Saturday, November 30, 2013

Banana Car

Just saw this banana car in the parking lot of the Alano Club on Maple. Pretty sweet. It has the PA plate "SPLIT."

Jerry's Girls at the Performance Network Theater

All photos from PNT
Last weekend I was able to make it down to the Performance Network Theater for a production of the musical revue (is there another kind?) of Jerry's Girls. To be more explicit, Jerry Herman created a series of mid-century musicals including Hello, Dolly! and La Cage aux Folles. The PTN revived this musical on friday and will be continuing to do so until January. Performances are Thursdays at 7:30, Friday and Saturday at 8:00, Saturdays at 3:00 and Sunday at 2:00.

Tips for Jesus is REAL!

Tips for Jesus is a real thing. Damn Arbor verified it! Buzzfeed posted an article Wednesday showcasing the Instagram account Tips for Jesus and told the story of someone leaving giant tips at bars from Hollywood to Ann Arbor. Featured on the account is the smiling mug of Robbie Schulz—co-owner of and Alley Bar—holding a $215 bar tab with a $7,000 tip. The previous photo shows a tab for $87 at Bar Louie in Ann Arbor with a $3,000 tip.

But is Tips for Jesus real or is this a clever way to get out of leaving a tip? I sat down with Robbie on Thanksgiving Eve and he confirmed that this is legit. On a football Saturday in September with Notre Dame in town to play Michigan, the Tips for Jesus crew hit the town. At some point just before last call they tried to get into two Main Street bars but were turned away, so they found themselves at Alley Bar around 1:45am and were greeted by the friendly staff who was more than happy to get them a few drinks before last call. The Tips for Jesus crew was friendly, polite, nice and a pleasure to serve and they were clear that they were happy with the service and would take care of the staff at the end of the night.

Robbie thought that meant looking forward to a $50 tip or thereabouts. At the end of the night, TFJ pulled out a black American Express card and wrote 7,000 in the tip line, telling Robbie that it was 100% legit and he was good for it. The black AMEX card is invitation only and the average cardholder has $16.3 million in assets and a household income of $1.3 million. Robbie was well aware of these facts. He trusted this guy.

Robbie gave TFJ his card and the next day he returned to buy some t-shirts and take the picture that appears on the Instagram account. The tip cleared and Robbie distributed the money to the staff working that night, in addition to at least one employee who had the night off.

Looking at the rest of the Instagram account, TFJ has been distributing amazing tips throughout the midwest, in Utah and in California all fall. $10,000 in Hollywood. $5,000 in South Bend. The Tips from Jesus crew loves college football.

I emailed Tips from Jesus from my barstool and within 10 minutes they responded. TFJ confirmed that he’s a big college football fan, but especially into great excellent gameday experiences and environments. TFJ doesn’t have a favorite bar or city, but is really into Mao Tais lately (which is “A Chinese liquor made made out of sorghum and peas and other weird stuff. Smells awful.”)

There you have it. Tips for Jesus verified and confirmed. What’s the biggest tip you’ve ever left?

Friday, November 29, 2013

4th Annual Finer Things Black Friday Show

The Finer Things at last year's Black Friday Show, photo by Dana

Gentle reader, looking to crawl your way out of your food coma? Then look no further than tonight's 4th Annual Black Friday Show from the Finer Things. I could tell you it'll be a great show, but you should really just read Dana's review from last year.

Aventura opening today

Aventura, a new tapas joint by Sava, is opening today. At least it is according to this Stopped.Watched. on the Chronicle.

FOIA Friday: Dangerous buildings and demolition permits

FOIA Friday is a weekly column by Edward Vielmetti that looks at local government and public records. This week I am looking at the long, slow, drawn-out process whereby the City of Ann Arbor can demolish a building if the owners don't keep it in a safe condition.

Dangerous buildings ordinance and the City code

The City of Ann Arbor has a Dangerous Buildings Ordinance, which defines a Dangerous Building. There are many reasons that a building might be considered dangerous; this is one of them:
7. A building or structure is damaged by fire, wind, or flood, or is dilapidated or deteriorated and becomes an attractive nuisance to children who might play in the building or structure to their danger, becomes a harbor for vagrants, criminals or immoral persons, or enables persons to resort to the building or structure for committing a nuisance or an unlawful or immoral act.
The full ordinances of the City of Ann Arbor are available through Municode, if you want to sift through them yourself. There's no FOIA necessary to get copies of local laws, but you also won't find them just by doing a Google search, as the Municode site is search engine pessimized. (You can search on site.)

