MARK BINELLI is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and Men’s Journal. He decided to write a book about the ‘afterlife of an American metropolis’ (i.e. that old deteriorating reliable, DETROIT, Michigan). Binelli looks beyond the city’s scarred landscape to a DETROIT that may have a future. An excerpt below . . .
“For people of my generation and younger, growing up in the Detroit area meant growing up with a constant reminder of the best having ended a long time ago. We held no other concept of Detroit but as a shell of its former self. Our parents could mourn what it used to be and tell us stories about the wonderful downtown department stores and the heyday of Motown and muscle cars. But for us, those stories existed as pure fable. It was like being told about an uncle who died before you were born, what a terrific guy he’d been, if only you’d had the chance to meet him, see how handsome he looks in these old pictures . . .
Would my kids one day grow up thinking the same thoughts about America as a whole, about my ponderous tales of cold war victories and dot-com booms? It was easy to let your imagination drift in melodramatic courses. A malaise spreading through the rest of the country—a creeping sense of dread that, after spending the past eight years doing absolutely everything wrong, this time we really had reached the inevitable end of our particular empire—all of this had the effect of making Detroit, for the first time in my life, feel less like a crazy anomaly and more like a leading indicator. The mood of hopelessness had become palpable. I found myself fleetingly wondering if Detroit, in the end, might reclaim its old title after all—not the Motor City but the city of tomorrow.
I squinted out over the ledge one last time. The icy wind was almost harsh enough to make you cry, and Detroit, from up here, looked like it went on forever.” – Mark Binelli, Detroit City is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis. illustrated, 318 pp, Metropolitan Books