Friday, October 31, 2014

Dogman, Revisited

Continuing with our Halloween coverage. As readers of this website might know, the Michigan Dogman is my favorite local cryptid. Above you can see the Gable Film, which reportedly shows images of the Dogman. Below is a trailer for a 2012 movie about the Dogman. Has anyone seen this? It only got one star on IMDB, but it looks so good.

So good. From comes a short video weighing all the Dogman Evidence.

Encounters - The Evidence from mindstage on Vimeo.

Finally we have the classic song, The Legend of the Dogman. Gentle readers, do you believe in the Dogman? I want to believe.

Pumpkin Pi

Hahahahaha. Get it?

Halloween, Ann Arbor, 1906

@umichBentley, the Bentley Library's Twitter Account, just tweeted this 1906 picture of Halloween in Ann Arbor. Shudder.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Annexing Whitmore Lake Public Schools

On November 4th, voters in the Ann Arbor and Whitmore Lake school districts will have the option to vote to allow AAPS to annex the Whitmore Lake School System. Currently, Whitmore Lake Public Schools are not in great financial shape. They have begun the slow public schools death-spiral of declining enrollment causing declining revenue causing program cutbacks leading to even more declining enrollment. Without annexation WLPS will have to make further cuts to programs to balance their budget or face an emergency manager or be dissolved. With annexation Ann Arbor Public School would get the just under 1000 WLPS students, all the school district property and $60 million in debt owned by Whitmore Lake. AAPS would also get a special grant from the state to the tune of $1.4 million to help cover costs of the merger. As with any issue that deals with local identity and a cherished public good, there are strong opinions on both sides of the annexation issue in both communities. I am no longer an AAPS voter, but if I were, I think I would be voting to support annexation. Gentle readers, what are your thoughts on the issue? Do you have any questions about the potential risks and benefits if the proposal passes, or does not pass?

Ruth Kraut and David Erik Nelson have both penned pro-annexation articles on their websites.

Ann Arbor is full of ghosts

Trulia has kindly published a ghost forecast for the area. As you can see, Ann Arbor is pretty haunted while Ypsilanti has fewer ghosts. If you follow the link, you can also find zombie and vampire forecasts. Spooky.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Kickstart some music

Damn Arbor brings you this brief message on two crowdfunding campaigns worth checking out, and perhaps lending some support if you feel so moved: Third Wave Music and Alejandra O'Leary.

Third Wave is a small group of folks aiming to start a musical instrument shop in midtown Detroit sometime next year. There currently are no dedicated instrument shops within the city limits, which is a little nuts given how big Detroit's music community always has been and continues to be. They've got $22,000 to raise in the next 25 days.

Alejandra O'Leary is a super-talented singer-songwriter, Damn Arbor favorite and Ann Arbor expat who still comes back here regularly to write and record. She's got just under $2,000 left to raise in the next six days in order to fund a new full-length and single.

If you dig local music, these are some good people to support. If you've got a few bucks, throw some their way.

Consent agenda

An anonymous group of sexual assault survivors and allies in the University of Michigan community have posted a list of demands the M on the Diag. As well as chalk-painted "EXPEL RAPISTS" and "ADMINS DEFEND RAPISTS" in large letters in the surrounding area. Their demands were also published in an anonymous opinion in today's Michigan Daily:

1. We demand a mandatory, unified training system for all incoming students regarding sexual assault to be completed BEFORE coming to campus. The new training must have a clear focus on consent, include bystander intervention, explain university policies and procedures regarding sexual assault, and use gender inclusive language. A failure to complete the training must result in unenrollment.

2. All affiliated fraternity, sorority, and cooperative houses must have a sign with a comprehensive definition of consent in their common areas.

3. Athlete and non-athlete students must be held in the same regard and held accountable for their actions. Athletics, despite its autonomy from the University, must have concrete and well-known policies in place to respond to instances of sexual violence.

