Monday, October 19, 2009

Third time's the charm

There's a good reason that with all those places in the world, I've already been to Detroit three times. This third time was really impressive for some reason, partly because the bar for repulsion was set a lot lower after my time in China. Many people would object to a 10th-floor hotel room in a building where none of the six elevators were functioning, and the stairways had peeling paint, graffiti and large metal barrels for garbage cans. The rooms had no phones but they did have answering machines, the bathroom doors couldn't lock but they did get stuck.

Others would be repulsed by a city where everything was closed and/or foreclosed, and the only people you saw were the indigent. Still others would think that Lucy & Ethel's Diner at the corner of Bagley and Cass was lacking in both service and the character of its patrons, though the more discriminating traveler would realize that the characteristic character of the patrons was character. Such a traveler would also appreciate the stately hotel already discussed, themany disused skyscrapers of vintage Art Deco construction, as well as the delis, diners and the serene beauty of Campus Martius.

There are many things that Detroit has going for it over much of rural China. Detroit's roads are paved, wide and in good condition, with many red lights and so on. The people in Detroit are poor and the unemployment rate is 30%, but they are frequently able to change their clothes. Toilets tend to flush and have seats, with complimentary toilet paper. Food options are varied and the risk of Hepatitis is low. The lights are dim and the taxi drivers are scam artists in both places, but generally speaking, the quality of life is far higher in Detroit than in much of China.

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