Monthly Archives: October 2009

Detroit: A Dying City

This was aired on CBC March 30th, 2009. It shows how bad things are in the city of Detroit right now. Thanks to cherifa123 for sending me the link to the video on google video, which I was then able to download and upload on Youtube.

These are the main points that I retained from watching this video:

-A man who hunts raccoons and sells the meat to make a living.
-120 square kilometers of the city are vacant, an area larger than than city of Vancouver.
-22% unemployment(which is now actually around 29%).
-Homes selling for $1.
-Median home price is $6000 and falling.
-Wild animals are moving back into the city… pheasants, coyotes, even beavers.

In another video that can be seen on CBC’s website, they state that 40% of the downtown area is vacant. This is exactly why I say that most of Detroit is ghetto, numbers don’t lie.

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Devil’s Night

Hi all! It’s been a few weeks since my last post, and considering today is Halloween, I figured it’s the perfect time to talk about Devil’s Night. If you live in Detroit, you already know what this is. Locally, the night before Halloween is known as “Devil’s Night”… other parts of the country call it mischief night. For most people across the country, this night is known for kids going out and egging, TP’ing, ding-dong-ditch, and petty pranks. Leave it to the fine folks of Detroit to step it up a few notches by burning down hundreds of buildings every year on this night!

It wasn’t always this bad, though. Not too long after the riots in 1967, which resulted in the phenomenon known now as white flight (all the whites left Detroit and moved to the suburbs because they no longer felt safe in the city), the minor crimes and acts of petty vandalism soon escalated to much more devastating acts like arson in the early 1970s. The inner city neighborhoods took the brunt of the destruction, which peaked in the mid 1980s with more than 800 fires set in 1984, and 500 to 800 fires in the three days and nights before Halloween in a typical year.

Although the number of fires had begun to decline in the 1990s, the threat of fires still loomed every year. After Devil’s Night in 1994, which saw over 200 fires and killed a 1 year old girl, then mayor Dennis Archer promised city residents arson would not be tolerated. In 1995, Detroit city officials organized and created Angel’s Night on and around October 29-31. Each year as many as 50,000 volunteers gather to patrol neighborhoods, which has drastically reduced the number of fires.

The numbers for this year’s Devil’s Night wont be released for another 48 hours, but thus far only 11 suspicious fires were reported from 9pm Thursday to 6am Friday. The city averages 10 to 20 suspicious fires a day anyways, so it would seem Detroit has finally quelled the infamous Devil’s Night arsons. My theory, though: They’ve already burned every structure other than their own homes, and therefore there is nothing left to burn. Of course, I am kidding… there is no shortage of abandoned buildings in Detroit!

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TIME Magazine Bought A House In Detroit

That’s right people, TIME Magazine bought a house in Detroit. Not in the suburbs, but within the city limits. Why? Well, apparently they are going to have a bunch of journalists living in the house for a year and report on the city. I don’t know exactly where this house is, but from the pictures it looks pretty nice. They bought it for $99k, which means it’s GOTTA be somewhere nice, considering the average home price is around $7,000-$18,000 ( I keep hearing varying numbers, hard to know which figures are correct). Here’s a pic of the house below:

See what I mean? A house like this is a rarity in Detroit. To take in the full effect you’d think they would have chosen a house in a bit more, um, “shitty” neighborhood. Otherwise, what’s the point? Might as well have bought a house in the ‘burbs!

Anyways, it ought to be interesting. I’ll be following this throughout the next year. If you want to check out the whole story, go HERE and HERE.

To the brave journalists at TIME, try not to get killed. Godspeed…

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My Thoughts And Intentions

Thursday October 8th, 2009
I had been through Detroit many times as a kid, my father would often take my brother and I to a Tigers game, Cobo for the International Auto Show, etc. It seemed like every time we went to Detroit, we’d see something on fire… a house, a car, something. Then, my first job after graduating high school was selling credit card processing machines to businesses, door to door (talk about a shitty job, huh?). I was 17 years old then, a white kid wandering the streets of Detroit for 8 hours a day in a suit and tie… definitely an eye opener for me at the time.

I first started to film Detroit in 2002, basically out of sheer boredom. Like many Union workers, I was generally laid off at least a few months out of the year, and one day decided to head down to Detroit with my new video camera and document some of the worst areas. My intentions were never to give the city a bad name, good name, anything. You could say that I had no intentions other than to merely see for myself the destruction that lies only a few miles from home, and share this with others. Many Detroiters on Youtube criticize me for showing only the bad parts of the city, and not showing the good areas. I openly acknowledge that there are some really nice areas of the city, and that the whole city does not looks like my videos. I admit that. On the other hand, MOST of the city looks like what I film. The downtown area has been improving with the new stadiums and casinos, but I feel that little has been done outside of downtown. Detroit is roughly 140 square miles, and about 75 square miles of that is abandoned! Name ONE other US city that can compare to that!

What amazes me is that Detroit was once such a rich, powerful city… and now lays in nearly total ruin. It was once referred to as “the Paris of the west” for it’s architecture. Today, many of these buildings still stand, but a good number are beyond repair. The physical deterioration of the city is just astounding, well beyond what the videos can show. What intrigues me is the sheer scale of destruction that, to my knowledge, is unmatched by any other US city. Many people try to argue with me on Youtube that you can find areas like this in any city, which you can, but not on Detroit’s scale. To argue that is just absurd.

I think it’s important that people are aware of Detroit’s state, regardless of how you interpret it or what you do with the information. Some hardcore Detroiters on Youtube have told me what a horrible person I am for showing only only the bad areas. They think that the bad areas should not be shown at all. They think that I don’t “have the right” to film these areas. It’s funny that those same people are the ones saying, “what are you doing to help”? Well, how do you expect people to help you if they aren’t aware of your situation? What it boils down to is being ashamed of where you live. And who came blame them?