Things I Remember About Detroit

Five Years of Abandoned Factories, Talking Cats, and Cars on Fire

Comments

1
holy shit, these are great stories. Did you run into Viggo Mortenson and his kid out there?
2
I used to live in Detroit, off Willis street back in the 1990's. I always tell people that the "D" is a different place than any other place i've seen in America.
3
I have to imagine dropping the N-bomb would give you around 100 points.
4
My clearest childhood memory is looking out the front window of my house to a car across the street with a cynder block precisely in the middle of the windsheild. Oh, Detroit.
5
I agree, these stories are great; by great I mean depressing but real.
You a tough-ass cracker.
6
I enjoyed this article a great deal. It makes me nostalgic Detroit and its savage beauty.
7
It's pathetic that all you got from Detroit was some played out stories about your interactions with inner-city black folk. Obviously you're not a native to the GM-Rust Belt i.e. Detroit, Flint, and Saginaw. Only Pacific Northwesterners would admire your "bravery" for living among, what you repeatedly seemed tempted to say, crazy n**gers and "big black policemen." Your story highlights how diversity in Seattle is illusory and how it lacks the urban legacy so many other great cities possess.

Kudo's for also being the first author failing to touch on Detroit's integral past and present role in American music; Neglecting to indulge in it during your stay, save one warehouse party; And failing to underscore how attitudes like your stepfather's led to the depopulation of Detroit.

See you in the Central District. Or maybe not because you'll probably cross the street.
8
To Stevie:
Grow up. You don't live there, you haven't lived there. It's the murder capital for a fucking reason. Detroit is a zombie that no one has told it's dead. It lumbers on, never trying in the least to fix any of its self inflicted woes. Detroit has NO ONE to blame for its problems save itself. You do not know this because you are not there. Her article is honest and no one in Detroit will fault her for that. Yes color matters there and yes she did very well managing those bondaries.. she survived.

Please pull your race card elsewhere.
9
So cool to read long-form Kelly O. Unteachable writing style, lovely stories.
10
Detroit is like your little sister, right.. You can make fun of her but if anyone else does, you want to kick their ass. Detroit is just a good place to be from... and meet any true Detroiter and one of the first things you will notice... they have heart.

I miss home sometimes so much. It's changing, it's rebuilding... sure, it is going to take years before we see any large significant change... but I know it will happen in time.

It's so funny because when I'm home, even when I am walking on the empty streets downtown, or climbing abandoned buildings in order to get a better view of the skyline... it feels comfortable, safe, even though I know it's just perception.

I visit in three weeks, cannot wait.
11
Honkey:

There is no mention of blaming Kelly O for Detroit's problems in my comment. It's merely a reaction to the boilerplate white-female-survives-black-people/neighborhood scenarios recounted in her stories. It implies there is something extraordinary and pioneering about attending college in urban blight and in your words having "survived". The author is also the one who plays the race card, creating a tone in her stories that at any moment she was going to be attacked, assaulted, or even worse killed by someone who would most likely be African-American.

And contrary to your belief Detroit is not a zombie. It's a music, art, and urban cultural mecca. Home to everyone from the MC5s to the late J-Dilla. It's the "Rock City."
12
To Elise81:

Want to get coffee? : )
13
AWESOME!! more Kelly O stories plzz
14
Things I would like to forget about Detroit: Bulletproof glass at the register in all the corner grocery stores. Entire neighborhoods that look like Beirut after Israel got through with it. A friend getting his throat slashed for no reason. Having to shield my girlfriend from 2 cars that were driving down the street side by side shooting at each other (one block away from the hall of justice no less.) Tumbleweeds or some wind blown weeds that looked like tumbleweeds in the downtown streets. Billboards that say 1-800-LAWSUIT, and billboards advertising paternity tests. Once, a crackhead broke into Rosa Parks' house and beat her up (its true, look it up.) I grew up there, its like hell. Like a third world country but worse, a senselessly violent third world country. I try to forget about it. There is a website called Detroit is crap, pretty much sums it up.
15
I was born in Detroit and moved to Seattle 2 years ago. I feel like the best part of the city was left out. I felt way safer in Detroit then I do here. People look out for each other and have each others backs there. The neighborhoods are protected and people wont bullshit you.
It has a bad rap, but shit is dog eat dog, fucking deal with it.
16
Kelly,
Read your piece. Humorous and sad. Detroit is the great American city in great decline. There's a coffee table picture book recently published that has a montage of it's decline. Check this out:

http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/…

Today, it was announced that Kwane Kilpatrick, Detroit's former disgraced mayor was sentenced to up to 5 years in prison. The city has more problems than it can reckon with. Motown was once glorious. How unfortunate.
17
So when Kelly O sees me will she also describe me as a gigantic black lady? Is that all you saw was the "black" on people but not the humanity of those people including Nub? Post racial society my ass. Every other paragraph seemed to mention black this, or black that. I can not stand folks like that. Moving to the city to be surrounded by black folks is part of the cool factor? Are we fauna? It seems like you lived amongst Black folks, but not with them. Sad.

