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I've always found it strange that the melting pot is go to metaphor for those politicians and public figures looking to expound upon the merits of America's diverse populous, when all a melting pot does is mix ingredients about until they're all indistinguishable from one another. Actually, it's not so much that they're all indistinguishable from one another so much as they're indistinguishable from the most potent and prodigious ingredient in the pot. If you're making a big batch of beef stew and you start off with two pounds of stew beef and a quart of beef broth, the final product is going to taste like beef, regardless of what else you throw in with it. You can add chopped carrots and potatoes and onions to your heart's content and all you'll end up with is a lot of steak flavored vegetables. It doesn't matter what you throw in that pot, it's always going to end up tasting like beef rather than the other way around.

In the early portion of the 20th century, Henry Ford established a number of different tools to facilitate the “Americanization” of his largely Mediterranean and Eastern European workforce, one of which was the Ford English School, a place where foreign workers could be divested of their own customs and inculcated in American language and culture. In these schools, immigrant workers not only learned the English language, but were forced to adopt dominant, white cultural mores in every aspect of their lives from table manners to spending habits. Upon completion of the program, all of the workers were included in what amounted to a graduation pageant, where all of the immigrants walked off of a “boat” on one side of a stage wearing their native dress, down a gangplank and into an actual, giant melting pot, which was being pantomime stirred by the school's faculty with giant oars. After all of the workers were in the pot and the teachers had mock-stirred its contents enough, they all walked out the other side, dressed in traditional American garb and waving Old Glory back and forth like their life depended on it. They had been reborn in the image of their bosses and, more perhaps more importantly, their money. E Plurbus Unum – Out of Many, One.

With this as prologue, it is doubly ironic that the modernist monstrosity that was hailed by Detroit's automakers and politicians as the city's saving grace, would be called The Renaissance Center. The word renaissance comes from the Latin renasci, which translates literally as “to be born again.” It was The Renaissance Center's grand ambition to be the hub of The Motor City's rebirth. Just as Henry Ford had refashioned culturally distinct immigrants as white bread Americans and transformed the city of Detroit from a mid-sized shipping town into the very hub of the American Dream, the Renaissance Center would rejuvenate Motown and lure back all of the middle-class whites who had abandoned ship for the seclusion and safety of the suburbs. In fact, they would out-suburb the suburbs, building a massive, futuristic office park on the banks of the Detroit River, with a majestic central tower of reflective blue glass and enough shopping and security guards to bring even the most negrophobic housewife and her kids into the city.

The Gleaming Facade of The Renaissance Center in Downtown Detroit

None of that happened. There was no renaissance; there was no rebirth. What the city of Detroit got was a continuation of the slow, inexorable rot that has been eating away at them for the past 50 years, and a gargantuan glass phallus in the heart of their city as an ever present reminder of their grandiose failure. Standing more than 100 feet taller than any of Detroit's other skyscrapers, The Renaissance Center sticks out like a sore thumb in the city's skyline, only it doesn't look so much like a thumb as it does a massive modernist dick reaching up towards the heavens. In addition to the central tower, the Renaissance Center is comprised of six other smaller towers, all of which are interconnected and intended to create the feel of a city within a city, a concept that serves only to undercut the notion that this complex could resurrect The Motor City or, at the very least, stave off its inexorable collapse.

When I went to downtown Detroit last summer to see the Renaissance Center for myself , I was amazed at how cartoonish it looked in person. Walking along the south side of Jefferson Ave and staring at its gaudy, modernist exterior, I felt as if I was looking at the architectural representation of America's mid-life crisis, with all its sparkle and all its flash designed to distract the world from the city's ever-increasing litany of faults. In the end, it's little more than a last gasp misdirection play to try and keep the outside world from looking at the uninhibited blight that has been slowly suffocating Detroit since the 1960s. The only problem is, it's kind of hard to revitalize a dying city when both government and business leaders think that building a waterfront fortress you never have to leave is the best way to foster widespread economic growth.


Any hope I had that the interior of The Renaissance Center would be less heavy-handed and maladroit than its exterior were dashed within 15 seconds of my entry into the central tower. Everything inside looked as if it had been taken chapter and verse from some exhibit at the 1939 New York World's Fair, showing what interior design would look like in The World of Tomorrow after our benevolent overlords had outlawed all shapes with right angles in them. The entire building is nothing but a series of circles and ovals that link together in a labyrinthine configuration with no practical application outside of making visitors think they've walked onto the set of Logan's Run. Almost everything there is made of concrete or glass and nothing is inviting—something that might be a problem considering that the main function of The Renaissance Center's central tower is as a swanky Marriott hotel.

Apparently, the designers of The Renaissance Center were big fans of The Jetsons

When it was completed in 1977, The Renaissance Center was the tallest all-hotel skyscraper in the world.(1) A public-private venture funded predominantly by Henry Ford II and championed by Mayor Coleman Young, The Renaissance Center was, at the time, the latest in a series of last great hopes to restore Detroit to its former prominence. During a ceremony celebrating the opening of the Renaissance Center, Ford sounded an optimistic note, saying that he, “personally feel[s] Detroit has reached the bottom and is on the way up” and expressing his belief that the Motor City could once again return to the salad days of the 1940s. What Mr. Ford failed to realize, and what any alcoholic or drug addict can attest to, is that when you hit rock bottom there's normally a pneumatic jackhammer and a shovel on the ground waiting for you when you get there.

At the time of Ford's self-proclaimed bottom in the mid 1970s, Detroit had just lost about half a million residents over the preceding quarter century and was sporting a population of around 1.3 million, while the number of manufacturing jobs in the city had been slashed in half over the same period to a then anemic 153,300 workers.On the day I walked into The GM Renaissance Center, Detroit's population was a hair over 700,000 and the city held a mere 27,000 manufacturing jobs.  The last time Detroit's population was this low, Woodrow Wilson was in office, the assembly line was a newfangled invention and The Chrysler Corporation didn't even exist yet. To say that Henry Ford II's prediction concerning Detroit's future was wrong would be to do a disservice to just how wrong he was. Ford was the anti-Cassandra: a man descended from the gods of his time who didn't know a damn thing about what the future would bring, but who had the ear of everyone around him.


F. Scott Fitzgerald infamously wrote that there are no second acts in American lives, a sentiment that he may or may not have actually agreed with, but one which has certainly lived on in the popular imagination if only for the purpose of using it whenever someone proves the axiom wrong. Whether it's a politician who fell from grace for having improper relations with a staffer in a Burger King bathroom and is now running again for office or an athlete returning to the field after being suspended a season for injecting himself with a cocktail of performance enhancing chemicals, the quote is always brought up when discussing a second act on the upswing. There is nothing the American people like more than being the arbiter of a celebrity's fitness to re-enter the public forum, to be able to absolve the rich and the famous for their misdeeds and take their rightful place as the better man or woman in an imagined relationship, their personal integrity sitting in their back pocket as a trump card if they should relapse and shuffle off their newly won good graces for a return to sin.

If you have wealth, connections and the capacity to be desirable, there is no limit to the number of acts your American life can have. However, if you're born into poverty and blight, there's a pretty good chance you won't even get a first act. In Detroit, the metaphorical theater you would have performed in was probably bulldozed back in the 70s to make way for an 8-lane interstate highway or set ablaze on Devils Night, the holiday on Halloween Eve where arson-enthusiasts from Detroit and the surrounding area come together to torch abandoned buildings. According to a US Census survey conducted from 2008 to 2013, 38.1% of all Detroit residents were living below the federal poverty level, a fairly arbitrary cutoff point used by government organizations to determine which citizens are broke enough to warrant certain benefits. In 2013, the federal poverty level for a family of four was $23,550, a number I imagine the Department of Health and Human Services came up with using a game of Yahtzee and about half a kilo of Moroccan Hash that they took from the DEA's rainy-day supply because only a profoundly drug-addled brain would think that a family of four living on $24,000 a year should be classified as living above the poverty line.

Despite these absurdly low poverty thresholds, the numbers coming out of Detroit are stunning, especially in relation to the rest of America.From 2008 to 2012, about 10.9% of families in the United States were living below the poverty level. In Detroit, over the same period of time, that number was 33%. Put another way, a family living in Detroit is 3 times as likely to be living in poverty as another family picked at random from the entire United States. Of course not everyone in the Greater Detroit area is struggling. Head a dozen or so miles north to the predominantly white suburbs of Oakland County(2) and you'll find most families living quite comfortably with a median family income of over $84,186 and only 7.2% of families living in poverty. If you're ever walking through the city of Detroit wondering to yourself, “where did all the money go?” Well, there's your answer.


After walking through the garish interior of The Renaissance Center, I made my way down one of the complex's many interlocking hallways to the entrance for The Detroit People Mover, the city's largest and most literally named mode of public transportation. Completed in 1987, it is a monument to the inefficacy and myopia of Detroit's leadership over the past 50 years. Essentially, The Detroit People Mover is a less sophisticated cousin of the monorail—an elevated, automated transit system that, you know, moves people. Consisting of a half dozen two car pairs that run a 2.9 mile loop through downtown Detroit, the People Mover was obsolete from the moment it was built. With an average distance of less than a quarter mile between the track's 13 stops, it's often quicker to walk to where you're headed rather than spend 75 cents on a glorified trolley car. Outside of its use as a tourist attraction, there is very little reason for anyone to use it as a legitimate mode of everyday transportation. By most measures, the Detroit People Mover's 26-year existence has been a spectacular failure.

Detroit's People Mover: About as inefficient as public transit gets

Like many of the misfortunes that have befallen Detroit during their decline, the botched execution of the People Mover was the product of political opportunism and a complete absence of forethought by city leadership. In 1964, President Johnson pushed through legislation creating the Urban Mass Transit Administration (UMTA)(3), which was then given the task of developing new forms of urban transportation that would, “carry people and goods within metropolitan areas speedily, safely, without polluting the air, and in a manner that will contribute to sound city planning.”(4) Naturally, this being the federal government, a full decade went by without any major progress towards this end, so the UMTA created the Downtown People Mover Program in 1975 and sponsored a nationwide contest offering federal funding to cities that could design and implement suitable plans for People Movers in their respective downtowns. Detroit was one of nine cities included in the Downtown People Mover Program during the late 1970s, but with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, much of the program's funding was slashed.

By the time it opened in 1987—two years late and $60 million over budget—the lack of funding and simmering racial tensions between the city and the suburbs had limited construction of the Detroit People Mover from a more ambitious plan connecting the downtown loop with a regional feeder system extending out into the suburbs to the 2.9 mile track it operates on today. Without any lines extending out of downtown, the People Mover was essentially rendered useless as anything more than a tourist attraction. On an average day, roughly 7,600 people will ride the People Mover, a number well shy of the 50,000 daily passengers the Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority had originally predicted. And, adding insult to injury is the fact that the Detroit People Mover is so cost ineffective that the city spends $3.50 for every 50 cents paid by a passenger. As a result, the People Mover is almost wholly dependent on city and state subsidies, taking in about $12 million annually to keep everything running. So, to recap, the People Mover is a) hemorrhaging cash, b) underutilized by city residents, and c) doesn't directly serve any of the urgent needs of the city's residents. Welcome to Detroit.


Rush hour on the Detroit People Mover is fairly devoid of any rush. When I paid my 75 cent fare and boarded one of the People Mover's cars at 4 o'clock on a Tuesday, I was greeted with a sea of vacant blue plastic benches. The bulk of the passenger load consisted of a family of five who had come into the city for a day of sightseeing and a brief respite from whatever rural hamlet they hail from in Michigan's militia country. The three kids refused to sit down and spent the entire ride rushing from one end of the car to the other as part of a game I'm not even sure they know the rules to. The mother holding the far off stare of someone who is well past the point of caring, never so much as glanced at her children as they caromed off the walls and smacked into the poles of the fast-moving tram car, opting instead to slink back into a catatonic state while her husband shoved a quarter can of long cut wintergreen Skoal in his bottom lip.

