Thursday, January 8, 2009

Better than Me


I go on and on and on in this blog and try to justify my existence and be creative and thoughtful and funny and supportive of my home state, and I work hard on it for 7 months while still failing in my efforts to bring in more readers, and then Mitch Albom writes one article in Sports Illustrated that is vastly superior in most ways to everything that I've done on my website. You could say that this is a benefit of being a nationally recognized writer who was trained in the craft of writing things about other things. Some people think Mitch is pompous, overblown, and he can also be a bit of a jerk, but to me, he has never been anything but a strong and visible Michigan advocate in both the local and national press.

When you read the article, take note of the numbers 1,2,3 at the bottom of the website, and make sure that you progress through the article. The first time I read it, I missed the 2 and 3 and thought that he was really missing a conclusion or even a well-rounded point. That's what happens when you only read 1/4 of an article. In it, he touches on many of the subjects so close to my heart that I have also tried to address here - the press' negative perception of Detroit and the Rust Belt, the personal sting we feel about the hatred toward the automobile industry, the sadness we experience as we watch the things we love struggle and fail, our love of sports, the fact that some of us are truly "Of Michigan". The following is a super-dee-duper long quote from the article, but it pretty much ties everything I try to express in a nice and nationally-read bow. Does this mean it's time for me to retire? No, otherwise you wouldn't know what I think about the last 10 episodes of Battlestar Galactica.

And yet...

And yet we go on. The Tigers were supposed to win big last season; they finished last in their division. Michigan got a new football coach with a spread offense and an eye on a national championship; the Wolverines had their first losing season since 1967.

But we will be back for the Tigers and back for Michigan and -- might as well admit it -- we will be back for the Lions come September, as red-faced as they make us, as pathetic as 0-16 is.

And maybe you ask why? Maybe you ask, as I get asked all the time, "Why do you stay there? Why don't you leave?"

Maybe because we like it here. Maybe because this is what we know: snow and concrete underfoot, hardhats, soul music, lakes, hockey sticks. Maybe because we don't see just the burned-out houses; we also see the Fox Theater, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Whitney restaurant, the riverfront that looks out to Canada. Maybe because we still have seniors who call the auto giant "Ford's", like a shop that's owned by a real human being. Maybe because some of us subscribe to Pastor Covington's words, We are somebody because God loves us, no matter how cold the night or hard the mattress.

Maybe because when our kids finish college and take that first job in some sexy faraway city and a year later we see them back home and we ask what happened, they say, "I missed my friends and family." And we nod and say we understand.

Or maybe because we're smarter than you think. Every country flogs a corner of itself on the whipping post. English Canada rips French Canada, and vice versa. Swedes make lame jokes about Laplanders.

But it's time to untie Detroit. Because we may be a few steps behind the rest of the country, but we're a few steps ahead of it too. And what's happening to us may happen to you.

Do you think if your main industry sails away to foreign countries, if the tax base of your city dries up, you won't have crumbling houses and men sleeping on church floors too? Do you think if we become a country that makes nothing, that builds nothing, that only services and outsources, that we will hold our place on the economic totem pole? Detroit may be suffering the worst from this semi-Depression, but we sure didn't invent it. And we can't stop it from spreading. We can only do what we do. Survive.

And yet we're better at that than most places.

My thanks to John A. and Maureen G. for pointing the article out to me. If you find it touching, I would prefer that you direct your friends and family to this article over my blog (though maybe you could consider doing both).


Dan A. said...

Read page 1 this morning. Can't wait to get on w/ it.

I dunno if he's from Detroit/MI or not, but I happily saw an old ball player from Marquette U. post this on Facebook.

Nick said...

Mitch is no better than you. Granted, I've only met him once, but first impressions can go a long way. And hey, I'm still reading your blog, not his, so that's gotta mean something! (I'm not entirely sure Mr. Albom does have a blog, but if he did I'd still read yours. He probably doesn't have babies in hats.)

I do appreciate what he writes on behalf of Detroit, though.

Also, glad to see you've given the Man in Black a chance. My second favorite musician.

TimChi said...

Here's Albom discussing the same issues with Dan Patrick -

shazzerxo said...

I'm glad your blog pointed this article out to me-- it's great.
Thanks, Ken.