If you've ever been to a game between Detroit and Chicago teams, you are familiar with the "Detroit sucks" chant.
Guys, we know. Detroit does suck. As a Detroit native, I can tell you that if there were a way to chant "We are very aware of our city's shortcomings and Chicago's superiority, although in sports we are often quite equally matched," we would, but up to this point we haven't figured out a way to make that snappy.
So it was no surprise when Forbes last week named Detroit the most miserable city in the U.S., giving Chicagoans another bit of ammo to use against Detroiters. (Though it should also be noted that Chicago came in fourth.) I have no problem admitting Chicago is better than Detroit in every conceivable way other than music. You win.
Now, can we get a little sympathy? Do you have any idea what it's like being from Detroit? When people say terrible things about where you're from, you can't even pretend they're not true. You can only provide them with more up-to-date violent crime and bankruptcy data. At least in Cleveland they can say, "Uh, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?" We have nothing.
I can't say anything bad about my Detroit upbringing. It probably wasn't too different from yours or anyone else's, other than perhaps an irrational amount of love for Bob Seger. It wasn't my choice to grow up there, which is why I bolted from Detroit to Chicago as soon as I could. Don't get me wrong—I love Detroit. It's a part of me (the miserable part), and it'll always be home no matter where I'm living.
But Detroiters are like third-world refugees trying to escape to a better life (no disrespect to third-world refugees). I always felt looked down upon by Chicagoans. As soon as the inevitable, "Where are you from?" question is asked, we expect the snarky remarks.
Well, it's time for this Detroit/Chicago hostility to end. After all, half of you reading this are from Detroit and the other half are from Hoffman Estates.
Detroiters talk about restoring our city to what it once was, but we secretly want to make it into a version of Chicago. And frankly, that's just not going to happen. We're jealous. We see what you have: skyscrapers with actual people in them, public transit (seriously, we're even jealous of the CTA considering our train is an unmagical version of the Disney World monorail), and pizza with enough cheese to humble Prince Fielder. We want that.
And yet we're not so different. It's not hard to see how Chicago could become Detroit if violence keeps escalating and Chicago's main export (cholesterol?) completely collapses on itself. And we arguably have more in common than Chicago does with New York or L.A.
We should embrace our shared Midwestness. There's a kindness in us you don't find in others around the country, and at the same time a toughness that comes from waiting outside for a bus for 45 minutes because it'll be there in five minutes 30 minutes ago. We say "pop." And we'll always both have Bob Probert.
But above all, we can bond over how much Ohio sucks.
Scott Bolohan is a RedEye special contributor.
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