At the risk of coming across as a “selfie” pic obsessed guy, I’m delivering what I promised to you yesterday (more pictures of my trip) in my letter entitled, “Say Nice Things About Detroit.”
You know my general rule; I basically refuse to have my picture taken these days unless you and/or Mommy is in it with me. It just seems weird for a 32 year-old dad to be taking pictures of himself and posting them on the Internet…
But a picture of myself is justified when taken with my family.
Unless… I happened to be on a scavenger hunt hosted by OnStar and Buick, where in order to get credit for each event, I needed my picture taken with the OnStar logo to prove I was actually there, then Tweet it to the judges of the competition…
In that case, I guess I look less weird… or maybe it’s just my excuse this time.
So for the scavenger hunt, the dozen or so of us bloggers needed to pair up, and then hop in either a Buick Regal or Lacrosse, and accomplish as many tasks as we safely (and legally) could within the following two hours. Each task was worth an appropriate amount of points, based on difficulty.
It was only natural that the two dad bloggers teamed up. So my buddy was Fred Goodall of the blog, Mocha Dad. We named ourselves, “Team Dad.”
Fred was clever enough to think, “Let’s just do the challenges that are worth the most points first, then worry about the other ones if we have time.”
So we did.
Given that Fred has a smart phone and I don’t, I became the driver and Fred became the navigator and researcher. It helped tremendously that our Buick had OnStar on it, so I just pressed the button each time I had a new destination, and the friendly person on the other line helped me figure out which place I was trying to go, then instantly sent the directions to the built-in GPS.
It was all a blur at the time- and it still is. Actually, all you or I have to really go on are these pictures.
So appparently, Fred and I had to do our impression of the Detroit Tiger statue. And then I blocked in a competitors’ Buick while they were getting their picture made with it.
I ended up at Fisher Theatre where Mamma Mia! was evidently the answers to one of the clues.
How did “Team Dad” know the answer to that trivia question? We happened to see “Team Mom” take their picture with the poster… that’s how!
Then there was our visit to the all new Whole Foods in Detroit, where I first learned the slogan, “Say Nice Things About Detroit.” We picked up some organic food (untainted by Monsanto) then donated it to Gleaners Community Food Bank.
No, we didn’t win the scavenger hunt.
But I know we had a lot of fun driving in our classy ride across Motor City, doing random stuff a dad doesn’t normally get to do.
Most of all, I loved getting to discover the real Detroit (not the version reported by media).
Sure, along the way, I saw the “burned out buildings,” but they were alongside new ones; with growing new businesses.
It sort of reminded me of a baptism by fire- the new life is growing where the old one has faded away.
And perhaps accidently, the folks at GM and Buick used the journey of this scavenger hunt to show me the journey that Detroit is undergoing.
I’m so serious. I proudly stand behind Detroit.
Before this trip, I just didn’t realize what was actually going on- that in reality, Detroit is rebuilding, not crumbling.
Yesterday I changed my Facebook banner to the picture of the “Say Nice Things About Detroit” mural.
Something I am very passionate about is seeing a group of hardworking people overcome hard times.
That’s literally what’s happening right now in Detroit. And since the mainstream media isn’t willing to present the real news story, I am.
P.S. A special thanks to my fellow dad blogger and the other member of “Team Dad,” Fred Goodall, of Mocha Dadfor taking the pictures of our scavenger hunt.
However, I like to stick with my own original interpretation of the phrase…
I feel that the way Detroit has been perceived in media in recent years (I’ve made it clear before I’m not a fan of CNN or Fox News because they’re both so ridiculously one-sided, as they cater to their appropriate uncompromising political party) is unfair to the city.
Now that I’ve visited Detroit my 2nd time, including downtown, even at night, I am so grateful to not have taken the sound bites seriously in mainstream media, when they create headlines about the sky of Detroit falling.
“Instead of sinking when the city of Detroit had just filed for bankruptcy, its housing markets took on a quiet resurgence. In the second quarter of this year it ranked seventh in the report, and this rapid jump to number one speaks volumes about its pace of acceleration.”
This is a perfect example of why I will always reinforce to you the importance of being open-minded and why I will encourage you to always question the mainstream ideas and look for the answers yourself.
Detroit is a really cool city. I actually look forward to my next trip there.
In fact, in my next letter to you, I will be sharing some more pictures of the city, from the scavenger hunt I partipated in with OnStar and Buick.
(That’s how I got this cool new t-shirt from Pure Detroit, a local culture shop there.)
Everyone I met in Detroit, in every part of it I visited, were all very friendly and optimistic.
It was almost if they were unaware of the same regurgitated “news” that outsiders are being fed.
Without any of the citizens of Detroit saying it, I literally felt it in their presence: They believe in the rebirth of Detroit.
I know I do. And by the time you’re old enough to read this letter and really process it, I’m sure the old stereotypes of Detroit will be outdated.
Now that I have visited that great city (with its really nice downtown) and seen for myself its passion to rise again, I too am passionate about not simply refraining from saying negative things about the city, but instead, about saying nice things about Detroit.
(For what it’s worth, I invited Jimmy Fallon to dinner with us (via Twitter) but I later learned he had already flown to Chicago shortly after lunch. Hey, I tried!)
2) As we were sort of going around the room, telling each other how many kids we all had, and by default, comparing, this nugget of wisdom was born:
“People who have less kids than you don’t know what they’re missing… people who have more kids than you are just plain crazy.”
As I’ve shared that quote with my Facebook friends and Twitter followers, they seemed to easily agree.
Of course, I was one of the parents in that Twitter chat who only has one child, with no definite plans of having another. So for me to agree with that statement, which I do, is to say that parents with even just two kids are crazier than I am!
