Monday, March 28, 2011

Michigan Cuts Unemployment Benefits

Does anyone out there still consider Michigan a bastion of union liberalism?

Michael Cooper of The New York Times reports:
Michigan, whose unemployment rate has topped 10 percent longer than that of any other state, is about to set another record: its new Republican governor, Rick Snyder, signed a law Monday that will lead the state to pay fewer weeks of unemployment benefits next year than any other state.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Carl Crow's Tortured Prose

I've been reading a comically bad history of Buick and Flint called The City of Flint Grows Up, authored by Carl Crow in 1945. The writing is entertainingly awful:
"It is not far-fetched to say that the relationship between the city and the industry has been like that of a self-sacrificing father and a successful son. The people of Flint dug deep into the toes of their financial socks to bring the puny Buick enterprise to this community. They coddled and nurtured it through infancy and adolescence, and when it grew Flint also grew, and was rewarded with security and prosperity."
Crow was an interesting guy, judging by his Wikipedia entry, which may be more reliable than some of the things Crow wrote:
"Carl Crow arrived in Shanghai in 1911 and made the city his home for a quarter of a century, working there as a journalist, newspaper proprietor, and groundbreaking ad-man. He also did stints as a hostage negotiator, emergency police sergeant, gentleman farmer, go-between for the American government, and propagandist."
Not exactly a bio that gives you confidence in his objectivity. He spends a chunk of the book's forward explaining why, even though Buick paid him to write the book, he had "complete freedom of expression...with no restriction" on what he wrote.

Yeah, Carl. Sure. Whatever you say.

Detroit's Racial Divide

Think the Detroit area isn't racially segregated? Check out this map.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Daewoo Comes to Jane Avenue

Something tells me this is a resourceful use of a billboard by a Jane Avenue resident and not an example of guerrilla marketing by Daewoo.

Flint Photos: Corner of Jane and Iowa Avenues

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Is It Spring Yet?


This will no doubt be a less-than-riveting post for Flint Expatriates who still live in a place where there are actual seasons, but I'm really enjoying the spring-like conditions in the Vehicle City today. I haven't been in Flint in March since 1984, and I'd forgotten that great feeling of relief that comes with temperatures in the fifties, sunshine, and the earthy smell of melting snow and mud. I realize I'm not doing a great job of making it seem appealing, but it really is great. And I feel that way even though I didn't endure a Michigan winter.

And, yes, I probably jinxed it by even talking about it. I'm sure this intemperate talk about temperate conditions will result in a massive snowstorm. My apologies in advance.




Flint Photos: Frank's Nursery on Clio Road (Closed)

A popular neighborhood joke in the seventies: Yo mama so dumb she thought Frank's Nursery was a daycare center for hotdogs.

Flint Photos: Whittier Classical Academy

Flint Photos: Oak Community School


Flint Photos: Walling for Mayor...For Sale or Lease

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Bit of Old Flint (and Detroit) in Cuba



Author, illustrator and artist Tom Pohrt reflects on visions of Flint's past during a trip to Cuba:

The Pastelaria Francesa is nestled between the Hotel Telegrafo and Hotel Inglaterra, facing the Parque Central Parque in Havana Cuba. It is a good place to sit early in the morning with your cappuccino and chocolaté Napoliatana and watch the street life. There has been a café in this same location since the 1850’s. The shouts of the old guy selling maní, (peanuts wrapped in a paper cone) or the latest edition of the state newspaper Granma, on the other hand, has only been here since the late 1950’s. Youthful looking policemen saunter back and forth, school children in their Young Pioneer uniforms - backpacks filled with books, the hustlers, the tourists, the beggar or two, uniformed clerks on their way to work, can be counted on to parade by.

Depending on where you are sitting you can have a grand view of the traffic emerging from Prado and Neptuno onto the Paseo de Marti, once arguably the grandest of avenues in all the Americas. Horses still clip-clop along pulling carriages, keeping to the right of the faster moving vehicles. You will see Russian Lada’s, the odd Peboda, various Japanese and now Chinese made cars and buses. But what stands out are all the vintage Chevrolet’s, Buick’s, Chrysler’s and Fords, dating from the 1940’s and 50’s, cruising along under a sub-tropical sun. No matter how many mornings over the years you stake your table here it is always a wonder to see these Flint and Detroit made vintage cars, especially in such numbers. The Paseo de Marti is not Saginaw Street Flint nor Woodward Avenue Detroit but the sight of these automobiles will surely stir memories in those who grew up when these cars ruled the streets.

Havana is not the only place to spot these vintage American cars. They are all over Cuba and I expect must number in the thousands. How the Cubans keep these cars going is a testament to their ingenuity under trying conditions. It is not a surprise to look under the hood of one of these cars to find a Russian engine, most likely from a Lada. Parts are butchered from who knows what, they are hand made or brought in piece by piece from outside the country. The condition of these cars too vary from excellent to rusted-out-panel-less heaps with a cinder-block supporting the front seat.

Mention Cuba and many think Mafia, cigars, rum and all the old American cars. It’s all still there, except the Mafia. Havana is a bit beat down at the heels and like the old cars manages to patch itself together here and there. Should anyone think to bring these cars back to the U.S. the current Cuban government would not allow it. They are considered a part of the Patrimonio Nacional. Maybe things will change some day but I hope the cars stay. They have become part of the landscape.





Monday, March 14, 2011

Forecast Request

Headed to Flint tomorrow. What's the weather situation? I seem to remember mid-March being capable of just about anything.

Migration Maps

Where are Flintoids going when they move out of the city? Click here for the answer.

The Tale of a Lost Wallet

Flint Expatriate Shawn Chittle interviews his grandfather about the days when Flintoids bought their cars with cash.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Flint Photos: Marion Dena Pohrt and Civic Park School


Marion Pohrt was a long-time Flint resident, attending Civic Park and later teaching at the school. She died last summer, and her son Tom Pohrt passed along these photos.

"Best algebra class in the city." Marion Pohrt, fourth from right, first row standing. Civic Park School, 1929

Marion Pohrt, fourth from the right, top row. Civic Park School, 1922.

Marion Pohrt, third from left, second row. Civic Park School, 1924.