Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How Flint Became a Punchline

If you are going to read one story about the Flint Water Crisis, it should be local writer Connor Coyne's heartfelt, comprehensive and, ultimately, devastating take on what has happened to the Vehicle City in Vox. Part personal essay, part media criticism, and part political analysis, it describes the forces that have battered the city for decades, and the resilience of Flintoids as they battle seemingly overwhelming odds.
I was still skeptical about the extent of the problem, though, because the seeming diabolism of my friends' worries just sounded too ludicrous to be true, even for Flint. Even for a city in which one mayor had suggested we cut down all of the trees and put them up for sale and another had commissioned a massive bronze statue of himself, poisoning children with tap water just sounded too cartoonish to be real. 
The idea of the massive conspiracy involving collusion between local, state, and federal authorities that must have been involved in such a situation was too absurd to consider. Wasn't evil supposed to be banal instead of burlesque? 
After a parade of discolored water, E. coli boil notices, and total trihalomethanes violations, I finally had to concede the burlesquishness of evil. 
In October 2015, the state finally confirmed the worst of our fears: There was lead in the water after all. The city switched back to Detroit water, but the damage had already been done. We, and our children, were being poisoned.
Read the rest here.

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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