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The Weekender | January 24th-26th

The Weekender presents the city of Detroit, from Bourdain, to buying a foreclosed home there to the urban decay to one of the original from Motown, The Miracles.

The Weekender

The Weekender is your guide and open thread for the weekend, presented by the fine folks at Viva The Matadors. Things to quote, read, look, watch, and listen to for the weekend. Let's do this.

A look at the city of Detroit, or rather how the city of Detroit is being taken over by nature and the uban decay of that city. The story of a guy that buys a foreclosed home in Detroit for $500.00 and Elmore Leonard on the city. Anthony Bourdain went to Detroit and it was pretty much fantastic and last, but not least, we listen to The Miracles to make us feel better.


Elmore Leonard on Detroit (via GoodReads).

"There are cities that get by on their good looks, offer climate and scenery, views of mountains or oceans, rockbound or with palm trees; and there are cities like Detroit that have to work for a living, whose reason for being might be geographical but whose growth is based on industry, jobs. Detroit has its natural attractions: lakes all over the place, an abundance of trees and four distinct seasons for those who like variety in their weather, everything but hurricanes and earth-quakes. But it’s never been the kind of city people visit and fall in love with because of its charm or think, gee, wouldn’t this be a nice place to live."


Over the weekend, I watched Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown show on Detroit. Oh, boy. This is just fantastic in terms of how a city can just fall apart. Absolutely fall apart. The concept of an entire city of a million people can just disappear in the US is mind-boggling in some respects. I also ran across this long-read about a guy that buys a house in Detroit at a foreclosure sale for $500.00 (via BuzzFeed).

I wanted something nobody wanted, something that was impossible. The city is filled with these structures, houses whose yellowy eyes seem to follow you. It would be only one house out of thousands, but I wanted to prove it could be done, prove that this American vision of torment could be built back into a home. I also decided I would do it the old-fashioned way, without grants or loans or the foundation money pouring into the city. I would work for everything that went into the house, because not everyone has access to those resources. I also wanted to prove to myself and my family I was a man. While they were building things, I had been writing poems.

One day Will and I rode past a white Queen Anne in Poletown on a quiet corner. Next to it sat two empty lots, plenty of space for a dog and a garden, a shed and a pond. The neighbors were friendly and kept their homes well-maintained, but there were four other abandoned houses on the block. The neighbors said the Queen Anne had been abandoned for a decade, simply left behind by the previous owner like a shredded tire on the highway, anything of value stolen long ago. It had a mangy wraparound porch and a big kitchen, but no chimney — I could build one of those — and the first time I cautiously walked inside, I knew it would be my home.

One other pretty good, but short read is from Bourdain on how to travel (via Esquire).


There is no shortage of websites to look at the decay of Detroit. It is really quite unbelievable. A city in decline (via The Guardian). Detroit’s beautiful, horrible decline (via Time). A photographer named Zach Fein has some pretty great galleries of various places in Detroit (via zfein). A then-and-now comparison (via OregonLive).

Again, maybe the thing that I find most depressing or impressive or interesting or something is how nature has taken back some of these buildings and structures. This stuff just didn’t happen overnight. Nature taking its course and turning places where there were once factories and huge buildings and houses into fields and meadows, right in the middle of the city.


I tried to find a full episode of Bourdain’s show on Detroit, but was only able to find short clips, so this is as good as it gets. You can find the show on CNN. You’ll probably see more of Bourdain on The Weekender because he goes to places that a lot of people don’t like to go, like the Democratic Republic of Congo and there isn't a person or a show that's gotten close to what the Congo or Ethiopia is really about other than Bourdain.

In any event, Bourdain goes to the old Packard Plant, to neighborhoods where people are opening their own restaurants, to the Detroit Fire Department to a place where a guy is trying to establish fine dining in Detroit.


This is Motown, so it has to be Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, who were one of, if not the first, biggest recording act for Motown Records. According to our besties at Wikipedia, The Miracles were originally called The Five Chimes, and then changed their name to The Matadors, and finally settled on The Miracles in 1958 (via Wikipedia). So, The Miracles pretty much have to be the official, but unofficial Motown group of Viva The Matadors. That’s pretty much a done deal.

I am continually amazed when I search Soundcloud at the number of old songs that have been sampled and made into some sort of dance song or electronica. I know this makes me sound old, but that’s okay.