New book teaches newbies ‘How to Live in Detroit Without Being a Jackass’

How to live in detroit

Detroit’s decades-long image as a post-industrial wasteland is giving rise to a comeback narrative that is attracting thousands of new residents a year to the city.

Long-abandoned buildings have been transformed into trendy lofts, restaurants and retailers. Empty downtown skyscrapers are getting new life. And a Red Wings arena under construction is expected to spur massive development.

Aaron Foley, via Facebok. Photo by Jacob Lewkow.
Aaron Foley, via Facebook. Photo by Jacob Lewkow.

Enter Aaron Foley, a lifelong Detroiter and journalist who has chronicled the influx of new residents and the tone-deaf attitudes that often come with them. Now the first-time author is preparing for the launch of his cultural guidebook, “How to Live in Detroit Without Being a Jackass.”

“My idea was to create a book that would serve as a handy-dandy guide to living in the city for new Detroiters—or give longtime Detroiters a refresher course,” Foley wrote in Blac Detroit. “Too often do Detroiters—especially newer residents—romanticize Detroit’s past and disregard the decades in between the industrial age and today.”

Foley, who is known for his witty insights of the Motor City, offers “advice on everything from buying and rehabbing a house to not sounding like a completely uninformed racist when you talk to a black person.”

The 31-year-old will be speaking at a pre-book release event at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Marble Bar at 1501 Holden in Detroit. A $10 admission fee includes food and your first drink. The event is sponsored by the Detroit Press Club, SPJ in Detroit and the Online News Association and is open to the public.

The book is being published by Rust Belt Chic and Belt Magazine, based in Cleveland.

“Aaron Foley’s book is great reading for those who love Detroit. But it’s really essential reading for anyone who cares about America’s cities and the racial and demographic differences that divide us,” said NPR host Celeste Headlee. “Foley delivers truths with humor and honesty. “

A book launch party is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Dec. 17.

The book is expected to be available on Dec. 1.

Here are the table of contents:

Seven Rules for Living in Detroit: Or How Not To Be A Dumbass The Moment You Get Here
The Quick and Dirty Tour
Difficult Questions About Detroit With Simple Answers
How Not To Offend People When Talking About Detroit
How You Should Be Talking About Detroit
How To Be White In Detroit
How To Make Peace With The Suburbs
How To Drive In Detroit
How To Party Like A Detroiter
How To Deal With The Men In This Town
How To Raise A Detroit Kid
How To Do Business In Detroit
How To House-Hunt In Detroit
How To Renovate A Detroit House Without Being A Jackass
How Not To Be A Jealous Jackass
How To Take In Detroit Media
How To Be Gay In Detroit
How To Be A Detroit Hipster
How To Be Black In Detroit

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • banmar

    Philadelphia needs a similar book (with a subtitle of “Northern Liberties is still North Philadelphia.”

  • Bruce Wiseley

    I grew up on the West Side, a “Baby Boomer”, and although I haven’t live here for many years, I love my City. All my kids do as well! We are there for sports, concerts, or whatever several times a year. The one thing I’ve always pointed out to my kids, and wife, is that, in The D, color doesn’t matter! If you act right, you usually don’t have any issues! Mind your business, go about your business, and act like your Parents taught you, GOOD MANNERS! Of course, you have to be smart enough not to put yourself into a stupid situation, but that goes for anywhere in the Country.

  • Alan Stamm

    Chapter 10, “How to Be a Woman in This Town,” is missing from the list.

  • Alan Stamm

    Chapter 10, “How to Be a Woman in This Town,” is missing from the list.

    • unp0pulartake

      If he wrote that chapter the feminazis would be calling for his head.

      • banmar

        Not necessarily. That’s actually the kind of advice women need, especially those of us who work or have worked in traditionally male role in technology, investment banking, etc. Straight men don’t have to worry about those kinds of things.

  • absolutelymaybe

    I used to scan Jalopnik.com for his name in particular. He had a really nice touch with commentary on cars and had more insight on Detroit as a city and urban process than I would get in other popular media.

    His writing about Detroit eventually brought me to this site, actually, and I always hoped I’d fall across an online blog/magazine where he’d landed a writing gig.

    I’m hoping the book does well and will be a nice calling card to other media outlets to get him back onto the interwebs.

    • mledetroit

      Agreed on all points!

  • javierjuanmanuel

    Interesting viewpoint that one wants to not appear to be a racist to black people only?

    Only in detroit.

    I know he can’t speak for ither races, or perspectives, but i hope he includes a nice long section of what black people need to do and say

    • kmaes

      Did you read the whole article? There are chapters titled, how to be white in Detroit and how to be black in Detroit. So he obviously addresses both sides. No need to jump to conclusions with out reading the book or even the whole article about the book. It sounds mildly serious must mostly funny. Lighten up.

      • Donald E. Hodge

        Javier will never lighten up. you must be a new comer to this news paper. isn`t that right JJ?

        • javierjuanmanuel

          Wtf are you talking about ? Its not a paper, i have been here two years. Its an obvious raciast slant on the writers part.

          Whites are natural racists, and need to be coached ip on how to act.

          • Donald E. Hodge

            Oh…I is sorry Mr. Whitey. I wills just shuffle off to bee fixen my grammar. Please let’s usen knows when eyes can comeback and talks to y’all on this here’s news papas.

          • banmar

            Aren’t *all* creeds and colors racist to some degree, especially when one color is dominant? What about light-skinned blacks looking down on darker-skinned African-Americans, whites shunning mixed-race individuals, and the animosity between many Central and South American folks with different features, hair type and amount of skin pigmentation? There’s way more to racism than black vs. white.

        • javierjuanmanuel

          Wtf are you talking about ? Its not a paper, i have been here two years. Its an obvious raciast slant on the writers part.

          Whites are natural racists, and need to be coached ip on how to act.

      • javierjuanmanuel

        But no implied start at racist that needs to be adjusted. Be black is not tbe same as “teaching black people not to ve complete racist assholes to white people.”

    • kmaes

      Did you read the whole article? There are chapters titled, how to be white in Detroit and how to be black in Detroit. So he obviously addresses both sides. No need to jump to conclusions with out reading the book or even the whole article about the book. It sounds mildly serious must mostly funny. Lighten up.

    • Alan Stamm

      The book is for all races, and repeatedly suggests how black residents (and others) need to do and say at parties, restaurants, when dating, when moving into a neighborhood, when buying and/or rehabbing homes, when starting businesses, when raising kids, and so forth.

      It’s about not being a jackass, not about how to avoid being a white jackass.

  • javierjuanmanuel

    Interesting viewpoint that one wants to not appear to be a racist to black people only?

    Only in detroit.

    I know he can’t speak for ither races, or perspectives, but i hope he includes a nice long section of what black people need to do and say