Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dream Cars?

Spotted this Z28 t-top near my house today, complete with "BLU VLVT" vanity plates. I could imagine rolling around old Flint in this gem.

Tom Joubran, R.I.P.

Tom Joubran, a legendary Flintoid perhaps most widely known as the owner of the Mikatam Lounge, died on Friday. Ron Fonger of The Flint Journal reports:

Joubran was a Genesee County news-maker for decades, opening attention-getting businesses and locking horns repeatedly with former county prosecutors Arthur Busch and Robert Leonard.

He emerged as a key figure in a criminal investigation of Donna D. Poplar, a former county and city of Flint official, who was eventually found guilty of bilking Joubran out of $50,000 on the pretense that she could stop a criminal investigation of him.

Joubran immigrated to the United States in 1950 and was hired by his uncle at Mansour Supermarket in Flint Township, working his way up to assistant manager of the store.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Flint Photos: St. Mary's in the Late Seventies

An event at St. Mary's Church on Franklin Avenue in the late seventies. (Photo courtesy of the St. Mary Facebook page.)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Flint Postcards: The Vehicle City

Flint Photos: Bristol Road

Cigarettes and oxygen outside Donna's Donuts on Bristol Road. (Click to enlarge.)

This shot is courtesy of Flint resident Shane Gramling, a photographer and graphic designer who posts other compelling images of the Vehicle City at Flint Photo Journal. (Click to enlarge.) Here's Shane's story from his website:

I was raised in a single parent home near Franklin and Leith in Flint, Michigan. We didn't have much; mom made sure we never missed a meal or went without proper needs, and she dished out plenty of love.

I am thankful for my fathers effort, for coming around 4-5 times a year. Over the years I've let go of the bitterness. I truly believe that he gave it all he could, in light of his alcohol addiction.

I have a thousand memories of my mother and I out at Zimmerman Beach, basking in the sun. I have a thousand more memories of riding bikes, and toying with Legos, GI Joe's, and playing hysterical late-night games of Monopoly with my best friend who lived just three houses down.

Then there's that time when someone tried to pry open our front door at 6am while we were home. And that other time when some random kid punched me in the gut, interrupting my water rocket session in the field across from my house.

Living in Flint has taught me that cities do not have agendas. Cities are not trying to jack my bike a gunpoint. Cities are not trying to kick in my back door.

I've learned that these "bitter occurrences" are merely human, and they are evident everywhere humans are found.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Assault on Precinct 13: Life Imitating Art

I've always had a soft spot for urban paranoia films of the seventies, perhaps because I grew up in Flint during the seventies. This brief scene from John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 has some uncanny parallels with the old hometown. The low-budget thriller's advertising materials do a nice job of summing up the plot: "A cop with a war on his hands. His army of street killers. His only ally...a convicted murderer."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Flint and Rochester: A Tale of Two Cities

With the decline of Kodak, Rochester, New York could have become another Flint, but it has fared far better than the Vehicle City. Peter Applebome of
The New York Times reports:

It feels like the wrenching culmination of a slide over decades, during which Kodak’s employment in Rochester plummeted from 62,000 in the 1980s to less than 7,000 now. Still, for this city in western New York, the picture that emerges, like a predigital photograph coming to life in a darkroom, is not a simple tale of Rust Belt decay.

Rochester has been a job-growth leader in the state in recent years. In 1980, total employment in the Rochester metropolitan area was 414,400. In 2010, it was 503,200. New businesses have been seeded by Kodak’s skilled work force, a reminder that a corporation’s fall can leave behind not just scars but also things to build upon.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The 1 % in Flint

What's it take to be part of the 1 percent in Flint? According to this interactive income map of the United States, your household income would have to be at least $178,656. That amount would only place you in the top 8 percent in Los Angeles or the top 18 percent in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Friday, January 13, 2012

From Flint to Iran

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Flint Parking Pattern

Michael Kimmelman of The New York Times has a great story about the paving over of American cities to create parking. Sound familiar, Flintoids? Pensacola, Florida has somehow snagged the naming rights to this unfortunate phenomena.
The Pensacola Parking Syndrome is a term of the trade used to describe a city that tears down its old buildings to create parking spaces to entice more people downtown, until people no longer want to go there because it has become an empty lot. Cities should let the free market handle the construction of new parking spaces. People who buy or rent new homes can pay extra if they want someplace to park a car. Municipalities can instead cap the maximum number of lots or the ratio of spaces to dwellings and offices.
I'm biased, but I think the Flint Parking Pattern (FPP) would have been more appropriate.

Thanks to Grumkin for passing this along.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lions in January

This is really weird and I may be just imagining it, but I appear to be watching the Lions in an actual playoff game.

Update: Ah, back to reality...another loss.

Visual Echoes of Flint

The Pacific Atlas Woodworking Co. is across the street from my office in San Francisco. I frequently walk by it when I've invented a reason to stop writing and wander around the neighborhood. It always reminds me of Flint.

The Price of History in Today's Real Estate Market

My sister Martha, who attended St. Mike's and Powers in Flint, is taking a somewhat unusual approach to selling her house in Tacoma, Washington. She's auctioning it off herself. It's a huge place, but her children are grown and she and her husband really want something smaller. They've found that selling a massive historic residence isn't exactly easy in this market.

Kathleen Cooper of the Tacoma News Tribune reports:
These days, home auctions typically are associated with foreclosed or bank-owned homes. But home auctions were increasing even before the real estate market busted. The National Auctioneers Association, based in Kansas, tracked homes sold by auction between 2003 and 2008, and saw a 7 percent to 8 percent increase each year.

“Auctions work in good times and bad,” association spokesman Chris Longly said Thursday. Auctions offer the certainty of a time and date of sale. They also are a way for more unusual properties, like historic homes, to find out what price the market will bear.

Gary Gestson, a Realtor with Maryland-based, said Thursday that owners crafting their own auction is somewhat unusual, because the pool of buyers for historic homes is small.

“Maybe six out of a thousand qualified buyers will be interested in your home,” he said. “Marketing is the key. If you market to Tyvek and particle board people, you’ll be frustrated.”

Martha's experience has left me wondering what a house like this would be worth in Flint or San Francisco.

Read more here:

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Flint Videos: A Stroll Around Vehicle City