Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Key Quote

"I lived downtown, in the East Village. . . . It was very funky. New York was going through a recession. It had a bankruptcy crisis that was bad for the city but great for the arts scene. Everything was cheap, and there were a lot of abandoned buildings. The punk independent film scene arose out of that. It was very atmospheric."
-Quote from director Susan Seidelman in the book Madonna by Lucy O'Brien.
This quote is a big part of the reason why I've remained in Detroit upon my visit back. No city so perfectly fits this quote NOW.

Unless we get into a more severe recession, money and artists will continue flowing into Philadelphia and that town will become a mirror image of New York. Rents have been climbing. The New York Times recently did a big profile on hip working class Philly neighborhood Fishtown, where the Underground Literary Alliance has a base of sorts centered around cool bookstore Germ Books. Action is happening-- people, money, and business following.

An even better candidate, however, is Detroit. No American city can match Detroit's atmosphere, its tough rep and street cred-- most crucial of all, its cheap rents.

The trick is not just to spotlight, nationally, this town's artists and writers, but to get the nation's best to move here. Particularly writers.

Why writers? Because, unlike (with exceptions) rock musicians, painters, and actors, WRITERS WRITE about what they're doing. They're walking publicity machines. They bring more artistic p.r. value, which Detroit needs. And, they write not only about themselves, but about other kinds of artists. (See the Lost Generation of Paris in the 1920's.)

Gentrification is sparked by artists-- it's the easiest way to make an area "cool" and get people moving full-time into the city-- making Detroit the coolest place to live., which I assume is a goal.

The objective of course would be not just to get writers here from overpriced Philly and New York, but to convert other artists across the board into writers, as we were doing in Philadelphia-- and thereby spark a full-scale internationally known literary movement.

Does Detroit want this? Let me know.

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