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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2003-06-28 - 2:30 a.m.

As soon as we heard about the film "Whale Rider," which involves a Maori girl and whales, we knew it would be an instant hit at the Michigan Theater. Endangered wildlife and a different culture - what else could Ann Arbor filmgoers want? Also playing at the Michigan right now is "Winged Migration," a French film about migrating birds.

But if you want to see "Capturing the Friedmans," the documentary about a 1980's Long Island sexual abuse case that has critics trotting out words like "devastating" and "masterpiece," you'll probably have to wait for your next trip to Chicago. Neither Mlive nor the Free Press list it as playing anywhere in Michigan. Perhaps we could convince the Michigan Theater that "friedmans" are actually a rare species of salamander imperiled by hunters seeking to capture them. Add something about the hunters working for a nefarious multinational corporation, and a group of indigenous people working to stop them - it's pure A2 gold!

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2003-06-28 - 2:14 a.m.

To-do List (via Arborweb):

1. Go to the Purple Loosestrife Pull at the Southeastern Michigan Land Conservancy and "pull invasive purple loosestrife from the wetland."
2. See "Slithering Snakes and Terrific Turtles" at Hudson Mills.
3. Attend the 20th Annual Rabbit Show, featuring "food concessions and sale of bunny-related merchandise."

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2003-06-26 - 2:09 p.m.

Commie High graduation (at which each student was allowed to speak) by the numbers:

Instrumental Red Hot Chili Peppers covers: 1
Maya Angelou poems: 2
Shel Silverstein poems: 2
Girls in suits: 2
Girls in sparkly winged costumes: 1
Girls crying during their speeches: 3
Guys in black button-down shirts: 5
Students in graduation regalia of various colors, even though it wasn't required: ~10
Mentions of working at Zingerman's: 1

Note that these numbers are all lower bounds, based on the part of the ceremony we watched on public access. What, you thought we had time to sit around all day and find things to make fun of about A2?

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2003-06-24 - 1:51 p.m.

A reader with one month to go of his three-year sentence in A2 writes:

I had heard such wonderful things about ann arbor from everyone before I came here, and had never been in Michigan before. I had an open mind when I first arrived, and was soon shocked to discover that Ann Arbor is the most overrated place I have ever been to in my entire life. All of the hype has been generated by imbeciles who have never left Southeastern Michigan...It would not be such an utter tragedy if people were more honest and realistic about the town, but it never ceases to amaze me, after 3 horrid years in this hell, that people consistently and continually act as if Ann Arbor is this paradise, as if there's New York City, L.A., and Ann Arbor on the map of top places in this country.

And he's got a new derisive nickname: "O-squared," for "overrated, overpriced."

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2003-06-19 - 2:03 p.m.

For anyone who's been living in a cave or a real city for the last few months, the Ann Arbor city council is considering a resolution under which the local police would not enforce parts of the U.S. Patriot Act (which parts, it's been hard to figure out from the News' coverage.) A forum to discuss this resolution, at which the Ann Arbor police chief and representatives from the Justice Department and the ACLU spoke, was attended by 130 Ann Arborites, presumably most in favor.

Because Ann Arborites are card-carrying ACLU members, civil liberties absolutists. Except when they're not. Anti-panhandling ordinances are also targets of the ACLU, which holds that most panhandling is a form of protected speech. But we don't recall any opposition to the recent step taken to tighten A2's panhandling rules, other than the three city council votes against it (one of which was in fact that of the anti-Patriot-Act resolution's sponsor.)

Police chief Dan Oates has said that the anti-Patriot-Act resolution would have no effect on the Ann Arbor police, since the Patriot Act doesn't require them to do anything in the first place. Could it be that Ann Arborites embrace civil liberties when doing so involves largely symbolic actions, but not when it involves having to deal with icky street people on the way to Gratzi? Nah.

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2003-06-19 - 12:42 p.m.

All right, this Hieftje thing is starting to be fraught with, um, pronounced confusion. One reader says it's "'Heft-yee.' Kinda like Hefty garbage bags, with a Scandanavian accent." Another proclaims, with debatable seriousness, "I cast my vote for 'HIFE-jah'." But the definitive answer appears to be that of Shmuel, who went and dug up an Arborweb page insisting that it's "Heeft-yuh." So everyone was close, and yet no one agreed. Or is this just an attempt to embarrrass us when we call in to Hieftje's show on public-access, causing us to be too flustered to ask the tough questions that need to be asked?

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2003-06-18 - 2:25 p.m.

