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

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Ann Arbor News
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2003-07-30 - 2:14 p.m.

The Downtown Development Authority is planning to spend several million dollars to "beautify" Huron Street, which has been deemed icky by residents. We've always thought that Huron Street was the only part of downtown that looks like it might be part of an actual city, but the local beauty authorities disagree. "Although the area is at the city center, the view there is mostly of sidewalks and buildings, none of which are visually appealing or conducive to alternative forms of transportation."

Italics ours. Maybe that should have read "sidewalks."

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2003-07-29 - 6:18 p.m.

The Ann Arbor News police log has contained most of the paper's real news of late. Monday's contains two rather alarming stories. The top one involves a 16-year-old girl out for a Sunday morning drive in bucolic Superior Township when the back window of her car was shattered by a gunshot (from a BB gun or air rifle, police guess.) And buried way at the bottom is a report of a robbery at gunpoint at William and State in the middle of Friday afternoon. The man who reported the crime says he was forced into the assailants' car.

The only perpetrators of crimes in this log who were actually caught are four college-age kids who "hurried away from a car filled with empty beer cans and marijuana."

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2003-07-24 - 1:07 a.m.

It's time for the big 'U' to start thinking about local issues, writes Judy McGovern. Like the Life Sciences Corridor, which could bring high-tech jobs to the state. No, just kidding! Actually, the Ann Arbor High School class of '51 is very concerned about their alma mater, now the Frieze Building, which needs repairs. Leaving it in its current state would threaten "the integrity of Ann Arbor streetscapes." Ann Arbor High must have been a source of some very fond memories; we would be thrilled to see our former high school fall into disrepair.

Also of pressing concern is a Dexter mansion owned by the University that's "one of the best examples of Greek revival architecture in the state." The Dexter Historical Society would like the university to cede the property to them, gratis.

If there's anything left after appeasing the local architecture authorities, then maybe it's time to think about building some dorms. There are, she writes, "at least a couple of townies who'd really like to see U-M build some student housing and take a bit of pressure off the private market." We fully agree with them, but we can think of some townies who wouldn't like to see that at all. They're called landlords. And a few more - they're called anyone who lives near the site of any proposed student housing.

More dorms might also mean "a few sofas off front porches." Sofas on porches? Why can't these students buy some tasteful teak patio furniture from Restoration Hardware like everyone else?

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2003-07-22 - 3:28 p.m.

Channel 19 is still showing Art Fair coverage reruns all week, so reader Josh Steichmann has made them bearable the only way possible: with a drinking game.

One drink any time:

People interact with an off-screen interviewer
Precocious children are incoherent
People being interviewed answer with one word phrases, distressing the interviewer
Teenagers give shout-outs

Two drinks any time:

Shopping is equated with fulfillment ("I'm really satisfied with the Art Fair, I bought a lot of stuff.")
Teenagers give big ups or mad props
An embarrassed hipster appears
Art on a stick is featured
Someone complains about Art Fair

Three drinks any time:

Arwulf Arwulf appears
Your geographic area is referenced (like "I'd like to give snaps to Arrowwood," if you live in Arrowwood)
Any time snaps are given (cumulative with other drinking)
You see someone whom you have had more than a five-minute conversation with

Finish your drink when:

Anyone says "It's not art, and it's not fair."
You get bored and change the channel

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2003-07-21 - 3:00 p.m.

Does it seem the least bit odd that a story about a woman allegedly drugged and raped in "the corner of a room" at the Heidelberg isn't getting more local coverage? The Ann Arbor News website sandwiches the article between stories about a skateboarder in Tecumseh City Park and a writing camp for elementary-schoolers. This isn't the first time a story like this has appeared in the News - we recall a police log entry about a woman who reported a rape in the bathroom of the Fleetwood. That story, as far as we can remember, never got non-police-log coverage.

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2003-07-18 - 5:11 p.m.

Ann Arbor public-access television has some great "man on the street" Art Fair coverage. "I've got a shade garden, a sun garden...a place for all of these," gushes a customer of four copper butterflies on sticks. And an Ann Arbor News article confirms what will probably surprise no one when it comes to the self-images of fair vendors. "Everyone's an artist in their own mind," the writer found. "[N]o one is a craftsman."

