Monday, June 30, 2008

Obama visits Flint

I'm not sure how to react to this cartoon by Donar. If I'm charitable, this could be a way of saying we should fix our own country before we blow millions more on Iraq. But I sense that this is just another cheap shot at Flint. And to use one troubled place to make fun of another troubled place is, well, troubling. But maybe I'm just not getting it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


A bench at the corner of Flushing Road and Ballenger Highway photographed by Clio's Terry Doyle

UPDATE: Smurfs, inc. offers up some background on the photo:

Now there is true street art. Its the work of this weird, kinda crazy, older guy, dunno his name. Downtown used to be chock full of his bizarre, paranoid rants and ravings.

Years back a somewhat well-known downtown figure threatened this guy with violence if he ever scribbled on his business. Peace was made when the scribbler was offered a free sandwich in exchange for abstinence. Now the same dude who issued the threat has his house decorated with his work.

Forget all of the wannabe taggers and fake hip-hop graf "artists" (half of whom are from Grand Blank.) In my (correct) opinion, this dude has created some of the most thought-provoking pieces since Straight Bob's wheatpaste screeds and the early ‘90s "Mor Devils" campaign.

He is quite fond of using the word "truther", something I try to use daily.

Here are some quotes from a few of his previous pieces. I've attempted to reproduce his ee cummings-esque structure:








Energy deja vu

With the Michigan economy suffering through yet another assault from high gas prices and plummeting auto sales, and the entire nation gripped with anxiety, it's instructive to look back to the late seventies and early eighties and remind ourselves that this "crisis" is not exactly unexpected. Take a minute to rediscover the energy policies of a very unpopular president — Jimmy Carter — and the man many consider the most successful leader in the modern era — Ronald Reagan. (Apologies for the low volume on the man from Plains, Georgia.)

Who had the right approach?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Should Powers move?

There's been a long-running discussion about the fate of Powers High School in the comment section of an earlier post on Catholic church closings in Flint. The topic has received more comments than any other post on Flint Expatriates.

Everyone may have said what they want to say at this point, but I thought I'd bring the subject back in case people who missed the earlier post want to chime in...especially those with insider knowledge of what Powers plans for the future. And exactly how Powers raises — or doesn't raise — money.

And I'll throw this idea out no real economic evidence to back it up. If this had happened, Powers might be in the same situation they are in now, or worse. But here goes...

I've always thought that when the Catholic high schools consolidated, Powers should have just moved into St. Michael's. They would have had to make arrangements or buy some land for sports fields, but that wouldn't have been too difficult given the condition of that area even in the early '70s. It would have created an anchor near downtown, made the school more centrally located for commuters, and attached a parish to the school, which was always a drawback to Powers.

And it would have meant the school was right next to Flint's biggest tourist draw — Autoworld! Oh, wait, forget that last sentence.

Just a thought.


Anonymous says: St. Mike's certainly would have been a good choice, but I know of a better one: Holy Redeemer. Powers still claims the football field as its home field. When the consolidation occurred in 1970, TWO catholic high schools should have been created: Flint Catholic Central High School NORTH (now Powers). Flint Catholic Central High School SOUTH (Holy Redeemer). I know — wishful thinking.

Anonymous says: The answer is simple. No. Powers was build to serve all of the county, not just Grand Blanc and Fenton. Funds should be raised not for moving, but for
1. lowering the cost of tuition (which is the main reason why the enrollment has dropped).
a. Powers has done a terrible job with alumni relations of the years.
2. Redeveloping the Northwestern/Powers area. Instead of running, make the area better. This is what Notre Dame is doing in South Bend. Which is more Catholic than running from problems. Moving to the south subs will do nothing to reduce the main barrier (tuition) and make a Catholic education out-of-reach of most working Catholics. How could this be good for the long-term health of the Catholic Church?

Anonymous says: My husband graduated from Detroit Catholic Central. I cannot believe the alumni network that CC has. (And the newly built school in Novi is incredible.) The programs, traditions, publications, endowments are impressive. Powers could learn a lot from them. However, Powers will never be a CC or a UofD Jesuit. The administrators may try to be, but never will be able to . The alumni ties to those schools are incredibly strong. Powers doesn't have that kind of affect on its graduates. Also, I was just in grade school when Powers was in its planning stages and my parents were involved on a parish level. I remember my parents saying that most of their fellow parishioners wanted the centrally located, Holy Redeemer site, if not two Catholic high schools in the county. It was egos and administrative arrogance that won out. It will be interesting to see how the new Bishop handles this issue of relocation.

