K - -~
A local boy
moves to the City
and makes good.
Continued from Page 9
hands up in the air. He take off for the other end of the platform, and
this New Yorker-this New Yorker-follows him, still shouting.
A week later, she is on the platform again, and she does the same
to another man.
* * *
A First Avenue bar. Packed with young execs and stewardesses, a
few secretaries in from Queens. One particular girl has been there
for three hours, sitting alone at the bar, talking with the bartender,
who is a swinger wearing art director glasses and a silk scarf around
his neck. Abruptly, she turns to a fellow sitting next to her who, with
a friend, is trying to hustle another girl. She turns to him, and she says,
"Let's go home." "What? Do I know you?" "No," she answers. He
smiles uneasily, goes back to his previous diversion, and she bites her
lip and orders another drink.
* * *
A meeting at a church on the West Side. It is a group called the
New York Project, a collection of radicals with jobs in the media pro-
fessions. Fred Hampton was murdered in Chicago the day before; one
guy, a young editor at McGraw-Hill says, "I wanna kill a cop. I do.
I really wanna kill a cop." The room is filled with "Right on!" and
applause. The next evening, the young editor from McGraw-Hill is back
at a party to honor publication of a famous writer's book, justifying the
radical bombings of the previous month, scotch and water in hand.
A Monday night, very late. The subway is virtually empty; there
are three people on this particular car. One of them is a black man,
drunk, passed out and sprawled half on his seat, half on the floor.
Another black man enters from the car ahead, and walks up to the drunk.
He attempts to rouse him. Failing, he then explores the drunk's coat
pockets, takes a pack of cigarettes and a couple of subway tokens, and
moves on to the next car.
Arriving in New York almost a year ago with a job already planned,
I move into the YMCA. I have an offer to stay at the apartment of an
Ann Arbor friend who has lived in New York for a year, but there seems
a certain classical American truth in staying at the Y. The next day-
two days after completing my last undergraduate task, a Spanish final-
I begin work. Career. I am the only person in my office, including secre-
taries and accountants, who went to a public university. 1 am one of two
who did not grow up in either Boston or New York.
It does not take too long to acculturate. Soon, I learn that the
Broadway theater stinks, that the people who shell out 12 bucks for a
seat at the Metropolitan Opera don't know Verdi from Gilbert & Sullivan.
I am in a bookstore on East Eighth Street, and a girl, approximately 15,
asks me where St. Mark's Place is. She is less than two blocks away. She
will get there, she will sit on a stoop for two hours insulting tourists and
panhandling anyone with a coat and tie, and then return to the suburban
womb in New Jersey.
New York. I am one of its children, I tell myself. Sure, I have forced
it to adopt me. People told me, beforeI came, that to tolerate it, I would
have to tell myself to love it; so, I told myself to love it, though I had spent
perhaps 15 days here in my entire life. And, quickly, I did love it. I no
more belonged to the midwest than I did to Yucatan.
New York. At my office, I am quickly laden with expense account,'
with invitations to publication parties, with an in at ................
(fill in whatever you wish) who can get me good tickets to ............
For the first six weeks, even the soot I breathe-they say inhaling it is
equivalent to two packs of cigarettes daily-is divine. Cramped on to
the subway on the way to work, I carry a briefcase in one hand, the
Times in the other, neatly folded lengthwise in half. After another six
weeks, I am finally able to turn the pages without putting down the
briefcase. Then, after another month, I am able to finish the crossword
puzzle before the train gets to Grand Central Station. If I fail, I charge
myself a good, middle-class penance: No cabs for a week.
The mayor called a
town meeting. One
resident showed. up
the "new c
of white m
ette with a
tition is, w
Novi, it would have stores, playgrounds, day- the "new c
care centers, schools, and libraries within the She a
housing project. Families would not need to moderates
own cars: One could be pooled for driving to mother an
work until.bus lines, and finally rapid transit, got marrie
arrived. Families wouldn't be stuck with shop- Now s
ping at the corner market and kids wouldn't superinten
be playing basketball on broken glass. Wixom. "
But perhaps most important, the plan has ments on
crucial social consequences-because integrat- "We can't
ing American white suburbs with people from be on welf
the black inner city may be the only way to Sever
avoid a modern civil war. neighbors
Dr. Sam Bass Warner, professor of urban threat. At
history at the University, makes the point land to sq
bluntly: "It is socially desirable to give poor MDCD
people the same chance to move into the sub-, ify for H
urbs as middle-class people have. That reduces Director R
the geographic tension between the two. We for the res
have to get off our ass and see that it is done "Mayo
properly." the land,
But the people in Novi don't see it that one wome:
The farmers who used to live there had money. A
no contact with black people-except for those replied an
who knew about nearby Salem Township, once Their
a depot on the Underground Railroad.
