Summer heat puts
Detroit's election in the cool shade
Friday, July 22,
Summer heat puts Detroit's election in the cool shade
By Betty DeRamus / The Detroit News
So far this July, the Detroit
Fire Department has received 771 calls about illegally
turned on fire hydrants, a summer ritual that makes
sweat-coated kids leap for joy and firefighters fret.
The calls about the hydrants, some representing several
complaints from the same person, are only one symptom of a
local and national heat wave.
Instead of turning on lawn sprinklers, relaxing in
air-conditioned houses and malls or swimming in recreational
centers and parks, some people turn on neighborhood fire
hydrants -- reducing the chances those hydrants will work
when fires erupt.
Of course, if anyone other than a firefighter or other city
worker turns on a hydrant, it's a misdemeanor punishable by
a fine of up to $500 or 90 days in jail. Moreover, once the
temperature tops 80, fire officials claim the Recreation
Department will send out someone to turn on the nearest and
safest fire hydrant.
But a lot of people aren't thinking all that clearly these
days. They're too busy slurping ice cream and steaming.
How hot is it? It's so hot that no one is even talking about
an advisory question that will appear on Detroit's Aug. 2
primary ballot. It says, "Do you favor the City of Detroit
reopening the Belle Isle Aquarium and restocking the
Aquarium with a variety of domestic and exotic fresh and
saltwater fish, plants and other aquatic species?"
If many Detroiters support this advisory question, it will
be interesting to see how much heat that generates in the
How hot is it? Well, the Parking Enforcement Unit just
announced it's going to start issuing parking tickets during
evenings and on weekends. I haven't heard anyone talk about
These are not just the dog days of summer. These are the
rhino days, the elephant hours, our temperatures echoing and
mocking the state's other economic and political troubles.
How hot is it? It's so hot that America Online's weather
forecast suggested Thursday that "Relief from the heat can
be found in North Dakota, northern Minnesota, northern
Wisconsin and the U.P. of Michigan where 70s are dominant."
For me, the bright spot in all this is that my
7-inch-brimmed hats are suddenly the envy of Metro Detroit.
Wherever I go, people stare at me with admiration instead of
shock or amusement.
The relentless summer heat also has given all of us a
perfect excuse for letting our standards slide. It's still
not cool to wear bathing suits to work, but I've seen
professional men striding around in shirt sleeves and
working women wandering the streets without either pantyhose
And if you've wondered all these years why you bothered to
buy an air conditioner for Michigan's two or three days of
intense summer heat, you can now enjoy the thrill of letting
that icy air blow all night.
How hot is it? It's so hot the devil just ordered a deep
freezer. It's so hot firecrackers can set off themselves.
It's so hot trees are wandering around searching for shade.
But it'll be even hotter when the results of the Aug. 2
primary start rolling in.
Betty DeRamus' column runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday in
Metro. Reach her at 313-222-2296 or