Anonymous says: My family and I will no longer give Powers any more money until Powers can develop a vision for the school for the next 25 years. Part of that vision should be how Powers will make the current location the future location. Dealing with the D of L, Powers admin and various fractions at the school is a joke and makes Powers look 3rd rate. Bottom line—there are no real leaders at the school.


This is one way to rebuild Flint...simply reverse the video of two local homes getting demolished. My apologies for the bad music.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cracking down

Flint's new police chief is cracking down on the root cause of all Flint's problems — baggy pants. But if you insist on droopy drawers and don't want to do time in Buick Town, there is a solution, courtesy of

Grand Funk Railroad gets patriotic...and naked

Flint's Grand Funk Railroad, pictured above in the seventies, should never be confused with Flint's Grand Trunk Railroad Depot, featured below in 1909.

To make sure you differentiate the two, check out the GFR video below, where Flint's most famous band besides Dissonance does all the things a band from Flint should do — rock out, shoot blow guns, play basketball, pet a pretty horse, ride motorcycles without shirts, and...water ski in cutoff jean shorts?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Industrial love

As this early postcard shows, the male Flintoid has always possessed the requisite skills to please the ladies. Who could resist a romantic canoe trip down the scenic Flint River under the shade of a parasol, taking in the majestic beauty of the factories, smokestacks and water towers crowding the riverbank, while the industrial runoff fashions a mesmerizing kaleidoscope of color in the water?

This dude's a playa!

(Warning: Never touch or drink the water. Some river carp can be aggressive and territorial. Avoid all riverside saloons, bars, watering holes, factories and public parks where other intoxicated Flint males tend to congregate. Keep a sharp eye out for floating bodies, which tend to spoil the romantic mood.)

The paperboy

What does Flint have in common with Grosse Pointe Woods?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Michael Moore and the "Flint Film Festival"

Michael Moore in his ever-present ball cap, now accented with hipster glasses. He says Clint Eastwood is scouting locations in Michigan for an upcoming film. (Photo by Fabrizio Constantini for The New York Times)

Michael Moore, who started the Traverse City Film Festival four years ago, details his dream of bringing the movie business to Northern Michigan in an interview with the Northern Express:

“I have my own Michigan affirmative action plan,” chuckles Moore. “I have based my filming operations out of New York (he has now closed his NY office and is based in Northern Michigan) and have always given a hiring priority to Michigan residents. I am hoping this new industry here will bring them back and will keep the ‘brain drain’ on this state from continuing.”

The film fest is held at the State Theater, which Moore helped renovate. There's a persistent rumor that Moore originally wanted to fix up the Capitol and have the festival in Flint, but he was rebuffed by city officials. Anyone know anything about this rumor?


said: Just that — an uninformed rumor. People are confusing an effort to fix the Capitol up enough to do a showing of Roger & Me and host the Phil Donahue show there. They didn't pull it off; the event was at The Whiting instead, and that was that.

Scottr said: I've never heard that one before. But I doubt the city officials would have had much to do with it, because to start they don't own it. The Farah family has owned it for 30 years, and although it certainly hasn't been fully restored, some work has been done on it, and I doubt Troy Farah would have turned him down given his efforts to attract investors. However, I don't know him personally, so I can't say for sure.

Auto salvage

Pat McFarlane, who graduated from Flint Central sixty years ago,
and her highly trained attack dog, Rob Roy, check out some wreckage that originated in Buick City.

You never know when you might run across an old Buick. And like the city where they were once made, some Buick's have fallen on hard times.

I just completed a road trip from Maple Leaf, Iowa, to Tacoma, Washington with my mom, Pat McFarlane, and her very large dog, Rob Roy, in a Ford truck. (It's a long story and a long trip, but we had a lot of fun and we're still on speaking terms.) We were at a windswept rest stop in the Wenatchee Mountains when we spotted a semi loaded with crushed cars.

"I'm sure there's a Buick in there," my mom said.

I disagreed, as usual.

And, as usual, she was right.

Getting back to nature

Now this is a wild animal two Flintoids can truly appreciate. It's huge, made of metal, nearly extinct, and probably gets horrible gas mileage.

