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Something, Something, Something, “Something, Something, Something, Detroit”

November 11, 2009

In this month’s Vice Magazine, Thomas Morton dares to say it: Detroit is done, finito, a lost cause, so dead even the dead are leaving. Because of crime you might ask? No. The automobile industry? Nope. The city’s crippling debt? No.

Detroit is infested…

with washed up journalists…

Over-produced, over-played, old-fashioned, or, as Morton coolly quips, “like it’s the journalistic version of cutting a grunge record,” Detroit pieces have been dealt their final blow. White flight, global economic restructuring, factory closures, crack-cocaine, global warming–Detroit was too good to be true–an American Dream–ruined … and then came the journalists.

Hi, here I am in front of the landscape that photographers always use to illustrate the jarring contrast between poverty (as represented by a desolate alley) and wealth (as symbolized by the fancy GM skyscraper in the back). That white building on the left is one of Detroit’s most successful grinding plants. Photo by Joseph Patel

Hey nice to meet you too. Yeah, there’s not a whole lot to report on besides ya know, the usual. So you want abandoned factories? And abandoned houses? Abandoned anything. Got it. What about this place? What? That weirdo from the Times was here yesterday? Take you where? Oh, I don’t know if that’s a good idea. What? Yeah, I know. Metaphor. Poetics. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I heard you the first, second, and third time. Woah you don’t look so good. Are you okay? What? “Garrrggghhhaarghh!”Ahhhhh! Zombie photo-journalist on the loose. Keep one eye on the lens one eye on your surroundings or you’ll turn into one too… (from 28 Words Later and the hit sequel A 24 Roll Later).

Ok. So Detroit is actually a real city with real people who do normal things–not just photograph abandoned buildings. Let us not objectify, exoticize, speculate as if the future was of our own creation (oh wait…). I get that–I really do, but Morton also suggests that blogging about Detroit gets you blog hits-galore so I’ve got to try it out.

So I worked out an equation

Detroit = 😦 = fordism = advanced industrial economy = American made = American Century = propagandizing the American dream = film industry = hollywood = simulation of reality + reality = LA = fragmentation = abstraction = visual metaphors = movie sets = abandoned buildings = Roger & Me = urban revanchism = disneyfication = imagineering = media conglomerates = Time Magazine = journalism = objectivity = new subjectivity = nostalgia = memory = fun = leisure time = amusement parks = today’s museum = capital = speculation = recession = intervention = federal government = “New New Deal” = jobs = subsidies = investment = action = acting = schizophrenia = capitalism =Warren Buffett = Burlington Northern Santa Fe = blast from the past = redevelopment = development = prophecy = manifest destiny = history = vacant plots = search for meaning = make money = cheap land = Detroit!

What if Detroit could profit from its objectification, sublimation, and romanticization? Imagineer its own history? Its own future?

What if a plague of journalists precedes a new form of tourism? A new platform for speculation where you create your destination before you arrive.

What if Detroit became Detroit!, the world’s largest open-air museum. No need to advertise, there’s plenty of media coverage already. Admission is a congestion tax you pay when your vehicle crosses into Detroit! city limits, subtle enough that people rarely realize they are in Detroit! Visitors arrive anyway they please, but most come by car for authenticity’s sake.

Informed Tourist: I don’t know Detroit! but I know Detroit if you catch my drift. I’d like to visit, but I dont want the “typical” experience.

Hey no problem, stay at one our many dilapidated rentals, or, try a homestay, with one of Detroit!‘s lifetime residents.

In a surprise move the Obama Administration drafts the city’s unemployed to “stand proudly and steadfastly as valiant residents of a great American city.” Actors in a great urban drama, Detroit! residents receive generous subsidies to live typical Detroit! lives with plenty of space and few worries. Reborn and reimagined, Detroit! beckons Americans to live life to the fullest, as if each day was the best dream you ever had.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. sammy permalink
    November 11, 2009 11:35 pm

    i dig the beginning of the equation.

    http://detnews.com/article/20090127/BIZ/901270400/Film-jobs-get-Michigan-rolling

  2. November 26, 2009 12:48 am

    Love that term ” the world’s largest open-air museum ” what a unique city!

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