In recent weeks, the news of Detroit's bankruptcy has spurred outside media folks of all stripes and political leanings to posit their own personal reasons for why the city failed.(White flight! NAFTA and domestic deindustrialization! Sweetheart Union Pensions! Decades of One-Party Rule! L. Brooks Patterson!)
Besides the city's dire financial straights, another thing that has been getting plenty of attention in opinion pieces and earnest tributes to the city as it stands are the Motor City's restaurants and, more specifically, its "coffee shops frequented by young hipsters."
In a sweet but somewhat dated column in the New York Times, former Freep reporter Frank Bruni — himself a former Times restaurant critic — pens an ode to the "smart, decent people" of Detroit who hope for the city's revival and might appreciate "better restaurants and music and theater."
Bruni also notes that "Detroiters [don't] dash as madly to the hot new restaurant" (clearly he hasn't seen the lines at places like Green Dot Stables or Ottava Via) and seems to do the city a service by praising the people of the region as well-meaning and proud believers in their region's inevitable revival.
On the magazine end of the New York City media scene, the New Yorker's John Cassidy leads off this week's Talk of the Town section with a meandering essay urging the federal government and the nation at large to stick with Detroit as it works through managed bankruptcy.
Cassidy somewhat-smugly notes the youngish crowd across the country who speak of the city "as 'the new Portland,' or 'the new Brooklyn,' and mentions coffee shops near the Detroit Institute of Arts full of hipsters (likely referring to Great Lakes Coffee, in all honesty).
The most elegant external take on the city and its seemingly-disconnected population of college-educated, recent migrants comes from Sean Posey in the post-industiral news and views website, RustWire.
He waxes poetic on the ebb-and-flow of the city's fortunes during the last 60 or so years, and speaks warmly of the "cozy confines of the Roasting Plant coffee shop."
Yes, America. The city of Detroit has a growing network of well-sourced, popular independent coffee shops. The city may also be financially insolvent, suffer from crippling administrative dysfunction and have an alarmingly-high crime rate for a city its size. But it also has more than a few places where a body can find a mean cup of coffee. (And only one Starbucks location that isn't inside of a hotel). Please stop reminding us that we don't have more small businesses — we're working on it.