Plus, you don't seem like a very nice person laughing when your landlady's car was torched. Breaking into abandoned buildings? Not nice either.
18
so goood!! Kelly O! please, please write more, I loved this!
19
Sounds more like you were a naive Yooper than that Detroit was uniformly weird/bad. You were probably walking around with a giant sign on your head that said "I'm a hilljack." I've lived in Detroit for years, and like any city, it has its good and rough bits. Sorry you were such an idiot, but don't use that as an excuse to cash in on Detroit's current hard times. Cheap.
20
I love Detroit, Kelly! Did you ever run into Sneak and the Detroit Techno Militia over in Greektown? Best. Parties. Evurrrrrrr. No wait, the best party ever was Dorkwave in Corktown. Best. Party. Evurrrrrrrr. I danced on speakers wearing lobster claws.

My grandmother and mother are total 12th Street Detroiters, it's fun to see them butt heads with folks, they don't take shit. Neither do I, of course, so we argue. A lot.

Now I'm all nostalgic.
21
Having lived in both places I can confidently say that Seattle is not half the city that Detroit is, let alone the city it was. And yeah, Detroit has a fucked economy, rampant blight, crime, crack, blah blah blah. But it also has history, culture, a real music scene, a real sense of cummunity, and some of the most amazing architecture to be found in America. Seattle is a beautiful city, but it's new, mostly soulless, and full of fragile people who usually won't even look you in the eye if you pass them on the street, let alone actually exchange a few friendly words with strangers. People in Detroit might be flawed, even tragically so on occasion, but they are definitely REAL people. I'm white as the driven snow and I never once had a race-based problem with anyone there. The thugs and criminals in the D are looking for people who present themselves as scared victims, regardless of skin color. If you live in Detroit and embrace what that means, you will in turn be embraced by Detroit, and that will come to mean alot to you. I've lived in other places with such a tight-knit sense of community, but none of them were in the states. Kelly O, whose writing style I generally enjoy, misses the mark with the substance of this story. She should go back there and try to spend some time viewing it and interacting with it without her "scared rural white girl" filters in place. It will be a rewarding experience.
22
Detroit used to be the richest city on the planet. It has so many beautiful old neighborhoods like Boston-Edison, Indian Village, and Palmer Woods. My man and I used to play a game when we drove across the US..."how many gay men does this town need?" Sioux Falls, 1000, St. Joseph 500, when we got to Detroit we decided on 50,000. Later we read there were 46,000 abandoned homes in Detroit, so we were pretty accurate.
23
Also, can we stop rewarding that hell hole with national sporting events?
24
"Your story highlights how diversity in Seattle is illusory and how it lacks the urban legacy so many other great cities possess."

It also explains why Detroit is one of America's murder and crime capitals and Seattle so safe; there's a reason they don't film America's funniest black comedy show, "The First 48" in Seattle you know.

the only good thing abort Detroit is escaping to Grosse Pointe.
25
detroit in better light =

http://www.visitdesign99.com/

http://www.heidelberg.org/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/scotthockin…

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/25/opinio…

http://www.detroitblog.org/

http://journey.eyemaze.net/search/label/…
26
Wah! Kelly described her own experiences and not mine! It's so unfairrrrrrrrr!

Also... One was only a victim if one Looked like a victim? Isn't that how rapists decide who they'll rape next? So... Detroit is a bunch of rapists?

Puhlease. If you are from Detroit (or any other 'real' place) and think that makes you all tough and special, get fucked. Seriously, "hurr-durr, my city can beat your city up" is a shitty argument made by weak people.

Dicktation, bitches.
27
I love how Kelly O's story tells her truth of living there and what she loved about a city that has an amazing story and everyone sees what they want to see in the story.

Everyone is so quick on defensive when anyone says anything at all about Detroit. Truth is these stories are amazing because for most northwesterners a city like Detroit is beyond our imagination. It is so much different than any US city and words and pictures don't articulate what has happened there. I don't understand the immediate hate for someone speaking their perspective, especially when that perspective comes from a place of love. People need to know how fucked Detroit is and things obviously need to happen there so how can anything putting light on that situation be a bad thing?

