As I write this, I’m in my hotel in Seattle overlooking Elliot Bay in the middle of a vicious thunder storm. I’m not really here to see the Wizard (everyone knows he’s in Omaha) but every time I hear “Emerald City” I naturally think of The Wizard of Oz. And Brother Iz. Don’t ask me why. I have no answer. And also my favorite super hero the Green Arrow, also known as the Emerald Archer, lived and did his derring do in Seattle (or Star City as it was referred too). Again. Don’t ask.
I’m here on business, attending Emerald City Comic Con. Me and William Shatner will both be there. That’s right. Captain. Kirk. It starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday. If you’re in the area, you should come. Looks like lots of great programming. But being in the Emerald City, got me thinking about, of all things, Detroit. Because when I got to the rental car aisle at SeaTac I was given a Chrysler 200. The car Eminem has now made famous with his highly watched, internet sensation Super Bowl commercial. If you haven’t seen the commercial yet, watch it and come back. I’ll wait.
Needless to say, being from Michigan, I had a very visceral reaction to the ad. And I had intended to blog about it when it happened but it created such a fire storm of coverage that it appeared everything had been said. So I let it slide. Not too mention, I have a zillion deadlines and editors who are about to leave the ‘polite inquiry as to the status of your manuscript’ stage to, “dude, on my desk, tomorrow!” stage before long. Blog posts tend to get pushed aside when you have editors peeking in your window and violating your personal protection orders.
My reaction to the ad. I was blown away. And I was reminded of it driving the car today. We can argue about bailouts and whether car companies are ‘too big to fail’. And I’m a self-professed, born to late, curmudgeon who tends to
think life was a lot easier and better in many ways forty years ago. But also I feel like we’re losing something really valuable in this country. We don’t make things any more. And for a fleeting moment, this ad captured the essence of Detroit. A place where things are made. Yes, a city with tremendous problems, many of them self-inflicted, but a city once called by the New York Times in the early 1900’s the “Paris of the Midwest”. With that single two minute ad, Detroit and Michigan got some much needed positive buzz. The hottest fires make the hardest steel.
We have so much in Detroit that nobody knows about because of our ‘if it bleeds, it leads” news culture. We have a beautiful riverwalk. Great ethnic neighborhoods with fabulous restaurants like Greektown, Corktown and Mexican Town. We’ve got a long way to go. But we’ve come so far. We put America on wheels. We were the Arsenal of Democracy. And yes it’s a ‘what have you done for me lately” world. But we’re not just high unemployment and failing schools. We’re a world class art museum. The Fox Theatre. Hockeytown.
If you want to start a fist fight with me, tell me Detroit doesn’t make good cars. Go drive a Chrysler 200 and see for yourself. Twenty five years ago, you might have had an argument.
Not any more. That dog won’t hunt.
I guess sometimes it takes you being in another place, to appreciate the place you live. I’m a Michigangsta and I ain’t going anywhere else. Not California. Not Florida. Not the Emerald City.
This is the Motor City. This is what we do.