A Midnight in Paris, directed by Woody Allen, was nominated for Best Picture at the 84th Annual Academy Awards. The story follows a struggling writer who is vacationing in Paris with his fiancée. A nostalgic day dreamer, this writer fantasizes of living in 1920’s Paris, surrounded by inspirational writers such as Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. His dreams come true as he is transported through time to meet the characters of The Lost Generation. While there, he falls in love with a beautiful young woman who proclaims that the generation before, the 1890’s, was in fact the greatest era. Together they jumped back in time to the Belle Époque to find the likes of Paul Gauguin and Edgar Degas, both of whom affirmed the Renaissance era as the greatest.
How often have we as children heard “You kids don’t know what good music is or how to really have fun…well, in MY day…” This theme runs through our society, with each generation thinking that the one before was smarter, better behaved, less self-absorbed. My grandmother’s fondest memory is riding her bike to work at Harrods in 1930’s London. No modern day advancement or luxury could ever compete with the vivid and fond memories of her youth. Upon arriving in America, however, she was the first of her sisters to have a washing machine. While nostalgic, she appreciated modern conveniences and was one who easily adapted to change.
Nostalgia seems to be on the minds of many lately. Fond memories transport Dearborn citizens back to shopping at Sanders, Crowley’s and Jacobson’s. These fine establishments hold a very special place in the history of Dearborn. Unfortunately, the growing trend of regional malls sealed their fate and they went the way of the 8 track tape, Polaroid cameras and pay phones. The market will no longer bear these elegant stores profitable existence. We must continue to embrace the new, the innovative business models that will carry this community forward.
The economic prosperity of this community should not be judged on storefronts along Michigan Avenue. It should be gauged by the brilliant entrepreneurs operating in this city everyday. They work in warehouses, multi-story office buildings and in basements. While making a great name for Dearborn, these individuals are running profitable businesses. Look to technology companies operating in Ford Land properties, The Glass Academy producing art in a warehouse, Brightly Twisted producing beautiful clothing in the basement of Village Plaza and Puppy & Bean operating out of a home. While nostalgia plays an important part in our culture by grounding us to yesteryear, we must be careful it does not cast a shadow on the successes and opportunities of today.