Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Ghosts of Flint: Corvair Monza in Anacortes, Washington








Thursday, July 26, 2018

Feeling Blue in Flint and San Francisco

The more things change, the more they stay the same, at least when it comes to politics.

My old Flint precinct in Civic Park is decidedly blue, just like my current precinct in San Francisco's Bernal Heights, according to this great New York Times "extremely detailed map of the 2016 election."








Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City by Gordon Young

Now Available for Pre-Order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones in Great Britain, and Indigo.

Praise for Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City by Gordon Young

"One can read Teardown and go 'My, my, my! What a horrid town! Thank God I don't live there!' Oh, but you do. Just as the 'Roger & Me Flint' of the 1980s was the precursor to a wave of downsizing that eventually hit every American community, Gordon Young's Flint of 2013, as so profoundly depicted in this book, is your latest warning of what's in store for you — all of you, no matter where you live — in the next decade. The only difference between your town and Flint is that the Grim Reaper just likes to visit us first. It's all here in Teardown, a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once great American city."
— Michael Moore 

"There must be a thousand good reasons to flee Flint. I can't assume there are many reasons to return. Gordon Young's Teardown supplies a few of these answers. A humorous, heartfelt and often haunting tale of a town not many could love. Fortunately for us, a few still do."
Ben Hamper, author of Rivethead: Tales From the Assembly Line

Teardown is the tragic and somehow hilarious tale of one man's attempt to return to his hometown of Flint, Michigan. Gordon Young is a Flintoid at heart, and his candid observations about both the shrinking city and his own economic woes read heartbreakingly true.”
— Novella Carpenter, author of Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer

“Armed with an aluminum baseball bat and a truth-seeking pen, Gordon Young returns to the post-industrial wasteland of his hometown — Vehicle City, aka Flint, Michigan — in search of a derelict house to buy and restore. At least that's his cover story. Young's true mission is to reclaim his past in order to make sense of his present. If you're bewitched by the place where you grew up, you'll find comfort and a sense of home in the pages of Teardown.
— Jack Shafer, Reuters columnist and a former Michigander

“Like so many other Flintites, I visit my hometown with a mix of sadness, repugnance, and anger. Flint is too easy to criticize, but I look back in gratitude for the values Flint instilled and the bonds I made that remain with me to this day. You can take the boy out of Flint, but you can’t take Flint out of the boy.”
Howard Bragman, author of Where’s My Fifteen Minutes?

Teardown is a funny and ultimately heartbreaking memoir. The travails of house hunting are skillfully interwoven with Gordon Young’s attempt to reconcile life in his adopted city of San Francisco with his allegiance to Flint, Michigan, the troubled city of his childhood. The result is an all too contemporary American story of loyalty, loss, and finding your way home.”
— Tom Pohrt, artist and author of Careless Rambles by John Clare, Having a Wonderful Time, and Coyote Goes Walking.

For more information, including excerpts, photos, and events, visit www.teardownbook.com.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Flint, Michigan would be hard hit by G.O.P. Medicaid work requirements

Flint, prepared to get screwed, as usual. This time it's Medicaid.

Alice Ollstein of TPM reports:
In the GOP-controlled states of Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio, waiver proposals would subject hundreds of thousands of Medicaid enrollees to work requirements, threatening to cut off their health insurance if they can’t meet an hours-per-week threshold. 
Those waivers include exemptions for the counties with the highest unemployment, which tend to be majority-white, GOP-leaning, and rural. But many low-income people of color who live in high-unemployment urban centers would not qualify, because the wealthier suburbs surrounding those cities pull the overall county unemployment rate below the threshold. 
In Michigan, the GOP-controlled legislature is trying to pass a bill to make the 700,000 people enrolled in the state’s Medicaid expansion either work at least 29 hours per week or lose their benefits for a year. According to the state’s own numbers, 105,000 people could lose their insurance, but that burden will not be shared equally across the state. 
Washington Post analysis found that while African Americans make up about 23 percent of Medicaid enrollees in Michigan, they would make up just 1.2 percent of the people eligible for an exemption. Meanwhile, 57 percent of Michigan Medicaid enrollees are white, but white residents would make up 85 percent of the population eligible for an exemption.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

How to Fix Flint

Journalist Gordon Young tackles the question of how to fix his hometown of Flint, Michigan on Medium.com.
Flint — like other poverty stricken municipalities — has the vexing ability to resist broader economic upturns. Real growth, let alone bubbles, never seem to visit. The city continued to decline during the boom years of the Clinton administration and kept sinking during the modest but historically long-running economic recovery that President Obama orchestrated. Clearly, a rising tide doesn’t lift all boats. U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, who is an exuberant practitioner of metaphor, describes these cities as “anchored to the bottom of the ocean.” 
“I don’t think we can chip away at the problem,” he told me recently. “We need a big, bold, and very significant effort to help areas where you have chronic poverty. Until we fix the fundamental problems, we are really just managing the decline.”


