Monday, February 27, 2017

Ma Lou's Fried Chicken opens this Friday in Ypsi

Chef Frank Fejeran, of Ricewood BBQ (and formerly of the Ravens Club), is opening a fried chicken restaurant Friday in Ypsilanti. Ma Lou's Fried Chicken, located at 15 W Michigan, has a simple menu and specializes in southern, and hot fried chicken. Other items include sides such as potato salad, baked beans and coleslaw as well as the infamous biscuit donut. I have always enjoyed Chef Frank's food so I'm very excited to try his latest venture. According to this article on Eater, Chef Frank did extensive fried chicken research in Nashville so I know we can expect some truly great chicken from Ma Lou's.

Other articles abut Chef Frank's work:

Dinner at the Ravens Club

Ricewood BBQ is now open for the 2016 season

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Donut Wars: Dom's vs. Dimo's

There has been a raging debate this weekend on r/AnnArbor: who has the best donuts in the Ypsi-Arbor area, Dom's or Dimo's?

Dom Bakeries (often refereed to as Dom's), located at 1305 Washtenaw in Ypsilanti, is a stalwart of the County's East Side. Dom's is open 24/7 and known for their apple fritters.

Dimo's Deli and Donuts, located at 2030 W. Stadium, offers a breakfast menu and deli sandwiches in addition to donuts. They are known for their charming mixture of gruffness and sass.

On reddit the debate can be distilled as follows: people in Ypsilanti prefer Dom's donuts because they are too drunk to drive to Ann Arbor and get donuts from Dimo's; people in Ann Arbor prefer Dimo's because they are too drunk to drive to Ypsilanti and get donuts from Dom's. I have to admit I am a bit biased I like Dom's a lt. EJ and I live less than a mile from Dom's and at night, when the wind is just right, you can smell the faint sent of apple fritters on the breeze. I'm a sucker for Dom's apple fritters. Also, while I've been to Dimo's, I've never had their donuts.

Gentle readers, what do you think about the great Dom's/Dimo's debate? This matter is especially pressing considering Paczki day is this Tuesday.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Personal branding is bulls**t

Of all the nouns to become verbs in the last ten years (i.e. trend, adult, text) ‘brand’ is the one I like least. In the larger sense of the word branding denotes broad corporate hustle, the means by which a company shapes its customer’s perceptions. Say I see a commercial for Louis Vuitton where David Bowie plays harpsichord at a party. Say this party looks a LOT like a scene from Labyrinth:

Because Louis Vuitton connected their purses with one of my favorite films/pre-teen feelings about men with makeup and glam pantaloons, I am more likely to see their brand in a positive light. Louis Vuitton could, in theory, tweet non-stop Bowie-related puns and win me over completely. The distance between a company and its customers has been reduced in a giant way, especially when you consider their presence on sites that were once the purview of actual friends, drunk photos and news.

The individual version of this process is called self-branding or personal branding. To create a personal brand, Forbes suggests that you plan how you want to be perceived, create a personal website and make sure that everything you do publicly online (whether it be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) fits this perception. You are a one person corporation vying for the hearts and minds of potential employers and it is YOUR responsibility to make sure you send a cohesive, constructed, appealing message about who you are and what you can bring to the table. You are Louis Vuitton hawking purses except that you, potential employee, will have no assist from David Bowie (RIP) to sell yourself and if you don’t sell yourself you DON’T HAVE A JOB.

Apart from the disturbing imagery of self-branding, I take issue with the onus it places on job seekers and its implications on the widening gap between rich and poor. As Astra Taylor puts it in The People’s Platform “As institutions crumble and social safety nets fray, individuals increasingly stand alone, responsible for themselves and their well-being.” This sort of self-promotion assumes that everyone is on equal footing. So, sure, tell the single mom living below the poverty line to buy a website she can’t afford, with free time she doesn’t have, to work on her personal brand.

