Saturday, November 28, 2009

Auto Show Speculation

Ahh, perfection.

I went to the San Francisco International Auto Show this weekend. Unencumbered by any research, interviews or statistics, here are a few random thoughts:

1. Wandering around the concourses, taking in hundreds of cars that more or less look exactly the same — give or take a few oldies and oddities — it just seems like there are too many makes, models and players in this game. Are there really enough people out there to buy enough of these bland cars to keep all the automakers in business?

2. Remember back, oh, a few months ago when cars with decent mileage were all the rage? Remember all the giddy talk of weening ourselves off foreign oil? Aside from the hybrids, Smart cars, and a few small exceptions, the show was all about pickup and power.

3. Saab should just fold. You could not look at one of their cars and differentiate it from any other brand. The spokeswoman seemed depressed and unconvincingly said, "The company has two perspective buyers. We'll have new owners soon." Volvo is also getting dangerously close to anonymity. What's happened to the once-distinctive European carmakers? Could it be that they are owned by the Americans now?

4. Even if you don't like the look, you have to hand it to Cadillac. Their sharp-angled design stands out, even though it seems like you might cut yourself if you get too close.

Don't believe me? Listen to Joe Lorio of The New York Times:

Even if you knew nothing about European wagons, one look at the CTS Sport Wagon would dispel any notion that this is the second coming of the Country Squire. There’s nothing retro to it. Even more so than the CTS sedan, the wagon is a showcase for Cadillac’s faceted, angular design.

Take the liftgate, for instance. Instead of a flat plane, it comes to a point in the middle. And check out the bladelike taillamps, which extend from the bumper all the way to the roof. Particularly unusual for a wagon are the ultraslim rear-quarter windows and extra-wide rear pillars. They make it look as if Cadillac’s designers were afraid to let their wagon look like a wagon — and in fact, they were.

5. One of the loneliest guys at the auto show was the Buick Lacrosse spokesman. He kept pitching while he paced the rotating dais he shared with Buick's hope for the future, but nobody was listening. Where was everybody? Huddled around the Camaros and Corvettes.

Anyone in the market for a V16? Look no further than the 1934 Cadillac Aero Coupe.

How big is the Escalade? It's as wide as the wingspan of Michael, my 6'3" Polish-American friend from Kansas.

It's hard to tell but this is a Chevy Impala. I'm not really sure what to say about this car except that is was mesmerizing.

This Rolls Royce tank costs $430,000. It doubles as a very large stainless steel fridge.

The Impala of your dreams.

A woodie without the wood, courtesy of a trompe l'eoil paint job.

Traci experiences what it's like to drive something other than a 1990 Camry or a 2002 Elantra.

UPDATE: Some thoughts, via Facebook, from Eric Francis, a journalist I worked with in Little Rock, Arkansas who once wrote one of the best car articles I've ever read way back in the early '90s. (Hey Eric, if you have a digital copy of that piece, send it my way.)
Ah, I'd LOVE to go to one of the big auto shows! I share your opinion of the anonymity of so many car brands. They look alike, feel alike, sound alike - there's nothing to distinguish them. But remember, in America it's bland that sells. (Viz: American Idol last year.)

The speed with which this nation abandoned fuel efficiency as The New Top Priority also amazed me. I recently talked to a friend who sells used cars and asked if there's a booming market for gas-sippers; nope, he said, it's all pickups and SUVs. I still firmly believe the only thing that will drive up average MPG in America is government establishing a floor on gas prices - say $4.50 a gallon - but that'll only happen after every member of Congress voluntarily gets a lobotomy.

As for the distinct European brands, they still exist - they just aren't sold here. Fiat, Peugeot, Renault, Citroen (yes, I know those last three are French, but...), even GM's European cars tend to look a little more distinct than their American lineup. It's ironic that the (marginally) most distinct American car line, Pontiac, got the axe in favor of keeping Buick, which appeals to senior citizens and the Chinese.

