New York is all types of awesome and I have immensely enjoyed the six years I’ve been here. It is my second home and it is the greatest city in the world. Yet and still, my real home, my real true home will always be Detroit, Michigan.
My poor (literally) hometown has gotten pretty bloodied in the press as of late. In just the past month or so, Dateline did a rather unflattering, but not untrue special on the Motor City; a seven-year-old girl was accidentally killed by a Detroit police officer who was raiding a house to find the killer of another murdered Detroit child; and that rapscallion and former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced to 18 months to five years in jail for being a tremendous asshole (basically).
It’s not easy living in the D right now and I’m betting it won’t be for quite some time. But you know what? I still LOVE my city! Not like. Not tolerate. Not feel so-so about. I’m talking full on, unabashed, heart-fluttering, unforced smile every time you see that face, love.
I understand that Detroit is a hard city to love or even like from a non-native Detroiter’s perspective. (Hard for native Detroiters too sometimes) There’s no decent public transportation and though there are some obvious spots to visit (Hart Plaza, the DIA, the Detroit Historical Museum, etc), there are even more “hidden jewels” buried amidst the abandoned neighborhoods and tortured architectural beauties. It would be almost impossible for an uninformed random tourist to find even 10 percent of the cool things in Detroit.
Cool things like what, you say? Cool things like that family-owned bbq spot on Greenfield and Fenkell, that drop-dead gorgeous Victorian mansion turned bed and breakfast on 97 Winder near Comerica Park or the loud, colorful fun of the Eastern Market. And I couldn’t even begin to list the number of music venues that regularly feature some of this country’s least heard and most talented individuals in every genre from rock and hip hop to jazz and soul.
It might seem weird that I’m writing this rah-rah Detroit article and I don’t live in Detroit anymore. Truth be told, I will probably never live in Detroit again. It’s not because it’s “Detroit,” but because it’s home and I just want to do something else. Plus, if and when I move again, it will be to warm weather. Balee dat.
Other than my family and friends, what I miss most about Detroit is the Detroit cool. There’s a very endearing blue-collar charm about Detroit that is a unique blend of Southern hospitality (almost everybody’s grandma or great grandma in my age range is from somewhere “down south”) and big city street smarts. Strangers will speak to you on the street and there’s a lot of folks who are just honest, hard-working people who want to do the best they can for their families. Maybe you don’t understand the bright pink gators or the multi-colored hair-dos, but damn if Detroit folk aren’t some of the coolest people you know. Not everybody’s a saint of course and some of my beloved Detroit peoples are the most backwards thinking individuals on planet Earth, but seriously, Detroit folks are some cool mofos.
I can’t stand it when people suggest that we abandon Detroit and just let it rot over like some kind of ancient ruin. There are people in my city, sir. There are dreams old and new to preserve and nurture. It’s a living, breathing city that is an integral part of this country’s past and future.
I don’t know much about Mayor David Bing’s exact plan for Detroit as far as urban planning is concerned (he doesn’t either at the moment), but whatever it is, I hope it’s transparent, thorough, well-intentioned and executed by competent people with ample resources.*
I’m tired of hearing horror stories about the school system from my younger relatives who are in that shrinking and awful babysitter called DPS and how I would love to see the day when the city makes a real effort to cultivate the tremendous creative talent that is right there within the city limits.
This post doesn’t really have a point other than to say that I love Detroit and if you got to know Detroit like for real for real, you would too.
*Real talk, I’d be more than happy to do some kind of consulting on a Detroit project. I’d even do long distance grunt work (data stuff) or perhaps the more fun, but more demanding in-person work as my deadlines would allow.