Sunday, December 30, 2012

Flint Artifacts: WWII A.C. Spark Plug Permit To Be Absent

Shawn Chittle explains this Flint Artifact: "My grandfather's WWII draft notice/excused from employment from Flint AC spark plug. He never retuned to AC after the war, instead forming Chittle's Restaurant and Bar Supply at 1812 Beach St. until 1983. He still owns the building there."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas Courtesy of The French Connection

Just noticed the pair of shiny Buick Electras in this chase scene — featuring Gene Hackman as a very unsavory Santa — from The French Connection.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Flint Artifacts: O'Toole's Restaurant

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Teardown Website

The website for Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City by Gordon Young is now up and running. It features photos, excerpts, online pre-order information, and other details about the book, which will be available in stores in June.

Check it out here.

Flint Artifacts: The Track on Clio Road

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Home Decor Courtesy of A.C. Spark Plug

Tom Torri worked at A.C. from 1960 until 1987 in an engineering test lab, systems and programming, and product development. He then transferred to Delco Electronics in Kokomo, Indiana, and worked in advanced product engineering — where he helped develop the first LCD displays on the control panelsand eventually in product reliability. Tom retired in 2000, but he still has plenty of A.C. memorabilia around the house. The A.C. lamp was a give-away to employees. The A.C. decanter came with Jim Beam and employees had to buy them.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Flint Artifacts: Flint Pennant

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Jet Packs, Turbine Cars, and Steve Lehto

If you've ever thought it would be cool to fly over Flint in a jet pack, you definitely want to check out Steve Lehto's latest book, The Great American Jet Pack. You may remember Steve from his work as a DJ and talkshow host in the '80s and '90s at WTRX, WWCK, and WFDF.

So just how did he come up with the book idea? Steve explains:  
I wrote a book on the Chrysler Turbine car and doing that research, I found out that Sam Williams had been instrumental in both the engine in the turbine car and the engine in the jet belt. I mentioned this in the book and my publisher asked me if I thought I could write a book on the history of jet pack technology. It sounded like a cool idea and a great excuse to study a fun topic. And, it turns out, there WAS a whole book of material out there. I interviewed guys who flew the old rocket belts – the ones which could only fly for 21 seconds and I also spoke to the one and only guy who EVER flew the jet belt (the one with the mini-turbine engine in it). It was a lot of fun to research.

Flint Profiles: John Auchter

If you love politics and cartoons, often with a Michigan angle, check out Auchtoon! It features the work of Powers High School grad John Auchter, who draws for the MLive Media Group. It also has cartoons he has drawn for the Grand Rapids Press, the Grand Rapids Business Journal, and the Grand Rapids Family magazine.

John writes: 
My cartoons have been stuck on refrigerators, office cubicles, and bulletin boards — the highest award a cartoonist can hope for. I have drawn comics for various newspapers, magazines, companies, and websites. My editorial cartoons have appeared in the “Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year” compilations by Pelican Publishing Company Inc. I am a member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.

Born in Pennsylvania, raised in South Carolina and Michigan, I started drawing comics when I was eight-years-old. I’m married now (to my high-school sweetheart), have three beautiful children, two needy cats, and work as a technical communications specialist for Johnson Controls, Inc. , but can still be found more often than not hunched over my drawing table.

Everybody can draw. I am living proof of this. Through practice and a willingness to take chances, I have taken a seed of meager artistic talent and grown it into a flourishing hibiscus of meager artistic talent.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Flint Photos: David Dunbar Buick Statue Installation in Downtown Flint

(Photos courtesy of Kevin Kirbitz via Buick Factory History and Hemmings Daily.)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Flint Photos: W. 1st Avenue in Carriage Town

Flint Artifacts: Buick Magazine April 1939

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ed Asner and the 99 Percent

Flint isn't mentioned, but the Vehicle City plays a starring role in this animated fairy tale narrated by Ed Asner.

Flint Photos: Buick, July 1984

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ben Hamper Reading at Barnes & Noble in Flint Township

That looks like a pen, not a rivet gun. (Photo courtesy of Sean Work/Mlive)

Legendary Flint writer Ben Hamper will be signing copies of Rivethead: Tales From the Assembly Line at the the Barnes & Noble store at the Genesee Valley mall on December 13 at 5 p.m. Go here for a recent interview with Hamper.

Michael Moore, Capitalism, and Tax Incentives

How much money did Michael Moore get in tax incentives from the State of Michigan to make Capitalism: A Love Story?

