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Detroit 2009, The Movie
January 1, 2010 9:50 PM   Subscribe

There isn't a single decent candidate running for office, the homeless guy struck by a car was more fortunate than the auto workers and if you want a grilled raccoon they sure have a deal for you: it's Detroit 2009, The Movie, the chronicle of a rough year from The Detroit News.
posted by krautland (40 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
apparently not much has changed since Roger & Me
posted by milnak at 10:02 PM on January 1, 2010


yeah, sad really.
posted by krautland at 10:03 PM on January 1, 2010


I'm going back to my hometown of Detroit this year, for the first time in 20 years. I'm not sure how I'll react.

(Also, Roger & Me was about Flint.)
posted by The Deej at 10:08 PM on January 1, 2010


Aw, it's not that all bad here...so long as you aren't looking for a job or are in the city itself.
posted by ned4spd8874 at 10:30 PM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised that artists and groups haven't stepped in, bought entire blocks and converted the remaining houses and land into large culture pieces. If the stories of $1 houses are legit (supposing the taxes aren't huge as well), I hope people come up with some interesting uses for the land there.
posted by Doug Stewart at 11:27 PM on January 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Doug Stewart: I'm surprised that artists and groups haven't stepped in, bought entire blocks and converted the remaining houses and land into large culture pieces.

There's been quite a bit of that going on for a while, actually.
posted by Kattullus at 11:32 PM on January 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


That was pretty great on several levels. I really hope this leads to a feature-length Hangover-style movie starring the guy building the flying saucer in his back yard, the Stonehenge guy, and Coon Man.
posted by mannequito at 11:36 PM on January 1, 2010


@Kattullus, thank you. As an Economist subscriber, I clearly need to pay more attention to the news!

I didn't say it before, but the video is pretty amazing and I like the newsman's interview style.
posted by Doug Stewart at 11:36 PM on January 1, 2010


Detroit also topped Lonely Planet's list of cities most hated by its forums.
posted by Kattullus at 11:54 PM on January 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Also" as in "also in 2009." Detroit just can't catch a break this year. The competition it beat out was, in descending order, Accra, Seoul, Los Angeles, Wolverhampton, San Salvador, Chennai, Arusha and Chetumal.
posted by Kattullus at 11:57 PM on January 1, 2010


I lived in Louisiana for a few years, south of New Orleans in fact (Down the road).
I was hanging around with some of my older friends when the subject of how best to cook nurtria came up. Same as raccoon was was the consensus.
Raccoons have 21 musk glands that have to be excised before cooking. The first 20 seem innocuous enough, the 21st scares me.

posted by vapidave at 12:09 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


"(Also, Roger & Me was about Flint.)"

Also, they skinned and cooked rabbit, not raccoon.
posted by autoclavicle at 12:45 AM on January 2, 2010


I'd like to learn more about any positive movements that are happening in Detroit. Not to be crass regarding the current problems, but this seems like a great opportunity for some kind of renaissance/revival. (Also some neat urban paintball scenarios.)

Urban housing prices are practically out of reach for most young people, surely some good can come out of this.

A few previous posts have touched on the decline/urban decay of Detroit.

Detroit and the Economy
October 11, 2009


The Motor(less) City
August 7, 2009


Detroit schools urban exploration & reclamation.
July 25, 2009

The people who drive the Motor City
April 4, 2009


100 Abandoned Houses in Detroit
April 3, 2009

Detriot's Beautiful, Horrible Decline
March 13, 2009



It looks as though a few have hinted at a burgeoning artistic revival. Filthy Light Thief's post is almost a year old. I wonder what else is happening.

Always look on the bright side of blight
March 12, 2009 6:45 PM

I say metafites band together and buy a block or two of some $100 homes. See what we can do with that.
posted by Telf at 1:04 AM on January 2, 2010


For some time, I have been toying with the idea of moving to Detroit simply to live in Lafayette park, the largest collection of Mies van der Rohe architecture in the world.

Anyplace else, no way I could afford such a thing. In Detroit, the Townhomes sell for about $100k, and apartments in the towers rent for as little as $500. For a design geek like myself, that's mighty tempting. Problem is, the idea of leaving New York for Detroit, makes me need to lay down for a while.
posted by billyfleetwood at 3:18 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the Lonely Planet link:

Seoul, South Korea – According to one comment, ‘It’s an appallingly repetitive sprawl of freeways and Soviet-style concrete apartment buildings, horribly polluted, with no heart or spirit to it. So oppressively bland that the populace is driven to alcoholism.’

Sums up urban South Korea, to me.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:19 AM on January 2, 2010


Detroit is beautiful.

There, I said it. And at least one person agrees with me.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:34 AM on January 2, 2010


I work blocks from the closed ford plant in Ypsilanti , they did five minutes on that plant being gutted, and never mentioned that it was just purchased and there are new jobs coming in.. oh, wait, that wouldn't have been as dramatic, eh?