The city also keeps a Dangerous Buildings list, but you won't find that online. I've sent in a FOIA request to see if I can come up with a list of properties that the building department maintains of properties that they are watching. There's a similar Nuisance Properties list of addresses that the city has that attract undue attention for nuisances; I'm hopeful that my FOIA unearths that list as well.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tips for Jesus hit up Ann Arbor

Gentle Readers, did you read the BuzzFeed article yesterday about the @TipsForJesus Instagram account? Basically it works like this, people go to a bar, they run up a huge tap, and then they leave an even bigger tip and write @TipsForJesus on it. You can see a tip they left at Bar Louie back in September embedded above. Damn Arbor's intrepid drinker Rich Retyi sent in the following report at midnight last night:

There's something going around called Tips For Jesus. Google it. Basically these really rich guys go to bars and leave really huge tips for the staff. A week or so ago, they visited Bar Louie and then popped in Alley Bar at 1:45am after getting turned down at two other establishments. They ordered a bunch of drinks and hung out and were really nice and fairly unassuming.

At the end of the night a guy pulled out a black Amex card and told Robbie that the tip he was leaving was 100% legit and he was good for it. He then scrawled $7,000 on the bill. And then they left.

Robbie and the staff were in shock, but misread the 7 as a 2 and ran a 2,000 tip. The guy contacted Robbie the next day and explained what they were doing and came in to take a picture of the bill, which, when he realized the tip entry error, he corrected to the right amount.


This should really be Rich's Article, but I think he's indisposed at the moment.

Who Will Be the Next Voice of Michigan Football?

Bob Ufer: 1945 - 1980
Frank Beckmann: 1981 - 2013
Two men have been the voice of Michigan football since the end of World War II and Saturday marks the final regular-season Michigan football game for Frank Beckmann who, in 1981 took the crown of “The Voice of Michigan Football” from in a hotel room in Madison, Wisconsin. Here's what Beckmann said in a 2009 interview with MGoBlog:
Ufe was struggling with cancer in 1981 and while he travelled to Michigan's opening game at Wisconsin that year, he wasn't going to be able to broadcast the game. That opener was to be my debut as the so called "Voice" of Michigan football.

I visited the legendary Ufe in his hotel room the day before that game to learn all I could about the Michigan team. As you'd expect from someone who bled Maize and Blue, Ufe was eager to share all he could about the team, about Coach Bo Schembechler, and about the Michigan tradition.

Legions of Wolverine fans mourned Ufer’s passing six weeks later. Beckmann carried the torch for 33 seasons until announcing his retirement prior to this season’s opener. You can debate whether he was pushed out or chose to leave on his own terms, but what really matters to many diehard Michigan fans is this: Who will be the next Voice of Michigan Football?


Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Chanukkah

Gentle readers, just writing to wish you all a very happy holiday. Hope you have a wonderful time with your friends and family.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Save the State Theater?

All photos from the Facebook campaign 
Horrible Readers (reader feedback has suggested that Gentle Readers is disgustingly sweet), it seems that there has been talk of shutting down the State Theater. The Facebook campaign to save the landmark boasts 4,000 likes and numerous facts about the space, like:

  • The State Theater opened in 1941 and has shown movies continuously for 71 years. 
  • The Michigan Theater does not own or lease the State Theater, but it has programmed and marketed the films at the State since 1997. Even in its current disheveled condition, the Sate attracts over 50,000 movie goers annually, which is above average among Art House theaters world-wide.
According to the page, on December 12, the Historic District Commission will vote on the fate of State Theater.

Damn Arbor's guide to Bars, 2013

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.

Thanksgiving Eve show at the Pig

Looking for something to do tonight now that you're back in your good ol' home town? Perhaps you want to check out this show tonight at the Blind Pig.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Need some coleslaw?

Denise in Ypsi has got your back. Via Craigslist's free stuff:
Posted: 3 days ago

5 lbs Coleslaw mix!!!! (ypsilanti)

Have way too much! Happy Turkey Day!!! Call Denise @ 734 961-59eightyeight!
Location: ypsilanti

Hopefully it's not too late.

What happened to the restrooms at Eight Ball?

I leave Ann Arbor for a few months and this happens? During Ann Arbor SOUP, I had reason to visit the men's room at Eight Ball. Upon entering I was taken aback. It was so bright and shiny. And what are those on the floor? New tiles? There was hardly even any graffiti. Fortunately, the trough urinals were still there. At least somethings never change.

Ann Arbor SOUP, A review

Sunday night, at the behest of @A2GastroBoy, I decided to check out Ann Arbor SOUP at the Blind Pig. For those of you unfamiliar with the SOUP microgranting model, attendees pay $5 for soup and a salad. Four organizations seeking funds give short presentations. Attendees vote and at the end of the night, the group with the most votes gets the money. It's a pretty cool way for projects that are working to improve the community can get a bit of start-up funds.

