Monday, January 19, 2009

Winter Kills

I am feeling really ambivalent about a lot of things about life in Detroit right now, and I think that’s because I’m avoiding delving in and feeling not ambivalent about it.

This winter weather is really bringing me down, for starters. Sure, it’s pretty to watch out my windows, but it seems to have brought life downtown to a standstill. Which is fine for a weekend but for two months? I am probably more sensitive to it because my livelihood depends in part on people’s willingness to come downtown. But if the recession and collapse of the auto industry weren’t dampening things enough, this weather is only making it worse.

I’ve never minded winter that much until the past two years. Last year I didn’t hate it until my car was disabled during a theft attempt and I had to walk to work for a couple weeks on insanely bumpy icy sidewalks. That’s when I learned why people walk in the streets in Detroit, at least in the winter.

So what has brought me to hate it again this year? Well aside from the extended effect on downtown visitation, my car got broken into again on Friday night so I’m back to hoofin’ it to work.

Now I know you are thinking “what the fuck?” and you would be right. I don’t even know how many times my car has been broken into at this point. This was another theft attempt so the car is disabled and towed for repairs.

At this point I think a little “blame the victim” is probably in order. I should have started using The Club after time number three or four. But it’s just so ghetto, I was resistant. Plus after I get my car back from repairs I always forget to go buy one until it was too late at night or I was in the middle of some other activity. I have no idea what they cost so I just imagined that they were probably hundreds of dollars and I couldn’t work that into my budget.

Now, with my car in repairs again and me cutting across Lafayette Plaisance in knee-deep snow, I think we can safely say: lesson learned. I will bend to the ghetto.

Of course with an insurance deductible to pay and a Club to purchase and with me being about three cans of chunk light (yes that’s right, not even albacore) tuna away from a diet of cat food, it’s gonna be some pretty boring times around here. I’m just giving you a heads up.

My friends and I always have these intermittent periods of feeling like we need to get out of here, but we always come back to loving it. I’ve always found when I feel frustrated about Detroit I need to spend time with the people I’ve met here who make it so exciting and that usually leaves me feeling reinvigorated. Lately, however, whenever I get together with my friends we end up talking about how the bad economy is affecting us, how bleak it feels here, and how much worse will it get. For once everyone seems to be having their rough patch at the same time.

I don’t need to have everything perfect, but I want to live someplace where I can actually make a living and have some fun. And where I am not assaulted with ugly and cigarette smoke every time I leave the house. After the New Year I was texting with a friend of mine and I said, “I really need something to go my way this year.” He wrote back, “It will. Unless karma is real … then u r fuct.”

The latest car thing got me thinking that maybe I’m fuct. If 2009 dishes up more of 2008, I'm not sure how much I've got left in me for Detroit.


Anonymous said...

I feel for you bro but also am in the same situation. I have a business that is barely able to pay the bills and can't seem to get customers to open up their wallets (this is in an affluent Detroit suburb!). A friend recently reminded me that it is easier to be poor in Detroit than in other more expensive cities.

My friend...not to be negative here but the whole country is imploding. Yes, the ecomony does suck here but it also sucks in California 8.5% unemployment and rising (with more expensive living costs).

You have a real voice here in the Detroit community. We all are becoming poorer by the minute but please don't wrap your self value in your poor finances. We are all in this together (Detroit, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, etc., etc.).

They say that when one door closes, another one opens. Maybe you need to look a little harder and find new opportunity. I hope that it is in Detroit but maybe it lies elsewhere.

Lastly...You might want to think long and hard about people you have come in contact with that you might be able to partner up with. There are talented business people in the area that are in the same situation as you and could also use some help. Stay positive and be open to new things. It's always darkest before the dawn.

SupergayDetroit said...

I was thinking about 'always darkest before the dawn' when I was writing this, but that inevitably made me think about Dawn Davenport and I would lose my focus.

This whole economic woe thing is really more a last straw. Things have been steadily unraveling for the past year, even as cool things continue to happen. All things being equal I'd rather be in Detroit, but Detroit's been collecting demerits for a little while now.

