A Few Thoughts On Dave Jordano’s ‘Detroit Nocturne’

Detroit Nocturne‘ found here.  Via Mick Hartley.

I’m partial to ‘Joey’s Meatcutter Inn, Bar & Grill 2017‘:

Joey's Meatcutter's Inn, Eastside, Detroit 2017

Immediately, I think of Edward Hopper: The lonely cityscape at night or the familiar glow of gas station lights cast into the American wilderness.  The eye might want to linger among the colors, shapes and clouds even though the mind knows this is pretty much an empty street in a ‘post-industrial’ zone.

Perhaps it has do with another strand of expression:  The break into free verse from past forms.  The move from American Romanticism to Modernism which occurred this early past century.  William Carlos Williams produced many good poems from a process of earnest, scrapbook-style intensity in trying to discover, redefine, and order a new poetic form within a modern ‘urban landscape.’

The individual artist is quite alone in the task he’s set before himself, and like much of modernism, it’s a rather big task. 


When I was younger
it was plain to me
I must make something of myself.
Older now
I walk back streets
admiring the houses
of the very poor:
roof out of line with sides
the yards cluttered
with old chicken wire, ashes,
furniture gone wrong;
the fences and outhouses
built of barrel staves
and parts of boxes, all,
if I am fortunate,
smeared a bluish green
that properly weathered
pleases me best of all colors.

No one
will believe this
of vast import to the nation

William Carlos Williams

Do you believe any of that to be of vast import to the nation.  Are you no one?

Another one of Jordano’s photos which stuck out was: ‘Church Rectory With Lightning, Eastside, Detroit, 2016


Perhaps I’m not wrong in having called Halloween horror still and movie images to mind (it’s my mind, after all, so maybe I’m just thinking of Devil’s Night).  I really enjoy the light on the dumpster and the side-front rectory wall. There seems to be a little more mood here, more drama, so maybe Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘psychological intensity,’ surrealism, and terror are more appropriate for comparison.

Poe was a bit mad, after all, despite his fascinatingly untamed and powerful imagination.  He achieved a uniqueness and completeness of vision few artists do.  Maybe there’s a bit of the sullen, self-aggrandizing earnestness in him of the teenager (J.D. Salinger); the desire to shock, delight and terrify.

The mind is as though a chamber, the horror rising to fever pitch, the lush rhyme matching an increasingly desperate search for truth and beauty in the world (Poe had very much his own Romantically inspired metaphysics).


From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring—
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow—I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone—
And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone—
Then—in my childhood—in the dawn
Of a most stormy life—was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still—
From the torrent, or the fountain—
From the red cliff of the mountain—
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold—
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by—
From the thunder, and the storm—
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view—

Nice photos, Dave.  Thank you.

As previously posted:

Via Curbed Detroit. (via David Thompson)

70 photos of the abandoned, foreboding Temple.  Mysterious symbols and a certain sad grandeur that’s come to represent Detroit these days.

-Photographer Ben Marcin has a series called ‘Last House Standing.’ Solitary row-homes…the only ones left on the block.

From Buzzfeed: ‘Why I Bought A House in Detroit For $500:’

How did Detroit get here? Very comprehensive and easy to navigate.

More from Megan McArdle on the behavior that comes with pension bonuses.Charlie LeDuff, Detroit’s populist, citizen journalist’s youtube channel here.  At least he’s sticking around.

Are you looking at beautiful photos and feeling sorry for Detroit, and yourself?  See Time Magazine’s photo essay by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre (less porn-like, more thoughtful).

Hipster hope, artists, collectivists and small business types can’t save it either:  A Short Culture Wars Essay-Two Links On Detroit & ‘Ruin Porn’

GM is not a municipality, but good money got put in, probably after bad and it reeks of politics: From The Detroit News: ‘How The Treasury, GM Stock Deal Got Done’

Modernism At The Movies

You Can Have It

My brother comes home from work
and climbs the stairs to our room.
I can hear the bed groan and his shoes drop
one by one. You can have it, he says.

The moonlight streams in the window
and his unshaven face is whitened
like the face of the moon. He will sleep
long after noon and waken to find me gone.

Thirty years will pass before I remember
that moment when suddenly I knew each man
has one brother who dies when he sleeps
and sleeps when he rises to face this life,

and that together they are only one man
sharing a heart that always labours, hands
yellowed and cracked, a mouth that gasps
for breath and asks, Am I gonna make it?