As much as I'd enjoy driving a asphalt-burning, tire-spinning, gas-guzzling road racer, I'm still perfectly happy with my Golf turbodiesel. Great mileage, great practicality, fun to drive.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

1967 Buick Electra: The Art of Advertising

Happy Thanksgiving from Flint Expatriates

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Powers Catholic Turns 40

Powers High School, the setting for many excellent adventures, has reached middle age. Melissa Burden of The Flint Journal reports:
Tuition was $450 when the ninth- through 12th-grade school opened its doors in 1970. Today, the cost is $7,200 a student per year (or $600 a month) and is higher if the student isn’t affiliated with an area parish.

The school opened with just shy of 1,500 students after seven Catholic high schools in the county merged to become Powers.

The Powers vision was honed in the mid 1960s, a time when the costs to run private Catholic schools were rising considerably as there were fewer nuns teaching who took less salary than other teachers and as schools began to struggle with offerings, recalls Joe Forlenza, who was assistant principal when Powers opened and served as its principal from 1974 to 2002.

“A lot of them could not continue to afford the quality of education, the variety they were used to,” said Forlenza, who coaches freshman and junior varsity football for Powers.

But joining forces, they could provide more programs for students.

The $4.2-million school, the site chosen when 80 percent of area Catholics lived north of the Flint River, was financed with donations from the parishes and a mortgage that was paid off around 1980, Forlenza said.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Flint Car Buffs in the Desert

What does a Flint Expatriate like Jeff Stork do when he moves to Palm Springs? He starts a blog called the Palm Springs Automobilist, of course.

Update: Believe it or not, there's a website devoted to the Chevette Sandpiper like the one Jeff is working on in the photo. By the way, that yellow paint looks suspiciously close to the "Bamboo Cream" of my grandma's Buick Electra 225.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Mystery of the House and the Factory

Can you name this street and this factory?

Tell us where to find this room with a view.

Where's this house?

So you think you know Flint? Expatriate and current New Yorker Shawn Chittle has offered up a challenge to readers. These screen shots were taken from a 16mm movie shot in 1977 in the Vehicle City. Where is this street? Where is this factory? And where is this house?

Shawn has a few ideas, but let's see what you can come up with. This is sort of an industrial version of the Mystery Shots by Mary Fisher post a while back.


Anonymous said...

Looks like a neighborhood behind AC..... unclebuck Pitkin??

November 23, 2009 9:36 AM

Gerry Godin said...

I believe that is Mathewson and Bluff st, showing the building that was used as a parts warehouse in the 70's. I also think it was used for Chevy Personnel. I hired in at that building. The water tower is located at the powerhouse on the Flint River at Chevrolet ave. On Google maps that house is still standing.

November 23, 2009 9:11 AM

Anonymous said...

Is it Cadillac St. facing Bluff right behind the GMI apartments. I guess it could be any of those streets down through there, looks like Chevy in the hole though from memory.

November 23, 2009 9:13 AM

Anonymous said...

This is embarrassing. I worked at Chevy parts in the hole in the sixties and didn't even catch the locale. My memory must be fading fast...unclebuck PS. The four factories I worked at,- I thought were indelibly etched in my mind.

November 23, 2009 10:58 AM

grumkin said...

My guess: one of those side streets between W. Court and Glenwood Ave. (ie. Fox, Thayer, Hazleton)....

November 23, 2009 11:27 AM

Cooley's Dictum said...

I think anonymous has it right. Look at the change in the color of the street pavement -- reddish to grayish -- as if from brick to blacktop. While Mathewson (named for surveyor Stephen Mathewson, by the way) also runs south from 3rd to Bluff, parallel to Cadillac -- Cadillac was, into contemporary times, brick north of 3rd. Mathewson, as near as I can remember, was never brick. ( ...though, I will, of course, defer to Gerry or any Mathewson resident.)

November 23, 2009 12:34 PM

Tom Wirt said...

