miércoles, 31 de julio de 2013

Detroit: Oh my God!


Comerica Park: this one look great!

Being ardent baseball fans my wife and I decided to come to Detroit. With the presence of Venezuelan players like Miguel Cabrera, Anibal Sanchez, Victor Martínez, Omar Infante and others in the city baseball team, the Tigers, Detroit is to us a Mecca of baseball. We are now in Detroit and getting ready to see the game between the Tigers and the Washington Nationals, our other favorite team.

Nothing had prepared us for this experience. I never suspected a U.S. city could look this. I have seen Castro’s Havana and I have seen Managua after the earthquake but I thought this kind of ruin only existed in third world countries led by dictators or without human or financial resources to remedy it. Hard to believe that it could exist in the U.S. and so close to Canada! Que verguenza con esos señores..

And yet, the areas near downtown Detroit that we have seen are the worst I have ever seen in the U.S. They look like if they went through a long war, with ruins and desolation everywhere. There are few, if any, people in the streets. Building after building are deserted, covered with graffiti, with surrounding empty lots and overgrown bushes. How can a city come down to this? The air of desolation is depressive. I am sure the outskirts of the city must have better neighborhoods, even areas of middle and upper classes, but I never suspected that the U.S., as a nation, could tolerate the look of Detroit without acting decisively about it. I do not know what brought Detroit to this misery but I am sure it was not a matter of months but of years of neglect.

State and/or municipal Corruption?  Social Conflict?

We went to see the Motown Museum, dedicated to the birth of that musical style that took the world by storm several decades ago, making Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and many other artists justly famous. The modest museum is located in two of the small house in West Grand Avenue where the company started. We went there from our hotel, located in Grand River Avenue. But only the names of the streets are grand. The route is covered with misery. The museum is surrounded by funeral homes, in the type of neighborhood you do not feel safe. Pretty much like Petare, in Caracas. Hold on to your wallet.

Getting to Detroit is not a piece of cake, either. From Toledo, a very clean and pleasant city in Ohio we took 75 North to Detroit. It is only 60 miles or so but it feels like 600 miles, along a route with a poor pavement that makes you feel you are navigating in a stormy sea. But this is not the worse. The trucks are the worse. Never had we seen so many of them. Sharing the roads with those monsters took every ounce of my concentration capacity (not many ounces left). Upon arrival to the hotel, safe but not sound, I had a couple of stiff whiskies.

Would you believe that the lobby of the hotel was being remodeled and there was continuous and horrendous drilling going on?  We checked in using sign language. The room, however, was and is  spectacular.

I do not think we will be back to Detroit, at least for the next 20 years, to celebrate my 100 years. If Detroit still exists. At least, I hope the Tigers win today.  

4 comentarios:

Anónimo dijo...

Saludos. Hace menos de dos semanas, Detroit declaró bankruptcy -la más grande bancarrota municipal en la historia de USA-. Sigo regularmente las noticias y no fue una sorpresa para mí, porque ya había leido hace unos meses en The Economist que esto iba a ocurrir de un momento a otro. Llama la atención que, a pesar de la desastrosa situación, el parque de los tigres siempre está de bote en bote.

Disfrute mucho el juego. Ojalá Cabrera le regale un par de jonrones (una vez fui a un juego en Montreal y Galarraga, con los gigantes, ese día bateó dos jonrones contra su ex-equipo, la última vez que lo hizo).

Ah...¡cuídese mucho!. Esa ciudad es "burda de peligrosa", como decíamos los chamos en los 60's -y no se si siguen diciendo los de hoy-. Un abrazo.

Anónimo dijo...

nuevos nombres para los equipos profesionales de Detroit.

Detroit broken wings (Hockey) en vez de los redwings.

Detroit burned pistons(Basketball)en vez de los pistons.

Detroit pussy cats (Baseball) en vez de los Tigers.

Detroit kitty cats (Football) en vez de los Lions........

Que triste.

Anónimo dijo...

Los que planearon el ED-209 se adelantaron a su tiempo.

Jacob Sulzbach dijo...

There are many causes for what has happened in Detroit, but the short explanation is that the city failed to adjust to the economic changes the country has experienced going back to the 1950's.

Detroit was organized around an industrial age economy in which big manufacturing enterprises operated on a large scale, employing hundreds of thousands in the Detroit area alone.  Similar manufacturing economies formed the foundations for numerous other cities around the country as well.  But what distinguishes the experience of those other cities from Detroit is that the former adjusted to the consumer revolution that took off in the 1950's and the information revolution that was launched in the 1980's while Detroit remained stuck in an industrial-age mindset.

Detroit, and to a certain extent the rest of Michigan, wedded themselves to state and municipal fiscal structures built around an industrial age income tax and property tax structure that drove both businesses and their employees elsewhere.  Add into that the fixed decline of the auto industry and your tax base just disappears.

And then on top of all the rest there are the problems of a municipal government that is too close to organized labor, which never cares about preserving the goose laying the golden eggs that sustain it, and a terribly corrupt political culture driven by the worst of political actors and you have a perfect storm that spells disaster.

Sadly; many of these same problems are mirrored in the policies and political culture President Obama has brought to Washington.

We are all headed for Detroit.