In late January of 2015, a tree stood wavering on the edge of Detroit’s burnt-out Grixdale neighborhood. A loud, old engine revved. A 100-foot rope tightened. A car strained forward. The tree followed, snapping and dropping into the overgrown yard of an abandoned house. A group of bearded men looked on from the front yard of a fire-ravaged structure across the street. Satisfaction and relief filled them as the final rays of sunlight scattered into the gray horizon. They had lost two ropes and a chainsaw in bringing down the tree, but they comforted themselves with the thought that the abandoned house and the surrounding telephone lines stood unharmed.
They were pretty far from Detroit’s refurbished downtown. Years ago, this neighborhood had succumbed to the rot brought on by the crack wars. Inhabitants fled, homes were torched, and the long blocks, once designed for cars, were left sparsely populated. In 2015, it remained largely abandoned. Sometimes, there were residual flare-ups of violence and theft. Some ways down the road, there remained a crack house. In this quiet, largely forgotten place, however, adjacent to the vistas of empty lots, under the canopy of old-growth trees, there was a new community growing. They lived amongst the neglected red brick houses and chose to call themselves Fireweed, after the pioneer plant species that takes over the landscape after a forest fire. More… “Why Does a Tree Fall in Detroit?”
I watch an 18-month-old girl hold tight to her father’s hand as she waddles over to the decapitated goat. Blood, oozing from its neck, has coagulated; flies land furiously on the bright red stump where the head once was. The little girl stops to stare at the carcass a few inches away from her feet. I’m transfixed by her little white shoes, the blood, and the motionless, hairy carcass. Her father is busy on a cell phone, talking distractedly while the little girl swerves slightly, catching her balance.
*Warning: This slideshow contains graphic images.
It’s a busy sacrifice day at Ganesh’s Surjya Binayak temple in Bhaktapur, Nepal. Barefooted women in red saris, young men and women in jeans checking their cell phones for messages, and children in their Sunday best all line up… More…