January 2011: I am preparing for my first real visit to Detroit, the city of my birth. I am a Californian, where I have been since age one when my parents packed me into a car to seek fame and fortune in LA. It is strange to be defined by something unknown but when asked if I am a "native" Californian, I answer, "No, I was born in Detroit." It seems time to investigate what that means. So I have come "home" on my birthday to photograph Detroit.

This blog is part of an accompanying journal about the project.

Monday, February 21, 2011

In Between

In between.... Between the planned exploration visits. Between the conversations. Between the projects.

Noting. Reading. Researching. Facebook postings. Blogs. Newspapers. Videos.

Trying not to be overwhelmed by this city and all that's being written and discussed about it. Knowing that what I need now is to ingest, view, listen. I'll be photographing and talking again in Detroit soon.

But for now, I am in between.

During this time, it may be that the blog itself reflects this period. Passive yet active. Taking it in. Reflection is good.

Thus, in such a time, this blog may be just noting something about Detroit.

One of my favorite from the NBC Local4/Flashpoint.

The status of filming incentives (hey- I'm from LA and this is of interest both from Detroit and LA where I live)

And, the following commentary from Mike Binder, a native Detroit/LA_based film person (in many roles)

From the NYTimes today about the possibility of the first satellite Patent Office opening in Detroit.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Detroit from afar

I have no claim on the ability to speak to or for Detroit. A photographer with a tenuous link at most to my birth city, who hasn't lived there and until I return more frequently, am in truth like a "photo-tourist."

That said, in my briefest of visits, I found a vibrant city. A surprise to me, yes, for I too had heard only the most negative about Detroit and one, yes, that an urban-archaeologist might have to dig a little to find amid the very real mountain of abandoned and rotted buildings. But underneath and often not far from the surface, there is a vital Detroit filled already with multi-generational residents as well as newcomers with hope and, most importantly, ideas for the future.

An article in this week's Washington Post - "With Detroit in dire straits, mayor invites big thinking" - is informational, not just for its text but for the long list of often haranguing comments. Few are about what to do. Most are about political, economic and racial divide, not atypical of most feedback for anything these days. I wonder when we, as Americans, can live up to our promise and take positive action and not fall back on excuse or incrimination. History is important but it is most vital when considered in terms of effective progress. Those few individuals I have already met in Detroit, from a variety of economic, cultural, political and racial perspectives, for the most part were going forward.

Photo above: View up Woodward from the Penobscot.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Beginning to Feel a Native Pride

Still going through the photographs I took in Detroit just a couple of weeks ago. Seems so long ago but for a first visit, it seems as if I was just there.

This is a new project and as such competes for now with a schedule that includes my long-term project, FINDING CHINATOWN, photographing in the Chinatowns of the US & Canada, with deadlines for an exhibition looming.

It is a tribute to the complexity and lure of Detroit that, although mentioned in the News Hub blog that I was there to photograph the Chinatowns as well as exploring my own family landmarks, in my first four+ days I never made it to Windsor to photograph their Chinatown and, most significantly I never finished my own personal landmark list for wherever I ventured, there was another story to pursue. The journey is truly just
beginning and I cannot wait to return in the Spring (yes I could return before but hey, I may be native Detroit but in truth I am a Southern Californian and it IS cold there right now).

In the interim, I perked up in the middle of the Super Bowl as I watched the Chrysler commercial and Eminem and that incredible choir to see scenes that are now familiar to me, filled with a pride for a native city that I had not known. There is so much to see.