WEDNESDAY LINK-FEST: Hotels, Parking Lots, and Incinerators — OH MY.

6 October, 2010

Hello friends!  It’s a beautiful day in the D!

I’m used to vomiting a bunch of links onto my facebook that I find during the day, but in an effort to mimic KFC’s Famous Bowls and create a gray, mountainous hillock of goodness, I’ll keep ’em all here.  So, here’s what we’ve got on the docket for today:

–  Hooray!  Corktown has a new parking lot.  The heavens rejoice. (Source: Model D Media)

– From The Detroit News comes this discussion on downtown hotel occupancy.  My personal fave, the Westin Book Cadillac, seems to be emerging from a record low occupancy rate in 2008, but others (such as the Omni Riverfront) are facing the axe.

– The days of taking Detroit’s trash and burnin’ it may soon be over, but what will replace the steam supply?  My vote: put a nozzle on Monica Conyers and let her start talking.  That should do the trick. (Source: Crain’s Detroit)

– Hooray!  Detroit has a Taco Truck!  You can follow Jacques’ Tacos on Twitter as well.

– The jury is hung on Detroit 1-8-7.  Local reviewers seem to think ABC’s homegrown crime drama is finally getting it right, while national pundits are a bit more skeptical.  Personally, I saw a marked improvement from the premiere to Episode 2, but lack of DVR means I haven’t had a chance to watch last night’s show. 

That’s all from here for now — if you have any tips, links, or thoughts to share, Twit me!


P.S.

4 October, 2010

I ran out of time to post a follow-up to yesterday’s scrawling, but I encountered a bit of a humorous little tidbit while reviewing my blog stats tonight:

someone found The Detroitists by Googling “[my name] married”.

It looks like I should start shaving more often; the googlers are lookin’ for love. 🙂


Ten Things I Hate About You: Detroit

3 October, 2010

Aww.

I’m completely comfortable with admitting my love of the 90’s film Ten Things I Hate About You, the film from which the above clip was taken.  I mean, the cast in this film was, like, oh-so-dreamy: Heath Ledger.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Julia Stiles.  And, of course, how could we forget the cameo appearance of that guy from the Isuzu commercials?

Julia Stiles’ character in this clip has discovered that Mr. Ledger, who originally was paid to feign interest in the off-putting Stiles, was never truly interested in her — or at least she thought.  This poem reflects an outburst of frustration from a woman that felt betrayed, duped, and embarrassed by such treachery.

Recently I spent two weeks in Chicago, a city in which many of my close friends live and served as my home for a summer back in 2008.  While my time there is always enjoyable, this visit was a bit more painful as I continued to discover how far behind Detroit really is.  And while my reasons for doing so don’t entirely line up with the girl in the video clip, I felt moved to draw up my own list of the ten things I hate about Detroit. As a lover of what this city has to offer, I owe myself a bit of a vent session; it allows me to breathe normally, and it reminds me that a battered city needs to be honest with itself. (Disclaimer: most of these observations are tongue-in-cheek, but leave some breathing room for my sarcasm. 🙂 )

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The D = Big Three?

21 August, 2010

Quite a bit of hullabaloo has been thrown about this week — some good, some bad — regarding last Friday’s New York Times article, “Detroit Goes From Gloom to Economic Bright Spot“.  By highlighting a recent slew of statistics, Bill Vlasic provides confirmation to his readers that, yes, Detroit is on the rebound.  Example:

Detroit has vowed to change before, slimming down when sales slumped or pouring resources into vehicle quality to catch up to foreign competitors. Those efforts stalled or failed. But many auto analysts say the current makeover has a more permanent feel, largely because of the presence of the outsiders at the top and the lessons learned from the near-death experience of last year’s bankruptcies at G.M. and Chrysler.

And that’s not all.  Sales are up, the industry is streamlined, and GM’s upcoming IPO are the talk of the town.  And while I believe the announcement of in-the-black profits and higher sales ratios are only signs of a short-term improvement, there’s an air of positivity swirling about the (aptly-named, I hope) Renaissance Center.

But, there’s one teensy aspect of this article that draws my ire a bit.  Actually, wait.  Let me stop beating around the bush: I almost find this article deplorable because of this one oversight, and it needs to be disclosed.

GM, Ford, and Chrysler are NOT Detroit.  Detroit is….Detroit.  Duh.

I use bold type because I’m trying to emphasize my frustration with this viewpoint.  Let me explain why:

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Welcome to THE DETROITISTS

18 August, 2010

I’m going back to Blog 0.1 here: in its original form, Rainierisms was created in an attempt to catalogue my transition from lifelong Midwesterner to adept Seattleite. And in similar form, I hope this blog will expose the highs and lows of living in one of America’s most maligned metros.

The contrasts are drastic between the two cities, to be honest.