And I promise these are the last of the road-trip posts. Flint Expatriates will not degenerate into a high-tech version of a boring vacation slide show. From here on out, it's back to business.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The end of the affair

slick, who sells cars for a living, reflects on a time when buying a car actually meant something:

"Ah...the glory days...I remember when someone in the neighborhood bought a new car they parked it at the end of the driveway nearest the sidewalk and eventually all of the neighbors would wander over and take a look, inside, outside and under the hood.

"Today getting a 'new' car is like getting a new pair of socks, nobody cares. Usually we don't even know our neighbors and they could care less about what you drive.

"America and especially Michigan and more specifically Flint had a strong love affair with the automobile. Now it's gone from a love affair to a lackluster marriage out of necessity.

"The car manufacturers have removed all of the mystique and put out cars that rarely vary from the year before. Gone are the days of papering the showroom windows and keeping the new models under wraps. Somehow it was a much simpler and yet more exciting time with the automobile."

A city on the move

Flint's Richard Kennedy, who is only 9, has already attended
4 Flint schools. (Photo by Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times)

Flint's economic collapse has been so profound that mundane measurements like unemployment rates and homicide totals just don't capture the scope of Buick Town's decline. The news in the eighties that Flint was home to more rats than humans was one of those distressingly unexpected statistics that began to capture what was really happening to Flint.

Now Erik Eckholm of The New York Times offers yet another innovative indicator of the shrinking city's troubled condition:

"In some of Flint’s elementary schools, half or more of the students change in the course of a school year — in one school it reached 75 percent in 2003. The moves are usually linked to low, unstable incomes, inadequate housing and chaotic lives, and the recent rash of foreclosures on landlords is adding to the problem, forcing renters from their homes. The resulting classroom turmoil led the State Department of Human Services to start an unusual experiment, paying some parents $100 a month in rent subsidies to help them stay put — a rare effort to address the damaging turnover directly."

UPDATE: Smurfs, inc., comments:

So, Richard's sister is 11 and can barely read. What the fuck? Whose fault is that? Is society to blame? Government? Our education system? Oh, wait...what about the family?

Obviously, we know nothing about the inner workings of this family. Is it fair to guess that Richard and his sister spend a lot of time playing video games? Hmmm. Might reading be a low priority in this house? Well, how could one possibly be so presumptuous as to wager a guess...wait, I think I see a library behind the plywood window.

Flint is a microcosm of a nation that is anti-intellectual and pro-passive entertainment. Sure, the schools could do more, government could do more, we could have a society where everybody's needs are met. Great, but that ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

Until PARENTS themselves model positive behavior: reading, writing, creativity, and physical activity (things that cost next to nothing) you're gonna get one generation after another of bad xeroxes. As the old saying goes "the nut don't fall far from the tree."

Again, we don't know this family...but all of us know Flint. Too many families are complicit in their own shitty situations.

Pick yerself up by your own bootstraps? Yeah, I know, I may have never had to do that, nevertheless there is no knight in shining armor on the horizon that is gonna save the families of Flint. Obama, McCain, Granholm, Levin, U of M, Kettering, GM, Uptown Developments, Toyota, Williamson, Walling, Kildee, Captain Bubblegum...ugh, we're fucked.

Hey parents, we got a kick-ass art museum, library, cultural center, universities, and despite the city's sorry lot, all sorts of positive activities. YOU gotta raise your kids, so do it.

Flint Artifacts: G.M. Patch

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Opel fever...why fight it?

As G.M. scrambles to come up with gas-sipping small cars, it's good to remember that generous motors has a long and illustrious history of, well, not coming up with reliable alternatives to gas guzzlers. Case in point: the Opel Kadett. Granted, G.M. didn't actually make this car, but they did sell it. Occasionally. And at least it was a lot cooler than a Chevette. And these super mod, Euro-esque ads are soooo groovy.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

St. Agnes, St. Luke and Sacred Heart Catholic churches to close by August

St. Agnes Church in Flint.

The Flint Journal reports:

Parishioners at three northern Flint churches reacted with gasps and tears when they learned this morning that their churches will close by Aug. 1.

"I was married here and I hoped I'd be buried here," said Gary Debevec of Flushing, who attends St. Agnes Catholic Church on Pierson Road.

"I guess that's not going to happen now. This is breaking up a family."

