Thursday, October 30, 2008

Devil's Night

     Well Company, it is October 30th, which means that it is Devil's Night. Traditionally, what people do on Devil's Night is they go out and cause all sorts of mischief and destruction. "But wait Big Dave", I can hear you saying, "aren't you supposed to be doing that business on Halloween night?" Yeah, that's what I thought. But that was before I lived in Michigan.
     Here is the deal with Devil's Night. Down in Detroit particularly, on the night before Halloween, people run around, break windows and cause destruction. Back in the day, this wasn't exactly the case. It used to be that the younger sect would go around and do all the traditional Halloween stuff, like egging houses and smashing pumpkins and other acts of basically harmless vandalism. For instance, if you had gone to Detroit on a Devil's Night during the mid-90s there was a pretty good chance that you would have actually seen The Smashing Pumpkins smashing pumpkins. But all that good old fashioned 1950s crew-cut public service announcement film petty vandalism went out the window in the early 1970s.
     Sometime during the early 70s someone got the bright idea to start fires. Apparently spraying shaving cream on everything wasn't enough, now every October 30th they have to try to flip my DykeWagon and set it on fire. People were actually burning down their homes and businesses, blaming it on the Devil's Night crowd, and then using the insurance settlement money to move out to the suburbs. Which I don't understand, because I've been to the Detroit suburbs, which are generally bland and soulless, and they actually make me want to commit arson more than the actual city does. But anyway, by the late 1980s 500-800 fires were raging in Detroit every year at the end of October. Fantastic.
     And that works fine. Because Detroit is a shithole. Except for a few blocks right downtown where the high rises and the People Mover are, and maybe the zoo out on 8 Mile. Not the neighborhood around the zoo, I mean within the fences of the zoo. Let's be serious. The rest of Detroit (Or, "The D" as they've taken to calling themselves. Actually, their new tourism slogan is "Experience the D." Miss Cara didn't get why I thought that was absolutely hilarious.) pretty much sucks balls. Like, lock your doors and think twice about stopping at red lights kind of ball sucking.
     Not that I want to harp on Detroit, or cut down southeast Michigan in general. I have met and known many, many wonderful people from Detroit metro. I have had many good times in Detroit Metro. But here is the deal. My town, for the most part, remains pretty nice. I mean, there are a couple of houses here and there that might be a bit dilapidated, and the alley and courtyard behind my apartment are apparently crime-ridden cesspools where bikes go to disappear and cars go to get the shit beat out of them (I am not bitter or anything) but all in all it's a nice little Midwestern American town. So I don't want anyone reading this to go burning down my town, that's all. In fact, unless you live in Detroit I wouldn't recommend burning anything down whatsoever. Unless you are a forest ranger or firefighter doing a controlled burn or something. Or if you operate an incinerator or something.
     But I definitely wouldn't recommend burning anything down for Devil's Night. I would do that if I lived in Detroit either, because now they have legions of roving concerned citizens called Angel's Night who take to the streets on Devil's Night and keep the city from going all 1871 Chicago. They even have a poster contest that you can enter if you want. And in my town there is me. If I catch you out smashing pumpkins or fishing lining my car, that's fine. I might even help you throw a roll or two of toilet paper. But let's keep it relatively harmless. I live in a town where graffiti is polite, grammatically correct, and features pictures of ducks and bathroom fixtures. We aren't ready for a Detroit-style Devil's Night. Keep that stuff down at Gratiot and 4 Mile. That's where they expect it. I saw that on the Internet, so it must be true.

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