My Detroit references are few and far between. Urban decay. Bankruptcy in 2013. The first act of Tony Scott and Quentin Tarantino’s True Romance (‘93) happens in the grubby downtown area. Curtis Hanson’s 8 Mile. Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. The MC5. Martha and the Vandellas. Michael Moore‘s Roger and Me…wait, that was set mostiy in Flint, right?

You’d never know Detroit was originally settled by French colonists, I can tell you that. As you approach downtown everything looks a bit blighted, undernourished, down at the heels. Flat landscape. Blah architecture. A cinder-block strip club or two. Empty lots with overgrown grass and tall weeds.

Suburban Detroit is like a thousand other sprawling areas in the Midwest that are largely defined by…nothing. Okay, by the general draining of spirit. The scourge of soul-less corporate commercialism.

Downtown Detroit is even worse. You can feel the enervation and the lethargy. This must be what Berlin or Nurnberg or Dresden felt like in the immediate aftermath of WWII. Detroit is one of those cities that present three choices — become a heroin addict, commit suicide or pack up and leave.

And then you go across the Detroit river to robust and well-tended Windsor, Ontario, and it’s like a breath of fresh air.

5:20 pm: Anyway I’m well out of Detroit and on a Flix bus heading east to Londön. I’ll be visiting a friend in Grand Bend, a bucolic lakeside village in Ontario, for six days. I’ve never seen Lake Huron before.