Monday, November 21, 2005

American Dream Vanishes

Brian Emeott sent me this article in the New York Times. This decline has been playing out in Flint for all of my life, but it looks like every thing is finally coming to a head.

In many ways, it was not the government but Detroit and other major industries, at the prodding of their unions, that created the American-style social safety net, and helped foster the shared prosperity that is now fracturing.

This article really hit close to home for me. I've heard a lot of the same feelings expressed in the quotes from my dad. It's really sad to think of all of the families (including my own and most of my hometown friends' families) that these changes will affect and are already affecting.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Bob Lutz's Blog

Bob Lutz took a lot of initial heat before the Chevy HHR hit dealerships. Because it was one of the first cars that he was behind from the beginning of its development, he defended it aggressively. And, so far, he's been right as the HHR has done well according to most reports. Lutz's latest blog entry talks about the early successes of the HHR.

And he says "tricked out" which I found quite funny coming from this guy. Pimp my ride, Bob!

UM vs. OSU

I enjoyed this column in the Detroit News. I can't wait for the game.

Remember, this whole Michigan-Ohio battle started way back in 1835 when the states actually fought over Toledo, true story. Ohio won but took Toledo anyhow. In exchange, Michigan got the Upper Peninsula, Charles Woodson, Desmond Howard and four free passes to Cedar Point.

New Free Press Format

On Wednesday morning, the online edition of the the Detroit Free Press released a new format, making my morning noticeably more exciting and enjoyable (it's sad, I know). I've enjoyed getting used to it the past couple of days, and as I become more and more comfortable with it, I think I really like it. It's much better than the last version. It does, however, look just like a lot of the other online editions of Gannet newspapers. Compare it to the Indianapolis Star or the Tuscon Citizen.

I still think that the web edition of the New York Times is the best.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Black October

There were some really good articles in this Sunday's edition of the Detroit News/Free Press. I've read a lot of excellent columns in the aftermath of Kwame Kilpatrick's victory in the Detroit mayoral campaign, but Mitch Albom's column was particularly inspiring/frightening. Brian Emeott sent me this column on Sunday with the paragraph about St. Louis highlighted. Scary. No time for pointing fingers. No time for hostilities.

The Detroit News' summary (Also, take a close look at the first, small photo on the right. That's right, Flint's Angelo's Coney Island.) of events that took place in October reminded me why so many of my mornings are ruined after reading the Detroit papers. These are really volatile times, and it doesn't look like it's going to get better. The day that Delphi filed for bankruptcy and demanded wage cuts to $9-10/hour for its unionized workers, I bought Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat. The book is a current favorite now, but I think that my fear for Flint, Detroit, and Michigan has only grown. My fear though has yet to eclipse my optimism.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sacramento Kings

I can't believe that an NBA team would play footage of "burned out cars, abandoned buildings and empty streets" as they introduced the Detroit Pistons. Classless, inappropriate, and wrong. I'm glad the Pistons ended up beating the pants off the Kings. As Luke Emeott pointed out, "this shit wouldn't have flown if CWebb was still there."

The Fab Five is running a series on the top six largest change agents in college basketball in the last 20 years. Luke Emeott sent me this article on how the Fab Five changed the game. Awesome. If you enjoy the article, check out Mitch Albom's book "Fab Five: Basketball, Trash Talk, The American Dream." This is a must read for anyone who grew up rooting for Michigan basketball.

Luke accurately pointed out that you'll have to plow through the part of the article that talks about the 1989 Illinois team. The author finally notes that it was the 1989 Michigan team that took out Illinois. Led by? Flint's own, Glen Rice.

"Jalen Rose, the new 6-8 point guard, who sported a shaved head and a fake diamond earring, had the habit of yelling 'Money!' whenever he fired a shot."

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Detroit's Direction

I caught this quote in an article tracking the exit polls for the mayoral race. It says it all.

"I love my neighborhood. I'm really going to miss our house if we move," Laura Machlay said. "It feels like the city moves three steps forward, four sideways and two back. I don't understand, other cities face hard times and they come back. Other cities move forward and we're kind of not."

A Shot of Reality

Brian Emeott sent me this article in the Washington Post about Detroit's problems. I read it after I returned from a particularly sad Detroit visit this past Sunday. I was going to the DIA to see a movie that was playing as part of the Detroit Documentary Film Festival, but I took a different route than I normally do, driving through a residential area just north of the Midtown area. It was what I was expecting...abandoned homes, trash, caved in roofs. The outside wall of a building that stood along the road I was driving on had completely collapsed from the strong winds on Sunday. Concrete and bricks covered the street. It was sad to see people outside, kids riding their bikes, realizing that people have to live here.