If you feel brave enough to attempt to get dinner on State Street, we've noticed that Mr. Greek's Coney Island is almost empty - for some reason, it's not popular with the batik-print sack-dress crowd.

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2003-07-16 - 2:59 p.m.

We knew monitoring Craigslist would lead to great things. And here's one of them: a heated discussion about the attractiveness of Michigan men in baseball caps. "I see great looking men, all around, yet I look away once I see that duck bill sticking out. Let it be in a pool hall, or the store, or even at the local coffee shop, every good looking guy wears one, when they look perfect without them...And men like you always wonder why babes like me, talk to the 'faggy' looking guys with tight tee shirts on who usually are in rock bands," writes a Florida woman. "Please, I beg of you Michigan guys, take off the ball caps."

But a poster from LA disagrees. "I don't think that any of those sexy MANLY Michigan boys will be too heartbroken that you only dig 'faggy' looking boys. I wish we had more MI hotties in LA!!!" She goes on to characterize "the whole trucker-chic look" as "very now." And another LA woman concurs. "I seriously so miss all the Manly Michigan guys. Not only are you guys the hottest - you don't bitch and whine and spend way too much time on your appearance, you guys are naturally FINE."

This is the first and, we hope, the last post about trucker hats at Ann Arbor Is Overrated.

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2003-07-16 - 12:21 a.m.

We suppose you're expecting an Art Fair entry. We're not sure if our delicate constitution will allow us to brave the crowds. But Geoff Larcom may be excited enough for both of us, specifically about the street closings that slow down the remorseless breakneck pace of A2 life. "When else," he asks, "does our downtown feel like a huge pedestrian mall instead of a collection of busy streets where restaurants place outside patrons right next to the oncoming traffic?" Close your eyes and you can almost imagine you're in a quaint little Midwestern town.

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2003-07-15 - 12:57 p.m.

How did we miss this one? An alert Ann Arbor News reader points out the following caption in Sunday's paper: "Different thresholds for boredom mirror differences between thrill-seekers and the more sedimentary." This episode represents an igneous defeat for the News.

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2003-07-14 - 5:28 p.m.

Here's an even better top-cities list (from last year) on which Ann Arbor appears: Forbes' ten "Most Overpriced Places." Many of the cities on the publication's "Best Places" list are expensive, but, they explain, a "high cost of living is often reflective of the opportunities available." Not so in A2, which comes in seventh in the overpriced rankings. Forbes describes that list thus: "[F]or the small segment of the population that doesn't care about opportunities - those who may want to pay several hundred thousand more than average for a family home and don't need high-paying jobs - we compiled a different sort of list: the most overpriced places in the country. These are the places where the cost of living is expensive, and job and salary growth is grim."

The inclusion of eighth-place Chicago is puzzling, but if they compiled a list that focused on tenants as well as the homeowners that probably make up most of Forbes' readers, we suspect that it would drop out of the top ten, and A2 would rise to the top.

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2003-07-14 - 3:55 p.m.

Ann Arbor makes Money's list of the eight best cities in which to retire - the magazine calls it "a small but cosmopolitan town, rich in culture but relatively inexpensive." Snort derisively at everything following "small" if you wish, but of all the best-of lists on which A2 has found itself, we think this one is the most appropriate.

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2003-07-14 - 3:54 a.m.

The Daily preemptively attacks Art Fair in a piece whose headline, in which the event's name is deemed a "double misnomer," might have sufficed.

Also, Ann Arbor native Marc McFinn writes in about the city where he grew up and still remains:

Believe it or not, Ann Arbor actually was very cool at one time. But it was long, long ago. Every time anything remotely cool pops up here it is almost immediately driven from the town.

Unlike most of our correspondents, though, he's not down with the Ypsi love.

Some people move to Ypsi so they can pretend that they are more "down with real people" or some shit. Whatever. When people try to give me that "Ypsi rules!" shit I just laugh. Saying Ypsi rules because it's cooler than Ann Arbor is not saying much. It's like saying herpes sucks, but syphilis kicks ass!

Needlessly vitriolic? Well, the News has already jumped on the Ypsi bandwagon. We can only hope it's not destined to become the Williamsburg of Michigan.

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2003-07-13 - 3:30 p.m.

