Dave Bing’s Garden Party: This ain’t no Velvet Revolution


I don’t believe you can truly understand Detroit without first understanding Vaclav Havel. His absurdist dramas, based the society and government of a Soviet-dominated Czechoslovakia, easily reflect the culture of Detroit’s government, corporations, and civic life. Endless bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy, content-free jargon, and the overriding timidity of groupthink. Havel’s Czechoslovakia is our Detroit.

This town spent a quarter of a century believing there was a fundamental difference between a Ford Taurus and a Mercury Sable. Anyone care to discuss whether Detroit witnessed a riot or a rebellion in 1967? Before we do that, let me first tell the Department of Liquidation to inaugurate the Department of Inauguration, which will liquidate the Department of Liquidation.

Nowhere is Detroit’s absurdism more on display than Team Bing’s plan to right-size… apologies, “wrong word”…redefine Detroit. Wait, I’m sorry, there is no plan. Just a Strategic Framework Plan. Called The Detroit Works Project. Not to be confused with Michigan Works. If it sounds confusing, don’t worry because there are a lot of really smart people running The Detroit Works Project. A whole lot of people.

Start with The Project Team led by Project Leaders Karla Henderson, Marja Winters, and Toni Griffin. The Project Leadership leads The Project Team “of local, national and internationally respected firms.” Hey, that’s super.

Lest you think The Project Team has unchecked power to do something (as yet undefined) rash, don’t worry because The Mayor’s Advisory Task Force will be there the whole way. Led by the Right Reverend Charles Ellis (praised be His name) and four (why only four?) co-chairs, this 55-member body will represent “residents, city council, community groups, faith-based and non-profit organizations, and the business and foundation communities to work with the planning team.” There you go.

And, while The Advisory Task Force doesn’t list their members on The Detroit Works Project website, the good Reverend Ellis says he’s “excited, yet sobered to help re-shape Detroit.” Thank the Christ Jesus for that. We can’t have The Advisory Task Force chaired by some drunken reprobate.

Of course, all this work can’t happen in a bubble. That’s why the Detroit Works Project includes a third layer of bureaucracy, The Interagency Working Group representing “18 city departments and other agencies, including Detroit Public Schools, to ensure that all aspects of running a strong, healthy city are included in the planning and ultimate implementation of our shared vision.” In olden times, the Interagency Working Group was called city government. Probably that didn’t sound official enough.

Get excited people. This is the process (to use the NFL’s word) that will design the Trail of Smiles. (The Detroit Works Project)

Categories : Big Important News



Sometimes you just have to say screw it, the solo album can wait.


The revolution will NOT be Velvet-ized!!


So who will be the Lou Reed to Vaclav Havel in Detroit? Jack White?

I have trouble picturing Bing rocking out to “Heroin” or “Venus In Furs.”


This thing is totally gonna kick ass and take names. Prepare to be blown away.


I always wanted to be on a subcommittee of a subcommittee. Why did they not have open try-outs for these positions?


I don’t know about you folks, but I’d rather have the beauracratic Vaclav Havel than the previous kleptocric Nicholai Ceausescu almost any day…


Havel wasn’t the bureaucrat. The subjects of his plays were the inept bureaucrats.


It sure looked like a clusterfuck on the snippet of tv news I saw last night.

In my experience, someone already has an idea of what he’d like to do, but he knows he can’t do it, so, meanwhile, a bunch of people will spin their wheels trying to make it look official.

The public will be flogged — er, invited to open forums — and they will be put into work groups to make recommendations. These recommendations will be ingnored. The low prots will continue to work their committees to bring a version of sharia — er, heaven on earth — to Detroit. City employees will try to consolidate their power. Bing will say, “Dammit, I just wanted to stop running garbage trucks down empty streets to pick up one containter.”

Then, when the whole thing collapses under its own weight, everyone will foget it ever happened. At worst, the public will be blamed for not getting involved. Detroiters, you know, don’t get anything done. Low prots will still make a mess of city parks; city departments will still be stage-ready for Brazil II, and Bing will move on.

20 years from now, someone will say, “Hey, why don’t we do something about all this vacant land.”


A vibrant LGBT community is universally recognized as a key component of urban revitalization, yet the first community meeting for this new Detroit plan is held at a church known for strident homophobia. Hopefully whatever Uncle Tom Fag sits on the advisory council won’t be so rude as to mention that to Bishop Ellis.


Ahhh…I’m so used to reading superficial analyzes elsewhere, I forget I have to open up the Field Of View aperture on the brain’s Comprehensioner Compensator when I come here.

I thought you were referring to Havel’s absurdist dramas as president*, not his absurdist dramas as a dramatist

Thank you, WF, for yet again opening my FOV and reminding me of the stuff I should remember…

* which admittedly I didn’t comprehend either, but put that off to not knowing one iota of what went on in the Czech Republic before 2006 when I went there…


Rog, I think you could open your statement up to a “vibrant , open community”.

There’s so many things Detroit…and its suburbs…are close-minded to. And what each are close-minded to are predominantly diametrically different.

None of which helps either individually much less working together toward a healthy SE MI…

(N.B. Not meant to minimze your statement, Rog. I whole-heartedly agree that a vibrant LGBT community is a sign of a healthy community)


Sounds like a whole bunch of “meetings,” lots of thermal carafes of mediocre coffee and pastries, and lots of posturing and bloviating and looking official and busy.

And it will all result in nothing.


” [. . .] 900 residents sounded off for the first time on an emerging plan some consider downsizing [. . .]”

Meet your city council primary hopefuls!


Honestly, I don’t think they should even ask the citizenry, Ilitch-style, but apparently that’s illegal.


Hey…before we get too down on our fellow Detroiters for their behavior at the meeting, remember this: Nary a grape was thrown.

But BAMN did show up. They started to boo and shout. When someone asked them what they were booing about, they didn’t know.


I listened to some of the Craig Fahle Show’s coverage the next day, which was well done, though dispiriting, and totally validated my decision not to attend. When will these mirror images of the Tea Party learn that it is no longer 1968 and yelling and screaming and tantruming will not make it so? And the people running the meeting need to learn the most effective way to deal with a tantrum…tell the toddler in question that when they can tell you what they want, you’ll help them, until then, you’re going over here with the grownups.

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