I think it's Chevy in the Hole, on Bluff Street, viewed from Cadillac Street in the first photo, and from Mathewson Street in the third photo. The room with a view must be near the corner of Mathewson & Bluff.

Here is a photo of the Chevrolet building on Bluff Street taken in 1995:

Here is a more recent photo of the Mathewson & Bluff Street area:

November 23, 2009 12:57 PM

A Further Update:

View Larger Map

Here's a Google Map looking down Mathewson toward Bluff. That looks a lot like the house in the photo on the right. Notice the porch post if you zoom in on it.

Another Update: Mystery Solved

Shawn Chittle says:

YOU GUYS NAILED IT! I had my suspicions it was near Cadillac & Bluff Streets but your confirmation is all I needed. Great Google map that is exactly the house. Wow. Just wow.

I worked at the Chevy-In-The-Hole factory summers 1992-1994, well it was one of my runs along with every other GM factory back then. I was a document courier. We called Chevy "AC West." and the one on Center Road "AC East."

Being a dumb, stupid, kid I didn't know how historical or significant the place was. I was just trying to get out of Flint as fast as possible.

These photos are screen caps from a movie called "With Babies & Banners" a 1977 Academy Award nominated movie about the Sit Down Strike as told from the Women's Auxiliary Brigade. 1977 was the height of the ERA movement and this film certainly bolstered the idea these women were not to be messed with.

They wore berets, armbands, and carried slapjacks, wooden sticks and took sh** from no one. They fought with the police, GM security, and were captured in "Roger & Me" smashing the factory windows out when GM gassed the workers. Without them the Strike might not have been won.

Their fearless (literally, fearless) leader, Genora Johnson, is someone who, after discovering and reading more about, has rapidly moved to the top of my "coolest people who ever lived" list.

Her book "Not Automatic" is required reading and is available at

Remember the little kids striking with the signs? Remember in particular the little 2 year old that had a sign that read "Our Daddy Strikes For Us Little Tykes" that was Jarvis Johnson, Genora's two year old son. He died in a car accident a few years after that photo was taken.

I have "With Babies & Banners" on DVD - it was never released to the public. It's beyond belief and one of my most prized possessions.

It's a very emotional, heart-wrenching film, and parts of the movie are too hard to watch. It will choke you up big time.

Thanks again Gordie for the venue and to everyone for your time!

More mysteries to come...

Mark Ingram and the Heisman

Want to help Flint Southwestern's Mark Ingram win the Heisman Trophy? Go here and cast your vote.

Buick City: From Cars to Copper

What's left of Buick City is still producing revenue...for copper thieves.

Ron Fonger of The Flint Journal reports:
The thefts are just an asterisk in the long history of the sprawling Buick City complex on Flint's North Side, where only a few hundred workers still produce parts for GM vehicles at what's called Powertrain Flint North.

Much of the Buick City site has been decommissioned or demolished since vehicle production ended here a decade ago.

The thefts apparently came from Plant 36, which had produced Buick engines until August of 2008.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rust Belt Super Bowl

It's official. The Detroit Lions are not the worst team in the NFL.

Detroit Lions 38
Cleveland Browns 37

Friday, November 20, 2009

Flint Video: Goodbye, Central High

Goodbye, Central High from Dude! (ironic) Productions on Vimeo.

For more material on the Flint Central High School farewell gathering on June 12, 2009, go here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Technical Center of Your Dreams

View Larger Map

I know many readers have always wanted to own the Great Lakes Technical Center on S. Saginaw Street. Well, now's your chance. Williams & Williams will auction off the complex on December 15.
"Developed in 1987 as a high tech engineering and development facility for the General Motors Corporation, the Great Lakes Technology Center is a highly flexible 693,000 +/- sq ft facility," according to iStockAnalyst. "The site is located on a 40 +/- acre campus, near Interstates 475, 69 and 75 and Bishop International Airport. The Center consists of five buildings ranging in size from the original General Motors 54,000 sq ft administration building to a three-story, nearly 384,000 sq ft adaptive use facility. It is move-in ready and capable of being utilized for almost any conceivable purpose including office space, manufacturing, industrial, light industrial or retail.

