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Belmont Club

Oblivion

March 2nd, 2013 - 8:57 pm

They said if you voted for Mitt Romney Detroit would go bankrupt. So people voted for Barack Obama.

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Now it turns out that Detroit may go bankrupt anyway. “Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder plans to put a state manager in charge of ending Detroit’s fiscal crisis, stripping power from officials of a withered city that in 1940 was the nation’s fourth biggest and a seat of industry.”  The only thing that can save it now is other people’s money. It’s a possibility that can’t be ruled out.

NPR notes that Detroit is so deep in a hole they have to pipe the sunlight in — on installment.

Just how far gone is Detroit? Eric Lupher, director of local affairs for the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, sums it up like this:

“The city could stop doing all of its current operations today — no more police and fire, no more garbage collection, no more street lights — and the city would still have billions of dollars of debt and promises made for future payments that it would have to pay.”

Yet Mark Binelli of New York Times has managed to portray the collapse of the city as some kind aesthetic triumph. He calls it the “world capital” of beautiful ruined buildings. Where else can you see whole city blocks of skyscrapers in smashed, burned and deserted condition except in movies with titles like “Omega Man” or “I am Legend” or “After Earth”?  And in the movies they do it with CGI whereas in Detroit it’s all live action.

Binelli explains a point which may not have been obvious to the reader. It is only plain to the artist: the city is beautiful because it seems ugly.

now much of the attention being showered upon Detroit from the trendiest of quarters comes, in no small measure, thanks to the city’s blight. Detroit’s brand has become authenticity, a key component of which has to do with the way the city looks.

This is not exactly a question of gentrification; when your city has 70,000 abandoned buildings, it will not be gentrified anytime soon. Rather, it’s one of aesthetics. And in Detroit, you can’t talk aesthetics without talking ruin porn, a term that has become increasingly familiar in the city. Detroiters, understandably, can get touchy about the way descriptions and photographs of ruined buildings have become the favorite Midwestern souvenirs of visiting reporters.

Still, for all of the local complaints, outsiders are not alone in their fascination. My friend Phil has staged secret, multicourse gourmet meals, prepared by well-known chefs from local restaurants, in abandoned buildings like the old train station; John and his buddies like to play ice hockey on the frozen floors of decrepit factories. A woman who moved to Detroit from Brooklyn began to take nude photographs of herself in wrecked spaces (thrusting the concept of ruin porn to an even less metaphorical level). And Funky Sour Cream, an arts collective originally from New York, arranged an installation of little cupcake statues in the window of a long-shuttered bakery on Chene Street. A few days later, the bakery burned down. People debated whether or not this was a coincidence.

Perhaps the article is tongue in cheek, but if not then the bakery fire is probably not coincidence. It was probably intentionally set by the last sane man in Detroit.

One black lady managed to point out the downside of living in ruins at a talk the author attended. “During the question-and-answer period, a stylishly dressed African-American woman in her 50s stood up to make a contrarian point: that devotees of ruined buildings should be aware of the ways in which the objects of their affection left ‘retinal scars’ on the children of Detroit, contributing to a ‘significant part of the psychological trauma’ inflicted on them on a daily basis.”

“Retinal scars” — that’s a classic. How’s that related to the scars that have been gouged in the American landscape  by the legions of those in search of aesthetics, themselves, their life destiny, in making a statement for passion, caring, understanding and all the other planks of liberal policy that led the city to dusty death?

“Retinal scars” was probably her polite way of telling the members of that refined audience that there was something of a downside to living in a dump. But whether that will dissuade artists whose idea of chic is having yourself photographed nude in a reasonable facsimile of Berlin, 1945 remains to be seen.

The gentleman below takes a rather more pedestrian view of things. His view is that Detroit is not the world capital of ruined buildings. Detroit is simply a dump. A grade-A, certified, genuine, honest to goodness aspiring landfill; a place where City Hall can’t even demolish derelicts faster than they are being created.

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Of course if you’ve spent all your life in what used to be Motor City, you might of get used to things. This elderly man living in the ruins of a Packard plant is accompanied mostly by his memories. What does he remember? The America of his youth? What happened to Jack and Diane? Does he remember the good times? It’s proof that you can take a man out of an auto plant, but you can’t take the auto plant out of a man.

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Top Rated Comments   
What did Gerald Ford get for $2 billion?

Clue to the Councilwoman, Obama does not give his own money because you voted for him. He gives mine.

Mitt Romney was of course correct. Bankruptcy is a natural and healthy part of the legal and economic system. If Detroit and GM and various other money sinks had been declared bankrupt years ago then the physical and human capital would have been preserved far better than it has been. What bankruptcy does is reallocate the assets from the wasteful to the productive. That would have hurt the politicians and the union bosses and crony bankers. The workers consumers and merchants would have benefited.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (48)
All Comments   (48)
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1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Roughcoat - You are still fighting WW I from your redoubt at the Cantigny Museum. I am out leading the vanguard of THE FORLORN HOPE OF CHICAGO, the kids, white, black, hispanic and mixed. And my kids will own the future!

One example, a white boy, at the bottom of the "diversity" preference list is getting his college acceptances. He wants to become a biomedical engineer or doctor. He has already been accepted at UofI-Champaign, MichState and Harvard (which he disdains because too many students there are slackers!). Still awaiting Northwestern, Michigan and Tufts etc.

The preference shift is in full swing among the kids of THE FORLORN HOPE OF CHICAGO. It's just that you old fuddy-duddies are always the LAST to get the news (which of course still leaves you ahead on POTUS, Mr. Lead From Behind).

