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Finding the Bad Guy

A few days ago, I caught a television show called, “Apocalypse Man,” on the History Channel. Hosted by armed-forces vet and martial-artist Rudy Reyes, the show attempted to teach viewers how to survive a Doom's Day situation – how to find food, water and shelter without getting eaten by aliens or so lonely you start talking to a volleyball.

The background was truly desperate: Bombed out, decaying buildings, ransacked houses, cracked cement streets with trees shooting out of them. It looked like a true Apocalypse happened there.

The show, as you may have guessed by now, was filmed in Metro Detroit.

Every worthwhile story, I frequently tell my young son, has a good guy and a bad guy.

Later, I wondered…who is the bad guy in Detroit's story?

Some may say the mayor, citing Coleman Young or Kwame Kilpatrick as examples. Their seemingly self-centered administrations brought the city endless grief – and we'll be paying for their hubris for generations to come.

There are many who would name the City Council, the Board of Education, those in the boardrooms across the region who decided to leave the city and never look back at the chaos they caused.

Others say the guilt does not belong to a single person or group. Rather, it is the city's long-term issues. Racism. Isolationism. Disregard for human dignity.

As I have said before, Assignment Detroit has me thinking much more about Detroit than I ever have. And there are so many, many bad guys. But can you blame a single individual for what happened to this city over the past half century? Probably not. It would make for a better story to tell my kid, I suppose, if you could.

One thing I believe the Blog should do is give some history or background on Detroit to those who wade through it on a regular basis. According to the kind folks at Time Inc., about 60 percent of the Blog's readership is from outside of the state. Some of these generous souls may be former residents, curious to see what's new in the city as well as take a few walks down memory lane.

To be fair, then, let's say half of the readers are not from Detroit, Southeast Michigan or anywhere else in the state. How do you explain Detroit's long, drawn-out downfall to these people? There is no blog post, no magazine article, no clever YouTube video that can fully answer the question. Heck, even I'd like to figure out what evil created this mess.

There is no Bad Guy...What do you think?

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