tv Book TV CSPAN November 2, 2013 8:00am-8:46am EDT
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of you today telling you why we defended these programs than having given them up and have our nation or our allies be attacked and people killed. >> this weekend, intelligence officials defended the nsa surveillance program. this morning at 10 eastern. live sunday on c-span2 your calls and comments for kitty kelley, best selling author of unauthorized biographies. on c-span trees and american history to become each weekend in november remembering john f. kennedy. sundays at 3 p.m. eastern. >> and now from the 18th annual texas book festival in austin, texas, a discussion with
author mark binelli. his book "detroit city is the place to be," and jeffrey stuart kerr, author of "seat of empire the embattled birth of austin, texas." this is about 45 minutes. >> i think the title of this panel is rebuilding or evolution informally in my mind. it's detroit and austin at the beginning and end of all things. [laughter] that appeals more to my dramatic since. so jeff kerr is the author of three books about texas history and in particular austin, texas, history. the first was "austin, texas - then and now." the next was "the republic of austin," in the most recent one and the reason we're here this morning is "seat of empire: the embattled birth of austin, texas" which is a history of the founding of the austin and the battle in the republic of texas offer what its capital would be.
jeff also writes a review history column for the austin post and he is a practicing pediatric neurologist at the same time. so if we have any emergencies -- [laughter] he is the author that will take care of them. mark binelli is the author of the novel "sacco and vanzetti must die!." is a contributing editor to rolling stone and men's health. "men's journal," sorry, mark. not health. so mark was born and raised in the detroit area. he went to university of michigan as an undergrad and got his degree from columbia university where we were actually last night's. so this is a bit of a reunion force. his new book is "detroit city is the place to be" which is the fruit of three years mark spent living in detroit after you been in your but he went back to detroit and one to can find out what kind of place it had become and what it had details that may be who we all are or what we all are as a nation right now. mark binelli the new york. he told me on friday if he
hadn't had a dispute with this detroit landlord he would still be part-time or half-time in detroit. i'm sorry that happened. i'm sure you can find some good housing stock in detroit if you're really motivated. first, mark is going to read a passage of his book in the set it up. >> great. thanks, everyone, for coming. i wanted to meet a very short section. it's pretty self-explanatory. it's a description of a neighborhood near where i was living in detroit. you guys probably have seen photos from detroit and hard about how depopulated the city is. it went from 2 million to about 700,000, so there's some neighborhoods that are really no longer neighborhoods, or they are barely neighbors. just a couple houses on every block. i'm going to read you a little bit about one of those
neighborhoods. people like to compare the amount of vacant land in detroit to the equivalent sized spaces. all of this could fit into detroit's 40 square miles of nothing or to manhattan's or slightly shaped boston. such formulations though inevitably lead one to imagine a contiguous landmass separable as a rotten limb, or possibly something to be cordoned off and beautified like central park which, of course, was not the case. they -- vacant parcels were spread throughout the city. when enough of those parcels happen to cluster together you had urban prairies, entire neighborhoods nearly wiped from the map. the inevitable result of a place built for 2 million surfacing less than half that number. aand exemplary swath of prairie had crept within walking distance of my street. some call the neighborhood i'm talking about south pole town but i start thinking about it as out for shane which runs straight up from detroit river. on a two-month stretch, once a
thriving commercial strip, you can count the viable operating businesses on two hands. several of the now unrecognizable storefronts having burned and partially collapsed years earlier looks like funeral pyres left untouched as a monument to the debt. on the residential street entire blocks have gone down. the remaining houses ranged schizophrenically from obvious trucks bought a beautifully kept up rate ranges, from old wooden bungalows to foreclosed properties scrapped to the joyce like copper thieves. once i went to such lowly territory i took bike rides. on summer afternoons the insect noise could be deafening. those people sitting out on their porches would stare. i soon learned country rules apply care. if you smiled and gave a little wave, you generally would get the same back. saving of course the doughboys
whose heart is dedication to radiating and credibility and demand is convinced me to drop the smiling part. mostly though the menace was due to the absence of people and was far more relevant urban. the scrappers were everywhere. once in the morning in broad daylight on a desolate stretch of road i wrote assegai polling -- a guy twice the links of crashing into a white minivan. a few blocks later a couple of entrepreneurs came driving in the opposite direction in a pickup truck, its bed overflowing with twisted pieces medal including what looked to be a number of shelving units. in another field, an artist from heidelberg street had arranged a bunch of discarded shoes and shape of a river. shirley after he laid out his installation i noticed kids from the neighborhood going to the