St. Agnes, Saint Luke and Sacred Heart Catholic churches will close, and their parishes will merge with St. John Vianney Catholic Church to form a new community at St. John's, on Bagley Street in Flint, Bishop Earl Boyea announced Friday in a letter to the local church leaders.

The announcement surprised many, as it came prior to the completion of a diocese-wide study that that will determine the fate of 97 parishes in a 10-county area that includes Genesee and Shiawassee counties.

The study's recommendations are still under review, and should be ready for the bishop's consideration by the end of this month, said Michael Diebold, director of communications for the Catholic Diocese of Lansing.

"But announcements are being made now at some parishes, because some sites just can't wait," Diebold said.

The bishop explained in his letter that the Flint church closings were announced early due to "a particular urgency," caused by "declining parish membership and increasing financial strain which, if not responded to, would create further hardship for the parishes involved."

The news follows an announcement Friday that DuKette Catholic School, on the St. Agnes Church campus, also will close before fall. Children at DuKette will be invited to attend St. John Vianney School, the bishop said.

The North End Soup Kitchen, located at Sacred Heart, the North End Women's (NEW) Life Center, at St. Luke's, and Cornerstone Outreach Ministry, at St. Agnes, will remain open, he added.

According to the Lansing diocese, mass attendance at St. Agnes has dropped by 59.3 percent since 1995. St. Luke's attendance decreased by 49.6 percent, Sacred Heart's by 27.5 percent and St. John Vianney's by 31.9 percent during the same time.

Population shifts from the city to the suburbs account for most of the decline. Many of those who remain at the inner city churches now commute from the suburbs.

Mary Andrykovich drives from her Swartz Creek home to attend masses and events at St. Agnes because "I was raised in this church and was married here and this is like my family."

While Bishop Boyea said the new parish configuration "holds great promise for a strengthened and renewed Catholic presence in the city," some of St. Agnes's loyal parishioners said they would attend churches closer to their homes before considering attending St. John's.

"They can't make us go to St. John's," said a St. Agnes member who didn't want to be named. "I come here because I have a history here and I love the people. But I don't know anyone at St. John's. There are lots of churches closer to where I live."

Another parishioner complained that the closings are coming too quickly.

"August is way too fast to allow these older people time to make the change," he said. "It's not right to kick them out."

But some said they understood the need to act quickly.

"When the bills outweigh the money coming in, you've got to do something," one parishioner said.

Others, while wiping away tears, said they realized that the church is a body of believers, not a building.

"This is sad, but we're going to be OK," said Chris Gardner, of Flint, a St. Agnes parishioner who has been praying for years "for God's will to be done" in the declining parish.

"Whatever happens, God is in this," Gardner said. "We have to remember that it's the people that matter, not where we worship."

Flint Artifacts: G.M. Trucks Patch

Friday, June 20, 2008

Flint kids speak out

The thoughts and opinions of Flint kids, courtesy of ZuZu, published online by Restless Youth Press, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to publishing original work by young authors and artists.

I think Michigan is fun.There is alot of nice people here.I go to the best school, with the best teachers. I love all sports and I love to write. In my free time I like to play with my three brothers. I love going outside and playing in the rain. We get alot of rain in Michigan. If I could change one thing about Michigan it would be to have more amusement parks.
— Corrie, age 12 1/2

I live in Flint,Michigan. I really like it here. There are a lot of people here. In my neighborhood my best friends names are Stacy, Tyerica, Angela,and many more. We play together alot. We always get along (well most of the time). I'm glad to have friends like them. We have two malls here Courtland Center, Genesse Valley Mall. We have the nicest restaurant here too. One thing I hate here is the very, very cold weather.
— Kilnesha, age 12

I live in Flint Michigan. It's a cool state what makes it cool is the people in it. There is nice people and mean people. There are a lot of gangs in Michigan. Every body in the gangs are not bad just some.
— Angelina, age 13

— Larain

— Jeremy, age 13

My neighborhood is boring and nothing ever happens! It is pretty close to my school. I go to McKinley Middle School. I'm in the 8th grade I know lots of people that go there too.
— Lance Fischer

My neighborhood is like A big GHETTO. Some people do drugs. Most people move out because of the drugs. But most people says its ok.
— Jerry, age 13

