want the images your answers presented to me to filter through my brain and see what comes out the end of my finger tips.

Be Well and Be Kind

Mark C Durfee


The Walking Man

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Detroit from the Other Side

Detroit's downtown looks so beautiful from Windsor, from the Detroit River, skyscrapers and all. This is a still from the opening sequence of HBO's Hung. Can't see the desolation from afar. But up close, that's another matter . . .

Saturday, July 25, 2009

In Detroit, 1942

Race relations. Often strained in Detroit and everywhere else. This photograph is courtesy of the Library of Congress, and has to do with housing wartime black workers. Nice.

Have we made progress since 1942? Yes, but it's been tough going. Is race more culture or skin color? The human race is one, so what's up? What about someone with "mixed blood," like Salma Valgarma Hayek Jiménez (Salma Hayek)? She may pave the way for the future, when we can all get along.

-- PM.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Detroit During Wartime

Detroit has had its share of troubles, especially during wartime. 1812. 1943. 1967. 2009.

1942 was a time of severe housing shortages for emigrant workers in Detroit, especially for African Americans. Here's a photo (courtesy of the Library of Congress) of soldiers with fixed bayonets patrolling the perimeter of the Sojourner Truth Housing Project. Not hard to believe -- not at all.

For more:

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Eine kleine nachtmusik

Cosi fan tutti

The symphony bridge

Between the Uzi and the Mac 9

The crescendo of the bass AK

With the overlay of the

Semi automatic Glock

filling in the string tempo

the symphony is

a lovely thing

just a little Detroit

night music

to lull you to sleep.




Sunday, July 12, 2009

It All Starts In Detroit

"What's your tool?" the motivational speaker in HBO's new show, Hung, asks a group of disenfranchised Detroiters searching for ways to make money. One older man says offers advice, maybe he could charge for it. Another woman who has lost her Poet in the Schools job says she wants to make bread with poems in it -- lyric loaves. Our protagonist, a washed out baseball player and teacher at the high school he attended, thinks about it and realizes the only thing he has that is exceptional is his big, umm, appendage. I have a friend who calls motivational tapes/seminars/etc. sunshine enemas. I have to laugh because his characterization is correct. He and my sister listen to The Secret audio cds for laughs. The voice and accompanying massage spa music is perfect grounding for such bon mots as "Avert your eyes when you see an obese person. Do not look at that you do not wish to become." Jeez, and I thought it was all those twinkies I was stuffing in my mouth. My mistake.

At any rate, Hung's pilot is funny. The poet finds lyric loaves not to be the money-making endeavor she'd hoped so she agrees to pimp out our protagonist whose first attempt at selling himself is an ad in the Detroit Examiner (a stand-in for the Metro Times)that offers women endless enjoyment with "Big Donnie." He could use a wordsmith and she could use the money. There's an ex-wife, twin children, and a new husband who makes a lot of money, a fire. It seems like the kind of show about lowered expectations and sadness that I enjoy. I've always liked the line we're all in the gutter/ looking at the stars (Oscar Wilde/Chrissie Hynde -- take your pick of source), but I often find myself in the gutter, looking closely at the gutter. There's a lot to be said at being where you are, not where you wish to be. After all, the stars are reflected everywhere, even in the most unlikely places.

-- mmb

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Surreal Detroit

No, Virginia, this isn't Augusta, Georgia. It's Detroit, Michigan.

After the events of 1967 and after decades of Devil's Night fires, there are now many rural pockets like this in Detroit. All one need do to find them is to go out and explore, taking snapshots like Alberto Korda.

Saturday, June 20, 2009



Motor city madness has touched the countryside
And through the smoke and cinders
You can hear it far and wide
The doors are quickly bolted
And the children locked inside

Black day in July
Black day in July
And the soul of Motor City is bared across the land
As the book of law and order is taken in the hands
Of the sons of the fathers who were carried to this land

Black day in July
Black day in July
In the streets of Motor City is a deadly silent sound
And the body of a dead youth lies stretched upon the ground
Upon the filthy pavement
No reason can be found

Black day in July
Black day in July
Motor City madness has touched the countryside
And the people rise in anger
And the streets begin to fill
And there's gunfire from the rooftops
And the blood begins to spill

Black day in July

In the mansion of the governor
There's nothing that is known for sure
The telephone is ringing
And the pendulum is swinging
And they wonder how it happened
And they really know the reason
And it wasn't just the temperature
And it wasn't just the season

Black day in July
Black day in July
Motor City's burning and the flames are running wild
They reflect upon the waters of the river and the lake
And everyone is listening
And everyone's awake

Black day in July
Black day in July
The printing press is turning
And the news is quickly flashed
And you read your morning paper
And you sip your cup of tea
And you wonder just in passing
Is it him or is it me

Black day in July

In the office of the President
The deed is done the troops are sent
There's really not much choice you see
It looks to us like anarchy
And then the tanks go rolling in
To patch things up as best they can
There is no time to hesitate
The speech is made the dues can wait

Black day in July
Black day in July
The streets of Motor City now are quiet and serene
But the shapes of gutted buildings
Strike terror to the heart
And you say how did it happen
And you say how did it start
Why can't we all be brothers
Why can't we live in peace
But the hands of the have-nots
Keep falling out of reach

Black day in July
Black day in July
Motor city madness has touched the countryside
And through the smoke and cinders
You can hear it far and wide
The doors are quickly bolted
And the children locked inside

(C) Music and Lyric by Gordon Lightfoot 1968
Banned from American top 40 radio stations
that same year...except in Detroit.

