lights out, uh huh

Youve probably already heard about it on the news, but Linette and I lost our electricity the other day.

I was in Hamtramck when it happened, at my friend Steves house. We were getting ready to go to the Iggy and the Stooges reunion show. Since there was some road construction going on up the street from Steves place, we just assumed that the power outage didnt extend much further than his block maybe his neighborhood.

Steve and I thought that the pizza we ordered from the shop a few blocks away was probably still baking away, oblivious to what was going on here at the Hughes household. After a few minutes, we headed out to pick it up. It was at that point that the reality of the situation began to sink in. People were all out on their front stoops, talking about terrorism. I dont know if I thought it, or if someone said it, but my mind turned to nuclear power plants being hit by airliners. I scanned the horizon for plumes of smoke.

We kept walking toward the pizza shop, passing people gathered around parked cars, listening to the news on their radios. Someone looked up at us and said, No power in New York. Another person said, They got Chicago too. It was around this point that people started walking a little faster toward the stores on the main thoroughfare. We passed a few people jogging back to their homes with cases of water on their shoulders.

Staying focused, we kept heading toward the pizza, hoping that it might have just barely made it out of the oven before the shit hit the fan. Unfortunately, it hadnt. They did, however, have a few slices for sale. They were still warm. We bought all that they had and then went out looking for water. (The water was also out in Hamtramck.) We headed over to the discount store where we found them selling cases of bottled water for $20 each. The man behind the counter said to us that it was their regular price. Steve and I left to look for something somewhere else. Outside the store, an old eastern European woman was muttering about the price-gouging, fucking Arabs that owned the place. I got an uneasy feeling, and we took off.

(Hamtramck has a very diverse population. Historically, it was a Polish enclave in Detroit. Over time, some of the Poles have left. Ukrainians, Bosnians, Indians, and assorted Middle Eastern populations took advantage of the relatively inexpensive homes and moved in. Its now a very cool, vibrant neighborhood, with lots of good food.)

We found a bottle of juice and started making our way back to Steves. On the way, friends of his kept stopping him to discuss the situation. We talked about with one person about his pregnant wife and what their evacuation plans were. We spoke with another about opening up a sewer line and putting a large cardboard box over it, so that people would have a place to poop. We spoke with another about how to open up a hot water heater, drain out the sludge, and siphon out potable water. It was odd and surreal. Beneath the layer of fear that floated along on top, there was a really cool undercurrent of community activism. People were looking out for older neighbors, sharing information, telling each other which stores were still open, and which ones still had water. As I just mentioned, people were also making plans for public health and sanitation. I thought that was really neat. They werent waiting for the city to do something, they were taking control of the situation themselves. I found that really encouraging.

When we made it back to Steves, someone told us that the Iggy Pop show had been postponed until the 25th. They also said that Iggy was pissed off. Im not sure where that piece of information came from, but it started to concern me. I began hoping that, if he really was pissed off, he wouldnt take it out on the band. I was picturing them all sitting around some hotel bar, drinking and fighting with one another Please, dear god, dont let them break up before the 25th. Thats what I was foremost on my mind, not the possibility that Id have to shit directly into an open sewer pipe.

So, we ate the pizza and sat there on Steve and Annes porch, drinking beer, chatting and getting more and more thirsty for water. After waiting about three hours, I decided to get into the car and make my way home As some counties had begun to issue state of emergency warnings, asking people to stay in their homes, I thought that Id better get a move on before I was trapped there for the weekend. (I love the Hughes family dearly, but the thought did cross my mind that I would be the first one eaten if things really did get really bad.)

Fortunately, the highways were fairly clear and I had enough gas to get back to Ypsi.

Ill pick up the story from there later.

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