The good, the bad, and the ugly
October 11, 2004 5:21 AM   Subscribe

20 years ago (the year I moved to Detroit), the Tigers won the World Series. What should have been a proud moment for a city such as Motown quickly deteriorated, culminating in this photograph of fan Bubba Helms, which came to symbolize the riots that ensued (he later died of an overdose, following a failed suicide, broken marriage, mental illness, and addiction). Having a tradition of arson (Devil's Night), (1), (2), during which some residents have burned houses while others protected, bustin' caps to celebrate the New Year, and uneasy race relations may have contributed, though sports psychologists point to deindividuation (and booze) when seeking to explain hooliganism over the home team's victory.
posted by adampsyche (12 comments total)
Can cities that are gutted as much as Detroit turn things around? Opening up casinos didn't do much for poverty and crime in Atlantic City.
posted by adampsyche at 5:22 AM on October 11, 2004

Like the Casino Queen did a lot for East St. Louis.

If the Cards win the series, the people who went to the game will be the only people downtown anyway, so unless they turn on each other, there's just going to be the usual mad dash back to Ballwin or Chesterfield or St. Chuck.
posted by pieoverdone at 5:31 AM on October 11, 2004

Great post, adampsyche! There was a really good article about the brownfield community gardens of forgotten Detroit in Metropolis (which I can't seem to find the link to) as well as a bit on the old and potential new developments.

See also: Public Enemy No. 1 and Dismantling Motor City

Speaking of the Jersey Shore, Asbury Park also suffered from riots in the 70s and still hasn't really recovered. The Real Estate scandals haven't really helped things. Apparently some tycoon has bought up the land and has big plans for the area by the shore, but I haven't seen or read about anything happening just yet.
posted by shoepal at 6:46 AM on October 11, 2004

Thanks for sharing that. As a non-Detroiter, I'd never heard of Bubba Helms. What a fascinating, odd bit of history.
posted by GaelFC at 7:41 AM on October 11, 2004

Heh, in 1994 I moved from Detroit to Ocean Grove (for three years), which sits right next to (and overlooks, in a sense) Asbury Park, and I spent a lot of time wandering those streets, climbing skeletal buildings, amazed at the size of the houses juxtaposed to the abject poverty.
posted by adampsyche at 7:50 AM on October 11, 2004

Great post. Thanks.
posted by PrinceValium at 7:59 AM on October 11, 2004

Hey adampsyche, Ocean Grove/Grave has an interesting history as well. (Though it isn't in Ocean Grove, I bet you miss The Macaroon Shop in Avon! I know I do.)
posted by shoepal at 8:00 AM on October 11, 2004

I don't understand why Helms was so embarrassed about the photograph. Holding that pennant up with civic pride in front of a burning police car was an act of twisted genius. The only thing he was guilty of, from the details in the story, is showing up at a riot and getting into a news picture.
posted by rcade at 8:04 AM on October 11, 2004

I remember Bubba and the photo and the '84 Series catastrophe. What bugged me was that shortly after that (the next year, perhaps?) there was a similar melee after a sports championship in California. (I quickly Googled but couldn't find the info.) And there have been firey, riot-enhanced sports celebrations around the country (and the world), but none of them get the coverage that Detroit gets when something like that happens here.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:08 AM on October 11, 2004

Detroit is the toilet.
posted by crazy finger at 9:59 AM on October 11, 2004

Nice post, adam. This is good.
posted by chicobangs at 10:22 AM on October 11, 2004

You forgot Detroit's latest fiasco in the making, Africantown, previously discussed here. Here's the latest development.
posted by pmurray63 at 1:04 PM on October 11, 2004

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