Here's a revealing police log entry:

[block in a student area], 11:24 p.m. Tuesday. Room entered through a hole in the upper part of the wall; two guitars, an amplifier and computer taken.

Without knowing anything else about this crime, we can make a few educated guesses:

  • The guitar owners were not the owners of the building.

  • The owners of the building were supposed to fix the hole in the upper part of the wall.

  • Many students in Ann Arbor live in unsafe, substandard housing conditions.

Of course, there could be some reasonable explanation for this, but housing with non-intact walls isn't out of the range of the A2 renting experience. And does anyone think it's strange that The Ann Arbor News lists "Break-Ins" in a separate area from the rest of the police log, as if the city has completely given up?

On the "Hieftje" pronunciation front: we've got one vote for "HEEF-tuh" and one for "HEEF-juh."

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2003-06-18 - 12:20 a.m.

To-do List (all from Arborweb's June 18 events)

1. Make it out for "Champion Birding Big Days with Canadians with Attitude," with three-time World Series of Birding winner Tom Hince. Hince also broke the North American Big Day record with his single-day sighting of 233 species.
2. Attend the 19th Annual Showcase of Homes, where for $10 one can walk through a "$1.4 million penthouse condo," among others.
3. Learn all about "Quality Furniture" with "venerable farmers' organization" The Grange.

Now all we need is an Arbor Stalker feature.

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2003-06-16 - 2:52 p.m.

Insipid Nickname Watch. Alert reader Josh Steichmann just brought the A2 nickname-to-resident ratio up with this offering: "Ace-Deuce." Learn it, love it.

He also offers a few rejoinders to the Ypsi-centric viewpoint we've been pushing here:

[D]espite the protestations of Ypsi proslytizers, Ypsi wouldn't exist (at least in present form) without Ann Arbor.


I've lived in both Ann Arbor and Ypsi. I love Ypsi, but I'm back up on the north side of Ann Arbor, even though I still go to school out in Ypsi. The best thing that could happen right now is for young people to start getting into politics in Ypsi, and wrest control out of the old corrupt guard there. Well, that and get some decent fuckin' schools. That's the other reason why people move to Ann Arbor over Ypsi- the public schools in Ann Arbor pretty well kick ass, and the ones in Ypsi pretty well fuckin' blow.

We're willing to concede that Ypsi's not necessarily better, but it outdoes Tree Town in a number of areas that Ann Arborites consider their own domain. And maybe it wouldn't exist without A2 - Ann Arbor draws in young people with the promise of a hip college town with a thriving underground arts and music scene, then they get fed up and move to Ypsi.

On an unrelated note, does anyone know how to pronounce "Hieftje"?

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2003-06-14 - 3:08 p.m.

Ever since the Detroit/Ann Arbor Craigslist made its debut, we've been monitoring it obsessively, hoping to write a "Week In Craig"-style column about it. In this column, we would make deadpan asides about all of the Ann Arbor hipsters waxing eloquent in "Missed Connections" about the Titian redhead they saw riding the AATA to Plymouth. We would, perhaps, even be the subject of nasty barbs from outraged posters, as the "Week in Craig" columnist occasionally was.

Instead, there appears to be not quite enough material to write a "Year in Craig" column. There's the girl looking for the "unbelievably cute lil boy who nibbled [her] ear" outside of Pizza House. Two LA residents who miss Ann Arbor. ("In Ann Arbor I was special and so were you," writes one. "i miss you nice michigan boys.. even with your nasal midwest accents.. how charming it all seems now...." wails another.) The guy listening to Interpol and Sly and the Family Stone who needs a "Girlfriend/Collaborator." Come on, people, give us something to work with here.

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2003-06-12 - 1:55 p.m.

That water rate increase that's been the subject of heated debate? Turns out that it's based on erroneous calculations. The consultants hired by the city added the "debt service coverage ratio" twice, resulting in a rate scheme that would raise $1.2 million more than the old rates, instead of a planned $350,000. This error, which the city's utilities director claimed was "not obvious," was not discovered for weeks.

"The city paid Carter and Burgess of Dallas $112,718 to handle the rate proposal," the News article reports. With the money the revised proposal generates, they could hire the consultants twice more.

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2003-06-11 - 2:44 p.m.

Remember what we said about the brilliant ideas of "creative class" theorist Richard Florida? Well, we take it all back. In response to inquiries about the governor's "cool cities" campaign, Florida called A2 "Michigan's only truly cool city," according to a Lansing State Journal article.

"Michigan isn't a complete wasteland for the young," the piece insists plaintively.

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2003-06-11 - 12:43 p.m.