When Novi started opening to development
the farmers sold out to thenhighest bidders,
often speculators who resold the land to de- jive bul
velopers. They brought in people who make
money: white people getting away from the urbs.
city, away from poverty, and away from black than th
MDCDA first 'iappened to pick Novi as the .:m::
target community last year. Two speculators, They're 3
Marc Allen and George Haggerty of Detroit, and give
had bought up large parcels of farmland. Allen "I'mr
wanted to build apartments on his property but here and
the city council stopped him. said one
The disgruntled Allen-who swore at a anonymo
council meeting that he would get even with much."
the city-and Haggerty approached MDCDA The fi
with their holdings. At that time, MDCDA was much fro:
negotiating for land at three other sites in the racism," s
same suburban corridor. But this offer sounded visor for
best and MDCDA shelled out $1.5 million of Five hun
New Detroit Committee's money (which h a s ing, accor
been funding most MDCDA projects) for 562 white nigh
acres, closing the deal last September. familiesc
MDCDA postponed plans on the other three over-price
sites in Oakland County, though they're still lords.
being considered for other future "new com- "The
munities," and decided to concentrate on Novi. tend the
In November word leaked out to the local Edwards.
newspapers that a "model city" with some low- "They
cost housing might be coming to Novi. There because t
was some stirring by Novi folk. Then in Feb- bunches a
ruary a confidential report prepared by MDCDA their kids
was exposed in the Detroit metros, noting that Novi
Their frustration and bitterness
are real. They're 35 years old
and they're ready to relax,
and give their kids what
they never had.
ommunity" would not be an "enclave
iddle class people." All hell b r o k e
ayor called a town meeting, blasting
r "making Novi play Russian roul-
a double-barrelled shotgun." He said
community" would scare high-price
esident showed up at the meeting
sheet. One candidate for city coun-
to base his campaign on a pro-segre-
itiou to the new community, in fact,
ed the sole political stand which al-
yone in the community can support.
town is against it. The only compe-
ho is against it most.
can't they go someplace else?" asks
Durling. "There's plenty of land down
Mrs. Durling lives across from where
ommunity" would be.
nd her husband consider themselves
She was the daughter of an ADC
d he was a factory worker when they
he's a registered nurse and he's a
ident at the Ford plant in nearby
Ve both have to work to make pay-
everything," Mrs. Durling explains.
afford to support people who might
al weeks ago Mrs. Durling and her
got together over coffee to discuss the
one point they suggested buying up
ueeze MDCDA out.
)A needs about 500 acres more to qual-
UD money. According to Executive
obinson, it's close to completing a deal
t of the land.
e if we talked to the people who own
they wouldn't sell to MDCDA," said
they're just holding out for more
nd we could never outbid MDCDA,"
frustration and bitterness is r e a 1.
"Black brothers are tired of
Ishit about living in the sub-
We want something better
at, and we'll get it."
5 years old and they're ready to relax,
their kids what they never had.
not going to move. I'm going to stay
fight it, even if it means a civil war,"
woman, who preferred to remain
is. "White people can only stand so
ears of Novi residents may stem not as
m "racial racism" as from "economic
suggests Leona Edwards, local super-
the Office of Economic Opportunity.
Ired people in Novi need better hous-
ding to Mrs. Edwards. These are the
gers: retirees, and the many-children
who cluster around Walled Lake in
d shanties owned by absentee land-
people who live in the subdivisions pre-
poverty isn't here," contends M r s.
"It's here just like any other place.
y're afraid of the 'new community'
hey'd have to look at poverty in big
nd they'd have to explain poverty to
. And they're afraid of doing that.",
residents also fear the effects the "new
community" will ha
and farmland. MDC]
handedly plague No
"It's going to ki
giving green life," s
mand Jake would 11
homes on half-acre
brush and pheasants
parks. To house thei
ings suggest tall h:
ground complexes b
Robinson replies. "
People need housing
And besides, sa
predict 125,000 peop
by 1990. That won't
the birds and the be
"People have b
Robinson. "You can
But do inner-c
ones to move in?
widows who are ter
and the struggling
want to live with t
want to leave and m
But not everyo
friends in the in
spokesman for the
ment in the auto
wants to undercut
"The man is aft
going to take ove
we're going to tak
him out," Watson s
and he's afraid of t
"We black brot
shit about living
something better t
to get what we wa
on the solid suppo
voters, is protecti
against black mili
argues. By shipping
urbs, he says, the1
from the energy o
available again fo
parently has only
council to deny the
land. Novi's counc
sometime next fall.
But even if t
certain to do, MD(
community after a
court, MDCDA co
overturned on the
timate property o:
"Many legal exp
use zoning laws sp
ple out," explains
the University Law
tendency to be cri
Even Richard N
favor using federa
laws and building
"This I don't u
Remney can be foi
an exasperated No
"Hell, they're i
swers another. "T
Novi realizes t
style will live on, a
bably not in Novi.
THE DAILY MAGAZINE
Sunday, April 12, 1970 Sunday, April 12, 1970