Back to the old homeland for a quick reading at Bradley’s Bistro, a beautiful downtown restaurant owned by my friends Lisa and Scott Kelly. It was really fantastic to catch up with some great old friends and meet some new ones.
I read some of the Saginaw-based excerpts from Vagabond Song and was struck by the changes since my early days there. Although there are still far too many “burned-out houses and boarded-up liquor stores … vacant lots of broken glass and the rusted skeletons of industry” — in fact some areas are now worse — but it occurred to me that the space where I was reading had probably been one of those boarded up buildings and now was filled with great food and beautiful people, artwork by several friends covering the walls. All because Lisa and Scott love this town, they believe in it and risked much to improve it. It felt good to be home.
In another section of the book, I write about the Saginaw River and the several rivers that merge south of town to form it:
Today the rivers are clogged arteries killing this land. The Shiawassee brings run-off from crops poisoned by Monsanto and Cargill, the Flint River adds toxins from General Motors and the Cass River brings more pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. The Tittabawassee has been attacked by Dioxins from Dow Chemical and, via the Pine River, by a host of pollutants from Michigan Chemical Corp. (now Velsicol …). Once a paradise teeming with fish, the Saginaw River now has signs posted at every dock and pier warning people and stating advisable limits of consumption. …
I grew up along these banks and have this death-water in my blood. We all do.
And now, the Flint River is making national headlines. Governor Snyder, in his undemocratic system of replacing elected officials with one of his crony “emergency managers” knowingly and willingly poisoned the people of Flint by allowing the switch to the river for the city’s drinking water supply. The children of Flint will suffer irreversible damage from lead poisoning. There are calls for Snyder’s resignation, which I support, though that’s just the beginning. He and other responsible parties must be tried and brought to justice for their criminal acts. The people of Michigan should rise up to demand this, and then never again allow these kind of vermin who would put profits over people to hold office again. Sending my love to the people of Flint and to all those beautiful people living in this beautiful state which is currently under siege from the right-wing thugs.
Here’s more details and a petition to sign: