Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Arb Troll is dead

I snapped the above picture at around 3:30 pm yesterday. By noon the Arb Troll lay in pieces. Some folks have suggested the wind may be responsible. Given the troll survived the worst of the windstorms on Monday, I am leaning towards humans (or fairies) as the responsible parties. Regardless, it's pretty disappointing. I think somebody should write a requiem for the Arb Troll.

Via Mary Morgan via Matt Callow

Damn Arbor's guide to Bars, 2014

Attentive Damn Arbor readers may notice this article bares a strong resemblance to one posted Wednesday, November 27th, 2013. Today's post is almost identical to last year's with the exception of Woodruff's which has shuffled off this mortal coil. Without further ado, here is our largely un-updated 2014 bar guide:

Tonight is the best bar night of the year. Or at least one of the busiest. It's a great time to grab a drink at your favorite hometown watering hole with some friends and just see who shows up. Incase you're having some trouble deciding where to grab a drink tonight, we here at Damn Arbor have worked tirelessly to update our guide to the Ypsi-Arbor Area's bars. We hope you find it useful.
Gentle readers, are you going out to grab a pint/tumbler/pitcher with your friends tonight? Do you have anything you'd like to add to our Bar Guide? And remember, if you go out tonight, make arrangements for a DD or call a cab.


Arbor Brewing Company: 114 E Washington St

BCB: I’m a big ABC fan. I think they do a good local food/pub food fusion. The vegetarians and vegans I know really appreciate ABC’s extensive selection of good food they can eat. Their standard beers are good standbys, but I usually like their seasonal and limited run beers a lot better.
G$: I always found ABC kind of mediocre, kind of like ordering a Heineken, but it’s a good place to take a group and have a casual beer and some passable food.
EJ: I like the atmosphere at ABC: it can accommodate a larger group of friends as well as an intimate Sunday night book club. Plus, now you can hit up Literati right next door and make a whole evening of it.
Quinn: I used to not really be on the ABC bandwagon. I’ll admit I still don’t like that it’s too nice for how sticky all the tables and seats are, much like The Arena. Unlike The Arena, the food menu has gotten wayyyyy better than it was a year or so ago, in health, taste and variety. Not as big on their beers. Yes G$, that’s it! Mediocre.
BCB: Boooooo! you guys are all hating on their beer. Sacred Cow and Bavarian Bliss are good beers. And I'm not just saying that about the Bliss because I married EJ. G$: She truly is bliss, isn't she? I like the Brasserie Blonde on a summer's day, I will give you that.

Monday, November 24, 2014

DTE Outage Map

There's a whole lot of wind outside today. If you're wondering whether you will have power when you get home, the DTE Outage Map is always a useful tool. Not only does the map show where outages are, it also shows you the cause of outage (wind) and an estimation of when the repairs will be complete.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dinosaur graffiti

This is a T. Rex right? Saw it next to Urban Outfitters on State. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Is Ann Arbor arbitrarily redacting information in FOIAed documents?

Ann Arbor has an Absentee Voter (AV) File. This file contains the full names and addresses of individuals who have requested absentee ballots, and whether the ballot has been voted yet or not. This information is useful to political campaigns who can us it to identify likely voters for campaign mailings. Damn Arbor contributor and local FOIAer extraordinaire, Ed Vielmetti, submitted a FOIA request (No. 14-315) for the names of individuals who have asked for the information in the AV File for the most recent election. It should be noted that the information in the AV File is very personal (full name, address). The City of Ann Arbor in responding to Ed's FOIA, returned this list redacted list of people who had FOIAed the AV File:

In justifying the redactions in the list, the City cited privacy concerns. It seems strange that the City would want to shield the identities of folks who have requested very personal non-redacted information about voters. Also, if you look at the redactions in the list above, it looks like the email addresses of people who requested the AV Fist have been more, or less arbitrarily redacting some of them. Also, why has the City completely redacted the names of two entities who have requested the AV File? It a waste of staff time and city resources to redact information that should be available to the public.

