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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Detroit City is the Place to Be

After reading Charlie LeDuff's Detroit last spring, I've really been on the search for another book about the city written by a native. There's such a difference when a native writes an honest look at their struggling hometown, versus an outsider obsessed with ruin porn and attacks of arson.

Anyway, Detroit City Is the Place to Be by Mark Binelli is a must-read for all of us from the Motor City.

First of all, it opens with this amazing map that I wish I had taken a full photo of:

And both covers (hardback and paperback) are pretty wonderful. I think I love them both equally. That Joe Louis fist is always so awesome.

It was definitely a little lighter than LeDuff's look at Detroit, but I still feel it was just as honest. The two authors definitely had different experiences growing up in the city, but that made both reads equally as interesting.

Detroit City is the Place to Be is filled with stories. Stories I could relate to, stories I could never relate to, stories about history we know by heart but from a fresh angle—basically just a lot of wonderful stories. And Binelli is a wonderful story teller.

There were so many feelings I recognized in Binelli's writing. Pride. Embarrassment. Anger. How ridiculous the Auto Show seems at times, yet we all still love to go. How frustrating the constant arson attacks are. The embarrassment of the Kwame scandals. The resentment over ruin porn. How annoying "Don't Stop Believing" is because there is no South Detroit. A love for Heidelberg. Awe of the Diego Rivera murals in the DIA. A serious craving for Slow's BBQ.

I fell in love with this book on page 2 for obvious reasons
The Heidelberg Project
The Diego Rivera murals at the DIA
Street art
The North American Auto Show 2010: Starting to look good again... sort of
There's no romanticism about the city in the text, but there also isn't a dismissal of the latest initiatives to get things going again. It's just seems very honest and realistic.

This isn't a book full of lessons, but if it had any advice to give, I think it would tell people to just stop judging a city on its struggles. There are plenty of struggles and areas the city needs to work on, but maybe concentrate on the positive at least 50% of the time.

The old Tiger Stadium, mid-demolition
The Tigers mascot Paws, at the new-ish Comerica Park
Support the Empowerment Plan. Buy a Shinola watch. Go to a Tigers game. Eat some delicious BBQ.

We hope for better things; It shall rise from the ashes. 

(all photos mine; covers via


I'm going to need to watch this movie now

Detroit shop City Bird = I want everything

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