Hello Seattle, welcome to Detroit. We’re glad to have you.
Great job Seattle Seahawks – unlike the Lions, you’ve managed to shake off a history of losing and (even worse) choking to reach the Super Bowl in impressive fashion. Now you and your fans get to come to my beautiful city. I’ll see you there since I’d vowed to go home as soon as they announced the XL’s host city…
I will have a visitor’s guide for you later, for now here are some tips for Seattlelites based on my 8 years of living here in Seattle and studying its peoples:
1. Detroit weather: no Seattle, it’s not that cold in Detroit – no worse than New York and much less windier than Chicago. And this year Detroit has been warmer than usual, reaching the upper 30’s and low 40’s for highs – that’s only a few degrees cooler than Seattle has been the last 6 weeks or so. It’s been raining every other day in Detroit, so you should feel right at home. Wear your gloves and bring a hat and you will be quite comfortable – there are heated tents downtown just in case you’re cold-natured.
2. Please do not ask for "soda" – it is (correctly) called "pop" in the D.
3. Head downtown if you need a latte fix: the whole latte / cappuccino thing is one of those Seattle stereotypes that actually can’t be overplayed. Seatown, you know you are coffee fiends, and unfortunately, Detroit’s view of coffee is that beans + water should not cost more than a few dimes. Starbucks has only a handful of stores in the city, and cafés in general are scarce. There are several in the core downtown Detroit area (there’s a Starbucks at the Buhl building close to the Guardian Building, and the Guardian building also has its own café). You can also journey down Woodward out to Royal Oak if necessary if they run out downtown…
4. Avoid use of the terms "hella" or "hecka": guys, nobody outside the west coast knows what those words mean – I would just avoid them altogether.
5. No jeans in nice restaurants: you’ll find the food to be much less expensive in Detroit than Seattle at the average restaurant. However, if the entrees are anywhere near $20, in the D this would be considered a "fancy" restaurant and this means no jeans. I know – in Seattle you can get away with jeans even at the city’s very best spots (Canlis being the only exception I can think of). Detroit is a place where people take these things a little more seriously, and Detroiters in particular have a thing about "showing off" when they go out to some extent (it’s part of the Detroit style, the gators, etc.). Bring at least one business casual outfit along with a nice jacket in case your jeans and REI jacket don’t cut it.
6. Eat a coney: Coney Island hot dogs with chili and onions are an important staple for some reason. There are Coney Islands everywhere – go in and try one. Oh yeah, if they serve coneys, you can wear jeans.
7. Drink some Vernors Ginger Ale: Vernors will put hair on your chest (even if you’d rather not have any). I believe it can also cure the common cold and boost your IQ.
8. The negative stories of Detroit: don’t believe the hype folks. Seattle, you are full of a high percentage of college graduates that come to Seattle to work in newer fields such as software and biotechnology. You’re smart enough to realize that a myth repeated endlessly becomes truth. Yes we have some serious problems, but these are problems that affect and will be solved eventually by the region’s residents. For visitors who will primarily experience the downtown and other visitor-oriented locations, you will see great things and be quite safe, and get a taste of what the city can be like once it has made progress on its problems.
9. The crime: again, it’s no worse than New York or Chicago, and the downtown area where the Super Bowl will be played and all of the festivities will be held is actually very safe. Ignore the rumors and enjoy yourselves…
10. Go to the museums: Seattleites are nerdy enough to think museums are cool (that’s a good thing). Detroit has great museums – peep them.
11. Go to Greektown: all tourists go to Greektown – as a Seattle book nerd, you’ve probably read Middlesex by now, and if you want to go see some of the Greek-ness you read about in the book, go there. The food is quite good…
12. Go to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History: Seattle is about to have an African-American museum, so visit this one to get an idea of what you’d like to see in your own version.
13. Check out the architecture: Seattle is a new city with nice glass skyscrapers. Very cool. But Detroit has the OG skyscrapers – check out the Guardian Building, the Fisher Building, the Penobscot, the Buhl, the Broderick Tower, the David Stott, and even the new but retro Comerica Tower. You can’t get this back home, so check it out while you can.
14. Dig the soul: despite its prosperity and reputation for quality of life, we all know Seattle gets dinged a lot for, well, not having any "flavor" (you always get this from the Black people that come out to Seattle for work). Seattleites say of their city that it still lacks an identifiable soul. Well, you will find that Detroit has no shortage of "soul" – some would argue that it goes a little too far. Anyway, this is another thing you won’t really find in Seattle, so while you’re in Michigan, take some time to people watch, walk around downtown, listen to the way people talk, and generally take it all in. I would call it a sort of blue-collar, Afro-Gothic industrial flavor that you won’t find anywhere else…
15. Come back in the summer: Seattleites like to stay at home for the summer because those two months of sun make up for all the Pacific Northwest’s previous seasons of drizzle. Detroit has a longer and earlier summer though, so stop through in June or July while Seattle is still chilly. Instead of February’s winter wonderland, Detroit’s summer will bring you leafy trees, grassy parks on the blue-green Detroit River, and excellent musicians and festivals such as the Detroit International Jazz Festival, the African World Festival, and the Detroit Electronic Music Festival. Nice hotels are insanely cheap even downtown, and the warm weather will go great with the food.
Aight, now go root for your Seahawks. As a Lions fan, they have given me some hope.