Watching the kids muck about made me think back to earlier in the day when I stopped by The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) to speak to two docents about essentially anything besides how Kevyn Orr, the city's newly appointed Emergency Manager, had expressed an intent to sell off parts of the museum's 60,000 piece collection to help pay off Detroit's 18 billion dollar debt and unfunded pension liabilities after becoming the largest city to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in US history. The DIA is one of the few living testaments to The Motor City's former glory. As you walk up the steps past a casting of Rodin's The Thinker and enter the DIA's main hall, it's as if you've wandered through a wormhole from Detroit to Florence. All of the sudden you're surrounded by ornate vaulted ceilings adorned with gorgeous frescoes and walls lined with suits of medieval armor. One room will be filled with Gaugains and Van Goghs, the next with Rembrandts and Rubens. But it all pales in comparison to the massive series of murals painted on the very walls of the museum by Diego Rivera. Known collectively as The Detroit Industry Murals, this cycle of frescoes is the DIA's primary attraction today and is responsible for bringing thousands of people from all over the world to Detroit. It depicts laborers at the old Ford River Rouge Plant working on the assembly line in a sort of rhythmic cohesion. Each man has his job in the assembly line to do, but he can't do it unless the man next to him does his. In the murals, Rivera has many of the men balletically working unison, groups of workers all leaning and pushing and pulling as one.

Both of the docents I meet with are retired white women in their early 60s. The first woman to introduce herself is June, a former high school French teacher who has been volunteering at the DIA for 16 years, which is almost as long as she's lived in the city.  Soft-spoken and sporting close cropped, tousled gray hair, June has the air of a kindly ex-flower child turned philanthropist. Laura, the other docent, is some unidentifiable strain of corporate—a pantsuited warrior with the blonde businesswoman's bob and enough jewelry on her person to buy a small island nation. She was originally from Detroit and left as soon as time and circumstance permitted, but was dragged back when her company transferred her here 8 years ago.

Part of Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry Murals at The Detroit Institute of Arts

Both women are here for different reasons. For Laura, volunteering at the DIA was the easiest way to reintegrate into Detroit high society after three decades as an ex pat. Despite sitting in the heart of Mid-Town and often being hailed as the crown jewel of the city, the DIA long ago ceased to belong to Detroit. It now belongs to those who fled the city. It belongs to Oakland and Macomb Counties. It belongs to Grosse Pointe. It belongs to the hundreds of thousands of white families that began fleeing the city en masse in the 1960s and it also belongs to upper and middle class black families who started leaving a generation later. These are the people who make up DIA's staff and board of directors. They are the donors and the patrons. If you wanted to find your way into the good graces of a city's well-to-do, cozying up to the local art museum is always a sound move. For June, being a docent is more philanthropic than it is social. I have the feeling that if you moved June from Midtown Detroit to the Mississippi Delta, where being high society means sitting in the front row at church on Sundays, she'd find somewhere to volunteer her time.

I wasn't keeping count, but I'd wager a guess that June described the DIA as “the heart of the city” at least a dozen times. She describes her involvement with the Institute's educational outreach program in great deal and tells me a number of teacherly anecdotes. There's the child who normally never says a word during class asking her a billion questions about art and the student who draws out the dysfunction and abuse he sees at home during an exercise. They are the types of stories that crop up over and over again when fine arts programs visit poorly funded public and charter schools that were forced to eliminate programs that weren't testable. Both women are rightfully proud and heartened by the outreach they do, but ultimately they're just putting a band aid on a bullet wound because art education is pretty far down Maslow's hierarchy for most of the kids they meet. The majority of the city's students live in poverty, with almost 4 out of every 5 kids in the Detroit Public School system qualifying for the free lunch programs at their schools(5). Meanwhile, due to pressure from state, local and federal government to increase performance on standardized testing, most public schools in Detroit have taken to focusing almost exclusively on Math & Reading comprehension at the expense of not just fine arts programming, but core subjects like science and social studies(6). In 2012, fewer than 4% of students in the Detroit City School District passed the state's proficiency exam for science, while less than 10% of students were able to make a passing grade in social studies. All test scores aside, only 65% of students in Detroit will graduate high school And, regardless of whether they graduate high school, complete college or get their GED, all of these students will be entering the work force in a city with a 27.5% unemployment rate. Taking a walk around the Detroit Institute of Arts with your classmates is a wonderful, culturally enriching experience, but isn't going to change any of that.


After about 10 minutes on the People Mover I decided to get off at the Greektown station. Greektown, a neighborhood that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and was considered to be one of the cultural hubs of Detroit for the first half of the 20th century, is now about as Greek as a gyro from Pita Pit. Naturally, city officials and business leaders decided that convenient parking was more vital to the city's health than street corners teeming with coffee, conversation and old world charm, so they razed virtually every damn building in the neighborhood and effectively reduced Greektown to one block. Although the Greek community in Detroit rallied to save what was left of the neighborhood, the exodus of many Greeks from the city itself and the homogenization of American culture have taken their toll. What was once a bustling community filled with Greek restaurants and businesses is now a over-commercialized shell of its former self. There are only three truly Greek restaurants left in Greektown, and a massive casino—one of three built in the city over the past two decades—is now its defining characteristic.

I had thought that the People Mover might drop me off at Greektown Casino. What I didn't consider is that the People Mover would actually drop me off in Greektown Casino. As I walked down the short pathway between the People Mover itself and the exit, I expected the double doors to open and reveal a small station where I might have to walk through a turnstile or two before heading out into society proper, as this is what had happened to me every time I had ridden mass transit in my life prior to this. But this was Detroit and I should have known not to take for granted even the most rudimentary details of city life, because when I walked through those doors, I suddenly found myself in the 3rd floor lobby of a casino. Now, I realize that public-private partnerships are all the rage these days and that Detroit is desperate to generate tax revenue any way that it can, but making patrons of public transportation walk through a casino to get to the street below seems like a bit much.

Let's be clear: this wasn't some frou-frou Las Vegas casino where you can watch guys from Cirque Du Soleil fold themselves into spandex-clad pretzels while your kids go off and play in a three story tall indoor water park. No, this casino is the place that hope forgot. Row after row of slots chiming out their staccato ka-ching-a-ling-ing in streams of metallic reverbary as chain smoking blue hairs play their retirements away a nickel at a time and men with graveled voices and graying hair stand around the craps table watching each roll of the dice like the key to salvation lay somewhere inside. In casinos like Greektown the lights never seem fully on and no one seems all that happy to be there. These casinos are the mark of the damned. They are signposts of inequity—scratch offs writ large where people go to block out life for a while and try to make a little luck for themselves. Casinos are our bread and circuses. Greektown Casino won't bring about Detroit's end. Rather, like turkey vultures circling a wounded deer by the edge of the highway, it will serve to illuminate Detroit's decline.


(1) In 1986, the Renaissance Center was overtaken by the Swissôtel The Stamford in Singapore for the title of World's Tallest All-Hotel Skyscraper

(2) Oakland County's population is about 78% white and 13% black, while Detroit's is around 82% black and 11% white. This is by design, not by accident.

(3) In 1991, the Urban Mass Transportation Administration changed its name to the Federal Transit Administration.

(4) LBJ at the signing of The Urban Mass Transportation Act in 1966: “In the next 40 years, we must completely renew our cities. The alternative is disaster. Gaping needs must be met in health, in education, in job opportunities, in housing. And not a single one of those needs can be fully met until we rebuild our mass transportation systems.”

(5) In order to qualify for the federal free lunch program, a child's family must live below 130% of the poverty level, which was less than $29,665 during the 2012-13 school year.

(6) So far, the strategy hasn't exactly been a resounding success. When the results came in for the Fall 2012 Michigan Educational Assessment Program, the Detroit City School District didn't have a single grade break 46% proficiency for reading comprehension and failed to reach 18% proficiency in math.

Originally posted to Virally Suppressed on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 03:01 PM PDT.

Also republished by Motor City Kossacks and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'll republish to Motor City Kossacks (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mannie, DuzT, MPociask, linkage

    unless you have an objection to that.

    •  That's fine by me (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sylv, MGross, linkage, 2thanks

      Judging by the vitriol the diary inspired in a couple of the comments thus far I might have to bring a helmet, but that's par for the course I suppose.

      •  I'm still wondering what your point is. Nt (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ZenTrainer, itsjim, ban48

        The 'shift' is hitting the fan.

        by sydneyluv on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 07:19:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I suppose so. (6+ / 0-)

        Of course, a little vitriol should not be completely unexpected when you walk into someone's home, drop trou, and deposit a big steaming turd on their living room rug. Frankly, I'm surprised that the responses have been so civil.

        I guess I'm wondering what you hoped to accomplish with this condescending, "I spent ten minutes here so let me tell you how fucked up you are," diary. People know how fucked up Detroit is. And no one is more acutely aware of this than those of us who live in southeastern Michigan. We have mostly passed the acceptance stage and are trying to find solutions. Got any? Didn't think so.

        By the way...

        ...In your attempt to vilify Henry Ford, you neglected to point out that he was instrumental in building the framework for the American middle class through his progressive (for the time) wages and fundamental understanding that the people who built his product should be able to afford to buy it. By the way, you can't dog Henry Ford around here. Even with his warts, the man is a saint in these parts. Maybe for an encore you could visit Philly and piss on a statue of Benjamin Franklin.

        ...Prior to construction of the Renaissance Center, the location basically consisted of a couple of saloons. In addition to providing thousands of jobs across the full spectrum of the construction industry for five years, the Renaissance Center has enabled significant tax revenue thanks to Ford, GM., EDS, Marriott, Deloitte, and other tenants. In addition, the thousands of people who work there contribute to the local economy by patronizing local shops and restaurants and by paying city income tax. But you didn't like the curtains so I guess it's a worthless investment.

        ...The weather can get pretty brutal here. There have been countless times I have taken the people mover instead of walking through a downpour, or snowstorm, or just bone chilling cold wind. There are many times I took it because I was time constrained and didn't have time for a casual stroll. And as another commenter pointed out downstream, when the Greektown station was built, it placed the rider in a shopping mall, which was later turned into a casino. Is it what the city intended it to be? No, but as you pointed out, the funding for the more ambitious project was pulled by the feds. Pretty hard to fault the city for that.

        ...Not sure what your beef is with the DIA. With works valued in the $20 billion range, it is a world class museum. By the way, most of those works were purchased by, and belong to the city, not wealthy suburbanites.

        Detroit has plenty of problems, not the least of which are people who get off on telling people they have an ugly baby. It has struggled with economic, political, and social issues since the early 20th century and there have been plenty of villains and plenty of heroes. It continues to be a work in progress. While you may find your masturbatory prose personally satisfying, it really doesn't help.

        So endith the trick.

        by itsjim on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 12:04:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've been to an event in the Renaissance Center. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sylv, itsjim, northsylvania

          It wasn't so horrible.   Mainly it struck me as impractically large; it swallowed up the conference I was attending.

          I think the place is a case of a failure of concept.   It's this huge space that cocoons its users in a cavernous interior and does nothing to encourage them to interact with anything outside of itself.  So it's hard to see how it could lead to a revitalization of anything around it. It's been almost ten years now, so maybe they've found a way to engineer around that problem.

          Otherwise, as architectural monstrosities go, it's not so bad.  It's a bit overwhelming in scale and confusing to navigate at times, but it was nice to have a large, walkable interior space when the weather outside.   It certainly seemed more user-friendly and inviting than a lot of Brutalist contraptions my architect friends go gaga over.

          If there is anything contemptible about the building, it's that the designers reached for stupendous and came up instead with something big but kind of mediocre.   "Mediocre" isn't "bad"; it's just not particularly good.  

