Steve Hughes is one very interesting humanoid. He has been listening to stories with acuteness for years, producing small publications of 1,000 copies or fewer of self-published work using words and images called Zines. Stupor is his Zine, which is unique because each issue has a different subject matter. For instance, Part Plant, Part Animal, Part Insect is a conversation with Robex Lundgren, who interviewed Steve about his underground rock band Stupor. Although no such band exists, it’s still fun to see how Hughes takes an idea that any normal person wouldn’t consider to be a potential story and turns it into an amazing one.Unfixable is an issue assembled with artist Jessica Frelinghuysen about specific moments where hammers, knives, wrenches, and other tools are used to solve social problems in our everyday lives. A Treasury of True Stories is basically an enormous collection of these stories, the book version so-to-speak. Hughes listens to people talk about their lives and then writes about them in creative ways. What better way to inform potential Write A House winners than getting real, firsthand experience from a writer who has lived in the Hamtramck area for the last 20 years?

“Restaurants,” Hughes said. “A huge part of Hamtramck is the delicious food.”  The Polish Village Café, the first place he mentioned, has recipes like Smoked Kielbasa, Mushroom Cutlets and Czarnina. “I also really enjoy the Royal Kabob.” Hughes also said that a not-so-popular very authentic go-to restaurant was the Yemen Café on the south side of town. What seemed most interesting to him most was a Bangladeshi pizza made by Amar’s Pizza on Conant. 30 percent of the population Hamtramck is Bangladeshi. It probably matters, especially for anyone looking to tell a good story. Hamtramck is a super mixed community. Next door to Hughes is a Yemen family. They have kids the same age always riding bikes together. Getting along with people different than ourselves is always important, but it can be challenging when coming together creates an unusual community. We met a Polish neighbor who Hughes said was around 85 years old. He had a pretty sweet cane and Hughes said hi, and this guy said hi back, which led me to believe that 30 percent Polish population in Hamtramck is 100 percent awesome.

We also talked about places like the Writer’s Buffet and No Ham Disneyland in addition to The Public Pool, the gallery he manages. He also mentioned Popp’s Packing, where it’s not about making a buck. He talked about artists interacting and bringing art to a place in an honest grass roots effort, the people he meets in bars, and the stories he extracts from them. Apparently it’s about documenting communities and people reading and responding to the documentation.Stupor is a powerful representation of how to view a community and make it sound interesting to other people. It’s also about how writers can use Hamtramck to write interesting stories. Hamtramck, in my eyes, will never be the same. Underneath the holes of its streets, hanging from the fingertips of the Pope statue, and growing from the squash that everyone seems to grow is a collection of moments waiting to be read, shared and remembered.

-Kenneth Beatty