@7 You have a perspective on Detroit's contribution to the past, present and future of American music? Point me to your writing. What positive have you done? If you love it so much why are you in Seattle? Get off your pity pot.
28
she moved from detroit to the whitest place in the country...
29
What a shithole. I would love to visit. The descritions make me think of Rome after the Lombard Wars. Majestic once, now crumbling.

Hey angry black/white Detroit old schoolers: The author is retelling her experience. Stop projecting all of your personal experiences onto her. It aint about you. Dawg.

30
What a shithole. I would love to visit. It makes me think of Rome after the Lombard Wars. Majestic once, now crumbling.

Hey angry black/white Detroit old schoolers: The author is retelling her experience. Stop projecting all of your experiences onto her. It aint about you. Dawg.
31
Ah. The dreaded double post. I blame the ongoing Skynet Bot attack. Suck it Skynet.
32
BTW - for all the Detroiter's posting on here... Del Rey in Belltown has Detroit night every Monday night. The fly in Coney Dogs from Koegel's & use the same sauce as Leo's & National. Plus they have Vernor's cocktails...
33
And... steviewondersgoodeye... um, I'm super easy to find.
34
Kelly, a cat spoke English to me once also. It freaked me the fuck out. Your story made me feel better about the entire experience.
35
Love all the ghetto defenders coming to the D's rescue, from safely behind their nice monitors that they're able to not have stolen, now that they live in a nicer place than the burned out husk that they so love and miss.
36
let the haters hate, that's all they know how to do. This was beautifully written, one of the most enjoyable pieces I've read in a long time.
37
These are the reasons why Detroit is such a rad city, because when you take away all of that grimy bull-shit; you're left with one of the most real places in this country with one of the best communities, art and music scenes that any one of you can experience.

Most Detroiters look back at the things mentioned in this article with a fondness and love and weird admiration. Kelly O's experience was different. She obviously didn't see the beauty that arose out the ashes. Which is totally fine. Give the lady a break. It's her story not yours.
38
#35, sure, I romanticize Detroit and I’m quitter for moving on to greener pastures. But this article focuses on a time and place that I’m familiar with and enjoyed, it obviously doesn’t have the same resonance with you. Fine. But I’m not sure why you need to be so nasty.
39
@35...

Here is something that surprises me.. I was never assaulted/mugged/monitor stolen, etc during my time in Detroit. I mean, it definitely does happen (like any other city,) and I've had my car broken into for bottle returns (10 cents each goes a long way, I suppose.)

The cops in the D are pretty rigid though, especially in the downtown/tourist areas. And I stupidly used to walk home from St. Andrews, Bookies, Town Pump or the Detroiter (etc.) alone... Sure Seattle is safer by numbers, but Detroit, the downtown area, is actually very safe. I think their crime record is 12 per 100,000 which is safer than many downtown areas, including NYC & Chicago (not sure of Seattle's.)

I say this, because I've lived here two years.. and in Seattle, 2 blocks from the ferry terminal, spit on & hit by a crackhead... was with a group of friends, not alone, and the cops did not even arrest the guy even though he was on probation for assault and four witnesses told police exactly what happened (they later did charge him, after I pushed and pushed to have it done.)
40
I thought this was a great piece of subjective journalism a la Hunter S. Thompson style. The author told a story from a strictly internal viewpoint. There's nothing wrong with that. It's the heart of memoir. I am sure 100 different people would have painted 100 different pictures of the same city.

I am much more interested in perspective pieces than bland, top-level "objective" journalism. That's WHY I read The Stranger, not USA Today.
41
I would just loooove to hear what she has to say about her crazy times in Seattle when she goes back to the UP. I would bet she says just about the same things about all the homeless and/or crazy people here.

I am willing to believe all of her stories too (even the talking cat), except for the part about Henry Ford Hospital. It is a really great hospital and just because it is in the D, doesn't mean it is ghetto or low in quality at all. My guess: a) she was hopped up on meds, or b) she wasn't actually at Henry Ford or c) needed another cool story to tell so made this up.