All night at the ice plant he had fed
the chute its silvery blocks, and then I
stacked cases of orange soda for the children
of Kentucky, one gray boxcar at a time

with always two more waiting. We were twenty
for such a short time and always in
the wrong clothes, crusted with dirt
and sweat. I think now we were never twenty.

In 1948 the city of Detroit, founded
by de la Mothe Cadillac for the distant purposes
of Henry Ford, no one wakened or died,
no one walked the streets or stoked a furnace,

for there was no such year, and now
that year has fallen off all the old newspapers,
calendars, doctors’ appointments, bonds
wedding certificates, drivers licenses.

The city slept. The snow turned to ice.
The ice to standing pools or rivers
racing in the gutters. Then the bright grass rose
between the thousands of cracked squares,

and that grass died. I give you back 1948.
I give you all the years from then
to the coming one. Give me back the moon
with its frail light falling across a face.

Give me back my young brother, hard
and furious, with wide shoulders and a curse
for God and burning eyes that look upon
all creation and say, You can have it.

Philip Levine

Repost-A Reaction To Jeff Koons-For Commerce Or Contemplation?

Denis Dutton suggests art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

Two ways around postmodernism, nihilism?: Through postmodernism? One is Allan Bloom Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’…A structure in the desert…not even a city Update On LACMA, Michael Heizer And The ‘Levitated Mass’-Modern Art And The Public;.

Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘Detroit’s Van Gogh Would Be Better Off in L.A.’

Full piece here.

With Detroit in terrible financial straits, and its museum potentially looking at selling some of its works to meet financial obligations, Postrel suggests:  Why not?

Other cities are growing, and it’s better for the art and the people to see great works.

Man, Detroit can’t catch a break:

‘Parochial interests aside, however, great artworks shouldn’t be held hostage by a relatively unpopular museum in a declining region. The cause of art would be better served if they were sold to institutions in growing cities where museum attendance is more substantial and the visual arts are more appreciated than they’ve ever been in Detroit. Art lovers should stop equating the public good with the status quo.’

Addition:  Postrel tweets out two links for accessing art works to bolster her piece.  A lot of the work sits in storage anyways, so why not serve the public?  Here and here.

Take him to Detroit!


Addition:  Hipster hope, artists, collectivists and small business types can’t save it either:  A Short Culture Wars Essay-Two Links On Detroit & ‘Ruin Porn’

What about the popular arts and culture?:Update And Repost-From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’…A Few Thoughts And A Tuesday Poem By Philip Levine

GM is not a municipality, but good money got put in, probably after bad and it reeks of politics: From The Detroit News: ‘How The Treasury, GM Stock Deal Got Done’

L.A.’s New Public Art Piece ‘The Levitated Mass,’ Or As The American Interest Puts It: ‘A Moving Rock’

A museum industrial complex…more complexes…who are the people museums should be serving? James Panero At The New Criterion: ‘Time to Free NY’s Museums: The Met Responds’

From Youtube Via Reason: ‘Robert Zubrin: Radical Environmentalists And Other Merchants Of Despair’


How to separate reasonable environmentalism from the authoritarian impulses, the Malthusians and various other people who “know” how many people is enough?  Now that environmentalism is a primary focus in our schools, it’s probably worth thinking about.

Reason’s Hit & Run piece here.

Related On This Site:  Jonathan Adler At The Atlantic: ‘A Conservative’s Approach to Combating Climate Change’ Monbiot invokes Isaiah Berlin and attacks libertarians:  From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Instead of global green governance, what about a World Leviathan…food for thought, and a little frightening…there are other sources rather than Hobbes: At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas Hobbes

Ronald Bailey At Reason: ‘Delusional in Durban’A Few Links On Environmentalism And Liberty

A Few Thoughts On Foreign Policy-Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Conservative Principles Of World Order’

Full piece here.

Click through for some ideas on resetting conservative foreign policy principles:

‘If Republicans adopt this basic view as a counterpoint to that of the second Obama Administration, it would be good for the country. It makes sense on its own terms and it would encourage a more serious approach to a subject we have lately tended to sleepwalk through. Can Republicans come together around this vision? Please, I hope so.’

