Friday, July 18, 2008

Calling all tourists!

Despite the layoffs, the crime, a mayor with a rap sheet, and the fact that its most famous native son — Michael Moore — is actually from Davison, there's one thing Flint's leaders have never really lost, and that's the naive belief that someday, somehow, someway Flint will be a tourist attraction.

All I can say is keep dreaming that dream, you crazy dreamers!

From the folks that brought you Autoworld and the downtown Hyatt comes this news, courtesy of Joe Lawlor of The Flint Journal:

"New radio ads are hitting the airwaves today with poetic lines recited by comedian Tim Allen promoting a tourist destination: Flint, Michigan.

"The radio ads and accompanying billboard campaign will hit key Michigan, Ohio and Indiana cities and air for three months as part of the statewide Pure Michigan campaign promoting tourism.

"The $200,000 tab is being split by the state and Flint Area Convention & Visitors Bureau."

Care to give a listen to this masterpiece? Just click here. And you must give it a listen. But be forewarned, once you hear this, you'll be scrambling to book a flight to Flint for a two-week vacation, so have your Visa ready.

"Bureau President Jerry Preston said the advertising agency talked about changing Genesee County's image from the state's 'most distressed community' to a 'vibrant getaway.'

"'We're trying to move the needle a little bit, from rock bottom to something above that,' Preston said."

Ah Jerry, such lofty goals. (What exactly is just above "rock bottom"? Low down? Piss poor? Really yucky?) This will certainly be money well spent. If you need any other ideas, Jerry, check out this video about Stoneybridge, Scotland, provided by my friend Keith Laidlaw, who hails from Edinburgh. The accents are a little thick, but all we need to do is change the word "Stoneybridge" to "Flint" and get Ben Hamper to redub the voiceover, then we'll have more tourists than we'll know what to do with. Let's hope they're well-armed.


  1. I want my tax money back, and I want it back now.
    Spend a few days in Flint and Genesee County discovering how to dodge bullets and find a way to the hospital.
    Who thinks up this crud? Sure the Cultural Center is a jewel, but who would spend a few days here for that?

  2. For the record, I hope this didn't come off as making fun of Flint. It's meant to make fun of the civic leaders who insist on blowing money on these tourist fantasies instead of spending money on things flint needs, like small-business loans or police or even lawn care and maintenance around town.

  3. Yes, dodging bullets. I've lived in Flint for nearly four years and have NEVER had to do that. And it's not like I avoid certain parts of the city either. I love reading this blog, but it brings out tons of Flint bashing from other readers. It's almost as bad as the Mlive forums sometimes.

  4. Anonymous, thanks for the comment and it comes at a time when I've been thinking about that very subject. I just had a conversation with one of my old Flint friends about the overall tone of the blog.

    I've really tried not to have it be a forum for making fun of Flint, and I think that I've achieved that. (Although I think people who have a history in Flint may have greater leeway in what they think is funny than an outsider would, just like Catholics often make fun of the church with other Catholics, but they'd be outraged if a non-Catholic said the same thing.)

    I've worked to find some positive economic news, and I think there have been numerous posts about downtown rehab projects, etc. The problem is that when I talk to people I know who live in Flint, they are not encouraging.

    All I can say, without being too corny, is that I loved living in Flint up until I was about 20 years old and hit the road. And I still love the city. I've tried to limit the attacks to the folks who, in my biased opinion, deserve it...GM execs, local politicos, etc.

    And I do moderate the comment section and excise stuff I think is too harsh. I guess I'm maybe a little defensive because I've read the racist, hateful garbage that litters MLIVE, and I don't think the comment section has ever reached that level here.

    As for dodging bullets...I know that might seem like an exaggeration, but I've been shot at three times while driving in Flint, all in the late 70s, early 80s. The most memorable was when the shot blew out the window of the passenger seat where I was sitting. My grandmother learned to lay down in the backseat when we passed a certain spot on Hamilton Ave, because that's where it always happened.

    And I'm not trying to shoot down -- to use an unfortunate phrase -- what you said. I'll keep it in mind when I moderate the comments.

    Thanks for reading.

  5. and what aboot the Scottish bashing?! the parody of Edinbr-r-r-oo was a piece of BBC-one propaganda if I've ever seen any! I've been there, and dinna see no kin tae this tripe! It aye gies me the flegs! I say, send that Maggie Thatcher wench doon tae Flint Toon, sairves 'em both richt! Now Glesga Toon, that's ae a troot o' a meckle guid aine.Dunkeld Roos!

