20 things that are weird everywhere except Detroit

Here's the good, the bad, and the ugly in this very strange city we live in.

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Juggalos
Whoop whoop! Those Faygo-loving people wearing clown makeup? No need to be afraid — those are the Juggalos, the jolly fans of the Detroit rap duo Insane Clown Posse. They’re also quite possibly metro Detroit’s most misunderstood subculture, having been labeled as a "loosely organized hybrid gang" by the United States Department of Justice in its 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment. In 2014, the group filed a lawsuit with the ACLU against the DOJ and the FBI. In 2017, an appeals court dismissed the suit, though the ACLU encourages Juggalos to sue local police over individual cases of discrimination. 
Photo by Josh Justice

Juggalos

Whoop whoop! Those Faygo-loving people wearing clown makeup? No need to be afraid — those are the Juggalos, the jolly fans of the Detroit rap duo Insane Clown Posse. They’re also quite possibly metro Detroit’s most misunderstood subculture, having been labeled as a "loosely organized hybrid gang" by the United States Department of Justice in its 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment. In 2014, the group filed a lawsuit with the ACLU against the DOJ and the FBI. In 2017, an appeals court dismissed the suit, though the ACLU encourages Juggalos to sue local police over individual cases of discrimination.
Photo by Josh Justice
Pizza is a square, not a circle
Deep, thick, cheesy, and crispy — Detroit-style pizza is giving thin New York pizza a run for its money. The Detroit style is catching on in other states, too, with Detroit Pizza in Washington taking the crispy dish across the country and proving that Detroit pizza is the elite pizza.
Photo via Mike’s Pizza Bar / Facebook

Pizza is a square, not a circle

Deep, thick, cheesy, and crispy — Detroit-style pizza is giving thin New York pizza a run for its money. The Detroit style is catching on in other states, too, with Detroit Pizza in Washington taking the crispy dish across the country and proving that Detroit pizza is the elite pizza.
Photo via Mike’s Pizza Bar / Facebook
Potholes
Regardless of the car you drive, a smooth transition from point A to B is not likely to exist in the Motor City. Keep the spare tire in the back and your favorite tow company on speed-dial.
Photo via Robert Boomer/Facebook.com/bikerboomer
More awesome musicians per capita than anywhere else
When it comes to the sheer amount and variety of music produced, not many cities can hold a candle to Detroit. Talk about "kicking out the jams" — from Motown to Iggy and the MC5 to techno to the White Stripes to Danny Brown, Detroit done kicked 'em out. And just as rock 'n' roll has always been a melding of Black and white roots music, the racially mixed working-class town seemed to thrive on that fusion. You can find great local music any day of the week, from cool jazz at Willis Show Bar or the Raven Lounge to high-octane rock at PJ’s Lager House or the Outer Limits Lounge — among many others.
Photo by Joe Alcodray

More awesome musicians per capita than anywhere else

When it comes to the sheer amount and variety of music produced, not many cities can hold a candle to Detroit. Talk about "kicking out the jams" — from Motown to Iggy and the MC5 to techno to the White Stripes to Danny Brown, Detroit done kicked 'em out. And just as rock 'n' roll has always been a melding of Black and white roots music, the racially mixed working-class town seemed to thrive on that fusion. You can find great local music any day of the week, from cool jazz at Willis Show Bar or the Raven Lounge to high-octane rock at PJ’s Lager House or the Outer Limits Lounge — among many others.
Photo by Joe Alcodray
Government corruption
The FBI is currently conducting an ongoing and wide-sweeping corruption investigation in Detroit and its suburbs, which has already led to 17 convictions and criminal charges against at least 22 public officials and contractors. No, this is not normal. In 2012, the FBI assembled the Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force, a team composed of local, state and federal law enforcement. At the time, Andrew G. Arena, the then-special agent in charge of the FBI's Detroit office, declared war on corruption, saying it had become a "generational, systemic part of the culture" of southeast Michigan. Elected officials: Do better!
Photo courtesy of the FBI

Government corruption

The FBI is currently conducting an ongoing and wide-sweeping corruption investigation in Detroit and its suburbs, which has already led to 17 convictions and criminal charges against at least 22 public officials and contractors. No, this is not normal. In 2012, the FBI assembled the Detroit Area Public Corruption Task Force, a team composed of local, state and federal law enforcement. At the time, Andrew G. Arena, the then-special agent in charge of the FBI's Detroit office, declared war on corruption, saying it had become a "generational, systemic part of the culture" of southeast Michigan. Elected officials: Do better!
Photo courtesy of the FBI
‘Detroit’ this, ‘Detroit’ that
It seems that every Detroit company is incredibly proud to be based in Detroit. With Detroit Cookie Company & Cafe, Detroit Ham & Corned Beef Co., Detroit Shipping Company, and so on, every company seems to want to cash in on that Detroit cred — even the ones located in surrounding cities, like Ferndale’s Detroit Axe.
Photo via Detroit Cookie Company & Cafe / Facebook

