Posts Tagged apocalypse

Are you happy, Mitt Romney?

Well, it’s finally happened. Even the unlikely tag team of Eminem and Clint Eastwood, equipped with an unlimited supply of Chryslers, couldn’t stop Detroit from going bankrupt.

The fact that the Motor City is filing for Chapter 9 protection isn’t too surprising, but the fact that things were allowed to get this bad is.

Many factors contributed to Detroit’s decline: the globalization of the auto industry, a shrinking tax base, and corrupt city management. The result is a city that doesn’t just look like a post-apocalyptic wasteland, it is one.

Detroit has become a city fit for the Road Warrior. Hundreds of buildings are abandoned, authorities can’t even afford to keep all of the streetlights on, and a major international border crossing is owned by some random guy.

How did people let things get this bad? When the photos of eerily abandoned buildings started showing up online, why was no one motivated to do anything? When reports showed that Detroit citizens were waiting almost an hour for police to respond to 911 calls, why was no one shocked that something like this was happening in the United States of America?

Of course, people have thought about it. There have been so many urban renewal projects proposed for Detroit that Popular Mechanics once collected them into a lengthy cover story. Titled “Detroit 2025” it proposed redeveloping the city around its waterfront and building an epic curved bridge to Canada.

However, like most things featured in Popular Mechanics, none of this is anywhere near happening. That would require motivation and money, two things Detroit, and the rest of the country, is short on.

Instead, Detroit is down to weighing the costs and benefits of more basic things, like it’s employees’ pensions.

Saving a city isn’t easy, but it’s still surreal that the story of Detroit is an American story. Who could imagine a city in this great country being reduced to sacrificing basic services, and the contract it made with its employees, just to put together some cash?

This scenario doesn’t require imagination anymore. Maybe it’s finally time for someone to do something.

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Scavenger nation

Storage Wars Pawn StarsSome people say we’re heading toward the apocalypse, but in one respect we’re already there. No post-apocalyptic tale would be complete without scavengers, crafty survivors who pick through the kipple to find useful and valuable items. Apocalypse or not, those people are already out there, and they’re T.V. stars.

It started with the History Channel’s Pawn Stars. For those of you who’ve been living under a rock (or in a bunker), this isn’t a show about pizza delivery guys. It’s about a pawn shop in Las Vegas that specializes in rare items with some historical value.

If you want to sell your Soviet rocket launch keys, this is the place to go.

Since Pawn Stars, reality television has been all about scavenging. Tru TV launched its own series, Hardcore Pawn, which shows the seedier side of the pawn business. The show is definitely more hardcore than its History Channel counterpart: it’s about a pawn shop “in the heart of Detroit’s Eight Mile” run by a family of loud-mouthed shysters.

It’s not just pawn shops either. There is an entire industry based around bidding on the contents of storage units, and shows like Storage Wars and Auction Hunters depict it in all its glory.

Shows like these are a lot of fun to watch; they feature cool stuff and its easy to relate to people looking for bargains. However, there’s a bit of an unfortunate vibe to it all.

Everyone knows that the economy isn’t good and that the job market is dwindling, which brings me back to the apocalypse. In a post-apocalyptic scenario, the whole economy will consist of buying and selling material goods that were made before the world ended.  How different is that from a show about people who dig through abandoned storage units looking for treasure?

Don’t get me wrong, I love to watch these shows, and others like American Pickers and Oddities. It’s just funny to see scavengers get their moment in the spotlight.

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