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Old 08-26-2012, 07:54 PM   #331
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The road to Detroit was empty and peaceful. But peaceful on a freeway is just eerie and foreshadowed what was to come.



Yes, that's me stopped in a lane on the highway with no cars around for miles.


Now, we all hear stories about the dangers of big cities. When I first moved to the Western Addition in SF (~1990) I expected there to be bodies on the sidewalk and shootings every night. And despite the thug who died on the bottom of my stairs (and the guy who was tortured and murdered in an apartment across the street), and the attempted carjacking of your humble narrator (thank you, Glock!), it wasn't THAT bad. Least it wasn't as bad as I expected.

And when I went to NY I'd heard the horror stories, too. But I walked through every neighborhood--even through projects--and not once did I ever feel threatened.

And Jamaica--though it has the highest (or second highest?) murder rate in the world, was filled with incredibly nice, very trustworthy locals (ok, I wasn't vacationing in Kingston, but still...). The point was that I'd been fearful of lots of cities, but always survived. Hadn't been pickpocketed in Rome, didn't get stabbed walking to go get Pho or Cambodian food in Oakland and hadn't been shot driving down Germantown Pike in Philly.

I'd kind of expected that Detroit, too, was a city with a bad rep that would prove to be docile and predictable....that the dangers and abject poverty and destruction and potential for violence were exaggerated and overblown. Well, ladies and gentlemen--the shit is for real. Detroit can be one scary ass motherfucking place.
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Old 08-26-2012, 08:23 PM   #332
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I hadn't done any research on Detroit. I didn't want to know where the 'bad parts' were, didn't want to know where the 'good' parts were. Just wanted to go there. And when I got there, this was the first building I saw.



The same architect who designed Michigan's central train station designed Grand Central Station. It's a huge, magnificent sentinel of a structure that's unfortunately abandoned for good. It had seen better days. And what was once the most opulent jewel on the crown celebrating Detroit's economic position in the world now serves as a stark reminder of what it once had, but was now forever gone.

And that sentiment, the sentiment of prosperity lost forever, radiates through the entire city. There's hope for the transplants in Detroit trying to revitalize it. But these people aren't from Detroit. They're the Gen-Y and beyond idealists who grew up nourished on the notion that happiness is infectious and suffering can be eradicated with a smile, some bright paint and a 'go-getter attitude'.

The 'lifers' in the city, the people who have seen castles turn to ashes, the men and women who've seen dreams turn into nightmares, have no such hope. They and their offspring are filled with despair, despondency, hopelessness, abjectivity and anger. But a few of them, if I can retract what I just said, did have hope. It was very fucking awesome--like when you're suffering through a 115 degree hike in the desert and all of a sudden there's a lizard chilling on a rock looking curiously up at you or a hawk up on a branch looking down at you. You think 'this is horribly unbearable' and then you see something that's not just adapted, but happy. It's an amazing sensation that contributes to the feeling that, as humans, we have all kinds of superpowers we're not aware of.
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Old 08-26-2012, 08:28 PM   #333
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So I took some pictures.



And drove around and took some more pictures. The decay that I thought was limited to just a few blocks here or there was everywhere.









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Old 08-26-2012, 08:31 PM   #334
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Old 08-26-2012, 08:50 PM   #335
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It just went on and on and on.











I rode around getting lost and every time I stopped I felt vulnerable, that at any moment zombies would start pouring out of the abandoned buildings to eat me alive. But for the most part, as you can see from the pictures--everything was just desolate. Which was EERIE. No simile or metaphor required to describe it: Detroit IS post-apocalyptic. It's awesome because of the gravity and catholic nature of the decay, which you would expect in Chernobyl, but Michigan?

That's not to say that there weren't signs of life and hope and prosperity and activity. I had dinner that night at Slo's BBQ, which was as busy (or busier) than any restaurant I'd ever been to in a city. I waited 45 minutes for a solo spot at the bar. So there's life there, but it's in tiny little sections....