          I've lost my faith in nihilism

          by grumpynerd on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 04:57:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  but that was the whole point (0+ / 0-)
            It's this huge space that cocoons its users in a cavernous interior and does nothing to encourage them to interact with anything outside of itself.
            Aside from the weather, it was supposed to provide a sense of security in the midst of Detroit's decay.

            Compare it to Horton Plaza here in San Diego.  When it was built in the mid-Eighties, Horton Plaza was quite frankly in a bad part of town - on the border between the Gaslamp (what had become San Diego's red light district over the course of post-war urban decay) and Navy territory where even the locals didn't go.  Despite the perfect weather, Horton Plaza is also an introverted all-in-one destination that assumes you're going to be arriving by car - like the Renaissance Center - but at the time it was a reason for suburbanites to go downtown for something other than work.  And it succeeded; I seem to remember going a lot when I was young.  The attitude and atmosphere downtown changed first; physical development didn't really take off until the late 90s-early 00s real estate boom.

            Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

            by Visceral on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 02:02:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I'm also tired of people (5+ / 0-)

          acting like the city's problems started in 1968. For the white residents, this was true.  If you see accounts from black residents from that time, the story's quite a bit different.

          A lot of the city's problems started with racism and segregation.  Which is why I hate seeing people talk about Detroit's problems as if they are entirely the fault of the citizens.

          •  Absolutely. Thanks, The Dude, for reinforcing (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            that important message. Although the '67 dividing line--by which I assume you mean the riots--was not all that clear-cut either. White flight started a good 15 years or more before.

            Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

            by peregrine kate on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 05:44:50 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The fact of the matter is, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              peregrine kate, Sylv

              the rest of the state, and especially the suburbs, turned their back on the city decades ago.  And ever since, they've pointed their fingers back at the residents of the city and said it's all their fault.

              One wonders if the result would've been the same if it wasn't, stereotypically, dark-skinned people living in Detroit.

              •  I honestly do not think there's cause to wonder. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                That question has been settled, afaic, a long time ago.

                Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

                by peregrine kate on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 07:11:03 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well, yes. (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  peregrine kate, sydneyluv, Sylv

                  I was trying to give the benefit of the doubt, even if it's not deserved.

                  I remember the moment I realized it was really about race, too.

                  As I mentioned elsewhere in the comments, I grew up in Livonia.  However, I didn't go to school in the Livonia school district.  Rather, I went to another district that included part of Livonia, and three other cities in the suburbs.  It was the "lower-income" area of Livonia.  Starting my junior year, we became a school of choice.  This meant that in certain areas of Detroit, parents would have an option to have their children go to my school district instead of Detroit Public Schools.  

                  Every time after that that there was any instance of vandalism, etc., it was always blamed on "Those damn kids from Detroit", even though most of the time the perpetrators were never caught.  It occurred to me, of course, that if they didn't know who did it, they couldn't possibly know it was someone from Detroit.  That was when I really realized, fully, what they were actually trying to say.

        •  This was not a hit piece, and Ford is no saint (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Be Skeptical, codairem, sydneyluv, Sylv

          nor universally revered as one in these parts.

          He was a mean, anti-Semitic, and racist (of the paternalist variety) sumbitch who was concerned about his workers only insofar as they provided him with a market. THAT (and creating the moving assembly line) were his two enormous innovations: previously, automobiles were envisioned as being the conveyances of the elite.

          Ford was behind the murders of the Hunger Marchers who brought their petition to the Rouge Plant, even if he personally didn't pull the triggers. He didn't give two shits about the ravages of the Depression economy on Detroit and its workers; basically, he said a little privation never hurt anyone when somewhere north of 33% of the city's workers were unemployed, with few social supports to help them.  At that point, he was the richest man in the world, with wealth he derived from the labor of his workers. (Yes, I do realize that the discussion of a fair profit is a diversion.)

          He was profoundly anti-union and would have continued to keep out the UAW had not Clara read him the riot act.

          As for the Ren Cen: Much of the newer construction in regards to downtown office buildings for the past thirty years or so has been a  matter of playing musical chairs with the relatively few businesses that were downtown. (That paucity of businesses w/ downtown HQ has started to change only very recently, with Compuware and its successors.) The Ren Cen was indeed considered to be a boondoggle for quite some time after it went up, an early example of the so-called "edifice complex" that Thomas Sugrue challenges.

          Re: People Mover, the feds pulled the money because after decades of argument, the city and the suburbs couldn't agree on how to administer the rest of the project. Sad and old story, to be sure, but the protectiveness of the city is understandable then and now.

          I don't see him as having a beef with the DIA. He was appropriately impressed by the quality of its holdings, but dismayed at how little impact it as an institution could have on the quality of life of most people now living in Detroit.

          I do agree with most of your last paragraph, however, though I think you're missing the point by asserting his purpose was to insult the city. He's hyperbolic and over the top at moments, but overall he's not grossly contemptuous. There are lots of published authors who have been happy to represent Detroit as a hell-hole, in terms much more caustic than the OP uses here. And most of them are not interested in nuanced historical analysis.

          Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

          by peregrine kate on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 05:43:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  PK I appreciate all of your comments (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            peregrine kate, Sylv

            throughout the comment section, especially the depth of your knowledge and the calmness of your voice. I have actively avoided contemptuous negatives articles about Detroit forever, and then I innocently stumbled into reading this.

            I may have to re-read the diary, ugh, but I can't quite get what happened here - my experience and that of so many others - so many alarmed and upset by this writing.  Maybe it was just too raw.  Clearly this was so close to home for many of us, painfully so. And yet you (and others) didn't experience that reaction at all. Just more to understand.

            The 'shift' is hitting the fan.

            by sydneyluv on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 08:08:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  You came to Detroit and saw nothing but (11+ / 0-)

    what you brought with you. Pity.

    •  I go to Detroit all the time, (9+ / 0-)

      and the downtown area is not at all as is depicted in this diary. There is a lot going on down there and a lot of optimism and hope for the future of the city. I see mostly beauty when I go down there, lots of art deco in the buildings and the Renaissance Center (locally the Ren Cen) is like a shining jewel in the crown of the city. Here is a photo I took of it from near the Dodge Fountain in Hart Plaza - Ren Cen

      •  Thank you. (6+ / 0-)

        The diarist ignores the driving force behind the architecture of Ren Cen. Detroit is a gritty industrial city dotted with gritty industrial factory architecture. Ren Cen was a breath of fresh air, bringing circles to a city formed of squares and rectangles and soaring height to a city overrun with bleak ground-hugging factories.

        If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

        by edg on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 10:21:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I once had a chance in 1983 to go (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mannie, Sylv, itsjim

    out on the top of the Renaissance Tower on the very top of the highest center building to do air pollution photography in the open air on top of the building.

  •  Detroit is my hometown... (8+ / 0-)

    ... and what it has become in the 25 years since I left is one of the MOST depressing things I have seen...

    A once-great hub of America's manufacturing expertise, it now mostly possesses rotting shadows of its former greatness...

    the last time I went back, once-grand Woodward Avenue resembled nothing so much as post-war East Berlin. And I SAW East Berlin in 1968, so I am not just hyperbolizing ;-(

    America's LAST HOPE: vote the GOP OUT in 2014 elections. MAKE them LOSE the House Majority and reduce their numbers in the Senate. Democrats move America forward - Republicans take us backward and are KILLING OUR NATION!

    by dagnome on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 06:17:56 PM PDT

    •  Funny you mention Atlanta (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rox Girl, Sylv, ZenTrainer, itsjim

      The Renaissance Center was designed by John Portman, the man who also designed fortress skyscrapers in Atlanta (Hyatt Regency) and San Francisco (Embarcadero Hyatt).

      The Renaissance Center to me represents an outsider's view of what should be best for Detroit - not too different than this diary.

      And the diarist didn't even see the Renaissance Center back when the chiller plant created a castle wall between the Ren Cen and Jefferson Street. He saw SOMs best intention of opening the building up to the street and river - not a great solution but better than what Detroit had before.  

      •  When the US established the Baghdad Green Zone (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sylv, Yoshimi

        I wondered if Portman was part of their transition planning team because it immediately reminded me of all these downtown fortress oases for business elites he would build.

        Detroit's is now the most glaring just because the poor of that city have been hit the hardest, but Portman's definitely one of 20th century US architecture's villains IMO.

    •  Yeah, its awful. And empty. What happened was (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sylv, Yoshimi

      A lot cities across the country decided they needed 'a skyline' without getting how such a thing actually comes to be. You cant have a skyline without density, and you dont get density with ever larger interstate loops and suburbanization.

      •  This is the problem that Dubai and Shanghai (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sylv, brooklynbadboy, northsylvania

        are dealing with. They have a skyline but the street level does not have the density of New York or Chicago, it has the density of a suburb. A very weird experience.

        •  San Diego's new developments have the same prob (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peregrine kate, Sylv
          They have a skyline but the street level does not have the density of New York or Chicago, it has the density of a suburb.
          Lots of new apartments/condos (can't vouch for their occupancy rates) that are pretty tall for SD thanks to our airport literally right next to downtown, but in some spots the streets are not only deserted, there's nothing going on at street level that would give people a reason to be walking or sitting there.  But deliberately or not, the buildings were designed that way.

          Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

          by Visceral on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 02:11:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  One more note, about the Ren Cen (8+ / 0-)

    when it was first constructed, the building complex was surrounded by a GIGANTIC concrete wall that literally screamed "GO AWAY - YOU DON'T BELONG HERE".

    I always marveled that this edifice, which was supposed to represent a renaissance, resembled nothing so much as a high-tech, maximum security facility for those unfortunate enough to have to be working or staying there.

    In recent years (since GM took it over, I believe) that wall was razed, and the "fortress" look has been diminished significantly. Thank goodness!

    America's LAST HOPE: vote the GOP OUT in 2014 elections. MAKE them LOSE the House Majority and reduce their numbers in the Senate. Democrats move America forward - Republicans take us backward and are KILLING OUR NATION!

    by dagnome on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 06:26:37 PM PDT

    •  Technology. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sydneyluv, itsjim, Sylv

      The air conditioning system of the time required massive structures to house the equipment. The outer wall you refer to was part of that. Modern HVAC technology allows them to do away with the wall.

      If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

      by edg on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 10:26:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is revisionist history (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        John Portman, the architect, talks about creating "interior security" in his design for Peachtree Plaza (the Atlanta twin of RenCen) in his treatise "Architect as Developer". The HVAC needs just happened to be consistent with his brutalist ideal office space. As with many buildings in this era, the walls of separation between the working and professional classes were deliberate.

        The building might represent hope of a turnaround now, but when it was built it was meant as a symbol of defiance to the encroaching blight.

        •  Maybe. (0+ / 0-)

          But Ironically, I was watching the demolition of the coolers from my office on the 29th floor on 9/11. The first thing everyone thought about then was how vulnerable the building had become. Now there are big steel pillars stuck into the ground to prevent anyone from driving a truck bomb into the front door.

          So endith the trick.

          by itsjim on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 12:19:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Disagree. (5+ / 0-)

          I was born in Detroit. I worked downtown for many years, up through the mid-80s. I had clients in RenCen. The area was open to pedestrians from Hart Plaza and from sidewalks on Jefferson Avenue, although I understand it is even more open now.

          Underground parking was easily accessible and was inexpensive for downtown parking. I used to park there to save money while visiting other downtown clients.

          From the moment it opened, RenCen created a lot of jobs for local residents, many of whom were black. The building was meant as a shining tower rising into the sky to contrast with the stubby industrial factories not far away, such as the Parke-Davis facility. And to looks good from Windsor, across the river.

          If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

          by edg on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 12:20:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You touch on my point. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sylv, Virally Suppressed
            building was meant as a shining tower rising into the sky to contrast with the stubby industrial factories not far away
            This is exactly what I'm referring to it as a symbol of defiance to the encroaching blight. It was built as a walled off enclave of commerce and class (the high income boutiques, the pricey restaurant on the top were not meant for city residents) that the city hoped would expand almost militaristically to the surrounding downtown. And as you point out, at first there was some success, but it was short lived largely because the concept was so flawed from the start. The super-wide Jefferson Blvd works as an artificial barrier to pedestrian activity. The cheap parking makes it even less likely that somebody visiting RenCen will be inclined to leave it. The People Mover was meant to combat this, but it wasn't finished for ten more years, by which point a lot of damage had already been done and the sheen had worn off.

