the value of ruin

This article against economic ruin porn—Detroit’s in particular— makes a fair case that it’s not too useful, especially devoid of human content.

But blues music didn’t inspire either without the plainess of the yuck. Hip hop either. Point being this post isn’t helping the case against ruin porn. I’m rooting for Ford et al. We’re not returning to Big 3 days but I want them to do what they can–which is different from what other firms can do–and I’m on their side–because nobody else made the 1963 Lincoln Continental.

But in abject consumption of ruin porn, I’ll underscore that Detroit takes your energy. It’s the ugliest, most depressing, most almost beautiful American city I’ve ever seen. Almost beautiful because like Chicago it’s on the water—you wave at Canada—it has strong French influence in its city design, and it’s littered with shattered and crumbling architectural uniqueness in once prominent structures with aesthetics more compelling—even as shells—than many modern feats today.  Even as shambles the decided glory of other times in American manufacturing is effortlessly discernible. Like some neglected disposed of octogenarian starlet whose beauty you can tell once entranced us.

The ruined Spanish-Gothic interior of the United Artists Theater in Detroit. The cinema was built in 1928 by C Howard Crane, and finally closed in 1974. Photograph: Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre

But as to real value–I don’t know.  But it makes you look. And if nothing else viscerally connects you to America’s former manufacturing glory.  And maybe that’s not exactly zero.


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