Saturday, June 18, 2011

Motown, Motown... Big city of dreams

As a kid, I remember riding down Dexter Avenue with my father. Seemed as if it were a Saturday ritual. He would point out the abandoned houses and dilapidated buildings, telling me how beautiful things used to look. Even though I could never imagine beauty gracing this and other areas we'd encounter, I couldn't help but recognize the hint of nostalgia and sense of pride in my father's voice. His words painted the picture for me at age 12 as we rolled down the city streets of my hometown... Detroit.  The John Coltrane playing in the tape deck served as the perfect background music. It probably aroused my curiosity even more. And as was the case everytime we took this route, the inner tour guide in him led us downtown. Once there, it felt as if I were in a third-world country. Many emotions ran through my head. Nervous. Anger. Confusion. Even betrayal.
How could the city that most know worldwide as Motown and/or the car capital of America appear to be so desolate? Did anyone care or was everyone just comfortable with the pasttime paradise of the glorius 60's?
I asked my father this question. Not in those exact words but fairly similiar. He told me that the riots in 1967 killed Detroit and recovery time was unknown. That was 20 years ago. Sadly, Hitsville USA still remains in a state of uncertainty.Why? Because many of those same buildings and abandoned houses still exist, serving as rat infested trap houses for children to be abducted and raped. They decrease the value of other homes in neighborhoods across the city, making Detroit an easy target for the national media. Having a mayor that has constantly lied in court, to his family and the city as a whole does not help the situation.
A recent study in Forbes magazine ranked Detroit near the bottom out of 100 cities profiled in job growth, unemployment, median household income and income growth. Public transportation is poor. The city council is corrupt. Numerous schools have closed. Wayne County is over $20 million in debt a month. And the city's population is dwindling daily. True enough, Detroit has experienced some good times. Casinos. Twin stadiums for major league baseball's Tigers and the NFL Lions. Revitilization on Woodward Avenue and other streets downtown. All isn't bad. But most of that good is just used to disguise the city (and eventually the state's) weaknesses. Even with all this going on, I still live in Northwest Detroit. I have a lot of love for the city. But much like anybody who has that one aunt in the family that gets on your nerves, I don't like the city right now. Usually, most problems start at the top. You cut off the head and hope the problem becomes non-existent. Its time to destroy and rebuild. See you in 20 years.


  1. Something I wrote in 2008. I haven't read it since I wrote it so I have NO IDEA what I'm talking about. Just a frustrated resident... but I still bleed Detroit. One....

  2. What's crazy is 3 years have passed and the statements still hold to be true.
    I left Brooklyn late 2009 and I visit at least monthly. My old neighborhood of "Williamsburg" has been COMPLETELY regentrified in a little over 2 years.

    Detroit problems starts with the people, if the people have no self-esteem and pride for their city, neither will the city officials they elect to represent it.

    Everything starts with the people.