AAN 2012: Welcome to the Real Deal

june 1, 2012  04:12 pm
AAN 2012: Welcome to the Real Deal
The final installment of a series of guest posts from the staff of Metro Times leading up to AAN's 2012 Annual Convention in Detroit.
Welcome to the Real Deal
By Brian Smith

Detroit is not the murder capitol of America. Detroit is not on the other side of the world from the rest of the nation. Detroit is, in fact, a place of wonder, a long, winding narrative that can’t to be dismissed by reductive pictures of rotting factories or city blocks returning to earth.

Remember, Detroit is built upon a pedestal of the industrial revolution: blood, sweat, spirit, brains and invention.

So of course it's too tough to die. That's been proven in recent years. The city has also proved that it's everything good and bad about the future of America, magnified.

That's not to say the city isn't flat broke or precipitously shrinking overall. It is. The repercussions make headlines daily. And that's the Motown variation — albeit extreme — on forces rattling numerous urban areas across the land.

There's lots for you in a city that, in many ways, is being reclaimed: a formerly haunted downtown is becoming a hub of tech and entrepreneurial startups housed in once-abandoned historics with new interiors. Inner-city hoods are becoming canvases of renewal for artists, young idealists and elder activists working out their ideals.

Near-downtown neighborhoods such as Corktown and Woodbridge are death-to-life urban stunners now. The 100-plus year-old streets are populated with refurbed Victorians, corner bars and off-the- beaten path galleries and venues, all sparking community life.

Downtown residential occupancy is at 100 percent because so many who've gravitated here in the last year or so. It’s no coincidence that artist and punk rock matriarch Patti Smith, who rose from lower Manhattan when it was world center for contemporary arts, said recently that New York is long played out and artists and musicians should move to Detroit because it is, essentially, the real deal.

Welcome to the real deal. Detroit is a kind of new America.

Brian Smith is the managing editor of Metro Times.
Go to: 2012 AAN Convention Website