During my 12 years as CNN Detroit Bureau Chief and correspondent I had the opportunity to meet and interview most of the area’s leading politicians, including the late Congressman John Conyers.
One day we were in his Detroit office, located in the Federal courthouse across the street from two of this city’s most well-known restaurants–Lafayette Coney and American Coney. The sit next to each other and are mortal competitors. For those of you unfamiliar with what a coney is, it’s a hot dog with a skin that snaps, topped with chili and mustard and onions. Not my thing–I eat ‘em plain–DON’T JUDGE! but it’s a huge favorite around here.
The thing is you’re either a Lafayette person or an American person. You can’t be both. It’s like a Yankee fan also rooting for the Mets. My crew and I have always been Lafayette people. Still am.
What’s this have to do with the late, great Congressman Conyers? It has everything to do with how he always wanted to get things exactly right.
You see, while we chit chatted with him after our interview one of his assistants walked into the office with a brown bag containing a white styrofoam container that had the unmistakable aroma of fresh coneys, destined to be the congressman’s lunch.
Our videographer, who could wolf down three fully loaded coneys as well as a mound of chili cheese fries while driving and never drop one single ort couldn’t help himself and asked the young lady where she got the coneys.
“Um..American Coney,” she replied, suspiciously.
“Congressman Conyers! I hate to tell you this but while well-meaning, your assistant has brought you far inferior coneys! You must always, always get your coneys from Lafayette…they’re far and away the best anywhere and the Congressman should only be fed the best!” our shooter implored the poor lady.
The rest of us backed him up with our full endorsements.
The Congressman listened quietly to this impassioned discourse and turned to his assistant, quietly and respectfully instructing her to heed this advice, adding “this gentleman seems quite upset, which means he’s probably right, so please remember that for next time.”
Sadly, we never encountered Mr. Conyers again, but I trust he lived out his days enjoying only the finest coneys from Lafayette, and only Lafayette, when the taste struck him.
RIP Congressman John Conyers–a leader, an activist, and late-in-life coney connoisseur.