Perhaps the biggest shortcoming of Detroit "ruin porn" is it inherently ignores the very real people who still live in the city. Now there's a convergence — the amazing story of Allan Hill, the man who legally lives inside the city's abandoned Packard Auto Plant.
What's most surprising about this moving mini-documentary is Hill's "quality of life" doesn't look as terrible as you'd imagine, nor does his reasoning for choosing to stay in the largest abandoned factory in the world seem so unsound.
The whole creation is a huge gut-check to our biases. Yes, the Packard Plant is so giant and empty and strange they shoot Michael Bay movies there. And, occasionally, kids push a dump truck out a window.
Yet, Hill has power, Internet access, a welding setup, and a small kitchen. He even maintains a webcam. The owner apparently gave him his blessing so long as Hill works as a custodian of the property.
He reminds me of the Prophet Amos, whom God appointed to tell the Israelites to stop letting the wealthiest few prosper at the hands of the poorest. This was not a popular message as it came at a time when Israel was doing fairly well. Amos also told them to prepare themselves for judgement, especially from a foreign nation.
"The days are coming," declares the LORD,
"when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills, and I will bring my people Israel back from exile.
"They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,"
says the LORD your God."
This video is part of the series This Must Be The Place. The title, of course, is taken from that other great prophet David Byrne. He of the many heads talking.