middle of it like anglers. when asked what was up, they said free shoes. a little girl wanting it was hard to find your size or even a matching pair. a few blocks away past the church of the living god number 30 7a white people began barking furiously at me from the art of the home that i thought abandoned it when i got closer i noticed a young man staring coldly at me from one of the front windows. i bicycle down a block with a single house left standing almost dead center of one side of the street. the whole on the other side had turned hero, force did by its unnoted grass. despite its isolation the two-story wood frame house had been neatly maintained with a handsome gray paint job and a lush garden of rose bushes and fruit trees surrounded by a picket fence. a round faced man and a bright red t-shirt and bermuda shorts sat on the top steps of the porch. i stopped and said hello. his name was marty. when i got closer i noticed he had a cane next to him.
the writing on his flip-flops proclaim him big slugger number one bad. marty used to work in the auto industry and also at a sausage plant near eastern market that closed in 1998. i had made frequent deliveries to the store enough about as a teenager while working for my father who sold them sausage casings. marty and i bonded over this odd coincidence but we figure we probably never met back then. i did things with pigs, live pixie tobin, wiping his eyes theatrically to signify you really don't want to know. he told me anyway while he never butchered he had the unpleasant job of herding the soon-to-be slaughtered pigs into the upper toward using a will upper toward using a will. he got in the habit of naming his favorite pigs and keeping them in the back with them as long as possible, although eventually they'll have to go. i asked him if he would be willing to move if the neighborhood got right size but he shook his head. this is our house or generations.
we pay our taxes. that's not happening. someone opened the gate. who's back there, marty asked. it turned out to be easy and. she didn't the flowers and this afternoon was pulling a red wagon with gardening supplies. i do it as much as i can she said. marty said the house had been in a summit for 50 years. 64 years. you've got to analyze this, marty said. these are some rough times we're living in. most of our jobs went overseas. you lived on the block's entire life watching the neighbor disappear around him. the barbershops, bars, ice cream parlors all gone. this neighborhood used to be straight, he said. he squinted at the thicket of trees across the street. you get used to it. it's quiet. i like the serenity of my environment. to me, all this is a big plasma screen. you just have to be strong and keep god with you.
what does the bible say? you are in this world but not -- way. i said i thought it was all this world but not in it. he nodded, right, right. later i realized i screwed up the quote. of course, we are all in it. [applause] >> and just to maybe frame it before just read this passage i think one of the things we want to talk about is kind of the idea of the frontier, so for mark they say front to the detroit is kind of reverted to and for jeff's book it's the real deal. it's the frontier in its beginning. so without jeff. >> austin is what is because of one man. his future probably in the book industry i'm going to read is omar first contact of the area. it's the story of about 10 years
ago actually launch my interest in writing about local history. seat of empire tells the sort of austin's creation against the backdrop of early texas politics and the extraordinary struggle between two texas giants, sam houston and mirabeau lamarr. detail of entertaining yet important for a different outcome would've left us with a much modern state of texas. the city of austin was born in 1839, almost died in early 1840s, and spring back to life thereafter. but for a few twists and turns of history, my current hometown would likely not exist, the southern rockies would be texas mountains and we remember transport rather than send used as the political titan of his age. but it does and they aren't and we don't. the explanation begins with a buffalo hunt. as any good political campaigner must, mirabeau lamarr quickly joined in local custom upon his arrival in waterloo. jacob harrell and other frontiersmen this meant hunting. one morning as they ate
breakfast them one of the sons burst into the room with the exciting is that the prairie was full of buffalo. quickly a stride of their mounts the men rode a short distance to a ravine which intersected the colorado river. to the delight they encountered great numbers of the mammoth beast and wasted no time in shooting as many as they could. with the right weapon a buffalo is easy to give. because of their poor vision ever live by bread on its sense of smell to detect danger. if a hunter stays upwind and possesses our rightful powerful enough to send a ball for the animals they tied it is possible to pick off large numbers one by one without the surrounding members of the herd sensing danger. when he hunted for food or heights, they prefer to this method. for sport the hunter showed -- chose them are throwing technique. armed with one number single shot pistols, he charged on horseback through the herd of blazing away at the fleeing peace.
