Time's bought a house in one of Detroit's nicest old-money neighborhoods, embedding reporters for the next year here because it's the hip thing to do. Glad they've finally made it back just in time for our little Carpocalypse party.
That's right, "back." We remember when Time used to have employees here in Metro Detroit. Until about ten years ago, they had a whole editorial and advertising team in the cushy Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills. Then, a decade ago, they left, tail between their legs, afraid of sinking auto advertising revenues and lonely for their even-more-cushy Manhattan high-rise.
But do you blame them for leaving a decade ago? Detroit's most certainly a city with its fair share of ups and downs, and anyone honest with themselves will tell you it's been mostly downs for quite a while. The thing is the place got considerably better over the last decade. The rampant crime and gang activity of the 80's and 90's has subsided, the sky-high murder rate has declined to meet the average large city, and the downtown has seen a remarkable rebirth in business entertainment. Were it not for the onerous city income tax we'd probably be considering a move downtown ourselves.
However, for someone just coming back to the city, it's hard to see the improvement, so, like Time Magazine, it's much easier to apply a story line to a situation rather than put things into context. Throw up some pictures of the city's urban prairies, talk about the decline of the big three and things like the Heidelberg Project, urban farming, and the creepy-weird Russell Industrial Complex like they're something new and make that look like what Detroit is about. Detoit's a city where lazy journalism is possible, even easy. Point a camera, take a picture, sensationalize. A sure-fire formula.
It's far more complex than that. Detroit's probably the oddest metro area in the world. On one street you'll find mansion after mansion of immeasurable quality with pristine lawns and professionally maintained English gardens, and on literally the next will be burnt out crack houses and a street littered with discarded tires and garbage. A boulevard lined with high-class boutiques will have another behind it lined with prostitutes. The insanity of the city is why people stay. There's a certain hard-boiled grit to Detroiters you don't find in other places. They know they've been dealt a tough hand but they're not going to let that stop them from playing.
But now Time is moving back into town because it's the vogue and hip thing to do. But we're happy to have 'em here — mostly so we'll finally have another media company that'll hopefully be willing to look deeper than the vacant lots and the houses burned down during the bad old days. In fact, we'd encourage them to look at the entire new neighborhoods minted by the volunteers at Habitat for Humanity, the rejuvenated Eastern Market, the constantly entertaining downtown, the many, many interesting festivals, the vibrant art scene and the always incredible music of Detroit. Heck, we'll even show 'em around. [Time]