“Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.”
- Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
Detroit is boundaries, implied and actual.
For anyone who comes to Detroit for the first time, this is a topic that I like to bring up as a way to talk about the city they think they know from the articles they have read. Detroit's infamous "ruin porn," we call it.
I am in the driver’s seat, avoiding Detroit’s acne-ous potholes, and my guest is looking out the window at the beautiful homes of Grosse Pointe, a suburb that shares the city of Detroit’s entire eastern boundary and one of the wealthiest communities in America. In the background, Bob Seger is singing about wind.
“Ok, now pay attention,” I tell my guest. “We are about to cross into the city of Detroit… here comes Alter Road aaaaaaaand–” I drag out the last syllable as my car crosses the intersection of Kercheval Street and Alter Road, “–BAM! Welcome to Detroit.”
The distinction is so stark that intuition demands silence. Finely manicured lawns and decorative road signs transition within the course of a few hundred feet into overgrown vacant lots and decrepit buildings. Several friends have asked me to turn around and do it again, echoing the identical request I made when I was the passenger my first time.
I have heard it called the Berlin Wall of Detroit and, although I have never visited Germany’s version, I imagine it must have been similar… sort of. At least a wall would have offered some physical explanation for why the difference existed. In Detroit, it is an invisible force field of history, racism, and economics.
As we assembled this inaugural issue of Jaunt, we were mindful of these lines in crafting an authentic “first time” look at Detroit. Some of the stories are themselves about firsts, like a man’s first duel in the early 19th century or the supposed first black tea, yet we also wanted the corpus of stories and objects in our issue to tell a story about Detroit and, in doing so, Jaunt too. We include well-known names in Detroit, like Heidelberg and McClure’s, though we approach the stories in radically different ways. With the Heidelberg Project, we go so far as to involve you in the art itself. We pay homage to the past with the first issue of the Detroit Free Press and to the future with Detroit Denim, a young Detroit venture. A significant part of Detroit’s story has been written by those not from its streets and in "Feather Lines," we get to know an eccentric couple who does not live here but has vagabonded through Michigan for decades… even centuries.
The line bifurcating Detroit and its well-off suburbs is real - a road named Alter - but lines visible and imaginary are drawn through Detroit just as they are through all cities. Jaunt is young, which the title of this first issue (technically our beta) alludes to, and Jaunt's birthplace will always be Detroit. But great stories go untold everyday, everywhere. Storytelling is universal and we believe Jaunt has global application.
For now, though, Jaunt is a drive through the streets of our hometown. We hope you enjoy the ride.
Thane Richard, Co-founder/CEO