42
Anyone who has lived in Detroit has a handful of stories just like this. It is not un common to laugh off things that are fucked up and scary. Sometimes thats the only way to deal with it.
43
I think the only issues with sketchy people I ever had were at Warren & Cass and Warren by the Lodge. As a little kid, my grandparents walked us around Greektown after dark and showed us 12th and Grand (even though that was in daytime).
44
"black/white Detroit old schooler"

Black people read Slog?
45
..yes, the incredible blight and crime are there...and only the most naive/ignorant person would put themselves in the places or situations that KELLY O did. But Detroit also has Indian Village, Boston-Edison, Palmer Park/ Woods, the lobbies of the Fisher and Guardian Buildings, the Art Institute, the largest collection of Mies van der Rohe buildings anywhere, Saarinen's Cranbrook, Detroit Electronic Music Festival, etc.
46
Having come of age in a similiar post-industrial environment (Emeryville CA [E-ville]), I found myself laughing out loud at Ms. O's very accurate observations.

There's nothing like packs of feral dogs, dead bodies, and denizens in various states of mental unravelling to make one think one has indeed exited Planet Earth.

Favorite find: climbing to the top floor of an abandoned warehouse to find a mint 1969 crimson-red Shelby Mustang under a tarp. Unfortunately the freight elevator was out of service.
47
@ 7, 17, and 19: before you get away with calling Kelly O naive, can I ask how much do you know about Northern Michigan? Delineate culture from racism.

I suspect that calling any modern US city a ghetto does a major disfavor for families and survivors of the Holocaust. However, Detroit has won the murder capitol title more years than any other city. Heck, the tiny town of Flint, MI, chimed-in once to steal the annual title.

Comparing Detroit to Seattle is unrealistic, Tacoma, maybe.

Also 7, 17, and 19, I do understand your frustration. Kelly O could have focused more on the unity in the Detroit community. Many commenters seem to reflect the unity, although she did reflect *some* unity with the 'nub man' story and the police story.
48
I loved this feature!
49
It is funny when you realize that Devil's Night is a not a national arson holiday or that rowdy kids dressed up like clowns aren't going to douse you with red Faygo (locally manufactured soda).

I understand folks being sensitive to the negative tales. But it's from her perspective and whether or not you see it, it's told with love. Yes it's white girl upper (you-per) michigander love, but it's love nonetheless. And if you can't understand that, you don't know what it's like to be her in shoes. So give yourself a voice, write from your own perspective, get it out there, and tell the other tale.

I agree with #47, comparing Seattle to Detroit is absurd. You can't. Even with the music birthplace parallel. Seattle is good but Detroit is a legend. It's like comparing a spoiled toddler eating his fluffed organic carrot puree to his grandfather who lived through the depression and is nursing an Evan Williams and a Black N' Mild.

50
Bored, middle class white girl falls in love with crack ho's and gangbangers.Pictures at 11.
51
Bored, middle class white girl falls in love with crack ho's and gangbangers.Pictures at 11.
52
"Indian Village, Boston-Edison, Palmer Park/ Woods, the lobbies of the Fisher and Guardian Buildings, the Art Institute, the largest collection of Mies van der Rohe buildings anywhere, Saarinen's Cranbrook, Detroit Electronic Music Festival,"

AKA Stuff WHite People Like in Detroit….you know, guys from Grosse Pointe with tattoos and chic heroin addictions. THink Spawn Range playing at St Andrews in 1991.
53
Sorry, 'think Spahn Ranch at ST ANdrews in 1989'
54
Or was hat Majesty Crush at St ANdrews in 1991? Who the fuck knows.

Detroit is and has always been packed with more trustafarians from Grosse Point, Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills than you can shake a stick at. Easy to spot them in the 80s and 90s by their tattoos, UM college degrees, heroin habits and parents in mansions. Bored white kids trying to piss off their parents by their only vaguely dangerous alt lifestyles in Indian Village.

Most now do PR work; it's what happens after 20 years in a failed band.
55
You must've lived in the gray building on Willis, about a half-block from Woodward? I used to live in the Rinaldo, next door and saw some crazy shit. I know the nub guy, and lived there when ICP came to the Majestic. Stupid shit. No Faygo at the party store across the street. Detroit is a unique place.
56
Everybody who feels insulted by this article should calm down. Yes it's a little annoying. White people commenting on their experience with being a minority is always annoying. But, remember if this was a story about any other race being the minority in a community where they are not immediately welcome, you would be praising their courage. It's all the same. Just harder to hear coming from a white blondie. Being different builds character. and don't judge her based on what her step dad thinks, she obviously wrote it in to make a point.
57
Seeing Sham 69 at Blondie's on 8 Mile ave. was one of the most surreal experiences in my life..Bastion of punk rock in the heart of the 80's crack epidemic. One of the scariest nights of my life.
58
surreal, scary and REAL.
59
Kelly O, tell us more!
60
The sheer amount of blind privilege in this article is almost impressive. Kelly O, do you honestly not realize how entitled you sound in these stories? You moved to Detroit of your own volition for a college education, knowing you'd be able to leave when you were done. That last bit is key - you *knew you could leave,* and that (hugely privileged) knowledge colors all of these stories, whether you realize it or not. The tone of your article assumes a level of familiarity with Detroit you don't actually have. The deeper Detroit experience isn't a transient one; it's entrenched, stuck, struggling, and in it communities come together because they have to, people watch out for each other because they have to.

