Thursday, November 11, 2010

Standing up for Detroit

Robert Tychkowski of the Toronto/Edmonton Sun is in Detroit following the Edmonton Oilers. As we all know the Oilers suck and I've heard Edmonton is a dreadfully boring city. So those Oilers fans don't have much to feel good about. So when playing a superior franchise, both history-wise and right now, there's a certain need to take shots at Detroit the city, so that the Oilers fans can feel better about their weak team getting another ass kicking by the Wings. His article, a hockey article, which you can find here opens with the following:

Welcome to Detroit, where the forecast, as always, is muggy, with a chance of murder.

When you’re trying to breathe a little life back into your year, this is not the place to visit. And not just because they use more white chalk at crime scenes than they ever did in the schools.

Classy. Tyler, over at the always excellent The Triple Deke posted about this and included the douchebag's email adress. So I decided to take action and email him. Going for some sarcasm on my first attempt. Here is my email to him:

Dear Mr. Tychowski

I write to you from Oslo Norway to congratulate you on choosing the oldest joke ever for your article today. It shows real class to beat down on and crack jokes at a struggling city that has been hit hard by recession and that is full of hard working men and women doing their best to get their lives and the city on the right track. Nevermind that the murder rate in Detroit has gone significantly down since the 80s and 90s and that you write this in a piece about a hockey game, it is still a classy, nice touch. Sets the tone nicely. I'm proud of you and hope you can continue to write pieces where you get off topic to make old jokes and laugh at struggling, hardworking people. Kudos

Oslo, Norway

Mr. Tychkowski responded less than two minutes later with this charming and classy reply:

Feel free to walk the streets here at night. I'll notify the next of kin

I felt that I needed to point out his ridiculousness and replied:

Sure, there are areas in Detroit where you shouldn't go at night. Yes they have problems. But I don't see where this gives you a license to take cheapshots and make jokes at a city full of people trying to change it for the better. Especially not in an article about sports teams. I am pretty sure Edmonton and every other major city in North America has a higher rate of violent crime than the one I was fortunate enough to grow up in, but none of this gives me the right to make jokes on the expense of those cities.

Furthermore, it's just so extremely unoriginal to write the same old intros that make Detroit sounds like it's Johannesburg or Bogota. If you really want to set the mood and do a good journalistic job I am pretty sure there is a lot of good stories you wouldn't have to dig deep to find. Storylines about the Wings signifying a hope that the inhabitants of a struggling city can rally around, something about the efforts to make the city a better place. Or you could stick to what you know and write about hockey and hockey only.

The citizens of Detroit, and those of us who have fallen in love with the city and it's sports teams from a long distance, see shots at Detroit every day. And while it's easy for me to shrug off and the pride of my friends from Detroit is strong enough to shrug it off, it feels tiresome, unoriginal and beaten to death. And you also excelled by probably going further than any writer I have seen in painting the city as black as possible.

I haven't heard back from him yet. Maybe he just went to bed, who knows? If I hear more from him I will edit this article and include all further correspondence.

If you want to email him you can do so at


  1. You're My Idol

    I applaud you for ripping on the Red Wings-- I mean the city of Detroit and it's people-- in your article about hockey. It was a clever move on your part, mostly because the city of Edmonton hasn't had anything to truly get excited about in how many years? Another reason I'm happy you did so is because you angered the most loyal fanbase in all of sports, and you'll probably never live it down. Cheap laughs? Sure, they make you look "good" to the people who have no morals, but people with brains (unlike yourself) see right through such obtuse comments about a city and its people, and realize that you, in fact, are a moron. I'm sure since you've walked downtown on the dark streets at 1am at night, you know the true nature of what goes on in downtown Detroit, so I needn't go any further.

    I also want to commend you on using one of the most tired jokes about the city of Detroit in an attempt to open an article in which, I must guess, is about as uninformed as your opening statement. No one has ever heard a joke about Detroit's economy, nor have they heard a joke about the murder rates-- thank you for helping me fill my repertoire. Sir (I hesitate to even use the term), please, revisit your jokes, and let's get one from this decade, okay?

    Good day,

    Phoenix, AZ

  2. I decided to write him as well...

    Dear Robert,

    I am writing in reply to your article regarding the Edmonton Oilers playing the Red Wings. You seem to want to encourage a rumor about the city of Detroit. No, not that the Wings are good. They are. No it seems that you portray this city as a violent one. As you started off your article.

    DETROIT — Welcome to Detroit, where the forecast, as always, is muggy, with a chance of murder. When you’re trying to breathe a little life back into your year, this is not the place to visit. And not just because they use more white chalk at crime scenes than they ever did in the schools.