            As soon as pricey restaurants and boutiques were built in malls closer to the rich, they stopped having any reason to go downtown, and while the RenCen did and still does employ many from the area, the service wages they're getting are not nearly enough to impact the city's economy. The don't make enough to feed themselves and their families, let alone enough to start their own enterprises and get out of the wage slave cycle. Meanwhile, the GM and other execs that work there and do make enough to leave their jobs if they wish still take most of their paychecks with them out of Detroit when they leave for home.

            The building also shifted the city's heart closer to the river, and away from where it could have done the most good at the time (closer to where Comerica Park is right now.) Instead they chose a site with one natural barrier, the river, and three paved over artificial barriers separating it from the rest of the city. There's simply no way that residual economic activity could spread from the RenCen because there's no place for it to spread. I know it's a nostalgic icon for many Detroit residents, but it's an urban planning nightmare.

        •  and for the time that security was necessary (0+ / 0-)

          We're talking about the Seventies: the low point of American urban life and the high point of economic/racial unrest.

          The building might represent hope of a turnaround now, but when it was built it was meant as a symbol of defiance to the encroaching blight.

          Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

          by Visceral on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 02:14:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'm curius by what magic ends 'Detroit' at 8 mile? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, Sylv, jilikins, Yoshimi

    So 'Detroit' is a vibrant city with 1.8 million people, then 20 years later half those people move 15 miles away and 'Detroit' is dead?  What is a city if not the people?  Maybe you just looked in the wrong spots...

    People who think politics is stupid are doomed to be ruled by stupid people.

    by ban48 on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 06:27:10 PM PDT

    •  If those people... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sylv, Galtisalie, Paul Ferguson, shop, and work outside of Detroit city limits, then they don't pay taxes to the city of Detroit, nor do they support Detroit businesses.  

      The Detroit metro area may still be doing okay, but without those things, the city itself is steadily dying.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 05:52:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If I were a naturalist studying the wolves of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Be Skeptical

        Yellowstone park and reported 500 wolves split into four packs.  Then came back 5 years later and found only 250 wolves split into two packs, how misleading would it be to write about the decimation of Yellowstone's wolves without mentioning that the 250 'missing' wolves are actually quite fine hunting only 10 miles outside the park's boundaries?

        As I asked before, what is a city besides the people?  This whole narrative is a fiction.

        People who think politics is stupid are doomed to be ruled by stupid people.

        by ban48 on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 02:23:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not exactly (7+ / 0-)

        There are people who support downtown Detroit businesses because they work downtown during the day, and spend considerable money there when they are working.  Indeed, downtown Detroit is relatively expensive for the State of Michigan; rental units are scarce and demand is high, so you will probably pay at least around $1,000 for a one bedroom.  There are not many condo units, but the ones that exist are expensive. Now, Detroit does have an income tax that non-residents pay but there's a collection problem.  Corporate residents are heavily subsidized by most cities in this state, either in the form of direct subsidy or tax abatements of various forms.  

         This article does not do justice to the geographic reality of Detroit.  The "Detroit Metro Area," depending on the definition, ranges from around 3.5 million people to over half of the state's population and includes Oakland County, where the wealthy are secure but no one else is. And at 140 square miles, the City of Detroit itself is huge, with downtown and Midtown (the Wayne State and Cultural Center area where the celebrated DIA is located) are worlds apart from the city's outer neighborhoods.  There's massive and quite controversial investments in the Downtown-Midtown-New Center area, which is far from dying.  It is, however, extremely inequitable and unjust development.  A point that the author did not address.

    •  Good point. Expansion of a consciousness (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      of "Detroit" to include the suburbs, administratively and politically, would be very powerful. Think of what Metropolitan Toronto has accomplished that way.
      It's not going to happen any time soon, however.

      Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 05:53:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Or, what kind of person lives somewhere (9+ / 0-)

    for 20 years, then packs up and moves 10 miles away and leaves his house to ruin, then return 20 years later and declares "Look at what THOSE people have done!".  After all, guess what rings around the abandoned city of detroit?  Abandoned suburbs.  Guess what dots the great midwest?  Abandoned cities.

    Are you sure when you look through the window at THOSE people, you aren't seeing your own reflection?

    People who think politics is stupid are doomed to be ruled by stupid people.

    by ban48 on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 06:56:34 PM PDT

  •  WTF? (9+ / 0-)

    What is the purpose of this piece of shit diary? To kick Detroit when it's down? To dog whistle that black people can't run a city except into the ground? To make fun of people trapped by circumstances and racism in a decaying industrial behemoth?

    You really need to delete this POS diary and crawl back into whatever sewer of hatred it was you emerged from. Daily KOS deserves better.

    If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

    by edg on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 07:33:57 PM PDT

    •  Thank you, thank you for your comment. (6+ / 0-)

      I don't get the point of this diary.  Whatever he's trying to say, it's random and mean.  And you said it much better than I could have. I would have been too polite.  I just thought: I can hide rate this. Yes.

      The 'shift' is hitting the fan.

      by sydneyluv on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 07:55:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And why would this be posted to Community (6+ / 0-)

      Spotlight? Wow!  Really bad judgement.  Please re-think.

      The 'shift' is hitting the fan.

      by sydneyluv on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 07:59:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sometimes a good mud-slinging is worthwhile. (6+ / 0-)

      I don't speak for the author of the diary, but I didn't find it at all belittling of the rank-and-file residents. What did I miss? Capitalism has abandoned a city. People are left to deal with the mess. Capitalist-incentivizing plans are devised that go to shit. Profits are made from gambling, figurative and literal, in a bleak way. What pleasant tales would you have had him tell? Tell them. We can all learn. I learned a lot from this provocative diary. The problems are not remotely caused by the remaining residents anymore than the residents of Opa-locka where my mom wound up after the Detroit area caused and cause its problems. Live is frigging tough in Detroit and Opa-locka. What are your solutions?

      garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

      by Galtisalie on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 09:19:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Apparently... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sylv, Galtisalie, MPociask

        ...the solution of choice by a number of the critics of this diary is to ignore the problems and thereby make them go away.

        It's interesting to note that their are elements of Detroit's failed renaissance to be found in other cities -- the dead end people mover that only appeals to tourists is, after all, more than a bit reminiscent of Seattle's monorail line that dates back to the 1960s world fair.  And monstrosities similar to what the diarist describes of Renaissance Center are present in the downtowns of many cities, as that was the preferred 70s era solution to urban blight -- build something in the middle of the blighted area that was isolated from everything around it, and then hope for a miracle.  

        The difference is the depth to which Detroit has sunk -- and the fact that it started sinking so early.  While other cities still have a second chance, I'm not sure how you turn Detroit around.

        Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

        by TexasTom on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 05:58:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Great point. I'm sure every person here, (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sylv, MPociask, Rox Girl, TexasTom, libnewsie

          including especially the critics of the diary, are not only raising valid points of view but also are supporters of Detroit. I just think (a) that within the DKos family we need to be able to have vigorous Socratic debate; and (b) that should include questioning neoliberal approaches which have slipped into the core of our way of approaching real problems. If people are out of work, put them to work. Don't build a pyramid or a new mall and hope they come. That is a field of dreams approach. By mud-slinging I meant debating tough problems. I should have picked a better term because I don't think the diary, or the comments, are mud-slinging. It is constructive engagement. Even misguided accusations are in this case well-intentioned I am sure.

          garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

          by Galtisalie on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 06:34:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Who's ignoring? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sydneyluv, Sylv
          ...the solution of choice by a number of the critics of this diary is to ignore the problems and thereby make them go away.
          It's not like Detroit's problems haven't been well-known for years. Those problems have been pretty much all you would ever hear about whenever you would hear anything about Detroit. That's only increased since the municipal bankruptcy.

          There's nothing really new revealed in this diary. The problem isn't that people don't know what's happened to Detroit. The problem is an unwillingness to think seriously about the causes of Detroit's problems and do something about that, because Detroit's problems suggest something far more systemic. It's much easier for folks to turn Detroit into a kind of dumping ground whereby they can feel better about themselves and their own communities and not think about the direction that too many of our cities have gone in and are going in.

          Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

          by Linnaeus on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 10:59:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  This diary sucks. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sydneyluv, libnewsie

        Here's why. Every rightwing media outlet in the country is bashing Detroit for "50 years of misrule by blacks". In fact, it's more than just Detroit. I've read many times how "every city with a majority black population is a cesspool". And how blacks are too stupid to govern themselves. And black males have a culture of not wanting to work.

        Why put a rightwing talking-points diary on Daily Kos?

        There are substantial problems in Detroit. But bashing the Renaissance Center and the monorail, which are major employer of black Detroiters, is asinine. The Big 3 auto companies bailed on Detroit. White people bailed on Detroit. Meanwhile, the remaining residents are left to pick up the pieces and all they get is trash-talking from conservative "leaders".

        If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

        by edg on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 10:15:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I understand your concern but (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sylv, northsylvania

          disagree in part. It was a long, detailed, and informative piece, to some of us at least. It did leave off a lot of positive and alternative perspective. If it had been longer to bring more nuance and balance, that would have been great to me, but then it would have been even longer. It could have used a less cold tone, and been more sensitive. So could I have been in a couple of my comments. You and others are pushing back on that as you should. These issues are not simple. And, for those living it, I can understand your points of view even better.

          garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

          by Galtisalie on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 12:25:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The people taken to task in this diary (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Be Skeptical, Sylv, Galtisalie

          most explicitly, and fairly, are the Fords, père et fils. He also gets some digs in on the white people he sees on the People Mover and the DIA docents. I don't hear any racist dog whistles here myself along the lines of those you mention.

          Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

          by peregrine kate on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 06:01:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Hell yeah it's depressing. Accurate too. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sylv, jilikins, MPociask

    Kind of like if David Harvey got botulism and decided to write through the pain.

    My mom was born near Detroit in the 30's when her Georgia farm girl mom was abandoned by my deadbeat grandfather. An uncle had work at a car plant and they were kind to give my mom, her mom, and her sister a roof. The factory's long since closed. My mom went back to the farm to grow up until the end of the war when they moved to greater "Miameh," settling into the Detroit of south Florida, Opa-Locka.

    The Renaissance Center approach to helping people is a mirage. I have love for Opa-Locka. I have love for Detroit. I have love for the Bronx. I have love for ... [insert desperate place]. Are we not to admit that conditions are bleak and inhospitable to the desperate people who have been left behind by capitalism? I think he's done that in a painfully honest way. To truly love the people we cannot sugarcoat the failed capitalist myths.

    FDR at some point would have been honest about the fact that the people need government jobs and direct benefits rather than banking on silly faith-based urban design. How about increasing the max family income for food stamp eligibility?

    Doing the right thing by the poor and needy should not be contingent on profits. People should be helped, not developers and bonds dealers. Pump-priming of capitalism will only go so far. Government "stimulus" of a dead patient lying on the gurney is silly. So all the Jetsons-inspired wet dreams have proved themselves embarrassingly inadequate.

    garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

    by Galtisalie on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 08:55:17 PM PDT

  •  Pretty easy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    puakev, sydneyluv

    to kick an aging centenarian in the groin as she falls.

    I feel for your love of Detroit.
    Everything that once was, is now "was".

    America is a young lover gaining some years.

    How strong is the love?