Don't fear gentle reader, Ed has appealed the redactions in his FOIA request. We'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Buckle up for Christmas Caroled at the Encore Theater

Behold! The trailer for Encore Musical Theatre's original musical Christmas Caroled, written by the theatre's co-founder Dan Cooney and Dayle Ann Hunt, his writing partner. The show is musical take on Charlie Dickens' Christmas Carol, through the scrim of a 1960s Christmas special. This show has everything you have come to expect from the holidays: the tree, the presents, the dancing, the strained family relationships, "O Holy Night" sung by a choir of freaking angels, the alcoholism, the sequin bow ties, the washed-up show biz types, the time travel, the men in their underwear. Seriously: everything.

The show opens for its world premiere Friday (with a special preview night Thursday, November 20) and runs through December 21st. Adult tickets range from $28 to $32, and discounts are available for seniors, students and youth. If there are seats remaining for the show, $15 student rush tickets are available at the box office one hour prior to the show.

Tickets are available here.

(Disclaimer: I'm in the ensemble.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ypsilanti fire knocks out power to 3200+ residents on a cold night

WXYZ and other Detroit television stations are reporting that it was an apartment fire that knocked out power to 3255 Ypsilanti residents this morning.

Power went out at about 1:00 a.m and was restored to most subscribers just before 8:00 a.m. An area on Russell St with 165 subscribers is still without service, with no estimated restoration time given.

Four schools - Erickson Elementary, Forest School, Washtenaw International Middle Academy, and Washtenaw International High School - are closed as a result of the outage, reports the Ann Arbor News. There is a warming shelter open at 239 Spencer Lane near the Ypsilanti Community Middle School at Willow Run.

Map as of 8:04 a.m.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Photo: Holiday lights being installed along Main St.

This morning, I stumbled upon lights being installed along Main St. at Liberty. Ann Arbor should look again for the winter again soon!

Main and Liberty, Nov 17 2014.

Lame Duck 2014

Remember the good old Lame Duck Session of 2012? Man, those were some crazy times. Only time will tell if Lame Duck 2014 will match up. Currently the State Senate is working on passing a road funding bill that would raise gas taxes in order to fix our crumbling roads. The State House of Representatives is working on a bill that would change how Michigan allocates Electoral College votes. Instead of being a winner-take-all state, the bill would allocate some of our Electoral College votes by our gerrymandered Congressional districts. Yikes.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Images Of America: Downtown Ann Arbor

I bought a preview copy of Patti Smith's new book on the history of downtown Ann Arbor, and I finally had a chance to read the book cover-to-cover this morning. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Patti's been working on the book since the summer of 2013, and she got the first physical copies of the book at the beginning of this month. I asked her what inspired her to write the book, and rather than rewrite her answer in my own words I'll just quote her:
I absolutely love Ann Arbor. As cheesy as this sounds, I was raised to give back to things, not take them for granted, and I didn't know how to give back to the city that I love and that seems to have accepted me. I'm not a politician, not a businessperson, not a musician…but I've always been a good writer. So I looked at some of the excellent books that have already been written (notably by Susan Wineburg and Grace Shackman) and sent a query letter to their publisher. A few months later, we had a book contract!
Mayor (or, now, former Mayor) John Hieftje wrote a nice foreword to the book, which features just over a hundred pages of historical photographs and commentary.

I spent hours today reading through pages of anecdotes, mentally placing old photos atop my mental map of downtown, and jotting down notes for further research. And I learned a lot; somehow I didn’t even know there's a bandshell in West Park!

The stories accompanying the photos provide a fascinating look into Ann Arbor's earlier days; I absolutely loved reading about the businesses, citizens, parades, train crashes, fires, parks, fights, and day-to-day life in this town a century ago.

Though the book focuses on downtown, there's also a section dedicated to “Kerrytown, Lower Town, and Near Downtown” (wherein I learned a bit about the history of that land across the railroad tracks from the Amtrak station).

And of course I enjoyed the shout-out to the #a2council crowd on page 54 :)

A huge thanks goes to the Bentley Historical Library, whose archives were very helpful for Patti.

We've noted that there'll be a launch party Monday at 7pm, and this Wednesday, Nov. 19 there will be a signing at Grange Kitchen & Bar! I'll be at both these events; hope to see you there.