Tuesday, May 31, 2016

VIRGINIA TECH PROFESSOR MARC EDWARDS SPEAKS ABOUT THE STATE OF THE WATER IN FLINT

This morning at 10:am Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards gave a talk addressing, in his opinion,  the current state of water in Flint. Edwards has been a major proponent of repeated toilet flushing in the city. He and others feel that through repeated flushing a protective coating from added chemicals is forming in the water service lines, thus eventually rendering the water safe. According to statements by Edwards this morning he believes that the water is getting better and that they are seeing the development of a protective coating in the pipes. He stated that two homes were tested on May 5 and that lead levels were lower. Edwards stated at today's live streamed discussion that they have found, "Encouraging results. We think we are helping to restore protective coating", 

 It is clear that Edwards feels that the pipes are better after thorough flushing to clean the pipes out. He said that he is not sure, however, until they do more sampling. Edwards also added that the EPA still advises residents to use bottled water, and that they should know by early August if if the water has improved more. This was the information given forth today by Edwards. 

To be honest, the concept of a protective coating forming on leached out, and corroded pipes throughout the entire city after the correct chemicals were added to the water sounds far-fetched. I'm no water expert, but come on. I still say, as do many others, that THE PIPES ALL NEED TO BE REPLACED! It just doesn't seem logical to me that a uniform layer of protective coating can be evenly dispersed throughout the water infrastructure of Flint. I mean I imagine that some lines are more damaged, corroded and leached out than other lines. If one cannot see inside the pipes underneath their homes then how can anyone know for sure.. People will say that is where the water testing comes into play. But,  I have read that levels of contamination in service lines may vary from time to time. How are people to really know if their drinking and bathing water is truly safe? 

 Mayor Weavers Fast Start initiative to replace all service lines has stalled. Please don't tell me that it has to do with saving money. Surely, human lives are more important than money, right? Dear god, I hope so.

As for Marc Edwards, Water Defense and the EPA, it's hard to know who to trust these days in regard to the Flint Water Crisis. For the sake of everyone in Flint, replace the water service lines and put an end to the speculation.

Jeff Brown
Editor/Publisher
Purple Walrus Press





hope so.

Monday, May 30, 2016

HOPING THAT NEW YPSILANTI HIGH PRINCIPAL IS POSITIVE "ROLE MODEL".

It's terrific that a new principal was recently hired at Ypsilanti high school. Hopefully, Scott Snyder (unfortunate last name) will be a positive, as they say, "role model". Young people at Ypsilanti high certainly deserve a positive presence.  As odd as it may sound I'm little skeptical with the term "role model" when it comes to school administrators these days.

The previous "role model" at Ypsilanti high, principal Tanya Bowman,  faced  federal bribery charges in March related to school funds and recently pleaded guilty. Now there's a positive role model for students! Geez. The federal bribery charges date to a time period when she was a principal with Detroit public schools. Bowman is looking at the possibility of spending 18 to 24 months in prison. Prior to accepting the position of principal at Ypsilanti high, Bowman was principal of Osborne Academy of Mathematics, Science & Technology in Detroit. That's a mouthful. I do admit to being a little skeptical of the schools with gigantic names, but that's for a different article. In a press release last July the school district stated that Bowman aims to ensure students receive the best instructional practices and challenging curriculum necessary for success in their post-secondary plans. Well, as my dad always says, talk is cheap. Apparently, Bowman was not as altruistic as she appeared a year ago. She accepted $12,500 in kickbacks stemming from her acceptance of gift cards and kickback payments from the owner of a school supplies vendor.

I'm sure that way back when Tanya Bowman was earning her undergrad degree at Central Michigan University, and her masters degree from Wayne State she wasn't planning on committing a federal crime involving school funds down the road. But somewhere along the way in her career I guess something changed, or maybe she changed. I guess we'll never know. But what an awful shame for the students she was supposed to motivate, as well as for her and all involved.

I feel bad for young people today and wonder how they are perceiving the world around them. Lots of so called "role models" are behaving pretty badly these days. Think about what young folks are witnessing. A party front runner and presidential candidate is spewing forth a steady stream of bigoted, hateful and crass remarks aimed particularly at Hispanics, women and Muslims. He is an appallingly terrible role model. At the same time we learn that a significant number of DPS principals as well as ex- Ypsilanti high principal Tanya Bowman have been charged with criminal activity related to the schools. Students are taking this all in. Sad.

I can't imagine how I would have felt way back when if my old principal in high school faced federal bribery charges related to the school. I don't recall being enamored with my old high school principal back in Flint, but I'm sure I would have been shocked if he faced similar charges when I was 16, 17, or 18.

Today, young folks need positive role models more than ever, particularly in urban areas. How must our young people be feeling here in Ypsilanti, or in Flint, or Detroit as they witness such selfish and unethical behavior from our so-called role models? They certainly don't feel up-lifted. Here's to hoping that new Ypsilanti high school principal Scott Snyder is a good role model.



Jeff Brown
Editor/Publisher
Purple Walrus Press


Saturday, May 28, 2016

PWP WRITERS ALLEY: "SHE" BY STANZIE YORK.


