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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2002-11-01 - 11:05 a.m.

Writes David Brooks in the latest Atlantic,

You can construct your own multimedia community, in which every magazine you read, every cable show you watch, every radio station you listen to, reaffirms your values and reinforces the sense of your own rightness. It is possible, maybe even inevitable, that you will slide into a solipsism that allows you precious little contact with people totally unlike yourself. But in your enclosed sphere you will feel very important.

This is precisely what Ann Arbor Sucks has tried and failed to do ever since moving here. Brooks makes it sound so easy - "Now everybody can be a snob," he writes - especially the part about not talking to people unlike yourself. Where does one sign up?

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2002-10-29 - 12:59 p.m.

Great writeup of this blog over at Where There's Smoke:

I grew up in Ann Arbor and naturally think it's the greatest place in the world. But if I was graduate student age (and still as bitter and misanthropic as I was when I was a graduate student) I'd probably be knocking Ann Arbor about the ears too. It's a beautiful little university town in which to be an elementary school student, a retired professor or hell, even a college student. But to be in your mid-twenties, looking for underground polka music, alternative puppetry performances or to just to culturally spread your wings, Ann Arbor feels pretty damn provincial.

Thanks, Kevin. Couldn't have put it better. Except for being in denial about the "mid-twenties" thing.

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2002-10-23 - 1:57 p.m.

Don't let's start on the subject of Ann Arbor radio. At They Might Be Giants' show at the Michigan Theatre last night, reports the Daily, the band tried to do an encore where they would sing along with a song on the radio. Unfortunately, they found no suitable song. In fact, what they found was "commercials and elevator music."

"Oh, I get it," John Flansburgh is reported as saying. "Radio here sucks."

No mention of southeastern Michigan's myriad country options, or Free Mumia - um, Speech - Radio? Clearly an incomplete search.

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2002-10-22 - 3:14 p.m.

If not for Talk About Town, Ann Arborites might have gone uninformed about their chances to win a pencil made out of denim this Sunday. Guess the number of water bottles recycled at Michigan Stadium every year, and the writing instrument, described as "a big hit," could be yours.

Unfortunately, mlive.com isn't maintaining the same standards when it comes to non-pencil-related coverage. As a number of readers informed Ann Arbor Sucks, Igby Goes Down is indeed playing in Ann Arbor.

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2002-10-20 - 5:37 a.m.

In the alternate universe where Ann Arbor Sucks has time for anything but school and isn't doing work at 5:37 on a Sunday morning, a movie was in order this weekend. Let's see, how about the dreamy anime of Spirited Away? Or perhaps the Salingeresque dark comedy of Igby Goes Down?

Assuming that movies in this universe are shown at the theaters that correspond to the ones in ours, neither is playing anywhere in or around Ann Arbor. In fact, if mlive.com is to be believed, the only place in the state of Michigan that either is being shown is Royal Oak.

Both are playing in Madison.

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2002-10-18 - 1:51 p.m.

Gripped with a sudden nostalgia for 2000, Ann Arbor Sucks tried to find out if there were any McSweeney's events coming to town. Yes, Ann Arbor Sucks knows that reviews of Dave Eggers' latest have been mixed at best. Yes, Ann Arbor Sucks knows that Zadie Smith's reviews have been no better, and that the New Republic even suggested that "McSweeneyfication" is what led to her downfall. And it should be noted that Ann Arbor Sucks walked out of Rick Moody's Borders reading after five minutes - before reading that the New Republic called him "the worst writer of his generation." Still and all.

McSweeney's currently has seven authors and one group of authors on tour. None of them will be making an A2 appearance. For those keeping score in the ongoing Madison-Ann Arbor coolness faceoff: two, including Eggers for two nights, will appear in Madison.

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2002-10-17 - 4:29 p.m.

Talk About Town has a feature called "By the Numbers," which is supposed to be a sort of Harper's Index for A2. But unlike Harper's Index, whose numbers are meant to create surprising contrasts with each other, By the Numbers usually contains only one number, and that number is just what you'd expect. Recent installments have explored the number of Ann Arbor City Council members who didn't approve of a meeting scheduling change (1) and the percentage by which the number of recyclable containers in landfills has increased (40).

This week's number is 15 - the "Extra minutes required for Ann Arbor's newly wired City Council members to get set up before a recent council meeting. Equipped with new laptops, the elected folks needed a bit a help from city hall techies before they could begin they [sic] business." Could there be a more expected number of minutes that it would take to set up a group of laptops?

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2002-10-13 - 5:43 p.m.

Why, a correspondent wonders, does Ann Arbor Sucks have a website for the purpose of bashing "a town which is commonly listed in 'best places to live...usa'"?

As Picasso once said to a woman who wondered why he painted all those strange things when he could draw so beautifully, "That's why."

Actually, when you think about it, this comeback makes marginally more sense in this context than Picasso's, or maybe it's just more obvious. But at any rate, the question made me realize what's wrong with A2.

Ann Arbor is basically central casting for a "college town." It's exactly what families with kids and middle-aged empty-nesters want in such a place. It's cute and safe. It has good public schools, local organic produce and better restaurants than DeKalb. And it has students to provide a hip, quirky backdrop - we can think of ourselves as movie extras, if it helps us get through the day, that is.

In The Rise of the Creative Class, Richard Florida argued that cities that didn't provide artists, technology workers and other "creative" types with cultural opportunities and nightlife would suffer economically. He put together a "best places to live" index of his own. Madison, Wisconsin did pretty well. Ann Arbor didn't even make the list.

