Saturday, May 19, 2012

No. 747 – The Rhythm of the Heat

Performer: Peter Gabriel
Songwriter: Peter Gabriel
Original Release: Peter Gabriel (Security)
Year: 1982
Definitive Version: Plays Live, 1983

When I started at the Flint Journal, the change in workshift was a real eye-opener, or, rather, as much of an eye-opener as it can be when your eyes open only so much.

At the Daily Herald, I had the standard evening shift, and when I was in charge of overseeing paste-up, I worked from 4:30 to midnight or later to handle all the zone changes. Those hours suited my personality: I was a nite owl.

Then that all changed when I moved to Flint. I might still have been a nite owl, but I no longer could live that personality trait. I had to be to work at 6:30 in the morning, and after my job responsibilities changed to handle zoning at the Journal three months after I started, 5:30.

This was where my decision to live in Grand Blanc, away from the crime that plagued Flint, would cost me. Given that I was about a 15–20 minute drive to downtown, I would have to get up an hour before I had to be at work, at the latest—4:30. Ugh!

For the first several months of this, it was always pitch black out when I got up, when I left home and when I got to work. Usually, it would be pitch black out for a couple of hours afterward, too.

The Journal had assigned parking spots, but only so many cars were allowed on the actual lot next to the newspaper building. Those were for the poobahs, but the overnighters could park anywhere they wanted as long as they were gone by 9—a perk I would enjoy later.

My parking spot was in a gravel outlot a block East from the building, almost on the other side of a Montessori school (the first time I had heard of that system, by the way). Security guards regularly patrolled the grounds, and if you were feeling unsafe and wanted an escort, they would provide you with one.

I never felt afraid. Generally thugs aren’t patrolling empty downtown parking lots at 5 in the morning, and there wasn’t much else around that area to draw their attention, just a few nearby houses. It was very quiet.

On the next block to the West of the Journal was the Genesee Bank building, which was the tallest building in Flint. It’s since gone through several owners, and I don’t know who owns it now, if anyone, but I can still see the Genesee Bank sign at the top as it emerged through the dark.

I was listening to Plays Live a lot during this time, and I have a crystal-clear vision of walking from my car to the Journal building in the dead of winter in the dead of night (I don’t consider it to be the next day and thus morning until the sun comes up) after this creepy song was on my stereo. The looming, otherwise-dark façade of the Genesee Bank building made an imposing figure and fit the song like a tailored suit—as did my new city.

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