                                                                  She

She debated. She watched out the window as he took his shirt off outside.  He climbed up the ladder with a hammer.  Should she take him a glass of ice water?
It would be the third time today that she went out there.  First to say hello.  Second to unlock the garage because she had forgotten, maybe a bit on purpose.  Too obvious?
This would be it, she promised herself.
She took another peek out the window.
He was young, she thought, staring at his tanned arms.  Maybe late 20s.  Young but maybe not too young.  He was a worker, wearing low slung jeans.  He was nice to her, friendly and kind.
She checked the mirror quickly.  Hair looking good today, artfully tousled, tastefully dyed.  She was still pretty, if she kept her chin up slightly to disguise the sag.  Contouring helped.  So did the eyeliner and shadow.
Not too bad, she thought.  Her eyes were large and bright.  Her lips swabbed with a soft rose, not too dark, since they were thinning.  Losing collagen, said the magazines.
But still, not too bad.
She walked to the kitchen, got out the ice tray, and a glass.  She heard him hammering.  He told her he was driving nails in the side of her house.  For what, she did not know, having lost the thread of his explanation while watching his eyes and mouth.  His teeth were even and he smiled frequently.
She dropped cubes into the glass and turned on the faucet.  She let the water run for a few seconds to cool it, then tucked the glass beneath.
She turned the faucet off and set the glass on the counter.  She caught a glimpse of her reflection in the sliding glass door.
She turned slightly and smoothed her shirt.  She had dressed to hide her apple shape.  Where it had come from was a mystery.  One day, the clothes she usually wore didn’t fit.  Her body thickened, grew outward.  Matronly, one friend said.  We look middle-aged.
The magazines had advice for hiding a larger tummy and boobs.  She took it to heart, bought new clothes, and tried to drink more water.
The beauty struggle felt different these days.  She used to worry about pimples and oily skin.  She dropped bad habits and her body responded well.  She ate better or worked out more and she fit into that cute dress.
Not now.  Nothing changed.
No more appreciative looks from random men in stores, on the street, at the pool.
But he was friendly and open from the start.  He called her nice.  He smiled and his jeweled eyes lit up green.  He laughed a lot and joked around.  Maybe he saw that she was once pretty and maybe he thought she still had it.
The jeans she slipped on today had an elastic waist.  Other pants hurt her soft belly.  She just couldn’t wear them.
She hid the elastic with a long, flowing top.  It was Boho, she thought.  It hung from her shoulders.  If she didn’t turn sideways, she looked thinner and her boobs didn’t poke out like a shelf.
For a moment, the shape reflected in the patio door looked alien to her.  It was not her, not the body she always knew.  The pretty hourglass shape with round melon breasts that all the boys liked, the sexy legs and small feet that fit nicely in a pair of kitten heels.
She turned quickly, snatched the water glass off the counter and slopped some on the floor.
She ignored it.
She pressed her lips together and headed for the front door.  She didn’t want to think about herself or what she might look like to him with her larger bosom and thin legs.  She was beautiful.  She would do what she always did.  She would have him.  She would see the signs and know that his lips would find hers.  His body would be hard against her.  He would enjoy her soft curves.  She would feel him inside. She had done this many times before.
She stopped.
Her body was dry and scaly.  She had developed rashes and skin tags.  Her emerging double chin became triple when lying down.  Her vagina had no juice and she couldn’t come like before.  The usual strong spasms were gone.  Just gone.  What desire she did have rarely ended in strong release.  It was hardly worth it, unsatisfactory, minimal, disappointing.
The glass sweated beads in her hand.  She had waited long enough.  She stood on the precipice of her age and looked down.  One more time, she thought.  Just give me one more time.  I won’t ask for anything more.
She carefully opened the door and stepped outside.
Her hand felt cold in the heated summer air.  She clicked across the porch in her kitten heels.
He had come down from the ladder and glanced her way with his wide smile.
Hey, hey, hey, he began to say, heading toward the porch, shirt in hand.
He stopped when he heard the music.  The loud open jeep pulled into her driveway.  Its occupants laughing and calling his name.
The driver was another young dude with a bandana and tattoos.  Another shirtless guy sat in back.
And there were girls.
The kind she used to be—with real wind-swept beachy waves in soft fawn and baby blonde.
These girls wore short shorts and tiny Boho tops with no bras.  Their eyelashes were long and their lips moist pink.  They had perfect, smooth tanned skin.  They shone.
He laughed when he saw them.  A genuine laugh, richer, deeper, real.  He dropped his shirt onto his shoulder and went to greet his friends with secret handshakes and a language she would never know.
She stood, watching their casual nonsense.
He pulled one glowing girl close and kissed her.  She slid a hand into the matted hair on his chest and up around his sweaty shoulder.  He used his shirt to bind her to him for a moment.  He let her go reluctantly.
Then he told them he had to get back to work.
Boss-lady watching, he said, winking at the friends.  She’s real nice.
They drove off.  He watched them, one hand raised, still chuckling.
Then he saw the water glass she was holding.
Ah, he said, thanks.  Can you leave it right here on the porch?  I appreciate it, but it’s too cold for me.
He walked back to the ladder, whistling.
Yes, she thought, yes, it is.
She stood still, completely frozen.
The hammering started again.
She tipped the glass upside down and watched the ice cubes slide off the porch onto the concrete stoop.
She opened the front door, walked into the kitchen, and set the glass down on the counter.
Then she threw her kitten heels, one at a time, at the sliding glass door.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

INTERVIEW WITH YPSILANTI CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE BETH BASHERT BY JEFF BROWN PWP

Beth Bashert
I have had the pleasure of knowing Normal Park resident Beth Bashert for several years. I think it's fantastic that she is running for Ypsilanti City Council. I have always been impressed with her positive energy, candor and strong views, particularly in regard to the city of Ypsilanti.

