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Detroit's soul is far more than the sum of all its problems

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  • Charles C. Primas
    Friday, January 28, 2005 Detroit s soul is far more than the sum of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 28, 2005
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      <http://www.detnews.com/pix/folios/dot.gif> Friday, January 28,

      Detroit's soul is far more than the sum of all its problems

      By Betty DeRamus / The Detroit News


      Betty DeRamus <http://www.detnews.com/pix/folios/voices/deramusmug.jpg>

      Detroit Councilwoman Joanne Watson wants 40 days of peace in City Hall:
      No squabbling, no insult-tossing and no blasts at Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
      allowed. Forty days is a long time to keep your lips zipped and your
      temper tamed, but I can play nice for a day.

      So instead of talking about all the things dwindling or dying out in
      Detroit, I'm going to list some of the things still going right -- or at
      least hanging on.

      The two-story Art Exchange Gallery/museum at 2966 Woodward near Watson
      hasn't closed. Built from the ground up by a couple who used credit
      cards instead of conventional bank loans, its shops continue selling
      art, scarves, purses, hats, T-shirts and jewelry and hosting book

      Meanwhile, in clusters on McNichols, Livernois and Wyoming on Detroit's
      northwest side, merchants from Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Nigeria and
      other African nations are creating a true African Town.

      They're serving up platters of goat stew, fried plantains, grilled
      chicken, grilled fish and lamb chops. They're styling and braiding hair
      around the clock. They're selling furniture and electronics, luggage and
      French bread, hustle and hope.

      And speaking of Africa, the Wayne County Community College District
      hasn't scrapped its annual "Passport to Africa" program. It takes place
      this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the atrium of the downtown
      campus, 1001 W. Fort. Visitors can watch age-old rituals, sample spicy
      greens and scoop up clothing, jewelry and artifacts from more than 50

      The Matrix Theater, 2730 Bagley, continues offering a $2 discount on
      tickets at 8 p.m. every Sunday (except Super Bowl Sunday) for "The
      Reality Buffet," a series of short plays based on the lives of the cast.
      You can get the discount with a receipt from any Mexicantown or Corktown
      restaurant. Theater-goers choose the plays to be performed, creating
      their own unique theatrical experience.

      The Eastern Market complex hasn't yet hung out any for-sale signs. You
      can wolf down exotic omelets and the best home fries around at Russell
      Street Deli on Saturday mornings, then shop for Fuji apples, giant
      cabbages and other produce under the outdoor sheds.

      Market stores also remain among the best places to find unsalted cashew
      butter, mushrooms that taste like garlic and herbs such as fresh ground
      goldenseal root powder and myrrh powder.

      The women's boutiques on Woodward just south of Grand Circus Park
      haven't disappeared either. They remain in business despite blocked
      sidewalks and the buzz and clang of the repair work spiffing up

      Belle Isle may be on the verge of closing its 101-year-old aquarium, but
      the island hasn't stopped being a place where you can shed stress, plant
      trees to honor dead runners, watch birds, race boats, train for boxing
      matches, hold weddings and picnics and, sometimes, fall in love.

      I even saw a fox there crossing a road on one hushed, sun-touched
      morning, its mysterious presence a reminder that even a troubled city is
      far more than the sum of its problems.

      BettyDeRamus' column runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday in Metro. Reach
      her at (313) 222-2296 or bderamus@....

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