The Republican party has not been showing good foreign policy leadership, and there seems to be a real lack of overall vision lately. Garfinkle throws out some ideas: American liberty as the measure of all things, international security through strengthened sovereignty, and live and let live, as some possible guiding alternatives.

In the meantime, what’s the current administration’s approach?:

Here’s a quote from Anne-Marie Slaughter, on liberal internationalism:

‘The central liberal internationalist premise is the value of a rules-based international order that restrains powerful states and thereby reassures their enemies and allies alike and allows weaker states to have sufficient voice in the system that they will not choose to exit’

America must be restrained, and constantly appeal to and/or help to create an international order, regardless of the design flaws of the current international order.  The liberal international map doesn’t always line up with the terrain, and can overlook many problems beyond the limits of its understanding.

For example:

What kind of table do we have to sit at if Al Qaida and the Taliban, or the people ruling Northern Mali are on the other side?  Obama is still using drone strikes, special ops and security agency capabilities on them anyways, so some of this may simply be politics.

Does the formality of speaking with the Taliban, say, before some potential military action, or listening to Gadhafi or Ahmadinejad (both state sponsors of terror) drone on for an hour on the floor of the U.N., or waiting for the U.N. to act in the case of Syria, have some symbolic value that eclipses the value of our freedom to act unilaterally or in an alternative coalition to which we are bound under different rules in protecting our interests?

What dangers are coming from picking winners and supporting rebels (which America has almost always done from installing a Shah, to supporting the Taliban against the Russians) in what seem like endless Middle-Eastern conflicts according to the liberal internationalist doctrine alone?

What if Russia is simply adversarial (Cold War), and like some in China, would pursue interests and ideals that put it in direct conflict with what we hold most dear, as well as our interests?

And perhaps most importantly:

What confers legitimacy and moral authority upon those international bodies to whom we would appeal to resolve our disputes, bind ourselves, and try to bind others, given the enormous chasms between peoples and ideas, free and unfree societies, wealthier and impoverished nations, rogue actors and rogue states?

Part of the reason the U.N looks and acts the way it does, is because it reflects what’s out there.  The incentives may simply be wrong.

I suppose the burden is on those of us who espouse more conservative, or classically liberal Western ideas and principles to come up with something.  Generally the ideals which guide many European secular humanists, the human rights crowd, and those who often seek peace unto itself find liberal internationalism appealing, and many such folks have been most effective at creating international institutions.  That said, I’m not necessarily on board what’s become of the neo-conservative option either;  using military force to spread democracy, often resting upon the national greatness platform.   The long-term consequences and costs of Iraq are up for debate, but if Iraq is how that vision is implemented, a debate is overdue in my opinion.  We can still pursue our interests, but we’ve arguably got to be a little smarter and more strategic about it.  We’ve got to earn our national greatness again.

Here’s a suggestion I threw up before, just to put it out there:

How about a coalition of free traders, that works for the common self-interest of protecting the life-blood of our respective economies with naval forces against piracy, drug-runners, and corrupt and aggressive regimes that agitate in international waters?  Perhaps America, Britain, Australia, Canada, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, Germany, France, Israel, Brazil, Chile (China down the road) could start something like a cleaned up, international, merchant marines?

Or maybe regional trading partners are responsible for their own waters and borders, and more powerful actors can assist in regional waters and international waters.  It would be nice to see trade come front and center in at least guiding how freer and more trade oriented societies pursue common interest, and this could include China, to some extent.


What about here at home, and our economy?:

-As Garfinkle points out, domestic policy will affect what we do abroad:

Many people are looking around and seeing signs of cultural and political stagnation and real economic stagnation, if not decline, for the U.S. relative to the rest of the world.  The winds have changed, but we still can set our sails again.

At the end of the video below made right after Obama was elected in 2008, Peter Thiel argued that real growth has been stagnant since about 1970 after accounting for the recent housing collapse.  The average family is working harder to stay mostly in the same place.  He attributes this to the fact that real technological advancement is obviously occurring, but just not exponentially, and it’s not exponentially increasing real wages, nor the same growth rate for the GDP we had for previous generations (mainly the Boomers).   Those days of economic growth may be gone and this is mostly due to increased global competition and a new landscape to which America needs to adapt.