    Suddenly, it dawns on me, Earnest T. Bass is the intellectual and philosophical inspiration of the TeaParty.

    by Nebraska68847Dem on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 09:31:57 PM PDT

    •  Someone recently noted we have no natural disaster (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sylv, sydneyluv, libnewsie

      When a hurricane or tornado or wildfire or earthquake destroys a community, FEMA and the rest of the country jump to rebuild it.  
      In Detroit, where the worst weather we encounter is usually cold and snow, our weak and abandoned structures have nothing to wash them away. It costs money to tear down old buildings and rebuild. Try getting Congress to spend money on that...

      Imagine all the people, living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. John Lennon

      by GwenM on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 05:36:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  More vitriol, I'm afraid (7+ / 0-)

    You DO understand, I hope, that Netroots Nation will be held at the Cobo Center, that the hotel for it is indeed the Renaissance Marriott, and that the way many of us will get from the hotel to the Cobo Center is via the People Mover. How guilty do you really want all of us to feel about that?

    This diary makes me think your answer to that is "VERY." You know what? I won't.

    Seneca Falls, Selma, Stonewall

    by Dave in Northridge on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 09:47:45 PM PDT

    •  I was honestly oblivious to that fact... (6+ / 0-)

      And I certainly wouldn't want anyone to feel guilty about using the People Mover and the RenCen Marriott. Big events like Netroots coming to the Cobo Center and bringing folks to Downtown Detroit are great, but they are also the bread and butter of the People Mover's rider base, which is why that particular transit system is so underutilized.

      I think, and I could be wrong, but I think the biggest week for the People Mover was when Detroit hosted the Super Bowl a few years back (can't remember the numerals, but it was the Steelers - Seahawks game where Bettis rode off into the sunset)...the point I was trying to make was that the people mover was a public transit system that was doomed to failure as soon as the suburbs and the folks out in Oakland and Macomb Counties voted against constructing feeder systems into downtown and to the airport. It's kind of hard to have a robust commuter base when your track is so small that you can walk from any one stop to another in under half an hour.

      I do appreciate your commenting though. I really did not know that Netroots Nation was going to be in Detroit this year and it was certainly not my intention to make anyone feel bad about using public transit and staying in hotels in Detroit.

      •  I think what you are oblivious to is the history (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sylv, ZenTrainer

        of detroit.  Think of all the hatred spewed at obama from the right wing, now go back in time 40 years and imagine detroit getting its first black mayor.  Half of detroit moved 15 miles out and has been at virtual war with what they left behind ever since, taking great pride in the wreckage of their abandonment.  Snyder has DIA art being appraised right now to sell to Chinese investors, all to make detroit 'safe' for investment.  Think about that, dumbass white suburbanites so wrapped up in their hatred they are oblivious to a firesale of priceless art being arranged by their governor.  Fuck, 1/2 of them are probably cheering it on.  Don't diary on the wreckage that is 'detroit' as defined by arbitrary boundaries on a map, try diarying the wreckage that is 'detroit' as defined by the population center of southeastern michigan.

        People who think politics is stupid are doomed to be ruled by stupid people.

        by ban48 on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 04:03:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Your comments are part of the diary thread. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I think they are valuable. The back and forth created by a diary can be useful. By all means blast away at the diary as you see fit. It's much better than staying on the side lines.

          garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

          by Galtisalie on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 04:24:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm sick of this narrative about urban decay (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ZenTrainer, Sylv, peregrine kate

            when the cause of the decay is our disposability society being ruthlessly gamed.  During the 4th crusade when the chrisitan warriors decided it would be less hassle to plunder the byzantine empire than to travel all the way to the middle east, the byzantines took solace in the fact that their new masters, while sparing no time collecting all the gold and silver and fine tapestries they could find, ignored the books because they could not read.  They actually scoffed at their barbarian overlords for being so stupid and were happy the cornerstones of their history and culture was spared.

            Contrast this with michigan where the governor has opened the doors to the DIA to be assessed and auctioned off to his patrons and how the populace is too dumb to see what is going on and too distracted by spite to care.  Fuck the wreckage that is detroit, look at the wreckage that is michigan.

            People who think politics is stupid are doomed to be ruled by stupid people.

            by ban48 on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 02:32:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Um, no. The DIA art was never going (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sydneyluv, libnewsie, Sylv, Be Skeptical

          to be sold to Chinese investors.  Snyder doesn't have control of that.  The judge has control of that.  Orr, the ER, has to take his deal making to the judge.  The judge had already sent Orr back to the drawing board to cut more from the deal to banks.  The DIA art is going to be protected by nonprofit funding.  The most vocal group that mentioned the art should be sold were Detroit retirees getting pensions cut but not quite so much by the people in the burbs.  In fact, the most vocal anti-Detroiter, L. Brooks Patterson (Oakland county exec) has said the art should be protected first.   The people in the burbs are the ones with the money and time to visit the DIA and we just voted as a three county (Oakland, Macomb, Wayne) block to fund the DIA with a bond.  So you are wrong there.  Just saying.

          The hateful people in the burbs you speak of abandoning homes in Detroit are long gone....those homes are owned by Detroiters or investment companies that rent them out.

          My take was that the diarist was commenting on a few things in the past and what he saw in the present and tried connecting the two in time/event map of sorts and points out the capitalistic approach hasn't worked out well for the city.

          Back to those hateful burbs you speak of....most of the people here were born in the burbs and many are too young to even know the history.  Grandkids around here don't sit at their grandparents knee to  hear of the good old glory days of Detroit.  They only deal with the present.

          That is not to say there are no racists.  There are.  MI is a blue state for the most part but gerrymandering makes it a red government.

          Detroit/Metro Detroit is complicated, but we are not talking about the Hatfield and McCoys here, as it seems you have pictured things.  Nothing is personal.  People are making decisions for what is best for themselves and their families, not what would get the goat of anyone living south of 8 mile road.

          Detroit is nearly done with the bankrupcy process and ER Orr will most likely be gone in the fall, just in time for elections.  We shall see if Governor Snyder gets elected again.  I think it will be close, but hope enough people have buyer's remorse to kick him out.

          1. What does it mean? 2. And then what?

          by alwaysquestion on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 05:31:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  meet the google: (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sylv, peregrine kate

            ■Catalyst Acquisitions/Bell Capital Partners bid $1.75 billion for the entire collection, though the final offer would depend on what pieces of art are available for sale.

            ■Art Capital Group offered a $2 billion loan with a minimum base interest rate of 6 percent to 9 percent, but wants the collection held for collateral on the loan.

            ■Yuan Management Hong Kong Limited offered $895 million to $1.473 billion for 116 specific works. The Asian investment firm also is known as Yuan Capital.

            ■Poly International Auction Co. Ltd. said it would pay “up to $1 billion” for the DIA’s Chinese art collection.

            From The Detroit News:

            Ok, they aren't all Chinese investors.  They have branched out since I last looked.

            People who think politics is stupid are doomed to be ruled by stupid people.

            by ban48 on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 08:10:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I didn't say no one tried to buy the (4+ / 0-)

              art.  I said it was never going to be sold.  The judge has total control over that, not Snyder, nor Orr, and the judge had made fairly clear the art will not be sold off.  The other creditors tried making a stink about it by saying they have offers, which in their minds leave more in the pot for their taking.  But they were never going to get more than what the judge saw fit to begin with.  Witness that the judge sent Orr back to the drawing board earlier in the process saying he was being too generous to the banks.

              Anyone can offer anything they want.  The exercise is futile.

              You don't live in MI, do you?  Not saying you can't have an opinion, but to not know some of these very public details makes me think you don't live here.

              1. What does it mean? 2. And then what?

              by alwaysquestion on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 08:21:23 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Sigh.... Le Google.... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                peregrine kate, Sylv

                People who think politics is stupid are doomed to be ruled by stupid people.

                by ban48 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 02:39:18 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well, if it is on the internet, it has to be true. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  sydneyluv, Be Skeptical

                  Except for when it isn't.

                  Snyder does NOT own the judge.  NOT this one, anyway.  The direction this judge is taking is very clear.  You can say that Orr is Snyder's puppet.  I won't say one way or the other there.   But our judicial system works just fine where this judge is concerned and Snyder is NOT in on that process.  He would be in really big trouble as anyone would be if they tried to go behind closed doors to direct or in anyway give this judge orders.

                  This judge has been harder on the banks and easier on the retiree pensions, which must give Snyder the vapors.  This judge has nudged Orr over and over again to go in one direction.

                  Any meathead can file papers in court.  Hell, I can come up with an offer of $1 and file that in court.  As long as it is before the deadline, anyone can file.  Saying that all offers will be taken seriously is standard.  They would say the same with my hypothetical offer of $1.

                  But let's just wait another 3 or 4 months for the final book to close on this chapter of Detroit and see where the DIA art lands, shall we?  No sense going back and forth vomiting the GOOGLE and common knowledge.  Patience will settle this one.

                  1. What does it mean? 2. And then what?

                  by alwaysquestion on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 05:07:09 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  • know "" (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    alwaysquestion, Sylv

                    is the website for the Detroit Free Press, one of the major newspapers in the area, and not just some random website, right?

                    Your dismissing this article as "if it's on the internet, it must be true" is misguided.

                    •  Reading that freep article does (0+ / 0-)

                      not in any way give sway to the art being sold, number one, and number two, Snyder has NO control over it now that it is in court in front of a judge.

                      The other article linked was from the conservative Detroit News, which always takes an opposing view.  The process will play out.  I see that Obama just threw in $100 million to sweeten the deal.  The money gets shifted around a bit and more goes to the pension fund, a major hurdle solved in the judge's eyes.  Getting $350M from the state of MI now goes to $250M....and there is some talk that nonprofits might gin up more to get the job done but are waiting to see what the judge says.

                      Again, we shall see in a few months what is what.

                      1. What does it mean? 2. And then what?

                      by alwaysquestion on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 08:13:59 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  While I don't disagree, (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Sylv, alwaysquestion

                        I still don't think "If it's on the internet, it must be true" is warranted as a reply to that post, because it sounds as though it was being dismissed as some random internet blog.  Which it wasn't.

                        Either way, I certainly hope the art doesn't get sold.  That's exactly what the city needs, one less reason for people to want to go there.

                  •  Snyder STARTED this. He didn't have to. (0+ / 0-)

                    If it is out of his control, it doesn't change the fact he started it.  He kicked the beehive and threw detroit into bankruptcy, now 21000 retiree's income is at-risk and so is the DIA art, not to mention a slew of other assets.  Yes this diary is a curious ruin-porn fest, but it doesn't change the fact that 21,000 retirees x $24k or whatever they get is over $500M per year and once he throws that on the table someone is going to go after it.  Not to mention the DIA art appraised at billions.  Not to mention the detroit public schools with a $1.2B annual budget.  Not to mention the detroit water department with $1B in assets.  Snyder put all this and more in jeopardy, why?  To make detroit 'safe for investors'?  You might want to spend more time with the google.

                    And, with friends like this:

                    State Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, said he’s hearing more from constituents who oppose any financial help for Detroit than from supportive Detroit pensioners who have moved to northern Michigan.

                    “I am not leaning any one way, other than to say many more constituents are saying don’t do it.”

                    who needs enemies?  After all, what do I have to gain by stopping 21,000 retirees from getting mugged?

                    People who think politics is stupid are doomed to be ruled by stupid people.

                    by ban48 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 07:23:24 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I hear your concerns. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      You don't like Gov. Snyder.  I am no fan and did not vote for him...and work for and give money to the Mark Schauer campaign to oust him.  I invite you to join me in that effort if you are so inclined.

                      You nor I can affect the outcome at this point.  It is in the judge's hands to decide what he will accept from Orr.  We have only 3 or 4 months to go to find out.

                      I can't take this past what I have already said, so will leave you with the last work should you choose to reply.

                      Peace to you and yours.

                      1. What does it mean? 2. And then what?

                      by alwaysquestion on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 08:24:10 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

    •  For real (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rox Girl

      you don't think that you can make it the third of a mile between Cobo and the Renaissance Center without riding the People Mover?  

