Rick Wershe is a former drug dealer and police informant who was convicted in 1988, at the age of 17, of possessing 17 pounds of cocaine. Now 46 and a father of three, Wershe is the only inmate in Michigan behind bars who was sentenced to life as a minor under a mandatory minimum that has since been repealed.
Detroit Is a Paradise, by Iain Maitland
Detroit, along with the country’s prison system, is one of the places where America puts everything it wants to hide—poverty, racism, violence. The city is one of the most racially segregated in the US, with 8 Mile Road quite literally cutting a line between black and white neighborhoods.
Being white and unemployed in Detroit is often an euphemism for being a drug dealer or having a modest trust fund. I am neither, but my rent is only $200, so I don’t have to scrape together too much each month. That gives me plenty of time to indulge in fantasies while walking around and photographing the city.
In part two of Fresh Off the Boat - Detroit, Eddie heads to Dearborn, Michigan, home of the highest Middle Eastern population per capita outside the Middle East. There, he mows some Iraqi pastries, checks out Wild Wednesdays where the community does its bulk shopping, and engages in kebab diplomacy with a Lebanese community leader and some young Muslim activists.
Don Hudson is an avid amateur photographer from South Lyon, Michigan. He has been taking pictures for decades and only recently began sharing his rich archives through the magic of the internet. A collection of selected images (mostly from Michigan in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s), entitled From the Archives, was recently published by Editions FP&CF. The above below is Don’s own preface to the book. You can buy onehere. Trust us, it’s beautiful.
Maybe I have a genetic predisposition to obsess over photos. I’m not sure how else to begin to explain it. As a kid growing up in the 1950s, I was the subject photographed on occasions of family milestones—birthdays, holidays, vacations, etc… What I remember most of these events was how the camera changed the atmosphere. When it came out, we had places to stand and positions to maintain. While the adult with the camera had a job to do. There was a power in that machine. What was going on before subtly changed in the presence of the camera. I know this kind of thing happens even more now than ever, and that most people don’t think anything of it. But somehow, unknown to me as a child, the camera’s transformative power lodged itself in my consciousness. And as I got a little older, I wanted that job as the family documentarian, so I could feel that power and responsibility.
Is this fascination with the power of the camera unusual? Probably. But I suspect it is in the heart of many other photographers, it’s their sense of purpose. Is use of a camera in experiencing the world a crutch? Perhaps. I prefer to think that my obsession allows me to consider an alternate set of “facts” about our shared visual world. In the early 1970’s I decided to commit fully to this fascination and surround myself with a small group of like-minded people. What took place was an education in the language of photography. The images we made and shared amounted to our own “conversations “ with photographic tradition, our mentors, and each other. Maybe only half of the pictures in this book were ever seen by anyone back then—and until 2009, when I began to post the images online, no one but me had seen the rest. In a sense, this book represents a de-classified dossier of evidence of one photographer’s relationship with a camera in his culture. For me, the photographs are my own offerings to the visual generosity provided by that culture.