4. All DPS, faculty, and staff must undergo extremely thorough sexual assault prevention and response training that is comprehensive and unified across all departments. The current, surface-level training is not enough.

5. Survivors of sexual violence must have the option for the perpetrator to be expelled from the University of Michigan.

6. Support must increase for survivors of sexual violence. Support can include, but is not limited to, immediate counseling and removal of the perpetrator from communities surrounding the survivor. Sources of support must be accessible and well-advertised. While SAPAC exists, it is only a start.

7. All input regarding sexual assault awareness policies must center the needs and voices of survivors and experts. Other communities, specifically underrepresented groups and minorities, must be included in all conversations. No group on this campus may be silenced.

This strategy seems like a good way to get the conversation started regarding affirmative consent and the prevention of sexual assault in the U of M community. During welcome week way back in 2002 when I was a first year at Kalamazoo College, my peers and I had to attend a one day seminar on consent and sex. At the time, it was a little awkward, but in retrospect I think it was a good way to make sure all of the incoming students were on the same page. I don't know if something similar exists for incoming students at U of M.

I think the group responsible for this manifesto has done a really good job getting their message out publicly. When I saw the chalk-painted writing on the Diag, I assumed they were spray-painted and was surprised that they weren't being scrubbed off already. The messaging here does a great job of almost crossing the line, while still being respectful of U of M property.

Also, sorry for the punny title.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

5 Ypsi-Arbor Area Blogs you should be reading

Photo by Doug Coombe
Patrick Dunn just wrote a piece for Concentrate on the local blogging scene. I am honored that Damn Arbor has been included in the list along with such local luminaries as MarkMaynard.Com, Juan Cole, Slice Ann Arbor and Meg.Goes.Nom.Nom. There are some great pictures in the article from the amazing Doug Coombe. Check it out.

Damn Arbor is a group project that really would not be possible without the efforts of all the other contributors. So thanks Chris, Quinn, Josh and Ed.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Freep endorses Snyder for governor

The Freep's editorial board has endorsed Snyder in the race for governor this year:
By a narrow margin, the editorial board endorses Snyder. But a second term must be tempered with empathy and a sense of moderate Michigan values.
I'm enraged by a number of the things Snyder's done during his term. But while listening to the town hall debate on October 12, I  realized this race was not going to present an easy decision.

I align more ideologically with Schauer, no doubt. But during that town hall he could offer only vague statements about his plans and empty rhetoric; this left me with a surprisingly poor impression of the Democratic candidate. Snyder leaned on accomplishments which were by and large good for the state.

What's a socially liberal voter with deeply-held disdain for meaningless cliches and nonspecific plans to do?

Updated at 1:28pm to add:

As always, Jack Lessenberry is on point:
What’s most stunning about that is not who the newspaper is supporting. Anyone reading their full endorsement article might be more inclined to apply for asylum in Canada than vote at all. What the paper is saying, whether it realizes it or not, is that our system just isn’t working. Not for you; not for me. Not for our state.
 Listen to his essay over at Michigan Radio.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

MLive photo gallery: Massive tree transplant is going well

MLive reports (with a photo gallery) that U-M's massive tree transplant operation is going well, and that crews expect to finish it today.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Raja Rani announces closing, then new management

Earlier this week, Raja Rani announced it was closing its doors after over being an Ann Arbor establishment for almost 40 years. The owner Jay Singh said he was unable to come to a new lease agreement with the building owners, which has become a common tale for other downtown establishments. However, in true hero fashion, the owners of Taste of India Suvai on State Street have swooped in and signed a lease, allowing Raja Rani to Rani on.

Both restaurants will stay open! Woooooooooo!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Settlement with Detroit creditor is a significant step toward saving the DIA

Here's some exciting news!

The city of Detroit's bankruptcy trial is winding up, and it was announced last week that the city had reached a settlement with its biggest remaining creditor, FGIC (or "Financial Guaranty Insurance Company").