      I call bullshit, let's be honest.  If you're this concerned about your ability to make the third mile between these two buildings on foot, it's probably because you are under the mistaken belief that the entire damn city of Detroit is out to mug you.  So you have to be hermetically sealed in the white people mover in order to avoid all contact with the locals.

      Let me suggest to you that your comment is indicative of the sort of latent middle class racism that permeates throughout Daily Kos, but rarely gets called out. The organizers of Netroots Nation should be mindful of the impression that they create if they seek to hermetically seal of the event from the surrounding community. In fact, I would hope that they make some effort to move the action outside the arena and convention center to avoid this.  God forbid, someone might might have their impression of the city changed.

      by ManfromMiddletown on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 06:26:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A Wonderful Detroit Touring organization: (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GwenM, ZenTrainer, edg, libnewsie

        Feet on the Street Tours.  The woman who owns this company is incredible, so knowledgeable, honest and she loves Detroit.  I would be happy to promote this business. Maybe we can arrange some 'meaningful' tours. I will pass the information on.

        I've taken a social work tour with her and I was so deeply touched by all the love and intelligent effort pouring into Detroit. I was in tears much of the day, I was so touched.

        Yes, this city is in big trouble with so many complex and overwhelming problems.  And yet there are lots of green shoots. The question is: will they be covered over with mud, like this diarist has attempted or will they be fertilized, watered and shine upon.

        The 'shift' is hitting the fan.

        by sydneyluv on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 06:46:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'd call it elitism rather than racism, (4+ / 0-)

        but those two are sometimes indistinguishable and I agree. There's an expressed desire to help by people here, but then it gets followed by an aversion to actually associate with the destitute. The diarist and the comments both give a pretty clear indication that the RenCen and the PeopleMover stops are a Disneyland facade rather than the real Detroit, both the good and bad of the city are excluded from them, so I wouldn't be jumping to their defense.

        People attending NN shouldn't have to feel guilty unless they choose to stay in this studio bubble and not experience the reality of the backlots. If they do refuse to venture out, or at the very least refuse to acknowledge their elitism and instead pretend to be doing something good for the city from their hotel conference rooms, then yeah, I'd feel guilty if I were them.

        •  The absurdity of riding (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rox Girl

          in a hermetically sealed tube a distance that can literally be walked in less than 10 minutes is what sticks out to me.  The park that separates Cobo from the RenCen is really nice, as I remember.  This particular section of Detroit is really very, very safe.  Even more so if you have the sense to try not to walk alone at night, and always stick to well lit areas.  That can be an issue in other parts of the city (streetlights are turned off), but not so much downtown.

          It's the irrational fear that irritates me. Plus, if you look at the map there's no doubt that the people mover is pretty exclusionary.  Moreover, I think that the person who mentioned that it would be quicker to get out and walk had it right.  You're inconveniencing yourself it you ride instead of walk.

          by ManfromMiddletown on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 07:12:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That park was actually the first place (0+ / 0-)

            I experienced speed chess, and I lost some money in the process to a fast talking street player who was also a little too forward, but the experience and memory were well worth the loss of money. It's experiences like that which would be lost out on by not walking, not interacting with the community.

          •  Absurdity of riding? (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            itsjim, ZenTrainer, Sylv, libnewsie

            My wife is disabled with rheumatoid arthritis. She has a hard time walking 300 feet because her hips, knees, and ankles are in such bad shape. But I'll pass on your message about how absurd she is.

            If you don't watch news, you're un-informed. If you watch Fox news, you're mis-informed. (paraphrasing Mark Twain)

            by edg on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 10:38:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Really (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I would hazard a guess that few of the people who ride the People Mover do so because of a disability.

              The fact of the matter is that the system is literally designed to seal off the people who ride it from the rest of the city.  Given that the system is elevated, you do realize that in all likelihood it will likely be a greater struggle to get up and down the stairs used to get on the tram.  Not to mention that it's going to deposit you at the far end of Cobo, meaning you will probably walk more inside of Cobo center than it you had just walked it from the RenCen.

              Regardless of your motivations, it's very clear that this isn't a mass transit system.  If it was, it would extend beyond the central business district

              My point was, and is, that for most people riding the people mover is about the fear that they are going to get shot for the wallet if they walk down Jefferson Street.  Which is utterly ridiculous.


              by ManfromMiddletown on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 01:44:33 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  I don't see it that way at all, Dave. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The diarist is a bit hyperbolic, but not inaccurate nor, I think, unfeeling.

      Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 06:14:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Racism, racism, racism................... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask, Paul Ferguson

    We love the myth of Detroit here in Michigan --  the history, the muscle, the river, and the great memories of punching the clock and making good money bolting together America.

    The river is still there but the rest of it is long gone, and even the art is up for sale. There are signs of life returning, but the city's core is still a smoldering hole surrounded by fear-filled and angry suburbanites -- those who have turned their backs on their neighbors.  The unresolved tragedy of Detroit is that Motown hates itself.

    Deny it all you will, but the reason Detroit hates itself -- the rotten heart of all our suffering -- is racism.

    Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

    by boatwright on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 10:16:20 PM PDT

  •  I have never HR'd a tip jar before but I had to (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sydneyluv, GwenM, ChemBob, Yoshimi, edg

    here. I really think this diary should be deleted. It seems very racist to me and...what is the word? "Classist"? Very condescending to the lower class.

    A 37 year old building (that you just saw) doesn't suit your tastes so is shit? That was the first glass elevator that I had ever ridden in. Every rock band who was anyone stayed there.

    Yes, we know that Detroit is now predominantly black and poor and the education system sucks while the suburbs are much better off. What is your point?

    On the second read of this shite I was struck by your description of the docents of the museum as a "white woman" and an aging hippie, however it was you phrased that. You seem to think they are out of touch with the city that THEY live in (Dude, you are only visiting). More condescending racist, classist crap.

    Plus, I somehow got the sense you thought it might be a good idea to sell all the art??? (inferring that the residents of Detroit were so low on Maslow's Hierarchy scale that art couldn't possibly interest them.)

    Greek town and casino's? You really should hook up with the Motor City Kossacks. They just went to a Greek town restaurant for a meet up. Dairy is here

    You bitch about the people mover??? Alternative transportation in what was the automobile capital of the world and you mock it? We barely have a bus system here in TN.

    Where are you from? Let's see a diary tearing that city apart next please.

    Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature. If I had Bill Gates money, I'd buy Detroit.

    by ZenTrainer on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 10:48:03 PM PDT

    •  Thank you ZT! I was so boiling last night (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ChemBob, ZenTrainer, edg

      about this diary, especially that it was promoted to Community Spotlight, that I couldn't even write. You picked up on the tone of subtle scorn (and racism) of all things Detroit, in the name of honesty or something, throughout the diary. An example you pointed out is his discussion of the docents at the DIA.  I know a lot of docents at the DIA and they are mostly a highly educated and dedicated retired group of people, like the docents at most museums.

      One commentor above who approved of the diary called it a Good mudslinging. How is mudslinging in any situation useful or kind or productive? I still wonder about the point of the diary. It starts with a melting pot metaphor and an attack on Henry Ford, then goes to the architecture of the Ren Cen, the the docents at the DIA, the people mover and the Casinos, then the facts of the decline of Detroit. I left a few things out.  Besides it was too long.

      I too thought about the NN Conference coming here this summer and how that might be connected to the purpose of ths diary (even though the diarist protests innocence). Just wondering.

      The 'shift' is hitting the fan.

      by sydneyluv on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 04:41:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That was my term. I'm glad you (0+ / 0-)

        found something to rebut in my comments.

        garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

        by Galtisalie on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 05:13:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Mudslinging: a lot of internalized 'mud' (0+ / 0-)

          that is psychologically managed on an individual or group level by throwing outward, hoping to get rid of it. We commonly call that projection or externalization. Doesn't work but at the moment 'feels' good.

          The 'shift' is hitting the fan.

          by sydneyluv on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 06:36:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Okay. Now about my substantive points? (0+ / 0-)

            garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

            by Galtisalie on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 06:41:00 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  What new thing did you learn from this diary? (4+ / 0-)

              Your comment above confused me.  And I wonder what new thing you learned from this diary? Children playing on the people mover, white suburban women working as docents, Henry Ford as a racist, a very controversial high rise in downtown, a terrible horrible school system, white flight. What?

              None of this is new.  We live with it every day. There is so much more complexity and subtly than presented in the diary and some comments. For example, its extremely unlikely that the DIA art will be sold like to a group of Chinese investors. That's just drama.  It's not going to happen.  Not that keeping the DIA art solves the really serious problems of Detroit.  The hysteria over the emergency manager and working through this bankruptcy is not helpful and again the situation is much more complex than is discussed here. There was good news in the Free Press this morning that the Pension Boards and the EM have agreed on a pension reduction plan which is much more positive for pensioners than ever publicly discussed before. I don't know how to link. Sorry.

              I'm off to work.  I will leave this diary but it leaves me with a very bad taste and is a poor reflection on the usual quality of DK writing.  I would be embarrassed to have it seen by friends and colleagues, to whom I keep recommending DK.

              The 'shift' is hitting the fan.

              by sydneyluv on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 07:12:03 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm sorry. I was snide and loose in some (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                of my words.  

                Still, the diary revealed to me, one who is not there on the scene, a lot. Often a diary is focused on a point of view and the diarist,'already writing a lot, cuts things out that might have gone in. Comments are part of the Socratic process. "There is so much more complexity and subtly than presented in the diary and some comments."--undoubtedly true.

                Moreover, I raised some hopefully valid points in my comments that are worth considering when and if you get the opportunity.

                garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

                by Galtisalie on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 08:33:17 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Hon, I am in disagreement with you here. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sydneyluv, Be Skeptical, ZenTrainer, Sylv

      I appreciate you sticking up for Detroit, don't get me wrong. And I do see him being rather flippant at times (though not exclusively toward the lower classes). It's all relative, isn't it? We all need, we all deserve better than we are getting, that's for sure. Hugggs!

      Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 06:22:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I can't imagine ths diary (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sydneyluv, DuzT, ChemBob, edg, libnewsie

    being heartily approved by many residents of Detroit.

    by DAISHI on Tue Apr 15, 2014 at 11:14:10 PM PDT

  •  People Mover (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Can you ride the People Mover from Renaissance Center to the Detroit Institute of Art?

    So sad, happy memories of Birmingham (in Oakland county) in the 1960's.  Going to Hudson's downtown to see Santa.

    In the dark shadow of the Great Satan of Retail

    by OzarkOrc on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 12:04:26 AM PDT

  •  Diego Rivera captured the value of workers. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sylv, MPociask

    Get the workers work. Capitalism has failed to do that. Per wiki on Rivera, "During the McCarthyism of the 1950s, a large sign was placed in the courtyard defending the artistic merit of the murals while attacking his politics as "detestable.""

    garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

    by Galtisalie on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 05:46:49 AM PDT

  •  I broke my own rule here. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ChemBob, ZenTrainer, sydneyluv

    Normally I will rec a post if it keeps my attention all the way through.
    Not this time.  I don't get it.
    The diarist pops in for a visit and has everything all figured out about us?

    Listening to Black Sabbath.

    by DuzT on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 05:56:32 AM PDT

  •  The author is clueless. (5+ / 0-)

    For example, he doesn't know enough recent history to know that the Greektown casino used to be a shopping mall; Trapper's Alley. It's no surprise that the People Mover makes a stop there. As for the casino itself, apparently the author has never visited any of the numerous casinos that have popped up in less-urban areas across the country. Pretty much the same deal there, too.

    Detroit has a lot wrong with it, sure, but this joker of an author doesn't know enough as an outsider to write about the city.

    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."

    by grape crush on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 06:56:16 AM PDT

    •  Trapper's Alley Was Built in The Mid-80s (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It's development, which took place in concert with that of the people mover and the RenCen is part and parcel of why both the business community and local government didn't have greater success in bringing downtown Detroit back to life.

