As I waited on State Fair Road in the damp October cold, dressed as the only non-zombie member of a zombie marching band, sipping from a shiny metal flask, I knew I was about to see something special. “Theatre Bizarre” had been hyped up among the hardcore Detroit locals for the last few months, and I heard it was not to miss, despite knowing very little about it or what to expect. Alas, my friend John and I had waited until the last minute to find tickets. Which was probably a good idea. Despite the sold-out show, we snagged some tickets through a friend, and that night we rounded up some friends and some costumes. John had recently started an urban marching band and found a bunch of used marching costumes from a man on the west side of the State. A little zombie makeup, and… Perfect.
Just hours after deciding to attend, I was waiting under the crumbling homes on State Fair, quiet and observing. A man chanted the fable of “Zombo the Clown” to the waiting attendees. The dirge of the party filled the obscured backyards. From here you can’t see anything. Tall fences line the sidewalks, and above them one can only see the roofline of a row of rather typical 1940s Detroit single-family homes, lit from behind by a bright orange glow. If you worked for Henry Ford in 1945, you might get a house like this. State Fair is one of the last neighborhoods in Detroit. A lot has been cleared. It faces the recently-closed State Fair Grounds, just north of Seven Mile and south of Eight Mile, Detroit’s infamous line of demarcation. It takes fifteen minutes to reach from my home downtown–another forty seconds on the freeway North and we would be in Oakland County, where the average income is three times that of Detroit’s.
- John Dunivant is a graduate of The College for Creative Studies in Detroit, MI.