“'The Great Lakes Technology Center is unprecedented in its design and is in pristine condition,' said Pam McKissick, President and COO of Williams & Williams. 'The adaptability of this property combined with the fact that it is being sold without reserve, presents a highly attractive real estate and business opportunity.'"

Graffiti Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Graffiti is often considered a key element of urban blight, unless it's well-intentioned hipster stenciling funded by grant money in Detroit's Hubbard Farms neighborhood.

Sean Mann of the Let's Save Michigan blog writes:
A few weeks back a couple of us walked the streets surveying vacant properties to check for squatters and assess if they were secure. With the skills of some artists in the neighborhood, some plywood was precut, painted, and decorated with creative stencils ranging from clouds and cats to a peregrine falcon swooping down on a Mickey Mouse.

These activities all built up to Saturday when over a dozen of us, as well as a van load of U of M volunteers, got together on what will probably be the last nice weekend of 2009. One group removed graffiti on several blocks of commercial buildings and another group picked up trash from various properties. A couple of us proceeded to move through the neighborhood in the suspicious-looking windowless van jumping out and boarding up four vacant buildings in a guerrilla fashion . . . well, I mean as guerrilla as you can possibly be when you are being funded by a grant.

Who exactly owned the properties wasn't entirely certain in some cases. What was certain was that each property had been empty for years and had become a magnet for undesirable activity and something had to be done.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Toledo Throws Down the Gauntlet

Damn you, Toledo, why must you torment us with your cosmopolitan ways?

Larry P. Vellequette of The Toledo Blade reports:
Metro Toledo ranked third from the bottom, ahead of only Detroit and Flint, in an annual survey that measures the economic vitality of the nation's 200 largest cities.

No metropolitan area in Ohio or Michigan scored among the top 100 in the annual Milken Institute's list of Best Performing Cities, but some grabbed spots among the bottom 20. Toledo's 198th rank was worse than its prior year's finish of 194th.

The Joy of Video

I'm getting reports that the videos of Nathan Murphy and Gerry Godin are not cooperating for some readers. I'm shocked that something on the web is not working properly! It might be that it's just taking a long time to load, so be patient. Or it could be that Blogger is having difficulties when you try to watch. Or, well, who knows? When I have some time, I'll upload them to Youtube and provide links so you can watch it there if you wish. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Flint Video: At Home in Carriage Town

Nathan Murphy: At Home in Carriage Town from Dude! (ironic) Productions on Vimeo.

I'm still wading through some of the footage I shot in June while I was reporting in Flint. As you can tell, I'm learning on the job when it comes to video, but this material might augment the stories I wrote for Slate and The New York Times. Or you may wonder why people trained as print journalists try to create video.

Rebecca Fedewa and Nathan Murphy were my closest neighbors when I was staying in Carriage Town. I saw them out with their two dogs my first day in Flint. I wanted to introduce myself, but it looked like they were just about to head inside, so I started jogging across their huge yard yelling "Hi! Excuse me!" Of course, they had no idea who I was and I probably looked somewhat deranged. (Note: Do not run at people you don't know in Flint.) Thankfully, they didn't turn the dogs loose on me. "When someone we don't know comes at us like that, they're usually panhandling," Nathan told me.

Once the awkward introduction was over, we got along fine and they were very patient over the next few weeks when I interviewed them repeatedly. Here's an excerpt from the Times article:

Seven years ago, Rebecca Fedewa and Nathan Murphy paid $90,000 for a property that takes up five city lots. Standing near the hot tub on the back deck of their two-story cornflower-blue house, the couple can take in their herb and vegetable garden, compost heap and the various fruit trees and berry bushes they planted in the yard, where their two dogs have plenty of room to run.