The group that won on Sunday was a freshly minted U of M Chapter of the Food Recovery Network. The group has worked with Dining Services at U of M to train volunteers and develop protocols for safely recovering waste food from dining halls. The food is then delivered to food gatherers for distribution in the community. Food Recover Network said they would be using the $1,074 they were granted to help cover the cost of aluminum trays they use to transfer food to Food Gatherers. Any remaining funds will be used saved with the hope of eventually buying a freezer that could fit into a van to help safely transport food. I think Food Recovery Network won because they seemed really well organized and could clearly articulate where the money would go. They have spent the last year working with dining services to develop a system to get waste food that complies with OSHA and health codes.

I'm not sure when the next Ann Arbor SOUP will be, but you should totally think about attending. There was a great mix of townies and students there who were all passionate about working to improve our community.

You can find more coverage of the event over on The Chronicle and The Daily.

Are we living in a 'Super Zip?'

Nope. Sorry about the click-bait title, but they are all the rage these days. The WaPo has made a pretty map that shows which Zips around the country are "Super Zips." The Zips are ranked by averaging their percentile rank in income and college education. So called, "Super Zips," are areas where the average score is 95 or greater. The nearest "Super Zip" to the Ypsi-Arbor area is Northville's 48168.

Monday, November 25, 2013

How Can We Improve Damn Arbor?

Dearest Readers, Ben and I sometimes pretend to pow-wow on how to improve the site. Most of the time it is "Dana, be nicer," but that's not really constructive criticism, is it? So, I am hoping that you, you that read this site, can help us grow our pleasant part of the internet. Would you like us to be more like our non-competitor, Mlive? Or go rogue like I imagine the people in Pirate Radio did? I actually haven't seen that movie. But back to the point, here are some ideas that I came up with, feel free to add your own.

  • GPS Systems that say Damn Arbor instead of Ann Arbor 
  • Shorter sentences and less cultural references from me
  • Give aways, of famous Ann Arbor things, like red cups on the lawns of fraternities
  • Podcasts of us laughing at other podcasts

Edit: I am now upset that I didn't come up with a catchy name for this process. Like "Damn Feedback" which isn't that catchy but does seem like it could become something bigger than just the name. 

WCBN upgrading from 200 to 3000 watts

Great news gentle readers, WCBN is in the process of upgrading their transmitter from 200 watts to 3000 watts. It looks like that means there will be better signal reception in Saline and Dexter. I don't know a ton about how radio works, but it looks like there is not a linear relationship between signal power and broadcast distance. Over on his blog, Tom Bray has a cool post about installing the new transmitter and antenna.

Biercamp Keeps Getting Cooler

Biercamp's new Rich Retyi & Loaded Potato Brat (photo by Rebecca Woodward)

I’ve been a fan of Biercamp since they set up shop at the corner of State and Stimson with their endless offerings of jerky, bacon, sausages and kindness. I’ve written about them a few times and stop in for lunch now and again but Hannah and Walter know me by face, not by name.

On Friday, my co-workers called Biercamp and asked them to name a lunch item after me to celebrate my second anniversary at Fluency Media. Having a sandwich named after me is one of my lifelong goals (not kidding at all). The staff chose a loaded potato brat, which was delicious. When we showed up, I saw the surprise and the Biercamp staff put two and two together and realized that they’d named an item after someone they knew.

That was what was coolest about the whole thing. They didn’t even know it was for me. They were just doing a favor for some nice people trying to do something fun and cool. Yet another reason to love Biercamp.

There’s probably a 2% chance that my name is still up on their board. If so, please let me know. If not, no hard feelings. It was good to be king for a day.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ann Arbor Soup tonight at the Blind Pig

Ann Arbor Soup is tonight at the Blind Pig. Basically, you pay $5 and get soup, salad and a vote. During dinner, you hear pitches from 3 organizations and then get to vote on who gets the pot of money at the end. Tonight there are pitches from:

Food Recovery Network
826 Michigan
Doors are at 6:00 pm.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Ann Arbor Sounds Disgusting

tumblr user girl detective

This week's Parks and Rec features Leslie Knope's strong feelings on our "disgusting" city and "stupid" state divided into two pieces . Chris Traeger and Ann Perkins are moving to our fair home, which makes me hope that they will film a goodbye scene or two here. I wish I could post a video of Leslie's opinions on Damn Arbor, but every time I google "Parks and Rec Ann Arbor" I get a site. Watch the episode and urge city council to start construction on the Ann Arbor to Pawnee Bullet Train.

