Sometimes it's best just to step back and let a gifted writer's words and rhythms speak for themselves.
Read, and listen, to a spectacular lede from this morning's paper, atop the Sunday Styles cover story by Eric Konigsberg about the effect of economic woes on the ritzy Detroit suburb of Grosse Point.
This is how it's done.
WITH an address in this town, where the e’s are silent but still do all the work, a club doesn’t need an elaborate name, nor even much of a physical plant. The Tennis House tells you everything you need to know. You either get it or you don’t.
One indoor Har-Tru court. An intermittently staffed wet bar with some dilapidated steel chairs covered in tartan vinyl. And upon entering, a doormat that says only “Since 1936.”
The club is so low profile that some people here aren’t even aware of it. It was built, said Richard Klimisch, a longtime member, by Edsel Ford and is still owned by members of the Ford family who live nearby.
“You used to have to wait years to get in, but now we can’t even find enough members,” said Mr. Klimisch, a former engineer and lobbyist for General Motors who considers himself very fortunate to have taken an early buyout several years ago. “We need 100 just to cover the costs, and we’re down to about 75. It used to be the most exclusive club in Grosse Pointe. Now, we’re probably going to have to close it down.”
Detroit is used to playing through pain — having endured, over the years, the 1967 race riots, the advent of fuel-efficient Japanese cars, and Kid Rock’s marriage to Pamela Anderson. But this is Grosse Pointe, one of its grandest suburbs, a community along Lake St. Clair, where — if some generalization can be permitted — the mansions have porte-cocheres and loggias; and the Fords, Chryslers and Dodges on the block might be last names.
The automotive industry’s current woes are so severe, members of the local ruling class say, that they feel threatened to an extent they haven’t before. With Chrysler in bankruptcy and G.M. — even after receiving $15.4 billion in federal loans — at the brink of it, too, gloom and fear are hardly abstract quantities.
Auto executives have been as ridiculed as any high-flying group in recent years, with their private jets, falling sales and spectacularly huge losses. Grosse Pointe’s clubby culture always seemed solid. But now, as the industry lays off its white-collar workers in greater numbers, the suburb is suffering and residents seem surprised — and maybe even a little angry. The troubles go much deeper than the fate of one threadbare tennis court.