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

Comments:

elise (ematz@umich.edu) - 2003-11-05 04:01:22
my ann arbor is more overrated than yours, perhaps?


Leighton () - 2003-11-05 08:50:12
Oh god, don't even unintentionally suggest that there could be 2 Ann Arbors, wait...there is Royal Oak...

amanda (amanda@mail.com) - 2003-11-05 11:12:23
hey - if you hate ann arbor so much than why don't you leave? sitting around and bitching about it - while it does help to build your own feelings of self-importance - is just a waste of your time and the time of those around you. get a life.

Joe F, () - 2003-11-05 11:41:44
Amanda, A lot of people are in Ann Arbor because of U of M. I chose U of M as my grad school because of the quality of the program: I was not excited about moving to Michigan or the midwest in general. But once here for a couple of years, you'd like it to start to feel at least a little like home - like you have a stake in the place. But it doesn't, and it never will. And many of the problems should be (probably are) obvious, but no one wants to do anything about them because so much of the population is transient, and the permanent residents basically just want to milk the transients (and by "transient", I can mean living in Ann Arbor for ten years or more and working on a higher degree) for all they're worth without giving them any kind of a say. And what makes it all even more annoying is - as is mentioned on this and other weblogs regularly - that the place is so full of itself. Think about it this way, Amanda: If the people who make (and post) on these websites really just "hated" Ann Arbor, and saw no way to improve it, why would they bother? Ann Arbor could theoretically begin to live up to its self-generated hype, but it won't, and that's what's so frustrating.

Joe F. () - 2003-11-05 11:46:23
Oh, and an anecdote in regard to the Daily column: When I was at U-M I used to enjoy going back to visit my family in New York (where people also think they are at the center of the universe, but for somewhat more substantial reasons) and having people: a) not be able to remember whether I went to Michigan or Michigan State (this after 6 years at U-M), and even better b) When I would say: "I go to U-M. You know, in Ann Arbor." they'd look at me blankly and say, "What's that?" It made me laugh out loud. And put things back in perspective, too.

Joe F. () - 2003-11-05 11:47:23
Oh, and an anecdote in regard to the Daily column: When I was at U-M I used to enjoy going back to visit my family in New York (where people also think they are at the center of the universe, but for somewhat more substantial reasons) and having people: a) not be able to remember whether I went to Michigan or Michigan State (this after 6 years at U-M), and even better b) When I would say: "I go to U-M. You know, in Ann Arbor." they'd look at me blankly and say, "What's that?" It made me laugh out loud. And put things back in perspective, too.

Joe () - 2003-11-05 12:49:47
Amanda is right - if you don't like it, move. There is something terribly sad about someone living in place they don't like. Wake up, take charge of your life, and get the heck out,

ann arbor is overrated () - 2003-11-05 12:56:29
Thanks, Joe F., for an eloquent response.

I think that most of the people who ask why I'm still here are probably unaware that I'm in a PhD program, or uninformed about what such a program involves. It takes a while to complete, and you can't just transfer somewhere else if you don't like it without retaking a lot of classes. And Michigan's departments are absolutely first-rate. So, I hope that answers it.


ann arbor is overrated () - 2003-11-05 12:58:44
Also, I have a feeling that the A2-haters or skeptics had a higher voter turnout rate yesterday then the people who tell me to get a life.

Tonia (toniasue@umich.edu) - 2003-11-05 13:06:44
I see what you are talking about. I feel it. I read your site to keep my perceptions in check. They give balance. As I grow older, I am trying not to let myself be swollowed into the black hole of negativity. It costs too much to the quality of my life. As a result, I follow the humble path of saying "hello" to everyone in an attempt to spread good will. Sometimes I wake em' up and get a response, other times I get zip. Sometimes I get angry at the mean, ego-centric folks. Other times I find a glimpse of harmony. I don't know, I came to AA from a small northern town. I said "hi" to everyone at first, then accepted and adopted the robot role of saying and seeing nothing. Now I make a concerted effort to revert to my old behavior. I don't know. But it's what works for me.