After the movie, I went to the Hiedelberg Project which is an open environment art exhibit in Detroit. The artist took thrown away items he found in his neighborhood and used them to cover abandoned houses and cars, fences, trees, etc. on his street, just outside of downtown. The project is pretty cool, but it's really weird. The street is completely run down and it's strange to see all these colors and weird props across the street from a house with no windows or roof. Overall it just made me really sad, partly the aim of the project, I think.

Anyway, after reading the Washington Post article and visiting some of the run down neighborhoods on Sunday, my Monday morning was ruined. You read and hear about the neglect and sometimes you even see it, but it is easy to forget how bad everything is. The article, as Brian pointed out, "tells it like it is in many ways, and it's not a pretty picture to see Detroit without the lens of our undying optimism and hope." And it only takes a short drive outside of downtown to see the ugly reality. For every one step foward Detroit takes, there are hundreds of other steps it must take before real progress.

Worms go to College!

Brent Carr and I were part of a small group that started this pilot program last year. At the end of the semester we recruited Julie Cotton to maintain the garden and vermicomposting bin, taking over where we left off. This is great! Also check out the Free Press' guide to vermicomposting. Saving the world!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Hello Midwest

I read this article this morning and Tom Campion passed it along to me as well. If I could email the couple that moved from California to Metro Detroit I'd point them to the Essential Guide to Detroit that highlights eight Thai restaurants.

I also emailed this article to my brother and Luke Emeott, both of whom live in LA. Luke replied, "That article is pretty right on. I don't think I'll ever own a house in this state." I'm not sure if all native Californians could handle the cold, ominous, gray skies and piercing, souless winds of Febraury; but, Luke and Matt, this state anxiously waits for your return.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Microfinance Gift

This is awesome. "Business can be a force for good, and you can earn profit for doing good."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Christmas already?

On Tuesday morning I woke up to my alarm playing Christmas carols. I was still out of it when I turned off my alarm, and I don't think it really registered until later that night when I was setting my alarm when I heard that same station still playing Christmas carols. Then it dawned on me that it was November 1, and that the radio station must have decided to skip Thanksgiving, jumping into the holiday season almost two months in advance. I thought this was absurd. I thought the Christmas season started the day after Thanksgiving, not the first day of November.

Rosa Parks

On Wednesday I drove to Detroit to pay my respects to the woman who helped change our nation. I was anticipating a long line for the public viewing, but not quite as long as the 3 hours I had to wait.

I parked about three blocks away from the Charles H. Wright Museum where she was lying in honor. The line wrapped around about two or three city blocks, but it was moving steadily. As we turned the last corner before the museum entrance we were greeted with a Cedar Point style line, wrapping back and forth five times before the final few steps to the entrance. It added at least another hour to the wait (and was discouraging to see after a wait already two hours long), but again, we were always moving.

The whole experience outside had a very festival type feel to it. There were kids running around, climbing trees and fences, throwing rocks at each other, all in an attempt to stave off the restlessness that mounted as their parents dragged them through the line. The kid behind me didn't understand why he and his mom couldn't come back the next day when the line was shorter. A tent was set up handing out free coffee and hot cider. My favorite was the seven or eight hawkers wandering throughout the line selling $15 tshirts with pictures of Rosa Parks throughout her life. They appeared to be of the homemade, iron-on tshirt variety.

Anyway, after a three hour wait, we finally made it into the museum. They handed everyone a small card with Rosa Parks' picture on the front and a brief biograhpy on the back. A gospel group was singing, drowning out what I imagine would have been a strangely quiet lobby, and potraits of Rosa Parks lined the ropes up to the coffin. No sooner than I realized that I was finally inside, we were shuffling past the open casket of Rosa Parks and quickly exiting the museum. The short time inside was worth it though, and I'm glad I decided to go.

I was a bit surprised and saddened that I was one of a small number of white people that I saw while waiting. I would say that 98% of those at the public viewing were black. Detroit is 85% black and it was a cold, weekday night, but I guess I expected a more diverse crowd to honor a national hero.

Brian Emeott told me to watch some of the speeches given at the funeral services on Wednesday. Some great comments and inspiring words. Check out Jennifer Granholm's excellent speech here.