Lee's chop suey... that place has been closed for 10 years or more...and was a dump for years before that....this isn't anything new... The trailer parks have been the way they described for the past 30 years at least...

The bible and the gun... give me a break.

yeah, things suck right now, but this was sensational journalism at its worst.
posted by HuronBob at 4:15 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


"and if you feel down, remember this: at least we don't live in Cleveland."
posted by zippy at 4:34 AM on January 2, 2010


I'm going back to my hometown of Detroit this year, for the first time in 20 years. I'm not sure how I'll react.

I was there back in August for the first time in nearly 20 years. It was pretty heartbreaking, but I still had a great time there. There's still plenty of good people and fun things to do.

One bit of advice: do NOT drive past the old Tiger Stadium. If you do, avert your eyes.
posted by NoMich at 5:50 AM on January 2, 2010


HuronBob: yeah, things suck right now, but this was sensational journalism at its worst.

There's a lot of journalism like that about Iceland, where journalists, both local and foreign, present a distorted view of reality, seemingly to fit into the preconceived idea of a country in ruins. What's really weird is that they really seem to buy into this view of things. In one embarrassing example the reporter said that Icelanders were blowing up their cars to avoid having to pay their car loans.
posted by Kattullus at 5:50 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I say metafites band together and buy a block or two of some $100 homes. See what we can do with that.

I'm good with that idea, right up until it involves actually having to move to Detroit. Detroit is beautiful, in that crumbling architecture / post-apocalyptic movie set kind of way, don't get me wrong. But I'd need a much stronger reason to move there than just buying a $100 house that someone has stripped of wiring and plumbing.

I think there are some interesting projects being tried there, just as there are in some of the declining heavy industry cities in Germany and elsewhere. But none of those projects have found a definitive way to return a functioning local economy, or how to sustain competent and non-corrupt local governance, or even simply how to economically shrink a city -- it turns out to be surprisingly expensive to de-urbanize an area, and there just isn't money available.

And Detroit is lucky -- it's big enough to have been able to leverage at least a certain amount of federal and state support. Many smaller rust-belt towns, small places that lived off of one major employer, are in much worse shape, with none of Detroit's strengths (eg architecture, cultural history, etc).
posted by Forktine at 6:21 AM on January 2, 2010


One bit of advice: do NOT drive past the old Tiger Stadium. If you do, avert your eyes.

I was raised half a mile from Tiger Stadium, and a walk to the game was a regular summer ritual. 75 cents for bleacher seats. I'll be driving by the stadium, and maybe even lingering there a bit.
posted by The Deej at 7:35 AM on January 2, 2010


There's a fascinating, heartbreaking, and hopeful story waiting to be told about Detroit. This was not it.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:59 AM on January 2, 2010


One bit of advice: do NOT drive past the old Tiger Stadium. If you do, avert your eyes.

I'm not familiar with the area, but I thought it was demolished?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:05 AM on January 2, 2010


Huron Bob I live in Oakland County.
1. It has between 400 and 1800 beautiful lakes. (Depending on where you get your stats.)

3. Three different major public parks systems, the MetroParks , Oakland County Parks , several state parks (including the vast Holly Rec area), totaling perhaps 100,000 acres.

2. Vibrant and/ or quaint downtowns like Royal Oak (which also has dozens of city parks), Birmingham, Rochester. (Is downtown Northville in Oak. or Wayne Co.)

3. Cultural arts attractions from Meadow Brook Hall to Cranbrook.

And then all the great attractions outside of Oak. Co., including the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Symphony, historic architecture, etc. [Disclosure: I've worked and or lived in several of the places mentioned here.]

Yeah. I'm tired of no one knowing the other side of the story too, or the many reasons there are to love the area.
posted by NorthernLite at 8:26 AM on January 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Apparently the national media likes to make a big deal about how there are no grocery chains in Detroit, so here's a blog post arguing that this is a *good* thing for local businesses.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:32 AM on January 2, 2010


I say metafites band together and buy a block or two of some $100 homes. See what we can do with that.


Thus began the First Order Of The Monks Of Metafilter, an areligious sect devoted to charity, contemplation, discourse, and answering questions.


They grow beans.
posted by The Whelk at 8:34 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


And here's the most recent detroit blog post about a small garden garden store competing with the big chains.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:37 AM on January 2, 2010


Detroit is beautiful. So are Toledo, Cleveland, Buffalo, and all these other union ghost towns. Eventually, the kleptocratic municipal regimes that arose after the riots of the 1960s will die off, the government-dependent populations will migrate, free enterprise will return, and these perfectly located cities will come back to life. I'd give it about another 50 years.
posted by Faze at 8:46 AM on January 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oooh, a drinking game for all of those stories about Detroit!

Assignment Detroit: The Drinking Game
(selections)
1. Every Detroit as New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina reference, drink.