Delilah () - 2003-11-05 13:09:04
I never respond to these things, but in this case...... I grew up in Ann Arbor, and am back here for a PhD program. It is one of the best programs for what I do, which is why I returned. I can say that one of the most frustrating things about Ann Arbor is how far it has fallen. Anyone who remembers when Hash Bash was on April 1st (not the Saturday after to increase revnue for local sandwich shops) and was an actual protest and anyone who remembers State Street with independent record stores will agree with that sentiment. It could be a great place, but it has been taken over by yuppies with overindulged children in SUVs. It's sad. It's almost like watching a TV show that used to be funny and great that jumped the shark. Ann Arbor has jumped the shark. I don't think it's that I've aged, either, because many people I know who have lived here for years share this same sentiment. And it's not exactly easy to move and get a new job in this economy.

Frank () - 2003-11-05 15:13:34
I agree, I have no doubt in my mind that at one point, Ann Arbor very much deserved the accolades it received. Today Ann Arbor very much is like NYC, but in my opinion, that's what's wrong with it.

Brandon () - 2003-11-05 15:22:44
Umm, I just got back from buying 2 new releases at one of the two good independent record stores on State St. At much better prices than Borders, too. The only record stores that seem to be going out of business here lately are the big chains: Sam Goody (Discount Records), Tower, and Wherehouse.

devilfish () - 2003-11-05 16:00:04
there are 2 ann arbors, the one you despise so much and the one you probably haven't found yet.

js (rock@sgipub.com) - 2003-11-05 16:55:42
The reason to bash Ann Arbor is to provide som goddamn balance to the sycophants who praise this 'burb like it's got their nut in it's mouth. That being said, if you live in Michigan, there's really no place that's better to live on the whole, except maybe Ypsi. The people who simply ask why you don't move are the same ones who assume that every person who criticizes Bush hates America and should emmigrate. Part of loving something is wanting it to grow, get better, and knock off the pretentious bullshit when you're around. But hey, I grew up here. What do I know?

Delilah () - 2003-11-05 17:14:32
Sorry, no clue how to do paragraphs. I think my point about the record stores was that State and Main streets used to be fun with cool stores - I probably picked a bad example, because I do get cds at Wazoo. Now they are full of chain shops and overpriced restraunts. Interestingly, the Discount Records that closed on State Street was a pretty fun place to shop for records 10 - 15 years ago. They had a pretty funny staff who used to write liner notes to go with the records and stocked some pretty cool independent music. I was sad when I came back that it was different. I'm just constantly sad that Ann Arbor is trying to be something else, instead of what is actually is, a fun college town. It has/had it's own niche, and doesn't need the new one it wants. See Madison WI for an example, which should start a whole chain of why Madison sucks. And PS, if you like Ann Arbor, what are you doing here at the website? Do you really think you are going to change minds?

Frank () - 2003-11-05 18:04:17
If there is really no better place to live on the whole, then nobody from michigan would be on this board. But I'm from Michigan, and I happen to believe that Holland is a much nicer place to live.

ryan (ryan@Hell.com) - 2003-11-05 23:58:33
My observation is that Ann Arbor is a great place to have a family. If you don't have some kids and a $350k house, like me, it's not so nice. It's definitely changed in the 10 years I've been here. Some for the better, but mostly worse, and the path doesn't look good.

Brandon () - 2003-11-06 00:02:56
Frank, I'm from Holland origially. Believe me, it may be "nicer" as in more pleasant, cleaner streets, more polite people, quainter gift shops downtown, etc. but it is certainly not a better place to live. Believe me. 3 bars in the whole town, none of which are very good. Under 21?-- the only places open after 10 were 1 coffeehouse, Denny's, and Meijer. The entire city basically closes down on Sunday. Want hardcore Calvinism? Want GOP dominance of all aspects of politcal life? Want your only restaurant choices to be American-Dutch, Italian, Mexican, and Chinese? Oh, and being a vegetarian is always an adventure. Want exactly zero live music venues? Want REALLY useless public transit? Want zero local record stores that are still in business, and one small bookstore? Want to have to drive nearly everywhere for basic services even if you live downtown? Want to be pitied/proselytized at regularly? Want there to be an extreme lack of single, educated twenty- and thirty-somethings? You think Ann Arbor bobos are bad? Try the Holland ones who don't even want to know anything about the world and like it that way-- in a lot of ways it's worse than the pretentious Ann Arborites. In some ways Holland's traditionalism, heritage, smaller scale, low rents, decent urban planning (within the city limits-- the township to the north puts Pittsfield and Scio to shame) and proximity to Lake Michigan are attractive (in theory), but I can't handle more than a couple days back there without going crazy. As critical as I can be of Treetown, I have to take Ann Arbor hands-down over Holland-- its downtown seems condemmed to a sad gift-shop exisitence for the forseeable future... at least you can buy pizza by the slice at 4 AM here... OK, Ann Arbor is overrated, but man, go to Holland sometime, folks, and just try to picture living there... unless you are 40 with 3 kids and a dog you would rather settle for Royal Oak or even East Lansing in a heartbeat.