Edited with better screenshot because that is where my priorities lie. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Laura Dern of Alley Bar

Laura Dern of Alley Bar, you have stolen some Jurassic Park fan's heart. From missed connections: Posted: 2013-11-14, 2:44AM EST

Laura Dern of Alley Bar - m4w (Ann Arbor)
You were at Alley Bar tonight. Your name starts with a K. I said you look like Laura Dern which, to me, is something special. You said you are from a city starting with W, and would be back in Ann Arbor on Friday.

I want to see you on Friday. When and where?

C-SPAN Cities tours the Willow Run Bomber Plant

More goodies from C-SPAN's Ann Arbor weekend.

FOIA Friday: Be overly nice to the clerk who answers your request

The FOIA Friday series looks at the Freedom of Information Act on Fridays. It is written by Edward Vielmetti.

Be nice when you're asking for public records.

Get straight to the point in your request for records, and do not fill your request letter with polemics, anger, invective, or other extraneous rhetoric. Keep the request letter as simple as possible, to ensure that it is handled as a matter of routine and so that the clerk is not distracted by a stray argument. The request letter is a place for polite, straightforward, and relatively formal language. FOIA letter generators like iFOIA or Muckrock will help you write the boilerplate language that makes it clear that you know what you are doing and that the request should be treated professionally.

Be pleasant and direct, especially in person. The staff of a public body has a lot of discretion in how quickly to answer your request, and you can avoid needless delays by not making yourself unwelcome. Michigan public bodies have to respond to a request within 5 business days, but they are allowed to extend their request an additional 10 business days without providing a reason. If your request letter is angry, threatening, or simply burdened with confusing and unnecessary language, it can easily be put on the "do later when we have time" pile.

You don't have to file a FOIA request in order to get records, and you might get better results by avoiding the central FOIA process and going straight to a department head, departmental secretary, or communications or media contact with your requests. If the documents being requested are routinely given out without redaction, and if you have found the right person, you can get same-day service. On the other hand, if someone says "you'll have to FOIA that", don't take it as a "no" - it simply means that they are looking for you to understand the formal process. (And, because you're reading this column, you will.)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What we talk about when we talk about Miss America

The year's best selfie--David Erik Nealson with Nina Davuluri (Miss America 2014)
Ann Arbor Chronicle contributor, David Erik Nelson's article on meeting Dana's old chem lab partner/Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri, is the best thing on the local web-o-sphere today. It's a little gonzo (in a good way), but I learned a lot about the history and mechanics of the Miss America Pageant. Somewhere in the article, there's also a critique of other regional outlets, and possibly this year's greatest selfie.

Photo by David Erik Nelson

Free beer pong table

Looks like this guy on Craigslist really want's to get rid of his old beer pong table. If you take it, he says he'll even throw in a couple bottles of craft beer. That's a great deal.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Is Madonna In Town?

I guess, yes. To be honest she scares me.
Source: MLive'n it Up
I grew up close enough to Bay City to understand why Madonna hated it and never wanted to return to the tri-cities. I always assumed she loathed all of Michigan, but I forget that Ann Arbor fights to be exception to the rule. Rumors for the past couple years has been that she wants her daughter to go here. I like to think that she's really here filming a sequel to the music video for "Don't Tell Me." There will be less walking, billboards and sand. There will be more digging into the ground but because of the lack of sand everything will be replaced with grape Jello. Madonnapalooza.

Battle of the Bands

Got a band bro? If you do, send your mix tape to by Friday November 22nd.

Nerd Nite A2 #10: the Nerd in the Machine

It's hard to believe we've already had 9 Ann Arbor Nerd Nites. Tomorrow night will be the 10th and it looks like it will be great. Starting at 6:30 at Live, there will be 3 short lectures covering robots, computer programming and communism's greatest goofs. Cover is $5.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Issues and Ale tonight at Wolverine State

Jack Lessenberry is hosting a very special Issues and Ale Lager tonight at Wolverine State Brewing Company. Starting at 6:30, Lessenberry will lead a discussion about the Affordable Care Act and what it means for you.

How much is a monopoly on downtown Ann Arbor hotels worth?

If you guessed $5.25 million, you are correct.

OK, maybe that's a little too cynical. The City Council approved sale of the Y-Lot (surface lot between 4th Ave and 5th Ave on William) to Dennis Dahlmann last night for $5.25 million. Dahalman owns the Bell Tower Hotel and Campus Inn. The terms of the sale call for a building with 400% FAR, a ground floor that is mixed use, several floors of office and a top floor of residential.

This article was updated to reflect the fact that the sales contract requires a FAR of at least 400%, not 900% as we had previously stated.

