Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit: Take I

Just finished Michael Zadoorian's The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit: Stories (Wayne State University Press, 2009). I thoroughly enjoyed its deft cosmopolitan take on Detroit and its environs. This 200-page book is composed of three parts in three settings: West Side, East Side, Downtown. It's funny, because earlier today I met a guy from Detroit here in Fort Worth, Texas; when he was elaborating a little, he telescoped his former location a little to "West Side." Then "Six Mile." And so on.  

I really like Zadoorian's sense of culture and history. There's a clear recognition that Detroit, as with all settled places that have been around a while, is like a palimpsest -- traces of the past co-exist with things to come, things already coming into view, even as some of the old is obliterated or on the verge. Everything is provisional, contingent, transitory. Still, treasures of the past do remain for those seeking them out. There are characters of all ages, but Zadoorian shows a particular respect and empathy for people who've been around long enough to have lived through perceptible changes, long enough to remember other ways of seeing. I dig it! 

Today's Rune: Possessions.  

1 comment:

the walking man said...

I think the last Tiki place in Detroit was on Cass south of WSU. My father for some reason or other used to love those places, he drank vodka straight so it wasn't the umbrella's in the drinks.

I think most of the problems in Detroit are with the institutional memory. For forty years now the successive administrations have been killing the memory of 300 years of history as if Detroit began in '72.

40 years of history is not a long time at all but by denying the past of this place they also lost the good portions and desires built from a looooooooooong memory.

If life began for Detroit in '72 then it began in shit and decay left over from '67. It really is no wonder why we are not the usual rust belt city rising at all.