The settlement allows FGIC to develop a hotel and office and retail space at the Joe Louis Arena site. But I'll quote the most exciting sentence from the Freep here:
FGIC also was the last major creditor pursuing monetization of the Detroit Institute of Arts and its collection of masterworks, making such an option far less likely, said Wayne State University bankruptcy law professor Laura Bartell.

Diag M vandalized

Someone vandalized the bronze "M" on the Diag last night. They painted it green and then added the letters "S" and "U." At time of press, Umich Plant Services had mostly cleaned it all up.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Things to do tonight: Tuesday, October 21

Old Detroit News materials will be transferred to — and preserved by —the Archives of Michigan

This is cool! As The Detroit News prepares to move to Fort Street, they'll give much of their historic material to the Archives of Michigan.

You should check out the Detroit News article for the photos and more details, but here are some highlights:

The archival materials going to the state archives will be properly preserved, and much of the material will be available for online access!

Among the materials are two million typed cards which provide an index into Detroit News stories from the 20th century. These let researchers quickly find every story, on microfilm, related to pretty much any topic, and they'll be online "within two to three months".

The Detroit News's clip file is also going to the state archives in Lansing, and it'll be available for research.

Glass negatives and other historic material will also go to U-M's Bentley Historical Library, The Henry Ford, the Detroit Historical Museum, and the DSO.

…I could go on, but really you should just read the article. Super exciting.

This last bit is sad, though:
One thing that did not turn up in the months-long house cleaning at The News was the Pulitzer Prize public service medal the newspaper won in 1982 for a series by Sydney P. Freedberg and David Ashenfelter that brought to light a coverup by the U.S. Navy of the deaths of seamen aboard ships, and led to significant reforms.
News staffers were used to seeing the medal on the wall by the front lobby elevators, but it disappeared during a renovation of the building in the late 1990s, when the Detroit Free Press was moved into the building. It was Ashenfelter who started asking about it, and it was discovered that in fact, nobody knew where it was.
Ashenfelter is glad to have a certificate from the Pulitzer committee, but as it's not an option to get a replacement, he'd like to see the medal returned to the newspaper. No questions asked.

Monday, October 20, 2014

NNA2 19: Nightmare on First St.

Are you ready for a spooktacular Ann Arbor Nerd Nite, gentle readers? It looks like this Thursday's is going to be great. There are two talks on the science of zombies, but I think that the most interesting might be James Mann's on Coroner’s Court. Via A2NerdNite:

The Coroner’s Court is a now rarely used legal procedure used to investigate a death under mysteries circumstances. The County Coroner, or medical examiner, would impanel a jury, usually six men, who would view the remains, hear witnesses and study the evidence. This was not a trial, as no one was then accused of a crime. The jury was to determine, first, if the person was dead...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Indignation Meeting!

C.Dzomb's awesome post yesterday on old Ann Arbor street names inspired me to do my own looking into the Making of Ann Arbor project. That's where I found this gem. I like the idea of summoning folks to Courthouse Square for an Indignation Meeting. Can we bring these back? Or at least have an annual reenactment of the historic Indignation Meeting of Dec. 20th 1849?

#a2tweetup Monday

Workantile on Main St. is hosting a meetup for us Ann Arbor Twitter-folk at 7pm on Monday (October 20). I’ll be there for a while; hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

1853 map of Ann Arbor from MoAA (also: lost street names)

I stumbled this morning across this amazing 1853 map of Ann Arbor. You can zoom in and browse it in high resolution, but here are some highlights:

The predecessor to the Diag is labeled “Michigan State University;” State Street was called University Avenue.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Be humane not insane

Noticed several of these anti-deer cull posters up on Liberty today. Regardless of your feelings on the state of Ann Arbor's urban deer population, I think we can all agree it's a pretty rare poster that specifically quotes City Council Resolutions. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

UM will transplant a 250-year-old tree later this month

The costly, months-long process of uprooting a 65-foot-tall, 250-year-old tree will culminate later this month as the University of Michigan has set a move day for the history burr oak at the Ross School of Business. 
Officials announced today that the relocation of the tree is scheduled to take place Saturday, Oct. 25, weather permitting.

