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October 27, 2005


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I like this topic (promoed this morning) because I grew up in Grand Rapids and then moved east to work for newspapers in the Thumb, then at The Oakland Press. Now I'm at The Saginaw News. Growing up, my family never came over to Detroit. We visited Chicago for a bigger city. I am married to a man who grew up near Flint, so I guess we can get along. My parents live in Caledonia now, so I am going to the west side again. I miss the beaches sometimes, but we live in Birch Run and have a few acres of trees. I wouldn't want to live farther south and have to deal with traffic and higher costs.

I worked with Jack at the Oakland Press

In talking about the way east/west michigan people speak, I do notice that West siders tend to be very indirect. If we don't like you, you might not know. We might be asking for a favor but you might not catch it because we don't come right out and say it. Detroiters are much more direct and take a more "efficient" way of communicating.

Grand Rapids

Another difference, I nver get the finger while driving in Grand Rapids! And people let you into traffic all the time.

I grew up in a small town in western Michigan during the 60s and moved to Ann Arbor in the 70s. I remember catholics being considered the local minority and being warned not to go to Muskegon Heights because of the black population. I still have relatives that refuse to come accross the state to the big city...

I grew up Downriver and live in Oakland County now. I've been married to a Christian Reformed Dutchman for 17 years and notice the intolerance for different lifestyles on the West side of the State

I myself being an immigrant from Bangalore, congested Silicon Valley of Asia.. got to enjoy the cross cultures of the gentlemenly West (Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Lansing) region as well as the always rushing fast paced East (Wayne county being my current residence).

However the biggest difference I saw was in the University cultur (Western Michigan Univ and Eastern Michigan Univ).. which have both enbraced the distinct social and cultural fabrics of the eastern and the western Michigan sides.

The assumption that Grand Rapids is a conservative foothold is ignorant and ignores the reality "on the street" in Grand Rapids. HAve we forgotten the largest political rally ever in Grand Rapids? That's right, Mr. John Kerry's campaign. Grand Rapids is full of open-minded liberal intellectuals that actually do know what baba ganouj is, and won't eat Applebee's bourgeois fast food. Ms. Land is embarassing in her ignorance of her own area. Please give Grand Rapids some credit. Although Devos and Van Andel have their names on every building they can get their grubby little hands on, many of us that actually live in the neighborhoods are not the sheep of the religious right. Please stop perpetuating a myth. Grand Rapids is clawing its way out of its own political and religious dogma. Ms. Land's Grandville world-view is unique and sheltered. She was a good choice for your show based on stereotype and not reality.

I moved to Eaton Rapids in 1956 from northern Minnesota when I was 11. The difference in speech patterns was quite remarkable.

Michigan people put their socks in "draws" instead of the drawers we used in Minnesota. Further the local farmers grew "puh-ta-tahs" and "tum-a-tahs" instead of potatoes and tomatoes. Children colored their books with "crans" instead of the crayons I used. And my fathers sister would be called "ant Hilma" and not Aunt Hilma.

My (now) ex-wife suggested that this was a function of migration patterns where people in Michigan came here either from the east coast of the south whereas outstate Minnesotans tended to come from northern Europe or, in my case, from Finland.

Subsequently I've lived in Lansing, Marquette, Saginaw, Flint, Troy, Wixom, suburban Chicago and now Pinckney. The most unfriendly place, by far, was Marquette where if you weren't born there it was made quite clear that you didn't belong and weren't qualified to have an opinion.

born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. West Michigan is culturally bias and discriminatorily Christian.

I was born and raised in West Bloomfield.

I moved to Kalamazoo in 1993.

I moved to East Grand Rapids in 2005.

Here's my take:
First, I'm biased at this point. You'd have to drag me kicking and screaming to get me to move back to the east side of the state. Seriously. It's not the traffic. It's the lifestyle. I say this as a former resident: People in SE Michigan are too stressed out.

For me, that is the single most important factor. I didn't realize it until I'd lived in Kalamazoo for a few years, but lower stress levels results in friendlier interactions with strangers. I'm not saying people are more friendly in the West (though that's what most of my family claims when they visit). Rather, it's just that people are happier.

To give a shoutout to the SE corner of the state, I should point out that restaurants are exponentially better in the SE, they have CBC television and Hockey Night in Canada (which I sorely miss in GR), and the Henry Ford Museum is one of America's great treasures. We have nothing like it on this side of the state.