Personal branding and its ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ mentality is wildly at odds with the lives of most Americans. If, as Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez estimates, the top one percent captured between half and all income growth between 2009 and 2012, personal branding matters way less than which of your dad’s ├╝berwealthy friends can land you a job. Alice Marwick, a communication and media studies professor at Fordham University puts it this way in Status Update, “Championing self-branding as a universal solution for economic woes demonstrates the disconnect between neoliberal ideals of identity— which emphasize self-improvement, responsibility for skill acquisition, and self- surveillance—and the reality of day-to-day life.” I am a white, middle-class millennial unsaddled by student debt. I’m coming from an affluent place. Yet, given the overwhelming disparity of wealth in America, the current economic climate;and the fierce competition for an ever dwindling number of jobs in my field, when someone suggests I work harder on my LinkedIn profile I just:

Friday, February 24, 2017

Third Man Pressing Plant grand opening tomorrow in Detroit

Third Man Records, the indie label owned by Jack White, is hosting a grand opening for their brand new record pressing plant tomorrow in Detroit. The event will feature live music, freshly pressed vinyl. The event starts at 10 am and the live music starts at 2:30 and will feature, The Mummies, The Oblivians and the, Craig Brown Band. Should be an awesome time. If you want to read more about Third Man's Pressing Plant, check out this article from Rolling Stone, it features pictures from local photographer Peter Baker. You can read more about the grand opening on its Facebook event page.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

ICE raids reported in Ypsilanti

Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (WICIR) reported an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid yesterday in Ypsilanti. From the WICIR Facebook Page:
(Ingles abajo)
Eso es una ALERTA IMPORTANTE! Hoy en la manana immigracion tomo gente en Ypsilanti! Se ha reportado actividad de immigracion en las calles pricipales de Ypsilanti. Por favor si es posible no usan las calles principales y por favor pasan este mensaje a sus familiares y amigos. Gracias. Cuidado en las calles!

ALERT. This morning immigration agents arrested some folks in Ypsilanti. There have been a number of reports of immigration enforcement activity on the major Ypsi roads. Please avoid these areas if you can and pass the message to your families and friends.

If this is something that gets your goat, there is a training for the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Rapid Response Team, a group aimed at protesting ICE actions as well as supporting ICE detainees and their families this Sunday at First Methodist Church in Ann Arbor.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How did a picture from Ann Arbor's 1998 anti-Klan protest become a logo for anti-racist punks in Germany?

The front page of the May 10, 1998 Detroit News and Free Press. Note Tom Pidgeon's photograph on the right. It shows 18 year old Ann Arbor resident, Harlon Jones, kicking an unnamed white supremacist. Photo courtesy AADL's Old News program. 
On May 9th, 1998, Jeffery Berry, founder and imperial wizard of the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, led a rally at Ann Arbor City Hall. Berry brought 37 members of his DeKalb County, Indiana, KKK chapter to Ann Arbor with him. The 1998 visit was a fulfillment of Berry's promise after his 1996 rally, which had resulted in protesters clashing with police protecting the Klan: in his own words, Berry had vowed to return and return they did.
The 1996 rally saw anti-Klan protesters clashing with police and scuffling with Klan supporters. The most notable photograph of the day depicts 18-year-old Keshia Thomas, an African-American woman, using her body to protect a man with SS tattoos from an angry mob. As the time of the 1998 Klan rally neared, tensions were running high in Ann Arbor. The city erected barriers around City Hall, where Klan members would be speaking, and brought in reinforcements from other departments. There was also a volunteer Peace Team, who were there to protect the fence around City Hall. The anti-Klan protesters, headed by Anti-Racist Action, the Revolutionary Workers’ League, and the National Women’s Rights Organizing Committee,were also well organized.
Pidgeon's picture of Jones, enlarged an in color (left). The Good Night White Pride Logo (right), which originated in the German Hardcore and Oi! scenes.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

#A2Council preview: Feb. 21, 2017

Because of the yesterday's holiday, the Ann Arbor City Council is meeting tonight at 7:00 PM. The agenda is pretty light. There's the appointment of Alexandra Cacciari to the Public Market Advisory Commission. The Consent Agenda is mostly street closings, Fool Moon, FestiFools, Take Back the Night, SpringFest, Rock the District, and the Mayor's Green Fair. Other Consent items include a contract with SafeHouse for victim support services, an amendment to the City/DDA parking agreement, raises for school crossing guards, and a contract for slope monitoring at Barton Dam.

