There they were again, exactly a year ago but in another part of the state. Frozen waves. We had taken a quick drive up to Grosse Pointe, MI, just outside Detroit and were driving by the frozen waves on Lake Huron. Last year about this time, I wrote a blog entitled Standing on a 10 Foot Frozen Wave. I had been shooting up at Whitefish Point on the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. It was February and I was in one of the most remote places in the United States and I was standing on a 10 foot frozen wave on Lake Superior at sunset. It was an amazing – almost spiritual experience. I had never heard silence like that before in my life – nor since. No sounds at all – but even silence has its own sound.
Last Sunday I arrived back in Michigan during the height of a big snow storm. This time I was in the city of
Detroit. I was there to film the last subject(s) of my documentary – two African American women fighting for the rights of the disadvantaged. God knows that Detroit has its share of disadvantaged people.
Because of the storm and the fact that Monday was a holiday, the next morning the streets were deserted in downtown Detroit. Not only were they deserted but they weren’t plowed. My subjects couldn’t get plowed out until early afternoon so that left me with the morning free. So, my daughter, husband and I decided to take a tour and do some b-roll shooting at the same time. We had the streets to ourselves, sometimes going the wrong way down one way streets or cruising very slowly, shooting out the window, but we handled it just fine in our 4 wheel drive. As we drove out of downtown, away from the glitz of the GM building and crossed over the highway, the landscape changed to vacant lots and abandoned buildings. Urban blight. I felt like I was shooting a winter version of the new Eminem commercial.
We eventually, rendezvoused with our subjects, shot interviews and b-roll at their offices and then planned to shoot a big demonstration in Lansing. This morning, six busloads of protesters headed to Lansing from Detroit to speak up against the city of Detroit selling off their water assets to private companies. It was cold, but sunny and energizing as various speakers came up to the podium, our subjects among them. Hundreds of students, teachers, mothers, fathers, children, seniors, gathered on the steps of the capitol with signs of protest just like in Wisconsin. Just like in Egypt. These people were here to make a difference and it was energizing.
So, now we’re facing that long 10 hour drive back to New Jersey, but I’m energized and I’m feeling very satisfied with finishing the shoot part of our film. I’m grateful I got to spend time with my daughter. This trip to Michigan was vastly different from when I was standing on those frozen waves surrounded by silence. This time I was surrounded by people fighting for their rights. It made me feel young again. I’m not sure which experience was best for my soul – perhaps both equally.