And by crazy, I actually might mean… more disciplined and patient, exponentially as compared to me.
Or, maybe they really are just crazy… who knows?
But as for me, I can’t imagine taking two of my own kids to the zoo. I look at these “photo op fails” from our last trip to The Louisville Zoo and think how that was big enough of a challenge for me.
I loved it, don’t get me wrong, but, more than one kid- well, I guess I just don’t know what I’m missing.
P.S. For more on “photo op fails”… click on this other letter I wrote to you back in the summer:
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it’s a fact that dads are now more involved in their kids’ lives than any past generation we know of before us. Therefore, this change in culture effects buying trends and consumer demands. So it’s no surprise that the mini-van is being fazed out, as the “crossover SUV” is taking its place. Accordingly, dads are showing a greater presence in the carpooling lane.
That means something to automakers like General Motors; so much so, that a couple of weeks ago they flew me up to their Detroit headquarters to show me, along with several other “daddy bloggers,” how their Traverse is designed- with dads in mind.
By the end of our 22 hour visit, I thought to myself: “Wow, we are being treated as a valuable demographic here, not a classic stereotype…”.
Zach Rosenberg, co-creator of 8BitDad, said it in a way that made me jealous I didn’t think of it first:
“As the dads, we’re expected to be meat-heads, muscle car enthusiasts, and wallets.”
He’s right. Even at best, typically today when dads are portrayed in commercials for household products (advertisements which are typically geared towards women), men are shown making messes, getting lost, and ultimately being put into place by their thin, intelligent wife who saves them from their buffoonery.
Though it was one of my favorite sitcoms growing up, Tim Allen’s Home Improvement capitalized on this concept. I feel like there remains a subconscious backlash from sitcoms like that which says all men care about are sports, light beer, sex, and cars with big motors.
While I recognize that as a valid stereotype in American history, I am overly aware that I represent a completely different demographic of men.
Obviously, this new and relevant demographic holds a lot of weight, because I later found out that we daddy bloggers (who I assume most easilty represent the “active dad” group) were the only targeted group that GM invited to Detroit to show the designing of the Traverse to.
I’m not rich, famous or hugely influential; but General Motors made me personally feel important, desired, and valuable. Evidently, I serve as a relevant symbol of the modern American dad, who may or not even make as much money as his wife and who has learned to adopt certain roles as a parent that would have previously gone to his wife.
In my next post, I’m going to take you behind the doors of General Motors; showing you some of the cool ways they design and test out the Traverse.
But not because they pressured me in any way; I didn’t at all feel like I was being coerced into buying a time share in Florida or forcefully invited to join a pyramid scheme selling trendy diet pills.
Instead, they were real people who treated me like a real person. They even specifically gave me their blessing to include anything negative in my upcoming blog posts, but not to feel like I had to write about the visit at all.
Wow; an invitation to be vulnerably honest. How weird.
I represent the demographic of American dads who actually contribute the bettering of the American family and who actually has buying power when it comes to the family crossover SUV; not the idiot you see on TV who forgets his wife’s birthday.
GM understands that about us dads. That’s pretty cool; to be part a relevant demographic, not a sexist stereotype.
I’ve been on so many plane rides in my life that now, anytime a pilot warns “we may experience some turbulence,” I remain unfazed; like in the opening scene of Garden State where Zach Braff’s character blankly stares ahead while everyone else panics.
However, two weeks ago on a flight from Nashville to Detroit to tour the General Motors headquarters, for the first time in my life I actually thought, “What if I die in this plane?” It’s not so much that the pilot faced some serious threat as he maneuvered the aircraft.
More likely, it was the fact that A) the last time I was on a plane was with my wife and son and B) I was overly aware of how if something bad did happen to me, I wouldn’t be able to share my life with them anymore. Therefore, the bumpiness of that hour-long flight had actually spooked me.
Even if it’s a slight cliche to say it (which it is), all my worries had disappeared while up in the air that day. I was able to just focus on what really mattered; not the thought of unpacked boxes in our townhouse, along with a living room ceiling that (at that time) still needed to be repaired.
As I made my way out of the baggage claim area, I looked up at saw a peculiar, yet appropriately serene sign that read: “Religious Reflections Room.” How random. I had to check it out.
The only way to get there was by taking the employee elevator up to the 3rd floor; keeping my GM chauffeur surely waiting at the terminal. I finally made it to the Religious Reflections Room. I slowly opened the door and saw a man bowing and praying over a compass painted on the floor pointing towards Mecca. Chairs lined the room in a horseshoe shape along the walls.
I figured if A) the Detroit airport saw the value in designing a Religious Reflections Room and B) I went through the trouble of finding it, that I should use it for its intended purpose.
So I sat down in the chair closest to the door and reflected religiously (for about 43 seconds) about how I didn’t die on the plane. Maybe it was a tad on the melodramatic side for me to keep thinking about being taken away from my wife and son, but I thanked God for my safe arrival anyway.
It was a pretty weird situation to have flown to a different region of the country without my family; like riding on an empty plane- or at least with dozens of cardboard cutouts instead of real people. Of course, it was just as bizarre to check into my hotel room in downtown Detroit without my wife and son; to try to legitimately fill the space of a king sized bed on my own, sprawling out like a kid making a snow angel.
How odd, to only be accountable to myself. Maybe above all, it simply felt unnatural.
I am no longer an island; I have a helper and a peripheral. Sure, it was nice to have a break from reality for 36 hours; but at least in my head, I sort of felt it was a lot like playing a dull lead character of a story where there is no plot. Sort of like The Hills.