All in all I'm not mad at Detroit, I'm mad at the dirt.

Kathe said...

It's true - it's a lot easier being broke here than, say, in Brooklyn. Let alone Manhattan. Or SF.

I hate it too sometimes. But buy that Club and thwart those lowlifes and hang in, hang in, hang in.

brentwelsh said...

...and let's be honest. It can't truly be that terrible. The near cat food diet still leaves you enough energy to make an obscure Yaz reference in the title.

Anonymous said...

Things have been steadily going down the drain for me professionally and financially for the past year and a half. I've given up on trying to vent to family and friends. Just once I'd like one of them to say "damn, that really sucks." But instead, I get a cheery smile and a "well at least things can't get any worse". But guess what, they keep getting worse, and it doesn't look like they're going to get better too soon. I wish I could take at least a little satisfaction that the economic disaster is finally catching up to some of them too. But despite the blows I've suffered, I'm still a nice guy. This is definitely one of the first times I'm cursing being at the forefront of a trend!

Anonymous said...

Better things will come. And I am here to tell you, that clubs are only about $40 bucks. You can get one at the Wayne State Police Office on Cass just North of 94. : )

In all reality its all about the people and not the place or what happens. If you are surrounded by those you love and enjoy, what can be better.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this a good time to explore the "free" things that put the "MO" in Motown.

Anonymous said...

You need to get a new garage! I've been here a year and a half with no car theft attempts.

jdg said...

one thing about detroit: you never have to look very far to see someone who's got it way worse than you do.

dude: clubs are not ghetto. getting your car broken into time and time again is ghetto.

Woodwards Friend said...

To Anonymous: "damn that really sucks." I felt the same way last time I was unemployed. False optimism fueled by self-actualization courses and Oprah only make the world that much more dreary.

The economy is in the toilet, the weather isn't helping, and California's unemployment rate doesn't warm my heart either. I'm not convinced things won't get worse before they get better.

Not that this isn't new. What's different, I guess, is the utter helplessness of it. This isn't like the late 70s/early 80s recession when laid off auto workers could go to community college to be trained for some new job.

Christ, I'm depressing myself. If you ever need an extra can of albacore, SG, let me know.

Matt said...

It's always darkest before the Dawn Davenport. That's hilarious!

Anonymous said...

I’ve thought about commenting on your blog before this, and I’m not sure why I hadn’t. I enjoy it very much – your perspective is unique and local and your writing is quite engaging.

I am older than you and have gone through some of the earlier periods of upheaval in the area. I’ve also lived in the city a couple of times (for a while in your neighborhood).

For what it’s worth, this time is different. It really is bad here and it’s magnified by the convergence of circumstances – all sectors of the economy have problems, local government is coming out of a real mess, the last eight years of Federal government control by the Republican Party . . .. I’m sure you could add more (you seem to be a bright, plugged-in guy).

I’ve been fortunate in my life and never thought I’d have a problem. I like Michigan and the metro area. I grew up here, went to school here, have spent my working life here. I’m single, no dependents, educated, professional, had a good job, lived well within my means. Even I’m caught in this one, though, without a job. My circumstances are not as dire as many, but it’s really unsettling for me.

If I may be presumptuous and offer one piece of unsolicited advice: cherish your friends – old or new - and try and be there for each other. You seem to be pretty social and have a network of friends, and I hope that will be a help to you in whatever you decide to do. Others can offer a different perspective, a sounding board, or can just commiserate. (I suspect you know all this; blog comments are more often for the benefit of the commenter than the blogger.) The thing that has knocked me for a loop (and I’m stunned that it has), is I now realize that a substantial part of my regular interaction with other people was my work, and not friends. I got caught up in the workplace with many hours and great effort spent there and my personal life slipped away. It’s been a hard lesson to learn and will be hard to recover from.

Enough of the pity-me party. I’ll get through it. I hope you do as well (and I hope to get to Doggy Style one Tuesday evening).

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