Business Direct Weekly features an interview with the chair of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority that encapsulates everything that's wrong with downtown. Asked what her choice of any new business to open downtown would be, she says "I don't feel like we're missing anything. I don't think we need a big anchor retailer." Apparently, she doesn't know anyone who's had to shop for groceries without a car. She cites "the bohemian factor" as the one thing most important to the A2 identity. And her favorite thing about Ann Arbor? "I love downtown because it has a very European feel. There's a diversity in the type of people you see downtown, all kinds of different activities, always a lot of foot traffic, and the sounds and smells and sights - it feels like a great, little European city to me."

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2003-07-10 - 3:16 p.m.

Shmuel, upon his release from the A2 gulag to the most wonderful city on the planet, offers some moving reflections about what he'll miss about Tree Town. His friends, Meijer - well, that's about it. His friends and Meijer. Oh, and his "apartment, my refuge during those two wretched years." We can't wait until it's time for us to offer a similar loving tribute.

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2003-07-09 - 2:12 p.m.

Well, it's new to us: this 1998 Daily column written by a Michigan State student attempts to debunk myths about A2 long held by our Lansing brethren.

Michigan produces more socially inept people than the Branch Davidians could ever dream of: OK, fine, so maybe Ted 'Unabomber' Kaczynski developed a twisted, homicidal mistrust for other humans in Ann Arbor. But what about Madonna? She went to Michigan for just one semester, and I'd say she definitely qualifies as 'social.'


Ann Arbor is a haven for snotty, overprivileged brats from New York: Can we stop with the generalizations already? Michigan is home to plenty of arrogant schmucks from Jersey and Massachusetts as well, not to mention Bloomfield Hills.

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2003-07-08 - 1:56 p.m.

The Top of the Park manager laments, "The only thing that is negative (this year) is parents are letting their kids down here younger and younger...There is not so much of a college student presence anymore." If 11 swing bands, "rock 'n roll the way you remember it" and movies like "Spy Kids 2" aren't enough to attract the college crowd, what is?

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2003-07-05 - 3:52 p.m.

The News has a great parody of the kind of yuppie boutiques that thrive in A2. It describes a shop started by two sisters-in-law, one who crafts original lamps and the other who sells varietal olive oils. The lamp/olive oil store, located in a historic house - nice touch - is called "Shade of the Olive." (They set it in Dexter rather than A2.) Someone at the News has a future at The Onion. This was a parody, right?

We're trying to compile a list of blogs created for the sole purpose of dissing the blogger's city or town. So far, we're aware of Lansing Sucks and DC Blows. If you know of any others, e-mail us at [email protected].

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2003-07-04 - 7:23 p.m.

Finally, someone complains about the fact that C-SPAN2 is forced to share Channel 3 with Eternal Word Television on Ann Arbor Comcast. There's no reason why the people of A2 shouldn't be able to watch two Democrats emphatically agreeing with each other in an empty Senate chamber at 9 in the evening. Would it be too much to cut into Channel 19's Huron graduation and elementary school Little Prince production coverage? While we're at it, why is it that Chicago network television features three Spanish-language channels, one channel that seems to be half-Polish and half-Korean and another one that's Filipino and Bulgarian, but Ann Arbor cable has only Univision (which becomes Michigan legislative coverage during the day) and the International Channel?

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2003-07-02 - 12:28 a.m.

A reader's theory on the over-the-top A2 praise that dominates many a conversation here:

It's like talking about the weather, or shaking hands so that each person knows the other isn't holding a sword. "Yeah - I really LOVE Ann Arbor. It's so nice." Speaker then looks at other person, awaiting proper response. The response: "Oh yeah, Ann Arbor is great. It's just so great." The two can now relax and converse at ease, having passed the initial screening test.

Also, the News has two stories about artists fleeing A2 for the more welcoming environs of Ypsi. "I don't understand why the people [in Ann Arbor] hate art so much," one muses.

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2003-07-01 - 8:06 a.m.

The News profiles a "small group of local historians" responsible for placing "glass panels etched with historic photographs and descriptions" around town. We have an idea - how about an etched-glass photo of Iggy Pop with a little description of how punk died in A2?

We had no idea it was Weblog Imitation Day, but Mythoslogos mimics our snooty, high-handed schtick quite well.

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