Wednesday, June 1, 2011

6.1.11 Bee-otch of the Day: the City of Grand Rapids

Name: the City of Grand Rapids
Age: 185
Occupation: the 2nd-largest city in Michigan
Last Seen: southwest Michigan
Bee-otched For: still not giving us a piece of that American Pie


It's been a Grand Rapids tradition for decades: the Grand Rapids LipDub.

The LipDub, which is sponsored by Grand Valley State University is where usually hundreds of people make a music video by lip-synching to a well-known song, all in one shot. This year's Lipdub, produced by Rob Bliss was definitely the biggest to date.

Bliss is an organizer known for his silly Facebook flashmobs involving paper airplanes and electronic music festivals in downtown Grand Rapids. This year's choice was a 1976 live recording of Don McLean's AM radio classic "American Pie".

The video - seen above - went live on YouTube Thursday afternoon, which happened to be the day the song was recorded 40 years ago, and the 30th anniversary of the birth of your humble Chuckster. The video involved some 5,000 spectators, including some famous faces like WOOD-TV 8 meteorologist Bill Steffen. Downtown was shut down to make this video, and for probable good reason.

The city is still dying.

Last January, Newsweek Magazine published a list of the top 10 "dying cities" in America, and Grand Rapids ranked 10th. Many critics - namely mayor George Heartwell - pitched a fit at the magazine claiming that Grand Rapids is alive and well and open for business.

The website where Newsweek got the article, based its information on how the population shifted over the past decade. In the case of Grand Rapids, the city lost nearly 5% of its population mainly due to jobs disappearing left and right.

But hey, we still know a lot of folks who know a small part of Don McLean's only major pop hit.
Since the video was released, it's gotten 1.3 million hits on YouTube. So far, the reactions to the video have been mixed, although Roger Ebert called the video "the greatest music video ever made". Even more, Don McLean himself called the LipDub "amazing".

Ya know, folks, I had a great conversation with one of my cousins about Grand Rapids last weekend. One of the things I told him was that I liked Grand Rapids much better 10 years ago when I moved there. Guess what? He told me that it was a hell of a lot better in the 1990's. Tragically, he's right. A long time ago, if you hated your job here in GR, you could just go across the street. Today, it's feel lucky you even have one. I'm like too many people: I hate my job, but then again, I know too many people struggling much worse.

Recently, one of my other cousins and her family had to move to Colorado. A decade ago, her husband owned a popular chain of tanning salons. He sold them all off, made a ton of money, but lost his ass in recent months in a failed foreclosure business. Now, he's back working for the man.

As for my other family here in GR, my other cousin doesn't have a job and lives with my aunt, who is a higher up at a government-run home for seniors in town. However, as we all know have learned from the Hoover-like tactics of Gov. Rick Snyder, she could be out of a job tomorrow.

Tragically, this is what Grand Rapids deserves for kissing right-wing ass. Hell, it doesn't even surprise me that AMWAY was one of the LipDub's sponsors. Nothing more than the DeVos family throwing their money around, trying to polish this turd of a town to make it more artsy-fartsy. And meanwhile, they're ready to tear down the former GM plant.

You know what? I have a great idea. August 27th marks the 5th anniversary of one of the reasons why Grand Rapids sucks: the unconstitutional strip club ban. Sadly, getting nude on stage in front of a bunch of paying adults is still illegal thanks to the evil old bitch known as Judy Rose. Oh, and from what I've heard, the "anonymous donors" who paid to have the law passed were the DeVoses, but since they're too goody-too-shoes, they had to be... Shhhh... Anonymous. Since Rob Bliss is so good about flash mobs, why not have something like a nude run on August 27th, since it's on a Saturday again this year? Let's face it: if enough people come out for this nude run, since the city cut back on police, no arrests would be made. Who's with me?

Maybe if enough people showed interest, Grand Rapids would be a cool city again. 

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  1. My favorite comments about the video are from people abroad, asking "Wow, are the streets really that clean in Grand Rapids?" followed by people claiming to be from here saying "Yes, this place is so awesome!" If I had to guess, I'd say anyone that thinks GR isn't dying has never left the city for any extended stay abroad. I've lived in 38 states, and on 4 continents. I've seen the world. It's tough out there.
    But there's absolutely no way the streets are "that" clean on a daily basis. The streets are that clean when they announce plans for this video shoot weeks in advance on every Clear Channel and Citadel broadcasting station in the city, block off streets with on-duty police, and only show the "pretty" side of the city. Artsy-Fartsy was dead on. Ohh, Art Prize is here, we're #winning! Such bullshit.
    I've considered taking a camera out and re-shooting this video, showing the truth. Foreclosed homes and businesses. Homeless waiting for a meal outside the mission on Division. Drug house and dealers. 3 people shot last weekend at a club called "Karma."

    At Griffins games - the Detroit Red Wings top farm affiliate, here in GR - they call us "Hockeytown West" since Detroit has long been known as "Hockeytown." That assessment is dead on as well. We're Detroit West. And as bad as you closed minded tree huggers might think Detroit is, based on their perpetual near the top placement on any top 10 dead cities list, the authors and editors at Newsweek had solid data to back up the article.

    GR is Detroit West. The streets are not really that clean. Putting GR on your "must visit cities" list based on a lip sync video is a mistake. There's nothing here worth seeing, and nothing to be proud of that directly refutes the article. Least of all, some silly lip sync video. What exactly does that video do to contradict the Newsweek article? Not a damn thing.

    I don't always agree with your BotD, but you got it right this time, for sure.