You, on the other hand - it sounds like you came into the big bad city prepared to treat it as a joke, with a pre-set (and fairly racist) view of it you never bothered to challenge by actually engaging with the community and the culture. Detroit can in fact be a dangerous, hostile place to live, but it sounds like that's *all* you saw - or at least, all that stuck with you - and there's so much more to it than that.

(For the record, I spent most of my life in the neighborhoods described here. I should also point out that I've been treated many times at Henry Ford, which is one of the best hospitals in the country.)
61
Count Cyril Petrovich Tolstoi
62
I don't think it was racist. I think it was written by a white female from the position of being a minority, with appreciation of other cultures, wisdom, and a sense of humor. just because someone mentions that someone else is black in a story, for story-like purposes, that doesn't make them a racist. In fact, the only two black people that she describes in the story other than the helpful policemen she describes as "beautiful" and "awesome."
63
Fun read, Kelly. I always associated your kind of tough beauty with women I've met from Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. I'll add Detroit to the list.
64
@ 60: you took the words right out of my mouth. Well put.

Perhaps "racist" is not the best term, however, there is a huge spectrum of racial bias, misconception and preconcieved notion in this country regarding minorities*. Kelly O just proved with this stupid article that she's on that spectrum.

*I mean actual ethinc minorities. Going to Detroit for college does not make a middle class white girl a minority any more than me going to Qwest Field for a football game makes me a Seahawk.
65
Hey Kelly, do you rememeber what "G T" sprayed on all the train trestles and overpasses really meant? I do!!! Great article.
66
Whoa, you've really shed new light on Detroit here. I've never heard or read any of these sentiments about the city before. This is ground-breaking, shit, indeed. "The best part of living in Detroit is the ruins." I say that everyday when I wake up!

Get the hell out of here. Was this published as supposed fact or fiction? The liberties you take come with consequence. Also, no matter how many exclamation points, put things in all-caps or drop F-bombs, you are moderately funny at best.

Seriously,though, you should be ashamed for this publishing this dribble. You know nothing of Detroit, and this article is not representative of Detroit or Detroiters. You should at least have more respect for your readers.

— Travis R. Wright, Metro Times (Detroit)
67
Detroit WAS great. It is now a National embarrassment, no matter how many chest puffers say it's REAL because it's hard. The list of really hard places to live that are flailing is long and a sad comment on the values of our institutions. Anybody want to go to bat for Juarez?
68
wow, it sounds like Baltimore but with more abandonment and decay. i'd love to visit and check out all the abandoned places.
69
Wow . . .what a smarmy little article wreaking with white privilege.

Congratulations on having to put up with black people and poor people while you received a college education and mommy furnished your apartment. I really don't know how you managed.

I'm glad so many of you enjoyed this . . .aren't people who are trapped in heart-breaking cycles of poverty HI-larious?
70
#17 Deemeana wrote:

"So when Kelly O sees me will she also describe me as a gigantic black lady? Is that all you saw was the "black" on people but not the humanity of those people including Nub? Post racial society my ass. Every other paragraph seemed to mention black this, or black that. I can not stand folks like that. Moving to the city to be surrounded by black folks is part of the cool factor? Are we fauna? It seems like you lived amongst Black folks, but not with them. Sad."

yeah, Deemeana, I'm sure "Kill Whitey," "Bitch" and "Cracker" made Kelly O. feel right at home amongst 'Black folks.' Typical hypocritical reverse racism bullshit. Sad.
71
Decided to read some Travis R. Wright to get a feel for Real Detroit Detroiters since Kelly-O's experiences don't count. And weather it's punk rock culinary shows or reviews for fuck machines, Wright provides an insight into the D that truly respects its readers. I guess that's why there are so few comments on Wrights articles --he nails the topic every time!

I love this ongoing debate of what real cities and real people actually are. I thought for sure I would never here it again after McCain and Palin were defeated.

