Night Bicycle Ride in Detroit
I took a bike ride around downtown last night. That means I stuck close to the people mover— the concrete pall that hangs over our heads.
On my way toward Comerica Park I watched two cars next to each other at a stop sign. I waited my turn, but they didn’t move. I realized then that the driver of one car was hanging out the window shouting, “You think you’re so tough, huh? You think you’re so tough, huh! You think you’re so tough, huh!?” There was no response from the other car.
I rode past expecting to hear a pop-pop, but silence fell behind me and I made my way through a tunnel of johnny-on-the-spots and fried-food vendors that were being set-up for the Detroit Ho-Down. I pedaled and thought of all the shit that would transpire on those streets.
I turned down Broadway and was hit with Jazz. The crazed saxophone player making sweet love to reed and brass. Bending the instrument. Shaking the notes out of it. Squeezing it like a grape, pouring rich wine on the curb. The drummer played with his head down. The guitarist scratched at his strings and smoothness abounded. The bassist sat on his amp and grooved deep and true. I watched, grinning, with two other couples holding leftovers.
We all clapped, whistled and hollered, and the band went inside to drink their success. One man said it was a pause for the cause.
I continued on and some high school kids learning to drive laughed at me on my bike as young people, new to cars, are known to do. We slowed to a red light and I looked into them. I rode on, the unwritten freedom of having full control of the machine, and they sat at the light. The only car in the motor city. They sat for the full two minutes.
I rode up the front steps of the Renaissance Center to see where I heard a man had crashed his car. I didn’t believe it, but he really put it in the center of the main entrance. Not an easy task. There were men working to seal the hole.
I turned up Woodward and stopped at a fountain and a green lawn. Campus Martius, the center of downtown— or it was before it was moved for industry. There was a party, and a man and a woman kissing. I was digging it all. The water and the lights and the people. It reminded me of Washington Square in New York. A bum asked me for change, and I almost ran him over later and felt terrible.
I rode home in the freshness of Detroit. I felt enormous and powerful in the shade of the earth and buildings. I rode fast and earnestly; I was happy to be alive and in a city that is determined to rise from the ashes into something better. I rode past the blue toilettes and the toiling people, past their chain-linked fences. They paused confused by my presence.
I stopped again, and the cars were gone. I assumed their differences were never resolved. I guessed the other driver never thought he was so tough.
_ Kevin Kaminski 2012