How to learn about sex at Conor's and still live with yourself

Sex-ed trivia in the at Conor O'Neill's. There, I answered the title's proposition. What you need:

-$20, paid either online or at the door
-A team of three or four
-To sign up by four today HERE
-A name for your team. Team with the best name wins a prezzie, woo!

The $20 gets your team a spot and an appetizer. There are two rounds, both in the Celtic Room: one from 6-8 p.m. and one from 9-11 p.m. Obvi if you go to one, you can't go to the other because that's cheating and YOU CAN'T SIT WITH US! Also, under-21-ers are allowed in during the 6-8 p.m. time slot, but not the 9-11 p.m. one, so choose wisely. You can drink during either one as long as you're of age, of course. We're not barbarians.

Winners get a basket of goodies from the Safe Sex Store and will be announced as the town's resident Sex Gods.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Literati on C-SPAN

It was Ann Arbor Weekend on C-SPAN. Check out this sweet video of Literati's Hillary and Mike:

Gentle reader, did you catch any of the Ann Arbor Weekend programming on C-SPAN? If so, what was your favorite segment?

Follow tonight's Ann Arbor City Council Meeting on CTN and Twitter

Tonight's city council meeting will be the first with new Council Member Jack Eaton (Ward 4). Other than that, there have been no cast changes since last season. There are several interesting agenda items:

Appointment of mayor pro tem -- Traditionally, the appointment of the second in line of mayoral succession has gone to the most senior member of city council. There is speculation amongst some council sources that Jane Lumm may have sufficient support to win mayor pro tem. [source]

Pedestrian safety and the crosswalk ordinance -- CMs Briere (Ward 1) and Warpehoski (Ward 5) proposed creating a task force to study pedestrian safety and measures to improve walkability. The Chronicle indicates that there may be insufficient political traction for this due to concerns about the task force's funding. It also appears that a proposal to get rid of the pedestrian safety ordinance may pass its first reading tonight. The measure is co-sponsored by 5 councilmembers and freshman Ward 4 CM Jack Eaton has indicated he supports it as well.

There will also be a vote tonight on whether to include Ypsilanti Township in the AAATA. This item was postponed at the Nov. 7 council meeting. The Chronicle has a good (long) article about the whole thing here.

Ed Vielmetti and the Ann Arbor Chronicle have much better previews of tonight's city council agenda.

Gentle reader, are you going to follow tonight's city council meeting with us on CTN and Twitter? All you need to do is crack open a cold one, watch the live stream and follow the #a2council hashtag (see picture above).

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ignite A2 tonight at 7

The 8th Ignite A2 is tonight at the Ross School at 7pm. The event is free, but requires Eventbright registration. There is even a presentation on how to make your own booze without going blind by David Erik Nelson. Should be a pretty cool event.

The Perils of Street Beer

Click to Enlarge

We here at Damn Arbor are also hoping this individual does not die.

It could be a bit windy today

According to the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Service, there is a good chance that things are going to get pretty windy today. Today might be one of those days where you just want to leave the umbrella at home.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Dirty Dozen Bang!

Guess what is tonight? Use the picture, post title and saturday-ness to give you that answer.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Wolverine spirit

Nothing says team spirit like shaving the the University of Michigan's iconic winged helmet shaved into your head for the season. I've seen this guy around campus a few times this fall. Probably should have asked permission before snapping his picture. You have to admit though, it's a pretty sweet haircut.

Welcome to FOIA Friday

Welcome to FOIA Friday, an occasional column by Edward Vielmetti for Damn Arbor.

This is a continuation (and a repeat in places) of a column I wrote for the dearly departed back in 2010. The premise then as now is that well-informed citizens should be aware of how easy it is to write a formal letter to their government asking for records of that government's working, and that there are a lot of interesting things that you can find out about what is going on in your community simply by asking politely and formally for records.

The structure of this effort has three parts. First, I'll write introductory and basic tutorial information about how to write a records request, when you can expect an answer, and what to do if the first answer is "no". By the time you're done reading that part of the series, you should be pretty well convinced that you can file your own records request and get it right. Second, I'll be sharing requests that I have made that either illustrate some current local issue or that illuminate some fine point of FOIA rules. And finally, I'll be looking at other people's FOIA requests and the information that they are seeking about the workings of government, requests that may or may not have made the news yet.

Thanks to Ben Connor-Barrie for suggesting that I reanimate this project and I'm looking forward to a few hundred words every week about public records.

If I had to point to one resource that is most broadly applicable to first time FOIA requesters, it would be the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press (RCFP) and their iFOIA project. iFOIA includes a FOIA letter generator, contact information for a number of state and local and federal agencies, and helpful step by step instructions on how to craft a good request letter. They will even offer to capture responses from agencies for you and manage the appeals process. See for details.

