Monday, September 15, 2014

Detroit: Paris of the Midwest?

It is true. Back in the Glory Days, when Michigan was the engine of  America, Motown was called the Paris of the Midwest.  A slight stretch, but Detroit  in 1960 had a vibrant social scene fueled by the Big Three Auto companies. But that was then. 

Imagine my surprise Friday night when the hotel in-room tourist mag at the Westin Metro airport had the headline: 
New Day in Detroit: Paris of the Midwest. 
Let me say this about that.
I have been to Paris, and, uh, no. 
Get this story:

Back in 1960, the city of Detroit actually had the highest per-capita income in the entire nation.

Between December 2000 and December 2010, 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in the state of Michigan were lost.

At this point, there are approximately 78,000 abandoned homes in the city.

 An astounding 47 percent of the residents of the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate.

 When you call the police in Detroit, it takes them an average of 58 minutes to respond.

 The violent crime rate in Detroit is five times higher than the national average.

Today, police solve less than 10 percent of the crimes that are committed in Detroit.

Crime has gotten so bad in Detroit that even the police are telling people to "enter Detroit at your own risk".

It is easy to point fingers and mock Detroit, but the truth is that the rest of America is going down the exact same path that Detroit has gone down.
Detroit just got there first.  

That prediction is a bit dark, unless you live in St. Louis or another inner city.
Beyond the economics, Michigan is a quality state and obviously, has some great lakes. If you ever get a chance to go north, do it. Charlevoix, Petoskey and Mackinac are magic. Accurate to say, The Colorado of the Midwest. 
I went back last weekend for a reunion of our campus radio station and there was a CMU football reunion too. 
Radio was a much different animal in the WCHP days, before voice tracking, corporate clusters and centrally planned playlists.
WCHP was a freak of nature, receiving national recognition in the middle of nowhere.  Superb to see some of the pro's I learned radio with. 
Every baby boomer knows the sensation of seeing a friend for the first time in decades, that's why they invented name tags.
At the football game, I wasn't quite ready to see some guys with canes, but football is rough on the knees.

 It was a trip to see my college roommates, Gary Bevington, the QB, Jim Johnson, the running back and DJ, (still playing the hits in Detroit) and Greg Partalis, 'The Greek' offensive tackle and always the one most likely to become a millionaire.  I was a wide receiver in the wrong offense. Coach Kramer thought passing the ball was a sign of weakness.

The campus had an eerie vibe of another life. Glad to have survived the drama and the trauma that goes with campus days. 

Detroit and Michigan seem to be on the comeback trail. I hope so.  I like comebacks, because I made one.