at the bottom of the regain, bisecting the prairie near waterloo, mirabeau lamarr chased and shot with his holster pistol the largest buffalo one of his companions had ever seen. later, one of the hunters blew a bugle to gather been atop a hill at the head of the ravine. from the summit stretched a view which would give delight to every painter and lover of extended landscape. a german traveler i described the scene in as idyllic while in 1840 immigrant called it a prairie land. a year after lamarr visit, thomas bell wrote on his brother, i must consider this the most beautiful country i ever saw yet what i've seen. the most beautiful lands i've ever be held or ever expected. james jones in 1839 letter to lamarr expressed equal enthusiasm. we are marching through a beautiful country. it is rarely if at the witness i imagine in any other part of the american continent.
mirabeau lamarr, politician, farmer, adventure and military hero was also a poet. one imagine him regarding the stunning beauty before and as he looked down the hill towards the colorado river. perhaps he composed in diverse as he gazed upon the woodlands and prairies straddling the waterway. small hills in the foreground were crowns of object, and home and live oak trees. thickets of dogwood, hackberry, elm and live oak blended the river bottom. framing his the word to beautiful streams of clearwater. in the short span of three years, mirabeau lamarr have escaped personal despair, obscurity and political fumigation to obtain a position of prestige and power. are in disaster he was in command and embryonic nation destined for greatness. he had just finished a thrilling buffalo hunt in which a distinguished himself by bringing down an enormous animal, the largest at least one companion had ever seen. he now admired with his poetic i
natural beauty which have consistently stunned let's imagine the men than himself. face with his awe-inspiring vista, vice president mirabeau lamar announced that they an ambitious dream to fellow hunters jacob harold, was every, james rice, for texas rangers and maybe a slave jacob when he tried from hilltop, this should be the seed of future empires. [applause] >> and just declared jeff, this is where we are right now right next to the subway speed was this exact spot. right by the starbucks. [laughter] >> so maybe he was right i guess. >> could have been spent before we get into bigger questions of empire in history and geography, i just wanted to ask both of you kind of a more personal
question, which is am i right in assuming that these books were kind of personally meaningful to you? you have a personal relationship to these landscapes? mark, you growth outside detroit, went off to new york. you were living the high life as a writer in new york. and then you went back to live for three years but and jeff, you are not from austin? >> grew up in houston spent but this is sort of your adopted home town and give written three books about austin. can you talk about, mark first and then jeff, about what was personal about these projects and these places to? >> detroit, as many of you probably know, is a very segregated city. as i said earlier, it's only about 700,000 people now. the entire metro area including the suburbs is two to 3 million people depending on where you
cut it off. so growing up in suburban detroit by spending time in the city as a kid, my parents were italian immigrants. my father was a knife sharpener. he had a shopping city. i was in the city all the time. it always held a very special place in my heart, and seeing the way detroit has been portrayed over the years in films and media, i always thought i would write about the city in some way. i thought maybe it would take the form of a novel. then around 2009, beginning 2009 actually win the world economy seemed to be about to collapse in detroit in particular, the auto companies were on the verge of bankruptcy, i went back for rolling stone where i'm a features writer and wrote an article just about the outer industry. and while i was back there i saw a journalist coming from not only all over the country but
all of the world really looking at detroit as sort of a metaphor for everything that had gone wrong, and a lot of them are coming into town for a day or two in writing what i felt were sort of superficial portraits of the city. so yeah, for me as a native, i started thinking about how maybe i could bring more nuance hopefully to the story, really spend some time there. not only write about the sort of grimaced and most obvious dark sides of what goes wrong in a postindustrial city, but also bring up things like the weirdness of the place. it's a very strange and darkly, funny place. i wanted to really, most of all, bring up the stories of the people who still live there. a lot of the photos that you see a detroit online are shots of old factories that have been abandoned for 40 or 50 years, or these burned-out homes. university in people in any of these photos i really wanted to hang around and talk to people