2. For every mention of landmarks demolished or soon to be demolished, drink. If the landmark is the Michigan Central Station, drink a boxcar.

3. If the demolished (or soon to be demolished) landmark is used as an allegory for the city itself, drink again. The MCS boxcar rule still applies.

8. For every reference to urban farming, urban prairie, urban pioneers or anything else that sounds like a bizarre miscegenation of Welcome Back, Kotter and Little House on the Prairie, drink.

9. If they drop tired booster memes such as creative class, cool cities, $100 houses, drink a Pabst.

10. If they drop tired jargon such as gritty, blue-collar, hard-working, or brawn, drink a Strohs.

17. Anytime they write about the 1967 riots, drink a Mickey’s 40 oz, refill it with gasoline, stuff a rag in it, light it, and toss it at a police car (don’t actually do that).

18. Every time they use the phrase “murder capital of the world”, drink.

25. Every time they note that Detroit’s dailies are (1) shrinking, (2) struggling, (3) home-delivered only three days a week, (4) incubators of talent that leaves…drink at the Anchor Bar.

26. Every time the trials and tribulations of a “noble savage”-type character, preferably an older woman who’s the bulwark of a declining neighborhood somewhere on the far east or far west side, is used as a stand-in for Detroit! itself!, go to church. Then drink. If the old woman has a catchy nickname, have two drinks. If the old woman has a large family and a knack for cooking soul food, drink thrice. If the old woman has no family, and fends for herself in an increasingly dangerous neighborhood, pass her the bottle first. Then drink.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:49 AM on January 2, 2010 [9 favorites]


RE: Tiger Stadium. It's only half demolished so it's extra sad sitting there in ruins.
"We're going to save Tiger Stadium! No wait, we're going to demolish it. On second thought, we're going to save it. Hey, I know! We'll demolish it in random places, leave other parts standing and we'll leave the rubble right where it sits."
That was back in August, so more work may have been done to it, to at least clear out some of the rubble.
What really got to me about the city was all of the empty buildings, covered in graffiti all the way down Grand. It was urban blight at its worst. Then seeing Tiger Stadium like that was a punch to the gut.
On the other hand, I had a fantastic time there, hanging out with some buddies in Mexicantown and Poletown, eating good food and talking about the local music scene. I really wish I had a few extra days to spend there to see more of the city that has shown me many, many great times during my youth.
posted by NoMich at 9:02 AM on January 2, 2010


Tiger stadium is definitely all gone. I walked past yesterday. The only thing still standing is part of the perimeter gate along Michigan Avenue.
posted by ofthestrait at 9:30 AM on January 2, 2010


OK, good. I'm glad that they finished 'er off once and for all.
posted by NoMich at 9:37 AM on January 2, 2010


"and if you feel down, remember this: at least we don't live in Cleveland."

Funny, I visited my family in Cleveland over the holidays, and pretty much everyone I talked to said something to the effect of "it could be worse - at least things aren't as bad here as they are in Detroit!"
posted by ubersturm at 12:08 PM on January 2, 2010


Wow, that was a riveting video. Thanks for posting it.
posted by vito90 at 12:50 PM on January 2, 2010


Cleveland: At least we're not Detriot.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 12:58 PM on January 2, 2010


NorthernLite: There are a lot of decent places in the Detroit metro area — for example, Ferndale is lovely — but the suburban centers you mention aren't remotely quaint, and aren't all that vibrant, either. Royal Oak, Berkley, and Birmingham (the bigger suburbs I'm most familiar with) remind me a lot of (a less thriving version of) Bellevue, Washington or the San Francisco Peninsula; there are movie theaters and restaurants and stuff there, but most things are chains, there's very little visual interest in the spaces or buildings, and there's nothing all that surprising or unique about anything. I never got the feeling I was in a city, even in Birmingham or Royal Oak, just sort of a patch of tall buildings or an urban-center-theme-park. I'm having trouble describing exactly what the difference is, but it's palpable and real. One thing that makes it especially difficult is that I'm definitely not talking about cities feeling more "gritty" or "real" than suburban centers — I'm in Seattle now, which feels just as "safe" and "clean" (and, well, overwhelmingly white) as Royal Oak, but which is about a thousand times less sterile.

I know I'm sort of bagging on the Detroit metro area here, more than I should. I agree that there's a lot of interesting stuff in the area, it's just, as far as city planning, architecture, design, and just general energy goes, it's all pretty dire compared to most other urban or semi-urban places in the U.S.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:11 PM on January 2, 2010


Cleveland: At least we're not Detriot.
you did catch the last sentence in the detroit video, no?
posted by krautland at 5:40 PM on January 2, 2010


A landmark video. One of the best in recent memory.
posted by telstar at 1:00 AM on January 3, 2010


For a surreal moment that pretty much sums up Detroit, skip to 12:30.
posted by Acromion at 9:54 AM on January 3, 2010


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