The arson culture of Detroit


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  1. Posted March 16, 2014 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    After a long time away, I returned to the gym this morning. I’ve always liked going on Sunday mornings, as there’s usually a bad action movie playing on one of the TVs, but today there was nothing terribly interesting to watch, as I sat there peddling my post-hibernation ass off. The only thing, other than the infomercials and the programs about college basketball, was a local news show called Michigan Matters. And, as it seemed to be about the future of Detroit, that’s what I chose.

    And I don’t know if it’s because I’d shocked my system by reintroducing exercise, or if it had to do with my advancing age, but I spent a full two minutes sitting on the exercise bike, watching this show, thinking that the men and women on the panel were extolling the virtues of “arson culture” in the city. One after the other, the members of the panel would mention arson culture, and the jobs that it made possible, only to be met with nods of agreement.

  2. Posted March 16, 2014 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    The woman above, by the way, is horrifically tanned journalist (HTJ) Carol Cain. Her job, apparently, is to crawl from a spray tanning chamber long enough to lob feel-good questions at her guests, setting them to say things like, “Detroit is on the upswing.” Among those on the panel telling us how well things were going was Michigan Economic Development CEO Mike Finney, who’d just returned from a really cool and hip event in Austin, Texas called South by Southwest, where everyone, according to him, was abuzz about Michigan… in a good way.

    In related news, SXSW is officially dead.

  3. anonymous
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    There’s not just the jobs from arson cleanup. There’s also arson tourism, and the sale of accelerants.

  4. Mr. X
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Speaking of arson in Detroit, another of the Heidelberg houses was torched last week. If you would like to make a contribution toward protecting what remains and the creation of new work, you can do so here.

  5. KKT
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I saw it too. My favorite part was when all the panelists showed their Shinola watches.

  6. double anonymous
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Witch tan.

  7. Eel
    Posted March 17, 2014 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    The thought of a Michigan economic development official showing off his Shinola watch and talking about SXSW makes me want to puke. SXSW was bad enough when it was record company DBs. Now it’s worse though. It’s MBA students and economic development people.

  8. Meta
    Posted March 19, 2014 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    From the Motor City Muckraker:

    As the world-famous Heidelberg Project came under siege by an arsonist last year, the nonprofit organization that runs the outdoor art exhibit on Detroit’s east side was spending a vast majority of its shrinking budget on nine employees and a spacious office in Brush Park near downtown.

    Very little of its annual $200,000 budget was dedicated to the art project and its diminishing properties, an analysis of the nonprofit’s tax records shows. Of the 50 parcels in the two-block area, just four belong to the Heidelberg Project after losing homes to foreclosures.

    Now authorities say the project’s artist, Tyree Guyton, and his wife, Executive Director Jenenne Whitfield, aren’t cooperating with arson investigators from the ATF and Detroit Fire Department after six of the eight art-studded houses were destroyed by arson since November.

    “They are saying a lot to the public, but they haven’t been very cooperative,” according to a high-level fire official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. “We need to talk with them.”

    Whitfield denies she and Guyton have stopped cooperating.

    “Of course that is not true,” she wrote in an e-mail. “Why we would we do that?”

    Whitfield, whose annual pay as executive director jumped from $1,000 in 2009 to $61,000 in 2012, declined to answer follow-up questions.

    Read more:

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