“I grew up in Lansing, and when I told people I was moving to Flint they were like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ” said Ms. Fedewa, 36, the executive director of the Flint River Watershed Coalition. “But we never had a lot of apprehension about moving here. When we lived in various suburbs, we were never engaged in our community at all.”

They decided to buy in part because she liked being able to walk to her office in downtown Flint. They haven’t been disappointed.

“Now we know everybody,” she said. “You have a hard time getting your yard work done because people stop by to talk. You really feel like you’re part of something.”

Mr. Murphy, a 38-year-old environmental policy analyst with the Michigan Senate Democrats who commutes to Lansing, says he sometimes gets surprised reactions when he tells people he lives near downtown Flint. He likes to respond that he has a half-acre of land and can still walk to the Soggy Bottom Bar.

“The entire time we’ve been here, the state has drifted through a recession year after year, yet things have slowly gotten better in Carriage Town,” Mr. Murphy said. “Now the rest of the country has caught our recession, but the big projects are starting to come through here and it seems like things are picking up faster than ever.”

Monday, November 16, 2009

G.M. Payback Starts Early

G.M. has already started repaying its government loans.

Nick Bunkley of The New York Times reports:

G.M. said it increased its cash reserves by $3.3 billion from July 10 to Sept. 30, ending the quarter with $42.6 billion on hand. It plans to make a $1 billion payment to the United States government in December, more than five years before the loans are due, and to submit similar quarterly payments after that.

G.M.’s chief executive, Fritz Henderson, said the automaker’s performance showed “some signs of progress and some signs of stability” and a “good, strong liquidity position.”

Speaking at a news conference at G.M.’s headquarters, Mr. Henderson said the loss was “much lower than what it has been and certainly better than our plan going into bankruptcy, but nonetheless it’s a loss and you can’t be satisfied with it.”

For the entire third quarter, including the final 10 days of G.M.’s bankruptcy, the company said its revenue was $28 billion, up 21 percent from the second quarter.

Excluding taxes and one-time items like the costs related to restructuring its dealership network, G.M. said its operations lost $261 million from July 10 and Sept. 30. The loss in North America was $651 million, while international operations reported a profit of $238 million.

Shrinking Cities in Michigan

Dan Kildee may be moving on from the Genesee County Land Bank, but his ideas are spreading.

Vince Bond Jr. of Great Lakes Echo reports:
Time could be running out for abandoned and dilapidated homes plaguing the property values of some Michigan neighborhoods.

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MHSDA) is seeking $290 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for its New Michigan Urban Neighborhood plan targeting the 12 largest municipalities, including Lansing, Detroit, Highland Park, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

Others target areas are Pontiac, Wyandotte, Hamtramck, Battle Creek, Flint, Saginaw and Benton Harbor.

The projects would revitalize neighborhoods by renovating or demolishing abandoned houses while improving the potential for private businesses looking to open shops in thriving areas, said Rick Ballard, director of the MSHDA office of community development.

If the plan is funded, about 6,000 abandoned, foreclosed or vacant properties will be acquired and redeveloped, 2,500 structures will be torn down, and 1,500 homes will be built or rehabilitated.

Ryan Eashoo on the Radio

Real estate agent, Carriage Town resident, and man about town Ryan Eashoo has a radio show about Flint. Listen to segments here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Flint Video: Gerry Godin Returns to Buick City

Gerry Godin and the Death of Buick City from Dude! (ironic) Productions on Vimeo.

In June 2009, Gerry Godin, the publisher of All Things Buick, gave me a tour of Oak Park near the former site of Buick City, where he worked for 25 years. We spent the rest of the day driving around town in his Park Avenue, eating lunch at Angelo's, and touring the "Hardwood" Smith House. Read all about it here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Flint Artifacts: Hamady Bros. Tokens

Haskell Lives Again

The Haskell Community Center, second home to many Civic Park kids over the years, has been revived yet again.

Laura Angus of The Flint Journal reports:
The Haskell Community Center, located at 2201 Forest Hill Avenue, is now home to a police mini-station serving the city’s 2nd Ward.

