Punching Out – Review of Book on Detroit

In mid-January, TV funnyman Stephen Colbert joined an ages-old tradition with a shot at Detroit.
“What if we turned Detroit into a bombing range?” Colbert pondered.  “Would anybody notice?”
As one who has spent most of his life in these environs, thanks.
Punching Out is a tale of a factory turned into…well, what looks like a bombing range.
In Michigan, we know the scenario all too well: We drive down avenues that were made whole by factories taller than airplane hangars on massive plots of land. The factory compounds stretched for blocks, flanked by smoking power plants and behind them, clattering rail yards.
These plants were the guts of our state’s economic engine, the auto industry, and we tolerated the 3 p.m. traffic jams, the first shift letting out. Come 11 p.m. the area bars would fill up as the second shift let out, while the lights in the plants remained on for the third shift. And, yes, at 7 a.m., the bars would fill again.
On summer nights, residents in factory neighborhoods would hear the clatter of the plants through open windows, the stamping plants delivering an icy whoosh of water cooling freshly shaped fenders and doors.
Punching Out is a first person chronicle of the end of those days for one factory, in which author Paul Clemens turns two years of his life over to the dismantling of the Budd Company stamping plant on Detroit’s east side…read more

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