Sunday, February 1, 2009

Why does Detroit start begging for a fucking cookie every time it does something right

So, nobody around here really seems to like it when reporters write things about Detroit. Mitch Albom, Charlie LeDuff, rent-a-hacks from London, jerks from Chicago. Whatever. They all suck. Die, die, die.

On the day that Charlie's story about the dead guy sticking out of the ice in Matty Maroun's warehouse ran in the News last week, you could log on to a certain prominent local message board and find yourself embroiled in a good, old-fashioned tempest in a teapot. It was a big 'un - threatening, even, to spill over onto the good china.

How shall we count the ways that all these critics, mostly of them criticizing from armchairs in places that are not Detroit, were outraged. Oh, hell, let's not. It gets tedious, hearing the same complaints over and over again. Wait, let's do, for the record: The reporter's a hack. My dog could have written this. How is this news. This happens everywhere - even in the suburbs. The reporter is a lying liar who doesn't know anything and we do.

Admittedly, this blog has been party to its own share of criticism of Detroit coverage, something which seems to have ticked up significantly since the Big Three went on their begging trip to Washington last year.

Here's the new revelation, peoples: I'm out.

No more bitching about news coverage.

Why? Let's look at New Orleans. After Katrina, the news media swooped in. Some of us stayed far longer than we should have. Even though eventually we'd have to leave and go, for instance, do our jobs, we returned again and again.

At that point, stories were appearing in the papers non-stop, all over the world. Were some of them badly written? No doubt. Did many lack originality? For sure.

Did every one of them serve a very important purpose? Absolutely. They alerted outsiders to the fact that there was something very, very wrong with a corner of the country, that what New Orleans accepts as a normal level of dysfunction and poverty is actually something that simply should not be. Not in these United States.

It was good that people now knew. Shine the light in, all that BS.

Slowly, I find myself coming around to the same conclusion with Detroit. It's hard to argue that this is not the most screwed-up major city in the United States. In fact, let's not even argue, because you and I both know it's simply true. Particularly after New Orleans was able to fob off so many of its poors onto other cities.

The problem with Detroit is the same problem with New Orleans. When someone would write about the Lower Ninth Ward or later, the murder problem in Central City, everyone would start crying like babies.

But we're so much MORE than that, they'd whine. What about our wonderful neighborhoods and fabulous restaurants!

You hear the same thing in Detroit, non-stop. I suppose it would be churlish to try and blame people for reacting like this. That doesn't mean they are not being unreasonable.

In their minds, Charlie's piece should have alerted readership that this dead body in this abandoned building that had been frozen in ice there for weeks or whatever was just steps from Detroit's coolest new coffee bar. Would that have made everyone happy?

It's like everyone wants a cookie when Detroit does something normal. Sure, more than half our population can barely read or write, but we have all these bars and restaurants within walking distance of each other! Oh, hey - sure, nobody really graduates high school anymore, but did you hear about all these cool art shows happening this weekend? Nobody writes about that!

You get the point.

In summary: It may be time to stop criticizing the press and start seeing how perhaps the permanent state of denial that people move into in order to cope with the madness may be clouding your judgment. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' famous stages of grief are as follows:

1) Denial
2) Anger
3) Bargaining
4) Depression
5) Acceptance

A lot of people up in here seem to be stuck on #1.

7 comments:

D-Tales said...

You're no fun anymore.

But I begrudgingly admit you have a point. Outrage is pretty much all I have left, but when even the most hardcore Detroit Booster turns a critical eye on the city--well, rose-tinted glasses can only see so far.

Is it a matter of "No one can diss my city but me" kind of thing? Are we all just that wishy-washy, WANTING to defend the city but realizing the futility in doing so? Was it Coleman Young or the riots that destroyed it? So many questions seem unanswerable.

But you're not wrong. Not at all. For me, I'm sticking with the outrage, 'cuz it's kind of my "thing." I also think I fall into the "it's different when I do it because I live here" category. Hypocritical, yes. C'est la vie. At least we're trying.

This comment is extremely rambly and incoherent. And I haven't even started drinking yet.

David said...

I was fun once? Awesome.

Had a long, rambling answer to your comment. It was too painful even for me, so I deleted. More soon.

D-Tales said...

It's a bad sign when we can't even address the points you raised without an apathetic mixture of cynical and resigned incoherent rambling.

LN said...

I bailed out of a totally failed hellhole years ago, due to the corrosive effect it had on my personality. I wanted to be a better person. think Gary, Indiana. It's not where I lived, but we beat Gary for murder rate two years straight.

And yeah, there was CONSTANT yack about 'people put us down, etc' when everyone had every right to.

However, I have thought about this for years. And major contributors to an urban wasteland are: White Flight, taking all their resources with them. This took place decades ago, but the effects are still there. White people in Michigan are violators in this regard. I know: I've spent time with folks in and from Detroit, and seriously considered buying a house there after returning from Bosnia. The housing was cheap, and I was afraid of nothing; neither fight nor police or gangs.

Currently, I live in a city that is racially diverse, yet more or less peaceful; where well over 10% of the population describes itself as 'mixed race'.

There is almost no racial animosity. And it makes all the difference in the world.

It is, naturally, cheap, as Wisconsin is horribly racist, and is ignorant and isolated beyond imagination. It's easy to be liberal when there are no Black people in your county.

I'll do a post soon about WHY I think this place isn't the hellhole it should be. We have the highest unemployment rate in the state; we have killings, gangs, and teenage mothers; and yet, it's completely safe to walk around town in the middle of the night, to take your kid to a park, and you don't even have to lock your car door at night.

Why is that? I'll do a post.

David said...

LN - I like your comments here. I have lived in some messy neighborhoods in a variety of cities in the US, and found that poverty was not necessarily linked to crime. The poorest neighborhood I ever lived in ($18K median income in New York City - go figure) was one of the safest. There was a sense of community. Is, I should say. Everyone gets along. Gangs, yes. Violence (particularly around the bars), for sure. But nobody felt unsafe, because it was a fucking community, not everyone out for themselves. People took pride. They pressured the PD to have cops walk the main drag in the evenings. It was a great place to live, and I miss it.

Anyway. a word about flight. With Detroit, it started out as white flight, and then became everybody flight. At this point, we should probably just call it brain drain. Pretty much everyone who can, goes. On the plus side, the murder rate is plummeting. (Kind of.)

David said...

D-Tales - I'd respond, but I'm too busy drinking. I'll stop when winter stops.

D-Tales said...

I'm with you there, D. I haven't been sober since...um...you know, nevermind.