And if two big black (or white, or hispanic) cops approach you and the details of the experience don't invoke a sense of subjectivity, then go hang out with fucking Tom Cruise.

Also, this isn't a travel brochure, it's someone's personal experience. And I know, it infuriates me too when other people don't have exactly the same experiences as me!

Allow me to add my own article on Detroit so that everyone can enjoy this piece equally.

Ahem...Last summer I went to Detroit and it was great! I saw men and women and buildings, ate meal and walked dog! Uh oh! Time for bed! Good night dog. Good night moon. Good night D.

72
#69 - It's too bad you assume so much. A lot of you in this thread, are assuming so much, wrongly, about race. I LOVED living in Detroit. And I loved *finally* having black friends - there weren't any black people where I grew up in Northern Michigan. I think there was ONE girl in my high school, and I didn't even get to meet her until 11th grade.

Is it my fault I was born somewhere where there was zero racial diversity? Could I control that?

When I finally made it out - went to college - it changed everything. For the better. These are a few stories of human experience. Not race. I wouldn't change any of it. If I could go back in time, and choose anywhere to go to school, I'd still choose Detroit.

You can also stick all the white-privilege assumptions somewhere where the sun doesn't shine. I grew up on a small farm, in the middle of nowhere - Lachine Michigan. I shared a tiny bedroom, in a tiny house, with my younger brother until high school. We heated our entire house with wood, and one year, when we were too poor to buy enough food, my parents illegally poached deer so we'd have something to make Hamburger Helper with.

You shouldn't assume, that if someone's white, that they have money, and/or are a member of suburbian middle class.

That truck wasn't full of Mommy-provided nice-new apartment furniture - it was filled with thrift and garage sale crap I'd collected, for my dreams of making it the hell out of Northern Michigan. I bought most of it myself doing in-home nursing jobs. I changed many an adult diaper to buy that beat-up dresser. And the college education? I'll be paying those loans back until I'm old and gray.

Maybe I should have written about my memories of being poor white trash.

That story, however, has already been told.
http://amzn.to/ak5Tmf
73
Decided to read some Travis R. Wright to get a feel for Real Detroit Detroiters since Kelly-O's experiences don't count. And weather it's punk rock culinary shows or reviews for fuck machines, Wright provides an insight into the D that truly respects its readers. I guess that's why there are so few comments on Wrights articles --he nails the topic every time!

I love this ongoing debate of what real cities and real people actually are. I thought for sure I would never here it again after McCain and Palin were defeated.

And if two big black (or white, or hispanic) cops approach you and the details of the experience don't invoke a sense of subjectivity, then go hang out with fucking Tom Cruise.

Also, this isn't a travel brochure, it's someone's personal experience. And I know, it infuriates me too when other people don't have exactly the same experiences as me!

Allow me to add my own article on Detroit so that everyone can enjoy this piece equally.

Ahem...Last summer I went to Detroit and it was great! I saw men and women and buildings, ate meal and walked dog! Uh oh! Time for bed! Good night dog. Good night moon. Good night D.

74
I'm weirdly proud about being from Detroit (or, you know, the suburbs thereof). I think it has something to do with the tv commercials from when I was a kid, "Stand up and tell 'em you're from...Detroit!"
75
Kelly O. is fucking shit up punk style by telling it like she lived it.

If you're offended, you probably think you have a corner on reality. So fuck you.

More Kelly O!
76
Born and raised in Detroit. I don't believe these stories. How can someone like me, who has lived there her whole life, ride public transportation to public school for 7 years - never experience anything remotely like this?

Hmmm.
77
sounds similar to philly!
78
The New Dance Show is amazing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bS6Vb63Zc…
79
For all you boobs that think Detroit is the best thing since sliced bread, I've got news for you. I just returned from the Murder, oops, Motor City. Got myself a nice new t-shirt with a picture of a fist holding a smokin' gun with the caption of "Come back to Detroit, we missed you the first time". Also, the lovely city made it to #1, again, as the most dangerous city in the US. Nice......I wanna live there!!!
80
Detroit has always had a sense of lawlessness. Much of the city is like the wild west. Make it up as you go along. All traffic laws/signs are mere suggestions. You can drive 80 mph on the freeways and get you doors blown off. No one stops at red lights for fear of carjackings. I grew up in the suburbs but have had some of the best times of my life in Detroit. There is always something to do.
81
I lived in Baltimore and when I told my stories about my life there, people ALWAYS said, that sounds like Detroit! So true.
82
I would've liked to heard more about the individual human beings that actually live in these areas and their stories.  This article treats these neighborhoods as if they are some kind of decrepit amusement park.
83
Thanks for the great piece. As a long ago refugee who sometimes returns I thought you told the truth. The abandoned properties do make it like an archeological site and the culture of poverty and crime do evoke comparisons to the third world. In the old days they used to call us poor white trash instead of crackers. As you and other commenters mentioned there are also good things there.

