I spent my twenties working and partying in downtown Detroit. This was before Dan Gilbert came to town and made parts of it all fancy-schmancy with “placemaking initiatives” that “leverage the assets.”
I’d drink well specials at The Well, talking with my friends about what should be done to get the city out of its current funk while I learned how real life worked and where I might fit in.
My days of staying out all night running around the streets of Detroit are over. I’ll let the next generation take over that for me … at least until The Kid is an adult. I’m white, living in the suburbs and married, like most people this list applies to.
I have no regrets, but my aspirations of turning my public policy background into being a Chief of Staff for a City Council person are long gone. However, my love for the city is definitely still here.
So please take this list as tongue in cheek and good fun, because that’s all this is. And I’m not saying other folks don’t do these things, but white people do this stuff in large numbers and with gusto. After all, if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?
1. Driving From The Suburbs To The City To Ride Our Bikes Or Run, And Then Driving Home Right Afterward
There’s something about loading the car up, heading to the city, exercising, then driving back to the ‘burbs. Slow Roll? Check. Tour De Troit? Check. St. Patrick’s Day? Check. Cycling up and down the Riverfront, Dequindre Cut, and around Belle Isle? Check. After all, all the houses look the same on my suburban street.
2. Wedding Pictures In Front Of Ruins And/Or Graffiti
Michigan Central Station is an impressive building, even though the last train left over 27 years ago. By looking at the over abundance of wedding photos taken here and at many other abandoned, ruined, or unkempt places I can only imagine how great it would have been to take them inside of a building that wasn’t abandoned. It’ll be interesting once the windows in station are completely finished where the next place du jour will be. Just don’t tear your dress on that exposed rebar!
3. Pour-over Coffee
I’m not sure if it’s third wave, new wave, or what specialness is released when we let the coffee “bloom,” but there’s nothing quite like waiting five minutes for coffee that should be five seconds to pour out of a coffeemaker.
4. Ilitch Village
The newest iteration is now called “The District Detroit,” but really what it is an extension of what’s been going on for years for sports fans between Joe Louis Arena (soon the new complex by Woodward Avenue) and Comerica Park. It’s kind of like a Detroit Disneyland, so I call it “Ilitch Village.” Sure, it can be a diverse crowd depending on the event. But taking a weekday afternoon off work to watch a game is something uniquely … privileged. And let’s not even talk about the circus that is opening day.
If it is a game day and you want to grab a bite to eat forget about it. All of the places will be full of white people wanting to get a seat … just like you! Slows, Mudgie’s, Mercury Burger Bar, and Green Dot Stables will always be jam-packed. It’s possible there are more craft beer tap handles in this area of town than actual residents. And that’s saying something.
6. Visiting Lafayette Coney Island Or American Coney Island
…But none of the other Coney Islands located also inside the city. And that’s a shame, many of the others are really good, too. More on that on another post.
Midtown is the newest hot spot in the city. I remember when it used to be white people only seemed to visit Greektown. I love Midtown, even though I can never find a parking spot. What white person doesn’t like a curated assortment of shops, restaurants and breweries and yoga with a local flair? We love our stuff to be curated. There’s history here, man! We’ve rebranded it enough times (calling it Cass Corridor, turns out, was branding at one point). And Wayne State Police!
8. Curbed Detroit
Really, all things rehabbed, reclaimed, up-cycled, recycled, price-chopped and renovated. White people watch a lot of HGTV and DIY Network (take it from someone who rewatches episodes of Rehab Addict. Hi, Nicole Curtis), and Curbed Detroit is our local extension of that. There are endless postings of houses I’ll never buy and reading the absurd comments criticizing the décor of other people on Curbed Detroit. It’s a full time job to keep up with the design disasters.
9. Surface Parking Lots
Even though it is statistically safer to park your car in a garage around the corner from where you’re going, people would rather park in a paved surface lot three blocks away (as long as they can see where they’re headed and don’t have to turn a corner), or shoehorn their car in some dark alley and then wonder why it got broken into. Let’s also remember pretty much all of the surface lots at one point were buildings downtown and are basically the worst use of land in a central city possible.
10. When A National Media Outlet Writes About Our Food Scene
It creates a visceral response when a national publication writes anything about our beloved culinary creations. We click, share, and otherwise comment the hell out of everything resembling food praise, especially if we’ve never been. Then, promptly forget to go the next weekend.