A Typical Day in DetroitSaturday, July 7, 2012
Today, my friend Marla and I did some cycling in the D. We rode along the Riverwalk, the Dequindre Cut greenway, and over to Eastern Market.
I bought this piece of art from a downtrodden, vagabond artist who was selling some of his wares on a street corner at Detroit Eastern Market. It will be a great conversation piece for my office. It’s the Old English “D” that is a trademark of our city. The blue wood is original scrap from an old house, and he painted the logo using spray paint and a homemade stencil. I love the unassuming qualities and simplicity of the piece, while the boldness of the design and color strike me as being somewhat alluring.
Additionally, I signed the artist’s car – and yes, this car runs and it is what he drives.
If you like everything pristine and new and pretty, Detroit is not your style. Our city is rustic-rugged industrial, and it has many blemishes. But people – especially the artistic set – come from all over the world to see Detroit because its blemishes are so unconventional, so unique, and they exude a spartan elegance. They also come here because the ineptness of government is so rampant that markets can flourish here, and without folks having to jump through a zillion hoops at city hall in the process of building or maintaining a business or artistic interest.
Where else can you traverse the riverfront of a major urban area, at noon on a Saturday, and run into so few people along the way? And those who you do run into are always smiling, and they always have something to say to you because they too feel the splendor that others just haven’t been able to discover due to the fact that they are unable to appreciate the glories of this city. And where else can you travel the downtown streets on a bicycle and not have to pretend you are a Chicago bike messenger trying to stay alive for one more day? People in this city wave at cyclists, they accommodate us, and they cheer us on for making our presence known in the city. Unlike Detroit-area suburbia, no one in the city wants to kill you for taking up their space and two seconds of their time. [See my article, "Is Detroit a Bicyclist's Paradise?"]
After the riverfront, we nailed the Dequindre Cut greenway, and then we cruised over to North America’s largest farmer’s market, Detroit Eastern Market. The market buzzes with excitement on Saturdays: cyclists, walkers, city folk, and suburban tourists come here to experience the excitement and incredible ambience that lights up the market turf starting at 7am in the morning.
This city is alive with change, intellectual diversity, artistic evolution, and agricultural revolution. The agents of change are those who ignore the political restrictions, and instead forge ahead with grandiose ideas and entrepreneurial innovations.
When I told a Detroit booster friend why I decided not to take on a new job in Minneapolis, and instead, I made the decision to stay on here and ride the tide of transformation, I told him, “I wouldn’t miss this shit for the world.” And so, here I am. And likely, here I shall stay.