Friday, August 30, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Our American Cousin


My neighborhood in San Francisco's Bernal Heights is home to a pair of automotive cousins not known for their reliability, performance, or styling — the Chevy Chevette and the Yugo CV. It's good that they have each other. No news if any drag racing between these two odes to automotive incompetence has been scheduled. I'll keep you posted.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City


"She admitted that I’d initially done a great job selling our possible return to Flint. We could get out of the rat race and make a difference in a place that needed help. With a laugh, she confessed that geography had made it very appealing in the abstract. Michigan is a warm, fuzzy-looking mitten of a state surrounded by the beautiful blue of the Great Lakes, those landlocked oceans of the Midwest. But while the Wolverine State photographs well from a satellite, the close-ups can be disturbing. My tales of murder, arson, poverty, and general lawlessness had convinced Traci that Flint wasn’t the small town she had in mind. And my frequent descriptions of the city’s economic free fall had led her to question just what the two of us could do to change its downward trajectory. She was getting tired of our life revolving around Flint. I couldn’t blame her."
Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City

Monday, August 19, 2013

Informing My Opinions

I'm reading The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt and this short passage may just sum up one of the reasons I reconnected with Flint and wrote Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City.
The man said, 'My feelings about San Francisco rise and fall with my moods. Or is it that the town alters my moods, thus informing my opinions? Either way, one day it is my true friend, a few days after, my bitterest enemy.'

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Echoes of Flint in "Brief Encounters with the Enemy"

Thinking of Flint while reading Brief Encounters with the Enemy, a collection of stories by Said Sayrafiezadeh:
I came into a neighborhood that looked like it had been abandoned. The whole place was gray and rotting and lacking any trace of life. I sat down on the steps of a two-story brick house with an addition covered in aluminum siding, and the moment I did, a wiry woman appeared on the porch across the way and looked at me. She was wearing a nightgown that she clutched around her. An old man in pajamas came and stood at her side. I took out my lunch and ate it while I watch them confer.
 

"There ain't no one living in there now," the woman said.
 

"That's okay," I said.
 

They conferred again.
 

"Hey, mister."

"What?"
"There ain't no one in there now. "
 

"I heard you the first time," I said.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Is Flint, Michigan Home to "Genuine Citizenship?"

Randall Mawer of the Lost Coast Review writes:
"The style of Teardown is Rolling-Stone-style journalism, relatively informal, strongly first person, loosely organized. But there is modern history, too, and wide-ranging inquiry into economics and (especially) politics. The strongest narrative interest, though, springs from Gordon’s contacts with Flintites old and new, people doing what he is contemplating. They are attractive, enthusiastic, clearly willing to help Gordon with his project. The heart of the writer’s ambition is not the hypothetical house, effective symbol of the whole--the city, the citizenry--though it may be. This rather is the friendships of the house-holders, who provide one another expertise, save one another cash, and embody the genuine citizenship represented by loyalty to one’s block, one’s lawn, one’s “residence” in the largest sense of the word. The small, locally owned coffee shop, market, and bar are thus extensions of the homes, and the lack of waste ground between them shows quite literally how such residences fuse into real community."