who live there and get their stories. that was michael. >> just before go to jeff i'm curious, did you have old friends who are still there that young out with? are your parents still there? were the elements that you felt like into your old life at all or was it is new detroit that you are interested in? >> it was pretty new for me. my parents and my brother are still living in the suburbs so that was just great for me personally. but i moved into the city proper. the one funny thing is i ended up on this blog in the city that was a bunch of sort of warehouse buildings that had been converted into lofts was the very beginning of a time zone justification in the downtown core. that not really. when i first arrived, the first neighbor i met, one of the first things he tony was about how he would carry his gun with him when he walked his dog and i should be careful in the neighborhood. it's not exactly, wasn't exactly
-- when i got there i remembered making deliveries for my father to one of the shops on that street when i was a kid. so there were little connections like that what happened throughout my reporting. reporting. i would meet somebody and you somebody who knew somebody i knew, things like that. jeff, why do you love austin so much and find it i guess so much more interesting than houston? [laughter] >> yet, my mother still complains i write too much negative things about houston but i do love and austin. i've lived to about 12 years before i really started exploring the city staff. i've always loved history. i heard this story about the buffalo hunt and came to this very intersection and was trying to imagine you. one thing led to another and i started taking pictures of historic sites. it was my son who actually triggered my thinking about the book. he tony half in jest i think that i should write a book.
and i think he was really trying to get me to shut up at the dinner table one night. but i got to thinking about the stuff i had discovered and learned, and these were about sites that i was driving by on a regular basis that i had previously know nothing about. it seemed to me important of the people living in austin, and perhaps in texas, because this is a city that most texans eventually visit should know those stories. so my first book was really just an attempt to spread the stories. that maybe realize what a rich history there really is here over the past 108 years. in writing these books, i think it's important in order to understand where we are and where we might want to go, where we've been and who the people were that shaped the events that we experience every day now. >> it was interesting, jeff and i were talking just before this and i commented on, i'm from massachusetts and i grew up in
massachusetts we're drenched or hunched over with history, at least by american standards but then when i moved to austin itself and on history and jeff, what was your response to that coming from houston's? >> you came from -- from houston, yeah, in houston it seemed to me growing up there really wasn't any history there. houston always seemed to me to be a city about making money. if there's a historic site, somebody thinks they can make money on, they will tear it down. [laughter] whereas if they got a little bit different here in austin and things do change, but there's just a very rich history here. i'm amazed and going around in telling the stories how little of it to details of it and the importance of it on our life now that people have been here for a long time really know. >> i wrote denizens from mark's
book which applies to both of these books. he said the frontier has always proved attractive to those with a facility for conjuring utopian images. i wanted to ask both of you kind of what the frontier means in the context of the cities that you're writing about. and i guess in terms of both what's appealing about the frontier and also maybe what's scary about it. so mark, detroit has frontier, postmodern frontier, or something. >> sure. historically, detroit is a very old city but it was founded in 1701 as a french trading post basically. it was really for the first 100 years or so, even longer really, it was just the frontier, it was the middle of nowhere, kind of a scary place to go. the sentence that dan just read means sort of commenting on what detroit, you know, one of the things detroit has become today in the sort of national psyche,
this idea that everybody is gone, it's a city that's been left behind by not only business and capital, but humanity. even though there are 700,000 people left there, which is something people tend to forget. is treated by some people as if it is a new frontier. it's a relatively lawless place. there's lots of cheap land. there are lots of abandoned buildings, about 70,000. the year i moved back there was a big news story about artists buying houses in detroit are like, one sold for $100. it wasn't a great house but it was a house with four walls and a roof. so there was this new narrative developing. at the same time as a native of detroit being the worst place in the world, the metaphor for everything that had gone wrong, it was also this idea of some
