Friday, December 27, 2013

Amid Detroit’s Bankruptcy, A New Vibrancy Emerges

Here's my article that was just published by the Heartland Institute, a conservative-libertarianish think tank in Chicago.

In spite of the same-old, same-old media garbage about Detroit grabbing the usual headlines, it's interesting to note that so many free-market organizations, online papers, magazines, websites, etc. are interested in all of the good things going on here that are fueled by private interests.

I also did a podcast with Steve Stanek of the Heartland Institute that will be up on the website sometime around January 1st.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

C.A.N. Art Handworks, Inc.

A great Detroit business that most folks do not know exists.

Photo by Karen DeCoster

Photo by Karen DeCoster

Anthony Bourdain Does Detroit

The American Daily Herald is running my piece on Anthony Bourdain's visit to Detroit.

Say 30 Nice Things About Detroit

Ian Douglass sent me his article he published on the Movoto blog: "30 Things You Need to Know About Detroit Before You Move There."

I think Ian's rundown is a refreshingly positive and artfully humorous view of the Detroit brand. I especially like his reference to Vernors, the "oldest surviving ginger ale brand in the United States." Typically these Detroit narratives include mention of our coney island dogs, but not Vernors. And more importantly, #19 on the list refers to the fact that we say "pop" here, not soda. The use of soda in this part of the world will identify you as an outsider and you will forever be branded with a label of blasphemy. Literally, locals despise the term soda. I know I do.

A minor slip does occur, however, when Detroit is noted as the consumption capital of potato chips, but our Better Made potato chip factory did not make the cut. Other mentions that are notable:

(1) Motown Museum, where all the groove started.
(2) The repurposing of land via urban agriculture. My friends over at Brother Nature farm get a mention.
(3) #16: the photo of the "welcome to Detroit" sign with a bumper sticker slapped on it that reads "Kwame Killed My City." He may have killed it, but a citizen-entrepreneur army is taking it back.

One super-epic failure that needs to be mentioned here: #30 points out that "Mexicantown restaurant edges Xochimilco as the best" Mexican restaurant. Horrors, horrors, horrors! These restaurants all serve up the usual "Mexican fare": Americanized junk food dressed up in flour tortillas with mounds of processed cheese piled on everything. These restaurants attract what I refer to as the "suburban tourists." They do not serve Mexican food. If I needed any confirmation on this, I have that in three of my Mexican-bred co-workers who all live and function in Mexicantown and can attest to my skills for identifying Mexican food as opposed to Americanized nonsense. Remember Chi-Chi's, those awful chains? These restaurants serve up the same constitution. Blah!

You must get out of the "tourist section" of Mexicantown to visit the truly Mexican restaurants that actually serve Mexican food. Taqueria Mi Pueblo on Dix is one of the more authentic places, but even better are the Mexican taco trucks that are conveniently placed at neighborhood hot spots (legal) or conveniently hidden from street view (illegal). These places are beyond magnificent with their freshly-made (locally) double-wrapped corn tortillas, fresh herbs and spices, everything bathed in cilantro, and no processed cheese piled on American-style.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Another Dan Gilbert Acquisition

His Bedrock Real Estate Services LLC has purchased the "Eastern Hair & Wig Co." building at the corner of Woodward and Grand River.
A Detroit Historic Designation Advisory Board report posted on the city's website says that 1400 Woodward was constructed as the T. B. Rayl & Co. store, which sold sleds, ice skates, mantle pieces, tool chests and cutlery.
Can't wait to hear about the future for this great location.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Detroit's Mexicantown Taco Trucks

Some of the more visible ones are situated on main intersections in Detroit's Mexicantown and are therefore above-ground legal. The others that are hidden behind tire shops and in the parking lots of factories are not so legal. My Mexicano friends at the office are well aware of two things: (1) I despise Americanized "Mexican" restaurant tourist traps that attract local suburbanites and city folk who think that flour tortillas piled with 12 pounds of processed cheese is "Mexican food", and (2) I love, and covet, any illegal Mexican establishment owned by illegal aliens that attempts to, and succeeds, at serving customers who desire real Mexican food. This includes the use of real (double) corn (not flour) tortillas; fresh herbs; multiple meats (including marinated pork, and of course, chorizo); and bathing food items in fresh cilantro ... all at bargain prices. This is the kind of food I have only found in the most remote (non-tourist) places in Mexico. For that reason, and since that time in Mexico, I reject all Americanized (non-Mexican) "Mexican" food.

