All posts by Z

Art Historian. Flint, MI

Flint: A Vehicle for Change

Flint and I go back a few years. I met my wife at college, and I had no idea what her hometown was like. After visits over a decade, I grew to see Flint as a midwestern town like most, with its strip malls in various states of decay and a downtown trying to reinvent itself.

But since becoming a permanent resident a short while ago, I have had to confront a lot of things I never fully appreciated about Flint. And it’s taught me a lot about The American Dream, those would-be petty kings who would kill it, and the ragged, motley contingent that wants to see it restored.

Living here in Downtown, I have witnessed a lot of things that give me hope, and I shake my head at more than a few that demonstrate how so much hardship in our society is entirely preventable. I, too, have felt the anger and frustration over trust betrayed by our government officials and the fear of our infrastructure crumbling beneath us.

With international press over Flint’s water, many are wondering how many more times Flint will be a whipping post. But I do not believe this has to be the case.

The root of the problem here in Flint is not simple to discern. There are callous capitalists and venal politicians who have harmed and still harm our citizens. There are racial prejudices and a generation gap that skew perceptions and drive a wedge between the major players in our community. But none of these things are unique to Flint, Michigan.

The underlying cause of much of the misery here, as elsewhere, is a kind of blindness. I perceive it when people toss off the bullsh*t phrase “that’s Flint for ya”. The phrase is utterly meaningless in itself, yet it implies the kind of apathy I cannot and will not ever embrace.

Flint is ugly, and Flint is beautiful. There is beauty everywhere. There is hardship everywhere. I have worked with people who have more money than I will probably ever see who rail about infinitesimal, petty gripes while lounging in the very lap of luxury. And I have received the best kind of sincere hospitality in neighborhoods so poor they can’t afford to pave their streets or collect the garbage. All here in the United States.

A phrase like that about Flint can only be an expression of grieving for a loss. This points at the kind of blindness I’m talking about: the inability to learn from previous mistakes, and the unwillingness, even when standing knee-deep in evidence, to change your view.

In 1946, a study by sociologist C. Wright Mills and economist Melville Ulmer compared and contrasted the economic contours of Grand Rapids, a patchwork of smaller, less-flashy industries, and Flint, the GM thoroughbred. The study predicted the dramatic difference in outcomes each city would experience over the coming generations, and, no surprise, Grand Rapids was favored for its less-glamorous embrace of diverse trades and industries, which would help sustain its economy. Hard times for one industry did not necessarily mean dire straits for others; diversity helped level things out. Flint however, was the thoroughbred that might have been more wisely seen as a one-trick pony.

My first real encounter with this situation was twelve years ago when my wife-to-be sat me down and screened Roger and Me. I was aghast at the brutality with which an entire city was denuded of its economic resources, stripped of its pride, and slapped in the face by a few greedy people. But what I was, and am still even more amazed by is that no one seemed to have learned the lesson everyone hears as a child:

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Wishing for a past which will never return won’t help. Idle complaining won’t help. Selling out to Buick for corporate sponsorships really won’t help. When a branch goes bad you tie it off. Instead, cultivate the new shoots that will give a fresh, abundant flowering and produce good fruit.

The cure for this blindness is taking a long, hard look at ourselves, and realizing that the change we want to see starts with that person each of us sees in the mirror. And the best way to cultivate a new and better attitude is with free and open discourse. It’s really why The Flint Phoenix was started – to be an alternative news source that isn’t ashamed to look in the mirror and isn’t afraid to speak its mind.

We firmly believe that this clarity of vision can turn the tide for our community. We admire the bravery and persistence of Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who raised the alarm about lead in Flint’s water. Even after the state publicly denounced her findings, she kept on telling the truth about children suffering from government negligence. And when we speak up for what we know is right – from starting a neighborhood watch to telling your friends to shop local – we become the difference we want to see around us.

It’s time to update those signs downtown to read “Flint: A Vehicle for Change.”




OK, guys, the CRIM race is happening this weekend. Now in its 40th year, the CRIM has really grown up. It’s now actually like, six races all going on at the same time (super-confusing, right?)

With all of this going on, The Phoenix has cut through the noise to give you the definitive CRIM Field Guide. There, don’t you feel better?


The Lois Craig Invitational
Michigan Special Olympics Race
Start time: 6pm
Saginaw Street in Downtown Flint

Michigan Mile Race Series
6:30pm – USATF Masters Men
6:45pm – USATF Masters Women
7:00pm – Seeded Male Racers
7:07pm – Seeded Female Racers
7:15pm – High School Challenge
7:20pm – Open Mile
7:25pm – Young Runners Mile

10 Mile Race VIEW MAP
7:30am – Wheelers and hand cyclists, sponsored by Fusion Medical
7:50am – 30 Year Runners
8am – Run/Walk – 10 Mile Competitive Walk Guidelines

8K Race
9:30am – Run
9:40am – Walk

5K Race
10am – Run
10:10am – Family Walk (strollers allowed in final wave)

Teddy Bear Trot
12pm (parents welcome to accompany kids)
Race starts in front of City Hall on Saginaw Street and ends at festival finish line


Lawn chairs, a healthy snack, bottled water, and an umbrella.

