In an excellent essay published this past Wednesday in the Detroit News, Charlie LeDuff paints a a bleak picture of urban life, one in which human beings play ice hockey in the presence of a frozen corpse and one out of every fifty people in an industrial hub of a wealthy nation lives on the streets or, when lucky enough to find a chair, in one of the city's overcrowded and dehumanizing shelters. A taste:
Convinced that [a pair of legs sticking out of a frozen pool of water in a warehouse] was indeed a body, this reporter made a discreet call to a police officer.
"Aw, just give 911 a call," the cop said. "We'll be called eventually."
A call was placed to 911. A woman answered. She was told it was a reporter calling. The operator tried to follow, but seemed confused. "Where is this building?"
She promised to contact the appropriate authorities.
Twenty minutes or so went by when 911 called the newsroom. This time it was a man.
"Where's this building?"
It was explained to him, as was the elevator shaft and the tomb of ice.
"Bring a jack-hammer," this reporter suggested.
"That's what we do," he said.
Nearly 24 hours went by. The elevator shaft was still a gaping wound. There was no crime scene tape. The homeless continued to burn their fires. City schoolchildren still do not have the necessary books to learn. The train station continues to crumble. Too many homicides still go unsolved.
After another two calls to 911 on Wednesday afternoon (one of which was disconnected), the Detroit Fire Department called and agreed to meet nearby.