With the Ypsilanti city council primary election coming up on August 2nd, I decided to ask Beth Bashert some questions regarding a range topics including her vision for the city, recent gang issues in the community, the Water Street millage, and (of course) a few light-hearted questions.


1. What inspired you to run for elected office in Ypsilanti?


I have served the city in many campaigns, starting in 1997.  I have helped to defend human rights, to pay for public transportation, to expand green spaces in Washtenaw County, and to pass the Income Tax proposal. I was Amanda Edmonds’ Campaign Manager. Whether or not you agree with the various causes or candidates that I have supported, you definitely know that I am willing and able to work towards solutions to problems.  


It is time for me to put my own name out there and serve our community in a more ongoing way. I have collaborated on projects with many office holders, including most of our current council, and I look forward to being a team member with them on city council. I want to be a part of creating solutions to problems, as well as an impetus to growth and the future.  


2. There have been a lot of neat and interesting businesses and restaurants popping up in Ypsi during the last few years. What is your take on the city as far as economic growth and development?


I feel that we are on the cusp of a lot of potential growth. Restaurants and storefronts have come in and are becoming highly successful: Red Rock, Mix, Beezy's, Bowerbird Mongo are all good examples from Michigan Avenue. Depot Town has the Eyrie and Maiz as examples of newer and successful businesses to brag about.  


Additional office-based businesses would bring us to a whole new level.  Some of what’s proposed for Water Street, combining retail and residential development, is another strong addition and hopefully that will come together easily.  


I believe the answer here is to keep our momentum going, and add depth with office spaces. We have a growing music and arts culture that we can continue to support, First Friday Art Walks are an amazing event each month, and our diverse festivals every year are a big attraction as well.


3. What is your take on the spate of gang violence that erupted in the city last summer? A community group in town called the Ypsilanti Community Interrupters began re-organizing last weekend to pass out information packets to residents in regard to how to deal with gang violence. Do you think this group will be effective? Do we as a community in Ypsilanti need to do more to stem local gang related violence in the city? What are your thoughts on the issue?


Gangs and violence are symptoms of problems, economic and cultural, that go beyond our little town. Poverty, an education system that thinks testing is educating, and the lack of viable employment opportunities are all parts of the problem.  


I love the idea of the Interrupters. I love community-based responses like this. Getting to know the families who are struggling with youth attracted to gangs, keeping kids in school, building relationships within the community so that violence is no longer anonymous, are all incredibly powerful.  


In addition, I am excited about the programs coming from our schools and the energy we are seeing in some of the new administers. This is not a fast fix, but long-term fixes are really the only way to get something solid accomplished. We need to have options for youth that are plentiful, varied, attractive, and ongoing. Our school district is starting to step up, the Interrupters are doing relationship-building and intervention, now we need employment and social opportunities for all our youth.  


4. We have a mid major university located right smack in the middle of Ypsilanti. What role should Eastern Michigan University play in the economic development of the city?


EMU is a partner with our city in many ways. Of course, this partnership must be continually fostered, checked, and developed. One successful example of EMU supporting our city is the Live Ypsi program, which gives $5-10K to EMU staff and professors purchasing homes in our city. An example where we can do better is working to get local independent food businesses access to catering events at the university.  


EMU is a highly-respected institution, and is getting stronger and more respected every year. It also is facing some severe economic challenges, just like our city but for different reasons. Together, we can come up with solutions that benefit us all.  


5. I almost hate to ask, but what are your thoughts on the Water Street development situation that continues to seem like a big debacle. Also, what are your thoughts on the Water Street debt mileage?


I support the upcoming millage. The city has done some great work in finding the massive interest-rate savings with the new financing plan. The additional investment of buying down the principle on the debt is a big step towards helping make the overall debt more manageable. Lastly, since this is replacing a millage that is expiring, households in our community will not be realizing an increase in taxes. This is about as painless an option as we are going to get.  


Water Street is a big problem that we need to solve. The economy has not been our friend since the project started. Trying to get this land developed during a nationwide economic downturn, specifically one in the housing market, could not have been more badly timed.  


There are several problems that we need to solve, and several long-term projects that can come to fruition that will be helpful. I believe that eventually, that land will be full of residents, businesses, and destinations that will help Ypsilanti continue to be a great place to live. Getting there is the challenge.  


OK, on a lighter note. Here are some other hard-hitting Purple Walrus Press questions!


1.Now this is important so think carefully on this one. Who is your favorite Beatle?


Hah! Paul. He was so pretty that I wanted to be him. I knew I was a lesbian even when I was a child, and all the girls loved Paul.  


2. Do you have a favorite band or musician? If so what band or person would it be?


I am a big Billy Joel fan. I love piano/composers, and his straight ahead rock style is appealing to me.  His lyrics are (or were) edgy for the time. He gives a good concert too, by the way.  


3. What was your favorite TV show growing up?


Oh, you are going to make me say it: Star Trek.  I love the values, the pure science fiction, and the characters are corny but great.  


4. Read any good books lately?


I have been reading Terry Pratchett lately. I was saddened by his passing, Alzheimer’s is very cruel and Pratchett was truly brilliant. I put him in the same category as Kurt Vonnegut for the cutting commentary, humorous, and stark truths. Pratchett’s characters are a little more endearing though.  


5. Lastly, what is your favorite all-time movie?

It’s a list actually. I will stop everything to watch any of the following: A League of Their Own, The Princess Bride, Galaxy Quest, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Young Frankenstien, the Kill Bills, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There are a couple others as well, but that about covers it.  

Thanks Beth!

