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Johnny Knoxville Uncovers Detroit’s Beautiful Ugly Side

March 23rd, 2011

Knoxville takes us inside some beautiful ugly parts of Detroit such as Eastown Theater.

Johnny Knoxville may be a jackassexternal link but today he shows us that even ugly can be beautiful. In what is actually a 30 minute advertisement for Palladium Bootsexternal link, Knoxville turns urban explorer and takes for an eye-opening ride through some of the hardest hit areas of Detroit…

In this shrinking city many of the same struggles we face here in Rochester are amplified by a factor of 5 (at least). In fact, today’s headlines announced that the Motor City has lost a staggering 25%external link of its residents from 2000 to 2010. That equates to about 237,493 people! Over the same period Rochester has lost 5.55% or 12,180 people.

Once a drug infested neighborhood. Now a great big art experiment – the Heidelberg Project.

These are not numbers to be proud of. But Knoxville shows us there are still very good people here – and reasons to be hopeful. He interviews Larry Mongo for example, a business owner who recently opened a blues café in a depressed section downtown (where he says even the homeless had abandoned). Mongo says he’s more hopeful now than he’s ever been, as artists and musicians have been among the first to return and are filling in the “gaps”.

Larry Mongo says he's more hopeful now than he's ever been, as artists and musicians have been among the first to return and are filling in the 'gaps'.

Where young artists are typically the first to migrate into areas that may be a little rough around the edges because rents are low, in Detroit there are often no landlords to collect rent, leaving entire apartment buildings wide open to be converted into art communes… and entire neighborhoods to be turned into art projectsexternal link. Even the jackass in Johnny Knoxville can’t help but smile at the site of abandoned boarded up houses covered in pink polka dots and plastic doll heads.

Even the jackass in Johnny Knoxville can't help but smile at the site of abandoned boarded up houses covered in pink polka dots and plastic doll heads.

So take 30 minutes and watch this film. Launch it full screen and get inspired.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 at 9:38 pm and is filed under Transit + Infrastructure, Urban Development, Urban Exploration. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Responses to “Johnny Knoxville Uncovers Detroit’s Beautiful Ugly Side”

  1. twoeightnine says:

    The Heidelberg link is wrong. It links to the CNN article.

  2. Thanks twoeightnine! It’s fixed.

  3. As a Rochester native now living in Brooklyn I’ve been stock piling research materials and historic documents in preparation for a very similar feature documentary about Rochester’s history and what happened when its own “Big 3” turned tail and went overseas leaving Rochestarian’s unemployed and without hope in a city desperately trying to “beautify” itself when the reality is no matter what sort of art district or new bus station they create, no one has the money to utilize it.
    If anyone in the Rochester area is interested in discussing this more or even would like to help take on a project like this I am in the very beginning phases of preproduction and would like to start shooting (even if its just B-roll footage to start) this summer. Please feel free to contact me.

    -Jeffrey C Packard
    Dirty Gate Media
    jeff@dirtygate.com

  4. Sounds very interesting Jeff. Keep us updated!

  5. patrick says:

    Who knew that watching a Johnny Knoxville video could be so inspiring. Watching a cities rebirth leaves you with such a feeling of possibility.
    The other videos in the Palladium Boot Hidden Gem series are pretty cool, too. The latest is on LA. The silo video is cool. The one on the burning underground mines of Centralia, PA is fascinating, as is the exploration of the ruins of NY.
    They are all here- http://www.palladiumboots.com/exploration/hidden-gems

  6. @Patrick, the missile silo video is cool and sort of scary at the same time. I can’t imagine anyone buying one of those but I’m sure someone will find a use.

    I just thought the Detroit exploration was extremely well done. All cities will be watching Detroit as that place reinvents itself. Lots of lessons to be learned there.


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