To-Do List (culled from Arborweb):

1. Watch as instructors prepare "M-Fit's Summer Salads" at Kitchenport.
2. Catch "Shamanic Journeys" at the Magical Education Center.
3. Join the "West Side Ride" to the Dexter Dairy Queen.

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2003-06-09 - 3:09 p.m.

There's a hip college town in southeastern Michigan, a place where art and creativity are encouraged, a place - okay, that was obvious. Yes, it's Ypsi. Says the owner of independent boutique Henrietta Fahrenheit, "There are a lot of towns that on the outside have this P.R. thing that they're cool and hip but if you look deeper, it's a cloak. They are not supportive of underground artists and creativity. Ypsilanti doesn't wear the cloak." We're sure she was just speaking in generalities about those other towns.

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2003-06-08 - 3:14 p.m.

Goodspeed Update pointed out this article about a new development proposal at the intersection of Kingsley and Ashley a few days ago, but it bears re-posting here. "The project would add 20 residential units north of downtown, likely priced below the Ann Arbor luxury market. A target price zone could be in the high $300,000s," one passage runs.

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2003-06-05 - 12:53 p.m.

Who says that the Ann Arbor Police Department doesn't have time to investigate real crime? The Special Investigations Unit is out in full force in the case of some 20-year-olds making fake IDs in their apartments. "Detectives took computers from the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti apartments of the two 20-year-old suspects in the fake-ID operation. They plan to turn those over to the department's computer expert to look on the hard drive for evidence of the fake IDs and names of the people who had them made."

"An increased police presence in the South University Avenue area also helps to deter people from trying to pass fake IDs," says the owner of Rick's. Said presence has not deterred people from committing armed robberies on South U. in the middle of the afternoon.

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2003-06-03 - 1:54 p.m.

We just love these best-of lists here at Ann Arbor is Overrated. Look who didn't make it on to American Style's Top 25 Arts Destinations. But when A2 has to compete with such chic spots as Buffalo, Milwaukee and Cleveland, it's bound to be a tough decision. College towns that did make it: Columbus, Ohio and Athens, Georgia.

Another letter on the Police Department's new revenue-generating plan. "Ann Arbor citizens should demand more than just a traffic ticket mill from their police department," writes the author, who points out that the department issues 11 tickets an hour, 24 hours a day.

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2003-06-03 - 12:33 a.m.

The Ann Arbor News police log misstated the name of the Sunday festival where a man was attacked by a panhandler to whom he refused to give money. They referred to it as "Taste of Ann Arbor." Its actual name is "Taste of Ann Arbor and the Rest of the World."

We're sure the News regrets the error. We're less sure that the Main Street Area Association regrets the name.

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2003-06-01 - 9:56 p.m.

Ann Arbor cleaned up in the Freep's Best of Detroit awards. Well, in the "Home" section anyway. Taking top honors in the "Kitchen Store" category is Kitchenport, which is "the only local store that carries Look Cookware, a well-respected brand from Iceland." And the "Best Place to Buy Kitchen and Garden Accessories You Didn't Know You Needed" is Downtown Home and Garden, whose offerings include "wonderful planters, seeds, bulbs, birdfood and a surprising collection of kitchen items, including bowls, utensils and brooms handmade by students at Berea College in Kentucky." Ann Arbor also boasts Detroit's "Best Comfortable Clothes." Copper garden frogs, nonreactive saucepans, flowy linen separates - everything a college student could want - can be found right here in Tree Town.

Also making the list is the Blind Pig - it's the "Best Ann Arbor Music Bar," the only area-restricted category on the "Bars and Clubs" list.

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2003-06-01 - 3:14 p.m.

Today's Ann Arbor news letters page carries an intriguing missive from an Ypsilanti woman. "I find it difficult to accept the fact that while the Ann Arbor Police Department somehow has found the time to write 30 percent more traffic tickets this year than last, they no longer have time to investigate burglaries," she writes. We don't remember reading that the police department has given up all pretense of trying to prevent burglaries, but it's not much of a stretch. "As a homeowner," she says, she would like the police to concentrate on actual crime.

But it doesn't appear to be homeowners that the city is targeting with their new budget, under which "the city already is committed to increasing its collection of parking tickets and to handing out more tickets to speeders." Two housing inspector positions have been cut, even though it is the job of housing inspectors to hand out tickets as well.

"City's budget reflects spirit of cooperation," runs the headline of the News editorial. It's a beautiful thing when Ann Arborites from all walks of life can get together and agree on how best to screw over students.

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