Councilperson Cushingberry takes a dip on Belle Isle in new video

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We got a kick out of a recent video posted to the city of Detroit’s YouTube channel. It’s a jaunt on Belle Isle, hosted by Detroit City Council President Pro Tem George Cushingberry Jr. It’s a fun little bit of self-promotion via media, something politicians have done for a long time. (Perhaps most famously, when New York Mayor Fiorello Laguardia read the Sunday funnies to kids over the radio during the 1945 newspaper delivery strike.)

The charm to this segment is in its purely on-the-flyness. Cushingberry’s halting delivery tells you there’s no “art card” to read off of in these one-take segments. At some points, Cushingberry seems so blissed-out you wonder what he ate for breakfast that day. Cush offers a verbally disjointed tour of the conservatory and says: “And then as we … we go to the … we come in and we go … we go south toward Canada … we go to our right … we go into our Tropical Exhibit.” At one point, he interrupts his own video to cry at a squalling child: “Oh, what’s the matter?” only to have the stroller-pushing parent hustle the child quickly away. 

But best of all is his dip in the Detroit River, which he says isn’t a river but a strait — a strait whose current will carry you to Cleveland in 40 minutes. (That’s 150 miles an hour, by the way, so Cush must be speaking figuratively on that point.) He points out that the intake for metro Detroit’s water system is “just … just … just east of here.” He smiles upon seeing fish in the water, remarking, "There are little fish down here!" Cush also makes a point that the sand in at Belle Isle’s swimming beach is “native.” (As opposed to “invasive” sand?)

OK, so maybe it’s not the slickest production in the world, and Councilman Cush may not be Detroit’s answer to Demosthenes. But it’s a fun watch, mainly because it shows a laid-back side of Detroit other cities might emulate. After all, when was the last time you saw an American politician taking a dip in some swim trunks?

About The Author

Michael Jackman

Born in 1969 at Mount Carmel hospital in Detroit, Jackman grew up just 100 yards from the Detroit city line in east Dearborn. Jackman has attended New York University, the School of Visual Arts, Northwestern University and Wayne State University, though he never got a degree. He has worked as a bar back, busboy,...
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