My neighborhood is a scary but friendly place. There are lots of gangs out their killing their parents, brothers, sisters, other family members,and innocent people like children and their parents. I go to a wonderful school called McKinley Middle School. I have had WONDERFUL teachers here. I have also made alot of new friends. I can't wait until Christmas!!!
— Jonathan

I have a big neighborhood. I have a newspaper route, I have two of the seven streets. My neighborhood is peaceful. All of the people in my neighborhood are nice.
— Adam, age 12

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Buick's the Beauty

Monday, June 16, 2008

Warriors...come out and play

Smurfs Inc. — an eloquent Flint Expatriates commentator who's not to be confused with the old Flint gang of the same name — provides a rundown of local gangs, in no particular order, with commentary:

The Eighties
Top Dawgs
Bad Boys Inc.
Smurfs Inc. (No joke, a fairly large gang in the early/mid 80s)
Westside Warlords
Westside Rockers
Mexican Mafia
Acapony Stonyonys
Southside Boys
Greens (Saginaw)

"I seem to recall brawls at Playland and a melee at the IMA between the Top Dawgs and Greens. An all female gang on the east side?!? Numerous biker gangs. Blue monogrammed track suits that read: Smurfs Inc. A gang that wore novelty plastic batting helmets. I know this reads like a sequel to The Warriors but I swear it was Flint in the '80s."

The Nineties
Insane Spanish Cobra Nation
Vice Lords
Pierson Hood
Selby Hood
Merrill Hood
Voltron Posse (Again, a small but deadly crew.)
Aryan Nations (Northeast side)

And The Flint Journal, in true cornball style that just might be an embarrassing homage to James M. Cain, reflects on the days when Flint was known as Cracktown the reporters at the Journal anyway:

"The late 1980s also marked the emergence of organized street gangs in Flint. And drugs were only part of their activity. "Emulating high-profile gangs in Los Angeles and New York, Flint gangs began wearing colors and staking out neighborhoods as territory. "Police identified groups known as the D-Boys, P-Boys (or Project Boys), Six-Os, Selby Hood and the South End Boys. Gangs often recruited their mostly teenaged membership through coercion and intimidation and put them through initiation rites. They often cruised the streets better armed than the police; some crime scenes were littered with shell casings. "But it was the brutality of the crack-driven murders that often stunned hardened cops, prosecutors and judges."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

One Buick, please

This ad is more than a few decades old, and yet the stylish old gent in the bow tie looks suspiciously like today's typical Buick buyer. I guess that's testament to the timeless quality of Norman Rockwell's work. And Buick's demographic.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The river of dreams

The Flint River in 1910 looking clean, beautiful and peaceful. And hard to imagine.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Flint Artifacts: Buick Ashtray

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The cost of happiness

In a desperate search to find something positive in Flint's economic woes, it's tempting to turn to the old adage that money can't buy you happiness.

Leave it to The New York Times to
shoot down that theory: "A new study shows that people in wealthier countries are more likely to be satisfied with their lives. Earlier research had suggested that satisfaction did not necessarily increase once basic needs were met."

But wait, maybe there's still hope. As the chart below shows, spending more money on healthcare doesn't ensure a longer life. Oh wait, I guess that's more bad news for Flint and the rest of America. Never mind.

Health Care Spending: Large Differences, Unequal Results #

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Flint Portraits: Nancy Kovack

What does the Vehicle City have to do with Jason and the Argonauts, the awkwardly animated film that once seemed so cool and cutting edge?

Note: This post has been updated to correct two errors.

Actress Nancy Kovack, of course.
"On March 11, 1935 1936, Nancy was born in Flint, Michigan. Yes, the same Flint, Michigan, made popular by another prominent child of the city, Michael Moore, in his film documentaries," breathlessly explains. "Our girl was a brainy student type, as it was reported that she enrolled at the University of Michigan at age 15 to eventually graduate around 19! She took the time to be a radio deejay and to win a lot of beauty contest titles (at least eight) by the age of 20."
And what's Flint's best-known actress doing these days? How does a bombshell who's worked with Dean Martin and Alfred Hitchcock pass the time? She lives quietly with her family in a modest house off East Court in Flint. She enjoys the Farmer's Market on Saturdays, and she's been sighted at the White Horse Tavern on occasion.

Just kidding.