Places to Park by the Factories and Buildings



I see the shapes
I remember from maps
I see the shoreline
I see the whitecaps
A baseball diamond, nice weather down there
I see the school and the houses where the kids are
Places to park by the factories and buildings
Restaurants and bars for later in the evening

Then we come to the farmlands, and the undeveloped areas
And I have learned how these things work together
I see the parkway that passes through them all
And I have learned how to look at these things, and I say

[Chorus]
I wouldn't live there if you paid me
I wouldn't live like that, no siree!
I wouldn't do the things the way those people do
I wouldn't live there if you paid me to

I guess it's healthy, I guess the air is clean
I guess those people have fun with their neighbors and friends
Look at that kitchen and all of that food
Look at them eat it, I guess it tastes real good

They grow it in those farmlands
Then they bring it to the storeThey put it in the car trunk
Then they bring it back home
And I say

[Chorus]
I wouldn't live there if you paid me
I wouldn't live like that, no siree!
I wouldn't do the things the way those people do
I wouldn't live there if you paid me to!

I'm tired of looking out the windows of the airplane
I'm tired of traveling, I want to be somewhere
It's not even worth talking
About those people down there

Goo goo, ga ga ga
Goo goo, ga ga ga
Goo goo, ga ga ga
Goo goo, ga ga ga
Goo goo, ga ga ga
Goo goo, ga ga ga
Goo goo, ga ga ga
Goo goo, ga ga ga
Goo goo, ga ga ga
Goo goo, ga ga ga
Goo goo goo goo, ga ga ga ga!



Thursday, April 19, 2018

Happy Birthday Tiger Stadium



"April 20, 1912 —the day should be trumpeted. There should be balloons and bunting. A celebration. A cake. There is none of that. Just silence. They would prefer we forget.

"It opened in the era of ragtime music and black Model T's. Airplanes were still aeroplanes. Mary Pickford was becoming a star, and Jim Thorpe soon would be. The First World War had yet to begin and women wouldn't get the right to vote for eight years. It was a time when fans wore sports coats and dress hats and paid to stand in the outfield, separated from the players not by a home-run fence but by a rope that defined the playing area."

           — Tom Stanton, The Final Season









Deindustrialization, Decline, and Opioids


Andrew Sullivan, writing in New York Magazine, on "the emptiness" and opioids:
"If industrialization caused an opium epidemic, deindustrialization is no small part of what’s fueling our opioid surge. It’s telling that the drug has not taken off as intensely among all Americans — especially not among the engaged, multiethnic, urban-dwelling, financially successful inhabitants of the coasts. The poppy has instead found a home in those places left behind — towns and small cities that owed their success to a particular industry, whose civic life was built around a factory or a mine. Unlike in Europe, where cities and towns existed long before industrialization, much of America’s heartland has no remaining preindustrial history, given the destruction of Native American societies. The gutting of that industrial backbone — especially as globalization intensified in a country where market forces are least restrained — has been not just an economic fact but a cultural, even spiritual devastation. The pain was exacerbated by the Great Recession and has barely receded in the years since. And to meet that pain, America’s uniquely market-driven health-care system was more than ready."
And...
"Market capitalism and revolutionary technology in the past couple of decades have transformed our economic and cultural reality, most intensely for those without college degrees. The dignity that many working-class men retained by providing for their families through physical labor has been greatly reduced by automation. Stable family life has collapsed, and the number of children without two parents in the home has risen among the white working and middle classes. The internet has ravaged local retail stores, flattening the uniqueness of many communities. Smartphones have eviscerated those moments of oxytocin-friendly actual human interaction. Meaning — once effortlessly provided by a more unified and often religious culture shared, at least nominally, by others — is harder to find, and the proportion of Americans who identify as “nones,” with no religious affiliation, has risen to record levels. Even as we near peak employment and record-high median household income, a sense of permanent economic insecurity and spiritual emptiness has become widespread. Some of that emptiness was once assuaged by a constantly rising standard of living, generation to generation. But that has now evaporated for most Americans."


Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Streets of San Francisco: Welcome to the Future








Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Flint Photos: Doomed Space



"A rich silence, heavy with secrets and untold stories, hangs in the air of each doomed space, and the banal residue of everyday life seems to cling to the blank walls like mold"
— Holly Myers, LA Weekly, 2001



Flint Photos: Illinois Avenue