The majority of the city felt like a 3rd-person-shooter backdrop.
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Old 08-26-2012, 09:41 PM   #336
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I have read this thread in the past couple of days and recommended it to a couple of friends. It is great pics and writing. I got the link to this on a sport bike forum in the Atlanta area.

http://www.blokessportbike.com/

I think a lot of people are posting a link to your RR on a lot of forums. I have been a member on this forum for a little bit but I usually read stuff or view the picture thread. I wanted to thank you for taking the time to post you RR. It is a great read. I hope if you turn south you make it to the Atlanta area. Some great roads and great food in the southeast.

I look forward to your next post.
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Old 08-26-2012, 09:43 PM   #337
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Squalor show. Your Detroit pics tell a cautionary tale.
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Old 08-26-2012, 10:00 PM   #338
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More urban decay pics! That shit fascinates me.

BTW, are you using a Kriega US20 with a US10 stacked on top of it?
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Old 08-26-2012, 10:03 PM   #339
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I've been following your report with great interest. But it's funny, I now find myself absolutely riveted by your investigation of my city (well, 20 minutes away) that I've never given the slightest shit to go see. Other than zip down, see a ballgame, and get the hell back out it might as well be a thousand miles away. Detroit is such a sad place, both my grandfather and my father tell tales of a time that will never be again. At age 80 or so my grandfather, who had once had his business here but long since retired and moved on, returned with some friends from France to show them the city where he built his life. As he drove them around past the site of his former company and places that he knew, he literally began to cry, seeing this once mighty city reduced to what you've shown in these pictures. If you're interested in amazing contrast, ride up Jefferson and into Grosse Pointe. Blink as you cross Altar Rd. The change will blow your mind.
If you need a place to crash while you're here or anything at all, hit me up. I'd be happy to oblige.
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Old 08-27-2012, 01:26 AM   #340
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Epic ride report. Love it. Thanks for taking the time to post it :)
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Old 08-27-2012, 03:31 AM   #341
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I have been on vacation in the Detroit area a couple of times, and it amazes me that when you go from down town towards for example Dearborn, you don't have to go far before you see deserted bulidings, it's kind of like a whole part of the city is just left in a hurry, and then you drive a little further and the city is all alive again.
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Old 08-27-2012, 05:17 AM   #342
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Great pictures of the bike in post-apocolips background, but freaking sad for Detroit.
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Old 08-27-2012, 06:47 AM   #343
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I doubt you are still in Detroit, but if so, shoot me a pm and we can grab lunch or dinner.
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Old 08-27-2012, 06:47 AM   #344
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I'm IN

Thanks for the great thread, I'm subscribing as we speak.......er write........
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Old 08-27-2012, 07:09 AM   #345
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Unfortunately (or fortunately)? I'm not in Detroit anymore....

And I do want to confess that I'm guilty of what a lot of people are guilty of up to this point--of painting a picture that Detroit is nothing but a run down metropolitan wasteland. Not all of Detroit is like the pics above. Like most other cities, there are some truly amazing homes--extremely beautiful, perfectly manicured blocks of what would be million dollar + residences in other parts of the country. The difference is that, just a block away (or a few doors down), there'd be a collapsed or burned down houses or entire blocks of really shady looking places. The contrast was more extreme than anything I've seen. And several times I stopped to take pictures and the stench of a rotting animal (was it an animal or was it a person?) was a reminder that it wasn't just the buildings that were decomposing.

There were some really cool places to eat/drink. And there's culture (I'll get to all that soon). And there are the working class folks whom you could tell took pride in their houses. Perhaps they just became accustomed to the disrepair next door?

Another unusual thing was that the majority of cars were relatively new or at least well-kept. Not once did I see a burned out Oldsmobile in a field or a car up on blocks. In LA you could spot a seedy section just by the types of cars parked out on the sidewalk. Turn down the wrong street and you'll know it just by examining the vehicles. Not so in Detroit.
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