sort of possible hope of the rebirth. especially making the pitch to young people, the artist, but he means trying to sort of make detroit hip in a way. the new brooklyn, the new berlin, fill in the blank of the cool city. so i found that an interesting dynamic to explore because of course there are aspects of the frontier that modern detroit doesn't share but, of course, there are plenty of people who never left and they have to live their lives there everyday and they are not really part of this narrative, often. so i thought they're being ignored with very interesting facts and also as a band, you alluded to the downsize of the frontier of the traditional sort of frontier that, you know, you will probably talk about when you're talking about austin, the dangers of the frontier are still very much the same in
detroit in a way as well. as one of the highest murder rates in the country. i mean, a direct connection to the frontier in my book, funny enough, i was reading a section of a history book about where the french settlers originally landed on the detroit river at one point. so i walked down to the stretch of the river and devastating pumice of, kind of thinking about where they had shown up. and a guy came up to me and started talking to me, and then lifted his sweater to show that he was holding -- he had a machete and a giant ax kind of tucked into his belt. and he said, he said it's okay, i can carry this, i'm a licensed carpenter, these are my tools. [laughter] and i was right -- i was like, right. frontier, still happening.
>> jeff, i mean, there's a lot of different ways you can talk about it but i was struck in reading your book, talk about what austin was like and then maybe some of those dangers but also the excitement of living in austin circa 1840. >> it was certainly a different world. i read in a book years ago the printers described as being a wide section of ground that's the no man's land between what was here before us, meaning the native american cultures, and then what was coming, the anglo cultures. what we viewed as wilderness of course for hundreds of thousands of years have been viewed as home by a lot of people. but when mirabeau lamar and angles for skinner what they saw was a wilderness that they couldn't live in unless they implemented a major transformation of the landscape. that took several generations, but initially that meant building billions that were used to live in, laying out streets,
building roads that we could travel on safely and in creating farms so we would have a. and what's interesting in reading a lot of the letters and diaries of these people from that era, the angles, is that they recognized what a beautiful, pristine wilderness, as they put it, this was while at the same time they wrote about the inevitable passing of the wilderness, that they would have to essentially destroy what they were coming on so they could make it a hospitable place for them to live in. it was a very dangerous place for a number of years. that was one of the big reasons in houston opposed putting the seat of government that it was because of the fear of it in the attack and attack from mexico. there were numerous incursions by the indians, mostly the comanche right into the heart of austin. there were indian parleys right about where we are sitting right now between comanche that were camping out for the capital is now and there were people scalped within a stone's throw of where we are sitting right
now. so it was a dangerous place. it was a place where people didn't leave the house at night. and where if you did leave, he carried a loaded gun with you. >> there's one more question i want to ask jeff before we take question, but if people have questioned want to start lining up at the microphone right here in two or three minutes, we would do that. jeff, i wanted you to very quickly tell the story of the archives war and the statue you said is about two blocks from here of angelina eberly, those of you who are from austin the. is a story i did know until i read the book of a kind of mini civil war within texas while all of these other things were swarming around. >> mexico was to type up at war with texas in 1841 personal. they sent to separate armies up to occupy san antonio briefly. sam houston who is president of the time point to that as a
reason to tempered poll government out of austin. when he gets of the population shrank from about 1000 to about 200 people. the people of austin didn't want their city to die so they formed an archives committee that started searching backings leaving town to hold onto the land records and keep them from leaving town and that was their last hold on government. houston sent someone over here to collect the records and they got chased away, and then he sent another group that was a little craftier. somebody rang the indian alarm bell to clear all the fighting men out of town and then they came in and write up here on the east side where the land office was they started loading up the records. the few people left in town at the hotel at six and congress saw what was going on. a very tough frontier woman named angelina eberly started shaming the men that were congregated down into some sort of action. and she pointed across the street at a shed and said what's the canon in that shed for?
