December 26, 2008


I've just made reservations for the Detroit Auto Show - and yeah, I pay my own way, for anyone keeping score.

I'll admit to a curiosity factor - Rolls-Royce, Land Rover and many others have pulled out, and L.A. had many darkened booths. Porsche has pulled from Toronto - good thing I'm great at funerals.

But this link isn't about that so much, though it begins with the Detroit of the car era. From The Weekly Standard, it's a riveting piece about Detroit the city. It'll take you half an hour to read - but do it. It's terrific.

The statistics it opens with are alarming, and devastating. It's like reading about some apocalyptic future world, rather than a city just a few hours away. I have a good friend who lives just outside of Detroit, in one of the noted 'rich suburbs'. Yeah, a rich suburb where every house if for sale, and none of them are moving.

When we're at the Auto Show, there is a shuttle that takes us across the border back to Windsor each night. Last shuttle is 8pm, and if you're not on it, you are Stuck In Detroit For The Night. Which you are emphatically told you do not want to be. There is the biggest party in the world going on (though I'm thinkin' this year GM will be scaling that baby back...), and everyone runs like Cinderella at ten to 8.

Gazing down from the Cobo Centre, I wondered what it was we were really running from. This article is it. Detroit, from the ground up, from the heart up. Fascinating piece, very well written.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Detroit has always been a real problem. I was there in 1987 for a convention. Just awful. I was also there for the Woodward Cruise back in 88 and just last summer. That was good fun but it doesn't take any effort to see just how horrible the city really is.What they have is the remains of a city that gave in to robber baron culture.

December 26, 2008 2:29 PM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

This article woke up too many memories. Years ago, when I was married to the woman formerly known as Mrs. OmemeeOzzie, I spent a great deal of time in the city and surrounding area. She was from Windsor - Canada's mirror image, in too many ways of Detroit.

Over a year ago, a very good friend, Donald Thomson, died. A broken man, Detroit helped in his demise. A really good soul, alcohol and the unravelling of the auto industry contributed to his early death. He was found face down, on a frozen sidewalk in his beloved UP (Upper Peninsula in Northern Michigan). Stone cold sober. A freak accident claimed his way-too-short-life. Like many before and since, a victim of way too many circumstances and concidence.

This article brought it all home - again.

I had some great times in downtown Detroit over the years; heard some great music and made some lifelong friends. And while this may come across as being matter-of-fact, I was shot at twice. Once in a back alley and the second time from a highway overpass.

I was and am one of the lucky ones - I was always a visitor. I could leave anytime. The citizens, black and white, not so much.

December 27, 2008 5:25 PM  
Blogger DJW said...

I related to Matt's story and I was riveted from the first word. Take away the guns and arson and it could have been about Brantford.

I lived through the demise of the farm equipment industry in early 1980's Brantford. That was also the era of 19% mortgages.

That was the catalyst to the the period in the late 90's for our then Mayor to declare us The Worst Downtown In Canada.

A few years ago, the movie Silent Hill was filmed here because they needed an abandoned city for a location.

We've been over 20 years digging out and our property values are still lower than everywhere around us.

We are coming back, thanks to a University capitalizing on cheap real estate, and the City helping them out. They are now turning abandoned store fronts into what they call 'street level housing'.

We still have far to go, and are not near as bad off it seems as Detroit.

The bigger the city, the bigger the problems I guess.


December 28, 2008 9:49 PM  

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