There are no public hearings scheduled tonight and no second readings of ordinances. There only firs ordinance reading is for 17-0257, which would add a chapter (120) to the city code dealing with the solicitation of immigration status by city employees.

After ordinances come motions and resolutions. There is a resolution, 17-0189, to withdraw objection to the renewal of liquor licenses for Old Carolina Barbeque Company and Nagomi Sushi and Noodles. Sounds like they have probably taken care of their back taxes and fees. There is also a resolution, 17-0258, to install Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons on Fuller Road at the crosswalk by the entrance to Huron and Gallup Park.

All in all a pretty light agenda. It will be interesting to see whether Ypsilanti's or Ann Arbor's city council meeting will finish first tonight. As always, you can follow the meeting on Twitter using the #a2council hashtag. You can also watch the live on CTN.

Ypsilanti City Council Meeting Preview: Feb. 21, 2017

The Ypsilanti City Council will be meeting at their regularly scheduled time tonight: 7:00 pm at City Hall. The agenda is pretty light tonight. There are two ordinance first readings, both of which deal with changes to the zoning code. The consent agenda items consist of two items: approval of the Jan. 10th meeting minutes and the appointment of Christopher Madigan, an urban planning student at EMU, to the Planning Commission. There are also two resolutions dealing with the Thompson Block. I will discuss these resolutions as well as the ordinances below.

The first ordinance tonight, Ordinance No. 1283, would rezone the rental house a 311 Ballard from "Center" to "Core Neighborhood." The lot, located next to the Eagles Marker on Cross, was rezoned "Center" in 2015 as part of the Shape Ypsi update of the city's zoning code and master plan. The crux of the matter is that the "Center" designation is intended for downtown areas and does not contain "house" as a permitted use. 311 Ballard is, in fact, a house. This makes the current structure on the property non-conforming and that in turn makes it a big pain in the but for the current landowner. By changing the zoning from "Center" to "Core Neighborhood" the lots current use "house" will be a permitted use. This rezoning was approved by the planning commission. As such, it is likely to pass.

The second ordinance, Ordinance No. 1284, is a smattering of minor changes to the city's zoning ordinance. There are a smattering of changes throughout the zoning ordinance and I have insufficient time to detail them. This ordinance is the main reason the council packet is 812 pages for this meeting.

The two resolutions dealing with the Thompson Block, 2017-046 and 2017-047, involve dissolving various incentives for the properties old owners, Thompson Block Partners, LLC. This paves the way for the new owners, 2Mission, to receive OPRA (Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act) and Brownfield incentives at a later date, if the city and 2Mission decide they want to pursue these at some point in the future.

I'll be at the meeting tonight tweeting with the #YpsiCouncil hashtag. Please follow along and contribute.


February 21, 2017 Ypsilanti City Council Meeting Agenda (2 pages)
February 21, 2017 Ypsilanti City Council Meeting Packet (812 pages)
Ypsilanti City Zoning Map (16 pages)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Fresh Thyme, A review

Fresh Thyme is Washtenaw County's newest grocery store.

Last week, I somehow manged to end up shopping at the new Fresh Thyme grocery store 3 times. The store, which opened February 1st, is located on Washtenaw at Golfside in Ypsilanti Township which makes it the closest supermarket to Casa Damn Arbor. It's about the size of Lucky's Market--a little bigger than Trader Joe's, smaller than Kroger.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Ann Arbor Stories: The Red Light District

Incase you missed Rich Retyi's presentation at Nerd Nite last night, you can hear all about Ann Arbor's Fourth Avenue Red Light of yesteryear over on Ann Arbor Stories. This episode of the podcast is decidedly NSFW. From Ann Arbor Stories:

There was a time in Ann Arbor’s not-so-distant past when a part of town was widely known as the red light district. Adult bookstores, topless massage parlors, prostitutes, hoodlums, and bums—all just blocks from City Hall and Ann Arbor police headquarters. Cops were raiding massage parlors every few months, rounding up a dozen massage workers at a time, but the arrests never made a dent. Crackdowns on prostitutes and the johns who solicited them didn’t make much impact either. The red light district regenerated. Persisted. Grew stronger.

How did Ann Arbor become home to this kind of brazen adult fare?

My favorite part of this story is how it all turns on local zoning.

Image via: Ann Arbor Stories Instagram