Monday, December 16, 2013

James O'Dea on the Flint Label

 James O'Dea in Flint. (Photo courtesy of UM-Flint)

UM-Flint student James O'Dea, whose great grandfather was a Sit-Down striker, reflects on what loyalty to Flint really means in a compelling essay entitled "Hyphen Flint."
When I told my high school teachers my plan to revive Flint, the usual response was a grin and a chuckle—like how you’d respond to a little boy who promises to grow up to be an astronaut and a cowboy. But most of them at least seemed to admire my passion and optimism—the same lack of apathy that alienated me from so many of my peers. The good teachers were the one redeeming factor of a high school (and town) well known for being spoiled, snobbish and fake. In Grand Blanc, your GPA wasn’t as much an indicator of your future university as was the label on your clothes.
 Read the rest here. You'll be glad you did.

27 comments:

  1. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, if your parents worked for a company that was a member if the Industrial Mutual Association, you were eligible for an IMA Scholarship. This Scholarship was based on merit, not need, and as I remember, some Grand Blanc High School students were awarded this Scholarship to The University of Michigan-Flint. it covered nearly all of the tuition and part of the books. There were 10 IMA Scholarships awarded each year, apportioned among area employers and High Schools. As a recipient of this Scholarship, I remember some of the names of the people who received the Scholarship the year I received it. I can only remember five of the names off hand of those who won that year. Of those five, four now hold doctorate degrees of some kind (Ph.D., MD, etc.). So the stigma had not attached itself at that point. I am well aware of the present day stigma. It is particularly annoying when MSU undergraduate students act superior just because they went there before attending graduate and professional schools. They are worse than the Grand Blanc High School students, and one who is both a GBHS and MSU graduate AND holds a doctorate now is one of the most outwardly obnoxious people I have ever encountered, but shall of course remain nameless.

    I don't know when the IMA Scholarship was discontinued, and cannot find lists or information online. I have the announcement somewhere of the winners from my year. Does anyone else have any such information?

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  2. I did a search on the Industrial Mutual Association Scholarship. I turned up a UM-Flint document with a description of the scholarship and qualifications. It also turned up one LinkedIn profile where the person had won the IMA Scholarship in 1973, who I also knew and was a graduate of Grand Blanc High School. This person didn't give me any trouble, They became a lawyer. They attended Law School in Texas

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  3. Seems like a nice enough kid, but it'll take more than a hopeful essay, a phony baloney posed photo (c'mon, this guy DOES NOT take leisurely strolls on N. Saginaw), and declarations of loyalty to erase the "-Grand Blanc" suffix from his name.

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    1. Is your "Little Missouri" name in reference to the neighborhood at Fenton and Bristol (opposite Baker College)?

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  4. I was also discouraged from applying to Ivy League Colleges by school counselors. There are two types of students at those colleges, the highly qualified and the family legacy enrollees. A neighbor in Flint whose brother was accepted and attended Harvard in the mid 1960s, only to return to UM-Flint a year or so later, reported that the courses, at least at that time, weren't any better at Harvard. There were at least enough negatives in the Harvard experience to offset the prestige. But how resumes look with Harvard on them was another story. But if you could get into a graduate or professional school, it made little difference, though.

    I hope James O'Dea succeeds in his mission. The Sit Down Strike family legacy is NOT one that will get you any further along, though. It's a different world today.

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  5. Chapeau Brother!!! If I run into you at the Torch, a round on me.

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  6. A Grand Blanc-er tries to talk about loyalty to Flint. I'm not buying it. Grand Blanc was, and still is, the unFlint. Leave loyalty to Flint for those who actually grew up in the city.

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    1. I didn't grow up in the city per se, but my grandparents were here throughout and past my childhood. I moved to Flint as soon as I could afford to be on my own, and have been in the city for 9 years. Suburban kids are willing to move in and make it their home; just because our parents made the mistake of white-flighting doesn't mean we should be judged for it.

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    2. As a native 'toid I declare your parents made the right decision by moving out. Flint is the pits. On the other hand, as far as your immigrant status goes, well... you WILL be judged.

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  7. I disagree that persons outside Flint have no say. Does Gordie have no say? Most people left for safety or employment opportunities.

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    1. Gordie has a say, he fermented in Civic Park for gawd's sake. There is something about traversing the city on a daily basis in your formative years and the subsequent wonders you witness that infuses you with that native 'toid spirit. You can't fake the Flint.

      Guys like O'Dea, downtown suburban slummers, the 75% of people with Flint tattoos who aren't from Flint, the Every Bar in Flint odd balls, etc just don't have the gusto... they don't have the aura... they don't have the funk. It will take countless hours... nay, years of quaffing 40s, going to work hungover, and losing all hope for the likes of O'Dea to become a naturalized 'toid.*

      *We can fast track his citizenship if he moves into some dilapidated shack on Barth, procreates, and sends his spawn to Cummings or whatever school is left then.

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    2. I had such high hopes for the Every Bar in Flint blog. What happened? It died after three posts.

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    3. It depends. If you are from Flint and moved away, you can have a say. If you are from Grand Blanc or Flushing, well that's where you're from. You're not Flint.

      Answering Gordie's questions below:
      I don't currently live in Flint. I moved out of the state courtesy of the Navy and haven't moved back..
      I was back one day last year. I come back to the city every year.
      Public schools, Civic Park, Longfellow & Northern (old and new).
      At least 5 generations lived in Flint.
      What's a DUI gotta do with being Flint?

      Go Spartans!

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    4. This little list was just some of the potential elements. The tough part is weighting the various criteria. Let's say you grew up in Flint but moved at 22. Does that make you more Flint than a current resident who has lived there for only a couple years? How does a Grand Blanc resident who works in Flint and is actually in the city 250 days a year measure up to someone who grew up there but hasn't been back in 20 years. Does a shop rat have more Flint in him/her than someone who lived in Flint but worked in a drugstore. This could be tough.

