Dispatch From OrbitIt’s a mystery to me why someone at the Detroit News decided to run a report about an impromptu memorial growing like fungus at an abandoned residence on Detroit’s west side. It’s seemingly not connected to any movement or incident in the news. It’s not topical, but it is typical of current journalistic standards to report on non-events without a point even implied. This is happening, it’s meaningless, there–you had something to read.

What’s happening is for three years empty liquor bottlesDetroit bottle memorial at abandoned house in Detroit. have been accumulating in front of an abandoned house across the street from some guy’s place. The collection of bottles is a memorial. There are several hundred bottles.

The title of the article on The Detroit News website: “Memorial for dead uncles grows over three years.” WHAT? What in the fuck does that mean? Dead uncles? Well, we’re here to investigate shit like this, so I dug in. And found out almost nothing more. The story says blah blah blah. I’ll give it to you in simple declarative sentences:

There are several hundred empty liquor bottles in the front yard…

The facts:
A guy’s uncles are dead.
There’s an abandoned house across the street from his place.
There are several hundred empty liquor bottles in the front yard of that place.

What stumbling drunks might look like.The Bullshit:
The guy claims the bottles are a tribute for his dead uncles.
The Detroit News claims the memorial “is also a protest to the city of Detroit for letting the abandoned homes in the neighborhood continue to blight the area.”

Does that kind of seem like maybe an afterthought to you? I mean, first the bottles started to accumulate, and then came the excuse of a memorial? And does that rationale for a protest sound like it was formulated by a guy curating a collection of empty liquor bottles? No. It sounds like what a wily reporter with pointed questions could elicit from a guy who was barely paying attention. In other words, the reporter just made that part up.

Is it a celebration of lives misspent?

Detroit memorial bottle collection.The “news story” doesn’t mention how, when, where, or why the uncles died; they’re just dead. How many uncles are we talking about here? Did they ever live in that house? Did they ever have anything to do with that house? Or is this just something the nephew dreamed up as a way to memorialize them AND there happened to be an abandoned house conveniently across the street? And he had bottles to dispose of. As does everyone in the neighborhood, apparently.

In any case, we’ve got to assume the dead uncles used to like their booze. From the photo, we’d guess they favored the clear stuff, vodka and tequila. Is this a tribute to booze? Is it a celebration of lives misspent? We don’t really know and the Detroit News is no help.

Say what you will about motives, at least they’re keeping the bottles neat over there. It’s orderly. And you’ve got to admit, not much of the rest of the world is.

M. Nick

[Note: The photos of the memorial are by Daniel Mears who’s actually an artist.]