Monday, February 19, 2007


The death of the industrial age and the aftermath is depicted flawlessly in the chapters of Detroit history. The urban decay wrought by government corruption, corporate greed, and racism is offset by the spirit of reinvention and hope.

Downtown is now buzzing

Amongst the ashes of hollowed out industrial complexes and rotting neighborhoods is a rich art movement. The cultural reverberations which are felt throughout the world from the playfulness of Motown to the cold robotic rhythms of Techno and the noise of a blossoming Garage Rock/Punk movement.

Growing up, Tom and I were routinely subjected to well intentioned pro-Dertroit propaganda. We were told to "Stand up and be proud of our city." Detroit certainly had a rich history, being the birthplace of the automobile and other cultural entities. Detroit was also the crime capital of the 1980s. Growing up we heard stories of what Detroit used to be and how it went to hell. Most suburbanites avoided the city like the plague except perhaps to go to a hockey or baseball game.

Further down is the blight of Delray.

The city's depiction, however was grossly inaccurate. Detroit has always had a lot to offer including museums, clubs, a strong music scene, theater district, and restaurants. It never died, it just struggled to get back on it's feet after the race riots.

Detroit is now undergoing a renaissance. Companies and residences are moving back in. The influx has been slow, but the trend of leaving the city has been reversed.

The major problem now for the city is escaping past perception. The best examples I can give are based on the comments I receive when I tell a person that I'm from the Detroit area.

"Have you ever been shot?"

"Was your car ever stolen?"

"Were you scared to get out of your car?"

The list goes on... You get the idea. I once dated a woman who believed that Detroit and the surrounding area was a part of an urban wasteland cutoff from rest of the world. I insisted that suburban Detroit contained some of the most affluent communities in the United States and was actually more habitable than New Jersey, but she remained obstinate in her ignorance. Then again she couldn't comprehend how the Midwest could contain chain restaurants like Applebees. (Eyes rolling)

The point of the matter is that Detroit will rise again just like the other blighted cities in the rust belt. It also is not as unsafe and hopeless as the media depicts it. It is true that there are many poor people and there are many bad neighborhoods, but to write off Detroit's contributions past, present, and future would be a grave error.

Now for some Detroit humor. I don't get all of these since I was a suburbanite, but I got enough to claim some Detroit rights.
  1. You call McNichols 6 Mile
  2. You pronounce Lahser as "Lasher"
  3. You add an "s" on Livernois
  4. You own a pair of gators in a variety of colors
  5. Your gators match your suit (pink, purple, green, etc.)
  6. You`ve had to wait forever for the DOT bus
  7. Your car payment is higher than your rent
  8. Your outfit cost more than your car payment
  9. You get your nails and hair done every week just to go to the mall
  10. You can do any of the 3,000 hustles
  11. You take ballroom hustle lessons
  12. You airbrush your toenails
  13. You put nail tips and acrylic on your toenails
  14. You are familiar with the term "Dress to Impress"
  15. You can find a cabaret on any given Saturday of the year
  16. You listen to Mason in the morning on 102.7 FM
  17. You know the words to "Hello Detroit" by Sammy Davis Jr.
  18. You are mad about the Joe Louis Statue (the fist) in the middle of Jefferson
  19. Your neighborhood church is across the street or next door to a liquor store AND a Chinese food restaurant
  20. You don't know the difference between winter white and summer white
  21. You've been to a club at 1 am and paid $20 to party for one hour
  22. You can buy an outfit, activate your cell phone, and buy lunch at the corner liquor store
  23. You get your hair "did"
  24. You have Mardi Gras beads from Fishbone`s hanging from your rear view mirror
  25. You've stopped at a shrimp shack after 2 am (because it tastes the best at this time)
  26. You think that Lou's Deli (the Mc Nichols location) has the best corned beef sandwiches!
  27. You shop at Cest La Vie
  28. You've had to drive a half a mile to make a left turn (The Michigan Left)
  29. You drink Faygo pop
  30. You've knocked all the hub caps off your car - and your alignment's totally out of whack
  31. You go to the Auto Show to find men / women
  32. You own a red leather outfit
  33. You shop at Mr. Alan`s to get the 2 for $50 deal
  34. You shop at City Slicker shoes and the Broadway
  35. You know the words to the City Slicker Shoes and the Broadway radio commercials
  36. You've been to the Festival in Hart Plaza
  37. You own a Navigator or an Expedition and you live with your mother
  38. The Cass Corridor is your jogging route.
  39. Wednesday is Metro Times day.
  40. You have a taste for coney dogs.
  41. You can dodge potholes without dropping your cell phone.
  42. You can name the CEOs of all the Big 3.
  43. You can't get to sleep without the sound of sirens.
  44. You hate the city, but you'll kick the ass of anyone who disses it.
  45. You love Vernor's and Better Made Chips
  46. You refer to the city as "the D."
  47. You swim at Belle Isle beach.
  48. You bitch about the need for mass transit but know deep down you'd never use it.
  49. You know the given names of all the expressways.
  50. People get scared when you say you're from here.
  51. You have two cars: One for daily use, and one hooptie for extreme occasions.
  52. A six-street intersection with a Michigan turn seems logical.
  53. You think Devil's Night is celebrated everywhere.
  54. If it's less than 10 blocks away, you drive anyway.
  55. You are connected to Eminem by 3 or fewer people.
  56. You know Eminem and Kid Rock are not actually from Detroit, but Warren (a suburb) and a small farm town.
  57. You have ridden the People Mover.
  58. When you pull up to a red light, you roll up your windows.
  59. You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from Detroit.
Taken from BlogThings.

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Blogger Tom G said...

Mike, don't know if I ever told you this story.

So one of my best friends in high school was a guy named Matt Carmona who lived in Detroit. It was definitely not in bad area. I think it's actually rather close to where Michael just bought a place - Ferndale/Detroit border (yes, that street is 8 Mile hence the name of Eminem's movie).

Anyway, one of the first times going to Matt's place we had parked in front of his neighbor's place. For some reason we asked Matt whether his neighbor would mind. Matt informed us very matter of factly that no, he wouldn't mind - he had been shot the other day and was not there (can't recall if he died).

I have many great memories of Detroit. Not sure why but I've never been afraid of Detroit. Maybe it's the naivety of youth or maybe it's my belief that people in general will not mess with you. Thinking about all the times we'd park 4-5 blocks away instead of pay for parking, the times Brian and I ventured to the liquor store before a show at Zoot's, and all the other stupid drunken trouble we got into.

I miss Detroit but to be honest have no desire to visit when I go home. Unfortunately it will struggle to rise again until they can attract other industries outside the auto.

2/19/2007 05:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a native Detroiter. Detroit used to be a great place to live. Once Coleman Young took over it turned to a cesspool. The racist administration forced all of the white people to flee for their lives. What's left is a third-world shit-hole that is dismal by Somalian standards. My family used to employ hundreds of Detroiters. After the racism forced us out, we moved to Grosse Pointe, where we continue to prrosper. The losers were the employees we left behind. It's just like the City Administration to shoot itself in the foot at every turn. I never go into Detroit anymore. Why should I risk my life? There is nothing worth seeing there anyhow. All of the nice restaurants, hotels and shopping places are not in Detroit, they're in the suburbs. They should drop an atom bomb on that god foresaken rubbish heap and salt the earth.

8/08/2007 06:35:00 PM  

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