Saturday, March 30, 2013

Flint Artifacts: Koegel's Hot Head Cheese

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Flint Photos: Downtown Flint in the 1920s

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Flint Photos: Carriage Town Fire, Summer 2010

Photographer Lori Dellinger writes: "The photo was taken on August 18, 2010. This was the year that it felt like the whole city would burn down. Some friends and I were at The Torch when word came that there was a vacant house burning in Carriage Town. A friend said this had been a gorgeous home at one time with so much potential if it was in the right hands. For me, the photo symbolized the hopelessness that many people were feeling as we watched our city burn."

Friday, March 22, 2013

Flint Northern High School Will Close

More Flint school closings are on the way. Dominic Adams of The Flint Journal reports:
"Flint Northern High School will close as a 7th through 12th grade building. Students currently at the school will move to Northwestern and Southwestern high schools. Flint Northern will become the Northern Alternative Education Center and offer a new program for sutdents in 7th through 9th grade. The students who previously attended Zimmerman will move to Northern. Byrant, Dort, Washington elementary schools and Zimmerman will be closed."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Sacred Carp Chalice

The quest for the Sacred Carp Chalice is about to begin! Huh? Here's the post from a few years back that explains this Flint tradition...

Confused by this eerie, unsettling masterpiece? Feel like you did after taking in some of the later work of François Truffaut? Don't worry. Jim Holbel, a former denizen of Haskell Community Center in Flint, is here to translate his tale of carp fishing, NCAA basketball, and the Welsh countryside.

"My recollection…guaranteed to be at least partially flawed:

"In 1991 or 1992 Logan Hansen, Tom Hoyt, Scott Hiteshew and I started an NCAA basketball pool. Yup, all four of us. Via snail mail. Over the next few years it expanded a little as email started to propagate.

"In 1998, Tom bought a crappy pewter mug with a carp for a handle to serve as the trophy. The carp reminded him of some carp fishing adventures on the Flint River. I'm not sure but his brother Dave may have actually eaten one. Tom picked it up at a 'boot sale' in Wales. (Tom married a Welsh woman and lives there now.) The boot in boot sale refers to the UK trunk of a car. So yes, our esteemed chalice was bought out of a trunk in a welsh parking lot. Probably from a smelly and toothless salesman.

"The cup was christened by Tom as the 'Sacred Carp Chalice.' I guess, by Flint terms, where Fords were once considered 'foreign cars,’ it's downright exotic.

"Tom went to have the Chalice engraved, but backdated the engraving to 1996 so that his name would appear on the cup as the first winner. I refer to this as 'the vanity curse,’ since he has never again claimed victory. Each year the previous champion would have the new winner's name engraved and ship it to him. Kinda like the Stanley Cup, but cheesier.

"The tournament expanded into the new millennium, and we started to get a few non-Flintoid participants. These 'friends of 'toids' were never a serious threat until 2002, when Larry Golob — a friend of Erik Soumela and Logan — managed to win, based on the pure fact that he was a Terrapin and was the only one fool enough to pick Maryland to go all the way on the cold day in hell that they actually won it all.

"The Chalice more or less disappeared under Larry's watch. That’s the point of interrupting Will Ferrell’s rendition of 'Love Me Sexy' (Semi-Pro soundtrack...shot in Flint...naturally) and ridiculing Larry's name on the cup in the video.

"Erik eventually recovered the Chalice, and it lived in cold isolation in his garage. Fast forward to this year when Erik dusted the thing off, reconstructed the last 4 years, and had a base made so names could be added. (Apparently, modern trophy shops use computer engravers and the battered cup is not 'robot friendly.’)

"Today the tourney attracts 20 or so pure-blooded Flintoids, generates a fair volume of Flint recollections, and some smack talk."

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Myth of "Vibrant" Cities

Flint, like seemingly every other troubled city in America, seems to be on a quest for "vibrancy." Thomas Frank doesn't mention the Vehicle City in his recent essay in The Baffler, but he describes the wants and aspirations of Flint's movers and shakers perfectly.
Every city is either vibrant these days or is working on a plan to attain vibrancy soon. The reason is simple: a city isn’t successful— isn’t even a city, really—unless it can lay claim to being “vibrant.” Vibrancy is so universally desirable, so totemic in its powers, that even though we aren’t sure what the word means, we know the quality it designates must be cultivated. The vibrant, we believe, is what makes certain cities flourish. The absence of vibrancy, by contrast, is what allows the diseases of depopulation and blight to set in.

This formulation sounded ridiculous to me when I first encountered it. Whatever the word meant, “vibrancy” was surely an outcome of civic prosperity, not its cause. Putting it the other way round was like reasoning that, since sidewalks get wet when it rains, we can encourage rainfall by wetting the sidewalks. But to others, the vibrancy mantra is profoundly persuasive.
The problem is that no really seems to know if spending money to turn downtown Flint into a destination spot with restaurants, bars, art walks, music venues, and a variety of other cultural activities will actually work. But as Frank points out, that isn't stopping civic leaders and big-money foundations from pursuing it wholeheartedly.
My target here is not their power, but their vacuity. Our leadership class looks out over the trashed and looted landscape of the American city, and they solemnly declare that salvation lies in an almost meaningless buzzword— that if we chant that buzzword loud enough and often enough, our troubles are over.
The worry, of course, is that the latest urban planning trend is just another futile attempt to combat fundamental economic and societal problems that artwalks and farmers' markets won't solve.
It is time to acknowledge the truth: that our leaders have nothing to say, really, about any of this. They have nothing to suggest, really, to Cairo, Illinois, or St. Joseph, Missouri. They have no comment to make, really, about the depopulation of the countryside or the deindustrialization of the Midwest. They have nothing to offer, really, but the same suggestions as before, gussied up with a new set of clichés. They have no idea what to do for places or people that aren’t already successful or that have no prospects of ever becoming cool.
 Read the entire essay here.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Flint Postcards: Spencer House

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Downtown Flint Without Genesee Towers

Thanks to Wade Merrill for this Photoshop fantasy of what Flint will look like without the city's tallest (abandoned) Building.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. It's the end of the quarter at the university, and I'm wrapping up the final details of Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City. It's been a rough couple weeks.