Archive for the ‘Detroit Gifts to the World’ Category

The war on the market

I’ve been watching a war this summer. No, not that never ending Orwellian one; nor the nauseating rises and fall of the economy either. It’s a struggle of man dominating nature, nature struggling back, and some street artists stopping in to admire the view. It took place in what the artists refer to it as “the market”, others know it as the Dequindre Cut.

A rail line skirts the east edge of downtown Detroit. This rail line, long abandoned by humans to the vagaries of urban tolerant wildlife, cuts a deep swath. Nestled in its embrace is an urban canvas. Hobos, debris and the occasional dog walker all gathered on this pathway that ran from the Eastern Market to the Detroit river. That was until the MDOT, encouraged by the noble rails-to-trails, came up with something a wee bit more family friendly.

With a surprising quickness the construction crews toppled the foliage and replaced it with sterile woodchips and manicured rows of flowers. The artists stubbornly persevered. Each night every newly erected surface received a complementary coating of paint. Every day towering construction vehicles craft new surfaces and the spiraling dance goes on today. For a glimpse into the past of the cut, stand at the mouth of the Gratiot bridge and stare north.

Only the Second Most Lonely – Detroit scores high on singles

As housing prices in Michigan go down, the amount of singles in Detroit seem to keep going up.

Yahoo reports a recent study ranking Detroit as having the second highest amount of singles of any city in the country, after San Francisco.

To be more specific, the census ranked cities by the number of “unmarried” people. So maybe “singles” isn’t the right word, since the word connotes young people on the prowl for love. I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but my guess is that one of the reasons why San Francisco ranks highest is the large number of gays and lesbians living there who, although they can legally marry in the state, may not have been counted in this study as married.

So why Detroit second, even more so than New York (which has 6 million more people)? Poverty? Single mothers and fathers? The reason sure isn’t because there are so many swinging fellas and ladies here than elsewhere in the country.

The added irony is that it’s the Yahoo Real Estate section that posted the results, along with a link to area houses on the market.

The study was conducted by Sperling’s Best Places. If you visit their website’s Detroit page, the first three user comments are

“Horrible place to live”

“The city America left behind”

“Absolutely terrible city”

So once again, irony and the internet win. Detroit is the worst place ever on

Anyone care to go the site and write something nice?

Eating at the Woodbridge Pub

After reading Scotter’s post on opening of the Woodbridge Pub I decided to mosey on down and see what kind of sustenance I could devour. Actually, I had been planning to go there anyway to see a fall photography show put on by some fellow Exposure Detroit members. The pictures and ambiance were spectacular. It has a really homey feel, with rich wood tones and tin ceilings.

The food was decently priced, as were the drinks. I got the Detroit Hipster burger, which comes on a ciabbatta bun, with a whole portabella mushroom cap, and a pesto infused mayonnaise sauce (I copied that part from the menu, I don’t even know what it means). It was delicious, if a bit messy. I can’t wait to get back and sample some more of the wonderful food!






They’ve amended the outgoing message at the Mocad.

Woodbridge Pub Opens Today!?


Vote for Detroit’s volunteers

This week is national volunteer week, and United Way for Southeastern Michigan is celebrating with their annual Recognize Volunteers event, which culminates with a recognition ceremony and several awards for volunteers in different categories. Head over to UWSEM’s website to vote for your favorite volunteer in each category.

I work with quite a few volunteers and make sure to nominate each year for this event. It’s a really great celebration that honors those who provide much needed services around Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. This is the first time that voting has been open to the public.

This is your last chance to catch Holy Hip-Hop and ReFusing Fashion at the MOCAD

Holy Hip-Hop and ReFusing Fashion, two excellent exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Arts-Detroit, will close this Sunday, so this weekend is your last chance to see them. Here’s Metroblogging’s review of the exhibition.

MOCAD is offering two final events to celebrate the exhibitions: Sarah Lewis, Art Historian at Yale, will talk about the Holy Hip-Hop paintings, and several experts will hold a discussion titled The Relevance of Fashion. In addition, the Black History 101 Mobile Museum will be parked outside (or maybe inside?) the museum on Sunday, April 20.

All this is free: the exhibitions, the discussions, the vagabonding black history museum. All free. The MOCAD is a great place for Detroit, doing great things. Feel free to donate a few dollars while you’re there and let’s keep enjoying and supporting this institution.

CatBurglers are Prowling the Streets of Detroit

Now that most of the copper has been scraped clean from the numerous abandoned buildings in Detroit, it seems that thieves have moved on to our parked cars.

I’ve spoken to several people who have had the catalytic converters stolen from under their parked cars overnight or in the early morning. My neighbor in the relatively quiet Woodbridge neighborhood had his catalytic converter stolen in the early morning. A turn of the key in the ignition resulted in a loud engine roar that could very well have awakened the rest of the block. Another neighbor reported that she saw a guy in a Crown Victoria get out of his car, get under my neighbor’s car for about 1 minute, and take off with a large metal object seconds later.

That’s all it took: a total of about two minutes to stop, saw, and go. (more…)

Join Oprah’s Book Club!

Well, of course, you don’t have to. But Oprah has chosen what many (and many to me basically means me and some friends) consider to be Detroit’s novel, Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides.

Eugenides grew up in Detroit and, although he has only published two books, is considered one of the most talented writers of the past ten years. Middlesex is a sort of bildungroman of Calliope Stephanides, a young girl who grew up during the 60s and 70s in Detroit and Grosse Pointe and who, by the end of her tale, become Cal Stephanides. Cal’s development and evolution takes place during the devolution of the city of Detroit, with a particularly gripping and somewhat controversial chapter that takes place during the 67 riots. It’s a must read for any Detroiter interested in what it means to be a Detroiter.

As for Oprah, yeah, I know. I, too, was a hater. And although I’m no longer a hater, I’m still not much of a liker. However, Oprah doesn’t pick crappy books for her book club, and, as a result of Oprah’s interest in Middlesex, thousands of people will read about, talk about, and think about the city of Detroit that would never have taken the time to before. Be one of them and, to stay cool, be sure to pick up a copy from your local independent bookstore before the new cover comes out that will surely contain the big and impossible to remove “Oprah’s Bookclub” sticker.

It will be interesting to check on Oprah’s website to read her viewers’ comments on the book and their thoughts about the representation of Detroit offered therein.

Detroit’s 7th Gift to the World: Automobiles


Yesterday was Motown and Detroit music. Today, we give the world our final gift this year: the automobile.

Detroit isn’t called the Motor City for nothing. True, other cities (and countries – notably Europe) had autos before Detroit. But it was Detroit that took the automobile to a whole new level, bringing it to the masses, and changing life for Americans and the rest of the world.

Despite the Big 3’s current uphill battle to hang onto market share in the U.S., Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler are forces to be reckoned with, both domestically and abroad, and Detroit remains the auto capital of the world. Detroit’s domestic automakers are also major contributers to the local, regional, national and global economy: GM is number 3 on the 2006 Fortune 500 list, and Ford is number 5. Auto-related companies Delphi, Lear, Visteon, and Masco are in the top 200, as well. GM is the world’s largest automaker and has been the global industry sales leader for 75 years, and the Big 3’s contributions to the city of Detroit and the area of Southeastern Michigan in everything from funding arts and culture activities to proactive environmental land use is enormous.

The auto industry is more than just cars, though. From the introduction of windshield wipers to the first mile of paved concrete, Detroit and its auto industry have made the world a better place and shaped today’s society. Here’s a brief historic timeline highlighting important dates and happenings in Detroit’s auto industry from the late 1890s through 1971:

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