A N N   A R B O R   I S   O V E R R A T E D . (a blog.)

November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
May/June 2002
Ann Arbor News
Michigan Daily
Polygon, the Dancing Bear
Ice Cream Motor
Goodspeed Update
Common Monkeyflower
Shmuel's Soapbox
Day in Review
Steven Cherry
Hillary Blough
Hyaline Skies

2002-06-26 - 12:10 p.m.

This of-late Ann Arborite missed Boston as much as I do, and her observations made me even more homesick. She already seems to have gone back, though.

:: 0 comments so far

2002-06-25 - 1:42 p.m.

From The Ann Arbor News this week:

"Writer weaves melancholy into ranging short story collection."

And, superfluously, later in the story:

"Kane grew up in Ann Arbor and refers to the city in her stories."

:: 0 comments so far

2002-06-24 - 10:33 a.m.

The Busch's grocery store at the corner of South Main Street and South Main Street (why come up with new street names when you can just use some variation on Main, Fuller or Huron?) has aisles that are labeled with the names of Ann Arbor streets. So you can peruse soups while imagining yourself amid the hustle of Liberty Street, or frozen vegetables while pretending to step out of the way of drunk undergrads on South University.

It's like New York-themed establishments that try to appropriate some of the city's glamour by naming things after 42nd Street or the Bowery. Except the glamour chased after here is Ann Arbor's. It's hard to maintain my extreme negativity in the face of this kind of pure, guileless civic pride.

Oh, and the Ypsilanti Busch's does not label its aisles. I'm not sure what that says about either city.

:: 0 comments so far

2002-06-20 - 5:13 p.m.

I have been described as "a very unhappy man." This is not necessarily true. However, it's fair to question the mental state of someone who has created an entire website to mock a Michigan town and its media.

Also, I'm told that, in my rush to condemn, I overlooked Ann Arbor's preeminence as a source of hallucinogenics. I'll defer to my correspondent here. To be fair, said reader made a good case for A^2 as a great place to hang out if you're stuck in the state anyway.

:: 0 comments so far

2002-06-19 - 5:35 p.m.

This week in The Ann Arbor News, business columnist Mary Morgan takes on the white-hot Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti rivalry that prevents the two towns from merging their respective convention bureaus. Doing so, she writes, would be the best way to "promote the county's offerings, from Elvisfest to the Ann Arbor Art Fairs, from Dexter Daze to the Manchester Chicken Broil." Yet there are tensions that preclude such a happy solution: "Many in Ypsilanti feel a rightful pride in their community, but so strong that it often twists into a defensive, righteous anger against slights - both real and perceived - by their neighbors in Ann Arbor. In contrast, many in Ann Arbor don't even give much thought to Ypsilanti."

She goes on to argue that "Ypsilanti is not well-known outside of this region," which is clearly wrongheaded; as my old boss out East once said, "Isn't that the place that's spelled with a 'y' in the wrong place?"

So the obvious solution is not, as Morgan suggests, to "leverage [Ann Arbor's] recognition to promote Ypsilanti," which would serve only to put more Cosi sandwich shops on Michigan Avenue. It is to use the latter's bizarre spelling and rolls-off-the-tongue pronunciation to achieve a Kalamazoo-esque fame. As Slate recently pointed out, and Noam Chomsky agreed, Kalamazoo is a "one-word joke." But it's played out, having been mentioned in Dr. Seuss' I Can Read With My Eyes Shut, for example, years ago. Ypsilanti could be the new answer to Kalamazoo, the fresh choice when you need a comical-sounding Michigan town reference to liven up a dreary essay. Take note, snotty Eastern alternative-weekly writers.

:: 0 comments so far

2002-06-12 - 3:01 p.m.

With all the local-paper-bashing lately, maybe this blog should be retitled "Ann Arbor News Sucks." A recent editorial of theirs carries the headline "Voters should rejectapprove sinking fund." Ann Arbor residents have many diverse perspectives that any local newspaper must seek to accommodate, but this is a little much.

:: 0 comments so far

2002-06-10 - 7:11 p.m.

I was listening to 'CBN the other night, and they were playing some kind of experimental electronica that seemed to consist of single tones, each for ten to fifteen minutes. "All right, that was B flat. Coming up, we've got A sharp, D and E."

By the way, I am not as miserable as the last entry suggests.

:: 0 comments so far

2002-06-06 - 5:24 p.m.

"No one has pride in South Bend," a certain Notre Dame graduate told me, "and it doesn't deserve it." Why, then, does Ann Arbor inspire such gushing slogans as "[some number of] square miles surrounded by reality"? There is a good deal wrong with this. First of all, if Saline, Michigan (which is apparently pronounced "sa-LEEN" rather than "SAY-leen" - can anyone help me out here?) is reality, then I am content to live in a dream world. But the main problem is the inflated sense of civic pride that the citizens of this town seem to have. Why can't they wake up to the fact that this is a cow town with a crepe-thin boho veneer?

Why, in short, can't everyone be as miserable here as I am?

:: 0 comments so far

2002-06-05 - 4:03 p.m.

Today The Ann Arbor News' "Talk About Town" column explores a small but hilarious typo on a sign on Ann Street. "SPINNING YOGA," reads the sign, in the window of Bodies in Balance. It is, of course, meant to refer to two different classes, spinning and yoga. But the lack of punctuation has created misunderstandings that reach comic heights, culminating in one Ann Arbor resident's impression that "there was some new kind of yoga out there." There's nothing like these kind of amusing incidents to remind us that, as Bodies in Balance owner Susan Morales puts it, "it's a good thing when you can laugh at yourself."