Jeff Brown
Editor/Publisher
Purple Walrus Press

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

DIOXANE PLUME MAY HAVE REACHED HURON RIVER: SO WHAT THE HECK IS DIOXANE?

Troubling news came out last week regarding the dioxane plume. Apparently, there is a strong possibility that the dioxane 1,4 plume may have already reached the Huron River in Washtenaw county. Not good. Thanks a lot Gelman Services, or should I say, Pal Life Services, or is it Pall Gelman Sciences? Every time I research this company they have a different name! Apparently the company closed the Ann Arbor office in 2013. Hmm. I wonder why. Anyway, a Wayne State professor by the name Larry Lemke stated earlier in the week to MLIVE that, "As far as 1,4 dioxane transport to the Huron River, it's probably already there, and it's going to persist for many decades to come." Lemke is a hydro geologist (Don't ask ME) and director of the Environmental Science Program at Wayne State. Sounds like a smart guy.

When, where and how did this whole situation begin? Well, here's a brief re cap of the story. From 1966 to 1986  Gelman Services used a solvent called dioxane1,4 at it's Scio Township location  on Wagner Road. It was used in the manufacture of medical filters. Yikes. It sounds like the filters needed a filter! Apparently, waste water containing the chemical was stored in unlined lagoons which are kind of like storage ponds for liquids. From what I have read these storage "ponds" or lagoons are supposed to be lined with clay and another type of liner. I must admit that this technical info is way over my head.

Apparently over time the dioxane basically leaked into the ground soil and started to spread. And that is where the story began. What a mess.

At first glance I was surprised to learn that Pall stated to MLIVE that it has been in compliance with the Department of Environmental Quality as far as the clean up, but on second thought, as someone who moved here to Ypsi from Flint 11 years ago,  I don't particularly trust the DEQ anymore.

So what the heck is dioxane 1,4? Well, according to the EPA and I'm quoting, them directly from their EPA Technology Transfer Network-Air Toxins web site. " 1,4 dioxane is used as a solvent. Acute inhalation exposure to high levels of 1,4 dioxane has caused vertigo, drowsiness, headache, anorexia, and irritation to eyes, nose, throat and lungs in humans. " It may also irritate skin. Damage to the liver and kidneys has been observed in rats chronically exposed in their drinking water." Lovely.

What does this all mean for us folks living here in Ypsilanti? I really don't know for sure. I don't think anyone really does know. I do know one thing, though. I'm not going to eat any fish my son and I might catch from the Huron River when were down at Riverside Park. What a disconcerting and disturbing mess this is.

Jeff Brown
Editor in Chief/Publisher
Purple Walrus Press
 Huron River Ypsilanti, Mi.  Copyright Purple Walrus Press.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

PWP WRITERS ALLEY: Poem by Mack Macateer

Maybe i just dont belong anywhere
And with anyone
Maybe im a heavy metal hippie bum
Broke and broken
Nothing to my name but stories 
Maybe im an artist with no talent
just a maker of many things
A poet without a pen
A lover and a fighter
One way ticket to paradise
Now homeless in hawaii

Saturday, May 21, 2016

FLINT WATER ACTIVIST MELISSA MAYS AND PLUMBERS & PIPEFITTERS LIVE STREAM EFFORTS.

Today, Flint Water Crisis activist Melissa Mays and the amazing UA 370 plumbers & pipefitters live-streamed on facebook after 125 volunteers installed 700 shower filters for residents of Flint. What an incredible and generous accomplishment! These amazing folks spent their own time and money to reach out and help 700 households in Flint who cannot do something as basic as take a shower because of the horrific quality of the water that continues to plaque thousands and thousands of Flint residents. Their goal is to install 1000 shower filters for residents of the city.

Many residents of Flint are complaining of rashes and other types of skin irritation due to the toxic water. This is appalling and unacceptable. Unfortunately, many people outside of Flint have gotten the impression that conditions for the 100,000 residents of Flint have gotten better. The truth is that conditions definitely have not improved. Residents are still being told to use bottled water for consuming water. Indications are that showering in the water continues to cause skin problems.

There was a lot of media coverage of the Flint Water Crisis for a few months but very little has changed or improved. People outside of the city need to know this.

A huge thank you to Melissa Mays and the UA 370 plumbers and pipefitters for taking action and for telling people the truth about what continues to be a nightmarish situation for people in my hometown of Flint.

Jeff Brown
Editor in Chief/Publisher
Purple Walrus Press

Thursday, May 19, 2016

TODAY'S WORLD CAN CHALLENGE US OLD PEACENIKS BUT I'M STICKING WITH JOHN LENNON'S NUTOPIA.

Let me say right off the bat that for a peacenik anti-war bleeding heart liberal kind of guy like myself, terrorist groups like ISIS can sometimes make it seem difficult to reconcile pacifistic, hippyish political sensibilities. Oy vey! Maybe some of you out there can relate to what I'm talking about. Beginning at about the tender age of five I felt strongly that war made no sense and should be avoided at all costs. At age seven I actually wrote a letter to President Nixon telling him that I felt the war in Vietnam was wrong. I even included a hand-drawn picture of tombstones! No Kidding. Ask my mom! Kind of intense for a seven year old twerp, I know! She still gets a kick out of it today! She was very proud I might add. When I was a kid the Vietnam war was raging in Southeast Asia and finally officially ending when I was in junior high school in 1975. That war not only scared the bejesus out of me but it also shaped my anti-war views.

