Detroit Rock City? Kiss isn’t even from D-town, yet they named a song after the cesspool. Why? Because Detroit is hardcore. Anyone who lives in Detroit proper has skin as thick as John Holmes.
I’d always considered Detroit the armpit of America. Seriously, look at a map and you will see what I mean. I suppose, this anatomy analogy could also apply to Cleveland. Either way, both cities stink. Cleveland probably smells more in the literal sense and Detroit in the figurative. I digress. Anyway, I like to do stupid things and obviously write them too. So instead of riding a Victory Vision from Chicago to some place I knew for sure was rad, like maybe Nashville, I headed for the grittiest, shittiest city I could think of: Detroit. I’d heard it had some cool qualities hidden amongst all of its burned out residents and buildings, so I thought why not investigate. Plus, my buddy Bill Danforth, who is a legendary pro skateboarder from the ’80s, lives there for some God-awful reason. He invited me out to ride and enjoy a nefarious extended Halloween weekend in good ol’ Detroit Rock City. Why not?
I’ll tell you why! There are no jobs to be had, and downtown is as vacant as if a great Midwestern blizzard had torn through, forcing everyone to stay at home safe and cozy by the fire leaving lots of open roads to be explored. But the residential districts seem void of lit windows. In actuality, the blocks are either half burned down or half plain weird. Indeed, Detroit was a rocking town back in the day. Considered the fourth-largest major metropolitan city in America in the ’50s, its residents brought home healthy paychecks, and talked about cars, cars, cars. Now, the Motor City—at first appearance—seems a heap of ashes, the remains of dreams and all that went with them: jobs, nice homes, an education, opportunity, and safety. Moto City’s unemployment rate was at 22.5 percent for October and the 2010 violent crime rate is one of the highest in the US. Detroit’s identity has long been based on America’s automobile industry boner. But now with the industry’s recent erectile dysfunction, the city is slowly changing, or at least trying to.
The rare pop of color sticks out amongst the decay like a bridesmaid, who accidentally showed up at a funeral. Detroit is slowly evolving into a mecca for young artists. Young folk are buying up entire blocks and warehouses. Decent looking homes sell for cheap, some as low as $15,000. People are even moving back into the hoods. These new residents are changing the landscape by turning empty lots—where buildings have been condemned and torn down—into food plots. Plowing the fields, some would say. Tiny, random fields of corn, leafy greens, carrots, and potatoes now grow in the ghetto. You can probably guess that some people grow some high-grade smoke, too—thanks for the hookup.