Detroit

When I moved to Detroit, I didn’t understand the nature of “neighborhoods.” I called everything, “Detroit.” From Ferndale, to Rochester, to Indian Village, to Dearborn, it was all just Detroit. Well, I now understand some of the differences between the areas, or, am starting to. And in 20 years, I’m sure the “bad” areas won’t be nearly as scary.

Last night, I had fun at a friend’s Dos de Mayo / Housewarming party, near Mexicantown, in Southwest Detroit. He recently bought a pretty gigantic house, built in the 1920s, and is in the process of doing some renovations. When he bought it, (for a very low price, considering it would be a million-dollar home if it were in, say, Chicago), no one else had bid on it, and it was in need of the least amount of repair, compared to a bunch of other homes he was looking into. The neighborhood wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst, either. And if your house is big enough to ride a bike through, maybe you don’t need to go outside, anyway. Haha. But it was gorgeous. One point for Detroit’s economic effects.

And to take that point away, we got new, free, perfectly great couches yesterday. From up the street. From a young family that had their little house sold from underneath them. (The 26 year-old mother had hired a company to “re-evaluate” her finances, hastily signed a paper, and accidentally allowed these assholes to sell her home without her really knowing.) Earlier in the day, running past the house, I saw two young brothers sadly moving things to the curb, one holding a blanket and trying to squeeze himself into a small, over-packed car. Later, I walked down to examine their left-behinds with the rest of the housemates. We found out what happened through the neighbor lady, when she offered to let us use her car to move the couches. Anyway, it’s a sad story for the family. And we have amazing new couches. We should throw them some money, maybe.

And to take another point away, let’s talk about the jerks who have taken over the amazing building that is now called, Bo House, no longer the full name of Bohemian National Home. It’s just 5 minutes up the street from my friend’s new “mansion” in Mexicantown. Here’s what it used to be, as created by Joel Peterson:

Rhys Chatham reflects on Bohemian National Home:

“The Bohemian National Home is a former Czech social club, housed in a large, two-story square building. The building was bought at a highly competitive price by Joel Peterson, who purchased the building so that there would be a performance place for experimental music in Detroit. Joel does all the booking there and programs free jazz, improvised and world music, electronic noise stuff, as well as other musical craziness.” (via his site)

And it hasn’t changed much, except it has a new owner. A big dumb bully owner. Apparently, this new owner came through and physically forced Joel out, with bodyguards, or pimps, or whatever they were. This person said he was tired of the place being filled with crazy musicians and indie kids all the time. So, Joel was gone. Then, the new owner bully started doing exactly what Joel was doing. Musicians filled the place up again, hipsters and indie hippies and everyone else came pouring in, excited to see their favorite venue back in action. And hardly anyone knows the real story, I’m sure, because if they did, I’d like to think they wouldn’t go to shows there anymore. What happened was devious and disgusting and terrible and I want to know who is responsible, so I can draw a big picture of him as Hitler or something.  So, that’s what I heard. Thank you, inside source. Haha.

So I gave Detroit a point, and took two away. But I’m going to give it like 50 points just for fun, because it’s really a heart-warming place full of lovely people, and the sun has been shining for a few days straight. Yay.

Check this out: CNN Money‘s article on why 13 Detroiters love their hometown.

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