Sunday Report from Hipster Beach

June 25, 2013


Plus ça change, non?
Plus ça change, non?

On Sunday, my buddy Sasha and I were hungover from my house party the night before. The last guests had left when the sun was way up, and he’d crashed on my couch. So in the early afternoon, after tidying up a bit, we drove down to Honest John’s and ate. He kept saying we should get some beer and go to Hipster Beach on Belle Isle, and I finally agreed.

A half-hour later, we were walking the path to the lighthouse and came around the bend. There was a new beach, pretty crowded, on the side opposite Hipster Beach. We decided to skip it and go to the beach we knew. As we walked down the path, a couple passed us by carrying towels.

“Just so you know,” the guy said, “The ‘fun police’ are out.”

When we turned the corner, we realized it wasn’t the fun police, it was the police — more specifically, a police cruiser running its engine, probably for air conditioning on this hot day, watching the crowd on the beach. This was a bummer for the bathers, since the police regularly harass anybody who tries to take a dip in the water.

A crowd of surly twentysomethings sat on the shore, waiting for the cops to leave. I heard one of them say, in joking, “I can’t believe this place got 9 out of 10 stars online and we can’t go in the water!”

Finally, the crowd of about a dozen gathered their towels and headed to the other beach, which they called “normal beach” or “diaper beach.” After they left, the police cruiser pulled up close, filling the air with exhaust, then slowly backed away and drove off. One person commented, “Isn’t there a crime being committed somewhere? Why are they just bothering us here?”

OK, so it looked absolutely nothing like this ...

OK, so it looked absolutely nothing like this …

As soon as the cruiser left, the sunbathers leisurely strolled down to the water and swam around. It was a pleasant scene, with a father teaching his two young boys to swim, another young boy swimming to the other side and cannonballing off a rocky precipice. Just when everything was looking great, a police cruiser came by and a cop got out, ordering everybody out of the water. A few of the bathers on the opposite side hid in the bushes, and those on our side got out. Nobody was ticketed.

The cop got back into his cruiser and roared off, leaving a cloud of dust descending on the nearby sunbathers. Kind of a dick move.

We weren’t sure how they knew when people were getting in the water. I figured they knew that every time they came back, people would be in the water and they’d chase them out.

"Yes, officer. We're just standing here. We weren't going to swim at all!"

“Yes, officer. We’re just standing here. We weren’t going to swim at all!”

And then a girl was changing in the brush and found a surveillance camera. She was pissed, her glacier-blue eyes furious. “This was right in front of me while I was naked, changing in the bushes!” she cried. She took the batteries out and threw it away. Then somebody pointed out another camera on a tree, a half-globe pointed at the water, and she also pulled the batteries out and disabled it. People cried a few cheers and then gave her a round of applause. She and her friends took off, leaving Hipster Beach that much more secluded from prying eyes.

The police just want to watch you ... while you change out of your swimsuit.

The police just want to watch you … while you change out of your swimsuit.


  • Silver Fang

    I’m confused. If this is a beach, why are people prohibited from swimming?

  • Jay

    People have been dragged out by the current and drowned there so it’s a matter of public safety.

  • Andrew

    My roommate and I left just prior to the police showing up to “hipster beach” and I’m all around confused at why they manicured that new beach set up, just so they could patrol and tell people not to swim. None of it makes sense.

  • Aaron Cummins

    Those were $5 dummy cameras from Amazon I put up earlier in the afternoon

    GREAT DETECTIVE WORK. You owe me $10 and 4 AA batteries.

  • a grown up

    2 people died there that I know of in the past few years. Not in that exact spot, though. The police doing their job and then turning the other cheek is an unspoken courtesy. This publicity puts them in jeopardy of catching shit from some superior for not taking harsher actions against swimmers. For that, you might call it disrespectful. At least it is unnecessary, if not only because it is meaningless, but also, who fucking cares?

    Anyways, you can argue with the law, not the police. They’re only doing their job, and the big secret is that they are really gracious and cool about it. Treat the people in those uniforms with the same amount of respect you wish to be treated with. And don’t make their lives any harder by created such violent publicity. I hope this doesn’t make it into print, because the effect will be more strict police enforcement, instead of them doing what they do now, letting it slide with no hard feelings. It’s just part of the business, baby, they can’t watch you do something they’re not supposed to let you do. Regardless of how fair that law is.

  • T-Bag McClure

    Tried really hard to care… really hard. Your life seems really trying, stay strong.

  • Guest
  • Steve Cole

    There is no lifeguard, so we are not allowed to swim at this particular location. They have been strict lately because apparently someone drowned there a couple years ago

  • Steve Cole

    what they are doing now is not letting it slide with “no hard feelings”. They are ticketing people with misdemeanor charges of “swimming in a prohibited area”

  • Steve Cole

    I was here last year walking my dog, many people like to bring their dogs here because they are not allowed on the public beach. I was given a misdemeanor ticket for swimming in a prohibited area by the local police, even though I was fully clothed and not in the water, just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  • Zombozo

    Now that Theatre Bizarre is legit, the city has to find other cool things to throw a wet blanket on.

  • ThePeopleofDetroit

    I wish the police would just let those dirty motherfuckers drown.

  • Kscan

    One person drowned here a few years back (that didn’t know how to swim). Its unfortunate that everyone else should be penalized but no one has tried to refute this new regulation.

  • GP For Life

    You know, I have swam there a bunch of times, never once have I had any trouble from the law. I have openly consumed vast quantities of alcohol in plain view of law enforcement while having a bonfire, never once did they complain or even cast a disapproving gaze. I don’t know, they just must not like hipsters. Whatever the case, remember when some idiots finds a way to hurt or kill themselves, it’s the police who take the heat. In this world of nanny-state BS, which we mainly created for ourselves, the cops take a lot crap for the mistakes of idiots.

    All that said, I am sure the police resources could be better deployed policing the Johnson Family Picnic and the invariable domestic violence that will ensue after too many Laughing Clown Malt Liquors.

  • Pigpen1968

    The person who drowned was in a full burkha (sp) and it happened in open water not at this beach.

  • Pigpen1968

    There are no signs in that area as there is hardly a current. Unless they just put them up. The beach is on a canal of sorts with very little current, a lot less than the public beach.

  • Pigpen1968

    I visit and swim on a regular basis here and the cops are always treated with respect. Officer Dan will give out a ticket now and again but everyone has always taken them graciously.

  • TenableBelief

    The question no one has asked is why the hipsters believe the laws and ordinances of Detroit shouldn’t apply to them? Do they think they have some special exemption status because they’re ‘re-colonizing’ Detroit? ENTITLEMENT AND EXCEPTION Generation!

    The reason you’re not allowed SWIM, ENTER or HANG OUT near water when no lifeguard is on-duty because if you die, your idiot family who had no influence to keep you from doing idiotic stuff will sue!! Just ask the hipster idiots who entered the abandoned train station to take pictures and one fell and broke his neck!!

  • Pigpen pigpen

    Not true. No one has died in that area. Around the bend in the open water yes, a girl in full burkha drown a couple of years ago but this beach is very calm with almost no current.