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 Fran├žois 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."


  1. Carp is good eatin'

  2. I thought we SHOT carp around these here parts.?

  3. Hmmm... Kinda reminds me of the Wild Turkey Porcelain Pourer! (Try saying that after a couple o'shots of Bourbon!) I think that Kirk Soumela or Dan Cronin had that one!

  4. As the frontrunner after the first night of games, I feel compelled to say that this year I'm gonna win, and all others can sniff my uninformed, no-basketball-watchin European tushie.

  5. cue Slovenian pick implosion in 3... 2... 1....

  6. I don't know -- Erik Soumela used to sit behind me in seventh grade at St. Paul's Lutheran and make pray motions with his hands because he thought I acted so holy. I then grew up to marry a minister.

    Eric might have the inside line on future happenings and divine predestination. The chalice might be his by special powers.

  7. When I saw the title of this, "The Sacred Carp Chalice", I thought sure that Gordo had teamed up with fellow former Michiganian Bill Prady to write an episode of "The Big Bang Theory", alongside such episodes such as "The Bad Fish Paradigm" (has Michigan References), and the classic, "The Dead Hooker Juxtaposition".

  8. David Frost,a gifted basketball and baseball player at Flint Northern in the late 1960's passed away this week.Anyone who played with him or against him can testify to his skill. I can remember those Northern teams giving Flint Central,led by Ken Brady, fits in 1968. Good times. RIP.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at