‘Detroit’ this, ‘Detroit’ that

It seems that every Detroit company is incredibly proud to be based in Detroit. With Detroit Cookie Company & Cafe, Detroit Ham & Corned Beef Co., Detroit Shipping Company, and so on, every company seems to want to cash in on that Detroit cred — even the ones located in surrounding cities, like Ferndale’s Detroit Axe.
Photo via Detroit Cookie Company & Cafe / Facebook
A state park that’s also a racetrack
The annual Grand Prix is increasingly controversial, with more and more people demanding that the race be moved off of Belle Isle. Race organizers have claimed that they've made millions of dollars worth of improvements to the island, and champion the race’s alleged economic impact on Detroit. But some park-goers don't see widened roads, a 100,000-square-foot-concrete paddock, wider sidewalks, and other changes that have desecrated the green space as "improvements" — especially when the weeks of construction for the race eat into our few precious warm months here.
Photo by Tom Perkins

A state park that’s also a racetrack

The annual Grand Prix is increasingly controversial, with more and more people demanding that the race be moved off of Belle Isle. Race organizers have claimed that they've made millions of dollars worth of improvements to the island, and champion the race’s alleged economic impact on Detroit. But some park-goers don't see widened roads, a 100,000-square-foot-concrete paddock, wider sidewalks, and other changes that have desecrated the green space as "improvements" — especially when the weeks of construction for the race eat into our few precious warm months here.
Photo by Tom Perkins
The corned beef egg roll
The dish's name doesn't deceive — Detroit's corned beef chefs fold an egg roll wrapper around a small pile of razor-thin corned beef, then dips the package into a deep fryer until it is crisp. In its original form, the cured meat is accompanied by gooey, white cheese like mozzarella or Swiss. Each restaurant offers variations; some are stuffed with cabbage, ground beef, or steak. The dish is not quite at coney dog status, but it could be argued that it's on its way. You can find them at Asian Corned Beef, Bread Basket, and other delis around town.
Photo via Detroit Ham & Corned Beef Co. / Facebook
Gilbertville
Since 2010, businessman Dan Gilbert has bought and redeveloped about 100 buildings in and around downtown Detroit, many of which were previously underused or derelict. Gilbert has undeniably injected a new life into downtown Detroit, with streets that were once empty now bustling with activity. But it’s given Gilbert an outsize influence in Detroit: It's been reported that Gilbert owns more of a major city's downtown than anyone in modern American history. Hell, Mayor Mike Duggan even once referred to Dan Gilbert as his boss in response to questions about the tax incentive package Gilbert assembled to attempt to lure Jeff Bezos' second headquarters for Amazon. It's fair to ask why public officials gave Gilbert — a private businessman who's not accountable to taxpayers — authority to decide how to spend hundreds of millions of public dollars.
Photo via Flickr user TechCrunch
Exorbitant car insurance
Detroit, the nation’s most impoverished big city, has the highest auto insurance rates in the nation. The average annual premium is $5,414, compared to $1,427 nationally. As a result, Detroiters on average spend 18 percent of their income on auto insurance. In some Detroit ZIP codes, auto insurance soaks up 36 percent of drivers’ income. Anything beyond 2 percent is “unaffordable,” according to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Insurance Officers. It’s no wonder, then, that an estimated 60 percent of Detroiters drive without insurance. That’s compared to 13 percent nationally. About a third of Motor City residents don’t even own a car. 
Freedomz / Shutterstock

Exorbitant car insurance

Detroit, the nation’s most impoverished big city, has the highest auto insurance rates in the nation. The average annual premium is $5,414, compared to $1,427 nationally. As a result, Detroiters on average spend 18 percent of their income on auto insurance. In some Detroit ZIP codes, auto insurance soaks up 36 percent of drivers’ income. Anything beyond 2 percent is “unaffordable,” according to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Insurance Officers. It’s no wonder, then, that an estimated 60 percent of Detroiters drive without insurance. That’s compared to 13 percent nationally. About a third of Motor City residents don’t even own a car.
Freedomz / Shutterstock