Thank goodness my company has had a batch of very talented and amazing Mexican and Mexican-American interns-turned permanent employees working for us (and me) this year - they have taken me into the bowels of the most amazing places in Mexicantown that only the most astute locals would know about and frequent as customers. The only issue is language - but at least I have translators.

Detroit Sucks and Don't You Forget It (and Other Really Negative Vibes)

It's funny how a small group of libertarians are rallying 'round the flag of something called "feel-good" libertarianism as the new jingle in the land of the free and the home of self-imposed anarchy.

The new convictions of the happiness collective include never, ever writing anything that can be construed as negative, pessimistic, or a "polemic rant." That leaves out just about any topic of interest to libertarians, such as the crimes of the industrial food machine; the shenanigans of the Federal Reserve and the manipulation of the entire monetary system; the abominations of the militarized police state; the state's numerous wars and killing fields; the longevity (or lack thereof) of the stock market bubble; how ObamaCare will destroy your freedom of choice regarding your own health; and ... [fill in almost any topic here]. Unless, of course, you only write about or discuss the positive aspects of escaping the negative aspects of statism and totalitarian rule that we libertarians, apparently, write about far too often.

So when I expose truths, connect dots, and present facts for others to ponder on their own, I am a pessimist and a polemicist - and this goes for all others who write the same, not just me. I get the nasty emails, and also, some friendly folks are kind enough to send along some of the more funny criticisms of me that are, indeed, polemic rants as they stand on their own. This kind of denunciation is nothing more than a colorless blip on my radar map which is usually followed by a ... forgetaboutit.

Yet each time I write something positive - especially about what is bubbling up in Detroit - I bring out the Detroit-hating trolls who claim I am ignorant, blinded by the obvious, and sometimes I am just plain stupid. And this criticism comes from people who have never stepped a foot onto Detroit soil, or even folks who have popped in and out of town a few times over the years, which, in their mind, is equated with "I know Detroit." <<eye roll please>>

Today I had one person - who claims the libertarian mantle - posting on my Facebook page that Detroit is a city of "crime, poverty, leftist politicians..." I do not make that up. Exact quote. If that doesn't describe every city in America, as well as just about any plot of land in America, then rub the inside of my ears with jelly and roll me in an anthill. Then I received a follow-up post of the proof that Detroit sucks: yet another tediously conventional, mainstream-garbage article that describe Detroit as "one of the ten worst...." Of course, the positive "10 best" articles, such as this one on FOX, that include Detroit as a "best" are never seen as relevant to the boorish naysayer nabobs of negativism. So yes, I continue to be flabbergasted by the ignorance of people who just want to hate some place they have never been because it makes them feel better about the statist plot of land that they occupy.

Why do they bother? If some topic does not interest you, I would think you would move on to that which does interest you.

So you see folks, it's not always easy to be positive - we get hated for that too. But as far as the Detroit Haters who know absolutely nothing about Detroit other than what they pull off the conventional media behind their laptops: they do nothing to affect me or the fact that I will continue to write about how Detroiters and entrepreneurs who are flocking to Detroit have the grit to keep moving forward with underground and above-ground economies that function and thrive in spite of the fact that we have the same crime, leftist politicians, and poverty that are experienced everywhere else in the U.S., especially the centrally-planned, Marxist-dominated urban areas. Indeed, folks like Jane Jacobs and Edward C. Banfield were on top of this, oh ... a mere 40 and 50+ years ago?