"Another big honor came her way when she said ‘yes’ to a marriage proposal coming from famed orchestra conductor Zubin Mehta," according to "They were united on July 19, 1969. She subsequently popped up a couple of times on TV, credited as Nancy Mehta, and was last seen on a Bronk episode in 1976. The couple had two children. Mehta became the music director for the New York Philharmonic. And Nancy preferred to dedicate herself to family life. Of course, Mehta eventually worked with Pavarotti and Domingo. In 1998 the couple moved to Germany, where hubby became Music Director of the Bavarian State Opera. Also, Nancy lost some money to Susan McDougal, a player in the Whitewater scandal. By her own admission, Nancy Kovack refused to play the Hollywood game, be it casting couch or swingers scene, despite playing seductive and/or sexy roles. She never became a major movie star and this suited her fine."

Monday, June 9, 2008

Durant Hotel in limbo

Durant Hotel photo courtesy of The Kohrman Report.

"Renovation" work begins on the Durant Hotel, but it doesn't mean the historic building will be saved.

Kaleb Jair Maclin, R.I.P.

Dana DeFever of The Flint Journal reports:

Kaleb Jair Maclin, 21, died Sunday morning after he was stabbed at 1210 Avon Park.

According to the Flint Police Maclin was stabbed during an altercation at 12:21 a.m. Police have a black 16-year-old male suspect in custody.

For a map of Flint homicides, go to the Flint Murder Map.

Note: The Flint Journal violates one of the basic rules of reporting in this short brief. When race is not an issue in a story, you don't mention race. Why is it necessary to point out the suspect is black? The victim's race isn't mentioned because it has no bearing on the story. Likewise, the suspect's race isn't relevant since he's already in custody. (If the police are looking for a suspect at large, it makes since to mention if they are white or black or whatever, along with any other distinguishing characteristics.) This is the kind of racially biased reporting that most papers have eliminated. The Journal should eliminate it as well.

UPDATE: The Flint Journal reports:

A 16-year-old boy faces murder charges over claims he stabbed his older brother to death in a fight over an iPod and a cellphone.

Police were called to the Avon Park apartment complex on Lapeer Road near Court Street just before midnight Saturday and found Kaleb J. Maclin with stab wounds.

The 21-year-old was taken to Hurley Medical Center where he died.

His brother, Damarcus Maclin, was arrested hours later and will face open murder charges as an adult.

Genesee County Prosecutor David S. Leyton called the slaying "tragic."

"It harkens back to Cain and Abel," said Leyton, who said he decided to charge Damarcus as an adult because of the "grievous" facts of the case.

The pair were apparently arguing when Damarcus allegedly grabbed a knife from the kitchen and attacked his brother, officials said.

An arrest warrant for Damarcus was sworn out Monday and he is expected to be arraigned today Tuesday.

He is being held at the Regional Detention Center in Flint Township.

Funeral services for Maclin are set for noon Friday at Joy Tabernacle, 731 E. Hamilton Ave.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

DuKette feedback

DuKette Catholic School students Dezmon Griffin and Donald Scott. (Photo via

A comment from redgirl about the closure of DuKette Catholic School:

This is very, very sad, not to mention infuriating: why were the teachers, students and the families concerned only just NOW informed that they would not be returning? Budget or no budget, to leave these families hanging like that in the eleventh hour is simply inexcusable. Did anyone consider the transition issue for the kids, and the impact that such an abrupt change could potentially have on them and their families? It would have been far better from a psychological and emotional standpoint to prepare these children and their families for this DURING the school year so they could prepare for and process the change together as a group. I'm sure there was a fight to the end to keep the place open, but to keep the most important people in the school — the kids and their families — in the dark until the last minute was simply not right.

Are there any readers out there who attended Maurice Oak Primary and Donovan North Middle School in the 1970s? I started first grade in 1971 and left after finishing eighth grade in 1979, moving on to Powers Catholic for high school. I have very fond memories of all those years at that school and of the kids, the teachers, the principals, the games, the church and the grounds, the secretaries, and the lunch and the milk ladies — who could forget Mrs. Bontumasi! When I started a carton of white milk was 4 cents and chocolate 5 cents.

UPDATE: The Diocese of Lansing website has more information:

The children of DuKette School - located at the Saint Agnes site - will be invited to attend Saint John Vianney School. The diocese will help the children currently enrolled in grades K-7 (2007-2008) continue their Catholic Education with some diocesan subsidy while they remain in any parish grade school. DuKette School will be closed.