Once you have filed your FOIA request (or asked nicely without a FOIA and gotten documents anyway) and you're looking for a place to store them, look no further than the Ann Arbor Area Government Documents Repository ( It has over 300 separate document collections dating back over four years, with a browser built in so that you can view collections online.

The Building Board of Appeals is an appointed Ann Arbor board that handles exceptional cases from the building department. The board has a scheduled monthly meeting on the second Thursday of the month in Ann Arbor City Council chambers. In 2012, the sort of matters that came before this board included several demands from the city that property owners take care of nuisance properties or the city would tear them down (the Dangerous Building Ordinance).

In 2012, the meeting minutes for the Building Board of Appeals from 2010 and 2011 had not been published. I filed a FOIA request for meeting minutes, and the minutes were subsequently published after a modest delay. Looking at the city web site and at the Legistar online system, you'll find no meeting minutes from 2013 online. I just filed another FOIA request to get these made available to the public.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Firearm deer season opens tomorrow

Good luck to all of you heading up to Deer Camp. Widows, enjoy your Widows-Weekend trips to the outlet malls. And everyone, remember to wear orange when you're out in the woods.

Free Live Raccoon

Another day, another great "free stuff" post on the local Craigslist:
Posted: 2013-11-14, 9:59AM EST

Free Live Raccoon (Ypsilanti)

Free live Raccoon, trapped 11/14. Pickup only. If interested, call 734-487-5619 & ask for Rob.

Strictly speaking, I don't know if this is legal. Also, I bet that raccoon is getting pretty angry.


Free poetic love in Ypsipanti

Hollywood and Hyde at Emergent Arts in Ypsi

Hollywood and Hyde,a modern spinoff of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde, is playing at Ypsilanti's Mix Studio Theatre weekends starting tonight and running through the 22nd of November. It sounds like a pretty fun play, from the press release:

Henry Jekyll as a bitter out-of-work Hollywood actor whose young charge Gabby has begun to notice strange and violent happenings surrounding her friend. With the assistance of a motley gang of fellow Tinsel Town hangers-on, including a blowsy alcoholic cross-dressing TV stand-in, a punchy former heavyweight champ/television action star, and a jaded bartender who’s seen it all and served them all, Gabby and Henry discover the strange truth behind the fiction of Jekyll and Hyde.
If you haven't seen a play at Mix, you really should. It's always an intimate experience. The play goes on Thursday through Saturday at 8pm and Sunday's at 6pm. Next week they even have a Wednesday Show. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $12 for students.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Free poetic love in Ypsipanti

This is probably one of the greatest Craigslist "free stuff" posters ever:
Reply: Posted: 2013-11-12, 5:00PM EST

Free Poetic Love! (Ypsilanti) Write to me lyrically. Pour your heart and soul into an email. Write me poetry and I shall respond in lyrical prose. Send another and I owe you my heart for your inspiration.

Location: Ypsilanti

Posting ID: 4187910254, Posted: 2013-11-12, 5:00PM EST

It can be pretty hard to even find poetic love these days, so when you can get some for free, that's pretty incredible.

The Next EMU Head Football Coach

Ron English, Photo courtesy of Michigan Exposures

It happened a month earlier than expected and I wouldn’t have guessed that the official cause for termination would be a secretly-recorded tirade where he called his players “
little q___ ass b_____, but Ron English is unemployed and the Eastern Michigan football program needs a head coach. Out is five-year head coach English and his 11-46 record and available is one of the least desirable head coaching jobs of any FBS football program in the country.

After making her first big fire, new athletic director and University of Michigan alum Heather Lyke gets to make her first big hire. EMU has always been bad at football. There was a brief four-year heyday from 1986-89, but they haven’t had a winning record since 1995. Just 2,177 souls came to see their last home game, which was actually a thrilling overtime victory against Western Michigan. They need hope. They need excitement. They need fundamentals. They need a miracle.

Allow me to assist, Ms. Lyke. Here is my analysis of potential head coaches for the Eagle's football program, sorted into somewhat arbitrary groups.

Wolf hunt

Michigan's first wolf hunt since the gray wolf's delisting from the Endangered Species List starts this Friday. Mlive has a good investigative series on the shady tactics and half-truths that some hunt supporters have used (*cough* Sen. Casperson [R-Escanaba] *cough*) have used to justify the hunt and prevent a referendum on it. Michigan Radio also has a good summary of the issues.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Creepy Baby Ad

Downtown Home and Garden put out their new holiday catalogue. They are making a shift towards more clothing in their store and more babies in their ads. Pictured below is Mark of DTHG and Mark's Carts. I wish I would've discovered it in the morning so I could sleep tonight.

