Tuesday, May 24, 2005

RIP Madison-Lenox Hotel, 1900-2005

Read the link if you want to know why you should care. Sometimes it just feels like debacle after debacle after debacle.....

I'm half-full on Detroit. I adopted it 6 years ago, a week after college. I worked for the General Motors Tax Staff in the old GM Building on Grand Boulevard and Woodward, on the 14th floor, in the old executive offices. My view was of Popeye's on Woodward, but I smelled the history and loved the building, with its 70s decor, beautiful relief sculpture on the facade and amazing lobby ceiling. I worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers on the 31st floor of the Renaissance Center, Tower 300. I navigated the skywalk there on crutches after a Detroit city bus wrecked my Honda Civic and broke my knee. I saw shows at the Gold Dollar for 2 bucks. I went to the Majestic after work. I went to Eugene V. Debs Memorial Kazoo Night at Tiger Stadium - and I still have the free kazoo! I saved my cans in bags in my trunk for a couple of down-on-their luck guys I knew downtown. Now our new company, foneGEAR, is in Troy and growing, and I hope it will show people that new kinds of businesses can flourish in the Midwest.

Lauren and I live here. Noah will grow up here. So will lots of other little kids. Our house is in the burbs, but don't try to tell me that the future of the region doesn't hinge on pulling the city back together. When Noah grows up, I do not want him to be pissed off at me that he wasn't born in San Francisco. I want him to be proud to be from Detroit, the way that I will always be Strong for Toledo (go Hens!). I want there to be an interesting skyline left for him to look at if he ever works in the RenCen. I want it to be safer for him to go out after work than it was for me. I have plenty of friends who have had 'incidents' in Detroit - a couple of car break-ins, vandalism - and one friend whose parents were robbed at gunpoint. On their own block. I think I might have been naive about the risk when I was 22, but I was excited by the feeling of being out alone in a city, even a sprawling, faded palace like Detroit. I was excited to drive around and explore. I was excited to go places. I had (and still have) great friends.

Now it's different. We have a baby and a lawn to take care of, and my evenings are not free for sitting around the bar at the Majestic. And I don't want them to be - it is infinitely more fun to hang out with Noah. I am taking tremendous joy in my tomatoes (5 types last year!). But I'm looking forward to taking Noah to the Art Museum, and the Motown Museum, and the places I've worked, and to Tigers games so that we can look at the skyline over the outfield fence, and think about what a great place we live in. That's my dream. I hope we'll get to see it happen before they knock down whatever's left.


Intern Paul said...

Amen brother!
I love this Toledo Jon's History in Detroit! I'm probably biased because I was there for most of it... :)
BTW, we were on the 15th floor ABOVE the executive offices. Remember, we had to go downstairs, through the decadent and largely empty 70's-esque executive-pimp lobby to go to the library and supply room??
And I gotta tell you, you missed one of the biggest stories of PwC -- 9/11. It was FREAKY being in the tallest building in Detroit when our enemies decided it would be a good idea to throw planes at landmark buildings.
Also, I don't know if you've tried it recently but the kazoo's don't play labor songs like they used to...
I, for one, am 100% behind you brother. Let's hope Kilpatrick doesn't kill Detroit. We need to leave the lasting legacy of Strong for Detroit, where the girls are pretty and the guys ain't-so-square.

Jonathan said...

Paul, I was there on 9/11. It's your birthday, remember? We went to the Cass Cafe after we were evacuated and ended up running into Naheed and that guy Jason, and we argued the Israel-Palestine issue. Then we went to your parents house and chain-smoked while we watched the news coverage of the attack.

-Intern Paul said...

Oh no, I remember the day vividly. You are right. I was just saying that it was a big day to leave out of Jon's History-in-Detroit!
Man, I can still remember us sitting there, dumbed, by this uncomprehesible nightmarish vision, when we finally got in front of a TV...
Do you remember the nervous giggles on the elevator ride down when we realized that EVERYONE in the jam-packed elevator was looking out the windows for planes??
God, I can't believe you quit smoking!