These days the political landscape and U.S. foreign policy issues can seem so complicated. Lets take terrorism for example. ISIS is one scary group. One issue I have grappled with personally as a peacenik type is this: How does the United States as well as the world deal with the threat of groups like ISIS without using military intervention? I do realize that the rise of ISIS can be blamed in many ways on miss guided U.S. foreign policy such as the invasion of Iraq and the dismantling of their army. Still, it is tricky.

A couple years ago for the first time in my life I began thinking that, well, maybe U.S. military force along with a coalition is the only way to deal with a threat as big as ISIS. At the same time this attitude goes directly against my long held pacifistic view that war is NEVER the answer. I mean I refused to register for the draft back in 1981,  and also organized two anti draft registration rallies at Grand Valley State in the early eighties. That's hardcore! Still, this issue of war on terrorism had me in recent years conflicted. I have never wavered in my belief that invading or bombing another country is wrong but terrorism is such a different ball game.

But wait a darn minute! Alas, I have to go back and stick with my old long held anti-war and peacenik views. No matter how challenging it can be with ISIS and terrorism out there I feel more comfortable with myself when I stay true to my life long view that war is wrong and only leads to more hatred and war. Its a vicious cycle that will continue until we humans realize that indeed war is never the answer, it just leads to more war.

This brings me to John Lennon. In 1973 John Lennon released an album called Mind Games. Its a beautiful record. Upon buying the album as a kid in the recent aftermath of the war in Vietnam in 1975, I'll never forget reaching into the album and pulling out the record sleeve. In that sleeve that was tucked into every Mind Games album in the seventies was the announcement and written declaration of a new conceptual nation that Lennon conceived and wanted to advertise to the world. That nation was called NUTOPIUA. Here is the declaration of Nutopia by John Lennon, 1973.

We announce the birth of a conceptual country, NUTOPIA.

Citizenship of the country can be obtained by declaration of your awareness of NUTOPIA.

NUTOPIA has no land, no boundaries, no passports, only people.

NUTOPIA has no laws other than cosmic.

All people of NUTOPIA are ambassadors of the country.

As two ambassadors of NUTOPIA, we ask for diplomatic immunity and recognition in the United Nations of our country and its people.

John and Yoko Ono Lennon.


I happened to come across this record sleeve declaration a few days ago while I was re-organizing my old record album collection. I realize how dated this declaration sounds to many people. But I'll tell you what, in light of all the crap going on today, from Donald Trumps hate fueled bigoted and divisive speeches, to the hatred spewed forth from ISIS, and all the rest of the hate mongering going on in the country today, coming across this beautiful visionary declaration in my old Lennon album was pretty damn refreshing. In fact, I found it sadly poignant in light of all of the negativity and divisive rhetoric in the country today.

Often times things that seem out-dated are more relevant than ever. Such is the case with John Lennon's visionary declaration of a new country without borders called NUTOPIA. In this crazy world of ours how can anyone disagree.

From now on when someone asks me my views on the war on ISIS and or terrorism I will make a peace sign with my hand, or is it fingers? Oh, whatever. I'll wave the peace sign up in the air, and say higher!
 Peace.

Jeff Brown
Editor in Chief/Publisher
Purple Walrus Press

Mind Games album inner sleeve containing  declaration of Nutopia. Copyright Purple Walrus Press




John Lennon Mind Games album. Copyright Purple Walrus Press




Tuesday, May 17, 2016

YPSILANTI INTERRUPTERS GREAT BUT WHAT IS ROOT OF GANG VIOLENCE IN CITY.

First off, as an Ypsilanti resident let me say that Ypsilanti is a very safe city. My family and I have lived in Ypsilanti since moving here from Flint in 2004. The spat of gang related violence that spilled into the downtown area last summer was a bit disconcerting, I admit, but I feel that it was an isolated event. Still, as in many other communities across the country, gang related deaths remain an issue.

The Ypsilanti Interrupters group is made up of local residents who are volunteering to go door to door in city neighborhoods like the one I live in with my wife and kids. Local volunteers are handing out information packets on how to help stem the spat of gang violence in the city. This is great and important work but the question is, what is the root cause of the violence?

When I think about gang violence in Ypsilanti I can't help thinking about our affluent neighboring city a couple miles to the West. Whereas Ann Arbor is affluent, Ypsi is socioeconomically more like a typical American city in what is referred to as the Rust Belt. Because Ann Arbor is affluent they have the financial resources to provide all kinds of after school and summertime activities and options for young people. Furthermore, because in general Ann Arbor residents have more disposable income, their kids can take full advantage of all the expensive summer and after school programs and opportunities available to them. That's great, but its not fair. I don't begrudge Ann Arbor parents and kids for having so many wonderful after school/summer programs and opportunities. The issue is that Ypsilanti parents and kids should have the same options and opportunities in our community. It strikes me as ironic that affluent communities like Ann Arbor have far more options for young people even though the need is much greater in other communities such as Ypsilanti or my hometown of Flint. Don't Ypsi kids deserve the same affordable opportunities? I think so.

Young people need jobs and they need things to do. In Ypsilanti these can be challenging in a city that has struggles economically like many other cities. I don't mean to excuse gang violence solely on a lack of opportunity, but I will say that lack of jobs and and a lack of varied and affordable programs and activities for kids in the summer doesn't help.