Renisha McBride Homicide

Photo from the Independent

About a week ago, BCB posted about the Rush Street shooting noting that Michigan's "Stand Your Ground" law might come into effect. While that shooting might not evoke this law, one in Dearborn Heights has certainly brought that law into discussion. Yesterday evening, the medical examiner for Wayne County ruled that Renisha McBride's death was in fact a homicide. Those following the case know that there has not been an arrest. Protests and gatherings have come since McBride's homicide, including one in front of Dearborn Heights Police Department. The case is gaining local, national and international attention. It is probably not likely going to fade away anytime soon.

Ann Arbor SPARK

Ross School Professor and prolific local storm time-lapse videographer, Kai Petainen has an article in Forbs about the difficulty in obtaining records for SPARK. The local not-for-profit is a business incubator that receives some of its funds from the city. Kai's article makes the finances and doings of SPARK seem just a little shadier than they ought to be. Ed Vielmetti has a good summary on his blog. Here I'm quoting his quote of Kai's Forbes article:
According to Tom Crawford at city hall, 100% of the LDFA money to SPARK (about $1.5 million) is for local companies. If so, then why does the audited financial statement say this: ”$275,000 is available for companies location in the City of Ann Arbor via funding from the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Local Development Financing Authority (LDFA)”"? Where does the other $1.2 million go?
Anyway, I predict we'll be hearing a bit more about this in the future.

Monday, November 11, 2013

And Now, The Weather

If you look outside, you can see it is snowing. If you look inside, you can see a chair, Trivial Pursuit and some Cosmos from 2003. Make your decision.

Winona LaDuke at Rackham tonight

Winona LaDuke is speaking at Rackham tonight. I saw her speak in the spring of 2006 at Kalamazoo College. I was really impressed by what she had to say. If you have time, I highly recommend checking out the lecture this evening.

500 Club CD release party at the Blind Pig this Wednesday

Ben Keeler and the 500 Club from gbs detroit on Vimeo.

Detroit based rockers, the 500 Club are having their CD release party this Wednesday at the Blind Pig. Ann Arbor's Steven Mullan and Plymouth's Kylee Phillips will be playing at the show too. Doors are at 9:30. Tickets are $7 for 21+ and $10 for under 21/over 18.

Cranksgiving 2013

Cranksgiving is this Saturday. jimmrigged writes:

Cranksgiving is happening again this year. Tell your friends. It's a food drive by bike to benefit Food Gatherers. Zingerman's Roadhouse will be hosting. The close proximity to so many grocers makes this event accessible to riders of any skill level. A list of items that are needed by Food Gatherers will be provided. Participants are encouraged to haul as much as possible within the 2 hours. Prizes will be provided by our sponsors. Bring a bag, or cargo bike, or trailer, or tandem cargo bike with trailer.

Zingerman's Roadhouse

Get your crank on!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Runaway Records Showcase and Cheetahs mega CD release tonight at Woodruff's

If you want to end your weekend with some straight up rock'n'roll, head to Woodruff's tonight for a showcase from Ypsi's Runaway Records, and mega CD release party for the Cheetahs.

Looks like this is also your chance to get awesome one-of-a-kind album art on those Cheetahs CDs!

Check out their new track, Formula X:

Also playing tonight are Double Weirdo, Lost Boys, and del Brutto. You can check out the Runaway Records Bandcamp page as well.

RSVP and invite your friends. Doors are at 9 PM and it's $5 for four bands.

Much ado about signage

Umich Athletic Department's digital billboard

At their November 7th 2013 meeting, the Ann Arbor City Council unanimously passed a resolution asking the University of Michigan Athletic Department to remove their new $ 2.8 Million digital billboard. The Athletic Department's billboard is in conflict with several portions of the City's Sign Ordinance: it is too large, it flashes and displays changeable copy on more than 50% of its surface. Or, I should say, the billboard in question would be in conflict with the City's Sign Ordinance if the U of M were not exempt from local ordinances.

I think it's a good idea for the city and U of M to work towards having more effective communication. Insofar as Thursday's resolution attempts to say "Hey U of M, your sign is a little bit much, let's work together to find something that work for all of our constituents." I think it's a good resolution. Sometimes I worry efforts like this are used by some to foment discontent with U of M. It seems like some folks will take any excuse to get upset at the University. They are upset about taking the Pfizer property off the tax rolls, the instillation of solar panels at said property, and the closure of Main St. during Football Games.

So I guess what I'm trying to get at is this: working to develop better channels for communications/collaborations between the City and the University is probably a good idea. On the other hand, spending city council time yelling at U of M for something they are well within their right to do might not be the best use of time and energy. Especially considering there are other entities such as the Ann Arbor Public Schools also have non-conforming signs.