    Wow, let's take a look at that blow to the gut that you seemed so eager to hit with. Attacking both our crime statistics and our education system. I sense that you can only speak from experience seeing as you lack any resources to back up your claim. I am sorry that you are so scared of the city and it's citizens.

    I was going to write a witty attack response, but that is just stooping to your level. My offer, let me show you what is great about Detroit. Does it have it's bad spots? Yes, but there is always bad with the good. Look at that Racism Free Edmonton website.

    My main point with this e-mail is to not have people in the media such as yourself take the easy way out and make another Detroit joke. In the past decade the city has held 3 Stanley Cup Finals, 2 NBA Finals, a World Series, a Super Bowl, a MLB All Star Game, and an NCAA Final Four Tournament. The report from the media and people attending? Detroit is not as bad as the media makes it out to be.

    While you are in town, I hope that you stop for a Coney at American Coney Island, have a nice dessert at the Astoria Bakery, and enjoy the Waterfront that goes all the way down to the Joe. Take in the sights and sounds of a city that is in a period of transition, and yes we have our issues, but do not be so quick to go for the easy stab, you can do better, and we deserve better.

    --Keith Dotson

  3. Sure, why not, here's my effort:

    Good morning, Mr. Tychkowski -

    I have just read your recent article regarding the Edmonton Oilers visiting Detroit, and just wanted to point out a few items regarding accuracy and relevance.

    First, accuracy: it is now November, winter is approaching, and the weather in Detroit is no longer what might be described as "muggy." That is appropriate in the summer, but once fall approaches the weather in the state of Michigan is actually quite pleasant. We are in the midst of a warm snap right now, true, but you will not have to worry about heat exhaustion during your visit.

    Second, relevance: What does this have to do with hockey? Large cities tend to have high crime rates, but this isn't news to anyone. I have spent time in Chicago, Baltimore, and Detroit, and of those the only city where I have been mugged (twice) or heard distant gunshots (once) was Baltimore, and a contributing factor to that was spending more time in Baltimore than the other two cities. Any large city is going to have its lovely safe touristy areas, and any large city is going to have its unsafe dangerous crime-ridden areas. The lakefront in Chicago is very different from Cabrini Green, the Inner Harbor or Federal Hill area in Baltimore is very different from the area around Johns Hopkins Hospital, and in the same way Detroit has good and bad areas. I am sure Edmonton has the same dichotomy, otherwise why would there be so much talk of the necessity of a new downtown arena to revitalize the area? If the downtown isn't overrun with hordes of meth-using hobos then it doesn't need revitalization at all.

    In a piece covering the Oilers visiting Detroit to play the Red Wings, I would have expected to see more relevant information than the equivalent of starting an article about a team visiting Edmonton with the same old sad saw about how the city is cold and boring so no free agents want to come to play there. It might be interesting in another context, but has nothing to do with Edmonton overplaying an older, more injury-prone goaltender when they have a much younger backup who should be able to give him a breather once every few games, or the lack of anyone on the Oilers team capable of consistently winning a key faceoff, or the lack of decent veterans on one-year cheap contracts to help mentor the plethora of young talented kids so the losing doesn't get ingrained into their habits. or the reasons behind benching Taylor Hall and Justin Eberle in the last game when the poor play was team-wide and those two rookies were singled out despite being far from the worst players on the ice, or the lack of playing time at even strength for Dustin Penner when advanced stats show that he is one of the most effective players on the team, or the penalty kill which ranks dead last in the league at less than 70%. Any of these would have made an interesting and relevant lead-in to a hockey story.

    As a hockey fan living in the United States I have always envied the Canadian fan their extensive hockey coverage. This article makes me wonder if something doesn't happen to writers at the border to alter their ability to write compelling hockey stories, because I have read so much excellent coverage out of the Canadian NHL cities that I believe this must have been an unusual effort.

  4. Geez, I think that letter might have been longer than his entire article. Sorry about that.

    I apologize for being long-winded.

  5. Yeah, I guess this douchebag's short term memory took a vacation.

    He must have forgotten that Edmonton is such a hotbed for tourism and celebrities that NHL players - such as Chris Pronger (who wanted out so badly), Dany Heatley (refused multiple trades to go to Edmonton) and Sheldon Souray (made several trade requests) - all took a nice, steaming dump on his beloved city.

    On the other hand, how many NHL players have taken less money, less contract years, hometown discounts, etc to COME TO Detroit and be part of the city, the surrounding areas and the amazing FAMILY that is the Detroit Red Wings.

  6. Gretzky cried when he was traded to Los Angeles, tears of joy that is.