I know you saw it. It's the most talked-about Super Bowl ad here in Michigan and, I hope, around the rest of the country. On the surface it was an ad for a luxury car, though I couldn't tell you -- even after repeated viewings -- which one.
But really, it wasn't an ad trying to sell you a car (although I'm sure Chrysler would be thrilled if you bought one). No, at its heart this was an ad promoting Detroit ... the maligned, beleaguered, down-on-its-luck city of Detroit.
Here, watch it with me again and then we'll talk some more:
The narrator calls Detroit "a town that's been to Hell ...." Yeah, that's true.
I moved to one of its suburbs in 1978, the year the city was named the Murder Capital of the United States. There had been riots in 1967, with a mass exodus known as "white flight" soon thereafter. Some neighborhoods resemble war zones; I've personally walked through them, and recognized some of the skeletal remains of buildings shown in the ad. And each time a new administration has come in promising redemption, hope that something in the city might be salvaged has eventually vanished.
The last few years, in which the economy has been so dreadful, hit Michigan very hard; Detroit was dealt nearly unsurvivable blows. Businesses closed down, and General Motors even required a government bailout in order to survive. Unemployment in Detroit has officially been as high as 30%.
And yet ... the complete line of narration in the video says that Detroit "is a town that's been to Hell and back." Those last two words are critical.
In the middle of the ad, shining in the midst of all the grit and grime and gloom that is admittedly a very real part of the city, you see the gleaming, golden Spirit of Detroit statue, with rays of light shining forth.
There is a definite resurgence in the city, a faith that Detroit has suffered enough and will regain its former glory. And to me, at least, it seems as though food is leading the way.
Slows Bar-B-Q -- only 5 years old -- has been named one of the country's best barbecue spots by Bon Appetit and been featured on the Travel Channel's Man vs. Food. Its owner, Phil Cooley, is a tireless supporter of Detroit and has stated: "We need a strong urban core that's going to attract people to stay and create."
Avalon International Breads is a phenomenon with a small and immensely popular storefront in the heart of the city. The bakery (which is open, so that you can watch the staff at work creating treats like my personal favorite -- the Dexter Davison Rye Bread) supports urban farming initiatives and buys local and organic foods to the greatest extent possible.
Then there is the Hockeytown Café, named "No. 2 Sports Bar in America" by ESPN2 ... those are folks who know their stuff! And the Bucharest Grill is a destination for "hipsters and townies," according to The Detroit News, despite not even having a sign out front to advertise its abundantly generous servings of traditional Romanian cuisine.
But there are also the long-time standbys -- the ones who didn't flee, the ones who've stood by the city that welcomed them.
There's Xochimilco [so-shuh-MIL-koh], one of my favorite restaurants, offering some of the best authentic Mexican food there is. The Lafayette Coney Island, where I used to eat lunch with my friends each day when I spent a summer working in downtown Detroit, received a rave review from Roadfood.com. Greektown -- a strip filled with fabulous restaurants and bakeries -- was always a destination for Jeremy's birthday when he was younger, after a trip to the Auto Show and a ride on the People Mover (an above-ground railway).
We are reminded that "It's the hottest fires that make the strongest steel." Detroit has been through the fire -- figuratively and also literally. But the strength and resilience of its people are investing the city with a renewed energy and another chance at life.
Every day, there are people who sustain Detroit both with food and with "their hard work and conviction," as the ad proudly proclaims. This is the spirit of Detroit.
This is the Motor City.
Ghosts of Postings Past and Present
- ► 2012 (227)
- Rigatoni con Gorgonzola
- A Few Moments of Escape
- Snow Day Applesauce Bars
- A Most Decadent Delight
- Cheesy Red 'n' Black Bean Enchiladas
- National Biscuits 'n' Gravy Day
- The Oxymoron of "Healthy Cookie"
- Pita Pita
- Floozin' 'n' Schmoozin' at the Chili Cook-Off
- iCarly's Spaghetti Tacos ... Spaghetti SQUASH Taco...
- Creamy Potato and Gorgonzola Soup
- Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
- A Burger, By Any Other Name ....
- Thai with Tom
- "This Is the Motor City"
- Life Is Good, Stylish and Irresistibly Sweet!
- New Year, New Look, New Header!!!
- Worshipping at the Altar of Nutella
- Pepper 'n' Onion Quesadillas
- Who Needs Regis??? I'm Co-Hosting Today!
- Teasing on a Tuesday
- ▼ February (21)