Mayor Dayne Walling announced the mini-station’s opening on Wednesday. The center has also been the Police Activities League’s headquarters since July.

Walling said the station is a “no-cost solution to fight crime.” It allows officers to file police reports without driving downtown, and serve as a hub for neighborhood volunteers. “This is what community policing is all about, and it starts with having a place, a center, and anchor in every ward,” said Walling.

Thanks to Randy Gearhart for passing this along.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Malls Versus Trees

Speaking of malls, it seems like Genesee Valley doesn't like the New Boyz, but in Grand Blanc the mall apparently doesn't take kindly to trees, especially maples owned by the city.

Scott Atkinson of The Flint Journal reports:
The Grand Blanc City Council decided tonight to table the issue of how to seek restitution from the owners of the Grand Mall, who cut down trees in the city's right of way along Saginaw Street.

After a disagreement about how to seek restitution for the trees, the council decided to meet with the Grand Mall owners again to further discuss the issue.
At the very least, this gives the Grand Blanc City Council a reason to exist.

New Boyz at Genesee Valley

Genesee Valley mall sounds a lot more exciting than it was back in the eighties when the biggest attraction was the giant frog and the chance to buy Smiths tickets.

The Flint Journal reports:

Police from five departments responded to the mall’s J.C. Penney wing just after 4 p.m. Sunday to control an unruly crowd of about 1,500 that had gathered for a free concert by the Los Angeles-based hip-hop duo New Boyz. The event was arranged by Club 93.7 in conjunction with a CD signing at FYE.

The act, known for racy and misogynistic lyrics, was slated to rap “Tie Me Down” and “You’re a Jerk” before signing autographs after the show, but fights broke out, there were medical emergencies and people started climbing on the stage causing promoters to pull the plug on the act halfway through the second song.

Police shut down the mall at 4:30 that day, an hour and a half before its normal closing time.

Things got so out of control some stores pulled down their gates even before police orders.

Flint Artifacts: Flint Tavern Menu

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Flint in the future: No Unions and a Starbucks?

What will Flint be like in 40 years? Zach Yancer, a columnist for The Michigan Times, UM-Flint's student newspaper, shares his vision of the future:
"Per this writer’s perpetual wishing, there is even a grand Starbucks CafĂ© right there in the lobby of the brand new Mestas Tower where the old dingy Genesee Tower once stood. The University long ago purchased the demolished lot from the city and built a grand 15 story modern glass and steel office building for retail, university administration, and private business office on the top five floors. They even had the decency to name it for the chancellor that started it all.

"In a partnership with Kettering University, UM-Flint long ago constructed the Flint Alternative Energy Research Partnership, spurring hundreds of millions of dollars in bio-tech, wind and solar investment. Sites where old ruined car factory lots once stood now serve as home to over a dozen wind turbine and solar panel factories, all built with union-free labor in the heart of Michigan’s old industrial core (you had to expect something from the Republican).

"The 5,000 plus jobs these factories created have been a boom to the local community."
Read the rest here.

Flint Photos: Eastside

Photo courtesy of Ben Hamper

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Changes at the Land Bank?

Is Dan Kildee leaving the Genesee County Land Bank? The Flint Journal repeats the rumors here, complete with an intriguing quote from Kildee: "I'm not ready to announce anything yet," he said.

UPDATE: Go here for the Blogging for Michigan post that runs down how this story broke. This is a great example of the state of journalism...stories breaking on blogs and Facebook, with the understaffed Flint Journal getting involved very late in the game. And as far as I can tell, none of this is confirmed.

Flint Portraits: Mark Ingram

Flint Southwestern grad Mark Ingram, now a running back at Alabama, is being mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate.

Ray Glier of The New York Times reports:

“Little Mark,” as he was known by his family growing up around Flint, Mich., recently called his maternal grandfather, Art Johnson, who was a running back at Michigan State in the late 1950s, and asked him how to stiff-arm the talk about the Heisman, college football’s top individual award. Ingram seems suspicious of fame’s grip, almost as if it helped bring down his father.

