Posts tagged southwest detroit
Standing In The Shadows of Love

Zoë Villegas shares reflections on finding a place in the ceremony, economy, and celebration of Valentine’s Day growing up in Detroit. Erik Paul Howard illustrates her musings with photographs from the places and rituals her reflections are rooted in.


Words by Zoë Villegas
Photos by Erik Paul Howard

A Valentine’s Day window display lights up the street at Delia’s Fashion on W Vernor Hwy and Springwells in Southwest Detroit.

Remember how it was... here in the Motor City where backseats were made. With women hauling buckets of plastic wrapped single roses, doing cash exchanges in a series of hand motions in under 15 seconds—across from the Grand Marquis with the blinking light guarding Armando's.

On the intersection at I-75 and Springwells where the smog sunset brought to you by Marathon refinery will offer an air of romance later, two men compete selling pink carnations and red roses on the eastern and western corners. Specials on Hypnotiq, Rosé and small teddy bears that say "I luv you" next to condoms and aphrodisiacs by cash registers at the liquor store, remind us what month it is.

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Casino lights flash red and pink. The insurance building with a glowing heart illuminates Fisher Freeway. All month in lobbies of welfare offices we have women selling perfume from brief cases, negotiating prices and discussing plans for reservations, showing manicures and pitching last minute sales on makeup sessions. All red outfits we plan to wear later are fodder for conversation when we get our bureaucratic mess dealt with for the day. One more document to turn in. Denied a bridge card once again. Apply again tomorrow. 

The ho store has been window-dressed with red tinsel and cutouts of bows and arrows displaying a sale on lingerie and all the variations of fabric that mimic lace, sequin, chiffon, satin and silk in the entire spectrum of erotic alternative fibers.

This economy was trained young—we were once freshman girls delivered singing Valentines and boxes of chocolates... for $1 anyone can say all the things they could never say. Radio dedications evoke memories of Ford-Wyoming drive-in make out sessions allowing songs long out of rotation to be made an exception for the sake of a collective memory.

Detroit carves a space for a moment to live—in between the stress and mundane of every day life, while we fantasize about leisure. If even in those two seconds at a light can be used for maximum potential filled in with the sentiment of romance buying a flower that is how it's done.

We take a holiday seriously. The message is about claiming our time, our right to love amidst the harsh reality of endless work to make ends meet.

Detroit says I love you the same way we do everything else, with hustling. Happy Valentine's Day to all the hustlers standing in the shadows of love.

For those about to ho, we salute you.

Last Days at Home with The Family

Local artist Freddy Diaz is spending his last few days at the home where he grew up before moving.

Here Freddy is shown sifting through belongings where he grew up during his last days at home with the family before moving into his own place.

I never really paid attention to it as a kid but as I got older I think my grandmother and aunts being creative gave me some sort of confirmation... someone having a similar energy to mine. Sewing was their way of channeling theirs and graffiti was mine.
— Freddy Diaz

His grandmother is visiting his family from Mexico. It’s always a special time together when she is able to make the trip, often staying with them for an extended period of time at the house.

He sees himself in her craft and creativity. "I never really paid attention to it as a kid but as I got older I think my grandmother and aunts being creative gave me some sort of confirmation... someone having a similar energy to mine. Sewing was their way of channeling theirs and graffiti was mine."

With his grandmother visiting from Mexico, he and his mother enjoy all the time together visiting. "Man I love my mom's cooking. I'm going to miss that. Actually I'm not because I'm not far." 

First Latin American Baptist in Southwest Detroit

First Latin American Baptist church in Southwest Detroit hosted its final service on the corner of Fort St and Dragoon this week as demolition crews razed nearby structures across the street.

The church building was constructed in the early 1900’s and has been home to the congregation for the past 50 years. It was purchased by MDOT—along with hundreds of other parcels along W Fort St and throughout the Delray neighborhood in Southwest Detroit—to be demolished to clear land for the new Gordie Howe International Bridge to Canada.

The parish has a long, celebrated history in the neighborhood as it has served the Latino community in Detroit since its inception almost 90 years ago.

Elizabeth Valdez, a member of the congregation since XXXX, says she will miss the old building but that it will not dampen the spirit of the church.

Pastor Kevin Casillas and the First Latin American Baptist church of Southwest Detroit will be moving into their new home on Scotten between Vernor Hwy and Toledo after one final celebration at their current site next week for their annual children’s Christmas Party.