After 20 years, hindsight is 20-20

Sep 20, 2000 at 12:00 am
Shoulda, coulda, woulda — they all come to mind when you look back. But say this for the Metro Times: While others shoulda covered stories, or woulda tried new projects, or coulda done something crazy but didn’t, we did.

Here are a few pieces of evidence from the MT’s past that show how sometimes we must’ve seen the future in the cards — and sometimes we weren’t playing with a full deck.


Condoms! Not just for birth control anymore.

By 1986, the AIDS crisis had reached a point where everyone was starting to worry about sexually transmitted diseases. But the MT was one of the first papers to report, at least in the Detroit area, not only that condoms were effective for preventing disease transmission, but were also becoming a booming business, with brands specifically targeted at women, gay men and anyone who liked a bit of colorful latex in their lives.

Loft living — once it becomes legal, maybe it’ll take off.

Boy, back in 1985, when it was technically illegal to inhabit a city loft space, we had no idea how much it’d take off once that ordinance was lifted. Here’s a paragraph from the story by Tom Carr: “Hopefully this will attract artists, computer programmers and Yuppies … But one possible side effect of legalized lofts and their proposed development is that those who need such housing may eventually be priced out when an area becomes chic.” Who’d have ever imagined the likes of today’s “luxury condo lofts” in the Cass Corridor selling for upward of $200,000?

Depo-Provera — hey, it works for birth control too!

When we first addressed Depo-Provera, now known as the shot, it wasn’t approved by the FDA for use as birth control. In fact, it had only made the news around that time, March 1984, because a judge sentenced a child molester to have the synthetic hormone injected as a “chemical castrator.” The MT pointed out that it was also being used, on hundreds of thousands of American women, as an effective contraceptive that lasted three to six months. It would be another eight years before Upjohn, the hormone’s maker, would gain FDA approval for its use as a contraceptive.


Showerphones and other techno-wonders

Well, maybe technology isn’t the best place to place your bets when you’re predicting the future. But come on, how were we to know that showerphones and 3-D cameras (like a Polaroid, but the image it produces looks, well, deeper) weren’t the wave of the future?

It could’ve been worse. In 1989, we boldly stated that DAT players, not CDs, would be the dominant way we’d listen to music. Imagine if we’d known then about MP3s! And in 1984, we were certainly on the cutting technological edge when we recommended video buyers choose Beta over VHS for its quality picture reproduction. Of course, by November 1989 we were convinced that the low price of first-run videos would eventually lead to the demise of video rentals too.

Gambling comes to Detroit!

Sometimes we report great scoops, but then they just don’t happen. Like when we uncovered the dirt on some secret plans for a full-fledged gambling resort at Belle Isle, back in 1985, we figured we were onto something. As it turned out, we were right on the money — casino gambling, of course, eventually arrived. Just not at that particular location. And not all that soon, either.


Something’s gotta happen with Tiger Stadium/train station/downtown Detroit.

Our December 1987 story about Tiger Stadium contained the prediction that “within 15 years Tiger Stadium will have to be replaced. Its demise is assured. The only question is where the new one will be located.” Now we know the answer to that last question, but we still have no idea what will happen to the old stadium. Hmmm. As for Michigan Central, the old train station, we wondered the same thing back in 1996. We’re still wondering. But at least we now see some movement in downtown Detroit: In 1983, we speculated about whether Grand Circus Park would ever become an entertainment district again, and hoped that someone would restore the once-splendid Fox Theatre. Ahhh, progress! Alisa Gordaneer is MT features editor. E-mail [email protected]