Hopefully present Mayor Dave Bing and others will succeed in reshaping the city. At present the consensus seems to be that there aren't enough people or funds to support all the present neighborhoods. Unfortunately politics and economics prevent reuse of much of what would otherwise be reserviceable old infrastructure. It seems likely that much of it will be demolished and converted back to agriculture or other open space and that people will be encouraged to live in areas that match what the tax base can support.

Lifting people out of poverty and reducing crime there may be more challenging and complex than changing land use.

Beware that given a few decades Seattle infrastructure could go the same way. There are many similarities between the conversion of open space to suburbs around Seattle and what happened around Detroit in the 1950's. As with Detroit lack of maintenance fails to match what is needed to maintain Seattle infrastructure. Given a few decades some of the present Seattle area mega-mansions may be abandoned or converted to rooming houses, group homes like many of the once magnificent mansions on Grand Avenue in Detroit.

=Made in Detroit=

84
I'm from Detroit, and when I say that, I mean De-troit Detroit. Known for being the hub of Polacks and Catholic Churches that in retrospect look like Liberace shit faberge eggs while on acid. On Devil's Night there would be 800 fires burning throughout the city, and on two occasions the abandoned houses next door on each side and the one in back were torched. I was going through my formative years when the crack epidemic struck and Detroit was the murder capital of the nation. I never complained about any of this.
Here's what I did complain about... You came into my hometown, kicked your feet up, and smiled in my face while telling me that you’re slumming it. I was supposed to be honored by your presence, and you were too self-centered to realize how condescending you were being.
I get to college, and you’re there. However, my classmates are predominately stuck up, trust fund, pampered Kaitlyns and Jacobs like yourself who patronize my world by making it their 'urban experience'. I don't think it’s cute that you got offered crack today by a guy with more genuine character than you will ever possess. I don't think it’s quaint that you are willing to patronize us working slob natives by having a $4 pitcher of PBR with us at Third Street Saloon. Oh My God! You stayed up all night at Detroit Contemporary standing in a corner making fun of people? Hey! That makes you an artist! You and your Abercrombie & Fitch crowd from Sterling Wheights look like complete tourists when you show up the Magick Stick trying to act like you own the place. I don't care that you're in a band, your band sucks. College is not your second chance at being cool in high school. Yes, I know where you can get some marijuana. No, I won't tell you. I don't think its ghetto fabulous that you're drinking St. Ides and Olde English.
Do you think it makes you tough that you braved the Cultural Center area bubble that is the two block radius surrounding CCS and WSU? That area is a pristine adolescent playground where you and your ilk wasted your parents’ money. I know who you are. Your work is shit. You do not possess a working understanding/definition of Post Modernism. Peter W. laughs at you. Mel R. chided you on because he thought he would one day fuck you, proving once again that he has no taste. You're beyond adulthood now and have succeeded in accomplishing nothing other than looking to like-minded failures for passive affirmation about how the world scares and amazes you. Read that last sentence again and again until you get it. Seriously, grow the fuck up.
Years have past, and now we’re both in Seattle. Have you accomplished anything? Did you at least clean up the mess you made in Detroit before you left?
In the voyage that is life you will always be a tourist, and the postcards you write are not worth reading.
85
I've decide that the comment that I posted earlier is just the kind of in-your-face Detroit attitude that you're so enamored with. You're welcome.
86
DANG - this makes me miss the good old days when DC was Murder Capitol!
87
All of you Detroit defenders are completely full of crap. Its a blighted out, bombed out shithole. A sense of community? What community, a community of crackheads? If its so great then why don't you move back? Have fun living next door to a crack house, not being able to take a walk anywhere, having your car stolen or broken into, putting up with the constant racism (from blacks and whites). I grew up there and I would sooner kill myself than live in that city again.
88
Kelly O, I really enjoyed your autobiographical writing style...it's the tough but exciting times in life imbued with humor. Do you have any other writing I could read? I could see this as a memoir. It's funny how nostalgia makes us look back on the times when we were growing up with fondness no matter what we had to deal with at the time.
89
A vivid piece of writing, KellyO. I grew up in the Detroit area about a million years ago. My family lived first in Lincoln Park, a shabby little downriver factory suburb, then later in Southfield, just north of 8 Mile Road. I never, ever say I'm from Detroit. It would be like saying you were a Vietnam veteran when in fact you were a Vietnam-Era veteran and you weren't ever in-country. It just seems important to be accurate.

