We all have heard that the economic stimulus package won't immediately work wonders. We all have heard that the economy of Michigan never really recovered during the last decade. We all have heard the Big Three aren't so big any more.
Dear Readers, we dare say it is past time that we took to the streets -- for a tour of the city. A visit can be of nice value for the wallet and Detroit's distress. A few suggestions for scheduling follow.
- Make a mess of a Coney Island dinner at Lafayette Coney Island.
- Then indulge your inner artist at the recently renovated and freshly interactive Detroit Institute of Arts. Wonder around, make a workshop kite or send the (grown-up) kid to draw in the galleries until 10pm when the Museum's "Friday Night Live!" program ends.
- Continue to contemplate those masterpieces as you slide into a booth or stool at the Prohibition-themed D'Mongo's Speakeasy that's only open on Fridays. Listen to locals talk old garage bands and the interim mayoral race over a Kid Rock or Ghettoblaster beer by Motor City Brewing Company.
- Start with the best of Detroit's bread at Avalon Bakery, a hip-leaning joint in the historic Cass Corridor where organic loaves bear names like Corktown Cinnamon Raisin, honoring the old Irish 'hood nearby.
- Feed your book monster at the real John K. King Used and Rare Books on Lafayette.
- Get into second-gear by visiting the Russell Industrial Center, where metal is innovatively sculpted and glass is blown ever so artfully.
- Third gear and fuel: tour the country's largest historic public market district, Eastern Market. Note the grinning pig heads, sample the Michigan cider, smile when that old farmer yells at you to, and hit the general stores Rocky's or Hirt's for further friendly and diverse bustle. At the market pick up fresh fruit and Russell Street Deli soup and sandwiches.
- Picnic and fly kites at Belle Isle's Cass Gilbert/James Scott Memorial Fountain. Also: look for new beavers in the Detroit River and wave your lower peninsula hand to Canada.
- Near Belle Isle, on Jefferson: Peek in at the Arts and Crafts-era Pewabic Pottery founded by Horace Caulkins and partner Mary Chase Stratton Perry, who also haunts the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame.
- Driving Northwest, check out the former house of the Ossian Sweet family, unsung African American heroes in a trial and tragedy pivotal to the start of the Civil Rights Movement.
- A nap and tea at your host's home or your lovely bedroom at The Inn on Ferry Street will refresh you to drive off to Dearborn, host to both the Ford Rouge Plant and a very large Arab and Arab American population (see Census for lack of data). What to do? Tour the Plant, of course, and wander the world's first museum dedicated to Arab American culture. That means: see the reinvented Ford Rouge Plant's "living roof" that spans 10.4 acres and then march from the roof or assembly line to the Museum's Utopian Visions exhibit. Utopian Visions features work by women of Arab descent, and runs through March 29.
- Stay in the area and make a meal out of بابا غنوج or baba ghanoush with proper pita bread, which is much more pleasant to stomach than the reality of Kwame Kilpatrick's employment -- no matter how much money he could donate to the city.
- Communal organized religion may not be your thing, but a morning religious institution visit can be architecturally or historically intriguing at minimal or zero cost. Second Baptist Church served as an Underground Railroad stop. The smaller St. Ambrose of Grosse Pointe Park was recently the church of Gran Torino. Outside, note the absence of visible Hmongs and Hmong Americans. Hmongs and Hmong Americans are not a comparatively sizable population in Detroit or Grosse Pointe.
- Drive the surface streets some more in the daylight for views of vast urban meadows and CSAs, Heidelberg circles and abandoned apartments, houses and schools. The post-industrial grit may just romance you like the many Jackson Five melodies that you will soon find yourself unable to stop singing and skipping along to after visiting the Motown Museum. This Museum is a homey little place -- indeed, a house -- where Motown Records was born and lived until moving to Los Angeles.
- Speaking of which, it's Sunday afternoon already, and nearly time for your departure from Detroit. Make the last stop be Mexicantown in Southwest Detroit. Enjoy a lunch of tamales in this population growth enclave that boasts the lowest rate of housing foreclosure in the city. End on a positive note.
1. The above itinerary is obviously a mainstream one that is constrained by time, place, personal preferences and is designed for someone unfamiliar with the area.
2. Better ideas can be found in the book, Global Journeys of Metro Detroit by Marcia Danner, Helen B Love and Patricia Banker Peart (ISBN 0-9673379-0-9).
3. The omission of a suggestion to tour CAFOs does admittedly neglect a "positive" part of Michigan's economy.
Detroit is for Lovers tee, pictured above, postcards, and assorted seat belt bags for your non-native or displaced Detroit lover available at Real Detroit.