Fresh Air, Fresh Start

Letter from the Editor


his month, a major-league player will set the season’s first baseball aloft, sending it skyward along with our soaring dreams for an idyllic spring and summer.

Spring fever is beginning its slow, building simmer. Our time for resolutions was months ago, but this is the month for fresh starts.

News of second chances has surrounded us of late.

Ted Williams, the homeless man with the “golden voice,” was discovered, bloomed, and flamed out, leading to a stint in voluntary rehab. President Obama applauded the Philadelphia Eagles owner for granting a second chance to convicted felon Michael Vick — a gesture that spawned national debate over ex-con reprieves. Tragically happy was the news of the Texas man freed by DNA evidence after serving 30 years for a rape he didn’t commit.

A Get Out of Jail Free card may not truly exist. Crime casts a long shadow. Pitcher Eddie Cicotte, the Detroit native who played a pivotal role in the Black Sox baseball scandal, felt that, although he paid his debt, he never really shed the taint of wrongdoing.

“We have two lives … the life we learn with and the life we live after that,” Bernard Malamud wrote in his baseball classic.

Spring forward — the reminder to set clocks ahead in the eternal pursuit of more daylight — is a happy command for optimism. Hope does spring eternal. So I was taken aback when a friend commented recently: “Detroit is an ugly city.” Abandoned neighborhoods are certainly depressing. But an entire city? Our grand old buildings. The river. Our trees. Belle Isle. Even Zug Island’s superstructure is dramatic at night. So many other decidedly not-ugly sights: Cranbrook, Lakeshore Drive.

Ugly is a word I rarely use — certainly not about people, although I do know one or two attractive faces that mask ugly personalities.

Toning down ugly speech is another second-chance topic that set the stage for 2011 discourse. We’ve become so accustomed to a climate of carping that a recent comment by Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel was nearly shocking. Give Mayor Bing a chance to turn around the Water and Sewerage Department, he suggested. A chance. Really? Wow. His words came as stark contrast to the usual high-volume, high-horse headline grab.

It’s gentle music to our ears, and fitting in a season when twitter refers to the gathering birds and pedestrians sprout on the sidewalks, breathing life into a naked, but not ugly, city.

A second chance. It’s our reward for making it through the winter.