Seattle ranks consistently high on magazines’ “Best Places to Live” List.  It’s happy when it’s not raining, healthy when the salmon aren’t laden with mercury, and has a bevy of neighborhoods teeming with young professionals, aspiring entrepreneurs, and empty nesters.  You’re no more than a few hundred meters away from a body of water in nearly all of Seattle, and the karaoke bars are unmatched anywhere else east of Manila.  The only problems Seattle faces are risks in housing price fluctuations….and volcanoes.

I always tell people that the reason why I moved to Detroit was because of the lack of threat from volcanoes, and while that may a sliiiiight stretch, it doesn’t seem to compensate for an absolute onslaught of negative opinions about the city.  The only lists it makes are those which declare it as miserable, the city’s population has been in freefall for the past decade, and high income taxes combined with ridiculous insurance rates make it wholly undesirable.  So, it wasn’t completely offensive to me when, while in Cape Town, an American inquiring about my place of residence stateside literally gasped when I told her where I lived.

She followed up the non-verbal retort with a simple, yet profound, one-word question: “WHY?”

…if you know me in person, you’ve received the two-minute diatribe outlining the multiple reasons why, when faced with the options of heading to well-established cities such as Chicago or Boston, I decided to take a chance on the D.  In due time, I’ll use this blog to re-explain some of those things, but I’d rather allow you to understand my reasons through stories, anecdotes, photos, and the daily encounters I have as a resident of what I like to call The Gritty City.  Hopefully, some fellow contributors will join me on the ride, offering guest commentary, podcasts, and whatever else is required to make this space worthwhile.

So.  Friends, relatives, readers, skeptics, proponents, opponents, and observers: here we go.  Welcome to The Detroitists.


CH-CH-CHANGES

18 August, 2010

For four years, I’ve kept the domain rainierisms.com active with a bit of irony attached: of all the places I’ve lived in the States, Seattle panned out to be the shortest-lived residency.  So, I technically haven’t been writing any quips about the city basking in the shadow of Mount Rainier for quite some time.

My move to Detroit looms, and with it comes a whole new opportunity to blog about all things related to the Gritty City.  I plan on doing some spring cleaning around here, sprucing up some of the links, incorporating some guest bloggers (including an occasional visit from GLTN, perhaps?) and showing you, dear readers, why Detroit is the most stunningly opportune city on earth.

And you’ll also learn why I loooooove to speak in superlatives. 🙂


Eleven Years in the Making

8 August, 2010

Day 60-ish
Current Location: Brisbane, Australia
Current Song: That one being played during the “Where is Matt” Video

It was a decision I considered to be a bit stupid at the time.

Every three years, my high school’s symphony band took a trip to Germany for a weeklong music tour.  As the trip drew nearer, our fervency for fundraising through magazine and candy bar sales increased, and the anticipation of spending seven days in the magical netherworld of Europe became all the more exciting.  The year prior to the trip, we had our passport photos taken, and by November of the previous year, my zit-adorned teenage face was on the cover of my very own Reisepass to distant lands.

You see, in South Dakota, life revolves around what’s right in front of your face.  We were sheltered — or some would argue deprived — of the daily madness that we all have the ability to take in due to the prevalence of 24-hour news channels and TMZ.  Life was…insular.  But we loved it…And I couldn’t wait to get out.  Germany was like a new frontier for me, just as college in Michigan would be several months later.

But then, another opportunity arose, which would take me south to the dry heat of Phoenix instead of Germany, and given the circumstances, I chose Phoenix.  The day I made the decision, my parents and I both agreed: I’d get to Germany someday, and probably for more favorable reasons.

Four years later, as a senior in college, I’d ventured no further than Windsor, Canada — my passport remained empty except for a photo of a blank-faced seventeen year-old kid staring in the middle distance.  But in 2003, I finally had the opportunity to take my first journey abroad: Mexico.

Wait, Mexico?? Yes, the destination of thousands of college kids every March…but I was going for a very, very different reason.  After eight weeks in the interior of the country, you could say that my travel bug nestled its way into my conscience, and I’ve been infected ever since.

—–

Seven years after that first trip overseas, I’ve landed on each continent, the last being Australia.  Coincidentally, the theme song from this video appeared on my iPod as we descended toward Kingsford Smith airport in Sydney last week, ushering me to the spot where I’d achieve Officially Established Life Goal #1: hit all continents by age 30.  Granted, I’ve had other aspirations at different points, most of which were sort of fleeting or based in some kind of quick-hit fantasy: get married to Cindy Crawford.  Become an astronaut.  Own an F-14. But to accomplish a goal that takes years to accomplish, and one you don’t waver from…it’s a nice feeling, and it’s possible that we don’t set goals often enough.

So, I’ve learned a few things during this journey — hitting up a handful of continents in a few months, by yourself, does that to ya — and I’m sure the stories from each country that I’ve attempted to remember will fade away in some small sense.  But I also put enough faith in whatever guides each one of us — whether it’s religion, personal ambition, etc. — that the experiences we have will shape and form us even if they’re not remembered consciously.  I’m not sure how a bungee jump off a bridge in Nepal or devouring Vegimite will change my life for the better, but I imagine someone else will reveal that to me in the same bizarre, unique way the experiences occurred in the first place.