$841,145.27, according to Louise Story of The New York Times:
Hollywood may make movies about the evils of capitalism, but it rarely works without incentives, which are paid for by taxpayers. Nationwide, about $1.5 billion in tax breaks is awarded to the film industry each year, according to a state-by-state survey by The New York Times.
Within two months, 24 movies had signed up to film in Michigan — up from two the entire year before. The productions estimated that they would spend $195 million filming there, and in return they would be refunded about $70 million in cash.
Before long, residents were rushing out on their lunch breaks to catch a glimpse of celebrities like Drew Barrymore, who was filming her movie “Whip It” in Ann Arbor, and Clint Eastwood, who was shooting “Gran Torino” in the Detroit area. Even Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called “Capitalism: A Love Story,” sought and received incentives.

Christmas in Flint

Monday, December 10, 2012

Imagine Flint

Flint is creating its first master plan since 1960. You can be a part of the process by checking out Imagine Flint.

Buicks in the Golden State

This just might be the alternate logo for Flint Expatriates. It's a Buick Apollo that lives a few blocks from my house in San Francisco.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bowling for Dollars in San Francisco.

San Francisco doesn't have bowling alleys like dear old Flint. It has bowling clubs. The cost? $55/hour for a single lane after 8pm. A little different than Nightingale Lanes, where I learned to bowl.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Flint Photos: Welch Blvd. Pharmacy, 1971 and 2009

 Welch Blvd. Pharmacy, a popular destination for neighborhood kids, at its original location near the corner of N. Chevrolet Avenue, sometime in the early seventies.

The storefront in 2009 when it was serving as a satellite campaign office for candidate and soon-to-be mayor Dayne Walling.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cody Elementary, R.I.P.

Cody Elementary on Fenton Road during demolition. (Photo by Lauren Justice/Mlive)

Blake Thorne of Mlive reports: "In May, the building was the location of three fires in one week. The building has been closed for about ten years. There are no plans yet for the property after demolition...."

San Francisco Time Warp

One of the great things about San Francisco, especially if you're a Gen X'er, is the ability to go back to scenes from your childhood on a regular basis. It's not 2012 at this particular spot in Bernal Heights. It's the mid-seventies.

Provided you embrace the spirit of a few of the bumper stickers and not the specifics.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Escape from (writing about) Flint

I won't miss staring at this computer or the City of Flint map of abandoned structures.

I recently moved out of the tiny office I was renting on Treat Street in San Francisco, a sure sign that my work on Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City is nearly complete. The editing process is almost finished, and the book will be published by the University of California Press in April 2013. It's been a long process that really started in the fall of 2007 when I launched the Flint Expatriates blog. I feel like I know Flint better now than I ever did when I was growing up off Dayton Avenue in Civic Park.

 Five years of Flint research looking for a new home somewhere in my 700 sq. ft. house.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Trying to Buy G.M.'s Friendship

The New York Times has a story today illustrating one of life's lessons that Flint learned long ago...just because a city is nice to a corporation like G.M. doesn't mean G.M. is going to return the favor.

Louise Story reports:
In the end, the money that towns across America gave General Motors did not matter.

When the automaker released a list of factories it was closing during bankruptcy three years ago, communities that had considered themselves G.M.’s business partners were among the targets.

For years, mayors and governors anxious about local jobs had agreed to G.M.’s demands for cash rewards, free buildings, worker training and lucrative tax breaks. As late as 2007, the company was telling local officials that these sorts of incentives would “further G.M.’s strong relationship” with them and be a “win/win situation,” according to town council notes from one Michigan community.

Yet at least 50 properties on the 2009 liquidation list were in towns and states that had awarded incentives, adding up to billions in taxpayer dollars, according to data compiled by The New York Times.

The Space Vehicle City

Extraterrestrials take note: Flint is not necessarily a friendly environment. Ron "Space Cowboy" Fonger of The Flint Journal reports:
Just weeks after a man told police he spotted an unidentified flying object above the Rave theaters in Flint Township, three more sightings — one each in the Flint, Flushing and Grand Blanc areas — have been made to the Mutual UFO Network.

This month alone, 13 online reports from the county have been made to MUFON, ranging from randomly flashing, multi-colored lights to to a large, glowing object to a bright orange light hovering above tree tops.

"I believe a great deal of the reason for the ever-growing number of reports is growing popularity of both UFOs and MUFON in general," said Robert Nolan, chief investigator with MUFON, who said he may visit the county this weekend to have a look around for himself.