Aww, shit! Somebody made another commercial about Detroit so it's time to make a BFD out of it! Google launches a revamped Google Maps app and this ad takes us through a tour of the Motor City that surprisingly isn't cliche.
Ironically, much of the local talk here has revolved around city emergency manager Kevyn Orr's plan to take some of the city's biggest creditors on a bus tour around town in a bid to stave off debts for just a little longer. That plan failed, which means the city is an inch closer to bankruptcy.
Maybe Orr should just make a hangout and show this video instead? And I'll also suggest that the stigma of bankruptcy will be worse than the actual bankruptcy process, if it comes to that. But until we know for sure, Google lifts our spirits just a little bit.
For those unfamiliar and/or thinking this is just another "Imported From Detroit" repeat, here's a little more detail:
1. Detroit Metropolitan Airport
Technically it's in Romulus, a Detroit suburb 25 minutes away, but DTW is one of the busiest airports in the world and also one of the most luxurious. Obviously a likely place to start. Don't catch a cab like our Google guy, though; you'd be better off renting a car. When you do rent a car, do not speed leaving the airport because of Romulus cops and do not speed on I-94 going into Detroit because of Allen Park cops.
2. Michigan Central Depot and Roosevelt Park
It's the international symbol of post-industrial Detroit decay owned by the same billionaire that owns the bridge to Canada, but do-gooders have maintained the park in front of it. It's also across the street from some barbecue place. (What Google doesn't show: Head under the tunnel next to the station, and you'll be in southwest Detroit, home of the city's Mexican-American population and some of the best restaurants and bakeries in the region.)
3. The Renaissance Center
The RenCen is General Motors' headquarters — note the GM logo is blocked out, probably because OnStar doesn't use Google. Hoffa might be buried under the foundation.
4. Almost every vacant building in Detroit nowadays.
I can't call this one exactly (comments, help?) but graffiti artists are making their mark all over the place these days. (ELMER. GASM. "Write-in Mike Duggan.") I'm on the fence about graffiti because a lot of the tags springing up are amateur, but some of the nicer ones are worth a look. Personally, I prefer murals — like the Woodbridge giraffe, for starters.
5. Bagley Street
6. Comerica Park
Home of the Tigers. We were thisclose last season!
7. Second Baptist Church
Second Baptist Church was a major Northern stop on the Underground Railroad for slaves making their way to Canada. Inside Second Baptist, the church has preserved the underground cellars where slaves would take shelter before crossing the border. If you grew up in Detroit, you took a field trip here at some point. (By the way, the church offers tours and such; you can find out more information here.)
8. The People Mover
"Monorail!" is all I have to say about this. Some people love it but all it does is loop around downtown. At some point when downtown comes full circle, the People Mover be at peak use. But for now, it's a touristy thing to get from Greektown to Downtown. However, the People Mover does stop near the Skillman Branch of the Detroit Public Library, home to one of the largest collections of automotive documentation (memos, press kits, mechanics' guides, sales tracks, every scrap of paper that follows the evolution of the industry) in the world.
9. L.J.'s Lounge
If you watch the progression of the Google Maps video, it suggests that you can walk here from downtown. Don't. I mean, you could if you're in shape and you have free time. But L.J.'s is in Corktown — on Michigan Avenue, near the aforementioned train station — and is one of the best dives around.
The home of Greektown Casino! Just kidding. The casino is the (depressing, filled with old people from Ohio) tourist trap, but along this brief stretch, you can get some fine cigars, take in street music, get a caricature done and get some fine baked goods from Astoria. As the name implies, it's very Greek — but all the restaurants aren't. My personal favorites are Fishbone's (best Cajun food outside New Orleans) and Plaka Cafe (all-night divey place to go when you've had a few; get the saganaki.)
11. Showtime Detroit
Note to Detroit boosters: You can acknowledge Midtown without being all MIDTOWN!!!!!!!!!111! Anyway, Showtime is where Detroit rockers go for their stage gear. Leather pants, embroidered shirts, platform shoes, studded belts — the works. And it's in Midtown, near Bob's Classic Kicks (if stacked Giorgio Brutinis aren't your thing) the Detroit Institute of Arts (we've still got the art for now!), the Detroit Historical Museum, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History and this big-ass house.
12. St. Andrews
DREWS! Where every up-and-coming act is noticed and a must-stop for national acts looking for a following. (J. Cole had a $1 show here two weeks ago.) You will also leave every show with a billion CDs from rappers begging you to listen to their mixtape.
12. The Westin Book-Cadillac
One of the top luxury hotels in Detroit, and a linchpin in the city's constant marketing to convention organizers. It's also home to Roast, a favorite dining (albeit expensive; I prefer 24 Grille when I want to splurge) experience for the locals.
13. Lafayette (and American) Coney Island
Sophie's Choice. Lafayette or American? The coney wars have been written about at length so I have nothing more to add. Our Google guy picks Lafayette, which seems to win every local debate these days.
Oh, I mean, downtown again. Our Google guy wakes up and starts another day. And there's plenty more to offer beyond downtown.
Point is, you can actually have fun in Detroit. Considering every video that has come out of Detroit lately has been people in coffeeshops talking (and talking...and talking...something about entrepreneurs...more talking...Eastern Market on Saturday...talking...flower growing from the concrete, roll credits), it's nice to show people in action.
So +1 to you, Google, for not rolling something off the Detroit documentary assembly line. Maybe I'll start using G+ a little more.