“My cell phone was blowing up. It was 7:30 in the morning, two hours before I usually get up. It kept ringing, buzzing. I finally checked it. People were sending me pictures of the place I bought, the Imagination Station, on fire. Mary and I got in the car and drove over. It’s two blocks from where I live, and a small crowd was standing around, watching it burn. I didn’t know what to think. Someone suggested it was started by kids shooting off fireworks. I don’t know. We didn’t have any enemies.
“I had a ‘95 Ford Explorer that was stolen the morning after the Super Bowl. So Mary called her family—they live downriver—to see if we could borrow the Suburban. We had that for three weeks before it got stolen.
“Things like this happen in Detroit. The neighborhood doesn’t rally around to stop it. They just do their thing, not wanting to go digging into some hornet’s nest. When I tried to report the first car, it took me three days. I was calling the crime-reporting line, and I kept getting put on hold. It’s just a quagmire of red tape here. So finally I recorded a message and sent it to a DJ I found online, a guy in Croatia. He turned it into a great little techno song that I posted on SoundCloud, ‘Detroit Police Department Stolen Car.’ I was a local hero for a hot moment.
“My friend Zak Meers came by after the fire. We had planned a mural for the Station. I said we should speed the mural up, do something. We painted two words, real big, on what was left of the building: it’s ok! That’s what it says now—just a big two-word press release.”
Reporting by Chuck Salter. Photos by Corine Vermeulen.