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A Little Bit of Real People

The last time I sat in the American Coney Island diner with my old compadre Charlie LeDuff, it’s hard to remember precisely what we were doing. Maybe drinking beer—drinking always being on the itinerary during visits, as Charlie believes in upholding the sacred rites of our news-gathering forebears. Or perhaps we were eating Coney dogs, since that’s what people do at Detroit’s premier hot-dog emporium (celebrating over “100 years of awesome,” as the T-shirts say), where proprietary franks are served on homemade steamer buns with chili-mustard-onions—always in that order, a sacrosanct chilidog liturgy.What I do remember is that it was 2008, and things were different. Back then, Charlie used to hold court at the Coney, filming an online show for the Detroit News called “Hold the Onions.” Now, at age 52, he is more likely to be asked to hold the onions himself, as he’s working here. Not as a

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