I have only, in my life, spent three days there, but Detroit has secured a place in my heart.
I am captivated by it; consumed by its poetry.
Poetry. Like the way we watch the cherry blossoms float down from the trees in March and hear it set to strings; the way we still imagine the smile of our first love; our art of harnessing something beautiful onto paper and tying it there in simplified, abbreviated form for later re-consumption.
There is no other place quite so mesmerizing, as far as the accidental art of an urban landscape goes, as Detroit.
And, to be clear, that is the real merit: “accidental.”
Detroit is something truly gripping, and it is almost entirely a product of its own fate; a natural evolution – perhaps a decline – of a true story. Nobody planned for this.
It is not nearly so interesting to see something that was intended for your consumption, positioned in such a way so as to seem more beautiful to a passerby than it truly is – everybody loves the frosted windows; nobody considers the trash dragged out the back.
In Detroit, nothing is hidden. Everything is raw and honest. It has to be. It has no other choice but to stand, bare breasted, with stretch marks and scars drawing the lines as they really are, slashing over our airbrushed mental image. She stands, with blemishes and burns across the body; all the while with her face turned upwards into the hot, hot summer sun.
I love her for that. I am captivated by her sincerity – the simplicity and circumstantial display of everything that we are taught is ugly. While everywhere else, we see things nipped and tucked and tanned and toned and then turned, in just such a way, so as to dazzle and taunt; mislead and manipulate, here, in Detroit, we see only what it is – what is real, straightforward, “unpretty.” And yet, as we look, she is also unmoving – accepting our gaze, unapologetic, as we stand there feeling very much as though we, too, are staring at the sun.
There is so much beauty in the grittiness of things; a shard of glass – a sparkle in the sun; a tiny stream of blood. There is so much more aesthetic depth and richness to a landscape that evolves exactly as it was meant to, with all the broken pieces left alone, without pretending that it didn’t. Here: the textures of broken glass and falling brick; the cacophony of a city’s fabric tearing apart at the seams; dozens of textiles, strewn about in the streets or stood up along their edges. And everywhere, the earth overtaking all of this evidence; the remains of man’s work.
One scarcely has to point and click, and the photo turns out beautiful.
I said that about Santorini, too.
I mean it more with Detroit.
Aesthetically speaking, never before have I seen such an interesting subject in a city. Where every other city’s photos have been captured a million times, every story a regurgitation of another, here I feel that the images go on forever – I could stay for weeks and still discover more; turn a corner, widen my focus or narrow it, and see something new or different. I feel as though it is a fresh story – one just now being written and (unlike abominable Vegas) one that will not – cannot – be scripted, but must rather be written organically.
Perhaps I’m glamorizing – romanticizing.
Or, perhaps not.
From a study of The City as a reflection and manifestation of her people, Detroit is my favorite.
And I want, somehow, to be one of them.
Suggested: “Blue Jeans” (Lana Del Rey)