The item finishes with a trenchant inquiry: "Who was the joker who named the Technology Center? With tenants like Bodies in Balance, the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra and Clancy's Fancy hot sauce, what exactly was so technological about it?" Ann Arbor Sucks is thrilled to welcome Larry King as the latest columnist at The Ann Arbor News.

:: 0 comments so far

2002-06-04 - 3:20 a.m.

I was thinking again about the lady with the hats, and realized that she truly exemplifies Ann Arbor fashion. Take a walk down State Street or Main Street, preferably both, and you'll see it first-hand. There are four types of clothing stores in town:

1) Outdoorsy 'outfitters' that sell tote bags with slogans about how traveling is a tough job, but someone has to do it, preferably a someone in his or her forties and shod in $200 Mephisto walking shoes.

2) Logo-sweatshirt emporia.

3) Would-be trendy boutiques that carry no more than fifteen items at a time.

4) Purveyors of comfortable quasi-hippie separates, distinguished by absent waistlines, for the discerning earth mother.

I believe there are only two shops of type 3) downtown, but many more of type 4) in Kerrytown (don't get me started on Kerrytown) alone. Of course, the fact that this is what passes for fashion around here only makes this place even more of a national treasure for the "i'd rather be in ann arbor" bumper sticker crowd whose Volvos take up all the good spots at Whole Foods.

:: 0 comments so far

2002-06-03 - 3:54 a.m.

There's a T-shirt I see on the residents of Ann Arbor every once in a while, reading "Co-op-ers make better lovers." And I always wonder, what action does the wearer want the onlooker to take? Sidle up to the co-op-er and murmur, "How exactly do co-op-ers make better lovers?" Join a co-op and find out for him or herself? Challenge the wearer to an earthy-co-op-versus-sterile-North-Campus-apartment-complex loving contest?

Someone please tell me so I can be prepared next time.

:: 0 comments so far

2002-05-29 - 11:39 p.m.

Ah, Cafe Zola, my beloved Cafe Zola. The one place in town where you could get good coffee in a ceramic cup and sit alone until midnight, rising occasionally to get free refills from the cute-but-disaffected counter person and stir in lumps of crystallized sugar.

Sure, you played far too much jazz and Broadway music, but you had the right spirit. You are where I met that friend of a friend who completely blew me off over e-mail later when I first moved here, and you were there when I needed to look vaguely aloof while reading papers.

Now you are a full-service restaurant, with waiters and waitresses. Maybe I'll bring my grandma for brunch next time she's in town.

:: 0 comments so far

2002-05-23 - 8:07 p.m.

The problem with Ann Arbor is not that it is a hick town. It's the continued insistence that it is a very sophisticated place.

Consider the top story of the The Ann Arbor News' most recent free weekly. It is a piece about a woman who owns many colorful hats. Complete with a headline that makes reference to "hat couture," it keeps up the tone of the small-town newspaper throughout, preparing the reader for police reports of a dog who's been attacking woodchucks. The "hat lady," as she is known, says that, when you wear a hat, "you take on the personality of that hat." She wears flowered hats in spring and straw ones in the summer.

The story concludes by noting her fondness for collecting rocks. "They make me feel connected on a spiritual level with nature," she says.

:: 0 comments so far

2002-05-20 - 11:26 a.m.

I've been reading other diaries from Ann Arbor, and it seems like a common complaint at the moment is that the diarist is stuck at home (i.e., his or her parents') for the summer (which begins in April, on the U-M academic calendar.) But there are a number of reasons not to be in Ann Arbor just now.

1. Everything closes at 6 p.m. Special new summer hours make it near impossible to read papers while sitting in a coffeehouse. There's no one to provide atmosphere while you're doing so except for other freaky grad students like yourself anyway.

2. If you do stick around, you'll be assumed to be a freaky grad student.

On the other hand, there are some reasons why being in Ann Arbor may be the best of all possible worlds.

1. Your friends in that other city you lived in? You'd be having the best time with them right now if it weren't for the fact that you're stuck in Ann Arbor, since you're so incredibly popular in your old city. You'd be going out with them every night, or maybe just staying in your apartment, which has become a sort of literary salon for those in the know. It would be just like last sum...oh, wait.

2. There are plenty of shows going on, since to have it otherwise would be to admit that people are on the U-M calendar. Which is not cool. EMU is okay, Wayne State is okay, dropped-out-of-State-and-working-at-ERC is okay. But not the 'U.' If you go there, at least have the decency to post to your favorite indie/hardcore list with your Hotmail account.

3. Your landlady's painter's band is playing the Lager House sometime soon.

:: 0 comments so far

2002-05-19 - 1:39 p.m.

All I wanted was some aluminum foil, preferably within close walking distance. I live in "downtown" Ann Arbor, so that shouldn't be too difficult.

Unfortunately, the closest grocery store is a few miles away from my house. That leaves me with the People's Food Co-op, which doesn't carry aluminum foil, the gourmet market in Kerrytown, which I assume doesn't carry aluminum foil (platinum foil, maybe) and a little convenience store that does happen to have aluminum foil, but has virtually no other groceries that don't have hydrogenated vegetable oil or high fructose corn syrup in the top two ingredients.

There are three New Age candle stores within close walking distance of my house.

:: 0 comments so far

2002-05-17 - 8:44 p.m.

Welcome to Ann Arbor Sucks, the Web's main source for examining and quantifying the off-the-charts suckiness of this seemingly harmless little Midwestern college town.

After living here about nine months, I feel that I'm ideally qualified to report on the lameness of Ann Arbor (or A^2, if you're one of those locals who insists on this cutesy, gag-inducing nickname. That's pronounced "A squared.") Why? I've been around just long enough to absorb the soulless, yuppified, no-fun atmosphere, but not long enough to forget why these things are wrong.

:: 2 comments so far