He wants to reframe the debate away from the culture wars and battles for control of the public square (the decline of institutionalized religion, the rise of feminism, women in the workforce, race, identity politics etc).  Politically, the Left clearly has a lot of reasons for holding aloft science and technology (at the very least they’ll always need a goose to lay the golden eggs, but it goes much deeper).  The Right begrudgingly accepts the importance of technology, but downplays its importance and has its own plans, according to Thiel.

He’s started the Thiel Fund that offers money to people willing to pursue an idea outside of the academy.  He wants people to focus on the state of education, especially STEM going forward, to be a little more realistic on the tech economy, and to stay competitive globally and to work toward open trade and freer capital markets.

Addition:  Does he advocate for greater realism on the tech front or is he lamenting the lack of grand, sometimes utopian visions attached to capital markets?  See the link to Virginia Postrel above.


Related On This Site:  Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest’s Via Media: “The Rise Of Independent Kurdistan?”..Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest on Egypt: ‘Still More of the Same—and Something New’

How does America lead or pursue its interests in this new landscape?:  We need to confront the rise of Islamism and the realities of many Muslim societies through our policy.  Putting women’s rights and international institutions front and center when you’re dealing with Al Qaida and the Taliban, assorted enemies, a suspicious China and a weaker adversarial Russia has serious problems …Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill…Daniel Deudney tries to build a global raft partially upon Kant’s idealism and says the global institutions we’ve got are better than nothing: Repost-Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: ‘Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy’

From The American Interest: Francis Fukuyama Interviews Peter Thiel-’A Conversation With Peter Thiel’… part of Fukuyama’s platform came from Huntington, but also Hegel via Kojeve.  From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington…Can economics and politics ever be a science…Hegel’s influence can be problematic: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’…Has Fukuyama turned from Hegel toward Darwin…do we need a more moral, bureaucratic class here in America and across Europe?: Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s New Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’

Kay Hymowitz At The City Journal: ‘How Brooklyn Got Its Groove Back’

Full piece here.

Hymowitz tracks her time in Brooklyn and offers an interesting background and look at its history.  She notes why she thinks it’s been surging lately:

‘The third reason for Brooklyn’s modern revival was the arrival of a new generation of gentrifiers, a large group of college-educated folks who, like the previous generation, found the urban, neighborly, and safer streets of the borough mightily attractive.’

And of them:

‘Unlike their predecessors, however, these grads are not only artsy; they’re tech-savvy and entrepreneurial. Don’t confuse them with the earlier artists and bohemians who daringly smoked pot at Brooklyn Heights parties. These are beneficiaries of a technology-fueled design economy, people who have been able to harness their creativity to digital media’ 

And of the post-industrial knowledge gap:

The problem is that these boutique businesses have a limited impact on the borough’s total economy. For all their energy and creativity, Brooklyn’s young entrepreneurs tend to have few employees, and they’re not likely to be hiring large numbers in the future.

And thus her conclusion:

‘Brooklyn’s story, then, doesn’t lend itself to a simple happy ending. Instead, the borough is a microcosm of the nation’s “hourglass economy.” At the top, the college-educated are doing interesting, motivating work during the day and bicycling home to enjoy gourmet beer and grass-fed beef after hours. At the bottom, matters are very different.’

There’s a bit of a swipe there at the hipsters, and certain underlying ideas she likely takes issue with (progressive, green, idealistic, creative class, meritocratic ideas).

Big cities like Chicago and New York (which unlike Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh are still centers of trade and finance to balance out the lost industry) have been losing a lot of low and middle-income private sector jobs, so where are we headed?

Related On This Site: Trade and commerce aren’t just vehicles for nanny statism, equality delivery services and racial harmony…they are well…trade and commerce:  Via Youtube: Ric Burns—New York: A Documentary Film – Episode One: The Country and The City (1609-1825)Joel Kotkin Via Youtube: ‘Illinois Is In A Competition’

Cities should be magnets for creativity and culture? –From The Atlantic: Richard Florida On The Decline Of The Blue-Collar ManFrom Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’… some people don’t want you to have the economic freedom to live in the suburbs: From Foreign Policy: ‘Urban Legends, Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are The Answer’

Is the same definition of ‘community’ connected with one that can stifle economic growth through political means?: Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?

And how do big-city machines actually work (Boss Tweed and Blago come to mind): Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’…Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model from the ground up in NYC.