Nick () - 2003-11-06 00:52:50
Nothing to add about Holland. As another recent PhD-program-related arrival here, all I can say is that the U-M is a wonderful school (despite its issues), and on the academics I'm happy to be here. Nevertheless, I've lived a lot of places and AA is, if not the worst, at least the most spectacularly disappointing place I could have imagined. It doesn't help matters that the image the town presents of itself is so far divorced from reality and encourages so many unrealistic expectations. If I hadn't been told I was moving to the apex of western civilization I probably wouldn't have felt so let down when I arrived in a tiny, sterile suburb in the middle of 8 million acres of farmland. Not sure if or when the place might start heading in a better direction - as they say in the addictions business, you can't really begin to recover until you admit you have a problem.

gyc () - 2003-11-06 02:06:56
I'm a JD student also drawn to Ann Arbor because of U of M. Ann Arbor wouldn't be that bad if no one had told me how great Ann Arbor is. I grew up in a much-maligned Big 10 college town and frankly Ann Arbor isn't much better, even not taking into account the outrageous rents here. Ann Arbor isn't a bad place to live. It's just ... overrated.

elise (ematz@umich.edu) - 2003-11-06 02:34:34
Joel Howard got it right. I wouldn't be too quick to glorify either Ann Arbor or Eastpointe (where i grew up). In conversation I find myself conceding that Ann Arbor is many things... "for Michigan," but i end up missing the east side's unabashed seediness, the phenomenal number of per capita bowling alleys, unlimited parking, SMART busses (which are completely independent of the City busses), used car lots, mc donalds nextto wendys nextto burger king nexto hot'n'now, people in dirty red wings sweatpants at grocery stores, iceberg lettuce. I miss that the Olive Garden is the nicest restaurant in town. Why? Am I just homesick? A freak? No. Well maybe, but Ann Arbor has taught me to respect that Eastpointe doesn’t give a fuck. To be fair, I couldn't wait to leave home; but now that i'm here, i can't help but wonder if i'd have preferred Wayne State and an apartment in Detroit.

Frank () - 2003-11-06 10:30:20
Brandon's right. Holland people can be rather annoying as well, I just tended to avoid most of 'em :) I just remember that back at home last summer I was able to go to the beaches in Grand Haven like, every day, and I didn't have to worry about parking my car ;)

Frank () - 2003-11-06 10:32:42
I also wish it snowed here more. Last year's South Quad - West Quad snowball fight people were throwing dirt.

Brandon () - 2003-11-06 12:45:37
In any case, since most of us agree Ann Arbor is overrated, where is an underrated or fairly-rated place to live for grad school-- I'm looking at starting an urban planning Master's program next fall. Any suggestions?

MoodVertigo () - 2003-11-06 20:12:13
I have two distinctly different and somewhat schizophrenic reactions to your weblog. 1. I agree! Having been born and raised here, leaving in the late eighties, only to return in the late nineties, I see that somewhere in there the old town changed for the worst. It USED to be a unique, quirky, fun little city. It USED to be the hidden jewel of the midwest, where food was acutally good, crime was low and Zingerman's still sold a whole sandwich for under $10. Now it's the home of overly pretentious, brew pub attending, local wine swilling, commercialized candy coffee driking, Whole Foods shopping, fah fah "intellectual elitists" from the hallowed (overrated) U who drive extremely poorly, think they know everything about this place, as well as the physical and hyperspatial laws of the known universe and have become sudden first world art and theater afficianados bent on transforming our once proud and Rockwellesque town into a sort of paradise for activists, soccer moms, vegetarians, environmentalists and fans of "All Things Considered". 2. I disagree! It's great to live in Ann Arbor! It comes as no doubt that you hate it here! You're a student! Don't you understand that as a student at the Bank of UM you are in training to become the pretentious Ann Arborite you now disparage? It is your hypocritical destiny! You, like your fellow students before you will soon be OURS! You should love it here! While complaining about how much the living conditions suck, you are writing psuedo leftist rants on the web - learning to become a carbon clone of the typical Ann Arbor neo-democratic whack nut. While verbally dumping on the city that hosts you, you are supporting it's collective economy every time you eat at Jerusalem Gardens, Amer's, Espresso Royale, Zings, Ashley's, or the Brown Jug. While being in a state of constant dearth about how the city is managed, you are helping to contribute to other's frustrations about the town by fulfilling your grad student imperative: walking out into oncoming traffic like you are the Jesus of concrete and can make the cars halt by your very thought. Motorist swerve, cars collide, flesh wounds occur and yet you cross, undaunted by the carnage on your way to Ulrichs to help the U of M buy up more land and build larger stell and stone eyesores that you can bitch about later. I fully expect you to be back here in under a decade adding to the flotsam of recent arrivals with delusions of educational superiority and NPR addictions. I lived here then, and I live here now - and though there are still some gold nuggets about Ann Arbor that I love, the city has clearly been overrun by the metaphorical French - which makes it even more obvious that the Germans (Ann Arbor's once predominate ethnic majority by the way) are about forty years past due for a trip to buy Crepes. Add in the timelessly annoying student population and we have the makings for a re-education and forced pothole repair labor camp in south Ypsilanti where the yuppies will be forced to experience life without the Michigan Theater and Hillers and the students will learn that the drivers on Michigan Ave. won't slow down, stop or refrain from comitting manslaughter when you J-walk with your needlessly expensive degree. But I digress... your blog's a fun read.

