Friday, May 28, 2010

Detroit in the news: Deep thoughts and drive-bys

Posted on Fri, May 28, 2010 at 4:47 PM

Like it or not, Detroit is in the national spotlight in a way it hasn’t been in years. The good news, however, is that much of the coverage is inspiring, thoughtful and positive.

Take, for instance, this week’s piece in Atlantic Monthly. The editors interviewed John Hantz, who hopes to turn parts of Detroit into for-profit farms. It wasn’t a total puff piece, as it acknowledged that some urban aggers are leery of “a glorified land grab” from the billionaire businessman. All in all, a decent Q&A and required reading for both boosters and critics.

And although this article about the new Miss America doesn’t mention our region by name, it provides a compelling look at the complexities of our Arab-American community, as seen through the prism of beauty contests and home life, truthfully represented for a national audience.

Contrast that with a piece that heaved into view at our office this week, called “Things I Remember About Detroit.” A hard-to-believe drive-by on the city, the author, who is cloaked in what appears to be a nom de plume, seems to derive great joy in describing Detroit as a sinister place populated by addicts, pimps, hookers and dead bodies. As thoughtless as the previous pieces were thoughtful, this disjointed series of memories may be laugh-fodder for the jaded, coffee-sipping denizens of Seattle, but it’s done with zero empathy. Somebody was in Detroit for five years and seems to have contributed nothing to the city, and now is only too happy to revel in their worst (made-up?) memories? This piece left us wondering: “What’s the point?”

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