Jeff Brown
Editor in Chief
Purple Walrus Press

Sunday, May 15, 2016

FLINT WATER, OR WHY SHOULDN'T I EAT PASTA BY LEADED LADY

Flint Water, or Why Shouldn’t I Eat Pasta?  By Leaded Lady
I am from Flint, Michigan, lead water capital of the US.  We have been poisoned by our government here in Flint, when our governor and city manager (unelected) switched our water source.  We had no vote, no say, and no recourse.  Except to not drink the water.
The elected officials, who had no power at the time, voted against the switch.  So what?
We had no idea the new water wasn't treated with non-corrosive chemicals.  The new water was Flint River water.  It was ok water, but it needed to be treated to keep from corroding the pipes in the city.  No such treatment happened.
None of us knew that.  The politicians stood together with big ole glasses of water to prove that it was safe to drink.  Even though nobody was quite sure about that.  The Flint River has always been polluted.
Well, turns out that it was not safe to run through our old-ass pipes.
So in April 2014, the switch happened and the lead started leaching out and getting into our pipes and running through our faucets.
Ours.  In our house.  Ours.
No one thinks it can happen to them.  It did.
But we didn't know.  We just knew the water tasted weird and smelled off.  But that wasn't the lead, really.  Because ya can't taste and smell it.
So we wrinkled our noses and used the water for dishes, tooth brushing, ice, Kool Aid, tea and coffee, cooking, showers, washing clothes, cleaning, and watering the lawn.
I kept buying water to drink plain because the taste was so yucky by itself.  
2014 and 2015.  My husband and I had lots of kids in the house as our son, who was 8 at the time, made friends with every kid in the neighborhood.  I made limitless gallons of Kool Aid for them.  I fed them pots of spaghetti and goulash and mac n cheese, with pasta boiled in tap water.
I watched the news.  The water was safe, we were told. 
Then we had a boil advisory.  That was weird.  The water wasn’t safe.  Oh, well.  More spaghetti.  I could boil the bad stuff out.
I thought about buying a water filter, but, you know how it goes.  You think about it and then feel silly.  The water is supposed to be safe, and all the noisy people are just fear-mongering.  Plus, filters are expensive and a giant-ass hassle.  I had a Brita jug filter.  I hauled that out and used it, but the water still tasted weird.  That still wasn't the lead, though.
Bottled water suddenly had a bad reputation as plastic bottles were deemed carcinogenic.  Oh, and some of these water bottlers are just repackaging tap water anyway.  So I'm spending money on bottled water for nothing but a ticket to cancer-town.
Then, in July of 2015, my neighbor called.  She told me there were free filters to be had, but I'd better get there quickly.  Some anonymous person donated a bunch of filters for residents.  I should get one.  Why? I asked.  They are free, she said.  You can filter the water for free.  Ok.  I just happened to be available and willing to go.
My son and his friend and I went to a church with tables set up according to zip codes.  I showed people my ID and filled out a half-page form.  They gave me a faucet-mounted filter.  Just like that.  I felt a little silly.
But I went home and allowed a friend to put it on the faucet.  He said to me, you know the water is safe, right?  These people are full of shit, thinking it's bad water.  There have been tests.  I nodded and let him put the filter on.
I showed it to my husband when he got home.  Ok, he said.  Why not?
The filter was a pain in the ass. It made washing dishes difficult.  It was in the way.  It had a tiny stream that shot out too hard and squirted everything.  I almost took it off.  I think my husband did, too.
I used the filtered water for everything but washing dishes.  It was too annoying.
And then the news.  The water is poisoned.  Get your water tested.  Get your blood tested.  Get a filter.  Don't drink it.  Don't cook with it.  Good news!  We have a filter already.
Then, we heard that filters don't work fully.  They only filter up to a certain level.  And then, the filters have to be certified a certain way. If not, they don't work.  Brita jug filters don't work.  Filters that don’t have a seal that certifies them for lead removal don’t work.  Filters don’t filter water tested higher than 150 parts per billion.
And then, oh, and then...  Your water has tested at 200 ppb.  Under 15 is considered safe, maybe.  None is better. 
You are lead-poisoned.
Everything stops.  Everything.  Deep breath.
They come to our house.  The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.  The EPA.  The Health Department.  A plumber.  Lots of people asking lots of questions.  Do you have children in the home? Yes. How long have they been drinking the water?  At least a year and a half in Kool aid and spaghetti and mac n cheese and everything.
They bring us brochures and bombard us with paper.  Don't boil the water; it concentrates the lead.  Don't brush teeth with it.  Animals can get lead poisoning, too.  Get your dogs tested.
Even if you get tested, there's nothing that can be done.
Make sure you are totally on bottled water.  The filters can only handle 150 ppb.  Yours is at 200.
Legionnaire's disease is in the water.  It comes out in the shower.  Have you been showering in the water?  Only for two years.
Check your pipes in the house.  Do they contain lead?  Yes, probably.  Replace them.  And the hot water heater, too.  Lead has built up in the bottom of the water heater and will come out each time it's used.  The lead just gets stirred up again and again.
This is a disaster.  A tornado.  A flood.  A hurricane.  A tsunami.  For us, anyway.  And we have resources that others don’t have.
$3600 later we have new pipes, a whole-house filter, and a new water heater.  No, insurance does not cover this.  It's not a natural disaster.  It’s not considered a disaster at all.
Ha ha ha.  Right.  It's a lot worse than a natural disaster.  We were poisoned by our government.
Then there are the water bills.  About the time the pipes began to leach lead into the water, our bills went up.  We were paying around $40-50 a month for water.  Then it was $60-70.  Then at least $100.  A month.  For poison.
For a while, we learned that there would be no shut-offs for overdue bills.  Then the shut-offs started again.  A judge ruled that we were being charged too much for water.  We were supposed to see relief in our bills.  No such relief came.  It was still $100 or more a month for us.  Other people were at $200-300.  A month.
Rumors flew that CPS would take children away if our water was shut off.  We had to pay or risk losing our kids.  That turned out to be an unfounded rumor, but everyone I knew felt that they still had to pay.  And really, water shut-off is not something people can handle easily.  How do you use your toilet?  What do you do about all the other water needs that exist?
When the news of lead hit, we were still being charged for water.  Still the highest water bills in the nation.  The absolute highest for this lovely, stinky water.  In March of 2016, the ruling was overturned.  Our bill shot up to $360 for poison water.
Why not leave town?  I saw that comment on Facebook over and over again.  So why not?
And go where?  With what resources?  Our house is paid for.  No one will buy it from us.  No one wants to live in the city of poison water.
If someone did buy it, ha ha, we wouldn't get a whole lot for it.  How would we buy another house?  Or should we go back to renting with a kid and 3 dogs?  Where will we rent?
This is our home.  Our friends are here. Our son's school.  All our support networks.  Everything.
We like it here.  We do.  It is home.  So we stay.  And here we are.


