Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reppin' for the Motor City

From Dave Brigham:

Thanks to my father-in-law, Rich, for tipping me off to this David Byrne article about the long decline of Detroit. Musician, writer, actor, artist, advocate for world music and former leader of Talking Heads, Byrne gives a great sense of why the Motor City is in the dire straits that it's in today: domination by the auto industry shut out any public transportation presence; white flight, as in many other big cities in the 1960's, following fierce riots; the financial meltdown that has hit few cities as hard. It's a great read and features some cool photos and Byrne's hope that "if the city center here can become more of the focus then a much smaller town with vibrant life might emerge."

While Byrne focuses largely on the problems besetting Motown, actor/professional jackass Johnny Knoxville has teamed with Palladium Boots to produce "Detroit Lives," a 30-minute documentary highlighting what's right with the city.

The first part, through film-strip footage and talking head commentary, provides a quick story of the rise and fall of the city. Then, local artists, activists, restaurateurs and musicians step up to talk about opportunity for creativity and commerce:

In the second part, Knoxville tours the city with two members of longtime local band The Dirtbombs, talks with MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, tromps through a dilapidated movie and music theater, and even strolls through Berry Gordy's former mansion:

In the third and final part, Knoxville and guests in his beautiful old Cadillac convertible discuss urban farming, explore an old Cadillac factory, hang out in an old industrial building that's been converted to artist lofts, and learn about Detroit's DIY ethic. Stick around 'til the end to see the Heidelberg Project:


  1. Great post Dave! Here’s a couple more references I had run across last year on the situation in Detroit. Bruce Gilden is a photographer member of the renowned Magnum agency. Dave… I never thought to share him with you but you’ll love his stuff.
    Check out his street photography work as well. He’s amazing…
    BG: “The angle… wasn’t good”
    Narrator: “She smiled”
    BG: “That’s even worse”