Nick () - 2003-11-07 08:58:35
Re: MoodVertigo, nice to know we're not rushing into too many generalizations. Re: Brandon, look into Pittsburgh, Portland, OR, Austin, or the Research Triangle. None of them perfect, but all better than here.

anna () - 2003-11-07 11:26:20
Urban planning programs: Look into the Univ. of Pennsylvania. Their program is supposed to be great, and Philly isn't a bad place to live, even though it has its' share of urban probelms.

Sabu () - 2003-11-19 10:39:44
I think we are all making a mistake by even thinking that Ann Arbor considers itself part of Michigan. Ann Arbor has effectivele seceded from Michigan, the United States and Earth and is a planet unto itself. People who live in Michigan are friendly and down to earth, and might even be considered rednecks (and I mean rednecks in the nicest possible way). The same could not be said of Ann Arborites. Ann Arbor is very ethnically diverse, and let me tell you that every white American who lives there will go out of his/her way to let you know that. Ann Arbor has plenty of great restaurants, good bars and much fun stuff to do, as every person who was not born there but has lived there for over a year will make sure you know. Ann Arbor is the home of one of the most respected universities in the country, as you will hear repeatedly from people who have no college education but love the football team. In other words, Ann Arbor doesn't suck. The people who live there suck. They are like new money...flashy so that you will be sure to notice that they are rich, since their carriage and demeanor will not indicate their wealth for them. How about going to a real city which has always been ethnically diverse, has plenty of stuff to do and has a good university, but doesn't need to shove it in your face to let you know about it? Toledo is one. Columbus is another. What about Chicago? What about New York? What has Ann Arbor ever accomplished that can make it comparable to any of these places? Sticking its head up its own ass doesn't count.

Sabu () - 2003-11-19 10:40:55
I think we are all making a mistake by even thinking that Ann Arbor considers itself part of Michigan. Ann Arbor has effectivele seceded from Michigan, the United States and Earth and is a planet unto itself. People who live in Michigan are friendly and down to earth, and might even be considered rednecks (and I mean rednecks in the nicest possible way). The same could not be said of Ann Arborites. Ann Arbor is very ethnically diverse, and let me tell you that every white American who lives there will go out of his/her way to let you know that. Ann Arbor has plenty of great restaurants, good bars and much fun stuff to do, as every person who was not born there but has lived there for over a year will make sure you know. Ann Arbor is the home of one of the most respected universities in the country, as you will hear repeatedly from people who have no college education but love the football team. In other words, Ann Arbor doesn't suck. The people who live there suck. They are like new money...flashy so that you will be sure to notice that they are rich, since their carriage and demeanor will not indicate their wealth for them. How about going to a real city which has always been ethnically diverse, has plenty of stuff to do and has a good university, but doesn't need to shove it in your face to let you know about it? Toledo is one. Columbus is another. What about Chicago? What about New York? What has Ann Arbor ever accomplished that can make it comparable to any of these places? Sticking its head up its own ass doesn't count.

Ryan C. (rockinrybread@yahoo.com) - 2003-11-24 09:17:17
Thank you for helping me to realize why I moved to Ypsi.

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