Sunday, January 03, 2016

Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story (2015)

David Maraniss, Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story (Simon & Schuster, 2015). Highly readable book focusing on Detroit as microcosm from 1962 to 1964. Interesting angles include Detroit's enthusiastic bid for the 1968 Summer Olympics, development of the Ford Mustang and Detroit's role at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair. Plenty of thought and space is devoted to race relations, economics, civil rights, music, architecture and dreams of a more holistic society.  
On May 1, 1992, Rodney King (1965-2012) asked during the '92 LA Riots, "Can we all get along? Can we get along? Can we stop making it, making it horrible for the older people and the kids?" Short answer then, before and since: "No." Easier to factionalize and fight or take flight than to harmonize and build cooperatively and peacefully. The dream lives on, though. At the bottom of Pandora's jar one thing remains: hope. 

Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story (2015) includes lots of big personalities, diverse people ranging from JFK to MLK, LBJ to Malcolm X, Lee Iacocca to the Fords, Walter Reuther and the Gordy family, C.L. and Aretha Franklin, Little Stevie Wonder, Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman, Jerry Cavanaugh, George Romney, Alex Karras, and so on.

Above all that is now lost, I would have loved to have experienced the Flame Show Bar -- but there is still Baker's Keyboard Lounge, thank God. 

Today's Rune: Warrior. 


Charles Gramlich said...

I saw Mark had some commentary on Detroit as well. It's a shame to see how this city declined. I sure hope there is a comeback.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Detroit is a fascinating city. I am heartened by the stories I hear of citizens scrabbling to bring it back from past the brink. There is much potential in the ruins.

jodi said...

Erik-I want to catch this one. I've read the one by Charlie LeDuff and one other I can't remember. Why don't you come back to our fair city and we can go to Baker's?!

the walking man said...

A little late to the party but in the years mentioned I was well aware of all that was going on in the city. I saw JFK on the campaign trail when they still did outdoor public sq speeches, was well aware of Malcolm X and his murder and King's "I have a Dream" speech tune up.

There is so much horseshit out there right now about Detroit coming back--ain't gonna happen, never. We had 750,000 minimum education well paying auto jobs--gone and gone for good. All those long time hung in there restaurants that were downtown are being run off because that 7.5 sq miles is now worth about $2 a sq foot.

The other 130 sq miles of the city is totally slummed out, you can make it safely in and out of Bakers but not necessarily to Bakers. They tell us the murder rate is down, and by the numbers it is but so is the population (again) and at the same time all the ring burbs are going up in all types of crimes.

Took me 61 years but finally i always carry, double carry in fact. My 48205 is populated bu 'hood rats and them just begging for trouble. If Detroit does make a comeback--by then I will be long dead and forgotten.