      And the DUI thing was just a joke. A tremendous amount of drunk driving going on in Flint in the eighties.

      Any other criteria I'm missing?

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    5. If you gotta ask what a DUI has to do with being "Flint", well son, you ain't from Flint then.

      Every Bar in Flint was a farce from the get go. You should have smelled that from a mile away, Gordo. One of those foreign four-eyes said Buckham Alley was prime shanking territory. That was DUMB on so many levels. Grandiose blog declarators claiming they were gonna conquer every bar? Gimme a break. Those foolish nerds were NEVER going to venture north.

      Oh yeah, sleek eyewear is usually a prime indicator of one's lack of Flinthenticity. Things don't look good for O'Dea. Having said that, if he is still in Flint in 5 years I'll buy him a 40. Promise.






      I'm lying. True 'toids don't keep promises. Honestly, I doubt I'll set foot in Flint ever again. FLA all the way.

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  8. Look, O'Dea-Grand Blanc is not the O'Devil. He has chosen the underdog. Kudos. Having said that, I'll bet you a pound of Salay's Pickle Loaf (its been in my freezer since '95) that he'll been outta here within 5 years of graduation.

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    1. Keep in mind he actually lives in Flint right now. At a certain point accident of birth is trumped by adults choosing to be in the city.

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    2. My conception may have been an accident, but adults living in the city gotta pass a probationary period first. Slumming it for a few years actually earns you negative Frequent Flintoid Miles.

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  9. This conversation ties in with my current all-important project — creating an algorithm or survey of some sort that you can plug in data and come up with a score to rank your Flint-iness or Flintoid-edness or whatever. I'm trying to enlist an economist friend who actually creates useful algorithms for a living.

    Some possible inputs:

    Do you live in Flint now?
    How many years did you live in Flint?
    How many days have you spent in Flint in the past year?
    Did you go to public schools in Flint?
    Catholic schools?
    How many generations of your family lived in Flint?
    Do you live in Grand Blanc or Flushing?
    How many DUI's do you have?

    Etc., etc.

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  10. Monster from MontroseDecember 18, 2013 at 4:37 PM

    DUIs are a vital factor. It is a rite of passage. 'toids gotta drink. 'toids gotta drive. It isn't easy to get pulled over in Flint, but if you are a committed and legit Flint National it will happen. You are not a native 'toid until you've blown at least .18 .

    Other factors to consider-

    How many violent crimes have you been a victim of?

    How many violent crimes have you perpetrated?

    How much TV do you watch?

    Have you ever witnessed a disheveled street bum fondle him/herself?

    Do you hate coney dogs, Grand Funk, and Matean Cleaves? Trick question. The correct answer is yes. Real deal Flintonians are haters.

    Plus 5 points for living in weird neighborhoods like Civic Heights and Evergreen Valley. NEGATIVE points if you have lived in East Village, Mott Park, Downtown, or any surrounding neighborhood for less than 5 years. Ironically, you can earn more points if you live outside of the city limits in hellholes like Mayfair, Beecher, or Bendle.

    Generations in Flint is non-factor. Dudes who like to claim lineage back to Sit-Down Strike remind me of yo-yos claiming Mayflower heritage. I've met plenty of Chaldeans who only moved here a year or two ago who are certified 'toids. In fact Chaldeans still living in Chaldeastan are granted automatic citizenship.

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  11. The Florida PantherDecember 18, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    O'Dea has got to fess up about that posed snapshot. This dude IS NOT strutting around North Saginaw Street on the reg looking like that. Hyphen Flint? More like Minus Flint. Faking a photo to boost street cred is unFlint, but VERY Grand Blank,

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  12. UM-Flint is moving out. It's not just about Flint anymore. They recently opened a satellite campus in an abandoned Elementary School in Sterling Heights. There is a UM-Flint Kiosk right next to Santa Claus at Lakeside Mall. Get with the program.

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    1. UM-Flint-Sterling Heights?

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    2. I was trying to find out more about the Magahay Center of the University of Michigan-Flint in Sterling Heights, course offerings, tuition, etc. Dual enrollment at the UM-Flint and Utica Schools for High School allows a HS student to take a course for just 25% of regular tuition. I was amazed that MTH 121 (Calculus I) was being offered with the same hour long test prerequisite as it was more than 40 years ago. Tuition was another story though. Full Time Tuition was in the neighborhood of $ 550.00 per semester back then. Tuition for this 4 credit hour class was something like$ 325.00 for a dual HS/UM-Flint enrollee at the Magahay Center. So it’s something like $ 1300.00 REGULAR TUITION for just MTH 121! The tuition increase is shocking. I still remember Dr. David W. Mantik (Google that name for clues to a fascinating career and life story) calling the Math Department to find out if I had scored high enough on the prerequisite test to take the course.

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    3. Tuition and fees are out of control. Increases far outpace inflation. We don't need "free college" and "free student loans", we need TUITION AND FEE CONTROL! They need to be rolled back to reasonable rates.

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  13. Strange timing. Legendary Chicago DJ Larry Lujack died Wednesday. He must have been an honorary Flintoid. Turns out he didn't like Grand Funk Railroad either. Didn't even want to talk to the Naperville High School paper editor who interviewed him about them.

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/24467978-418/legendary-superjock-larry-lujack-dies-at-73.html

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  14. Is there nothing out there without a Flint Connection? Howard Bragman has checked in concerning the Duck Dynasty controversy.

    http://tv.yahoo.com/blogs/tv-news/how--duck-dynasty--will-survive--and-thrive--post-phil-robertson-scandal-011810552.html

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