Pioneer High School's digital sign, via Google Street View

If you'd like to read the city's sign ordinance for yourself it's Title V, Chapter 61 of the city's municipal code.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mapping food safety violations

Over on his Tumblr, Alex Hill has a cool map based visualization of the most recent round of food safety violations. Pretty interesting, but I'd be cool to see streets added to the map.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Victors for Michigan campaign kickoff today

U of M is kicking off a huge (US$ 4 billion) fundraising campaign this afternoon on the Diag. I hear that there will be free hotdogs. Will there be an open bar? That's a good way to get people to write those big checks.

Detroit is Average for Voting

Detroit barely beat expectations for voting, as officials predicted they would get less than a fourth of registered voters to turn out. This pretty map shows that like most other cities, mayoral campaigns aren't what gets voters hot and heavy. However, it was an interesting year for mayors, as NYC elected a  Democrat (which surprisingly hasn't happened in a while) and Detroit elected a white man for the first time in four decades.

Student Food Co-Op open today

Looking to score some hot produce? The Student Food Co-Op is open today in Mason Hall.

The Co-Op will be open from 10 am until 4:30 pm.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Dar Williams at the Ark

Tomorrow night, Dar Williams is playing at the Ark. Tickets are here online. Dar was someone that I grew up on, and while I won't be able to make the show,  I recommend her music to most. The video above is pretty sh*tty but it's a catchy song.

Alleged assault at Angell Hall

Gentle reader, were you following our breathtaking, on the scene, typo filled crime reporting last night? If not, here's what you missed:

According to this crime brief from the Daily, the man in the above picture was accused of assaulting someone in the Angell Hall complex. At the time of press, UMPD have not updated their daily crime log for November 6. We'll check back for more details.


The UMPD daily incident log has been update:

Nov 06 2013 7:24 pm Assault, non-aggravated CAD#: 133100155


A 20-year-old visitor was arrested in connection with slapping a U-M student during a dispute. A witness reported the assault to police about an hour after the incident and indicated the suspect had a gun in his pants. Officers quickly located the suspect but did not locate a gun in a search of the area. The suspect was turned over to another agency on an outstanding arrest warrant.

Case Status: Incident Report #13-003506 - open with arrest made on 11/6/2013

It's beginning to look a lot like ...

Sorry for the terrible picture. Looks like U of M is going whole hog wrapping the Central Campus trees in Christmas/festive winter lights this year. I don't really remember them doing anything like this in the past. I wonder what's behind the change?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

'Til Rick's do us Part: more than you ever wanted to know about Rick's American Cafe

Writing for the Daily, Melanie Kruvelis and Kayla Upadhyaya have an in depth article exploring the history of one of Ann Arbor's most notorious watering holes: Rick's American Cafe. It's full of fun-filled facts. Did you know that Primus and the Pixies played there? I didn't. Here's an excerpt:

Like a (Rick’s) Virgin

One night in 1976, a young student on a four-year dance scholarship at the University wandered into a popular local bar and disco called the Blue Frogge with her friends. She encountered an attractive and charismatic waiter, a drummer in a local band and, like her, an aspiring artist.

She asked him to buy her a drink. The two spent the evening talking about their shared love for music. Even though he was four years older than her, they connected.

That student was Madonna.

The waiter was songwriter and producer Steve Bray, who Madonna dated on and off during her five semesters in Ann Arbor and continued to collaborate with throughout her musical career. The place they met? Located at 611 Church, the Blue Frogge eventually became an iconic Ann Arbor establishment: Rick’s American Cafe.

If you're looking for a local long-read for a rainy Wednesday morning, check it out.

Via r/uofm

Header by Erin Kirkland

Chip Smith's Legacy

Last minute Ward 5 city council candidate, Chip Smith, did not win his write-in campaign last night. In fact he lost to Democratic incumbent, Mike Anglin, by a margin of 2:1. Nevertheless, I predict his brief campaign will have a lasting impact on future Ann Arbor elections. To my knowledge, Chip was the first candidate to effectively deploy campaign videos. As we say goodbye to Election 2013, get ready for a 2014 election full of campaign videos.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Million Mask March hits Campus

Saw a group of a dozen or so protesters marching west on North University. They gave me a flyer that directed me to the websites for the Million Mast March and Why We Protest. I spoke briefly with the protesters and they said they were protesting in support of several generally anti-corporate issues: banning GMOs, the TPP, Corporate Welfare.
Protester, Jessica, asked me to take a picture of her, so I did.

I probably should have spoken to the protesters more to lean more about their positions, but alas, I was in a rush.