“He told me, ‘Grandpa, I’m just a sophomore, there are better players on this team, this shouldn’t be happening,’ ” Johnson recalled in a telephone interview. “He said he just wants to win a championship.”

Monday, November 9, 2009

Flint Photos: Hoffman's Deco Deli

Flint Portraits: Andre Dirrell

Andre Dirrell lands a hard right in last month's title bout against England's Carl Froch. For more great fight photos by Justin McKie go to The Boxing Bulletin.

Flint boxer Andre Dirrell once lived on Bassett Place in the Civic Park neighborhood. Although Dirrell lost his first shot at a title last month in a 12-round split decision, his future looks bright. It was the
first loss of Dirrell's four-year professional career.

A pre-fight analysis by BoxingWatchers emphasized that Dirrell would be facing some real competition for the first time:
"In contrast, Dirrell isn't taking a step up in competition as much as he's taking a leap. The 2004 Olympic middleweight bronze medalist has dazzling athleticism and tons of potential, but he's never had to deal with the kind of quality he'll be facing as long as he hangs around in the tournament."
Despite the loss, The Sweet Science saw the fight as a learning opportunity that could pay dividends down the line:

"In the end Froch won by split-decision, but this tournament isn’t over. If Dirrell can learn from his mistakes he could prove to be a very, very dangerous foe for anyone in the tournament. He hurt the rugged British fighter a few times with his speed and timing.

"Dirrell will be back if he learns to quit the holding and use his feet to slide left or right and counter. He’s got the tools."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bad Band Names Hall of Fame

Speaking of bands, these guys are from New Jersey, yet inexplicably decided to name their band Flint Michigan. That's sort of like a bunch of musicians from Flint naming their band Jersey City New Jersey. Not that there's anything wrong with that. In my expert opinion, I'd have to say the band Flint has much better hair than the band Flint Michigan.

Flint Photos: Flint

Grand Funk Railroad disbanded in 1977. Following the breakup, Don Brewer, Mel Schacher, and Craig Frost remained intact and formed the band Flint with the addition of Billy Ellworthy. Flint released one album on Columbia Records; a second record was completed but never released. Mark Farner began a solo career, signed with Atlantic Records and released two albums: Mark Farner (1977) and No Frills (1978).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cars to Compost

Mayor Dayne Walling is launching a program to turn Chevy in the Hole into a depository for leaves and compost and, eventually, a park. According to the City Speak blog:
This new process will provide a significant savings to the city. “We currently pay $300,000.00 a year to have our leaves and compost taken away and an additional $400,000.00 to have top soil brought in to backfill demolition sites,” said Green Cities Coordinator Steve Montle. “By filling in Chevy In The Hole with our leaf and yard compost it is expected to save the city a half million dollars a year, while at the same time moving us one step closer to repurposing that site as a park and green space for the community.”

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Buick Town East

The 2007 Riviera concept car that was born in China.

Flint Expatriates has written about China's love affair with Buick before:
"Of course, G.M. isn't exactly picky when it comes to lovers these days. The automaker is as desperate as a balding, recently divorced, middle-aged guy hanging out at the White Horse Tavern with an unemployment check burning a whole in his pocket.
And today The New York Times has a good piece on how G.M. ended up designing the new LaCrosse in China. Clifford Ghetti writes:

"But today’s commercial imperative is more compelling than nostalgia: sales of Buicks in China first outpaced sales in the United States in 2006, and the margin is considerable today. For the first nine months of 2009, for instance, Buick sold 312,798 vehicles in China; in the United States, it sold 72,389.

"In 1997 General Motors established two joint ventures with the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation in China. One was for manufacturing. The other venture, for design and engineering, is the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center. The center has done the engineering to adapt various G.M. global models for the Chinese market."
Read the entire article here, and go here for an interactive graphic on the new LaCrosse.