DuKette Catholic School closing

The 2007 pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and eighth-grade graduates of DuKette Catholic School.

The Flint Journal is reporting that DuKette Catholic School, formerly known as Donovan North and St. Agnes, will close. It's another lost resource for kids in a troubled neighborhood.

Beata Mostafavi writes:

For nearly 30 years, it was the tight-knit Roman-Catholic school where children prayed before lunch and were taught family values and respect alongside math and English.

But teachers at DuKette Catholic School were told Friday that the tiny faith-based school will close before fall, according to Nadine Roberts -- whose grandchildren attend DuKette and who is on the school's board of directors.

"As of Thursday, all parents and grandparents thought that we were going next year. They didn't tell parents at all," said Roberts, who said several staff members called her with the news.

"People in the community are going to be very sad."

Roberts said that staff members told her that a representative from the Diocese of Lansing visited the school Friday for an emergency meeting and read a letter announcing closure.

Neither Principal Gail Negrinelli nor anyone at the Diocese of Lansing could be reached today to confirm the school's closing.

Dropping enrollment has been one of the biggest problems for the pre-K-8 school, where numbers dropped from roughly 186 students in 2000 to about 65 in 2006.

Located at 530 W. Pierson Road on the St. Agnes Church campus, the school has also suffered from burglaries and been the target of other crimes over the years.

"We knew that they were looking at schools and looking at the numbers and that something would be done eventually because the numbers were low," Roberts said. "That was understandable. What was not understandable was the way it happened.

"There was no transition and that's not fair. These kids got to go somewhere."

Roberts said parents and grandparents such as herself send their children to DuKette because of the small classes, good teachers and strong emphasis on God and values.

"People made a conscious choice to put their kids in a structured environment that they felt like was beneficial to their children's education and growth," she said.

Roberts said teachers at the school, which has operated with a roughly dozen-member staff, were told they would receive some kind of severance package.

But she noted that the short notice will make it hard for staff to find new jobs and force parents to scramble for school records and enroll children in another school.

DuKette has a long history in the area, named after Flint's first black priest the Rev. Norman A. DuKette when it opened in 1980. It was formerly known as St. Agnes Catholic Grammar School and High School until the 1970s when area Catholic schools were consolidated and it was renamed Donovan North School.

For at least a couple of years, the community school, which costs about $3,100 per child a year, has fought closure rumors. But officials have vowed to keep it put.

"We've got a staff here that loves these kids and loves working together," Negrinelli said in an interview in 2006 in regards to threats of closing. "When you've got people working together on the same page and have the same goals, educating children, you can accomplish a lot."

DuKette student Jonathan Sargent works on his science fair project.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Flint Artifacts: Genesee County Circuit Court Juror

Friday, June 6, 2008

Can someone explain Will Ferrell's strange power over Flint Expatriate readers?

Long-time readers know that I've shamelessly tried to get more hits for Flint Expatriates by employing saturation coverage of Semi-Pro, Will Ferrell's disappointing comedy that's supposed to be about Flint but really isn't. I promoted Semi-Pro t-shirts. I labored to somehow link the movie with free-market economic theory. I covered my own attendance at the movie's San Francisco premiere — a sure sign of desperation. Then I gave away my Semi-Pro headband in a contest to a former Flintoid now living in Indiana. (Don, just trust me, it's perfectly acceptable to wear the headband to work.)

And yet, according to Google Analytics, which lets me know the key words that draw readers to the site, posts about this largely unfunny movie continue to be very popular. Even after Rocky, the bear that rassled Jackie Moon in the movie, killed his real-life trainer, some people just can't seem to get enough Semi-Pro.

So who am I to deny the public what they want. Besides, these Semi-Pro commercials for Old Spice are a lot funnier than the actual movie.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bowling for dollars

After you've embezzled nearly $150,000 from the Flint Women's Bowling Association, what would you spend the money on? Patti Jo Ashlock chose scratch-off lottery tickets.

Expensive ride

Forget the sticker price, what's the true cost of owning a behemoth like the Ford F-250? According to The New York Times, if you keep it five years, drive it about 15,000 miles a year, and gas stays at around $4 a gallon, it's $100,000. The gas alone would set you back $30,000.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Red Wings!

The Red Wings win the Stanley Cup for the 4th time in eleven years.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Jaquan S. Dudley, R.I.P.