      The Greektown Casino is just a current end result of 50 years of cookie-cutter development in areas like Greektown, where the wonderful and historic qualities of neighborhoods were bulldozed and replaced with parking lots and chain stores.

      Detroit is certainly not unique in this aspect and, I would suspect, if you took a poll of Detroiters and asked them if they would rather have Greektown Casino and an abundance of chain restaurants  or a vibrant Greek community with independently owned restaurants and shops and markets, they'd choose the latter.

      In my hometown of Cincinnati and in my temporary hometown of Baltimore, we just got/are in the process of getting our own casinos (both Horseshoes) and the the same thing is happening in large urban centers all over the country, as well in the rural areas you mentioned. I chose to spotlight The Greektown Casino because, it seemed it me, it best represented the mirage of "new jobs" and "new revenues" that casinos so often cite as their selling points while misappropriating an ethnic heritage and a neighborhood for its own needs.

      •  "if you took a poll of Detroiters..." (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sydneyluv, libnewsie, Rox Girl would find that most of them moved out to the suburbs a while ago.

        That, or the polling would indicated that they're happy with anything but more urban blight.

        Read this, then comment on Greektown.

        Or maybe actually do more than drop by for a brief visit and jump to conclusions. Detroit is not Cincinnati or Baltimore, does not have the same history, decades of bad management, and these quaint neighborhoods you seem fond of weren't paved over -there are few chain stores in the city, 'tho people keep trying - they were abandoned.

        "It's development, which took place in concert with that of the people mover and the RenCen is part and parcel of why both the business community and local government didn't have greater success in bringing downtown Detroit back to life."

        Bringing Detroit back to life would involve having more people and businesses live there.

        "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."

        by grape crush on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 06:47:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  City to city comparisons can be problematic (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sylv, peregrine kate

          and I'm not meaning to be calling you out on this, as it applies with the original diarist and my own comments too.

          Baltimore is certainly operating in a different economic environment from Detroit, and Cincinnati has also uncoupled with the collapse of the manufacturing industry and is now in a more mixed economy. All three cities are showing signs of rebounds, but they're going in three separate directions with those rebounds. Detroit still relies on the automotive industry, their biggest new jobs announcement of the last couple of weeks is GM's expansion of Volt manufacturing, Baltimore's big news is construction of a hotel/retail complex near the UofMd, and Cincinnati's is GE moving their new global operations hub to the city.

          All three are big 1400+ job generators, all are the result of commitments to the cities by companies or organizations which already have a significant presence in the area. As I said, though, all are revitalizing in different ways: Baltimore toward research and medical, Detroit with a better late than never move to electric autos, and Cincinnati with another corporate services center.

        •  I think he did read that link, because it's in (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sydneyluv, Sylv

          his diary (though I don't know if it was there to start; I'm assuming so).

          The diarist doesn't mention this, but I assume you recall the debacle of siting the casinos in entirely different places than was originally intended? At first, the casinos were supposed to be near the river, in the Warehouse District. Many wonderful, successful, long-term businesses (e. g. Soup Kitchen Saloon, Woodbridge Tavern) were forced out to make way for the casinos.

          And guess what? They were pushed out for nothing. And there's still not much if anything in their place. It's that kind of mismanagement that has been counter-productive for the city.

          Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

          by peregrine kate on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 06:31:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Small point of fact - (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peregrine kate, Sylv

        Trapper's Alley was a narrow, grimy little street off the main drag that was full of small businesses run by Greeks. I remember a bookstore there in particular - cavernous, dusty, and dark, where we browsed for hours. The alley itself was imbued with a sort of mystery. It was rumored to be dangerous, although my family's excursions there never proved that out. It existed long before the mall called Trapper's Alley, long before the Ren Cen, long before the People Mover.

        The name of the mall was appropriated by developers who built over the actual alley and through its surrounding buildings, while they removed its soul.

        Your point is taken though - I would give anything to have the old Greektown back. The mallification of the area was a huge mistake.

  •  Good diary (6+ / 0-)

    Which is not to say I agree with everything in it.  My dad's from Detroit - my grandad lived in and worked for the city of Detroit, and his folks immigrated to Detroit.  Growing up, we used to go up at least once a year.  So I have a connection with the city.  And I know that Detroit has a lot of good things going on right now.  But there are also depressing cold truths, and we, as an online community and as a country, need to face those as well.  

    I thought the best part of this piece was the historical information about Ford's speech in the 70's.  The almost-always-overlooked part of Detroit's history is that its decline is not recent - you can't blame it on (just) NAFTA, you can't blame it on (just) Reaganism, you can't blame it on unions (which after all were strongest when Detroit was peaking, and are now at their weakest, the same as Detroit), you can't  blame it on (just) the race riots.  Going by Census counts, Detroit has been shrinking since 1950.  

    We need to decide as a country - what kind of cities do we want to have?  And then, how do we get there?

    One of the parts of candidate Obama's speeches I liked best was his talk about rebuilding America brick by brick, block by block.  I thought urban rejuvenation would be a large focus of his.  Alas.

    •  It is a good diary and the people of Michigan... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      should be ashamed. From a distance, t'is hard to believe what has happened to Detroit in about a generation.

      Is the governor still hiding under a rock? Michigan needs to  man-up put their money where their mouth is. Match with federal funds and make 100's of billions of dollars in investments. Bond it over 30 years with state obligation paper. Will take 30 years to turn it around.

      The diary is good albeit don't know if diarisit is an architect as the joints looked pretty good to this layman.

    •  That's exactly right re: population. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Be Skeptical, meg, sydneyluv, Sylv

      Population in the suburbs started to exceed that in the city by 1958, the year I was born.

      It's important also to acknowledge how much has happened due to large-scale social policies and programs, some of them with unintended consequences but others whose results were all too easy to foretell. The degree of segregation in metro Detroit is part of that legacy.

      Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 06:35:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Would be interested to know who got rich.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    on the debacle now known as the Ren Center.  

    Fiat justitia ruat caelum "Let justice be done though the heavens fall."

    by bobdevo on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 07:36:45 AM PDT

  •  Detroit (5+ / 0-)

    This is a city that fell apart because it was caught right in the middle between pre- and post-automobile urban layouts.

    A lot of other midwestern rust belt cities survived because they were not re-engineered around the automobile and had large clusters of public institutions.  (Pittsburgh is the standout example.  Who would have thought in the late 1970s that Pittsburgh would be a first class city?  And who would have thought that its economy would be centered on the city itself, and not the suburbs?)

    And we can't discount the role of racism.  There was a large African American population and a large in-migration of blue collar whites from the South.  It is only in this part of the Rust Belt that you see the kinds of urban decay you see in Detroit (Flint and Youngstown are in worse shape, if such a thing is possible).

    •  Pittsburgh's Success (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sylv, libnewsie, puakev

      Comes in large part (I believe) because they saw the writing on the wall in the 1970s and began sinking all of their money into creating jobs in healthcare and higher education and jumped off the industrial bandwagon before it was too late. I may be wrong, but I believe that all 5 of Pittsburgh's largest employers (or maybe 4 of 5) are either medical centers or universities. Pittsburgh basically wrote the blueprint for how to transition from a 20th to a 21st century American economy. Being born and raised in Cincinnati and conditioned to despise the Pittsburgh Steelers with all my being, I'm routinely skewered by friends when I expound upon how great Pittsburgh is as a city, but I can't ignore it. I believe their unemployment rate is still in the mid sixes and it's consistently rated one of the "most liveable" cities in the country.

      I think Charlie Leduff expressed this sentiment best in his excellent bit of reportage/memoir Detroit: An Autopsy that Detroit was very much a victim of its own success. I mean the Motor City had such a stranglehold on the automotive market in the 1950s, no one thought for a second that it would fall apart the way it has.

      •  Having just... (6+ / 0-)

        ...visited Pittsburgh (and I agree, it is quite nice), I'd point out that Pittsburgh's density is at least partially a function of its geography.  We do not have mountains in (lower) Michigan, alas, and our urban areas were also designed, in this flat environmental landscape, to facilitate the automobile industry.  That meant owning cars, lots of them, and promoting lots and lots of car ownership.  And it isn't like there was no attempt to diversify the economy, there was (and is), but the same thing that facilitated white flight (and car sales for the commutes that followed in its wake) also resulted in massive disinvestment from the City of Detroit.  Oakland County is one of the wealthiest counties in the country, after all.  

      •  I haven't read through Leduff yet, since (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the excerpts I've seen suggest it's largely a hatchet piece. I will let you know what I think when I do get around to it.

        The thing with Pittsburgh is that the city itself is prosperous, relatively speaking, but the outer ring suburbs and the near rural areas are definitely not. It's still a disaster zone in the old mining towns nearby.

        Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

        by peregrine kate on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 06:37:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Very interesting story about Ford's efforts (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Notreadytobenice, sydneyluv, Sylv

    to homogenize his workers.  I had not heard that one.

    You make some good points, and I hesitate to school you on writing a diary given I as of yet have not, so I will just say that if you had left out the discription of the family on the People Mover as well as the DIA docents, it would have been more focused on both the People Mover and the DIA without the personal distraction.

    Detroit has had a lot of race relation problems in the past and still today, some of it is real, and some of it is not.

    It is near impossible to connect the racism that the elected leaders heap on Detroit with the general population of Metro Detoit given the gerrymandering done by the MI republican party.

    When governor Snyder campaigned on "cleaning up Detroit, Pontiac, Flint and Saginaw," it was a message to many that the "black" problem had to be dealt with hopefully once and for all.  I know of democrats that voted for him saying they would give him a chance to get that done.  I do not think most of them thought he was going to dismantle the cities and sell off assets.  Though Snyder did not present his current plan being implemented right now, I do not think most had this in mind and hopefully will go back to the ballot box to vote for the Dems.  It was not the plan of individuals living in Metro Detroit but rather a handful of republican representatives and the governor that built that bomb.

    But Detroit is complicated to talk about.  I do not think it can be said that people in Metro Detroit are blanket racists because they do not live in or go to Detroit.  Detroit is a mess and it is full of violence.  Car theft.  Home invasions, rape, assault, guns, gangs, boarded up and burnt out houses.  In addition, there are homeless dogs roaming the streets, and trash blowing around like that of a third world nation.  Pointing out any good that is going on does not in anyway make the reality of danger go away.  That does not discount any good that is happening in Detroit.  But the fact that good things are happening and whites are not moving back in droves does not mean that they are racist.

    Whatever the relations that happened between whites and blacks two or three generations ago do reflect accurately the relations of today's generation.  The decisions of greatgrandparents to move out of Detroit was mostly based on race, but the decision of this generation to not move back into Detroit are not made out of racism.  The number one reason people choose to live somewhere is for safety first, if they can afford it.  People generally get the greatest level of safety they can afford.  Sometimes that is couched in the search for the best schools, which, no surprise, are in the safest areas in general.

    Again, Detroit is complicated.  There is some resentment over the gentrification of a part of Detroit that is prime.  Whites moving in with money and driving the price of lofts and apartments up which is out of range for many blacks who already live there.  There is some surge of capitalist money going into the downtown Detroit area but again, much of that is for white people to work and live given they are the majority of people set up with the level of education for those jobs.  There are some blacks in Detroit that have said they do not want the whites moving back.  Are they racist?  Or are they just reflecting the reality of higher living costs impacting their lives in the areas whites move into?  See?  Complicated.

    There has been a recent "black flight" in the last decade or so that halved the population of Detroit.  Those blacks that could give their kids a safer life do so by moving to the suburbs of Detroit.  Are those blacks racist?

    Discussing Detroit is a good idea except for when it isn't.  I think historical discussions can be welcome if factual and nonpersonal.  And I think the discussion of how to help ease the suffering of many in Detroit can be helpful, done carefully.  Things heat up pretty quickly, as you can see.