Flint Portraits: Wilburn LeGree

After numerous requests, I'm re-posting this from April 13, 2008:

All this talk of Homedale Elementary reminded my mom of Wilburn LeGree, "The Singing Cop" who used to visit schools all over Flint. She can still sing LeGree's classic ditties like "The Boys of the Safety Patrol" and "When You Cross the Street."

The State Bar of Michigan presented LeGree its Liberty Bell Award in 1999 and provided this biography:

"LeGree's career as the "Singing Cop" began in 1938 after a rise in rates of children being struck and killed by vehicles. LeGree was assigned to develop a school safety program and incorporate something that would grasp the children's attention -- music. The chief of police overheard LeGree singing and decided to put LeGree's talents to work.
"LeGree and his wife wrote words to popular musical tunes about obeying the law, safety in all situations and seeing police officers as friends. He visited hundreds of schools and sang his songs to children. Before he stopped counting, he estimated that he had performed safety songs to 25,000 students over a four-year period.
"LeGree's songs have been used in 46 states across the country as well as schools in Germany, Australia and New Zealand."

Kevin Conroy Wades into Wisconsin Politics

Kevin Conroy, who once lived across the street from Haskell Community Center, is considering a run for governor of Wisconsin. He's the son of former Michigan state senator Joe Conroy.

Flint Postcards: Koegel Meats

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday to Flint Expatriate and Central High grad Patricia McFarlane Young. She's 79 today. Have a great day, Mama.

Go here for some of Pat's reflections on Flint. And here for her memories of etiquette lessons at the Durant. And here for a story of what works means for a Flint native.

Crepes Come to Flint

The Eating Flint blog has a great post on what it takes to successfully open a new business in Flint. It's not easy:
It turns out that the City of Flint has an ordinance which prohibits any carts like the crepe cart from doing business in the downtown area. (This explains why the Hot Dog Cart mysteriously disappeared from Saginaw Street). They made inquiries, of course, and tried to resolve the issue so they could run their business and not fear being shut down only days after getting started. They learned “informally” that if they stayed on private property, nobody would bother them. Thus, the Chamber of Commerce parking lot.

Days after getting started, Tim and Robb received a couple of visitors. A Flint police officer and a representative from the City Clerk’s Office notified the new business owners that they were in violation of the city ordinance and “to the extent that the cart was on private property that we were in violation of certain land use restrictions.” Uh oh. According to Tim, the officer and the representative didn’t actually say they were going to do anything about the “violations.” They were just there to notify.

The new business owners were beginning to realize that there were "certain business interests which were not happy about us being there."
Read the whole story here.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween from Flint Expatriates World Headquarters

Many enterprises are suffering through the Great Recession, and Flint Expatriates is no exception. Expenses are up; revenues are down. Well, revenues have always been down, but things are getting worse. In an effort to shake things up, the blog for the long-lost residents of Flint has decided to go corporate. Here's our new management team.

Flint Expatriates new CEO, recently "retired" from G.M. upper management, takes a break from the golf course to deliver an inspiring message for the future and angrily demand to know why this website makes almost no money. He ingeniously uses a sand wedge to illustrate his point, shouting, "This blog twitter thing called the Flint Patriots is in a sand bunker of red ink."

Flint Expatriates new Director of Corporate Communications tries to explain why our message isn't getting out to our target audience, partly because we don't have a target audience.

Our new CEO finally finds something he likes about Flint Expatriates during the all-employee cocktail mixer. The Director of Corporate Communications is quickly named the Executive Director of Corporate Communications!

Flint Expatriates new Information Technology V.P. looks for something to plug into after discovering Flint Expatriates I.T. Department consists of an aging Mac laptop.

The CEO and Executive Director of Corporate Communications huddle with the new Flint Expatriates Security Director. "All blogs do is steal material from other publications, so my job is to stop other publications from stealing from Flint Expatriates," explains the new security chief.