The Diaries – The Motor City
May 1st and May 2nd
(I have now about a week’s worth of content backed up, so apologize for having had no time to edit / improve the notes below).
I didn’t realize it was labor day till it was over. It being a Sunday makes my unawareness more comprehensible.
Notes from Detroit:
- At the 5 Guys in GreekTown, Beaubien st, eating a burger and fries. Spent the morning at the Eastern Farmer’s Market, past Ford Stadium.
- yesterday in Toronto I saw a trucker ram another truck who was in the way and too slow to rear into his loading dock.
- today saw a group of aging ladies all wearing bikini T-shirts. But my camera battery was dead…
- people here are big, both in terms of longitude and latitude
- people friendly, always a kind word. Even in this big city, a few greet me as they walk by on the street. Is it because I look foreign?
- spent a cold night in car, still feeling shivers as I write, await summer impatiently.
The city epitomizes the US of the XXth century
Symbol of the revolution of the XXth (before computer chips), but also a symbol of America, following cowboys’ horses: the automobile
- is it my preconception, or does the city actually feel like the degenerate remnant of a glorious industrial past? (turns out this is not a preconception: this state and view has been widely reported upon, notably in a photo-investigation by Time Magazine.
As such, not only is D-Town synonym of the auto industry, it may also be a symbol of US’ historical place in the world as a whole (end of an empire’s era, beginning of an end, whatever).
- empty streets, wide, designed for and by car industry, poorly maintained roads downtown (a radio ad for a campaigning politician confirms this). Arrived on Friday evening in the downtown area, which only reinforced the ghost-town feel of the area.
- Even on a Saturday at noon, Greektown and its restaurants remains fairly empty (5 guys is the busiest place around)
(Add on May 8th: Saw an article in the New York Times which would like people to believe otherwise, that Detroit is dynamic, has great places to eat. Perhaps, but not on my watch.)
Misery is a lot more prevalent here than in NorthEast – reminds me of Chicago this winter, but worse. Many destitutes roam / loiter on the streets – mostly African Americans. In fact, most people I see are African Americans (do I now recall that D-town’s population is 50% + black?)
I have already noticed a similar demographic pattern in Toronto, where it seemed that nearly half of the population was Asian (Indian and Chinese) – very few Asians here, on the other hand.
The only exception is the farmer’s market, the first cowboy hats have made their appearance here. Interesting as it is a reversal of the international stereotype of a Caucasian ‘redneck’ mid-west, inner-America. (Then again, this is Detroit.)
The burger is living up to its reputation.
Visit the Motor City casino, meet a grocer who moved from Baghdad in 1977, got his whole family to join. Nearly interviewed him but missed the opportunity. Spent day in DIA. Looked for the old railroad station, didn’t find it, took off.