Ann Arbor Sucks' parents summed up the non-student perspective on a recent visit. "This is such a nice town. Except for a few slightly rundown properties."

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2002-10-11 - 12:34 p.m.

Ever wonder what happened to Carl Bernstein after voter.com folded? He appears to have landed at The Ann Arbor News, at least judging from Wednesday's Talk About Town investigative shocker. The new calendar put out by the Old Fourth Ward Association features a variety of Kerrytown-area businesses and residences. But there's something a little off here, and with some intensive probing, TAT got the scoop.

"Interestingly, two of the three houses pictured in the calendar belong to two members of the association's executive board." The group treasurer's explanation, that this was done out of "convenience," smacks of Howard Hunt's sputtering denials when it was discovered that his name and address were found in the Watergate burglars' address books.

Furthermore, as TAT has unearthed, "the Old Fourth Ward [is] no longer in the 4th Ward." What's up with that? We want some answers.

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2002-10-11 - 12:39 a.m.

Ann Arbor Sucks no longer needs to refer to those handy UM Credit Union keychains for the football schedule. A simple analysis of all the hosts who visit this blog every week looking for "michigan sucks" or the perennial "ann arbor is a whore" will do it. Two weeks ago, Illinois. This weekend, Penn State. Or, wait - Ohio State?

Actually, it turns out that Ohio State doesn't play Michigan until the end of November, yet represents a majority of readers searching for anti-Michigan propaganda. That's preparedness. Go Buckeyes!

Also, today's Daily contained a story laying out the arguments against divestment - the first article, despite its headline, was second in a series. Another Wolfram article has yet to appear, though.

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2002-10-09 - 12:19 p.m.

Recently, Ann Arbor Sucks complained that the Daily didn't give an accused racial harasser a chance to comment. Could this be part of a bigger pattern? Let's take a look at some of today's front page stories.

"'U' urged to divest from Israel." This story quotes four pro-divestment students. The only disagreement comes from a sentence in an e-mail sent to the University community by President Mary Sue Coleman over a week ago.

"Students sue to prevent conference." This story, about a lawsuit filed to prevent a pro-Palestinian conference on campus, quotes the two students behind the suit and their attorney. It also quotes a University spokeswoman and two students as being opposed to the suit, not including a leader of the group sponsoring the conference, who declined to comment.

"Physicist gives new theories on universe." The theories of maverick Stephen Wolfram, the physicist this headline refers to, are thought by many in the scientific community to be not in fact new. Yet the only person quoted as questioning Wolfram in the piece is an LSA freshman, despite the skeptical and almost hostile tone of the questions Wolfram was asked after his talk at the Rackham auditorium yesterday.

Ann Arbor Sucks' point is not that the Daily is anti-Israel (pro-Wolfram, maybe), but that perhaps they should keep an eye on these kind of inconsistencies.

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2002-10-09 - 2:11 a.m.

Ann Arbor is again criminally overrated as a cultural center and overall great place to live in MSN's list of "Ten Schools in Great College Towns." Coming in at number ten, A2 is described as

A classic, just-big-enough "college town,"...known for its "great downtown restaurants and bars, and very diverse culture." U of M is also a "sports heaven," so athletics can play a big part in undergraduate life if students are so inclined.

From this, we can isolate a few useful bits of information:

1) Ann Arbor is small - oh, sorry, "just big enough." A good size.
2) There are places in Ann Arbor where one can drink.
3) One can probably find people with pink hair and piercings in Ann Arbor.
4) One can also find fans of spectator sports in Ann Arbor.

All true. So perhaps on a list where Boston is referred to as "Beantown" and cited for its "Phantom of the Opera"-watching opportunities, this inclusion makes sense.

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2002-10-04 - 4:08 p.m.

Ann Arbor Sucks is not one to rail against the dangers of "political correctness." But is it too much to ask that what should be a straight news story - and a pretty explosive one - in the Daily doesn't get riddled with vague psycho-speak? The headline, "Students speak out on power of words," suggests a feature about fledgling writers taking tentative steps toward finding an authentic voice. Instead, it's a story about the suspension of Sally Sharp, the university's Women In Science and Engineering and UROP In-Residence Director for allegedly making offensive racial comments.

And then there's the story's lead - "Like many students on campus, LSA junior Terrence Griffin knows what it is like to hear a shocking comment come from another person's mouth that whether said intentionally or not has long-standing effects." Not only does this sentence drop all pretense of objectivity, it's virtually un-parsable.

The article doesn't mention any attempt on the Daily's part to contact Sharp.

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2002-10-04 - 4:42 a.m.

U of M president Mary Sue Coleman's grad student husband's in-state status provides a fascinating look at how the university makes tuition decisions. Even though he's only been here two months, since the family moved here for "purposes of permanent employment," he is considered a Michigan resident and pays in-state tuition. Well, since students with permanently employed spouses clearly need the help with tuition more, you think, sarcastically. But think about it: five years in A2 loom ahead of Ken Coleman, and that doesn't even count the years after his wife steps down, at which time she will have automatic tenure.

That's a lot of shows at the Blind Pig.

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2002-10-04 - 4:38 a.m.

Soho has the boots
Noho's got the crack
New England has the foliage
But I'm not goin' back.

Ever feel like Dean Wareham when he dumped his wimpy-sad Galaxie 500 persona and started making stripped-down, uncompromising records with cutting lyrics like above? Neither does Ann Arbor Sucks, usually.

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