    I will offer up a topic of discussion concerniing all of this nation to include Detroit, and that is the idea of a guaranteed income, found at

    I think the crime in Detroit would decrease if we had a guaranteed income but that would be just the start.  Preventing a problem is easier than reversing a problem decades old.  We need a well thought out plan that involves all the people, not just the capitalists of our day.

    1. What does it mean? 2. And then what?

    by alwaysquestion on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 11:58:05 AM PDT

    •  "governor Snyder" still hiding under a rock? n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alwaysquestion, Sylv
    •  Guaranteed Income (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alwaysquestion, libnewsie

      It's not going to happen yet, but I think this is what we should be fighting for rather than a minimum wage hike. The most winnable path would be in the form of SNAP benefits for everybody, to head off the free money for booze and drug lords arguments before they happen.

      The tax cost of providing every working age adult $8000/year would be about 13% of our GDP, but it would almost all go directly back into the economy pushing that GDP up rapidly. It would be the fastest and most efficient method of stimulus and wealth redistribution.

    •  I question your full understanding of Detroit (5+ / 0-)

      as well.

      It is not full of violence, border to border. There are still some solid neighborhoods that are holding on. Most people who drive around those areas are astonished because they've been led to believe they simply don't exist, that the city is a bombed-out wreck from Grand Circus Park to Eight Mile. I don't think you should be promulgating those misconceptions too.

      That said, yes, it is complicated.

      Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 06:41:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, if we take a look at this map: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        i would say things are not going so swell for a whole lot of people in Detroit.  Palmer ParK doesn't look so bad, but the map doesn't leave a lot of open space.  Palmer Park is also expensive, as is the New Center Downtown area with lofts/apartments out of reach financially to many.

        Not saying there aren't any houses left standing.  Mayor Duggan has take steps to address the empty houses as was talked about in this story: (Marygrove

        And blight removal has been going on for a few years now which is not a bad start.  However, I would say Detroit is still a long way from safe and not a place I would move, personally.

        I understand your feelings of protectiveness, though.  I tend to take the feelings out of things and look at the statistics when I am assessing something.  I do that with my family and myself as well.

        1. What does it mean? 2. And then what?

        by alwaysquestion on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 07:55:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Back in the 70's I visited a friend in Palmer (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          alwaysquestion, peregrine kate, Sylv

          Park. Beautiful home!  My husband was mad at me and didn't want me to go into Detroit.  For some reason I had his big Lincoln and guess what. I went to leave and my car was missing.:-(. It was stolen. We did get it back and on the road by the next afternoon, thanks to the good work of the Detroit police. Needless to say, it became even harder for me to visit in Detroit.

          We are divorced. :-).

          The 'shift' is hitting the fan.

          by sydneyluv on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 08:48:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It can be frustrating. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sydneyluv, Sylv

            I know a family who moved out of Detroit that now lives in my neighborhood.  She said she loved Detroit but just couldn't take her cars being ripped apart over and over again.  Cat. converters, hubcaps, etc..  It just gets tiresome to take care of that kind of business when the usual demands in life are also time consuming and take effort.

            I do think that Duggan will move things forward somewhat.  And that new scrapping law might make a difference for some of that car parts theft.

            I've done a fair amount of charity work and made contributions to programs over the years and working the logistics in Detroit is like no other.  Things you never thought you would have to think through must be thought through.  Won't go into details, but it can be frustrating.

            I do far less now that I have my child to raise.  I am getting older and it breaks my heart to see the same problems persist.  

            1. What does it mean? 2. And then what?

            by alwaysquestion on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 09:22:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not attempting to wish those stats away. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          alwaysquestion, Sylv

          I agree, things are not so good for a whole lot of people in Detroit.
          All I'm saying is that there are some neighborhoods where the crime rate is not such that one has to run from the house to the street under a shield. For you to say

          Detroit is a mess and it is full of violence.  Car theft.  Home invasions, rape, assault, guns, gangs, boarded up and burnt out houses.  In addition, there are homeless dogs roaming the streets, and trash blowing around like that of a third world nation.
          conveys the message that the whole city is one homogeneous blob of criminality and neglect. That's not the case. Far better to have nuance, as you say you support, than to paint the entire city with this broad brush.

          Some of the neighborhoods less impaired by violence are wealthier, but some are not. I hope that there is some kind of study going on to investigate why some areas (even poorer ones) manage to retain some level of public safety.

          I lived in Detroit, in a fairly middle-class area, for almost twenty years. Gah, I'm getting so old, I left the city about 15 years ago now. My old neighborhood is still decent. It has one of the strongest Neighborhood Watch programs in the city, which helps. I haven't checked the rental/purchase rates there, but they are generally lower than suburban housing, while not typically as low as many Detroiters would need.

          Again and again, we return to the same core problem: Poverty. Lack of jobs, lack of prospects.

          I also realize the city bureaucracy makes that of Kafka's novels look familiar. That's also a problem. But it too would not be insurmountable with a consistent effort.  I appreciate the help you offer.

          Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

          by peregrine kate on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 09:22:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent diary. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alwaysquestion, Sylv, peregrine kate

    I hail from Western NY State, home of that other Great Lakes (former) industrial eyesore, Buffalo NY and nearby Niagara Falls. Both of these post-industrial wastelands are testimonials to the mind-boggling stupidity of 'urban renewal' projects from 1970s through the millennium.

    Detroit at least didn't suffer from the tender ministrations of the 'master builder' Robert Moses, a virulent racist who very intentionally bulldozed and/or isolated African-American communities. Thriving black neighborhoods in cities from Buffalo to Brooklyn were walled off by rings of urban expressways designed to speed affluent whites from their suburban enclaves to waterfront attractions that (not coincidentally) public transit did not serve. The result was a kind of mutual cultural destruction, instant post-apocalyptic urban blight.

    •  ALL "ethnic" neighborhoods were attacked (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      In Boston, the historically Italian North End was cut off from the rest of the city. But the North End refused to wither away and die. I'm not sure how they did it (though an emphasis on Italian-themed street festivals may have been part of the mix), but the isolating highway is now gone and the North End is still there.

      The West End, on the other hand, was wantonly laid waste, and because the people were removed, the city could do whatever it wanted.

      If it's
      Not your body,
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      And it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 12:44:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well. Moses might not have been directly (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ralphdog, Be Skeptical, meg, Sylv

      involved in all of the so-called urban renewal campaigns that beset US cities in the early post-war era. But the strategies used in Detroit were very similar to what you describe in NY.
      The major expressways in Detroit, installed as part of the interstate highway system, just happened to go through the primary commercial and recreational centers of black Detroit. What a coincidence, no? Not.
      I can't link to it since I'm on my phone, but there is a fine book on the subject by June Manning Thomas, Redevelopment and Race: Planning a Finer City in Post-war Detroit (Johns Hopkins U Press, 1997).

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      by peregrine kate on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 03:12:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  a lot of negative comments (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sydneyluv, Sylv, peregrine kate

    and lack of recs vs # of comments. Never a good sign. :) I stand by my rec though.

    Detroit has big problems and needs big picture solutions. There's no savior coming forward, only carrion fowl to feast on what's left of its financial carcass. If it involves stealing people's pensions and priceless public art, well, life is tough and we all have to suck it up (except the rich banks and the wealthy .01 - 1%)

    You know what Detroit needs most? It's the same thing much of American in general needs, and is what the city has always needed, since the 50s when it began the slow motion tragedy we see unfolding today:

    1. Well paying JOBS
    2. Well paying JOBS
    3. Well paying JOBS

    If people have jobs, they aren't out robbing other people and committing other crimes in the pursuit of money to live. That's the reason my grandparents left their house in Detroit proper, the neighborhood I grew up in - their home got robbed multiple times.

    "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -5.54

    by solesse413 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 12:01:07 PM PDT

    •  jobs for whom? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Visceral, solesse413, Be Skeptical

      Detroit has the worst high school graduation rate of any state in the union. Not that long ago it was 50 percent, though I believe it might be about 65 percent now. I don't claim to know what the answer is but Detroit's problems are bigger than lack of employment.

      I'm from SE Michigan. My family moved 10 miles north out of Pontiac in the late 50s. My parents saw the writing on the wall and wanted a safe place to raise their children. My dad ended up retiring from Pontiac Motors. Was he wrong not to want his kids exposed to the crime and violence?

      I love Detroit and Pontiac, but can't see myself ever living in either of those cities. Nor do I ever see either revitalized in my lifetime. I romanticize them because I remember the great times I had there in the past, and even then I only saw what I wanted to see.

      •  jobs for people. (4+ / 0-)

        Seriously? It's the stupid people who are the problem? I just don't see that. There are plenty of smart educated people in Detroit and Wayne County. Even if they didn't graduate from some crappily-run public school that doesn't mean they're dumb and beyond help.

        If there are jobs, people will come back to the area. Detroit proper isn't just the problem, many cities in Wayne the average joe or jane can't earn a living. Detroit especially has no money because so many don't pay their property taxes, city services are degraded (like police and schools), etc. Infrastructure crumbles, etc. So yeah, jobs!

        Who said anything about anyone being wrong for moving out? My parents did the same and moved to OC and other family is in WayCo 'burbs. We all used to live in Detroit, no one does any more. I moved away a couple decades ago, but go back every year to see friends, hit the Ren Faire, have cider and donuts, and gorge on coney dogs. Nobody makes coneys like they do in Detroit! I love Detroit and Michigan, even with all it's warts.

        "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -5.54

        by solesse413 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 02:49:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I go back too (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          solesse413, Be Skeptical

          but spending an afternoon at Eastern Market and then karaoke at Bert's BBQ is a whole lot different than living there.

          My guess is that Detroit has been in decline since the 40s. My parents used to say how nice it was. Years ago my brother and his wife wanted to 'walk the walk' instead of 'talk the talk' and rented an apartment in Highland Park. That didn't last long. Their car was broken into and the windows smashed.

          I had a friend in the mid-seventies who traveled for several months all through Mexico in his VW bus. He stopped to visit friends in Highland Park and the first night he was there someone broke into his van and stole all his film from the trip.

          I'd love to see Detroit and Pontiac make a comeback, but each time I go down there it seems worse. I wish the best to anyone who stays by choice or has to stay.

          Agree on the coney dogs. Flint coney dogs are good too.

    •  Yes, jobs would make an enormous difference. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      But with no national urban policy, no national manufacturing or industrial policy, I don't see that happening for the rank-and-file, so to speak, any time soon.

      Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

      by peregrine kate on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 06:45:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This diary triggered a lot of introspection (6+ / 0-)

    And I ended up writing a diary of my own, my first.  I needed to write about my sadness.  I don't know how to link but it is now on the recent diaries list.  I'm removing my HR out of appreciation for it as a trigger of awareness.  And I really appreciated many of the comments.

    The 'shift' is hitting the fan.

    by sydneyluv on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 01:33:38 PM PDT

  •  I was otherwise occupied earlier this week-- (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, sydneyluv, Be Skeptical, Sylv

    a friend died over the weekend--so I didn't take a look at this diary until now.
    I'm still hampered in commenting for now since I have only my phone. But I will say to start that I am a bit surprised by the vehement rejection of the diarist's observations by so many commenters here. I'll write more later tonight, if I can. And I don't think he has made Detroit so unappealing that it will be a disincentive to attend NN this July. That's all I can retain to comment on for now.
    Meanwhile, I think there's more to be considered here than whether the diarist was too much of an outsider to be credible. Clearly he has touched a nerve.

    Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 03:20:42 PM PDT

    •  Glad to see you here. I was looking (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peregrine kate, Be Skeptical

      Forward to your comments.  It stepped on a lot of nerves, upset a lot of people, including me. But in all of that I discovered the depth of grief I have about Detroit. Even wrote my first diary.  So good things out of difficulty. I'm looking forward to your thoughts and I'm sorry about your friend.

      The 'shift' is hitting the fan.

      by sydneyluv on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 06:27:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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