4/13/68 with Mr. Lightfoot

The Detroit Revolt against the police brutality
predominantly practiced in the overcrowded Black community
started less than five miles from where my family lived.
I remember the clouds of smoke rising, the echo of gunfire,
and having a half track full of national guard troops
level their rifles at us kids as we sat on our porch
after the curfew hours and ordered us back into our house.
The City of Detroit was on lock down.

6-20-09 The Walking Man

Sunday, June 14, 2009

New Used Book Store

There has been an new used bookstore opened up in Eastpointe MI.

On May 9 the Motor City Book Drive opened. Every book is a buck.

Every inch of the space not used for the too narrow aisle ways is filled with shelves of books in every genre.

Apparently it is tied to a charity which supports literacy and environmental activism.

Give them a look because I know you all are always going to used bookstores anyways.

18135 E 9 Mile


It is located on the North side of the street across from the CVS drug store. The door in is tucked in the back of the building away from the street but the sign sits thirty feet up on the corner.

They are only open on week ends

Saturday 9am-3pm

Sunday 1pm-5pm

Saturday, June 13, 2009

No More Homeruns Over the Centerfield Stands

All Things About The Corner

This is a 1931 picture of Navin Field before it became Tiger Stadium. At one point seating was added to center field and the distance over the wall was over 500 feet. There were not many power hitters who could clear it but the record according to some belongs to none other than Babe Ruth who hit one 626 feet in 1926.

Every place has a history for sure. But I don't know of anyplace that so easily disregards the symbols of that history as Detroit does. We are desperately trying to remake an identity, yet I don't know how that will ever be done as long as we throw our past away so readily.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

June 11 1805

Ash from baker John Harvey's pipe ignites a blaze that destroys the entire 3-acre city of Detroit, including the second Ste. Anne's church. I am thinking though this happened in June that maybe this was the precedent setting incident for Detroit’s Devil’s Night a hundred and seventy five years later.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


The logo competition deadline is work, work faster, no faster than that...but wait not that fast, neatness does count for 20% of the grade...just kidding this entry won't help your GPA at all. which is the way we prefer it, no grades given.The only way to fail is to fail to submit.
I think that maybe just because it is the right thing to do we should tell you how to submit. so here is how you can submit...

There is of course the snail mail way:
Motor City Burning Press
23210 Greater Mack # 105
St. Clair Shores MI 48080

If you want your art worked returned include a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope of appropriate size and postage, or we will either shred it or file it for possible future use. So be sure to include contact information in a cover letter we can lovingly attach to the art work.

If you want to submit by electronic means do not send it as an attachment to an e-mail but send it in the body of an e-mail with LOGO COMPETITION in the subject line. In the body of the e-mail also include contact information. We will without remorse delete any attachments, because we are just over flu season and are not in need of any more viral infections. Alcohol no matter how prodigiously it is used is no good to combat a virus.

the e-mail address is:
The submission guidelines may change for regular submissions but for the LOGO COMPETITION these are it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

MCBP Logo Contest!

The official flag of Detroit pictured above includes two mottos: Speramus Meliora (We hope for better* things) and Resurget Cineribus (It will rise from the ashes.**)

Now it's time to create a logo for Motor City Burning Press. While staff members can come up with their own designs, we'd also like to make this a contest for anyone else interested in participating.

What to do: Create a logo that fits our Detroit-themed premise and name. Email digital image to by 7:30 p.m. Detroit time, June 21, 2009.

If we pick your logo and you give us the rights to adopt it, we will send you $50 (or its equivalent in non-US funds for international contestants). We will make our decision between June 21 and July 4, 2009 and post the results on this blog.

Staff members are encouraged to design a logo, but are ineligible for winning the $50 prize.

*Or "sweeter things," like honey. **Or "resurrecting from the ashes," or embers.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Court, Spark & Fire


During these perilous times a group of people are going to put what little collective sanity they have left on the line and do something for Detroit. As a written and spoken word artist I can barely think more highly of these folks although I do question whether maybe as Joni Mitchell said they ". . . got into the vodka one night.”

There is no literary journal in Detroit specifically geared to the art of and about Detroit. While we have many writers here among us, a few fine examples can be found in my blog roll, most every one who wants to put their work up for publication has to send it somewhere else or submit it through the ether of copper cables and broadband servers to somewhere else.

Soon though there is going to be a new place for Detroit centric writing. While it will be an internet journal there will be a limited print run as well.

The editorial staff has written word in its blood, they have tendons and sinews of photography and graphic design ergo the new journal will of course be on the hunt for photography and graphics that tell the world about Detroit. I don’t think it is a necessary function for you to live here in order to have an opinion or idea about what Detroit is. The editorial staff will be looking for your thoughts about what you THINK Detroit is, how your image of Detroit makes you feel and whether it is based on experiential knowledge or hearsay.

Detroit is many things to many people, to those of us who live here it is one thing, them who left another, and to them who have come here from somewhere else and stayed, it is now home. We want to know what it is to you.

So Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the birth of an idea who's time has arrived the:

Motor City Burning Press
23210 Greater Mack # 105
St. Clair Shores MI 48080

It is expected that all of the ironing and folding will be done by the beginning of the fourth quarter of the year and this new shirt will be ready to wear by October. I suggest that you who have the propensity for contests and seeing your name in the winners circle start heating up your own iron and begin to stroke your material. Soon the call is going to go out for submissions. Wouldn’t it be a fine thing to be the first writer published in the first edition of a new venture in publishing?