Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Time Tunnel: It's Déjà Vu All Over Again

I. Once upon a time, traveling by canoe, dugout, boat, ship or ferry was the most practical way to go. Horses, mules, oxen and traveling by foot also helped. Villages, towns and little cities were made for walking.

Then came the trains, the railroad, the telegraph, the street cars, the big cities fed, clothed and kept informed about everything from sports teams to market prices.

Down the line came more changes: horseless carriages, automobiles, cars, lorries, trucks, telephony, radio, dirigibles, aeroplanes, fast ships and submarines, the U-boats, nuclear powered rockets, jets, satellites, wireless communication.

At some point, the waterways became more obstacles than practical avenues for travel, unless one was rich and shipping ores, petroleum, slag, or goofing off on yachts, motorboats, sail boats.

II. Look how geography hems Detroit in, thanks partly to a lakes-and-riparian international boundary. Where are those students and workers to come from, when the fact of Canada blocks off nearly half Detroit's geographic draw?

A few tunnels and bridges, ferries, commerce bottlenecked by a military border dating back to the War of 1812, back to the Seven Years War and frontier fighting, tribal trade routes and internecine warfare.

The rise of the automobile, the killing off of streetcars and much of civil society, the destruction of the walking city, expanding suburban blight, strip malls, gas-fueled expansion in every direction away from the international border, much of it privately "owned" on the US side vs. public parks and walkways on the Windsor, Ontario side.

How about we uncork the bottlenecks between Canada and the USA, make movement easier, less hostile both ways? How about we lay down new track for passenger rail between suburbs and cities, across borders?

III. Reality. Watch a movie. How about Marion Cotillard (here pictured) in Ridley Scott's A Good Year (2006), set in France and also featuring, among others, Russell Crowe and Abbie Cornish? Better to dream of France than try to sell a new French Quarter for Detroit, even though it could be way cool and way civilized.

Today's Rune: Wholeness.

1 comment:

jodi said...

Erik, pleasepleaseplease could we add some european flair to Detroit? I love how you can just go into Windsor and get that feel. And then there's Little Italy. sigh..