Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City

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Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City

by Gordon Young

University of California Press | June 28, 2013 | Hardcover |

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After living in San Francisco for 15 years, journalist Gordon Young found himself yearning for his Rust Belt hometown: Flint, Michigan, the birthplace of General Motors and "star" of the Michael Moore documentary Roger & Me. Hoping to rediscover and help a place that once boasted one of the world''s highest per capita income levels, but is now one of the country''s most impoverished and dangerous cities, he returned to Flint with the intention of buying a house. What he found was a place of stark contrasts and dramatic stories, where an exotic dancer can afford a lavish mansion, speculators scoop up cheap houses by the dozen on eBay, and arson is often the quickest route to neighborhood beautification.
Skillfully blending personal memoir, historical inquiry, and interviews with Flint residents, Young constructs a vibrant tale of a once-thriving city still fighting--despite overwhelming odds--to rise from the ashes. He befriends a rag-tag collection of urban homesteaders and die-hard locals who refuse to give up as they try to transform Flint into a smaller, greener town that offers lessons for cities all over the world. Hard-hitting, insightful, and often painfully funny, Teardown reminds us that cities are ultimately defined by people, not politics or economics.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 288 Pages, 5.91 × 8.66 × 0.79 in

Published: June 28, 2013

Publisher: University of California Press

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0520270525

ISBN - 13: 9780520270527

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– More About This Product –

Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City

by Gordon Young

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 288 Pages, 5.91 × 8.66 × 0.79 in

Published: June 28, 2013

Publisher: University of California Press

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0520270525

ISBN - 13: 9780520270527

Table of Contents

Prologue: Summer 2009

Part One
1 Pink Houses and Panhandlers
2 Bottom-Feeders
3 Bourgeois Homeowners
4 Virtual Vehicle City
5 Bad Reputation
6 The Road to Prosperity
7 Bar Logic
8 Downward Mobility
9 Black and White
10 The Forest Primeval
11 The Naked Truth
12 The Toughest Job in Politics
13 Urban Homesteaders

Part Two
14 Quitters Never Win
15 Burning Down the House
16 Emotional Rescue
17 Get Real
18 Living Large
19 Fading Murals
20 Gun Club
21 Bargaining with God
22 Psycho Killer

Part Three
23 Winter Wonderland
24 Home on the Range
25 California Dreamin''
26 Thankless Task
27 Joy to the World

Epilogue: Summer 2012

Updates
Acknowledgments
Notes
Sources and Further Reading
Index

From the Publisher

After living in San Francisco for 15 years, journalist Gordon Young found himself yearning for his Rust Belt hometown: Flint, Michigan, the birthplace of General Motors and "star" of the Michael Moore documentary Roger & Me. Hoping to rediscover and help a place that once boasted one of the world''s highest per capita income levels, but is now one of the country''s most impoverished and dangerous cities, he returned to Flint with the intention of buying a house. What he found was a place of stark contrasts and dramatic stories, where an exotic dancer can afford a lavish mansion, speculators scoop up cheap houses by the dozen on eBay, and arson is often the quickest route to neighborhood beautification.
Skillfully blending personal memoir, historical inquiry, and interviews with Flint residents, Young constructs a vibrant tale of a once-thriving city still fighting--despite overwhelming odds--to rise from the ashes. He befriends a rag-tag collection of urban homesteaders and die-hard locals who refuse to give up as they try to transform Flint into a smaller, greener town that offers lessons for cities all over the world. Hard-hitting, insightful, and often painfully funny, Teardown reminds us that cities are ultimately defined by people, not politics or economics.

From the Jacket

"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. 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

"Teardown is a funny and ultimately heartbreaking memoir. The travails of house hunting are skillfully interwoven with Young''s attempt to reconcile life in his adopted city of San Francisco with his allegiance to Flint, 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, illustrator and author of Careless Rambles by John Clare

"Like so many other Flintites, I visit my hometown with a mix of sadness, repugnance and anger. Yet the man I have become, the life I lead, and the dreams I carry were all born in Flint, and Flint remains in my heart. We only knew it as home--as a place to learn, love and live. Flint is too easy to criticize, but I look back in gratitude for the values Flint instilled, the education I received 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?

"Armed with an aluminum baseball bat and a truth-seeking pen, Young returns to the post-industrial wasteland of his hometown 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 is 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

"This beautifully written tale of Gordon Young''s homecoming offers an unforgettable journey to the heart of one of America''s most compelling places."--Frank J. Popper, Rutgers University

About the Author

Gordon Young grew up in Flint, Michigan, the birthplace of General Motors, where his accomplishments included learning to parallel park the family''s massive Buick Electra 225. After reaching an uneasy truce with the nuns in the local Catholic school system, he went on to study journalism at the University of Missouri and English literature at the University of Nottingham. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Utne Reader, and numerous other publications. Young has published Flint Expatriates, a blog for the long-lost residents of the Vehicle City, since 2007. He is a senior lecturer in the Communication Department at Santa Clara University and lives in San Francisco.
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