Grew up in Hudsonville (West Side), schooled at UM (East Side), then lived in Chicago and now Benton Harbor. I'll say that the West Side is very ignorant of the East Side, and vice versa. I loved Ann Arbor and spent a lot of time in Detroit. Growing up in the GR area, I couldn't wait to move out. My sensibilities just don't jive with the majority of people in the ring around downtown GR (downtown is much more cosmopolitan). I am now on the West Side again, technically, but Berrien County is its own animal. Since we are in the South Bend TV market, we get very little news about our own state and identify much more with Chicago than Detroit over here.

Former Michigan Radio employee (work study in college) loving the podcasts!

First of all, I was appalled by Neal Shine's raving ignorance on this program. his cutesy little preface about how some people in Kansas wrote him mean letters after he made fun of them and then saying, "I'm just trying to be funny here, folks. . ." is the cowardly equivalent of a racist comedian opening up his show by saying, "now people have called me racist, but they didn't realize I was trying to be funny! Really, I have lots of colored friends! Did I tell you the one about the mulatto. . ." Neal Shine's disgusting, ignorant performance really did a disservice to what seems to have been a distinguished career. maybe he's just another ignorant, stubborn old coot now, but nearly everything that came out of his mouth was positively shameful.

Terri Lynn Land's ditzy SW Michigan blonde schtick didn't really add much depth to the show, either.

I caught the program while driving from DTW to Adrian, Michigan, to attend my grandmother's funeral. I grew up in Kalamazoo, attended WMU, and then attented law school at the University of Michigan. I currently live in San Francisco, but next fall my family is moving to Detroit. Downtown Detroit.

I have to say, it was the callers, not the guests, who consistently kept getting it right on this program. The bottom line is that you just can't make sweeping generalizations about wide swaths of geography without ending up sounding like an ignorant turd.

I wanted to call in and say some of this when I could have Shine's ear, before he left to go golfing with the good old boys in Grosse Point, but I guess I'll settle for this forum. Growing up in Kalamazoo, I had an incredibly diverse experience. At least half of my classmates in the public schools were African American, K-12, the other half were white, Hispanic, Asian, and Indian. With WMU and K College in town, I had classmates from all over the world whose parents were involved with the universities or the local pharmacuetical industry. I could get amazing middle eastern food, indian food, Mexican food, soul food, or any other kind of food whenever I wanted it, either at my friends' houses or at one of the hole-in-the-wall restaurants in town that specialize in such cuisines. Sure, Shiney, you'd have to get off the highway to find them. Sounds to me like you've never looked into it. Jerk.

I went to college and law school with a lot of people from the east side of the state, and I have to say it Shiney, NONE of them had had the kind of diverse educational experiences that I had. Their high schools were either all black or all white (or freakin' private). For many years, that's how I figured you all did it on the east side, you tolerated the disgusting moral cowardice that gave rise to the Detroit suburbs for the safety of your children [i.e. white flight] and then you tried to establish some sense of legitimacy by claiming to be from "Detroit" when you were really from Farmington or Bloomfield or Troy or Novi. The conservative, non-diverse blight that Shiney claimed defines SW Michigan is a mere pittance compared to the concrete nightmare of crowded highways, chain restaurants, non-existent downtowns, strip malls, bix-box stores and parking lots that truly give most of the Detroit suburbs their "character" (with definite exceptions). That was my impression of the "east side" growing up and to this day, with one notable exception, and that is the beautiful CITY of Detroit. I can see its tragic beauty, because my people weren't the cause of the tragedy: my parents didn't "fly" to the suburbs to escape the "dreaded Black menace." I'm not responsible for the destruction of so many beautiful, classic buildings or the vacuum of the economy and the abandonment of the internal infrastructure and beuracracy. Hitorically Detroit is one of America's greatest treasures, and to this day the abandoned architecture and stately homes and diverse businesses stand as a monument to that glorious past, a past almost completely destroyed by greed and abandonment. I'm moving to Detroit because I believe the city still has a future, and I want to be a part of it. But you can feel safe, Shiney, I won't be moving next door to you in St. Clair Shores or Grosse Point or wherever the fuck it is you live in your big house. I will raise my family in the city of Detroit.

But if I keep encountering cowardly, ignorant old coots like Shiney, I may just move back to the west side of the state so I can raise my daughter in a real diverse environment where people aren't snobs who look down their noses out of pure ignorance.

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