I find Mitch Albom’s books damn near unreadable, but his piece on Detroit almost brought tears to my eyes. It’s angry, self-pitying, and really, really compelling. Read the whole thing – it doesn’t require any special knowledge of sports to appreciate.
It’s also easy to identify with his fierce regional pride. When he writes something like this:
We hear Congress tongue-lash our auto executives for not matching the cheaper wages of foreign car companies. We hear South Carolina senator Jim DeMint tell NPR that “the barnacles of unionism” must be destroyed at GM, Ford and Chrysler. Barnacles? Barnacles are parasites without a conscience. Sounds more like politicians to us.
I want to stand up and shout “Yes – to hell with those redneck, inbred, NASCAR-loving Southerners!” It’s the same impulse that makes native DCers proudly sing along to Mambo Sauce’s gloriously inane “Welcome to DC” (sample lyric: “Even the mayor had a run in with crack, But we all kept it real and we voted him back”), despite the fact that Marion Barry’s antics could give Detroit’s Kwame Kilpatrick a run for his money.
As a kid, I loved listening to my grandmother describe the family’s history in Virginia. It was also pretty amazing to come back to the same house on the same street in the same neighborhood after every overseas tour. And if you read Matt Labash’s similarly excellent article on Detroit, it becomes clear that some measure of regional pride is pretty vital to the health of any community. I shudder to think what Detroit would be like without its inhabitants’ shared veneration for the woeful Lions, Red Wings, and “punchki donuts the week before Lent.”