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Bluff The Listener

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Our panelists tell three stories about innovations to bring Detroit back, one of which is true.


CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR news quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing his week with Adam Felber, Alonzo Bodden and Kyrie O'Conner. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Carl. Thank you so much.Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

LIZ BABCOCK: Hi Peter, this is Liz from Missoula, Montana.

SAGAL: Oh, Missoula's beautiful. I love it out there. What do you do there?

BABCOCK: I'm retired.

SAGAL: Yeah? What are you retired from?

BABCOCK: Well mostly being a housewife.


SAGAL: OK, here's the thing. I've known some housewives, and housewives mainly stay home to take care of things. It's hard work. But when you retire from that, what do you do? Do you go to an office and...?


SAGAL: Do you just stand around, look at everything that needs to be done around your house and say not my problem anymore?


BABCOCK: I've been doing that for years.

SAGAL: Oh I bet. Liz, it's great to have you with us. You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Liz's topic?

KASELL: Blight, what blight?

SAGAL: This week Detroit was given permission by a judge to pursue its bankruptcy. But don't give up hope on that city yet. Thanks to some enterprising citizens, the city is already seeing some brighter days. Our panelists are going to bring you three news stories of grassroots innovation that could bring Detroit back. Guess the real story, you'll win Carl's voice on your home answering machine or voicemail. Ready to go?


SAGAL: All right, first let's hear from Alonzo Bodden.

ALONZO BODDEN: Detroit doesn't have enough cops to patrol its streets, but an inventive resident has come up with a way to keep the streets safe, well at least his own street and his own house. Sick of having his house broken into, the man, who must remain nameless for security reasons, he's tried everything: security bars; spotlights, guard dogs. And nothing worked.

Then he got the idea to dress two CPR dummies as gangsters and put them on his porch. The break-ins have stopped.


BODDEN: His quote: They drive by, and they look the place over, and when they see the gangsters on the porch, they just keep going. Some of them drive by repeatedly and figure out they're being watched. Now he knows this because he's also mounted cameras in the eyes of the dummies to record their activities.

I guess it takes a gangster to scare a gangster, or maybe they just avoid the house out of professional courtesy.


BODDEN: Whatever the reason, the gangster scarecrows work, and Detroit police have stopped by to congratulate him on a novel and clever idea, or they would stop by if they weren't too scared to stop by.


SAGAL: Scare-gangsters, two CPR dummies dressed up to look frightening, and it's working in controlling crime there in Detroit. Your next story of the city coming back from the brink comes from Adam Felberg.

KYRIE O'CONNOR: The town fathers of Detroit have finally woken up to the critical elements that every modern city needs in order to thrive: hipsters and gay people.


ADAM FELBER: And so last week the city council announced an all-out effort to import enough hipsters, gays and gay hipsters to resettle Motown, to spread coolness, style and gentrification along with bow ties, clever little hats and mason jar upon mason jar full of artisanal olives.


FELBER: Targeted ads will soon pop up in Lower Manhattan and the Bay Area, West Hollywood and, of course, Portland, with slogans like you have a dream of an awesome coffee house; we have a house.


FELBER: And you like renovating loft spaces? How about an abandoned factory? And Detroit: our cars are locally sourced. And my personal favorite, a photo of two handsome, happy young men with the slogan come join us, we're Michigay for Detroit.



SAGAL: A full-on campaign to import hipsters, gay people and gay hipsters. Your last story of a Motown miracle comes from Kyrie O'Conner.

O'CONNOR: Sometimes in Detroit your dream is there for the asking. Just talk to Bill Gould(ph), a guy who is living his. That dream is the carbyrinth. Anybody could have a corn maze, says Gould. I have a car maze. Gould bought the shell of an old Oldsmobile dealership and decided to use two acres of the parking lot as his maze area.

Then I asked people to drop off their old junkers, any old car, he says. And boy did they. Hundreds of banged-up beaters, wreck and hoopties in various stages of decay showed up on the lot. Gould and a buddy with a crane, using a diagram from the Internet, piled up the cars to form an intricate labyrinth. The carbyrinth opened at Halloween, $7 per person or $20 per family, and it's been a huge hit.

Kids love running around in these old cars. It makes for great echoes, he says. Every night at sunset the crew tows out one unlucky wreck and torches it, and everybody cheers.


O'CONNOR: Gould is planning a whole theme park with a car carousel, car Ferris wheel, you name it. It's the spirit of Detroit, he says.


SAGAL: All right, so one of these things is happening in Detroit. Is it, from Alonzo Bodden, a guy figuring out he can keep crime at bay just by dressing up two dummies as gangsters and putting them on his porch; from Adam Felber a plan to import hipsters, gay people and gay hipsters to make the place cool; or from Kyrie O'Conner a car maze where people wander through the intricacies of walls formed by old cars? Which of these is the real story of a new initiative in Detroit?

BABCOCK: Well, I know I would visit the car maze if I could and pay to go through it and see the cars burn and everything. So I'm going to vote for Kyrie's story.

SAGAL: You're just going to vote for Kyrie's story of the car maze because you would like to go and wander through a car maze?


BABCOCK: Yeah, I would.

SAGAL: All right. Well, we actually spoke to a reporter in Detroit who covered the real story.

SHAWN LEY: Two dummies dressed as gang members. They make you do a double-take, and if you're a criminal, they might make you think twice.

SAGAL: That was Shawn Ley, he's a reporter for Local 4 News in Detroit, talking about the gangster dummies. Well, I'm afraid as you have now figured it out, it was Alonzo who was telling the truth. You did not win, but you earned a point for Kyrie for her wonderful idea of a car maze, which I, like you, would like to go visit. Thank you so much for playing.

BABCOCK: Yeah, thank you guys.

SAGAL: Bye-bye, good luck with the retirement.

BABCOCK: Yes, thanks.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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