they wielded this can out in the middle of congress while she ran into bullets and came out with a let torch. she took a look at the gannett, didn't like it was the way is aimed and ticket to the right. thomas william ward was in the land office heard someone shout blow the old house to peace. angelina fired is the canon off. long story short, the austin ice came back. they realize what was going on. i caught up with her that i'd taken the records of in round rock. of course, there was no ground rock in those days and forced them to come back. it's a funny story but if it hadn't played out the day in government had not come back, we could be sitting in the middle of a prairie right now. >> or i guess would all be sitting -- the texas book festival would be in houston. houston. [laughter] >> so yes, first question. >> i'm kind of relating to both stories because i was born and raised in the '50s in a small town in central ohio, and i kind
of relate it to george packer's presentation yesterday on where we went wrong. and i've now lived in texas or 15 years, so i can live in this contrast that i'm listening to, okay? i would like to address my question to you, mark. it's kind of two-pronged. one, your title of your book is detroit city, a good place to be, or you know, and i wanted to know why you felt that way? because i've my memories and what i do to go back to the '50s, even though my hometown is very depressed like youngstown, ohio, and some of those. i understand detroit is on a grander scale. so i want to know about the title of your book. and the next question was what do you think, how long would it take to revitalize detroit and the stand in ohio that are very
similar? what is it going to take to take us out of what you just described? >> thanks for the question. that's a great question. there's lots of little detroit as you know throughout the rust belt, places like youngstown, gary, indiana, and parts of cleveland. the title of my book is heartfelt but also somewhat ironic. you know, is a line from a song of the great detroit poet, ted nugent. [laughter] but it refers in the way to that moment i was describing at the very beginning of the top when i first arrived and all eyes were on detroit. detroit and judah toward project whatever you wanted on to detroit, right? so if people wanted to imagine it as this enclave for august, that's what detroit became. urban planners and urban theory types are also divided on how you could reinvent this city
that was sort of like the unsolvable math problem of difficult cities for their field, were all coming to detroit to figure this out. urban farmers. so that's most of what i meant by the title. as far as a timetable for fixing detroit, it's funny, even over the course of the four years that i was there since i started working the book, i've seen some amazing transformation, particularly into downtown and midtown corporate a lot of money has been poured into. i think there are certain advantages, frankly, we think the worst with having the reputation as being the worst, craziest, most unfixable city, a lot of smart people, a lot of ambitious people decide they want to take on that challenge. so there are lots of exciting things happening there today problem is of course most of the city continues to languish. most of the city, the downtown core i'm describing is a tiny, unit of its whatever virtue in
the book is the green zone. the rest of the city still has a lot of the same entrenched problems, and with the bankruptcy detroit is going through and the absence of any federal aid, state aid, i'm not, that part makes me much more hesitant. >> good morning. i'm from flint, michigan, just north of detroit, and also a wolverine, mark. so go blue. to question. i moved to austin three years ago and the two places couldn't be more different. one politically and maybe you can address what the different political climate, a red state versus blue state, what difference that is made on the health of the two cities. but then suddenly one of the things we have in michigan that's a little more scarce here in texas is water. and is global continue pashtun global warming continues, mike that shift the balance and maybe a less healthy central texas? >> it's funny you mention water.