The bottles of water they give us are small.  We get cases of small bottles donated by various wonderful people.  I drive up to the fire station line and wait my turn.  Volunteers heave two cases of water in small bottles into the car.
I have to carry them in the house. They are very heavy cases for me.
I have to open multiple bottles to cook or give the dogs water.  I have to open a couple to make coffee and ice, wash fruit and vegetables. It's a huge pain.  Just as annoying as the filter in the sink, which is useless.  But we still don't take it off.  I'm now washing dishes with the filtered water.  It's slow and difficult.  I have been squirted repeatedly by the small but intense stream of water.
Multiple bottles to make spaghetti or mac n cheese.  Not to look down on the gifts of water, but...we needed gallons instead.  Gallons are easier to manage.

Someone wrote on Facebook about why any of us in Flint would waste this water by making pasta.  Why would we do that?  Why not cook something else that doesn't need so much water?
Why not?  Because my child eats spaghetti and mac n cheese.  That's what he likes.  He is a lead-poisoned child.  If he wants spaghetti, then that's what he wants.  It's not wasting water to make it for him.  We want what everyone else wants.  We want to be able to use water without thinking about it.  It's human right.
Plastic water bottles will kill us.  The water will kill us.  So who gives a shit about a little bit of spaghetti?
I spent a year and a half handing out poison Kool Aid to kids.  I spent equally as long boiling the lead water, drinking lead tea and coffee, using lead ice-cubes.  I don’t worry about using up bottles of water for unleaded spaghetti.  Really.




Saturday, May 14, 2016

PWP CONTRIBUTOR JOANNAH SODERBORG: ANN ARBOR BUDDHA'S BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION AT ANN ARBOR BUDDHIST TEMPLE SATURDAY

If you want to go to a great party this weekend check out Buddha's birthday celebration at the Ann Arbor Buddhist temple May 14th at 6:00pm.  It is a wonderful way to get to know our Buddhist community and celebrate.

The Vegetarian Buffet Extraordinaire, on Saturday May 14th at 6pm, will be prepared by a very experienced crew in the kitchen at the top of their game. The entertainment includes a talented Jazz ensemble who have played the past two years, as well as some lively Buddhist songs performed by the new temple choir.
Students $10.00
Adults $20.00
Families $40.00


Religious Services on Sunday May 15th bring a different tone to the celebration. At the 9:30am morning service meditation is followed by special rituals for the Buddha's Birthday, including the precious ritual of bathing the baby Buddha. In the evening at 7:30pm we dedicate beautiful lanterns which have been hung in the Sangha Hall. At 3pm is a poignant, nutshell lesson on beginning a meditation practice.So come and celebrate Buddha's birthday- he is the easiest person to shop for because he only wants peace and enlightenment. 
See you there 

Purple Walrus Press contributor Joannah Soderborg


Friday, May 13, 2016

ANN ARBOR CIVIC THEATRE JUNIOR THEATRE PRODUCTION OF DISNEY'S THE JUNGLE BOOK SPARKLES!


The Ann Arbor Civic Theatre Junior Theatre production of Disney's The Jungle Book Kids played to a packed house at the University of Michigan Arthur Miller Theatre Friday evening in Ann Arbor and everyone attending left with a smile on their face. If you love singing and dancing kids, monkeys, elephants, tigers, bears, snakes, vulchers, and bees then you will surely love this production of the Jungle Book!

Directed by Caitlin Rowe the plot revolves around the main character of Mowgli "the man cub" played by a very talented young man named Emmanuel Morgan who obviously enjoyed his role in the play, and a big, bad and love-able bear who lends Mowgli a helping paw as Mowgli navigates the vast jungle alone. In the end Mowgli restores peace among the many animals he encounters in the jungle world he feels so connected to. He also learns a little bit about being human along the way.

The sneaky, slithery snake Kaa played by a silky smooth voiced Mia Colony and her accompanying Coils were fantastic as they harmonized, danced and hissed with eloquence. Shere Khan also put in a fabulous performance singing with hip, savvy.

Great job Ann Arbor Civic Junior Theatre! What a fun and entertaining evening!

Ann Arbor Civic Theatre Junior Theatre Disney's The Jungle Book performances will continue this weekend May 14 and 15 at 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm. Check it out. You'll go bananas over it!

Jeff Brown
Editor in Chief
Purple Walrus Press

Thursday, May 12, 2016

AMBER ALERT FOR 7 YR OLD AND MOM TRAGIC/ HEARTBREAKING. MENTAL ILLNESS MUST BE ADDRESSED IN U.S.