Moments after the news conference on Monday announcing David Dicks as Flint's latest interim police chief ended, Dicks was informed that his son, Jaquan Dudley, had been murdered at the Orchard Ridge apartment complex near Pierson and Clio Roads.

Shannon Murphy of The Flint Journal Reports:

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said Dudley was a witness in the murder of Kaneco A. Parson, a friend who police believe was killed with a sledgehammer. Dana Sebastian is awaiting trial for the slaying.

Dudley testified in District Court that he had gone to Sebastian's home looking for Parson. In exchange for his testimony, charges against him in a drug case were reduced.

Leyton, however, said police have other leads they are following and don't believe Dudley's death is linked to his testimony.

"I think it's unlikely his death is linked to this case because Sebastian is in jail and is not somebody who we believe could arrange this from in there," Leyton said.

For a map of Flint homicides, go to the Flint Murder Map.

New GM engine plant in Flint

The Flint Journal reports:

A new, $350-million General Motors plant that will produce engines for Chevrolet's next generation compact car will be built in the area of Flint Engine South, Mayor Don Willamson said Tuesday.

Williamson, responding to an announcement of new engine work in Flint by GM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner, went one step further, saying he could "personally guarantee" that the plant would be located in the area bounded by I-75, I-69, and Bristol and VanSlyke roads.

"This is going to happen," Williamson said. "That plant will go there."

Williamson's guarantee came even as GM officials avoided committing to specifics about where the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine is expected to be built.

Behind the curve

In yet another example of keen strategic thinking, G.M. finally reaches the shocking conclusion that gas prices affect sales and announces plans to close plants in Janesville, Wisc.; Moraine, Ohio; Oshawa, Ontario; and Toluca, Mexico by or before 2010. I guess it's hard to remember all the way back to what happened in the seventies. The New York Times reports:

Responding to a consumer shift to more fuel-efficient vehicles, General Motors said Tuesday that it would stop making pickup trucks and big S.U.V.s at four North American assembly plants and would consider selling its Hummer brand.

The moves, announced Tuesday by the company chairman G. Richard Wagoner Jr., will slash 500,000 units from the automaker’s overall production, and pave the way for increased investment in smaller cars and passenger vehicles.

Mr. Wagoner said that rising gasoline prices had forced a “structural shift” by American consumers away from truck-based vehicles built by G.M.

“These prices are changing consumer behavior and changing it rapidly,” Mr. Wagoner said at a briefing before G.M.’s annual meeting in Wilmington, Del. “We don’t believe it’s a spike or a temporary shift. We believe it is, by and large, permanent.”

Monday, June 2, 2008

Flint Artifacts: Buick Patch

Sunday, June 1, 2008

TV Powww!

In an age of high-tech games and gadgetry, it's nice to hearken back to the ridiculously low-tech splendor of TV Pow. A Flintoid at Toys Are Good Food has some fond memories of the game that was almost totally devoid of strategy, hand-eye coordination, cunning or guile, but heavily dependent on your ability to yell into the phone:

"You send in the postcard, they call you on the phone, and you use the phone — your voice, man — to blow up alien spacecraft. A highly advanced shooting game, similar to Space Invaders is displayed live on TV, and you would shout into the phone, "POW" to activate your laser (the thin white block) and kill the aliens (the thick white blocks). If you kill enough aliens, you win.

"Of course, that's not really how it played out. Kids would be taken aback by their sudden fame of being on TV live during little house, and would whisper "pow" too softly to activate the voice technology. Or, things would swing the other way, and you'd have thirty seconds of a kid shouting "POWPOWPOWPOW" at the top of his little lungs. This was frickin' genius in the post-pong/pre-atari world."

Special thanks to Cara for reminding me of this gem.

Murmurs of Flint

I felt some roundabout Flint nostalgia last night when I went to the R.E.M/Modest Mouse/The National show at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley with my friend Will. He blogged about it for SF Weekly, where he works. I haven't listend to R.E.M in what must be 15 years — and after seeing them that won't change — but songs from Murmur got heavy rotation on the little portable tape deck I rode around with in Flint in the early eighties. (No in-dash tape player in the old LeSabre or the Electra.)

Michael Moore: A permanent reminder of a temporary feeling

And no, Michael Moore did not have this tattoo inked on himself.

Photo courtesy of Entertainment Weekly. Thanks to Tom for the heads up on this.