if you're into tour for a while you start getting people talking about ways that detroit will inevitably come back. one of the things i heard from a few different people was they cite the eventual global water shortage and cataclysmic crisis as a positive for detroit because we are on the great lakes. [laughter] that seems like a sad way for us to make a comeback. more safely, you're right, the water is a real asset. detroit is also of course a big international border crossing with canada. they are talking to trying to capitalize more on that. as far as great state blue state, michigan generally votes -- red state-blue state, the last presidential level that gone with obama but the governor is a republican, rick snyder, and he's the one who appointed this guy kevin or it was what's known as an emergency measure and is basically running the
city. you sort of powers over the city's budget and finances and he made the decision to put the city in bankruptcy. and so you can you see some of those you know, i guess divides over the best way to fix these things playing out in detroit. the governor when he took office made the decision to slash corporate tax rates throughout the state. you know, to lure business back to the state. he did not choose to increase aid to the largest and most troubled city. instead chose to appoint this emergency manager and move towards managed the bankruptcy. so yeah, you know, it's not as, i guess, maybe in some with texas and detroit, our michigan rather aren't as different as they seem they would be. >> jeff, i have a quick question on that front. because you and i were talking before about how even the
contrast, thinking about a place being in sort of disrepair and then maybe the tide shifting. we are talking of the contrast between austin now, kind of city of the future, maybe the detroit of 2013 or what detroit was in its glory days, but even the contrast in the '70s when it was not someone you would look to for sort of -- >> right. what i read about austin in the '70s, i wasn't here back in much the downtown area in particular and east sixth historic area was pretty run down. it was because it was run down that it attracted some energetic people without a whole lot of money to come in and start up these bars and music venues that eventually gained the notice of a lot of people, and you know, and then that kept things holding on i guess until the city took an active interest in revitalizing the downtown. so far, as in the past 10 years i've seen a huge change down
your. it's a different place than it was when i moved here in 1991 come and even a different place when i started writing books 10 years ago. >> it's kind of an odd endeavor in the way that you are embarked on, jeff, because you're writing the early history of a place at the moment everybody cares about because of kind of what it says about the future and what's happening right now, right? you can't kind of walk 10 feet without "the new york times" writing about how hip and cool austin is. >> it has come to be the place to be in texas. when my wife and i were looking to moving back to texas in 1991, this is where we wanted to come. that reputation i think has only grown over the years. it's attracting a lot of young folks. there's economic opportunity which is key but it's also just a fun, vibrant city to live in.
>> next question spend on another son of the motor city as well, and from european immigrant parents, so i know what you're talking about. you haven't touched on my part of detroit. i grew up in greenfield, puritan area. went to the lehigh. i'm curious, what's that like no? >> yeah, again, you're talking about a lot of the neighborhoods in detroit are sort of unrecognizable probably. i don't know when you were last back there. >> fifteen years. >> yeah, so i mean my father for instance, when he first moved to detroit from italy in i guess the early '60s, he live lived in this neighborhood that was very german and italian, around seven-mile -- one of the things i did when i moved back was to drive back to the old neighborhood within. the house he lived in was gone.
the neighborhood was completely unrecognizable. again, going back to what i said earlier, that's part of the problem. you can look at "the new york times" and read about these amazing developments that are happening in the downtown area. a lot of the skyscrapers that were completely abandoned when i moved back in 2009 have been picked up for a steal by developers like dan gilbert of quicken loans, and they're moving people downtown. is really exciting. but you go to neighborhoods like a neighborhood where you growth or where my father grew up and its communist, as bad or worse than ever in a lot of these places. >> market, you mentioned earlier that you're thinking about writing a novel about detroit. i was wondering what sort of pushed you to go the nonfiction route, what the nonfiction could convey that maybe a fictionalized detroit wouldn't be able to? >> i think it was one of those instances where the cliché, you
can't make this stuff up was true. i was back there as i said reporting the story for rolling stone, and i met a guy who had a blog who, one of the things he would do is sneak into abandoned buildings and take pictures of the ruins, which is, you know, hobby for some people down there. he took me into this downtown skyscraper. it was probably 15 or 20 stories. it was called the metropolitan building. it had been the center where all the jewelers offices were and shops were. it was completely abandoned. we climbed to the roof and we were staring out at this sort of crazy wintry landscape of abandoned skyscrapers. and i thought, and as i said, i sought reporters writing the same stories over and over, and i just knew that there was so
much more to the reality of detroit bat, you know, and that would be sort of a rich sort of bottomless wealth of stories for me. and it was good to the point i eventually had to leave when it came time to write the book because everyday i would open the newspaper and it would be some new insane thing i want to write about so i had to cut myself off eventually cold turkey to write this thing. >> hi, mark. another ex-michigander here mac we all came together for this. >> do you guys have a club in austin? [laughter] spink saw a bunch of them yesterday. there's a big interest i think a lot, for a lot of people to be able to help detroit's regrowth in any way they can. but there's always a challenge and your
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