1. As you may have heard, Detroit has filed for bankruptcy. If you’re looking for some context and how and why this could have happened, you might want to give Detroit native and journalist Charlie LeDuff's book Detroit: An American Autopsy a read. We had him on the show a few months ago, and one of the things he reflected on was Detroit’s future:

I don’t mean that as an anthem to a dead city, but it’s almost there. Everybody asks me, ‘What’s the future here?’ and I say, ‘We have auto companies. We have the biggest trade corridor on the continent with Canada. We have all the freshwater in the world. We have great hospitals and the tech center. We are well-positioned, but none of that is going to flower until we weed the garden today of people like [former city councilwoman] Monica Conyers and these sludge contracts, and all the cheating and robbing and killing. Forget the future. Focus on the present. And if we don’t, then, yes, we will completely be dead.

Image via Wired View in High-Res

    As you may have heard, Detroit has filed for bankruptcy. If you’re looking for some context and how and why this could have happened, you might want to give Detroit native and journalist Charlie LeDuff's book Detroit: An American Autopsy a read. We had him on the show a few months ago, and one of the things he reflected on was Detroit’s future:

    I don’t mean that as an anthem to a dead city, but it’s almost there. Everybody asks me, ‘What’s the future here?’ and I say, ‘We have auto companies. We have the biggest trade corridor on the continent with Canada. We have all the freshwater in the world. We have great hospitals and the tech center. We are well-positioned, but none of that is going to flower until we weed the garden today of people like [former city councilwoman] Monica Conyers and these sludge contracts, and all the cheating and robbing and killing. Forget the future. Focus on the present. And if we don’t, then, yes, we will completely be dead.

    Image via Wired

  2. Fresh Air

    Interviews

    Charlie LeDuff

    Detroit

    Detroit An American Autopsy

  1. Charlie LeDuff tells Dave Davies about his two rules for journalism:

There’s two rules to this whole game called journalism: Get it right; and don’t be boring. Because if you’re boring, you’re dead. I’ll say it this way: [The] press is written into the Constitution like the judiciary, the executive and the legislative, except they didn’t leave us any money. We have to find our own money to do it. So if people don’t want to purchase your product, you’re dead. So I like Borat; I like Jackass; I like Charles Kuralt; I like Colbert; I like 60 Minutes. I like kitty cats and YouTube. Put them all together, shake it up, and give me something — give me something smart and give me something entertaining. That’s my mantra.
View in High-Res

    Charlie LeDuff tells Dave Davies about his two rules for journalism:

    There’s two rules to this whole game called journalism: Get it right; and don’t be boring. Because if you’re boring, you’re dead. I’ll say it this way: [The] press is written into the Constitution like the judiciary, the executive and the legislative, except they didn’t leave us any money. We have to find our own money to do it. So if people don’t want to purchase your product, you’re dead. So I like Borat; I like Jackass; I like Charles Kuralt; I like Colbert; I like 60 Minutes. I like kitty cats and YouTube. Put them all together, shake it up, and give me something — give me something smart and give me something entertaining. That’s my mantra.

  2. Fresh Air

    Interviews

    Charlie LeDuff

    Detroit: An Autopsy

    journalism

  1. Charlie LeDuff, author of Detroit: An American Autopsy, tells Dave Davies about returning to his hometown of Detroit and finding it a very different city from the one he had left 20 years earlier:

It was empty. It wasn’t scary. It was sort of like, in many respects, living at Chernobyl in some neighborhoods. … I looked and I thought to myself one day, ‘What happened here? What happened?’ And so this is not a book about ruin porn or empty buildings. This book is dedicated to those of us who live here in the industrial Midwest, specifically Detroit and its inner-ring suburbs. We’re still trying to reconstruct the great thing we once had.

