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On July 26, Michael Moore spoke to the Grand Rapids community for Grand Rapids Public Library’s GR Reads program. This adult summer reading program is in its third year and features 10 different books. It is funded entirely by the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation. It is part of their goal to make the library accessible for the community. According to the marketing and communications manager of the library, Kristen Krueger-Corrado, “[this program] continues with the hope that once people have interacted with the library, they will become involved.” GR Reads is “highly successful and engages thousands of people. We cannot keep the GR Reads titles on our shelves. The high demand for these books and event attendance show how effective it is.”
GR Reads Program
The program invites many local and regional authors to Grand Rapids: “The goal of having Michael Moore speak wasn’t to bring in a big name author, but to create different experiences to interest people and encourage library visits.” Krueger-Corrado explains that the event is part of an “ongoing message we bring to the community. We are the place you go for education, movies, music, books and free internet access. We help people find jobs, start small businesses and teach kids to read. Where else are you going to find an unbiased source of information other than the library?”
Moore also talked about his current book, “Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life” which tied in with the GR Reads theme, “life intersected.”
Michael Moore on Michigan
Rapidian Politics Beat reporters had the opportunity to sit with Moore prior to his appearance. We asked him if being a Michigan native had a significant effect on his political perspective. Moore responded:
"Of course, especially being from Flint. I grew up in a union family; my uncle was in a sit-down strike that founded the UAW. I think being from Michigan is something very special, because this is a very, very interesting state, full of creative people, full of artistic people, historically, full of inventors.
"Think of the stuff Michigan has given to the world. Henry Ford put the world on wheels. The world didn't eat breakfast before we invented it in Battle Creek [Kellogg]. Thomas Edison grew up in Port Huron," Moore stated. "[Motown Records founder] Berry Gordy [is from Detroit]. You could go through a whole musical thing with this state. I think this is a state of inventors and creative people in all the arts, including film, and not just me," Moore believes.
In fact, Moore shared that the state of Michigan has founded two huge genres of filmmaking: documentary and animation: "Robert Flaherty is considered the first real documentary filmmaker and is from the U.P. He made a documentary called ‘Nanook of the North', back in the 1920s. The first animated filmmaker, before Disney, was a guy named Winsor McCay, and was from this side of the state, over toward Muskegon. We are honoring him at our film festival next week. Ken Burns is from Ann Arbor. Francis Ford Coppola is from Detroit. You could go on and on. I am just one of a number of people fortunate enough to have been born here and grown up here."
Fact or opinion
Moore discussed several topics and read excerpts from his latest book. He mentioned his love for his wife, the importance of truth, his passion for filmmaking and an appreciation for Canadian bacon.
Moore was eager to express his concern and discontent with the problems that face Americans today. He mentioned segregation, war, public education, national debt, neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and media scare tactics. He shared personal stories of being an Eagle Scout and seeing George Bush’s first inauguration. At one point he mentioned that his opinions and facts may be different, but are not necessarily controversial.
“What have I said that’s controversial?," said Moore. "I said GM was gonna pull this state down the drain… I may or may not be right.”
Something that also concerns Moore is the removal of founding father, Thomas Jefferson, from textbooks in the state of Texas.
The upcoming presidential election provoked Moore to speculate on the Democratic Party and Obama.
"People are gonna show up and vote for him. I'm gonna vote for him… but last time I personally went on Saturdays and worked phone banks, I went door to door. I just read Springsteen's interview in the New Yorker and he said he’ll vote for him but isn’t gonna go out and do all those concerts and stuff… You don't want Romney to win, but on the other hand, you're really disappointed in this guy you elected who said he was gonna do X, Y, and Z, and spent the first three years trying to compromise with Republicans. Only now has he started to sound like he should sound. We [the Democratic Party] had the House and Senate at one point. That's why people aren't excited or motivated. They will vote for him, but they're not going to bring five people to the polls with them. That's why he may lose."
An estimated 1,300 people attended Moore’s presentation, giving him several standing ovations throughout the course of the night. In closing, Moore shared that he still believes in change and is an optimist.
“I’m not gonna stand on the altar and lie to you... doing good has a ripple effect.”