We enjoy games, especially wordplay. Toss in visiting journalists as a target for fun-poking and we’re all in.
So Kate Abbey-Lambertz of Detour Detroit, a scrappy newsletter off to an entertaining start since spring, hooks us with an inspired diversion labeled “Train Station Mad Libs, Sorta.”
Her playing pieces are reports by three broadscast networks, three national newspapers, two magazines and two wire services on Ford’s purchase of the ________ _______.
Abbey-Lambertz seems numbed by PESD (post-echo stress disorder) after closely reading the 10 dispatches posted June 11-19. She longs for a time of deliverance, some glorious year soon, when “references to the ‘iconic symbol of the city’s decline’ will have to end.”
I’m sure I’ll tire of outlets calling the station a symbol of hope soon enough. But after years of rolling my eyes at this phenomenon, I’m ready to give one of Detroit’s most tired clichés a proper, studied send-off.
In the meantime, the Detroiter tallies words and phrases that cascade through coverage. She compiles a handy list for a game of Mad Libs sure to enliven any Detroit party or bar trivia night.
“Decay” ranks first with seven appearances in the 10 articles. Not far behind are “graffiti,” “iconic” and references to “Transformers” scenes filmed at Michigan Central Station.
“Apocalyptic” and “ruin porn” each appear only twice, while another personal favorite — “dystopian” — is sadly absent.
In all, the language sleuth’s amusing list has 52 words and phrases likelky to make you grin, chuckle or chortle out loud.
But wait, there’s more: After enduring tiresome references in each article to the vacant hulk as “a symbol of, well, something,” Abbey-Lambertz gives a pair of shouts:
Biggest head-scratcher: “The station feels like a symbol because it is.”
Most gloom-and-doom: It “stood as a symbolic tombstone over a destitute city.”
She gently avoids callouts by name. We’re less polite:
Biggest head-scratcher is from a Wired magazine piece by Aarian Marshall.
Most gloom-and-doom appears in a Bloomberg article by Keith Naughton and Sarah Gardner.
Detour’s editor isn’t done yet. Her whimsical romp wraps up with paired lists of eight New York Times headlines from 2011-18 on the left and train station descriptions from those stories on the right. The challenge: “Can you match the description to The New York Times article it appeared in?”
Spoiler: It’s hard . . . and hilarious.
♦ Get Detour: Free signup here for each week’s email issue.
Detroit Celebrates Michigan Central Station Purchase as Ford Looks Ahead, June 19