Image of Detroit circa 1917, “Looking Up Woodward Avenue” via Shorpy View in High-Res

    Charlie LeDuff, author of Detroit: An American Autopsy, tells Dave Davies about returning to his hometown of Detroit and finding it a very different city from the one he had left 20 years earlier:

    It was empty. It wasn’t scary. It was sort of like, in many respects, living at Chernobyl in some neighborhoods. … I looked and I thought to myself one day, ‘What happened here? What happened?’ And so this is not a book about ruin porn or empty buildings. This book is dedicated to those of us who live here in the industrial Midwest, specifically Detroit and its inner-ring suburbs. We’re still trying to reconstruct the great thing we once had.

    Image of Detroit circa 1917, “Looking Up Woodward Avenue” via Shorpy

  2. Fresh Air

    Interviews

    Charlie LeDuff

    Detroit: An Autopsy

  1. Detroit Grease Shop Poem

    Four bright steel crosses,
    universal joints, plucked
    out of the burlap sack —
    "the heart of the drive train,"
    the book says. Stars
    on Lemon’s wooden palm,
    stars that must be capped,
    rolled, and anointed,
    that have their orders
    and their commands as he
    has his.

    Under the blue
    hesitant light another day
    at Automotive
    in the city of dreams.
    We’re all here to count
    and be counted, Lemon,
    Rosie, Eugene, Luis,
    and me, too young to know
    this is for keeps, pinning
    on my apron, rolling up
    my sleeves.

    The roof leaks
    from yesterday’s rain,
    the waters gather above us
    waiting for one mistake.
    When a drop falls on Lemon’s
    corded arm, he looks at it
    as though it were something
    rare or mysterious
    like a drop of water or
    a single lucid meteor
    fallen slowly from
    nowhere and burning on
    his skin like a tear.

    - Philip Levine

    *a classic poem about Detroit by Detroit poet and former poet laureate Philip Levine (interview here). On the show today, Charlie LeDuff talks about his book Detroit: An American Autopsy.

  2. Fresh Air

    Interviews

    Philip Levine

    Detroit

    Charlie LeDuff

  1. Today on the show we’re talking to Charlie LeDuff about Detroit and the term ‘ruin porn’ comes up in the conversation. So for some background, here’s an excellent essay, “Detroitism: What does ruin porn tell us about the Motor City, ourselves, other American cities” by John Patrick Leary.
Guernica:

That some of the recent focus on Detroit ruins is exploitative in its depiction of Detroit’s impoverishment bears repeating, but more compelling are the reasons for our contemporary fascination with images of first-world urban decline, and not just in the Motor City. Ruin websites, photography collections, and urban exploration blogs chronicle industrial ruins across North America and Europe, from Youngstown, Ohio to Bucharest, Romania. Yet Detroit remains the Mecca of urban ruins.

Image of the Detroit Marine Harbor Terminal by JRE313 via Flickr

    Today on the show we’re talking to Charlie LeDuff about Detroit and the term ‘ruin porn’ comes up in the conversation. So for some background, here’s an excellent essay, “Detroitism: What does ruin porn tell us about the Motor City, ourselves, other American cities” by John Patrick Leary.

    Guernica:

    That some of the recent focus on Detroit ruins is exploitative in its depiction of Detroit’s impoverishment bears repeating, but more compelling are the reasons for our contemporary fascination with images of first-world urban decline, and not just in the Motor City. Ruin websites, photography collections, and urban exploration blogs chronicle industrial ruins across North America and Europe, from Youngstown, Ohio to Bucharest, Romania. Yet Detroit remains the Mecca of urban ruins.

    Image of the Detroit Marine Harbor Terminal by JRE313 via Flickr

  2. Fresh Air

    Coming up

    Detroit

    Charlie LeDuff

    John Patrick Leary

  1. Coming up on Monday, we’ve got Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter Charlie LeDuff, a former New York Times journalist and author of the new book Detroit: An Autopsy. Charlie left the Times about six years ago to move back and report on his hometown of Detroit. These days he’s a television reporter for WJBK-TV in the city. Above, a report he did called “Charlie LeDuff Investigates Poop Contracts” on, well, poop contracts.

  2. Fresh Air

    Charlie LeDuff

    Detroit: An Autopsy

    coming up next week

    poop contracts