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Rust Belt Cities: Not All Alike, Not All So Different

Sure, there are some similarities.  But yesterday, we found this documentary made by Charlie LeDuff for the Detroit News.  The compulsion to link to it for BR readers was strong, and I asked myself: Am I doing this just to show how well off we are in comparison?

The answer is, “Not entirely.”  More than anything, I was amazed by the characters, their frankness, and I made my own imaginary comparison/contrast graph between Buffalo and Detroit that was all over the place.
The video is 25 minutes long, and well worth watching if you possess a dark sense of humor (disclaimer: some content is too dark to be funny unless you’re downright ghoulish) and a strong stomach.  It looks at economy, real estate (from trailer park to mansions), a highly dysfunctional city government, panhandlers (“that’s my Jessmo”), space ships and barbe’coon (a unique preparation for raccoon).  Know that after seeing LeDuff’s segment with a coroner who had 52 bodies waiting to be buried, I made a call to our own County Coroner Spokesman, Kevin Montgomery.  “No. Oh no,” Montgomery said.  “We don’t have a backlog like that.  Erie County Social Services takes care of that.”  That’s a relief.
After watching LeDuff get then councilmember Martha Reeves (Heat Wave) to sing an homage to Michael Jackson in a diner, and viewing his interview of political consultant Sam Riddle in the shower, we had questions for the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist: How did you get these people to do this?  They had to know, right?
“Dunno,” LeDuff answered. “Sometimes they’re serious, and sometimes they’re so serious, they end up showing what they really are, you know?  The camera is the ultimate syringe.”
Image: Still from the video
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