Nora Blog

Happy Third Birthday Nora!

In ancient Detroit mythology, there is a winter weather god known as Finna. When you look out a window at an oblique grey sky and wonder whether or not it will snow, know that it’s Finna. It was Finna snow the night of Nora’s three year anniversary celebration, but that did not deter an intimate gathering to welcome Scott Hocking’s new book Detroit Nights into the world.

Hocking partnered with Nora’s own Toby Barlow to bring this gorgeous tome of digital photographs together. While much of Hocking’s work evokes mythology and symbolism in the midst of decay, Detroit Nights takes on its own distinctly mystical quality. Shadows and low fog appear more sensual than foreboding. The Davison burial mound is lit like the historical treasure it is. So many photographs accentuate train tracks, roads and paths intimately—as if viewers must place themselves traveling inside the landscapes. One of Hocking’s photograph’s “Stanley’s Mannia” features one of the most unique pieces of architecture in the city, and when viewing it I can’t help but think of a Detroit night when I attended a poetry reading at a gallery down the block from the Mannia. Two young men were on the building’s roof, skateboarding up the long unintentional ramp that is prominent in Hocking’s frame. While I looked on, the danger struck me, but looking back, the skateboarder’s strike me as Hocking’s ilk—unfettered by propriety, and just going for it.

While Nora is celebrating its third year in Midtown, the clean modern layout of the store stands in stark contract to many of the scenes captured in Detroit Nights. In many ways this book, a Nora exclusive, captures the dissonance ever present in the city at this moment. In my first week in the D, I distinctly recall telling someone that my friends and I had returned the moving truck to a parking lot on 7 mile at 3 am, and having that person tell me I was “lucky I didn’t get shot”. This is, unfortunately, what too many outsiders think when they consider Detroit at night. To wit, this makes Detroit Nights the perfect gift for your relatives and friends who are still afraid of this lush, brusque city. If you’re one of those folks, you should really swing by Nora, say happy anniversary and check it out for yourself. The weather might be Finna trying to intimidate you, but Nora is a warm sanctuary filled with all kinds of great gifts.