  6. For what it's worth, I have NEVER considered this a forum for Flint-bashing, though I agree with you, geewhy, that people who have a history in Flint do take certain liberties in criticizing or making fun that can seem like bashing to outsiders, but in fact make use of sarcasm and humor to talk about a rather sad situation. The use of humor is far more appropriate than focusing in all earnestness (and exploding everyone's budget) on something unrealistically optimistic such as that ridiculous ad. And humor, sarcastic or not, is a far more constructive alternative than relying on out-and-out bitterness. It's sort of a middle ground and in some ways a defense mechanism.

    That said, let me just mention that in Flint, all on different occasions in the 70's, 80's and 90's, my dad was car-jacked (though he forced the guy out of the car somehow), knifed and robbed while walking the dog, beaten with a lead pipe while going into the KofC down at 4th and Garland for a meeting and run off the road just for fun. In spite of all of that, he cared a lot about Flint and refused to leave. He lived most of his life there from his birth in 1925 until his death in 2005, and that's where most of his friends were. He was frustrated about the place, but never simply focused on the negative. There is always good and bad - you just have to make the best of it; that's what he did. And while it is sometimes a walk on a tightrope, there is a difference between bashing and using irony and humor.

    So no, geewhy, the post on the latest PR for Flint did not come off as making fun of Flint, and your OUTSTANDING & INFORMATIVE blog does not come off that way either.

    Thanks for writing!

  7. Thanks, Redgirl. The check is in the mail! And we could probably come up with an entirely separate blog devoted solely to crime on Garland Street.

    And Bustup, you sound just like my Scottish grandmother. Hilarious.

  8. The Scots even have the Michigan nasal thing down. Forget a total redub, just insert the word Flint and it will work.

  9. Redgirl, a very articulate and intelligent posting. Your Late Father reminds me of my own in a lot of ways. And I agree w/You on the humor/sarcasm thing, as it's the same "gallows humor" defense mode. My God Gordie! Your poor Mom! You Both had Someone looking out for You that day! Sounds like a sniper to me. I've had a few close calls down there, but none that close. And after having left Flint more than 30yrs. ago, I still love the place, too. But, a tourista destination? Tim Allen won't be there, I promise. He'll more than likely be skiing on his private lake up here. Maybe they can roll out micheal moore as a draw...if they can find some chocks to use.

  10. Just make the check out to "Sallie Mae" ... Speaking of Garland St. excitement, I was at a friend's family's house once over on Fourth St. right by Garland. We had to spend about ten minutes down on the floor to avoid potential gunfire. Then the next thing you know there were blinding lights shining on the front porch into the living room window - the police caught whoever they were looking for and had him spread eagle up against the porch railing. He had been running through people's yards and ditched his gun in the garden right next to the house. All in a days life in that neighborhood.

  11. Do any of You relate incidents like these to "outlanders", the people from where you now live? Are their reactions like horrified, open-jawed, glazed eye, and with a response like:"did this happen a lot?", "were You ever shot/robbed/stabbed/mugged/jacked/killed/meet michael moore/mark farner/sarah bernhardt/etc.?" yeah, I met sarah too,(Gordie's going "yeah, right."). she used to belong to flint community players,and they practised near Petko's restaurant, and ALWAYS came in at closing/pushed 3 tables together that weren't used/and ordered only drinks. obnoxious and rude, and friends with the woman at the end of moore's 'roger" movie, what's her name...maxine? the time the dbl. bottom fuel tanker blew up there at 69 and 75 at miller rd. was more memorable than anything s.b. ever did.

  12. i remember in the 70's it was, "Oh Flint, that's where all the great basketball players are from." and then in the 80's it was, "Flint!? do you own a gun? have you ever seen somebody shot?" and then in the 90's it was, "Flint? Do you know the Rabbit Lady?" and then i moved...

  13. Anon-laughed my irish-scots butt off! oh, and my bad: Sarah Bernhardt/sandra bernhardt, I always get them confused. Sarah had one leg and lots of talent, sandra had both legs and no talent. other than playing suckface w/madonna, that is. Who here knows the Rabbit Lady? hands? gun? purple hearts?

  14. Just saw this one... very funny.

    I think I've already mentioned this somewhere else (who knows where in this blog) but their campaign a few years back was... "Flint more cars than people". I bought a magnet of it for my friend (who's from Detroit but loves Flint, don't ask).

    I thought that was a pretty funny tag line. I imagine them like those phony Scots taking 6 years to make that one up. :)

    I am not for Flint bashing, but stupidity bashing is fair game, and that Tim Allen piece... whoah...

    I was lucky enough to never have a direct crime upon me in Flint... I got that in Brooklyn instead. But I felt safer in Brooklyn because there were people, so am not sure that magnet that I bought at Bishop Airport was geared to anyone who would actually want to visit Flint. I actually thought it was Flint finally laughing at the absudity itself. :)


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at