5 am – 7 am: all routes to downtown except Saginaw Street will be open.
6 am: Race Day Packet Pick Up and Late Registration
7 am: ALL STREETS around the course are CLOSED.
7:40 am: Racers must be ready in the corral.

(With free parking!)
Car Parking Location: McLaren Medical Testing Lab (4400 S. Saginaw Street & Atherton) 2.5 miles from the Start/Finish.
Drop Off Location: Third Street (b/t Stevens and Wallenberg) 3 blocks from the Start/Finish.

– University of Michigan William White lot (Saginaw St. & Robert T. Longway)
– Carriage Town at Grand Traverse St. Footbridge across river to Start/Finish.
– Flint City Hall (Saginaw and Court Streets)

gb-rihanna copy
So, you’re coming out to watch the race but you’re not very athletic? No problem! You can still be “on fleek” with the hippest fashions.

Take a look at the latest from Rihanna’s PUMA line. Sporty, flirty, comfort, all right there.

If you haven’t checked out Good Boy Clothes yet, you’re missing one of Flint’s very own gems.

Crim Wut? Beer and Pizza!

FOUND! on the honest-to-goodness official Crim Festival of Races website, under “Volunteer”:

What You’ll Do:
• Sell beer and pizza tickets in the festival lot
• Distribute beer and pizza
• Check IDs to ensure legal drinking age

Why it’s Important:
• Everyone loves to get their beer and pizza after the race
• This position helps keep people in an orderly fashion
• People don’t want to wait in a huge line for their pizza and beer; efficiency is key

Why You’ll Love it:
• You are right in the center of the action in the festival lot
• You will get to work with your friends if you’d like, or make new friends
• You’ll get to see all of the different people who participate in the race

My only question is: do the “volunteers” get free pizza and beer or not? When we find out, we’ll put it on the front page…

“The Lowest Form of Life” – The Annotated Trump, Vol. 1

In which we test time-honored wisdom against a selection Donald J. Trump’s public statements.

August 12th, 2016

According to the New York Times, at his rally on August 12th, Donald Trump said, “These people are the lowest form of life1, 2, I’m telling you,” pointing at the journalists3 covering his rally. “They are the lowest form of humanity.

…and, Scene. Let’s have a look at this week’s lineup: An American badass named George S. Patton and Bacteriologists at Stanford seem to disagree with this assessment of the “lowest form of life”.

Meanwhile, lo and behold, journalism itself seems to be in keeping with the spirit of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen and the U.S. Constitution.

1. “Politicians are the lowest form of life.” Attributed to U.S. General George S. Patton.

2. “Mycoplasma genitalium has one of the smallest genomes of any free-living organism in the world, clocking in at a mere 525 genes. That’s a fraction of the size of even another bacterium like E. coli, which has 4,288 genes. M. genitalium‘s diminutive genome made it the first target for Stanford and J. Craig Venter Institute researchers who wanted to simulate an organism in software.”

3. Journalism, and therefore the press, are bedrock institutions of a democratic society. “The term ‘fourth estate’ has become shorthand to denote the role of the public media as a pillar on which the smooth functioning of a democratic society rests, together with the other three estates – legislative, executive, and judiciary. A free press is also a counterbalance to these powers, a watchdog guarding the public interest, and providing a forum for public debate – a public sphere – that underpins the processes of democracy…

The origin of the term ‘fourth estate’ is attributed to the eighteenth-century English political philosopher and commentator on the Revolution, Edmund Burke, referring to the three sections of the French Estates-General, an assembly consisting of representatives from the clergy, the nobility, and the commoners (in practice, the bourgeoisie), whose gathering in 1789 is said to have paved the way for the French Revolution.

The ideas of freedom and democracy enshrined in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, passed by the French National Assembly after the 1789 Revolution, also inspired the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

Wall of Fame

The Phoenix wants to say THANK YOU for their support of the residents of Flint during the water crisis:

Cher, Big Sean, Meek Mill, Sandra Bernhard, Pearl Jam, Ezekiel Ansah, Erin Brockovich, Jack White, Sean Combs, Mark Wahlberg, Wiz Khalifa, Eminem, Jimmy Fallon, Madonna, Judd Apatow, Jon Cryer, Rosie O’Donnell, Seth Myers, KEM, Snoop Dogg.

If you would like to thank someone for their support, email us at