— mLive, U-M sets date for $400,000 transplantation of 200-year-old burr oak tree

The University produced this animation of the process:

This whole thing does seem to be moderately insane. But unlike vocal critics of this operation, I don't particularly care how the business school spends its donors’ money. I will just be very sad if this tree dies after the transplant, and indifferent if nothing bad happens.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Man it has been a while since I have posted here. I remember when Ben first put this all together I had such grand plans for contributing to the blog. Then I got buried in my graduate research. I am an immunology PhD student studying Multiple Sclerosis at Michigan and I love what I do. Like most of my colleagues I expect to continue doing research and eventually run my own lab. My love of the work has sustained me thus far but, since the beginning of my graduate career there has been a major fear looming for all of us: will I be able to run my own lab one day? Since I started graduate school we have been inundated with information about how basic science funding has been crippled and now NPR has done a few pieces on it. Hopefully I can give you a little more information about what is going on after the break.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Secret Art show in Ypsi this Saturday


As for the show, which this new piece of mine will be a part of, I’ve been asked not to publicize it. All I can say is that, if you wonder around Ypsi this Saturday, and keep your eyes open, you should find us… And, once you find us, be sure to look down. There might be art beneath your feet.
Nothing quite like writing about not publicizing events.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Last chance to see Spamalot

Gentle readers, there are just 5 more chances to see the musical Ben Houston calls "A tour de force of medieval-themed slapstick comedy." Spamalot, which is also our very own EJ's professional theater debut, is playing at Dexter's Encore Theater tonight through Sunday. If you like Monty Python's Holy Grail and/or "British Humor" you will love this show.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Kitchen issues at Taco King

On October 2, 2014, a state inspector from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) inspected World Call Shop LLC, doing business as "Taco King". The inspections revealed issues in the kitchen that led to the owner voluntarily closing the restaurant to address the issues. The facility has reopened as of October 3, 2014. I discovered this because I was at the restaurant with a big group just before they closed, and one person in the party had their money refunded.

These inspection reports are now online at a2docs as World Call Shop (Taco King) inspections, October 2 2014.

I like Taco King - they are reasonably priced and the food is tasty. But I think they need help in their kitchen to make sure that the people making the food know exactly how to keep food safe and keep dishes clean.

Grocery stores in Michigan have food inspections regulated by the State of Michigan and not by Washtenaw County, hence this facility is not part of the every six month routine inspections by the County Health Department. It's also worth noting that this data is routinely published online. See the following for Ann Arbor area inspection information.

Sword Solutions has inspection information from Washtenaw County Health Department. takes this data and presents it in attractive map and graph form, so you can zoom in on a restaurant and get a quick overview of their food safety.

For statewide grocery store and convenience store reports, see the MDARD Food Inspection Reports. I don't know how frequent the routine grocery store inspection is.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Last day to register to vote and update voter registration

Gentle reader, did you know that there is an election coming? If you want to vote in in November's election, today is your last chance to register to vote or update your voter registration address. If you still need to register, head on down to your local Secretary of State branch. 

Small Farm Council benefit at Bill's Beer Garden tomorrow

Local foodies, tomorrow night there is a benefit for the Michigan Small Farm Council at Bill's Beer Garden. There will be food and drink and music.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fire Brandon rally last night

Gentle readers, I couldn't make it to the sportsball rally on the Diag last night. Fortunately, friend of Damn Arbor, @thatsmyjamm was there and sent in some pictures. I especially like the one above with the kid holding the Cokes. I wonder if that will become a symbol of the protests.