Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hoping for the Best in an Age of Uncertainty

Sherry Lee Linkon, writing about Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City in Times Higher Education, reminds us that there are no tidy, clear-cut solutions for shrinking cities like Flint:
While scholars and urban planners throughout the US and Europe debate strategies for revitalising former industrial cities that are “shrinking”, “forgotten” or “failing”, Young reminds us that storytelling, including the kind of inconclusive ending we might find in a contemporary novel, sometimes reveals more than the most careful study can. Better yet, a good story shows us why we should care, even if it doesn’t provide any solutions.
And she points out that while Flint may seem unique to me and those of us who grew up there, the city's plight is, in many ways, all too familiar:
Flint will survive, he tells us, because it has many “tough people fighting…in their own ways”. But it will be a long, hard battle without a triumphant conclusion: Flint will never again be “a bastion of the middle class”. At best, it might become “a different place that still had pride and dignity”. That may sound like a disappointing conclusion, but it’s an honest one. The economic and social challenges of the post-industrial austerity economy are complex, and we may never return to past prosperity. Like Flintoids, we need to keep fighting in our own ways.
Read the entire review here.

7 comments:

  1. meh, Linkon is just playa hatin' the fact that Flint is crummier than her beloved Youngstown.

    Nevertheless, places like Youngstown, Flint, Saginaw, and Detroit are pretty unusual and their stories are not well known outside the Midwest. C'mon, Detroit decay porn didn't get hot until the housing crisis... meanwhile the D has been crumbling for 40 years and the rest of the country barely noticed. Crime-ridden hell holes aren't a dime a dozen and that is good.

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  2. Hi Gordon, I hope to read your book soon. Just like your feeling of nostalgia that you describe in the excerpt "Pink Houses and Panhandlers" I feel that for my city. So please understand that this is no negative criticism of you only of the term that I read in the review. We are not nor ever should be again known or referred to as 'Flintoids'. We are Flintstones. When my generation talks about the old plants of Industrial Ave and Delphi we talk about the workers of the day as Flintstones. When we talk about the old time athletes from Stan Gooch's Flint Central teams to Cleaves and Peterson of my era we call em Flintstones. Whether referring to artist Dee Dee Bridgewater or rapper Jon Conner we are Flintstones. We pride ourselves in that. Not Flintonians, not Flintoids, but Flintstones. This coming from a place of pride. Hopefully not too much. Be well.

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    1. Christopher, thanks for the comments. You'll get no argument from me. I feel like the name for us Flint types should evolve with the times. And Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson, Charlie Bell, and Antonio Smith definitely established Flintstones as a great choice for several generations of Flint residents. But Flintoids was definitely the name a lot of folks like me who went to high school in the eighties used. And I know a lot of older residents who go with Flintites (not my favorite) or even Flintonians (the worst!). So I went with Flintoids for the book since that was my frame of reference — seventies and eighties Flint. But I'm happy to let go of the past and go with Flintstones. After all, no Flintoids ever won an NCAA title. But let's agree to dump Flintites and Flintonians for good! And send me your mailing address via email at gyoung(at)flintexpats(dot)com. And I'll send you a signed copy of the book.

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  3. Yeah, but Cleaves and Peterson are OLD. Flintstone is now passe. I never bought into "Flintstone" anyways. It always sounded silly. Besides it evokes images of Fred and Barney. It is the dawn of a new era. How about Flintster or Flintastani or Flintish or Flintenese? Or maybe we go all "hoosier" and pull out a name from left field. Any ideas?

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  4. I don't remember either term being used - but I left Flint in the early 60's.

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  5. Hi Gordon,

    Thanks for the blog and all the wonderful writing! I'm writing to ask about the artwork on this piece--the red art/map of the city shaped into a tree. Can you point us toward the artist?

    Thanks!
    David

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    1. David, that's a Hard As Flint shirt. Check it out here:

      https://www.facebook.com/HardAsFlint

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