As I walked into my house today after going for a run in my Ypsilanti neighborhood this afternoon up popped an Amber Alert message from the Emergency Broadcast System on the television. The emergency message regarded missing Hamburg Township mom Amanda Hayward age 30 and her 7 year old daughter Sapphire Palmer. The mom and daughter were reported missing Tuesday afternoon after last being seen at their home.

Anytime there is an Amber Alert it is extremely serious and alarming, but this time the alert is particularly alarming I think. Stated in the alert is that the mother of Sapphire Palmer is armed with a 9mm handgun and as stated by the police,  may be suffering from an apparent mental episode. As reported by WXYZ Detroit, police also say she is delusional. Reports are that the child, Sapphire Palmer, is with her mom.

Apparently police are also looking for 64 year old man, who according to police, is a registered sex offender. This is a frightening twist.

Obviously, it looks like mental illness is what is responsible for Amanda Hayward's actions, and this is what is so heartbreaking about the situation. Mental illness has never been properly treated by the medical profession in this country and its a damn shame. Not only is there still a stigma about mental illness but there is a surprising lack of adequate treatment for people suffering from mental illness in the United States. Typically, if someone is admitted to the hospital due to mental illness they are released in a few days even though they require much more thorough diagnosis and treatment. It is a national problem that is not being addressed.

I'm sure police will find the mother and daughter soon, and that Amanda Hayward will not harm her daughter or anyone else. I only hope she receives the mental health treatment she deserves.

Jeff Brown
Editor in Chief
Purple Walrus Press

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

LAWSUIT CLAIMS FLINT MAYOR WEAVER DIVERTING WATER CRISIS MONEY INTO PERSONAL FUND.

Here is what I know so far. Former city administrator Natasha Henderson has claimed that in February Mayor Karen Weaver directed staff to dissuade the public from sending water crisis donations to the Safe Water/Safe Homes charity and instead send donations into Mayor Weaver's own personal fund called karenabout Flint. Public donations to Safe Water/Safe Homes were earmarked to help the many Flint residents struggling to deal with the water crisis.

Henderson claims in a federal lawsuit filed in Detroit May, 9  that after she notified the city attorney's office that she had information that Weaver had instructed staff and volunteers to direct water crisis donations into the mayors personal fund she was promptly fired.

If Henderson's allegations are true all I can say is what a disgraceful twist in an already disgraceful story. Watch for further updates.

Jeff Brown
Editor in Chief
Purple Walrus Press

Poem by Mack Macateer.

Hey there Mr. snail
Where you going?
leaving your slime trail 
There's a gecko in my mind 
Crawling around with it's sticky padded toes
licking its eyes, licking my brain
Telling me I'm happily insane

Monday, May 9, 2016

ANN ARBOR STUDENTS LEARN LIFE LESSON AND HELP OTHERS.

Kudos to Eastern Michigan University student teacher Abigail Bruce of Brighton for teaching kids a powerful lesson and the value of helping others.

Abigail Bruce is doing her student teaching in Kristina Heppner's classroom at Angell Elementary in Ann Arbor. She wanted the class to do a project that would illustrate the difference between needing something and wanting something. The class discussed the Flint water crisis that continues to unfold in my hometown less than an hour to the north, and how children in Flint are in need of something as basic as clean water. The kids came up with a plan.

In a press release Bruce said, "The class worked together to create a plan to inform others and collect donations". By the look of things it sounds like the class worked together pretty darn well as they raised over $1,000 allowing them to purchase 300 cases of water which was delivered to the Michigan School For The Deaf in Flint.

Fantastic job Abigail Bruce, and children of Kristina Heppner's class! The lesson here for adults is never underestimate kids!

Jeff Brown
Editor in Chief
Purple Walrus Press

Saturday, May 7, 2016

MICHAEL MOORE - FLINT NATIVE? By PWP contributor Bill Hammond.

MICHAEL MOORE - FLINT NATIVE? -by Bill Hammond Purple Walrus Press contributor.
A continual theme expressed by Flint natives and expatriates alike is that Michael Moore never actually lived in Flint while growing up and shouldn't be taken by the rest of the world as speaking for "true" Flintstones. That his newspaper, "The Flint Voice" - know to be called "that rag" by many did not capture the sentiment of what was and is "Flint".
I worked for Michael Moore on "that rag". A characterization, by the way, that he wouldn't shy away from. In fact he would take it as high praise; to be in the same company of other fine "rags" over the years that helped point out the foibles of their respective communities. While it is true that Michael Moore didn't grow up in Flint proper he did live here, in Flint, for a few years.
What he depicted in his first film was still indicative of the experience of many who did live and work here in Flint. And, like most things, how we each see things is filtered through our own lenses. The points he was making about Flint and how the whims of the corporate world so completely dictated what happened here cannot be denied.
Today, with all that is currently happening here, his points have been borne out. The Water Debacle is just one more prime example of corporatism gone amuck.
The waste fields of what was once the sites of hundreds of acres of Automotive Plants bears silent witness to the scar that these symbols of American Might left on our collective soul.
Yet what else comes out in Michael's films about Flint the general public never talks about. The spirit of the People of Flint that is spread throughout is that we will adapt; we will survive! And indeed we are.
My suggestion is that you rewatch his films and this time look through the lens of Flint's spirit and see if you don't come away with a different perspective. And remember Art is always subjective. And when next you hear conversation about "Roger And Me" try and be a little more objective with your response.
Bill Hammond is a (nearly) lifelong resident of Flint and a Community Activist.