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What We Talk About When We Talk About Detroit

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Americans love to dump on Detroit. There’s really no use putting it eloquently. For decades, this once prosperous city – economically choked by job outsourcing, political corruption, racial tensions, and suburban migration – has been the equivalent of America’s whipping boy. In my hometown of Boston, when the subway is running late, you’ll often hear someone say, “Well, it could be worse: it’s not Detroit.” People will even ding Detroit in conversations that have nothing to do with urban infrastructure. When Girls showrunner, New Yorker contributor, and alleged “voice” of the Millennial generation Lena Dunham was interviewed by Howard Stern this past January, she (now infamously) quipped, “I’m not super thin, but I’m thin for, like, Detroit!”

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