Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dame Fortune Winks - I Smile Back

All in a day's work at Zug Island.

I had just dropped into Detroit for the day to do a segment on Zug Island with Joe Rogan for his new show, Question Everything, premiering July 16th on the Syfy Network.

Immediately afterwards, I headed south down deserted W. Jefferson towards Downriver but decided to stop at the Zug Island sign and take a picture for a blog post on my trip while I was there. 

I swung my rental car into a small parking lot across the street between some abandoned Delray ruins and pointed the nose of the Japanese car towards the driveway.

Why I felt I needed another photo of the sign isn't clear to me, but I snapped a quick one and returned to my car, shut the door, and turned the key. In that small amount of time, a large car came out of nowhere and straddled my only escape route, a weed ravished driveway. 

My first thought was "Oh, shit! Welcome to Detroit."

The power window on the passenger side of the full size car went down and a white guy with a fancy camera said, "I see we are doing the same thing."

Not wanting to feel trapped, I got out of my car and engaged the person in a conversation. "What's your interest in Zug Island?" I asked as if it were any of my business.

Blast furnace being tapped at night.
"I'm making a documentary film about the environmental effects of Zug Island on the area."

"Fascinating," I replied.

"What's your interest in the sign?" he asked.

I told him I wrote a book called Zug Island:A Detroit Riot Novel. "I'm..."

"I know who you are. I saw your book on the Zug Island website, and I've read some of your blog posts." 

With that ice-breaker, we shook hands.

"Would you be interested in doing a few segments about Zug Island for the indie film I'm making?"

"Do steelworkers have dirt under their fingernails? Sure," I said. "But I don't live in the Detroit area anymore, I'm leaving at the crack of dawn tomorrow."

We both looked disappointed. Then I was quick to add, "I'll be back in town in a few weeks doing research on my current project, The Rainy Day Murders, about John Norman Collins and the coed killings of 1967-1969 in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor."

"That works for me," he said. We exchanged contact information, and I waited a couple of days for a gmail with more information.

What this young filmmaker wants me to do is give a short biography of Samuel Zug at Zug's grave site and then do a couple of other segments about my experiences working on the island in 1967. Sounds easy enough.

Back then, the area was little more than a slum; now it is a ghost town, another casualty of rust belt technology impatient for redevelopment.

When completed, this film will be submitted to indie film festivals. Then, the producers hope to secure theatrical distribution and/or seek television broadcast opportunities. Whatever the outcome, it's a great experience for me that I couldn't miss.

I'm not one to believe in luck or fate, but if I'd been one minute sooner or later taking a picture of that sign, and if I hadn't been doing an interview with Joe Rogan that very morning on another project, I would have missed out on this opportunity. 

I think I'll put this experience down as dumb luck and follow Dame Fortune like a damned fool.