In the summer of 1967, a few girlfriends and I took the bus to a friend's house near Dayton, Ohio. We got stranded there when the riots exploded. Some college friends of my parents, both teachers who'd returned to work in the Detroit school system, spent long hours huddled on the floor hoping they wouldn't get hit by stray gunfire.

I don't expect that's what broke Detroit, but the collapse of the auto industry ensured that it was never going to recover. I left Michigan in 1970, before the Renaissance Center was built. My grandparents, who lived in a nice little house in Redford Township, on Bentler Avenue, had long since decamped to Florida. My best memories of Detroit are about Bentler Avenue, and my grandma walking us to the park, or to the dime store on Grand River Avenue. There were so many trees.
90
Thank you Kelly O for sharing your experience with us and evoking the continuum of emotions in many readers. I was "Made In Detroit" and grew up surrounded by the white, racist privilege of Dearborn, MI, although our family has never had money.

I went to Wayne State, although I dropped out to move to another amazing and unique place, Olympia, Wa, where I still reside. I really loved this piece. I really love all of the memories that came flooding back, of old friends, and incredible circumstances, and YES- the human condition. I loved going to school there. I loved all of the people I connected with... like the Nub Man!

My x worked at the Traffic Jam, and we used to go to The Majestic after they closed most Saturday nights. I swear I looked at a house (to live in) on the GP/D border that was across the street from a boarded up house that said "KILL WHITEY".

Yes, I had many other parallel experiences, and I feel the need to explain the synchronicity involved in this. I rarely read The Stranger, but I feel like the only reason I went to our food co-op tonight was to look down and see "Those Days In Detroit".... as I am still living with just enough to get by, but now I have a family, 2 kids and husband. Like that. We find ourselves about to embark upon a month of fund raising, Oly style (secret cafes, puppet shows, raffles...), so we can take our children to meet our beloved relatives who are all still there. Thank you. Yes, this piece is your experience, AND it speaks of the place where I grew up and came of age, and dreamed about living the life I'm now living somewhere else. Really, I got it. And now I have it. Thanks.
91
"Is it my fault I was born somewhere where there was zero racial diversity? Could I control that?"

Is this supposed to be an excuse? Pathetic.

I live in a Detroit suburb and I'd say half of this story is made up.

The author should teach herself "subject object predicate" before making fun of other people's English too.
92
I live in a Detroit suburb and I'd say half of this story is made up. Apparently the thing the author remembers best is her own racism.

"Is it my fault I was born somewhere where there was zero racial diversity? Could I control that?"

Is this supposed to be an excuse? Pathetic.

The author should teach herself "subject object predicate" before making fun of other people's English too.
93
I understand people's need to be defensive about their home town, but fuuuuck. You couldn't PAY me to go to Detroit. It's a fascinating study on a modern faded city, but I feel bad for anyone, black or white, who has to endure there. And a word on racism: If black people get so pissed at stereotypes, perhaps more of them should do more to END the stereotypes.
94
@84 I wouldn't be accusing others of being self-centered, friend. Your head's so far up your own ass you can see light at the end of the tunnel.

Seriously, if that's Detroit "heart", I'm perfectly fine with letting you mean shitheads eat each other.
95
i'm not too sure how i feel about this article. But props to raggin on the juggalo kids. someone had to say it, and i'm glad it was someone as sick as K.O. i wish i was there throwin sh*t at them wit you!
96
Hey, Magic Lemur, I took my head out of my ass long enough to read your response to my post. Thank you for giving me permission for us mean assholes to eat each other. People say rimming is taboo, but I've always found it to be a great ice breaker.
97
Mean shitheads, my bad.
98
#84 definately needs some intensive psychological help. You sound like a real joy to be around. Wake up - Detroit really is the shit hole of the world!!! Maybe you should move to Miami (it came in at # 2 for the most dangerous place to live).
99
Hey Momma,
I may very well need that intensive psychological assistance you mentioned. But that's another topic for another discussion. I never argued that Detroit wasn't the shit hole of the world, my beef is with Kelly O.
I have a sneaking fucking suspicion that the only positive reviews of her article were written by her and the people that she owes money to, who want her to keep this job long enough to pay them back. I speak of course of her parents.
100
love you, pop lock