Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Detroit: It's a Place, Not Just a State of Mind

When I look in the mirror
To comb my hair
I can’t see Leno
Smilin’ there
--Detroit City Councilwoman Martha Reeves

From yesterday's Detroit News:

Martha Reeves irked by second Leno show in suburbs

Darren A. Nichols and Catherine Jun / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- City Councilwoman Martha Reeves, who last week thought she sweet-talked Jay Leno into a scheduling a show in Detroit, isn't happy he's arranged a second one in the suburbs.

Speaking shortly after Leno announced a show on April 8 at The Palace of Auburn Hills in addition to one there the night before, Reeves said she still doesn't know why he couldn't play Ford Field or Joe Louis Arena.

Leno announced the free show to lift the spirits of Michigan's unemployed on "The Tonight Show " last week by calling Detroit "one of my favorite places." That's irked Reeves, who points out that the suburbs aren't Detroit.

"Detroit is one of my favorite places, too," Reeves said. "If you're going to be here, I want to see you. And (Leno) is not going to be here. He's going to be in Auburn Hills. If there is a second show in Auburn Hills, it's still not Detroit. I just want it to be in Detroit, if it's in Detroit."

Ms. Reeves explained on local Fox TV that she doesn't have any dispute with Leno, whom she says she's known for years. She appears to be unable to conceive of Detroit as a metropolitan region, as opposed to an enclave existing within the city limits and jealously guarded by the City Council. After Ms. Reeves repeated that anything Leno does for the area helps Detroit, even if he plays the Palace in Auburn Hills, Huel Perkins asked her if she would go to the concert. "No, no, no" she said, as if the question was silly. "I live in Detroit." She actually talked about how she "can't see him in Detroit," as if there's a curfew preventing her from leaving the city.

To this day, (but not for much longer, I'm afraid), the American auto industry is referred to in shorthand as "Detroit," even though there hasn't been an auto plant in Detroit since I can't remember, Ford has always been in Dearborn, Chrysler left Detroit forty years ago, and GM only keeps its headquarters in the city because it gets cheap rent. Detroit has never been just Detroit City. But when Detroit City is your power base, and you're engaged in a running battle with "the suburbs," I guess who is and isn't "Detroit" is an absolute.

It's amost as if her notion of Detroit reaches so high she can't get over it, and so wide, she can't get around it.

Too bad.

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