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"My friend Phil has staged secret, multicourse gourmet meals, prepared by well-known chefs from local restaurants, in abandoned buildings like the old train station[…]"

The hipster smugness exhibited here is of a peculiar and rarefied kind. 'Transgressivism' is almost invariably a cloak for witless middle-class banality, but this takes the cake. It is hard to argue that all the participants in this little pantomime should not have tied to a post and beaten with rubber hoses until they passed blood.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have grave doubts as to whether there is any good outcome possible with Detroit. Or even a less bad outcome. Leaving aside the financial Schwarzschild Radius that surrounds the city; it is governed on the basis of a simultaneous faith in Black superiority and Black victimization. Reality does not penetrate.

Michigan is taking over local governance, or at least it will. If the governor names an Emergency Manager who is not Black, the city will explode, with the active encouragement of the governing clique. Even granting that burning down half the city would encompass a capital loss of about a buck fifty; the uproar would make the effort a failure. If a Black is appointed, he will at best be called an “Uncle Tom”, and at worst a traitor. And the city will burn, and the effort will be a failure. Oh, and Black or not, there is no small risk of personal violence being visited on them and their families.

And any reduction in the rate of collapse is going to mean ending a lot of corrupt financially and politically beneficial relationships. Which will be fought by the local elites, the media, the unions, etc.

This is the United States. Politicians will not make a decision if it can be postponed in any way. If Michigan “guarantees” Detroit’s debt; nothing will have to be done at the moment. The politicians will hope that they can pass responsibility to someone else when things to Tango Uniform.

Nothing can be done, so the State of Michigan is going to end up taking in financial responsibility for Detroit, with no changes in the structural failures. Talk about lashing yourself to an anchor and diving off the high board.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Lot of loose talk about Chicago, here. Sure, Chicago's history and politics have been different from Detroit, every city is unique. But at the end of the day the main difference is that Detroit was a 1-industry town and that industry died. Chicago had/has a more diversified base and at least a leg in some industries that aren't dying, especially the financial and options markets, which attracted some hedge funds and such financial manipulators.

The Old Man left it in halfway decent shape, but Byrne and Richie ran teh debt to astronomical levels... especially Richie. By any fair accounting Chicago and its "sister agencies" like the schools have about $40-50 BILLION of unfunded pension liabilities and maybe another 1/3 of that in hard debt that they just roll over, no longer able to pay down principal. Add Illinois' pension debt, nominally about $95B but using realistic assumptions maybe $150B, of which Chicago will have to pay about 1/5, and Illinois' generally abysmal financial situation and dysfunctional politics, and Chicago is in deep trouble, it just isn't obvious, quite yet.

As for Detroit, people who don't even understand what "bankruptcy" is (i.e., reorganization of finances, not necessarily liquidation) deserve whatever bad things happen to them.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
http://danielamerman.com/articles/2013/DichotomyC.html

^^^^ Detroit was, and is, just further down the decline.

=======

The o n l y 'solution' for Detroit is Chapter Nine.

Because of African American racism, only NAMs should be nominated to run its affairs.

At the state level, Michigan needs to shut off any and all 'special' provisions in regard to vectoring revenues into the pit. They solely feed the parasitic class.

Detroit's population is skewing older.

It's schools need to ramp down more quickly. IIRC its class sizes are already dropping -- without adding any teachers at all.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The State of Michigan does have a vested interest in doing what it can to salvage Detroit, since it is part of the state. Presumably the entire State would be better off if it was functional rather than dysfunctional.

And everyone is at the point where there are no more "good" choices to be made, only decisions as to what is least bad. In terms of an emergency manager, it's either that or bankruptcy court within a year. So from Gov. Snyder's POV, the choice is between letting the restructuring be done by an EM over whom he has some control, or by a Federal Bankruptcy Judge over whom he would have no control. I would choose whatever level of control I could get, if it was me.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Triage is in order.

The status quo ante must be terminated as soon as possible.

Your understanding of Chapter Nine is profoundly flawed.

Snyder will have zero control either way -- and that's all to the good for him.

The absolute last thing that Snyder could want would be to be a 'person of influence' during Detroit's 'narcotic withdrawal.'

He needs to be hands clear of the blast zone/ rage room.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
To believe the article may be "tongue in cheeck" is wishful thinking. These vampires who revel in destruction, who merrily gorge themselves on rubble and laugh as they create ever more rubble from someone else's pain are what passes for hip young artists today. A society with destroyers like this riding the crest of the cultural wave is doomed.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So the state of Michigan will take over running of Detroit? It seems to me that the city found a new host to nourish itself. At least for a while. You take it over, you own it---at your own peril.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Trying to understand Chicago is a complicated proposition. Mayor Curley of Boston, the so-called Rascal King, was similar in certain ways with Old Man Daley (Richard J., not his son Richie), but they had one very big difference: whereas Curley was pirate who screwed over even his own ethnic group, the Irish, and ran Boston into the ground, Old Man Daley, "Hizzoner," actually built Chicago up. He was as corrupt as a midsummer day in County Mayo is long, but he ruled with an iron fist and in doing so he saw to it that Chicago was a place that "worked." Now that's just a fact and there can be no denying it. When he died, in harness as it were, he left Chicago a far better place, in terms of quality of living and infrastructure and, yes, even culture, for a large percentage of the population, than when he entered office. That's also a fact. I hate the Democrat Party in Illinois, I hate the corruption and the politics and the Chicago Way and the politicians all of it, ALL OF IT, but what's true is true and must be admitted.

Incidentally, Chicago and its metropolitan area have more people of Irish descent than Boston or New York. It is second only to Philadelphia in that regard. Daley had a lot "family" constituents to answer to, so to speak. He never displayed wealth or lived ostentatiously: lived his whole life in a little brick Midwestern bungalow in Bridgeport. He wasn't interested in the trappings of power like, arguably, Curley was: he wanted power itself. And he had it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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